Thanks to the generosity of the W.E. “Jack” Ogburn family, the North Carolina Room now has a lovely collection of picture books by award-winning North Carolina author Jacqueline K. Ogburn.  Bring your children or grandchildren and enjoy the following books:

The Bake Shop Ghost  —  Bakery proprietress Cora Lee Merriweather is a sour old spinster, and after death she haunts her shop to ensure that no one will fill her kitchen clogs.  But she meets her match in Annie Washington, a pastry chef with cocoa-colored skin and a bold demeanor, to whom the badly behaving ghost proposes a challenge: “Make me a cake . . . like one I might have baked, but that no one ever made for me.”  In attempting to satisfy Cora Lee’s discriminating sweet tooth, Annie finally concocts a successful recipe that blends compassion in with the standard batter.

The Jukebox Man  —  Ogburn reminisces about the jukebox days of the 1950s through a girl’s treasured Saturday spent with her grandfather.  Donna’s Poppaw is “a jukebox man. He had jukeboxes in dozens of diners and restaurants, fish camps and truck stops all over the state.”  The girl accompanies her grandfather on his rounds as he changes each of his Wurlitzer’s selections of 45s and empties the coins into bags to divvy up with the proprietor of each business.  The kind man gives Donna her own copy of her favorite record, “Blue Suede Shoes,” and the narrative builds as she anticipates arriving home to play it.

The Lady and the Lion  —  A romantic retelling of the Grimm tale more commonly known as “The Singing, Soaring Lark.”  With its themes of love transformed and questing heroine, the story has much in common with “Beauty and the Beast” and “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.”  The tale begins when a father promises a lark to his youngest daughter and then must make a hard bargain with its owner, a lion. To fulfill that agreement, the young woman returns to the lion’s enchanted castle. She discovers that he is a lion by day and a handsome prince by night. The two fall in love, marry, and live happily until the lady desires to return home for a visit.

The Magic Nesting Doll  —  As Katya’s grandmother lies dying, she bequeaths Katya a magic matryoshka, or Russian nesting doll, and tells her that she may open it three times in an hour of need.  The girl sets out to make her way in the world and soon arrives in a city under a wicked spell: “It is always winter without thaw, night without moon, and dark without dawn,” an innkeeper explains.  Worse, the handsome young Tsarevitch has been turned into living ice.  With the help of her nesting doll, which releases first a bear, then a wolf and finally a firebird, Katya is able to break the enchantment, give the conniving Grand Vizier a taste of his own frosty medicine, and find true love.

The Masked Maverick  —  The Masked Maverick wins all of his matches in the American Wrestling League.  He beats opponents such as Hammerhand Hannibal, Mad Dog Markowitz, and the Brooklyn Bonecrusher.  When he wins, however, the crowds just boo and hiss.  Wishing to be popular as well as tough, Maverick  throws flowers to the crowd and tries wearing a heart-covered, pink costume, but still hears only jeers.  Only when the Maverick’s disguise is ripped off by the villainous Brooklyn Bonecrusher–and M.M. flies into a rage to defeat B.B.–does the audience cheer.

The Noise Lullaby  —  The lullaby of this story is the familiar noises, both outside and indoors, that a young child hears as she is settling down to sleep in her busy urban neighborhood.  Outside sounds include traffic, crickets, and passersby carrying huge radios.  She also hears the trash being taken out and family members walking around the house.  Finally, she falls asleep and adds her “Zzz’s” to the nighttime sounds.

The Reptile Ball —  Sixteen species of nocturnal reptiles are described in poems whose styles match their festive musical mood.  The Komodo dragons each sport a pastel obi to go with the stately haiku noting their “courtly” presence.  “The Toad and Frog Reel” has a square-dance patter.  The snakes samba; the iguanas dance a quadrille; and the gilas enter with a soldierly, razing march.  Children will particularly enjoy the yucky description of the buffet in “The Dining Hall”: “Brussels sprouts in fish-eye sauce,/Slugs flambe on Spanish moss.”

Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning  —  While returning home, Scarlett is kidnapped by the family chauffeur, Ralph Falstaff.  Her parents agree to meet Falstaff at a cemetery and pay the ransom, on one condition: she must be home before dark.  Their provision seems utterly sensible, but it ushers in a shivery surprise.  As Scarlett’s parents arrive with the money, a full moon appears in the night sky-and the dignified couple begins to howl.  “‘Hold on kid, we’re getting out of here!’ [Ralph] shouted as he zoomed the car toward the gates of the graveyard. ‘Werewolves! I can’t believe those people are werewolves.’ And in the backseat Scarlett Angelina said, ‘GGGGRRRR.'”

Be sure to watch for Jackie’s new book, A Dignity of Dragons, due to be released May 3, 2010!

A Dignity of Dragons: Collective Nouns for Magical Beasts