Author pays tribute to her alma mater with alphabet book for children
Love of her alma mater and home state of Louisiana inspired a slightly homesick Linda Colquitt Taylor to poetry.
From her current residence in Texas, Taylor, 59, began writing verse on everything from azaleas to zydeco and penned a tribute to LSU for young readers and their purple-and-gold-bleeding parents.
“The LSU Alphabet Book,” out this month from Tate Publishing, introduces children to the Memorial Tower for T and the Golden Band from Tigerland for G while also bestowing attention upon jambalaya in a black kettle and king cake for J and K.
“I wanted to make sure those kids, when they visited the campus, they can look at the War Memorial and they can point out the things that were right there,” Taylor said.
Born and raised mostly in Shreveport with her LSU alumni parents, Ethel and Charles Colquitt, the university’s acronym was one of the first things Taylor learned to say.
She attended LSU and got to know her husband, R. Gary Taylor, of Minden, on the campus with the “beautiful old oaks” — written for the letter O in her book — and the “University Lakes” — for U — where students could “soak up sunlight for a tan; take a break.”
After Taylor earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in education of the deaf and hearing impaired, she and her husband stayed in Baton Rouge, where she taught at Louisiana School for the Deaf. Their first two children, Alison and Charles Travis, were born in Baton Rouge, constantly touring the sites that became integral to Taylor’s book.
“We always would go to campus, go to football games, see the lakes and feed the ducks,” she said. “And how many times did we see Mike the Tiger?”
In 1988, her husband accepted a job with the federal government in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Oh, that just crushed my heart,” she said. “I left wonderful Baton Rouge.”
Texas took some getting used to, being so far from her home state filled with riverboats (letter R in the book) and hot boudin (letter H).
“People wore boots to church, western boots to school,” she said. “It was a total culture shock.”
In Texas she was a real estate agent for 10 years and then retired with a few real estate investments in Destin, Fla., Baton Rouge and Texas. She founded the Tarrant Tiger chapter of the LSU Alumni Association, naming it for Tarrant County, where Fort Worth is located, and it grew to more than 100 members.
She enjoyed writing and started writing poetry for children when her granddaughter was born.
With her children mostly grown — her two oldest are LSU alumni, while her third, Robert, attends Louisiana Tech University — a sorority sister and Texas A&M University alumna showed Taylor an alphabet book called “A is for Aggie” and encouraged her to write her own.
“I just sat old-fashioned with a legal pad on a bed and started,” she said.
For three months she crafted the verses. Of course, the letters Z and X were tough for her, but she found zydeco and the xylophones of the band for them.
Armed with the expertise of her elementary education degree and years of experience teaching new readers, Taylor said she designed the book as an educational and entertaining work.
After finishing the book, she sent it to publishers, who would keep the book for a few months before making a decision. She found Tate Publishing and Enterprises, an Oklahoma company, that offered her a contract within days of receiving her submission.
“We’re a football-friendly state and a college athletics friendly state, so even though there’s a little history between LSU and OU (University of Oklahoma), it’s still something we were interested in picking up,” said James Branscum, a marketing representative at Tate.
An illustrator at Tate pored over photos Taylor sent and an editor there helped perfect her rhythms and rhymes to produce the 30-page paperback book.
LSU’s rabid fans and alumni will be interested in the book wherever they live, Branscum said.
“There are LSU alums everywhere, so it’s something that definitely has appeal to those guys, wherever they are.”
Taylor has celebrated the book with signing sessions in Fort Worth and her hometown of Shreveport. She also has one scheduled for the fall at the LSU Official Campus Bookstore.
The “LSU Alphabet Book” retails for $10.99 and is available at http://www.TatePublishing.com or from http://www.Amazon.com.
The LSU Official Campus Bookstore has the book on order, according to Lance Kisamore, the store’s tradebook manager.
Tate will publish her second children’s book, “The New Orleans Saints Alphabet Book,” in the fall.
After her husband retires in a few years, Taylor said she hopes to return to their home state, possibly to Baton Rouge, which she celebrates in her book as the “state capital, LSU’s home, Zoo, river, museums, more places to roam.”
“You can take someone out of the state of Louisiana,” she said, “but you can’t take it out of their blood.”