I had this incredible art teacher throughout elementary and high school. She truly believed in the importance of art in kid’s lives, and I couldn’t agree with her more. She also wasn’t afraid to call me out on my shit, and I was a well known bullshitter as a kid. (My fiancé would tell you that I still am today, but don’t listen to him.) I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was easily one of the most real people I would ever encounter in that school. I still keep up with her on various social media today and recently discovered that she had illustrated a new children’s book, Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse, written by Todd Michael St. Pierre. Books were such a big part of my childhood, and now reading to my own son is one of my favorite ways to spend time with him. We’re trying to encourage him to love books as much as I do while he’s still young, so we read stories a few times every day. When trying to decide which book focus on for International Children’s Book Day, Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse kept coming to mind. I ordered a copy and patiently waited for it to arrive. When it finally got here, Liam and I snuggled up in our rocking chair and cracked it open. While he’s still to young to really understand a story, he loved the pictures and was getting a kick out of Mama reading to him in funny little “mouse voices” (I probably just sounded like a lunatic, but he liked it. Anything to make our kids smile, amiright?!). Having grown up in Louisiana all my life, this book totally feels like home. The story is precious and the illustration is amazing.
I reached out to my teacher to get a few words on the book from herself and the author.
What It’s About: Chicory the city mouse would never dream of leaving her home in New Orleans—until she falls asleep in a picnic basket and wakes up in the country swamps. There she meets Roux, a country mouse, and together they experience the simple Cajun life before returning to the big city for a taste of Creole culture. Will these new friends trade in their old lives, or will they just have to agree to disagree? In this Southern retelling of Aesop’s classic fable, Chicory and Roux celebrate the different flavors of their cultures and learn that, sometimes, where you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be! Whimsical illustrations and two original songs make this a story you won’t forget—after all, two mice are twice as nice!
About The Author: Todd-Michael St. Pierre is the author of several cookbooks and children’s books rooted in Southern themes. He has served as a judge for The Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest and has developed recipes for Cooking Light magazine. An avid Cajun and Creole cook, dedicated gardener, lifelong cat lover, and proud Louisianian, St. Pierre considers himself part Creole mouse and part Cajun mouse.
About The Illustrator: With a lifelong desire to be an artist, Lee Brandt Randall graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor of fine arts in printmaking. She continued to nurture this passion by working in freelance graphic design, film animation, and book illustration, in addition to teaching private art lessons for children and adults. A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Randall continues to teach and in her spare time enjoys jazz, cooking, and puppet making.
What books did you read for International Children’s Book Day? Share in the comments!
The Crispy Mama