Who Got the Baby in the King Cake?

King Cake.jpg

A novel idea (no pun intended) came up several times in the recent JambaLAya Conference. Several publishing personnel as well as authors mentioned that the perfect home for a book sometimes is a local regional publisher rather than one of the big names that writers often seek out. 

I picked up one of those books at the break time book sale, Johnette Downing’s Who Got the Baby in the King Cake? published by River Road Press in Metairie, Louisiana and based on the King Cake tradition for Mardi Gras. Several things make this book appropriate for this regional press. (1) In few places do they celebrate Mardi Gras and King Cakes as well as in South Louisiana. (2) Johnette has already made a name for herself as a local musician with ties to the education world and area school visits, which are perfect for promoting the book. (3) Promotions at local events and gift stores will be stronger since the local atmosphere and the focus of the book enhance each other.  

Perhaps it is evident from the picture that Johnette’s music from the computer in the background made for a rhythmical reading of the book when I introduced it to my grandsons. The words of the book invoked singing even before we latched onto Johnette’s website (www.johnettedowning.com) looking for the video with her rousing rendition of the song that is the basis for the book. Bonus: If you go there to check out the song, you can also order the book right on the website.

We got added value in the book’s repetition that made smooth sailing for independent reading of the book for Benjamin, a beginning reader, with enough predictability that prereader Owen could successfully anticipate many of the words. I agree with the assessment of Susan Larson in Louisiana’s The Advocate in selecting this as a best gift for New Orleans book lovers. Maybe that’s part of the real beauty of regional publishers. They promote books about their traditions and enable local culture to be taken back to the buyer’s home and shared.