Category Archives: culture

Happy Almost Mardi Gras!

Happy Almost Mardi Gras!

On this day last year I wrote a blog post about the popular song, The 12 days of Christmas.  This is the time of year to actually sing that song. The first day is today, December 26th. The twelfth day is January 6th, Little Christmas, also known as the Twelfth Night, Feast of the Epiphany, Women’s Day, Three Kings’ Day and or Kings’ Day.

During this time of year of course you’ll hear Merry Christmas, Happy Hanakkah, or Happy Holidays. Thanks to the Dirty Coast store there’s have another greeting you should know…


While the holiday season ends for most on New Year’s Day, those of us with roots in Louisiana are gearing up for another season -Mardi Gras, baby!

We get this party started on January 6th with King Cake. And we’ll keep buying, baking and eating them all season long. According to tradition, you want to “get the baby” because it will bring you blessings or good luck.

This year, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is February 13, 2018. That’s 39 days of celebration. Can’t wait to get this party started!


 

Please follow and like us:

Mardi Gras 2017 Visits

Mardi Gras 2017 Visits

I had wonderful time celebrating Mardi Gras 2017. The King Cake Baby and I ran all over south Louisiana parishes visiting with students, parents, teachers, and school librarians.

As a guest author for Scholastic I met many wonderful educators who work tirelessly to bring books into schools for kids. Book fairs are quite popular in Louisiana and the state is recognized as one of the top sales areas!  📚

 No automatic alt text available.

And while there of course I ate a lot of different types of King Cake!  I even ate a King Cake hamburger. Yes. I. Did. The food truck @FoodDrunknola sold them at the King Cake Festival. To my surprise, it was deliciously sweet and savory. Yum.


     

I was fortunate to visit Impact Elementary School at their Family Literacy Night. And had delightful visits at Port Allen Elementary and North Iberville Elementary. Watch these Port Allen Pre-K students dance! 🎶🎶

Second graders sang the 12 Days of Carnival. So much fun!  🎶🎺🎵🎷🎶 

Kindergarten students at North Iberville sang “Five Little King Cake Babies“. Cutest babies and baker in the city!

The King Cake Baby and I love to Skype with classes, especially during Mardi Gras. We hung out with a great group of first grade students in Kentucky who knew all about Kings’ Day.

Just so happens World Read Aloud Day, known as WRAD, is always during Carnival season. So the baby ran west…to Texas!

All hail the North Pointe Elementary grade 2 Kings and Queens!

                                                                                

                                              💜💚💛🎶🎺🎵🎷🎶 📚

It was wonderful to see kiddos from coast to coast celebrating Mardi Gras, like this Girl Scout troop from San Diego!   💜💚

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, sunglasses and hat

 Every year I bring a King Cake to my tennis club. Guess who got the baby?

Eating King Cake during Mardi Gras is a longtime tradition and fun no matter your age or where you live. But no worries if you don’t eat any by Fat Tuesday on February 28th, there’s always next year!

                                                                                                                                                 

 

Please follow and like us:

Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse

Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse

I was so pleased to receive an advanced copy of Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse to review for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.  What a fun retelling of Aesop’s fable, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, told Louisiana style!

Written by:  Todd-Michael St. Pierre

Illustrated byLee Brandt Randall

PublisherPelican Publishing (February 10, 2017)

Suitable for ages5-8

Themes/TopicsLouisiana, Creole and Cajun culture, animal folk tale, city vs. country living

Brief SynopsisThis is a story about two mice, Chicory from the city of New Orleans and Roux from the countryside of Southwest Louisiana. One day, Chicory fell asleep in a picnic basket and ended up in the countryside where she met Roux. They explored Roux’s hometown. Chicory found Roux’s food boring, and yikes…there were alligators in the swamp!  Chicory invited Roux to explore the city of New Orleans. Although they did pass a good time during Mardi Gras, Roux prefers the way the tradition is celebrated back home. The city may have fancy food but there were dangers Roux was not used to! Chicory and Roux parted ways but promised to keep in touch. They agreed that where they live is exactly where they’re meant to be.

Opening pages:

“Once upon a Louisiana time, there lived a Creole mouse named Chicory. One morning she climbed into a picnic basket to nibble on some French bread, and she feel fast asleep. A nice New Orleans family had packed the basket with their favorite foods, such as roast-beef po’boys, Creole tomatoes, and pecan pralines. As Chicory napped, she was carried away to a picnic on a humid day!

When she awoke, Chicory discovered that the basket was smackdab in the middle of a swamp!”

 Why I like this book Author Todd-St. Pierre cleverly adapted Aesop’s fable, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, to create Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse. He highlighted city vs. country life through the lens of Louisiana culture.

When people find out I’m from New Orleans, often they ask, “What’s the difference between a Louisiana Creole and Louisiana Cajun?” And I always reply that the difference is similar to any region’s city vs. country living. Simply, where you choose to live influences how you live. As a city girl I attended undergraduate school in Lafayette, Louisiana located in the southwestern corner of the state. I had a wonderful experience, but I’m a New Orleans girl and identify with Chicory, the Creole Mouse! Yet I have friends and family who are like Roux, the Cajun Mouse, who would never leave the countryside. Truthfully, whether folks live in the city or the country we all celebrate the same wonderfully unique Louisiana culture.

There are two original songs at the end of the book, “Song of Roux: The Cajun Mouse and Song of Chicory: The Creole Mouse.

Resources

To read more reviews of today’s picks, visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

 

Please follow and like us:

Easy Peasy Pillsbury King Cake

Easy Peasy Pillsbury King Cake

Happy Almost Mardi Gras! Every January 6th kicks off the official King Cake season and Carnival. I wrote a guest post, ‘Tis the season of King Cakes, over at Charlotte Riggle’s blog for all you food and culture buffs.

Today I want to share another easy King Cake recipe. The recipe in my book, THE KING CAKE BABY, uses frozen bread dough with a cinnamon-sugar filling and includes a recipe for making a Cream Cheese icing. In this recipe, I use three Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheets, the cinnamon-sugar mix, and a can of Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing. Easy peasy! The only thing easier than making this King Cake is picking one up at your favorite grocery or bakery.

Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheet King Cake Recipe

 Ingredients:

  • 3 Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheets

  • Cinnamon sugar mixture: ½ c. granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons cinnamon 

  • 1 Plastic King Cake Baby (to hide inside, of course!)

  • Purple, Green, & Gold sugar sprinkles

  • Optional fillings: fruit pie filling, or Nutella, or almond paste

  • 1 can Pillsbury Cream Cheese Icing 

Directions:

Cover a baking pan with parchment paper or use a nonstick cookie sheet. Unroll dough sheets and sprinkle each with about a tablespoon of the cinnamon-sugar mix. 

Roll each dough sheet from the shortest side of the rectangle. 

Arrange into an oval shape. Press seams together to connect. Bake according to directions on Pillsbury package. EDIT: Add an extra 5 or 10 minutes depending on your oven. Check to make sure the inside is done.

Decorate the King Cake

Soften ½ can of Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing. Have purple, green, gold sprinkles handy.

While the cake is still warm, pour icing on top. Alternate with purple, green and gold colored Mardi Gras sprinkles.

Hide a plastic King Cake Baby in the underside of the cake. Before eating, check to see if you got the baby!

Click Mardi Gras King Cake from Pillsbury Dough Sheets to download the recipe.

Bon appétit!

And if any of you need a gluten free recipe, see this Red Mill cinnamon roll recipe.

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

PERFECT timing for this Perfect Picture Book Pair!

capture

This October, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur are celebrated, and it’s also National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Both books are inspired by the Yiddish folksong “Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl” (I Had a Little Overcoat or My Coat). And both stories show how grandparents re-use, and re-purpose fabric to leave a legacy of love.

Title: Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya

Author: Monica Brown

Illustrator: David Diaz

Publisher: Children’s Book Press (CA); and imprint of Lee & Low Bilingual edition (August 15, 2015)

Age Range: 3-7 years.

Topics: Latino culture, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

 

Title: My Grandfather’s Coat

Author: Jim Aylesworth  

Illustrator: Barbara McClintock

Publisher: Scholastic Press   (October 2014)

Age Range: 4-8 years.

Topics: Immigration, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes but one must include diverse settings,  life experiences,  and or people in the world of  children’s literature in response to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Mark Twain said ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…”Reading is too!

Kids love to see their own reflections in books. Join me and  #ReadYourWorld!

Please follow and like us:

Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat

Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat 

maneko

Written by:  Susan Lendroth

Illustrated by: Kathryn Otoshi

Publisher: Shen’s Books (July 2010)

Suitable for ages: 5 and up

Themes/Topics: Japan, legend of Maneki Neko, folk tale, gratitude

Brief Synopsis: A cat named Tama lives in a small Japanese village with a poor monk at the Kotoku Monastery. During a great storm a samurai takes cover under a tree not far from the temple. Tama is also stranded outside. When Tama is cleaning her face with her paw, the samurai sees the cat beckoning him. He moves toward the cat and the tree is hit by lightning. He believes the cat saved his life. 

In his gratitude, the samurai shared his wealth with the monk who then shared the riches with his village. When the cat died, the monk created the legend of Maneki Neko  “beckoning cat” or “lucky cat” to honor Tama. 

This is one of many versions of the Japanese legend of Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat. 

Opening page: You have come to the wrong place, little one, for I am as poor as you with few scraps to share,” said the monk when he first saw the cat sunning herself outside his door. Still, he smiled, scratching the thin fur behind her ears and the spot on her back, round as a child’s ball. 

The cat rolled, rubbing her head between the monk’s hand and the hard-packed earth, then immediately sat up to polish the dust from her face. One curled paw dipped and rose, beckoning to the monk like an old friend. 

Why I like this book: The artwork by Kathryn Otoshi captures the peacefulness and serenity of the landscape in many rural areas in Japan. 

The story is a beautiful memory of my years living and working there. These small figurines are found all over Japan and throughout Asia. Homes and businesses have Maneki Neko statues displayed with either its left or right paw raised. Businesses display cats with the left paw raised to bring in customers. A raised right paw is said to bring luck and money. The figurines come in a variety of colors that symbolize a different kind of luck. White is for happiness, gold brings money, black is for good health, and red is for love and relationships. 

The book introduces readers to Japanese culture and folklore.

meneko-pic

Photo : Sarah on Flickr

Resources:

See Sushi Cat for concentration and memory games. 

See DLTK for directions for making a Maneki Neko craft Education.com and Coloring Castle for a coloring pages. 

See Mr. Dunn‘s site for links, PowerPoint presentations, maps, and lesson plans about Japan for students of all ages. 

For more reviews of today’s picks, visit author Susanna Hill’s blog here.

Happy reading!

Please follow and like us:

Catherine’s Pascha by Charlotte Riggle

Catherine’s Pascha by Charlotte Riggle

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Catherine’s Pascha – A Celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church

51SqiKqBACL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Written by: Charlotte Riggle

Illustrated by: R. J. Hughes

Publisher: Phoenix Flair Press (2015)

Suitable for ages: 6 and up

Themes/Topics: Pascha (Easter), Orthodox Christian Easter, Eastern Orthodox Church, religious celebrations, religious diversity, cultures from around the world

 

Brief Synopsis: Through the eyes of a young girl named Catherine, readers learn about Pascha [PAH-ska], the Orthodox Christian Easter service celebrated in communities around the world. Catherine is determined to stay awake on Holy Saturday this year so she can experience the Pascha (Easter) service at her church. In beginning of the story, while Catherine naps, the family is busy with preparations for the feast that follows the service on Easter Sunday. After they leave for the service, the author takes us inside the church to experience the details of this special celebration. The illustrations show different churches from around the world, in all seven continents, where Pascha has been celebrated – yes, even in Antarctica!

In addition to the story, the author includes back matter, a glossary and Frequently Asked Questions pages for easy reference.

 

Opening pages:  Mom says I have to go to bed at my regular time, even though it’s Holy Saturday.

 

“But, Mom!” I say. “It’s going to be time to get up in just a little while!”

 

“All the more reason for you to get a little nap,” she says, and she turns off the light.

 

Well, Mom can make me go to bed, but she can’t make me go to sleep. I’m going to stay awake until it’s time to go to church.”

 

Why I like this book: Catherine’s Pascha is a lovely story packed with details about a special annual event still celebrated today. Children will certainly identify with the child centered character of Catherine the author created. Given I was raised Roman Catholic, this story brought back many memories of Christmas midnight mass, including the excitement of wanting to stay awake. Although our Easter was celebrated in a daytime service, just as Catherine and her family, we celebrated Easter by wearing new clothing, and eating special food after fasting for Lent.

This story would be a good addition to any collection of books on world religions, Orthodox traditions, and Orthodox Pascha (Easter).

 

Resources:

See the Charlotte Riggle’s website which is filled with further reading, resources, activities, and more.

Listen to Charlotte Riggle’s interview by Bobby Maddex with Ancient Faith Ministries podcast.

 

Check out author Susanna’s Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page here to read more of today’s book reviews.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Please follow and like us:

Mardi Gras 2016 Visits

Mardi Gras 2016 Visits

Slide1

School visits are a wonderful way for authors to share their passion for literacy and share the joys of living a creative life. This baby ran all over New Orleans, over the Mississippi River, and across the Twin Span Bridge! I am very fortunate to have met wonderful faculty and great students during each visit.

 

The kids and I had a blast reading The King Cake Baby and singing 12 Days of Carnival. My song is all about New Orleans food. And what food tops the Mardi Gras food pyramid? King Cake!

The following links are to pages dedicated to each school visited:

St. Pius X Catholic School, New Orleans

Terrytown Elementary School, Jefferson Parish Schools

Akili Academy, New Orleans

Abney Elementary School, Slidell

Homer A. Plessy Community School, New Orleans

St. Michael’s Special School, New Orleans

 

I also attended my first King Cake Festival, a benefit for Ochsner Pediatrics! And as you can imagine, ate lots and lots of King Cake! Maurice French Pastries won the People’s Choice Award for the second year. Delicious. Félicitations!

logo

 

I am so fortunate to be able to participate in this wonderful tradition and be a part of a very unique culture. And it’s celebrated year after year! Can’t wait till January 6th to kick off Carnival 2017. Mardi Gras Day is February 28, 2017. Who’s counting? ME, Baby!

Mardi Gras 2017 Countown

Please follow and like us:

Mardi Gras Season 2016

Mardi Gras Season 2016

Mardi Gras Season 2016 will kickoff, as always, on January 6th. New Orleans and Brazil are well known destinations for those who want to experience one of the greatest parties on earth – Carnival. Although the season varies, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras day will always fall on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, 40 days before Easter in accordance to the liturgical calendar.

To get this party started, those who celebrate will make, bake, or buy a King Cake on January 6th.

Here’s one from last year. Keyword…”one”…I make, buy, and eat them throughout the season!

2015-02-18 19.55.47

And to show how big a deal these traditional cakes are, the King Cake Festival is an annual event to honor these delicious confections. The 3rd annual festival is January 31st. It’s a FREE family friendly event benefiting Ochsner Hospital Pediatric Departments. There’s something for everyone; music, games, food, and lots and lots of King Cakes to sample! A People’s Choice Award is given to the bakery with the most votes for the tastiest cake of the season.

Past winners included:

2015 Maurice French Pastries

2014 Haydel’s Bakery

Very excited that I will be there in Champions Square this year as a vendor with The King Cake Baby. Click here for more details and updates on this event.

11215797_751204701669589_7113801705676248725_n

There will be lots of celebrations on January 6th too.  Some will attend the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc parade. Joan of Arc is a symbol of New Orleans’ French heritage. January 6th is her birthday.

Some will attend the ball of The Twelfth Night Revelers, a Carnival organization that had their first ball on January 6, 1870, a tradition that continues today. The female from their court who finds the bean- la fève – in the wooden King Cake is crowned Queen – La Reine.

The Krewe of Phunny Phorty Phellows will parade on the St. Charles Streetcar line the night of January 6th. That krewe is known as being the “dessert of Carnival”, a satirical and fun group. One of their mottos is “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of men.”

Click here to read my post from last year about the history of Louisiana Creole Carnival celebrations –    Le Petit Noël (Twelfth Night or Little Christmas or Feast of the Epiphany or Kings’ Day) and Mardi Gras.

And you don’t have to be part of a high society, live in New Orleans or where King Cakes are sold to celebrate the kick off of Mardi Gras. You can make a king cake in your very own kitchen. Watch Alex the French Guy make a French version –La Galette des Rois, he’s adorable and funny. CookingAndCrafting demonstrates how to make a New Orleans King Cake from scratch. The recipe I put in The King Cake Baby is a very easy one because it’s made from frozen dough. I used it with a handful of adults and a cafeteria full of kids to make 50 King Cakes in a few hours that we sent to our troops in the Wounded Warriors Project at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

If you don’t have a plastic baby, use a bean or a coin (wrap the coin in foil for hygienic reasons) to hide. Just remember, before you take a bite, be sure to check for the baby or whatever is hidden inside!

Bon appétit!

Please follow and like us:

SCBWI Book Launch Party – You’re Invited!

SCBWI Book Launch Party – You’re Invited!

It’s the SCBWI Book Launch Party! Click here to visit, like, comment, and share my party page for a chance to win a copy of The King Cake Baby.

 

Follow the baby on his Facebook page here.

While on the SCBWI site, check out other great kidlit titles.

 

Let’s get this party started!

SCBWI book launch

Please follow and like us:

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules
DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post!

Written: Jacqueline Jules   9780807517345

illustrated by: Kathryn Mitter

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (2009)

Suitable for ages: 6-8

Topics/Themes: Vietnamese culture, American Thanksgiving, cultural awareness, cultural diversity, acceptance, assimilation, acculturation

Brief Synopsis: DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is the story of a girl of Vietnamese heritage who learns about Thanksgiving in school. The class makes a turkey from pine cones, sing Turkey songs, and her teacher refers to the day as turkey day, but her family always serves duck. Tuyet’s plan is to convince her family to eat turkey, known by many as the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving food. But they end up using her grandmother’s recipe for duck like they always do and Tuyet even has a second helping. When school resumes after the holiday, Tuyet is reluctant to talk about her holiday meal until other classmates tell about their dinners that included lamb, enchiladas, and noodles.

Opening pages:  To get ready for Thanksgiving, Tuyet’s class sang Turkey songs. They made pine cone turkeys. They talked about Pilgrims and Native Americans.

“See you Monday.” Mrs. Cook said when the bell rang. “Have a good Turkey Day.”

Why I like this book: DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is a delightful book which introduces children to Vietnamese culinary traditions. It is a perfect fit to include in a  #weneeddiversebooks list. In addition to addressing cultural diversity, there is multi-generational component weaved into the story that I also enjoyed. It’s is a wonderful story that demonstrates there is no ‘right way’ to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  The day is also about giving thanks and spending time with family, not  only eating turkey!

Resources:

Click here for the Children’s Choice Award lesson plan on page 12.

Click here for the library sparks lesson plan.

Click here for multicultural Thanksgiving Songs by the Jacqueline Jules.

Click here to see the book trailer.

For more of today’s book reviews, click here go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

Please follow and like us:

Suki’s Kimono

Suki’s Kimono
Title: Suki’s Kimono
Written by:  Chieri Uegaki
Illustrated by: Stéphanie Jorisch
Kids Can Press,  2003, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 3-8
Themes/Topics: celebrating individuality, determination, cultural awareness, tolerance, acceptance
 
Brief Synopsis:  Suki’s decided to wear her kimono, a gift from her grandmother, on the first day of school. Although her sisters did not want her to, Suki wears it anyway. On her way to school the kids laughed at her, but Suki’s kimono helps her relive those happy summer memories of her Japanese grandmother’s visit and all the things they did together. Her classmates also laugh and tease her but when it’s her turn to share what she did over summer break, Suki’s enthusiasm and joy is mesmerizing.
 
Opening pages:  “On the first day of school, suki wanted to wear her kimono. Her sisters did not approve. “You can’t wear that,” said Mari. “People will think you’re weird.”
“You can’t wear that,” said Yumi. “Everyone will laugh, and no one will play with you,’’ said Yumi.
‘’You need something new, Suki.” You need something cool.’’
 
Why I like this book: Suki demonstrates her individuality by choosing to wear a kimomo to school even when her sisters disapprove and warn her it may be an unpopular choice. The dialog between Suki and a girl on the playground who asks her about her “funny’’ clothing and Suki ‘s explanation shows that it’s okay to question as long as you are open to understanding another’s opinion. Suki is delighted to both show and tell her classmates about the summer spent with her Japanese grandmother. Suki’s teacher and the classmates realize wearing the kimono helps her recreate those happy summer memories.  And from Suki we learn that despite being laughed at or teased for doing something  different, sometimes it just doesn’t matter.
 
1d69581d849bf98f034319a823b19f61
Please follow and like us: