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Do not be scared: take the Plunge into jazz with this second project by New Orleans artists Tim Green on sax, Mark McGrain on trombone and James Singleton on bass. Dancing on Thin Ice includes 11 tracks composed by McGrain that create your own Snug Harbor wherever you are. The trio is certainly worthy of the company they keep, having worked with Professor Longhair, Herbie Hancock and the Nevilles among many other greats.

Fiction l Poppy Z. Brite is a frequent guest at the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans and Saints and Sinners literary festivals as well as a handcuffed protester at the church closings last year. Her novels Liquor, Prime and Soul Kitchen have introduced readers to the wild world of Chefs John Rickey and Gary “G-man” Stubbs. The couple lives for food and the art of making it as many New Orleanians do. The two stories in Second Line serve as earlier and later chapters in the steamy soap opera saga. The city is like a third character in Brite’s stories and with quite an original spin: Brite wrote the second tale as though Hurricane Katrina never happened. If you recognize the two dudes in the cover photo, you must have been to the popular new joint, The Green Goddess, where they’re chefs.

Children’s l Epossumondas Plays Possum is a kiddie adventure filled with local flavor. A curious diaper-clad opossum learns about the loup garou from his sweet tea-loving mama, and uses his wits to escape the real life dangers of a swamp cat, snake, hog and buzzard. During her life, author Coleen Salley was a storyteller extraordinaire and professor of the craft and children’s literature at the University of New Orleans and Louisiana State University among other institutions.

This last story of the sweet marsupial is accompanied by charming Janet Stevens illustrations of Mama (spitting image of Salley in her rose-adorned hat) and son in a Spanish moss and cypress tree wonderland.

Art l Take home a piece of The Ogden Museum of Southern Art with this informative book showcasing the engrossing portraits of 15 Creole heroes by artist Jose Torres-Tama. New Orleans Free People of Color & Their Legacy is a beautifully executed history lesson of the earliest multiracial people in the country. If you missed the exhibition this fall at the Ogden you still can catch it at the Alexandria Museum of Art Jan. 15-March 6.

– Alisha Murphy

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