Category Archives: NOLA

Little Bookworm Bookstore Author Visit

Little Bookworm Bookstore Author Visit

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Passed a good time at the Little Bookworm bookstore with illustrator Vernon Smith dancing, singing, reading THE KING CAKE BABY and of course eating King Cake! 💜💚💛👑🎭🎺🎵🎷🎶

Please follow and like us:

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:

The Littlest Streetcar by Vernon Smith

The Littlest Streetcar by Vernon Smith

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is The Littlest Streetcar by author-illustrator Vernon Smith. What a sweet story!

Written & Illustrated by:  Vernon Smith

PublisherPelican Publishing Company, Inc. (February 2017)

Suitable for ages: 3 and up

Themes/Topics: Self-Concept, Self-esteem, New Orleans, Louisiana, Streetcars & Trains, Transportation

Brief SynopsisThis is a story about a little streetcar named Charlie who wasn’t as popular as other streetcars because he was a maintenance vehicle. Convinced he was “just a worker car”, Charlie didn’t feel worthy or as important as the other streetcars until his skills helped them out of trouble. Charlie then realized he is appreciated and valuable and special, just they way he is.

 Opening pages:

“Charlie the Streetcar liked to roll down the tracks and enjoy his day. It made him very happy, because he didn’t go out all the time like the other streetcars.

Some days, Charlie was called upon to put sand on the rails. This would create traction, so the other streetcars could move without the wheels slipping and sliding.” 

 Why I like this book This is such an endearing story with a wonderful message. The Littlest Streetcar reminds readers that there is something special about each and every one of us. The artwork is colorful and expressive showing every character’s personality. See if you can find the spread where Vernon Smith gives a shout out to The King Cake Baby the first book we both published with Pelican; he as the illustrator.

In the back matter Smith gives a brief history about New Orleans streetcars and his inspiration for writing the story.

Resources

  • Learn more here about New Orleans Streetcars. And if you are ever in the city take a ride on one!

  • Read the history of trams, trolleys, and streetcars here and or visit your local train museum.

  • See this KidsHealth PreK-2 Teacher’s Guide on Self-esteem

  • Extension activities to help children develop self-esteem.

  • Extension crafts from Pinterest to help children develop self-esteem.

Read more today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

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:

Bridget and the Books Giveaway

Bridget and the Books Giveaway

Eh la bas! A young kidlit blogger at Bridget and the Books is hosting a giveaway of THE KING CAKE BABY. Run to her blog and comment on her post to enter. Last day to enter is February 17th. Good luck!

Happy Mardi Gras! 🎶🎺🎵🎷🎭🎶👑

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:

Happy Mardi Gras 2016!

Happy Mardi Gras 2016!

Happy Mardi Gras! After two weeks of Carnival back home I can imagine the excitement in New Orleans today. It wasn’t a long season, but sure wasn’t short on fun. I was able to indulge in family, friends, music, and my favorite foods while there. Of course all appear on the Mardi Gras food pyramid, but there’s only one at the top.

King Cake!

1. Mardi Gras food pyramid

Here’s a look at King Cake consumption over the Carnival season from the Twelfth Night on January 6 to Ash Wednesday, courtesy of a poster on reddit. I believe this info is pretty accurate!

King Cake Consumption

And just about as popular as this tasty treat is our beloved King Cake Baby! Everyone loves that baby.

The best part of this holiday is that we get to enjoy Carnival again and again, year after year. Here’s to Mardi Gras 2017. Start the clock. Only 364 days away. But who’s counting? ME!

Please follow and like us:

All Saints’ Day in New Orleans

All Saints’ Day in New Orleans

All Saints’ Day or the Feast of All Saints is celebrated every November 1st. Today is the day the Catholic Church reminds us how we’re supposed to live, as saints did. Catholics love their saints and this is a special day to honor them. A saint, by definition, is a person recognized after death as a soul who’s made it to heaven because they’ve lived a holy life on earth. They are more than faithful, but rather exceptional. They were benevolent role models, teachers, miracle workers, and intercessors, who chose to live a consecrated life taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. There’s no shortage of souls who became saints in accordance to church doctrine. In fact, there’s probably a “patron saint” to pray to for guidance or even favors for anything you need or any area in your life you’d like to improve. Each known for their special interests and or talents. The belief is, since they’re already in heaven, they’ve got your back.

Today, New Orleans families traditionally visit cemeteries to clean and decorate the tombs of our loved ones in preparation for tomorrow, All Souls’ Day. Growing up, caring for your dead was family event.

Below is a public domain photo from 1885, Harper’s Weekly “Decorating the Tombs”.

All_Saints_Day_in_New_Orleans_--_Decorating_the_Tombs

All Souls’ Day or the Feast of All Souls is celebrated every November 2nd. I wrote about the difference between these two days last year here. For centuries, New Orleans has had a special relationship with the dead. The idea that the souls of our dead live on allows us to continue to celebrate them in life. They body is gone, the spirit lives on. We want to believe our loved ones made it into heaven. But in case they lead a less than benevolent life and their souls landed in the mid-way point called Purgatory, rather than reach the ultimate destination, today is the day we pray for their mercy. The church encourages relatives on earth to celebrate the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed. For all intents and purposes it’s an annual request for free ”get out of jail cards” for Catholics.

Although I am not there today, I do visit our family tombs when I am home. For all my family members who are out at cemeteries today, thank you. I plan to return the favor one day.

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Amazon Giveaway #2

Amazon Giveaway #2

The baby is on the run again. CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN! 

#‎AmazonGiveaway #2! Click here to enter for a chance to win a copy of The King Cake Baby. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

scan0012b

Please follow and like us:

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Title:  Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans 

Written by: Phil Bildner

Illustrated by: John Parra

Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 4, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: Hurricane Katrina, spirit of New Orleans, empathy, community, resilience, courage, recovery, pride, joie de vivre

MarvelousCornelius.Neighbors.Wave

Brief Synopsis: This story is based on the life of a friendly, hardworking, energetic, fun loving man named Cornelius Washington, a trash collector in the French Quarter. He did his job well taking pride in keeping the streets clean. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans the trash pickup became a monumental task. But that didn’t stop Cornelius because he was a monumental man. Everyone he greeted on his morning route pitched in, and people came from all over the United States to help.

“Cornelius rose. He dried his eyes. For his spirit and will were waterproof.”

Opening pages:  “In the Quarter; there worked a man known in New Orleans as Marvelous Cornelius.”

“Mornin’.” He saluted the sliver-haired man with the Times-Picayune tucked under his arm.

“Greetings.” He waved to the couple with the baby on the balcony.

“Ma’am.” He nodded to the woman shanking rugs out at her front window.”

Why I like this book: Phil Bildner creates a tall tale depicting the life of Cornelius Washington into a modern American folk hero. The art of John Parra is authentic; filled with humanity and emotion. Neither the story nor the art shy away from the pain suffered as a result of the storm. Yet it brilliantly captures that joie de vivre of the people and New Orleans culture. It saddens me to know that Cornelius Washington died at age 48, a few years after the storm, and before the story was written. Many of us who are native New Orleanians have untold stories that include our own personal heroes during that difficult time who showed unbridled courage.  And there were those from afar who came to help that showed tremendous kindness. Thanks to Phil Bildner and John Parra we are reminded that they too are Marvelous Cornelius.

MarvelousCornelius_Casewrap_FnCrx.indd -50e71b3a00a1a24d

Resources:

Click here to read an interview with the author  Phil Bildner and learn about Cornelius Washington

Click here to read the Time-Picayune story about Cornelius Washington by Katy Reckdahl.

Click here to hear Cornelius Washington.

Click here to see the book.

Click here for the teacher’s guide.

Click here for Facts for Kids.

Click here for Education World lessons on hurricanes.

Click here for more about hurricanes from Science for Kids.

Please follow and like us:

A Storm Called Katrina

A Storm Called Katrina

Title: A Storm Called Katrina

5

Written by:  Myron Uhlberg

Illustrated by: Colin Bootman

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Suitable for ages: 4 and up

Themes/Topics: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, natural disasters, family, community, survival, compassion, empathy, courage

Brief Synopsis: A Storm Called Katrina is the story of a family’s experiences with Hurricane Katrina told through the voice of Louis Daniel, a 10-year-old boy who dreamed of one day playing his trumpet like Louis Armstrong. Like many in the city, the family prepared for the storm but did not evacuate. The day after the storm the water began to rise and the family was forced to leave their home. They left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing but Louis took his horn. They were rescued and ended up in the Superdome.  Although the family survived the flood waters, the conditions in the stadium were harsh and dangerous. When his father went out to find water for the family, Louis and his mother, feeling unsafe, moved to different seats. Fearing his father would not be able to find them, Louis ran down to the football field to play his trumpet. The family is reunited when his father hears him play.

Opening Pages: “HURRICANE’S COMING, Baby,” Mama said.

“I’m not a baby anymore, Mama. I turned ten last month.”

“Doesn’t matter how old you are, Louis Daniel. You’ll always be my baby,” she said. “Hush now and go to bed.”

The wind rattled my window something fierce. When the storm howled louder, I covered my ears and hid under the blanket.”

Why I like this book: Author Myron Uhlberg writes a moving story about a tramatizing event that shows how one family was able to navigate and survive a natural disaster. However it is presented in a way that is not too scary for children and is rather touching. Illustrator Colin Bootman adds to the story with his authentic images of New Orleans at the time of the flood. I especially like the page where sunlight beaming through the torn off roof of the Superdome shines on Louis as he plays his trumpet hoping his father will hear his music. This book is a wonderful tribute to family, community, and survival.

Resources:

Click here to find classroom discussions questions about A Storm Called Katrina.

Click here for Facts for Kids.

Click here for Education World lessons on hurricanes.

Click here for Scholastic site. Hurricane Katrina for upper primary and middle school kids.

Click here for a wealth of articles and lessons for kids from TeacherVision

Click here for more about hurricanes from Science for Kids.

In My Heart: A Child’s Hurricane Katrina Story on YouTube.

Children of the Storm on YouTube

Please follow and like us:

A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

Title:  A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

   Written by: Susanne Lewis 61tht0f31mL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_

   Illustrated by: Lisa Anchin

   Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, February 1, 2015

   Suitable for ages: 4-8

   Themes/Topics: survival, courage, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, penguins, aquarium animals

   Brief Synopsis: This is a Hurricane Katrina story about the  rescue and aftermath of the penguins from the New Orleans Audubon Aquarium of the Americas Aquarium of the Americas. The story is told from the perspective of Patience and begins on the night the hurricane hit the city.  As the oldest and head penguin Patience had to be patient and keep Fanny, Ernie, Kohl, Bunny, Amquel, Voodoo, Rocky, Stachmo, Dyer, Zelda, Dennis and the other in line during this ordeal. Tom, the penguin keeper, helped them stay cool and fed until they were all transported to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Tom went along too, but couldn’t stay for long. Patience, once again, had to be patient.  Nine months later and the aquarium repaired, the penguins returned home in a New Orleans style celebration!

Opening pages:  “Patience knew something was terribly wrong.

It was dark and steamy hot inside her home at Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. Being an African penguin meant she was used to a warm climate, but not this warm!”

Why I like this book: Anyone with ties to New Orleans was personally affected by the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. This is one story that highlights the struggle and determination not only to survive but return. Everyone will root for Patience and her fellow penguins to go back home!

Resources: Suzanne Lewis has activities on her site here.

Click here for Facts for Kids.

Click here for Education World lessons on hurricanes.

Click here for Scholastic site. Hurricane Katrina for upper primary and middle school kids.

Click here for a wealth of articles and lessons for kids from TeacherVision

Click here for more about hurricanes from Science for Kids.

In My Heart: A Child’s Hurricane Katrina Story on YouTube.

Children of the Storm on YouTube

Please follow and like us:

Say What? New Orleans Street Names

Say What? New Orleans Street Names

Say What? New Orleans street names are hard to pronounce! Yes, indeed.

There are a lot of interesting things about New Orleans. The fact that the languages, food, music, and traditions of the Louisiana Creole culture continued after the Louisiana Purchase and US statehood is unarguably, unique. In my post Say What? New Orleans Speak I introduced readers to some local lingo, popular places with a bit of history, and a pronunciation guide. Today we will take a look at some street names. Yeah-you-right, if you want to sound like local when visiting NOLA, there are a few street names that are particularly difficult to pronounce. Tourists come across all or most of them during a visit.

FQ map

Let’s start with a review. You already know locals pronounce the name of the city as  noo OR-lunz, noo OR-lee-unz, or noo AW-linz. But did you know the city is divided into Parishes and Faubourgs? A Parish is called a County in other US cities. A Faubourg (FAUX-berg) is a holdover from the French Colonial period and refers to the parts outside the city, known today as the “burbs”. The French Quarter which is the oldest neighborhood in the city today, was the original city, so the territory built up outside of that space was considered a “faubourg” or “suburbs’’. For example there’s a Faubourg St. John, a Fauborg Marigny (MAHR-ruh-nee) and the Faubourg Tremé (tray-MAY) made popular in the HBO series Treme. However, in the TV show, the spelling Treme could be pronounced TREAM. When spelled the French way with the diacritic over the second ‘e’, the pronunciation changes.

Here’s the thing, the blending of a handful of old world cultures that settled in Louisiana created a new culture that has over time influenced the pronunciations of old words. So a French word or a Spanish word or a word from one of the original native Louisianans may not be pronounced as you think.

Have some fun and give these pronunciations a try. And if you get stuck, that’s okay, just ask a local, they won’t mind!

  1. Baronne: (buh-ROAN) not (bar-ro-NAY)
  2. Burgundy Street: (bur-GUN-dee) not like the wine, (BURG-gun-dee)
  3. Carondelet: (kah-ron-duh-LET) not (kah-ron-duh-LAY)
  4. Chartres: (CHART-ers) not (char-TRESS)
  5. Conti: (KAWN-tie) not (KAWN-tee)
  6. Decatur: (duh-KAY-ter), not (dee-ca-TURE) or (deck uh-TURE)
  7. Freret: (FER-et) not (FRER-ay), the French way
  8. Iberville: (EYE-ber-ville) not (IB-er-ville)
  9. Tonti: (TAWN-tee) not (TAWN-tie) ignore #5!
  10. Tchoupitoulas: (Chop-a-TOO-luhs) not, well…you can imagine
  11. Toulouse: (TOO-loose) not (Too-LOOSE)
  12. Tulane: (TOO-lane) not (tu-LANE)

After you have it all figured out, plug in New Orleans street names to a car navigation system on your visit if you want to get a good laugh.

And please, strike up a conversation with a local while out and about. When home, the local lingo is what makes it feel like home to me. A typical greeting from an old childhood NAY-bah I may see in da MAW-nin’ could go like this, “Hey dawlin’! Where y’at? How’s yamama’n’em? You bettah come pass by ma house before you leave.”

And that, is music to my ears.

Please follow and like us: