My life would make a terrific children’s book.  In it, there would be three quirky little characters any reader would love. There would be a hard working husband who laughs a lot and sings his princess daughter to sleep. And then I’d be the kooky mom who dances while making pancakes and omelets in the morning, juggles a full work schedule, kisses bo bo’s, and tries to make it all look effortless.  I wouldn’t trade a thing.

In the minutes (and we are talking minutes) I have left of the day, when the children are all snug in their beds, I usually take a moment for calm. For me, calm has always meant stringing words together, usually poetry, at the computer. It’s the first thing I did when my granny died at age 96 in 2002. I leaned on words when my first child was born, and it’s what I did when my mom told me she had breast cancer in 1994. Thankfully she has beaten it, but writing down words helped me to deal with the situation. Those were all heavy words, but there are many fun ones stored in my computer, too. Silly little rhymes meant to make my children smile, or teach them a lesson.

Before they were enrolled in all day “big school” story time came at 10 a.m. every day. They’d sing, “Story time . . . story time . . . stooooorytime,” while marching to pick out a book. Sometimes, I’d just plop them on my lap and read something I’d written and they’d laugh. They’d even ask me to read it again! Finally, I decided to take some of those characters, and try to make other kids smile, too.

Yat and Dat just popped into my head one day, and there was no shortage of the adventures they can tackle. For a long time they were nameless. Yat and Dat seemed so appropriate for New Orleans. The city is full of characters, so a bird with a flower in her hair and crazy clothes wouldn’t stand out, she’d blend in! The birds feel they are real New Orleanians, and they go to great lengths to get the food we take for granted. When my amazing illustrator Spencer Bradford brought them to life, I felt like they were part of my family. The newest characters in my crazy life’s tale.

There are so many reasons to smile in New Orleans, but we have our share of issues as well. As a news anchor, I see the best and worst of it all. On the pages of The Adventures of Yat and Dat:  What’s Cookin’? Spencer displays our city beautifully. Its rich colors are kicked up a notch, and the reasons why we love it are amplified. The colors are almost 3-D. This is what someone said at a recent signing. I tell parents the colors are hypnotic. I can guarantee the kids won’t move for at least . . . five minutes.  In the back of the book there is good information about our great city. It’s eye candy, but you still can learn a lot.

Nancy Parker, author of The Adventures of Yat and Dat: What’s Cookin’?, is “a two-time Emmy Award winning journalist who also received the distinguished Edward R. Murrow Award for her reporting and documentary work. She was born and raised in Opelika, Alabama. After reporting and anchoring for television stations in Georgia and Alabama, she moved on to Baton Rouge and then New Orleans where she anchors the nightly news on WVUE Fox 8.”