Em Shotwell charmed readers with her magical tale of the Caibre family of Brooklyn, Miss., when she published her debut novel, “Blackbird Summer.” Now the South Louisiana author returns with an equally delightful book, “Forget Me Not,” backing up to 1969 and telling the story of Evelyn Cadeau and Rex Somersby. The two characters are thrown together — much to Evelyn’s chagrin since she has feelings for another — because of their magical “gifts.” Evelyn has the gift of vigor, causing things to grow and flourish, including helping the sick return to health. Rex can remember everything. And because gifted people keep to themselves, their families are hoping the two magical 18-year-olds will marry. The move works but just as love begins to blossom, however, the Vietnam War intercedes. With Rex’s gift of remembrance, can he forget the horrors he’s seen overseas? Shotwell is donating royalties from “Forget Me Not” to the military charity, Operation Homefront. She is also launching the book at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Conundrum Books in St. Francisville.
New children’s books
Author and poet Zwame Alexander grew up loving poetry, believing that “a poem is a small but powerful thing.” He, along with poets Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, celebrate the written word and give homage to famous poets with “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets,” illustrated by Ekua Holmes. The poems are originals but written in the style of Maya Angelou, Gwedolyn Brooks, Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes, among others. It’s a marvelous book sure to ignite “ever-evolving ideas that speak to us in different ways at different times in our lives,” the author writes.
“Trees” by Lemniscates is a simple tale about those wonderful plants that bring us shade and life, appropriate for ages 2-5. This lovely book showcases what trees offer the world and how important that are to humanity, complemented by soft yet expressive illustrations.
Creole mouse Chicory of New Orleans climbs into a picnic basket and falls asleep, waking up in Cajun Country miles away. She meets a mouse named Roux and they have great adventures in the charming tale, “Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse” by Todd-Michael St. Pierre, illustrated by Lee Brandt Randall. The two part to their respective homes in the end but remain lifelong friends in this retelling of the Aesop’s fable.
Vernon Smith of Metairie pens and illustrates an adorable story about the maintenance streetcar of New Orleans that’s been around for decades. “The Littlest Streetcar” shows Charlie at work, spreading sand on the tracks and helping get the larger streetcars back in service. When a grumpy streetcar belittles him, he loses heart, but soon finds that despite his size, he’s just as special as the rest. Like Charlie, this little book with its sweet illustrations offers a big heartfelt story.
Germaine Scalisi Lattier of Lafayette, who’s spent 36 years as an educational diagnostician in the public school system, has published a book about bullying titled “Stop Bully Stop!,” illustrated by Alexandria Scalisi, a student of the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Word Crawl, the annual fundraising event for Festival of Words in which poets and spoken word artists converge on downtown Lafayette, will be from noon to midnight Saturday, Sept. 9. The poetry marathon will include more than 40 poets at six venues on Jefferson Street, including Acadiana Center for the Arts, Reve, Cite Des Arts, Lafayette Science Museum, Steam Press Coffee & Café and The Wurst Biergarten. To join the fundraiser as a poet, contact Marie Touchet at email@example.com, Alex Johnston at PoeticSoul337@gmail.co, (713) 933-4448 or Martha Garner at firstname.lastname@example.org, (337) 804-2482. Download a packet and see a complete list of participating authors and venues at festivalofwords.org.
Book events for Aug. 6-13
Ladee Hubbard, author of “The Talented Ribkins,” an Indie Next choice for August, will be in conversation with Jami Attenberg, author of “All Grown-Up,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Hubbard is the winner of the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for the Short Story. She lives in New Orleans.
Katherine Jeffrey will speak about “Two Civil Wars, The Curious Shared Journal of a Baton Rouge Schoolgirl and a Union Sailor on the USS Essex” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Old Governor’s Mansion, 502 North Blvd. in Baton Rouge, part of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana’s Lecture Series. Jeffrey is the author of an LSU Press book of the same name. For more information, visit www.fhl.org or http://lsupress.org/books/detail/two-civil-wars.
The Southern Food & Beverage Museum presents Justin Fox Burks, chef and co-author of “The Chubby Vegetarian,” at 1 p.m. Saturday at the New Orleans museum. Burks will conduct a book signing, cooking demonstration and sampling of recipes featured in the award-winning cookbook he co-authored with his wife Amy Lawrence.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at email@example.com.