Lonn Taylor, who lived in Fort Davis and wrote a very literate weekly column for the Marfa newspaper, died last summer, just a few months after his most recent book was published — “Turning the Pages of Texas” ($22.95), one of the best books ever written about Texas books.
“There Was an Old Dragon” now a children’s board book; book signing planned
by Glenn Dromgoole
Best-selling Abilene author Penny Parker Klostermann’s delightful children’s book, There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight, first published in 2015, is coming out in a board book edition (Random House, $8.99).
The book’s national launch is Tuesday, Feb. 11, and Penny will celebrate by signing books that day at Texas Star Trading Company from 4-5:30 p.m.
Even though it’s a board book, it’s not a condensed version of the story, which features an old dragon who goes around devouring everything in his path – a steed, a squire, a cook, a lady, even a castle and a moat, until finally he starts to bloat. And then what?
There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight was a Texas Star best-seller in 2015 and 2016. We know of two very grand children who love the tale and can even recite part of it. The more durable board book (also featuring Ben Mantle’s wonderful illustrations) should give the story renewed life, especially with younger kids. Board books make good baby shower gifts.
If you would like a personalized/autographed copy and can’t make it to the book signing, call us at (325) 672-9696 and we’ll save however many you want. You can also order online and we can send the book to you after the book signing.
Penny also is the author of another wonderful children’s book, A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale, published (with illustrator Mantle) by Random House in 2017.
Texas Star is closed today (Wednesday, Feb. 5) due to inclement weather. The roads are covered with a layer of ice, topped with several inches of snow. We expect to re-open Thursday, although it might be a bit later in the day than normal. Safe travels!
‘Abilene Forever’ one of many songs about Abilene
The other day I was having lunch with a group of ladies after speaking to their club, and one of the women at our table said her grandmother or great-grandmother used to sing a song she learned in elementary school here.
The song was “Abilene Forever” and it was written and taught – mandated – to the children by “Professor” J.C. Watts, who taught in Abilene from 1909-1917. The woman knew the song by heart because it had been passed down to her from three or four generations.
But, she said, she’s never seen it in any history or book about Abilene.
“Actually,” I said, “Joe Specht wrote about it in his book ‘Abilene in Song: The Women There Don’t Treat You Mean,’” published in 2017.
It wasn’t in the first volume he wrote, called “The Women There Don’t Treat You Mean: Abilene in Song” (2006). He learned about Professor Watts after the first book was published, so when he asked Texas Star to publish a revised edition, that was one of several dozen new entries.
The song starts like this:
“Abilene forever, Abilene forever,
“Beautiful city with prairie dog holes”
It goes on to discuss Indian heads, butter cups and china blooms.
Obviously, it made a lasting impression on his students. And you can read about that song, and the many other songs that are about Abilene or mention Abilene, in Joe’s book, which also includes a CD by Abilene pharmacist/songwriter Greg Young of five of the songs.
“Abilene Forever” is not on the CD, but if you would like to hear it, you might ask Jan Woodward to sing it to you.
The book and CD were $20, but now you can get the set for just $12, autographed by Joe and Greg, exclusively at Texas Star Trading.
Texas murder case inspired Grisham novel
By Glenn Dromgoole
John Grisham says the plot for his new best-selling novel “The Guardians” (Doubleday, $29.95 hardcover) is based on a Texas murder case.
“Thirty years ago,” Grisham writes in an author’s note at the end of the book, “Joe Bryan was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, a horrible crime that occurred at night while Joe was sleeping in his hotel room two hours away. The investigation was botched from the beginning. The real killer was never identified, but strong evidence points to a former policeman who committed suicide in 1996.
“Joe should have been exonerated and freed years ago, but it hasn’t happened. His case languishes before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. He’s seventy-nine years old and his health is failing. On April 4, 2019, he was denied parole for the seventh time.”
Grisham read about Bryan’s case in a New York Times Magazine article in 2018, and it inspired him to write “The Guardians” about a team of devoted, underpaid lawyers who work to free innocent inmates. Grisham flew to Beaumont to meet with Bryan in prison.
In the novel, the main character — attorney and Episcopal priest Cullen Post — takes on the case of Quincy Miller, who was convicted 22 years ago for the murder of his divorce lawyer. The conviction was based on spurious “back spatter” evidence that has since been discredited and on false testimony by a supposed eyewitness, a jailhouse snitch, and a disgruntled ex-wife. Post works to get the witnesses to admit they lied and to find a forensic expert to re-examine the evidence in light of new scientific data.
Meanwhile, Post and his investigator could find themselves or others involved in the long-ago trial in danger from corrupt, powerful and wealthy forces who don’t want the truth to come out.
Grisham, author of 40 novels, is on the board of the Innocence Project which has worked on 189 successful DNA-based exonerations. He based his character Cullen Post on a former prison chaplain, James McCloskey, whose team at Centurion Ministries has helped free 63 innocent men and women.
You can read more on-line about the Joe Bryan case. I Googled “Joe Bryan, John Grisham” and found several interesting interviews with the author and an article about his talk at the Texas Book Festival in October.
Save 20 percent on The Guardians in-store at Texas Star Trading, 174 Cypress St., downtown Abilene.
By Glenn Dromgoole
Last year was a very good year for books at Texas Star Trading, especially cookbooks. Three of the five best-selling books in 2019 were cookbooks.
Well, that’s the top five, or really six, books for 2019, and we have plenty of copies of each (except Texas Cowboy Cooking) as we plunge ahead in 2020. By the way, yet another cookbook – Mack Eplen’s Best-Kept Secrets – was number seven for the year.
Thank you for your support. Please consider Texas Star throughout the year when you need a book, gift or gift basket for birthdays and other special occasions.
Note: Glenn Dromgoole’s ‘Texas Reads” column will no longer appear in the Abilene Reporter-News. However, he will continue to write about new Texas books through this “Book Notes” blog, available to Texas Star Trading e-mail recipients and through the store’s web site, www.texasstartrading.com.
John Powell of Abilene, author of “It’s Never That Simple: Essays to Broaden the Conversation” will sign books at Texas Star from noon-2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17.
The book includes a collection of John’s essays that have been printed in “The Abilene Reporter-News” in recent years.
Call to reserve a copy, or stop by to say hello to John!
Holiday hours at Texas Star are 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, beginning Monday, Dec. 2.
We will be open late on Tuesday, Dec. 3, and Friday, Dec. 6, as part of the Abilene Downtown Associations’ City Sidewalks celebration.
Shop online anytime!
Three book signings scheduled this week at Texas Star:
Friday, Dec. 6
Carole Mahanay signing copies of “Mahanay Brothers” from 1-2:30.
Matt Roemisch will sign copies of “Purple Polka Dotted Peanut Butter Eater” from 4-6.
Saturday, Dec. 7
Charles Russell will sign copies of “When the Cactus Blooms” from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Texas Star will close Wednesday at 4, and will be closed all day Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.
We will be open from 10-5:30 Friday and Saturday. Stop in to check out our holiday deals, and don’t miss Small Business Saturday promotions — free gifts and extra sales!