By GWEN SISSON
Starkville author and artist Laurie Parker said she is more excited over her latest book than her 11 previous titles.
“This book is about subject matter ... that I enjoy immensely,” Parker said. “So with this project not only did I experience my usual joy in doing a book that comes from exercising my rhyming and collage skills, but I also had the pleasure of dealing with a subject matter that I really dig —no pun intended!”
For both children and adults, Parker’s latest book “Garden Alphabet” is an A-to-Z garden tour, using lyrical, metered rhyme and collage illustrations. It is also an “I-Spy” book, giving children an educational introduction to gardening.
Parker will debut “Garden Alphabet,” this Saturday, July 9, at the Starkville Community Market. The Market will be open from 7:30-10 a.m. Saturday in downtown Starkville, on the corner of Jackson and Lampkin Streets. She will be available for sales and signing throughout the event.
Parker said gardeners will most appreciate what the book has to say, interweaving plant names and gardening terms into rhyme. But even with the photo colleges and “I-Spy” type of artwork, the book is easily accessible for children and adults.
“For those not familiar with the subject, both young and old, ‘Garden Alphabet’ is a fun way for them to learn lots of names of plants and flowers,” Parker said. “Everyone can enjoy the hidden picture challenges in the book. In my mind, ‘Garden Alphabet’ is for adult gardeners first and foremost. It is of the utmost importance that this is a teaching tool that can turn children on to gardening, but I most look forward to sharing it at readings with adult gardening groups. They are the audience who will most appreciate the content.”
If a flower or plant was mentioned in the poem for a letter of the alphabet, Parker make sure the accompanying illustration featured that plant. Parker said her garden colleges were created through a process of intricate cutting and pasting techniques, making use of old flower and seed catalogs.
“If the poem mentions hollyhocks, then hollyhocks can be seen in the illustration beside it,” Parker said. “I was very meticulous about this. My mom and sister together get several catalogs a day from seed and flower companies.”
Parker said some of the flower bed illustrations feature well over 30 separate components that were individually cut and pasted onto the collage.
The hidden picture angle is something Parker experimented with in “The Sweet Dreams Book,” but knew garden scenes would be the perfect place for hiding interesting images, even those not included in the text.
“Each illustration in the book has a challenge, also written in rhyme, to find a specific item or items,” Parker said. “Readers will have to search for everything from gnomes to fairies to Easter eggs. And will also learn about types of butterflies and birds and beneficial insects for which they must look.”
Because of the hidden pictures and unique colleges, the artwork may get the most attention in this book, but Parker said she believes the text is the most important part of the book and was fun to write because of the great material she had to work with on this project.
“With ‘Garden Alphabet,’ I had all the fun plant names, both scientific and common, to work into rhymes and alliteration,” Parker said. “Many flower and plant names are inherently whimsical or fairly tale like, and I used as many of those as possible.”
Parker said she hopes adult readers will share the book with all the “little gardeners” in their life.
“Garden Alphabet” is Parker’s twelfth book, including familiar titles such as “Everywhere in Mississippi,” “A is for Angels,” and “The Turtle Saver.”
She was admitted as a member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi in 1995.
Alyson Karges with the Starkville Community Market, said they are happy to have Parker debut her new book about one of the Markets favorite topics at Saturday’s event.
Dylan Karges, market manager for the Starkville Community Market, is excited about a variety of activities happening at the Market this Saturday, including the debut of Laurie Parker’s new book.
For more about writer/artist Laurie Parker, go to http://www2.netdoor.com/~lauriep/writer/about.htm .