Tag: New Orleans

Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras, Recipes

Easy Peasy Crescent Roll King Cake

This year I’m sharing an easy peasy crescent rolls king cake recipe.

When it was time to make a king cake this year, I couldn’t find Pillsbury Dough Sheets, so this was an opportunity to figure out how to make a king cake with crescent rolls. The stores said they had the inventory, but not enough employees to keep the shelves stocked. YIKES. It takes a little more skill, but it’s still easy peasy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • cinnamon sugar mix: ½ c. granulated sugar + 2 tbsp cinnamon 
  • plastic king cake baby (to hide inside, of course!)
  • purple, green, & gold sugar sprinkles
  • 1 can Pillsbury Cream Cheese Icing or make your own

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 °F (190 °C).
  2. Grease a pizza pan or cover with parchment paper. (Easily transfers to a serving dish using parchment paper.)
  3. Mix the cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Unroll one can of crescent rolls and separate into 8 triangles. Arrange the triangles, slightly overlapping all sides into a half circle with tips pointed toward the center.

5. Finish the circle by laying the triangles from the second can.

6. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix around the middle of the dough.

7. Pull the narrow part of the triangle from the center toward the widest part.

8. Pull the widest part of the triangle from the end toward the center.

9. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.

  10. While the cake is in the oven, read THE KING CAKE BABY. Don’t let your baby run away!

Decorate the King Cake

1. Soften ½ can of Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing or make a cream cheese icing using the recipe below.

Cream cheese icing:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 4oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract  
  • 3 tablespoons milk

2. Hide one plastic king cake baby in the cake’s underside.

3. While the cake is still warm, pour icing on top.

4. Top with sugar sprinkles, alternating purple, green colors.

5. Before eating, check your piece to see if you got the baby!

And check out my post on how to host an Easy Peasy King Cake Party with pictures.

Bon appétit!

Louisiana, Recipes

Creole Louisiana Mirliton Recipe

Happy fall, y’all!

Today’s post comes with a family recipe for one of my childhood favorite foods. But, we need to dig into some world history first!

What does Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean have to do with my Creole Louisiana Mirlton recipe? Read on…

Mirliton, [MEL-ee-tawn], [MER-lee-tawn], or [MEEL-ee-tawn] in Louisiana, [MEER-lee-tawn] in French, is a south Louisiana staple. The squash, called chayote [chah·YOH·teh] in Spanish, is native to Mesoamerica. This old world plant has documented roots in Louisiana dated in the mid-1800s. However, evidence suggests it reached the Louisiana colony much earlier. In one theory, the plant came to the port city of New Orleans, while a Spanish colony, via other Spanish colonies in Latin America. Another explanation is that it came with colonizers (including gens de couleur libres) and the people they enslaved that fled to New Orleans from Saint-Domingue and Cuba from 1791 to 1815, during and following the slave rebellion that created the Republic of Haiti in 1804. The evidence supporting this latter theory is the fact that there are two places that use the word “mirliton” for this squash—Louisiana and the former French colony renamed Haiti after the revolution. In English, Anglo-Americans call this squash a “vegetable pear” because of its shape. So was the staple called chayote brought to colonial Louisiana during the Spanish period? If so, did the influx of roughly 15,000 French-speakers from Saint-Domingue and Cuba that arrived in New Orleans influence using the French name for the squash? Or was it brought to Louisiana by Saint-Dominguans?

Food history is so fascinating!

This squash is technically a fruit and grows on a vine in warm climates. I remember mirliton growing in my grandmother’s backyard in New Orleans. The plant grew all over the city before Hurricane Katrina decimated the plant. As part of hurricane recovery, a nonprofit organization dedicated itself to the revival and conservation of the Louisiana mirliton.

Чайот.JPG” by SKas is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0

Below is the recipe passed on to me that I will pass on to my children.

Louisiana Creole Mirliton Recipe

Ingredients and prep:

  • 6-8 medium mirlitons
  • 2 pounds gulf shrimp
  • 1 pound white lump crab meat
  • 1 pound cooked ham, cubed
  • 1 medium bell peppers, diced
  • 1 medium onions, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stick butter
  • Louisiana Creole seasoning
    • ½ tsp cayenne
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • ½ tsp dried oregano
    • ½ tsp dried thyme
    • 1 tbsp dried garlic powder
    • ½ tsp black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ½ tsp onion powder
  • cayenne pepper  to taste
  • Italian bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176 °C).
  2. Boil whole mirlitons in salted water until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from water and set aside to cool.
  3. While the mirlitons cool, sauté onion, celery, and bell pepper in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add ham, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook another 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle shrimp with Louisiana Creole seasoning. Set aside.
  5. Cut cooled mirlitons in half and remove the seeds and pods. Scoop out the mirliton flesh and place into a colander. Lightly squeeze out excess moisture. TIP: If you want to stuff the shells instead of making a casserole, score on the sides before scooping to leave a little flesh on the sides. The skin tears easily.
  6. Add drained mirlitons to Dutch oven. Add cayenne. TIP: If there’s a lot of water, add a tablespoon of breadcrumbs to thicken or cook on medium-low heat, uncovered, until most of the liquid evaporates.
  7. Add seasoned shrimp. Cook about 20 minutes.
  8. Fold in crabmeat and parsley. Put mixture in mirliton shells.
  9. Top with bread crumbs. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bread crumbs turn brown.
  10. Serve with Louisiana French Bread or French baguette.

Bon appétit!

OPTION: Make as a casserole.

Author visits, Louisiana, Mardi Gras, Picture books, School Visits

Kings’ Day School Visit

It was a pleasure to have Keila V. Dawson speak to my Kindergarten class about her book The King Cake Baby! She really connected with my kids and had them saying words in French by the end of her visit.  She inspired us to write our own class book!” Elizabeth Gates, Kindergarten teacher, Rothenberg Academy, Cincinnati Public Schools.

On January 6th, the first day of Carnival, I had the pleasure of virtually visiting with Kindergarten students at Rothenberg Academy in Cincinnati. We compared Cincinnati to New Orleans and talked about things that are the same and different. Ok, mostly we talked about food!

And I read THE KING CAKE BABY. So happy to have inspired them to write their own stories, and I can’t wait to read them!

History, Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras

Why is there a baby in a King Cake?

Ever wonder why there’s a baby in a King Cake? Or how the tradition of eating King Cake during the Carnival season came about? Read my guest post over at Alphabet Soup to find the answers.

Comment and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a signed copy of my picture book, THE KING CAKE BABY!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Louisiana, Mardi Gras, Recipes

Easy Peasy King Cake Party!

If you want to host an Easy Peasy King Cake Party for Carnival…

See my earlier post for the recipe.

Who’d like to help?

You’ll need three Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheets.

Roll out each dough sheet into a rectangle

Mix cinnamon and sugar for the filling and divide among each dough sheet.

Gently roll each from the shortest side of the rectangle.

I can do it myself!

Connect here, here, and here to create an oval shape.

And place the cake into the oven to bake.

Whoever finds the baby will need a crown! The origami crown was easy peasy for the 10-year-old but a challenge for the younger kids. But I had a plan B!

Make a paper plate crown. Here’s a video. Easy peasy!

Don’t forget the baby!

Soften the icing while the cake cools…

Soften the icing while the cake cools…

…so it spreads easily.

…so it spreads easily.

Easy peasy!

See! I can do it all by myself!

Let it flow! Let it flow!

Allow the icing to pour over the sides of the cake. YUM!

Add the sugar sprinkles in a pattern- purple, green, and gold.

I picked purple. I’m first!

What’s next?

Then…

My turn!

And one more round of sprinkles.

There’s more than one way to get the job done.

Easy peasy!

Voilà. It’s a king cake!

Let’s eat!

Time to cut the cake.

Check your piece for the baby before you eat.

I didn’t get the baby.

Who got the baby?

All hail to the Queen!

What an easy peasy and fun king cake party!

Find the recipe here.

Why is there a baby in a king cake? How did the tradition of eating king cake during the Carnival season come about? Read my guest post over at Alphabet Soup to find the answers.

HAPPY MARDI GRAS!

Louisiana, Mardi Gras

King Cake Baby Needlepoint

At my annual physical with my doctor we had this conversation:

DOC: How’s the book biz?

ME: Busy with an upcoming release.

DOC: Oh good, I bought your last book. My son lives in Manhattan and needlepoints in Central Park. He made a King Cake. Look, he added the baby! 💜💚💛👑😍⚜️🎭

How cool is that! KCB in NYC.

Author visits, Holidays, Mardi Gras, Picture books

Author Visit: Little Bookworm Bookstore

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! 💜💚💛👑🎭🎺🎵🎷🎶

Author visits, Holidays, Mardi Gras, School Visits

Author Visits: Mardi Gras 2016

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!

 

I had a blast and passed a good time visiting the following schools:

  • St. Pius X Catholic School, New Orleans
  • Terrytown Elementary School, Jefferson Parish Schools
  • Akili Academy, New Orleans
  • Abney Elementary School, Slidell
  • Westpark Montessori Magnet School
  • 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 I ate lots and lots of King Cake! Maurice French Pastries won the People’s Choice Award for the second year. Delicious. Félicitations!

I am so fortunate 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

Author visits, Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras, School Visits

Author Visits: Mardi Gras 2017

I had a 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 and the state is recognized as one of the top sales areas!  📚

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!   💜💚

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!

                                                                                                                                               

Author visits, Holidays, Mardi Gras, School Visits

Mardi Gras 2017 Highlights!

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.

I was a guest author for Scholastic and 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!  📚

And while there of course I ate a lot of different types of King Cake! The strangest food I tasted was a King Cake hamburger. 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 a delightful visit 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!

During Mardi Gras season, The King Cake Baby and I love to Skype with classes. We hung out with first grade students in Kentucky.

Just so happens World Read Aloud Day, known as WRAD, is always in February, during Carnival. 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. Mon amie’s daughter’s Girl Scout troop from San Diego celebrated!   💜💚

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

This tradition is fun no matter your age or where you live. If you haven’t eaten a piece of King Cake to celebrate Carnival, there’s always next year!

  Happy Mardi Gras! 

Holidays, Mardi Gras, Recipes

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 about the history of king cakes on Jama’s Alphabet Soup blog for all you food history 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, colored sugar sprinkles, 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 mix: ½ c. granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons cinnamon 
  • 1 plastic king cake baby (to hide inside, of course!)
  • purple, green, & gold sugar sprinkles
  • 1 can Pillsbury Cream Cheese Icing or make your own 

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 °F (190 °C).

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 20-25 minutes.

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.

If you prefer to make your own icing:

Cream-Cheese Icing

3 cups powdered sugar

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons melted butter

¼ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

3 tablespoons milk

Mix all five ingredients in a bowl. The icing should be thick enough to slowly drip from a whisk or spoon. Drizzle over the warm cake.

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.

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

 

Author visits, School Visits

East Iberville Elementary, St. Gabriel, LA

Had a blast with the Pre-K 3’s and 4’s at East Iberville Elementary in St. Gabriel!

First we read The King Cake Baby.

20161102_1242292

Then I found a baker to help me sing a song.

?

 

Then we sang 5 Little King Cake Babies.

20161102_1300392_b

And Ms. Reames brought us donuts for a yummy snack!

20161102_1307172       20161102_1306352

Author visits, School Visits

St. Mary’s Academy, New Orleans, LA

It was a real treat to read The King Cake Baby and sing the “5 Little King Cake Babies” song with Ms. Hutchison’s kindergarten class at St.Mary’s Academy. A perfect start to my day!

Author visits, School Visits

Hammond Westside Montessori

What a fun visit at Hammond Westside Montessori! I had a blast with the kids in Ms. Donnow’s 1/2/3 combo class. They sure know their Louisiana history and geography. We sang the 12 Days of Carnival and they learned to spell Tchoupitoulas. Yes they did!

school-visit-hammond

But when they learned the King Cake Baby tradition is not well known outside of the state of Louisiana and people don’t eat King Cake DAILY during Mardi Gras they were shocked! C’est ouf! That’s cray cray!

20161103_111802

She can spell TCHOUPITOULAS!!

Holidays, Mardi Gras

5 Little King Cake Babies Action Song

Here are the lyrics and numbered babies to use with this action song that accompanies THE KING CAKE BABY book. Click here for a pdf copy including the numbered signs.  Click here to download a copy of the numbered finger and stick puppets. Enjoy!

 

Picture books, School Visits

Akili Academy in New Orleans

**Akili Academy Author Visit**

Fun school visit with all the Akili Academy K-2 classes during Carnival. This baby happily ran all over New Orleans during Mardi Gras 2016.

We read and discussed The King Cake Baby. Kindergarten students could not believe there are children outside of Louisiana who have never tasted King Cake! Oh my!

If your King Cake Baby runs away, check in your “JRO”! (drawer)

Author visits, Holidays, School Visits

Abney Elementary School in Slidell, LA

**Abney Elementary Author Visit**

What a fun, fun school visit with Mrs. Lewis’ third graders during Carnival. They sure let the good times roll during Mardi Gras 2016. I made my debut appearance on the Abney Elementary Morning Show! What a fun way to start the day. I saw future news anchors in action.

We read The King Cake Baby, and sang 12 Days of Carnival. Then the class shared their fun MISSING worksheets with me. This class has talent. There are many future authors and illustrators among them. What a fun, talented group of kids and faculty!

Author visits, School Visits

Terrytown Elementary – Jefferson Parish Schools

**Terrytown Elementary Author Visit**

The King Cake Baby ran over the Mississippi River Bridge to visit the pre-k, kindergarten, first, and second-grade classes at Terrytown Elementary during Carnival. The kids sure helped make Mardi Gras 2016 fun! 

We read The King Cake Baby, and everyone joined in to sing my song, 12 Days of Carnival. Scroll down to hear them sing!

These little tigers were a great crowd of students. The wonderful administration and faculty made this visit very special.

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Author visits, Mardi Gras, School Visits

Author Visit: Homer A. Plessy School in New Orleans

**Homer A. Plessy Community School Author Visit**

Had a great school visit with the pre-k, kingergarten, first, and second grade classes at Homer A. Plessy Community School during Carnival! They made my Mardi Gras 2016 very special. The Pre-K and Kindergarten classes joined in the refrain, “No, mon ami! You can’t catch me! I’m the King Cake Baby!

In each class, we read and discussed The King Cake Baby. The pre-K kindergarten and first grade classes joined in the refrain,”No, mon ami! You can’t catch me! I’m the King Cake Baby! The second grade classes sang my song, 12 Days of Carnival. They did a splendid job. Such enthusiasm! Bravo!

 
Author visits, Holidays, School Visits

St. Pius X, New Orleans, LA

**St. Pius X Catholic School Author Visit**

Such a wonderful school visit with all the St. Pius X third grade classes during Carnival. Mardi Gras 2016 was a blast.

We ate King Cake, read and discussed The King Cake Baby, and sang 12 Days of Carnival. The soloist for the 5th Day who sang “5 Bowls of Gumbo”, knocked it out of the park!

Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras

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!

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!

 

History, Louisiana

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 a 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.

 
History, Louisiana, Nonfiction

A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

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

Written by: Susanne Lewis 

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
History, Louisiana

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 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.

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 Faubourg 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’, Tréme, 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 languages from colonial or native Louisiana languages 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.

Holidays, Picture books

Gingerbread Man & Runaway Tales, Near & Far

Gingerbread Man runaway tales from near & far are as old as they are vast, brought to us in many versions from around the world. Research shows the story began as an oral storytelling tradition, a According to a researcher at The The Straight Dope, the history behind “gyngerbreed” dates back to 1386, that’s the 14th century folks! And the early gingerbread treats were made in the shape of a fluer de lis, or men or pigs.

Leave it to the Brothers’ Grimm to show the dark side of what most think of as a moral lesson for children about vanity. In their nightmarish twist on the Gingerbread Man, a young child is splashed with mud and the mud steals the child’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Yikes! Then it runs off yelling, “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!” You can see a short clip of their creepy version on YouTube here. Yeah, run, run, as fast as you can to get away from that thing!!!

The first documented account of a Gingerbread tale in the United States appeared in 1875. “The Gingerbread Boy,” was a story printed in the May issue of St. Nicholas magazine, a children’s literary journal. And over centuries, it has been re-imagined over and over.

What’s your favorite spin on this re-told tale? You know mine, The King Cake Baby, about our very own New Orleans runaway, of course!

*updated with new titles

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