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Louisiana Book Award Nomination

I am thrilled to announce that Louisiana readers nominated OPENING THE ROAD for a Louisiana Readers’ Choice Award! This is such an honor, and I am beyond grateful to know this work of nonfiction is resonating with kids. Click here to find a list of other titles nominated for this award.

How exciting to know my book is hanging out with the Newbery Medal winning book by a fellow Kidlit For Growing Minds member, Rajani LaRocca.

Merci beaucoup to my home state!

Activism, Diverse Books, Nonfiction, Picture books

OPENING THE ROAD Educator’s Guide

It’s a long, winding road toward social justice. Keep going!

Click on the cover for a free classroom guide to use with OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK.

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!

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

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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.

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

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Then we sang 5 Little King Cake Babies.

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

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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!

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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!

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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, 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

Follow my Gingerbread Man board on Pinterest.

Author visits

Cincinnati Public Library – Deer Park Branch

Thanks to Cincinnati Public Library – Deer Park Branch for inviting me to share The King Cake Baby and the sights, sounds, and tastes of New Orleans on February 19, 2015.

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           Reading The King Cake Baby!

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      Making candy bracelets and necklaces

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      Masks!

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         Parade!

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         Beads!

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      He put the baby back in the box. The baby belongs in a king cake!

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Author visits, Holidays, Mardi Gras

Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore & Decafé

Thanks for having me at Carnival Story Time Blue Manatee! What a wonderful way to celebrate Mardi Gras day! I read The King Cake Baby, we listened to Mardi Gras music, had a parade, and ate king cake. Yes! Someone got the baby!!

I had a blast sharing the sights, sounds, and tastes of New Orleans!

reading

Reading The King Cake Baby

reading 2

Where is that Baby going? He’s running away!

reading 1

   Who will he meet? Who will get the baby? Who will catch him?

future parade goers

    Parade! Music! Masks! And beads!

catching beads

    Raise your arms high, wave, and yell, “Throw me somethin’ mista!”

Emma beads       Leilah beads

   Great catch! Look at all those beads!

Emma & Leilah    Emma book

   Made some new friends!

keila & jen   cutting king cake

  Grown up friends came to visit!                                                                       And we had king cake!

eating king cake

                                                     And someone got the baby!

signig

        And autograhed books

Happy Mardi Gras!

Author visits, Holidays, Mardi Gras

Little Toy Shop, New Orleans

Little Toy Shop, 900 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, French Quarter

Thanks for having me over for a Meet The Author event on a beautiful day in New Orleans!

First sale!
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Little Toy Shoppe on Decatur1
Little Toy Shoppe Teacher sale
Author visits, Mardi Gras

Maple Street Book Shop

Maple Street Book Shop meet the author event. Thanks for having me, serving king cake and allowing me to read my debut book The King Cake Baby during story time! Visit them at 7529 Maple St, New Orleans, LA 70118.

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Author visits, Media

2015-16 Interviews -Radio & Print

Blogging about THE KING CAKE BABY!

  • Christie is a writer and blogger who runs! Check out her site for loads of writerly advice and author interviews. To see the interview about my runner, The King Cake Baby, on Christie’s HIGH FIVE page, click here.                                                                                                                                             
  • WVXU 91.7 (NPR) interview, aired on February 1, 2015, Lee Hay, host of the program Around Cincinnati, interviewed me about my debut book, THE KING CAKE BABY. Click here to listen to the interview.   
  • Marcie Atkins is a librarian and blogger who graciously shares her knowledge about using mentor texts as resources for teaching and writing. Visit Marcie’s blog to see my post from March 17, 2015, “Finding Authentic Voice in Cultural Mentor Texts” and much, much more.                                         
  • Jennifer Cunningham Sommer’s blog interview from January 19, 2015, about my debut release.         
  • Sub It Club featured the query letter that lead to the acquisition of my manuscript for The King Cake Baby. To see that post from February 7, 2015, click here. I blogged about Sub It Club here.
  • Author interview by Debbie LaCroix co-creator of the Debut PB Study Group on Facebook. To see the February 11, 2015 interview, click here.
  • Carissa Mina’s blog, Writer and stuff to read her March 6, 2015, First-Time Picture Book Author Cover Letters, Exposed!

     

 
Author visits, Holidays, Louisiana, Mardi Gras

NOLA kids

NOLA kids Meet the Author & Illustrator event. Thanks for having us! Visit them at 333 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130.

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Vernon making his mark

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Krewe of Barkus rolling through the French Quarter

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