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Gift Ideas from Texan Authors and Illustrators

It’s December and the holiday season is upon us whether we like it or not. Here’s an easy way to knock some of those items off your “To-Do” list. Celebrate the wealth of artistic talent in Texas by buying books created by Texan authors and illustrators. You’ll find something perfect for both the kids and grown-ups on your list. Here is a small sampling of books that are available in your local bookstores or favorite online bookseller.

 

Books for Children 4-8 years

Merry Christmas, Merry Crow by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jon Goodell
Celebrate the holidays with an industrious crow as it flies through a small town gathering bits and pieces to decorate its own outdoor Christmas tree.

 

Santa Knows by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman
Every younger brother or sister will enjoy this original tale of a nasty older brother who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus and is proven wrong in the end. Sibling revenge fantasies aside, parents will also be relieved to discover a few “scientific” facts to support the existence of Santa Claus.
 

 

Three Bears’ Christmas by Kathy Duval, illustrated by Paul Meisel
In this twist on the Goldilocks tale, Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear go on a walk at Christmastime through the snowy woods in order to pass the time until their gingerbread has cooled off enough to eat. When the Bear family returns, they are surprised to find the gingerbread eaten, chairs broken and bed covers rumbled. Kids will love discovering the clues the Bears’ mysterious guest leaves behind.
 

 Gingerbread Man Superhero! by Dotti Enderle, illustrated by Joe Kulka
Another traditional tale with a holiday twist! As the oven door opens, Gingerbread Man leaps out, shouting "Flour Power"! Then the cookie crusader takes off to save the world and sweet adventures commence!
 

Moose and Magpie by Bettina Restrepo, illustrated by Sherry Rodgers

It isn’t easy growing-up – even for a moose. Luckily Moose has his good friend Magpie to help. Kids will love the jokes while learning interesting animal facts.

Books for Tweens and Teens

Front Page Face-Off by Jo Whittemore
Twelve-year-old Delilah James is a top reporter at Brighton Junior Academy. Her biggest ambition is to become a Junior Global Journalist. But when a new girl moves in, steals her crush and takes over in the newsroom, Delilah must turn to an unlikely ally for help.

 

Trudy by Jessica Lee Anderson
Trudy hates math, doesn’t understand her best friend anymore and then suddenly her dad starts acting strange. In this heart-wrenching drama, Trudy discovers her own strength by working through the seemingly insurmountable troubles in her life.

The Emerald Tablet by P.J. Hoover
In this first book of the trilogy, Benjamin and his best friend Andy adore their unique psychic gifts. But when Benjamin’s mirror starts talking, they realize their abilities are more than just tricks and games.

My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson
When scholarship student Rhonda is forced to tutor beautiful and popular Sarah in trigonometry, she discovers Sarah has a secret that for Rhonda is all too familiar

.

Shadow by Jenny Moss
If you are tired of vampires, don’t miss this fairy tale/ fantasy /romance that will leave you wanting more!

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Anne’s life is turned upside down when she discovers her dreams of Baba Yaga and the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov are true.
 


Books for All Ages

 

A Christmas Carol Pop Up, illustrated by Chuck Fischer, paper engineering by Bruce Foster
Charles Dickens’s timeless fable, A Christmas Carol: A Pop-Up Book features artist Chuck Fischer’s richly painted depictions of the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, brought to life in intricate pop-up scenes by paper engineer Bruce Foster.

 Our Shadow Garden by Cherie Foster Colburn
A heart warming story illustrated by children who are battling cancer. When ordered through www.childrensart.org, 100% of the profit goes to M. D. Anderson Hospital.

Voices of the Alamo by Sherry Garland, illustrated by Ronald Himler
Through prose and paintings, this book captures the many cultures–Spanish, Tejano, Texan, Mexican, and American–of the people who lived on the land that became Texas.


Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead, illustrated by Shane Evans
The story of Clementine Hunter, who overcame prejudice, poverty, and hard times to create art that is celebrated around the world.

 

 Happy Holiday’s everyone! Wishing you and your family the most peaceful of new years!

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Interview with Jenny Moss author of Winnie’s War

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Between the flu, floods and fiscal disaster, it’s easy to get depressed about the times in which we now live. In Jenny Moss’ debut novel Winnie’s War, twelve-year old Winnie is struggling with many of the same problems as we are today. Except for her, the year is 1918 and her small Texas town is trying to escape the ravages of the Spanish influenza. Texans, and those who wish they were, will enjoy the southern flavor of this historical novel. I caught up recently with Houston resident Jenny Moss and spoke to her about her new novel.

 

Winnie’s War is set in the town of Coward Creek. Is it based on a real town or community in the Houston area?

 

Coward Creek is a very fictionalized version of League City, Texas. None of the characters in the book are modeled after actual League City residents. But I spent quite a bit of time roaming around League City studying historical records or family files at the library and the old schoolhouse, walking around the cemetery or the parks or visiting with people associated with the historical society or the library. I wanted to realistically depict a 1918 Galveston County town. There is much about Coward Creek, such as its businesses, the layout of the town, and the ethnicity of its people that is similar to what would have been found in League City during that time.

 

 

You have a science background. What led you to writing for children and young adults?

 

My love of writing actually came first! I’ve loved books and writing since I was a kid. Even when I was an engineer at NASA, I was taking writing classes in the evenings. I began working on novels for tweens and teens after I started reading to my own children.

 

How did you get interested in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918?

 

A few years ago, stories about the avian flu appeared in the papers. In the articles I read, there was mention of the 1918 influenza pandemic. It made me think about the movie 1918, which was written by the Texas writer Horton Foote and was a fictionalized account of the impact of the influenza on his parents and grandparents. I began to get very curious then.

 

Do you see any similarities between the Spanish flu then and the H1N1 virus now?

 

Like everyone else, I’ve been following news released by the CDC and WHO. It looks they are still attempting to define the characteristics of the H1N1 virus.

 

 

Jenny Moss’ next book Shadow is coming out next year. She is appearing at various schools and libraries in the next few months. If you would like to attend one of her events, or schedule your own, check out her website at www.jenny-moss.com.

This interview was previously printed in The Examiner newspaper on May 21, 2009.