By Glenn Dromgoole
Three former First Ladies from Texas are included in the new children’s book, Have You Heard About Lady Bird? Poems About Our First Ladies by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Disney/Hyperion, $17.99 hardcover).
The poem about Lady Bird Johnson, who is featured on the cover, deals with beautification: “She loved things that flew. She loved things that grew.”
Barbara Pierce Bush, Singer writes, “Made fun of her weight, her age, her looks. Strongly believed in the power of books.”
The verse about Laura Lane Welch Bush notes that she loved libraries and books and promoted family literacy while in office, as did her mother-in-law.
Every First Lady, from Martha Dandridge Curtis Washington to Melania Knauss Trump is portrayed in verse as well as in a biographical summary at the end of the book.
Barbara Jordan: Acclaimed Austin children’s author Chris Barton reflects on the life of the late Barbara Jordan in his new picture book, What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (Beach Lane Books, $17.99 hardcover, illustrated by Ekua Holmes).
He begins with her growing up in Houston’s Fifth Ward, reciting poetry and memorizing speeches, and follows her as she becomes a lawyer, runs unsuccessfully for political office, gets elected to the Texas State Senate, then to the U.S. Congress where she makes a name for herself during the Nixon impeachment hearings, and finally becomes a college professor.
Barton — who writes that he sometimes asks himself, “What would Barbara Jordan do?” when dealing with contemporary issues — concludes the book with a biographical time line from her birth in 1936 to her death in 1996.
He recommends several other books about her, especially the adult biography by Mary Beth Rogers, Barbara Jordan: American Hero.
Nutcracker: A Texas writer and a Texas artist – Jennifer Coleman and Wade Dillon -- teamed up to produce The Texas Nutcracker (Pelican, $16.99 hardcover), a tale set in Fort Davis in the late 1800s.
The Texas version of the popular holiday story includes rattlesnakes, a Bluebonnet Fairy, chili con carne, horned toads, and dancing the “Cotton Eyed Joe.”
Holiday Break: I’m taking a short break from the Texas Reads column but will be back in January with more Texas books.
Glenn Dromgoole’s latest book is “Book Guy: One Author’s Adventures in Publishing.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.