Saturday, May 14, 2016

Great new children's books for summer reading

            Adelaide Herrman never wanted to be ordinary, which is why she took to the stage and performed tricks. When she met magician Herrman the Great, she not only married the man but became part of the show. It’s all vividly portrayed in Mara Rockliff’s “Anything but Ordinary: The True Story of Adelaide Herrman, Queen of Magic,” illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. The story is mesmerizing — no pun intended for the duo also wrote “Mesmerized” — and explains the little-known story of a female magician who continued to perform after her husband’s death. Buy this creative book for the story and illustrations. Buy it as proof that girls can do anything they put their mind to — and even did so 100 years ago.
Leif Nedland Pedersen continues his innovative “Swamp Kids” series with “A Dog Named Cat,” in which the delightful group of bayou animals travel to the SPCA in order to adopt a dog. They choose a Catahoula cur, the Louisiana state dog with its blue eyes and spots, and appropriately name him “Cat.” As in past “Swamp Kids” books, the tale includes a “Lagniappe Lesson” by New Orleans TV personality Angela Hill, information on Catahoulas and an art activity in the back. The book is illustrated by Tim Banfell and published by Ally Gator Book Bites of Lake Charles. To find out about Pedersen’s series and where to buy then, visit
Connie Collins Morgan places Hercules in Louisiana in “Hercules on the Bayou,” illustrated by Herb Leonhard, published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans. In this retelling, he’s discovered on the bayou by a Cajun couple and raised as their own. Like the Greek tale, Hercules uses his mighty strength but this time to fight off mosquitoes, build levees and capture an enormous catfish.
Graphic designer Art Kane proposed an idea in 1958 to Esquire magazine to gather as many New York jazz musicians as they could for a group photograph in fornt of a Harlem brownstone. Kane made it happen and Roxane Orgill relives this event in “Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph,” illustrated by Francis Vallejo. In the back are biographies of the musicians, information about 1950s Harlem and an extensive bibliography, perfect for the young jazz enthusiast.
History is mostly written by men so it’s refreshing to have a female point of view when retelling America history. “The Extraordinary Suzy Wright: A Colonial Woman on the Frontier” does just that, explains early American history through the eyes of a woman who travels from England to the colonies, then helps settle the Pennsylvania frontier where she serves as legal counselor. Some contemporaries who corresponded with Wright were Benjamin Franklin and Pennsylvania Governor James Logan.

Book news
Leonard Ray Teel’s book “Reporting the Cuban Revolution,” published by LSU Press, has won the Knudson Latin America Prize of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Each year this prize recognizes the book or multimedia presentation that best improves knowledge about Latin America to U.S. students, journalists and the American public. The award will be presented at the AEJMC Conference in Minneapolis this August.
Local author and TV show producer Sudie Landry and author and publisher Neal Bertrand have started a monthly book rally for local authors to sign and sell their books. The next rally is Saturday, June 4, at the Thensted Center in Grand Coteau. Authors interested in participating in this event or future ones should email Landry at

Book events
Lyrically Inclined features Lotus Th33 Narcotic (Asia Lé Oliver from Alexandria) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at Black Café, 518 S Pierce St., Suite 100, in downtown Lafayette. The cost is $5. Oliver considers herself a “Living Work of Art,” dabbling and indulging not only in the arts but in Tarot and astrology. She mixes Southern Hip Hop and Japanese Culture, delivering poetic life’s testimonies with a twist of “Trill.”
Retired Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlie Spillers will sign copies of “Confessions of An Undercover Agent: Adventures, Close Calls and the Toll of a Double Life” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at Barnes and Noble-Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge.
Pamela Tyler, associate professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi, will sign her “Silk Stockings and Ballot Boxes: Women and Politics in New Orleans, 1920-1963,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Also at Octavia, Brenda Marie Osbey will discuss “All Souls: Essential Poems” and James Borders “Marking Time, Making Place: An Essential Chronology of Blacks in New Orleans Since 1718” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 18.
Roy Blount signs his latest book, “Save Room For Pie: Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations,” from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at Catfish & Henry, 2138 Magazine St. in New Orleans.