Sunday, November 20, 2016

Children's books for holiday gifts

As you make plans for Black Friday and all that shopping chaos that looms on the Thanksgiving horizon, may I suggest adding books to your holiday list?
            Here are a few children’s books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in the past month that are sure to please:
            The lesson that everything and everyone matters lies in the message of “The Christmas Eve Tree” by Delia Huddy, illustrated by Emily Sutton. A little tree doesn’t grow well in a Christmas tree farm, so it also doesn’t sell. A small homeless boy asks to keep the tree when a shopkeeper throws it out and uses his meager earnings to decorate it while other homeless sing songs, which brings people together in the spirit of Christmas. Afterwards, a street cleaner notices some green left in the tree so he plants it in a park, where “against all odds it grew — if not big and tall, at least cheerfully stout.”
            Okay, so I’m a tree hugger but I adored this book, both for its gentle story and its lovely illustrations.
Caldecott Honor winner Aaron Becker finishes his wordless Journey trilogy which started with “Journe” and “Quest” with “Return,” about a lonely girl who leaves home after failing to get the attention of her father. She encounters a world of castles and magic, which is shared with her father, who follows. It is magic that allows them to return, but something more powerful that brings them together.
Pelican Publishing has produced several new titles for fall, including two children’s books:
Johnette Downing pays homage to our neighboring state with “Down in Mississippi,” illustrated by Katherine Zecca. The book spotlights the Magnolia State’s various wildlife, with accompanying rhyme, then offers facts about those creatures and a song of the same name (Downing is also a musician) in the back.
            Downing will sign copies of “Down in Mississippi,” “Today is Monday in Louisiana” and “Petit Pierre and the Floating Marsh” at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Maple Street Books in New Orleans.
Nana serves Kole green dinosaur pancakes — those made with food coloring — for breakfast one morning and while Nana leaves the kitchen the dinosaurs come to life in the charming “Green Dinosaur Pancakes” by Kat Pigott, illustrated by Mason Sibley. Did Kole dream the dinosaurs fighting on his plate? Regardless, the next time he’s served pancakes by Nana, he eats them right up.

Book events
George Graham signs “Acadiana Table: Cajun and Creole Home Cooking from the Heart of Louisiana: Recipes, Stories and Photographs” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. today at Barnes & Noble–Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge, at 11 a.m. Friday at Paul Michael Company in Lafayette and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Lafayette Farmers Market at the Horse Farm.
Liz Williams signs “Lift Your Spirits: A Celebratory History of Cocktail Culture in New Orleans” from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. today at Page and Palette in Fairhope, Ala., and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, Baton Rouge.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at