Want to put something extra special in your children’s Easter basket next Sunday? How about a book that will last far after the day is through and the chocolate consumed. Here are a few to choose from:
“Among a Thousand Fireflies” by Helen Frost, illustrated with photos by Rick Lieder, is a delightful poetic tale of how fireflies glow at dusk to find each other. The dreamy photographs explain how two insects will meet in a meadow of thousands, mirroring how magical all relationships can be. In the back is a helpful explanation of fireflies, what we lovingly call lightning bugs.
Arthur Robison, known as “Mr. Okra,” drove his colorful van of produce through New Orleans neighborhoods and became an iconic sight. Lashon Daley, who discovered both the city and Mr. Okra during her time serving as an AmeriCorps member, brings his story to light in the storybook, “Mr. Okra Sells Fresh Fruits and Vegetables,” published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans. The book is full of fun illustrations of both Mr. Okra and city landmarks, created by Emile Henriquez, illustrator of many Pelican titles.
Alexis Braud of Cut Off utilizes a collection of cute animals to showcase Louisiana’s joie de vivre in “Parade.” A mouse decides one morning that he wants to lead a parade so he attaches a flag to his tail and begins his walk. Soon, other animals are following behind, dressing and dancing in style.
“One feature of many of our celebrations, happy or sad, sacred or secular, is parading,” wrote Braud in the Author’s Note. “Parade was written to capture the spontaneous joy of stepping out.”
For older readers who enjoy a bit of adventure:
“Voices of the Western Frontier” by award-winning author Sherry Garland, illustrated by Julie Dupré Buchner, takes readers through a variety of “voices,” from a young girl walking the Oregon Trail and the sheriff of wild Dodge City in 1880 to the Chinese immigrants building railroads and the vaqueros of Mexico. Each paints a distinct portrait of the lives who settled the American west. Garland created the “Voices Series” to help readers learn about pivotal moments in American history, such as Pearl Harbor, the Dust Bowl and the Buffalo Soldiers.
Retired Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlie Spillers has published a non-fiction account of his experiences during 10 years undercover, six with the Baton Rouge Police Department and five with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics in “Confessions of An Undercover Agent: Adventures, Close Calls and the Toll of a Double Life” (University Press of Mississippi).
“Although the book is mainly about my experiences, I also wrote about some exciting undercover of other agents and I’m excited to tell their stories,” Spillers wrote me by email.
After 18 years in law enforcement, Spillers became a career federal prosecutor and later volunteered and served three tours in Iraq for the Department of Justice as an advisor to the Iraqi High Tribunal, the court that tried Saddam Hussein, Chemical Ali and others.
“Charlie Spillers is a natural-born storyteller with one hell of a story to tell,” said Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of “The Forsaken” and “The Redeemers.” “This is the real lowdown on southern crime from a man who saw it from the inside. After reading the book, I don’t know if Spillers was brave or just plain crazy. But I loved it. A great read.”
Spillers will sign books April 5 in Oxford, Miss., followed by some events in Louisiana.
Emily Beck Cogburn’s novel features a new librarian, Louisiana Richardson, looking to turn things around at Alligator Bayou Parish’s struggling library in “Louisiana Saves the Library.” Richardson, who lives in Baton Rouge, uses unconventional methods to fight domineering parish board head Mrs. Gunderson — like outrageous inter-library Zumba classes and forming a book club that’s anything but Oprah-approved. And between glasses of sweet tea, gumbo and a new love, the newly single Southern mom might find a life she never imagined, and a place to finally call home.
Cogburn is a freelance journalist and fitness instructor with degrees from the University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, and a master’s degree in library and information science from LSU. For more information, visit emilycogburn.com.
Keagan LeJeune, a professor of English at McNeese State University, past president of the Louisiana Folklore Society and editor of its journal, Louisiana Folklore Miscellany, takes on a few unsavory Louisiana residents in his new book, “Legendary Louisiana Outlaws: The Villains and Heroes of Folk Justice,” by LSU Press.” The book explores the state’s colorful fugitives, from the infamous pirate Jean Laffite and Bonnie and Clyde to less familiar bandits like train-robber Eugene Bunch and suspected murderer Leather Britches Smith.
“An Afternoon of Romantic Music” by L’Opera de Lafayette et Lagniappe will be performed at 4 p.m. today at South Regional Library.
Frederick M. Trapnell Jr. and Dana Trapnell Tibbits will discuss “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick “Trap” Trapnell, the US Navy’s Aviation Pioneer, 1923-52” Tuesday at the U.S. Freedom Pavilion of the World War II Museum in New Orleans. The event begins with a 5 p.m. reception, followed by a 6 p.m. presentation and a 7 p.m. book signing. This program is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Ensure your spot by RSVPing online or calling (504) 528-1944, Ext. 412.
Keith Lee Morris will discuss and sign “Travelers Rest,” a chilling fable about a family marooned in a snowbound town whose grievous history intrudes on the dreamlike present, at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books of New Orleans.
“Mary Magdalene, the Da Vinci Code and History” is the topic of Southeastern Louisiana University history professor Dr. William Robison at 7 p.m. Wednesday at South Regional Library.
Pastor Ronnie L. Williams of Power in the Word World Ministries will discuss his book “The Message of Romans 10:9” at 2 p.m. at the Main Library in Baton Rouge. Williams is also the author of “When God Gives You Vision, He Will Also Give You Provision” and “Seven Divine Keys To A Healthier You Now!”
Cheré Dastugue Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at email@example.com.