Jack and Remy’s Bayou Band follows Jack the rabbit and Remy the raccoon as they learn to overcome tough circumstances in an unusual way—by forming a band. With messages about inclusion and respect for all creatures, this marvelous children’s tale is filled with fun and music.
A native of Portsmouth, Ohio, author Joani Lacy has been entertaining Cincinnati for 20-plus years, performing with her husband in the New Orleans style band Robin Lacy and DeZydeco. The animals in her story also play zydeco music, and she hopes children can learn more about different styles of music through the duo’s new bayou band.
Lacy wasn’t always a musician and author. After high school, she spent a year at Findlay College and then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, where her time as a medic during the Vietnam War exposed her to tragedy and human connection that’s inspired her writing ever since. “I had this story probably 10 years ago,” she says of Jack and Remy. “I was trying to find an illustrator and found Debbi (Kern), because it needed her to come to life. Then I got a boutique publisher interested in New Orleans.” Kern distinctly remembers meeting Lacy. “One of my other authors and I were working on an author/illustrator event at one of the Clermont County libraries,” Kern says. “So I’ve got one of my books out and it happened to have a rabbit and a raccoon on it, and all of the sudden this fiery redhead comes up and says, ‘You’ve got my animals!’ ” A retired school teacher, Kern has illustrated several other children’s stories, and Lacy knew her style would be perfect for the book.
Lacy and Kern will sign copies of Jack and Remy’s Bayou Band at 6 p.m. November 1 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Commons.
Drew and Stu’s Adventurous Shoes takes you on a journey thanks to gorgeous illustrations by Maureen Coakley Born and rhymed verse by Barbara Coyle. Drew’s shoes allow him to have daring and imaginative adventures anywhere he chooses, and his trusty canine companion Stu is never far from his side.
Coyle grew up in Reading and graduated from Mount Notre Dame High School. She then earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Eastern Kentucky University, a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of Louisville, and, after raising her children, a Certificate in Religious Studies from the College of Mount St. Joseph. The two-time author taught kindergarten in Kentucky and also theology at Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati. Her love for children and teaching kept this project close to her heart.
Coyle says she never intended to write a story about her grandson Andrew, but the idea came to her one day when he was just a month old. “When I started out, I never sat down and said, I’m going to write a story for my grandchild,” she says. “He was in my arms, the dog was curled up on the couch, and I just kept looking at the two of them thinking, Oh my gosh, you two. When you’re a little older, Andrew, having this dog Stu, oh the adventures you two are going to have. I could just see them.”
Coyle’s son-in-law had left his hiking boots by the back door, and as she envisioned her grandson and his pup she came up with an idea that the boots could allow them to travel to the Sahara, the jungle, the moon, and beyond. After encouragement from her friends and family, she began writing. About a year later, Coyle connected with Born—who specializes in watercolor, acrylic painting, and pottery—through a friend, and their journey of bringing Drew and Stu to life on the page began.
Sales of Drew and Stu’s Adventurous Shoes will benefit the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati and Franciscan Friars Mission Programs in Jamaica. Coyle will sign copies of the book at several private events, with the next public one 5-8 p.m. November 8 at Chapter, 940 Pavilion St., Mt. Adams.