May 4—"You Are a Gift From God" by Deborah K. Thoennes Schlapper and Roxanne J. Schmitt Copeland, illustrated by Carole A. Kinion Copeland; published by WestBow Press on March 22
This children's book is written as a song. There is an accompanying YouTube video that includes the song sung by Jeweleeann Wilson, with piano accompaniment and backing vocals by Rebecca Heyn, who also composed the music.
The book is definitely enhanced by the amazing piano and vocals of the song, but as a stand-alone, the words/lyrics and illustrations are something special, too. This Christian book is designed to remind children how valuable their unique selves are. The jeweled-colored designs against the black pages are simple yet alluring. It has the feel of a great Christmas book for children.
"You Are a Gift From God" is available online from WestBow Press (www.westbowpress.com), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christian Book (www.christianbook.com). The song and video are available on YouTube.
Deborah K. Thoennes Schlapper has a master's in mental health counseling, and currently works at her private practice. She lives with her husband and two sons in Spooner, Wis.
Roxanne J. Schmitt Copeland has had a desire to write and sing from a young age, and practices that in everyday life. She believes in following the path God sets for us.
Carole A. Kinion Copeland has a Bachelor of Science in art with a biology emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She works with varying media, including watercolor, pastels, and pen and ink. She enjoys nature and including that in her work. She lives with her family in Rochester. Her website is https://carolekinioncopeland.com. She also has some upcoming events at 125 Live. Visit http://125livemn.org for more information.
"Yang Warriors" by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Billy Thao, published by University of Minnesota Press in April
This children's book tells the story of the brave, young Hmong children living in the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand in 1986. Based on stories from the author's older sister and her own memories, "Yang Warriors" introduces children and adults alike to an important part of history. Yang captivates with wonderful imagery, evoking emotions for the reader parallel to the characters' own experiences.
She tackles adult situations from her perspective as a child, and shares the lessons equally with young and older readers.
"Yang Warriors" is brought to another level with the illustrations from Thao. His watercolors and ink give life to the setting and soul to the characters. The illustrations easily help young readers visualize the story and understand the more adult concepts.
"Yang Warriors" is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and University of Minnesota Press (www.upress.umn.edu). Other titles from Yang are available at the Rochester Public Library.
Kao Kalia Yang has won awards for both children's and adult literature, including the Minnesota Book Award and the Heartland Bookseller's Award. This is her fourth children's book. She lives in Minnesota with her family. Her website is https://kaokaliayang.com.
Billy Thao is a self-taught visual artist and children's illustrator. He was born and raised in Minnesota, and has a degree in sociology and philosophy. This is the first book he has illustrated. He lives in Washington County. His website is https://billythao90.myportfolio.com.
"Gentlemen Farmers: Cattle Herds of the Rich and Famous" by Ronald Eustice, self-published in December 2020
This detailed book discusses five of the early physicians at Mayo Clinic, their farms and contributions to the cattle farming industry. It includes Dr. Charles H. Mayo, Dr. Christopher Graham, Dr. Hiram Essex, Dr. Frank Mann and Dr. Donald Balfour. It includes details about their farms, their cattle, and their influence on the industry. It is filled with photos of the doctors and estates themselves, plus many artifacts that really engage the reader.
This is a book for those interested in early area history, the cattle industry, or both.
"Gentlemen Farmers" is available online through Amazon.
Ronald Eustice was born and raised on a family farm in Waseca. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota, and later a master's degree in business administration. He served as the executive director of the Minnesota Beef Council for more than 20 years. In 2018, he was a recipient of the National Dairy Shrine Pioneer Award and was inducted into the National Dairy Hall of Fame. This is his sixth book. Eustice lives with his wife, splitting their time between Burnsville and Tucson.
Book Nook is a new feature that highlights books from Minnesota authors. Got a recommendation? Email us at email@example.com with the subject line "Book Nook."