Celebrating Local

Here are three books with local ties—a cookbook from a favorite restaurateur, a book of poetry from a beloved poet and historical fiction set here. Truly something for everyone, and I shared them this month on Good Day Alabama on WBRC Fox 6.

Ashley Mac’s Kitchen:  Refined Southern Recipes for Every Occasion

By Ashley McMakin

You love her chicken salad and pimento cheese and strawberry cake. You’ll love her cookbook, too. Ashley McMakin, owner of Ashley Mac’s, shares some of her favorite recipes—and her own inspirational story—in her beautiful, new cookbook. Ashley says she combed through hundreds of recipes to get the more than 150 included in this book.

They are divided into food-focused opportunities to gather around a table:  spring brunch, summer porch parties, beach days, tailgating, Friendsgiving and more. The comfort food chapter is where I will start with her chicken, spinach, and artichoke casserole; tomato basil soup; and spicy pimento mac & cheese. All delicious, trust me. There are fancier foods here, too, for special occasions—goat cheese truffles, Bayou Gourmet Crab Mornay, and white chocolate bread pudding—but nothing is complicated. Each recipe starts with a little note from Ashely explaining why it is meaning to her and her family.

There’s a cool photo spread showing Ashley’s journey from a catering side gig in her small Homewood kitchen to the Gold Award for Alabama Retailer of the Year in the largest sales category. And readers will meet Ashley’s beautiful, blended family and learn about her faith journey.

This book would make a fantastic Mother’s Day gift!

The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry

By Charles Ghigna

Our own Charles Ghigna, aka Father Goose, has a brand-new book that celebrates a joyful lifetime of poetry. The beautiful 128-page book (gold-gilded with a ribbon bookmark), “represents the best of my life’s work in writing poetry for children,” he says. The book is illustrated by Italian artist Sara Brezzi and features 101 of Charles’s most beloved poems for young readers. Charles began his career writing poetry for adults and at the suggestion of his wife, Debra, he began to write for kids. Good Cats, Bad Cats and Good Dogs, Bad Dogs were among those first efforts, which led to a four-book deal with Disney. My own children grew up reading and loving the poems Charles first wrote for his own son, Chip (who is now a successful artist based here in Birmingham). I am forever grateful to him for helping me introduce them to a lifelong love of reading.

The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry debuts on April 28 with a signing at The Alabama Booksmith in Homewood. Charles will then go on a spring tour throughout the South—with stops at the Monroeville Literary Festival; the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.; and the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. There will be another local signing at Little Professor in May.

Charles is an award-winning children’s author and poet of more than 100 books from Disney; Random House; Scholastic; Simon & Schuster; Time, Inc.; and more than 5,000 poems that appear in anthologies, textbooks, syndicated newspapers, and magazines ranging from Harper’s and The New Yorker to Highlights and Cricket magazines. Charles has read his poems at The Library of Congress; The John F. Kennedy Center; American Library in Paris; American School in Paris; the International Schools of South America; Indigenous Schools of Alaska; and conferences, libraries, book events, and schools throughout the U.S. and overseas.

I’d say he’s a treasure, too. And his new book would be a great baby gift! Get it signed!

Time’s Undoing

By Cheryl A. Head

This powerful novel is set here and tells the story of a young Black journalist’s efforts to uncover the truth behind her great-grandfather’s murder years ago in segregated Birmingham. It is inspired by the author’s own family history. The story moves back and forth between Birmingham in 1929 and Detroit in 2019. When Robert Lee Harrington, a master carpenter, moved in Birmingham with his pregnant wife and young daughter, he thought he’d find a good home for them—business was booming, markets were busy, and nightlife was fun. But he soon begins to worry that his light-skinned wife and his own success is attracting the wrong kind of attention. Nearly 100 years later, Meghan McKenzie, the youngest reporter at the Detroit Free Press who grew up hearing family lore about her great-grandfather’s murder, decides to find the answers to the family’s long-buried tragedy. But secrets are not easy to uncover, and often they are dangerous.

I link to Amazon to show you exactly what book I’m talking about, but I love to shop locally at Church Street Coffee and BooksThe Alabama Booksmith, Little Professor, and Thank You Books in Crestwood. And I visit my local library often in person and online!

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