Jackie Elsner: New Oconee Country Libraries Director

I had the pleasure of attending Jackie Elsner’s farewell storytelling event at the Athens Regional Library in September. Jackie, or “Miss Jackie” to Athens area children, was bidding the Athens branch of the Regional Library goodbye with a special performance of rhymes, songs, a lap puppet show and more. Jackie had served as the children’s librarian for 20 years. Now she is the librarian and branch manager of the Oconee County Libraries.
I first met Jackie 20 years ago, when she became the children’s librarian in Athens. Our library was smaller then and was located at 120 West Dougherty Street in what is now called the Governmental Building. My husband’s office is in that building now, in what was once the fiction section of Athens Regional Library. My children were still young the day we met Jackie. We had come to the library to hear her tell a story. That was my introduction to this amazing woman’s storytelling talents.

Over the years, I got to know Jackie better and learned that she had many other talents as well including Sacred Harp singing, puppetry and writing. For several years I had the pleasure of being in a writers’ group with her and several other writers from the Athens and Oconee Country area. Jackie will be missed at the Athens Regional Library. But Oconee County Libraries have gained a treasure.

Southern Festival of Books in Nashville

I had the pleasure of participating in my first Southern Festival of Books in Nashville this weekend. The trip up through the mountains was beautiful and I couldn’t help but remember my only other visit to Nashville as daughter Jenny and I took in the Tennessee sights. It was way back in the 1970s when husband Phillip and I caravaned to Nashville in a 1939 Hudson as part of the Athens Antique Auto Club. We were accompanied by other antique auto clubs from the Atlanta area and our vintage autos were quite a sight as we motored along the highway, praying that our antique brakes would hold on those twisty, winding mountain roads.
When we got there, it was worth the trip. We enjoyed a picnic sponsored by Kraft Foods and hosted by Roy Acuff, and at the end of our stay, our banquet speaker was Roy Orbison! Roy also was a big antique car buff and he told us all about his collection that night.

This weekend’s Nashville trip was all about books. I had the pleasure of talking about and reading from my debut novel, GONE FROM THESE WOODS, on a panel with authors Peter Huggins and Billy Moore on Saturday. I also enjoyed hearing astronaut/author Buzz Aldrin speak in the handsome War Memorial Auditorium. I got to talk and hang out with several other authors, too, including Philip Lee Williams, Amanda Gable, Elizabeth Dulemba, Lisa Dale Norton of Santa Fe, and Nancy Vienneau, a Nashville chef, food activist and writer.

Speaking of food, a highlight of our visit to Nashville was eating at the Midtown Cafe, rumored to be Reba McEntire’s favorite restaurant. Jenny and I know why! I can’t say enough good things about this local Nashville

Nashville Motel Window View

Nashville Motel Window View

treasure. We also had an outstanding dinner at Valentino’s Ristorante, an Italian restaurant near our motel.

We were a little disappointed that we didn’t see any actual country music singers in Nashville. About the closest we came was spotting Keith Urban’s tour bus parked at the motel across the street. Maybe we didn’t see Keith or Nicole or their baby. But we did see plenty of great authors, marveled at the selection and beauty of all the great books by the festival’s 200 authors, and ate our share of out of this world delicious food. Not a bad way to spend an October weekend — or any weekend.

Soap, Soap, Soap by Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Today I’m hosting author/illustrator extraordinaire Elizabeth O. Dulemba on the final day of her blog book tour for her new book, Soap, Soap, Soap. Be sure to read this entire post to find out how you can win an autographed copy of the English only edition of Elizabeth’s new book.

I first met Elizabeth at a Southern Breeze region of SCBWI SpringMingle writers’ conference about four years ago. I was immediately impressed by her big, bold, colorful book illustrations. The kids she drew had personality, lots of personality plus really big faces. Definitely my kind of illustrations. We chatted at the conference and I discovered that Elizabeth had studied Graphic Design at the University of Georgia in my hometown of Athens. She has also lived in the Tennessee area where my mom and sister and family still live. Small world, for sure.

Something else I noticed about Elizabeth is her personality. It’s a lot like her illustrations: bright, happy, fun. She’s uses words like “GADS! and “Woosie!” and “Yip, Yip, Yahooooooo!!!!!” and “WooHoo!” and my favorite, WOWSA!!!

I’m going to borrow WOWSA!!! today to describe Elizabeth’s new book, Soap, Soap, Soap, which was published September 25 by Raven Tree Press, is clean and boldly illustrated and, well, say it with me: WOWSA!!!

Before I tell you more about Soap, Soap, Soap, remember, I’ll be giving away an autographed copy to one of my lucky blog readers. So read on to find out more about Elizabeth’s new book and how to win a signed copy.

Now, on to the main event on Winterville Writer today: a review of Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s Soap, Soap, Soap. Note: I am reviewing the English Edition, ISBN: 978-1934960-64-6 hardcover. There also is a Bilingual Edition: ISBN: 978-1934960-62-2 and paperback editions, too.

The Review

Soap, Soap, Soap, the first book award-winning illustrator Elizabeth O. Dulemba has both written and illustrated, is based on the classic Appalachian Jack Tale but features a modern twist. Dulemba sets the story in a small town and gives the title role to a young boy named Hugo.

The first thing a reader will notice about this book, which is written for children pre-K to 3rd grade, is the bold, bright colors the artist uses to introduce Hugo, along with a tub overflowing with bubbles and a cute yellow rubber duckie on the front cover. The back cover art features Hugo hanging by his overall strap on an old-fashioned clothesline.

Inside, the endpapers with yellow bars of soap, yellow duckies and soap bubbles are very attractive and lead the reader to the beautiful kitchen where Hugo’s mom asks him to run to the store to buy soap. The artist uses graphite to draw the illustrations and renders them digitally. Both Hugo and his mom almost pop off the page, they look so alive. But my favorite part of this first two page spread is the cute brown and white dog (who happens to be Elizabeth’s dog, Bernie). This adorable canine takes in every word Mom says.

Hugo gallops through a school playground and past an attractive group of small town buildings on his way to buy soap. Along the way, he slides into a very large and wet mud puddle and forgets Mom’s instructions. His neighbor, a little girl named Jellybean Jones, shows up then and offers to help, though the smirk on her face shows her thoughts might be otherwise. When Jellybean ends up in the mud, Hugo’s memory is restored and he takes off again to buy soap at the store.br /br /The rest of the story is easy to predict, which should suit young readers and listeners just fine. The writing is crisp and clear and written in language modern day kids will enjoy. They’ll also like Hugo’s stinkiness as he continues on his mission to procure soap. The ending is satisfying and clean and the soap bubbles and wink from the dog are just the right touch.br /br /Now, if you’d like to win my copy of span style=”font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;”Soap, Soap, Soap/span (English only hardback edition), add a comment to this blog and be sure to use my favorite Elizabeth O. Dulemba word: WOWSA!!! at least once. No Wowsa, no name in book drawing. The drawing will be held October 6. Good luck! And don’t forget to visit Elizabeth’s span style=”font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;”Soap, Soap, Soap/span a href=”http://dulemba.com/ActivityPage-Soap.html”activity page/a where you can download neat stuff and even watch a book trailer.

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