Books

Below are a few of the many books by Stephen Scott, a Columbus, GA author who often goes by the moniker of “The Kudzu King.”

KATIE & THE KUDZU KING

Katie-Cover-New-Front-WebKatie and the Kudzu King is about a little girl from New Jersey who visits her country cousins in Georgia. Leaving the airport, she spies the kudzu vines covering telephone poles, trees, bushes and everything else. The sight scares her because the scene resembles ghosts and grotesque creatures. Her cousins are amused by her fear and tease her, but later help her learn about this extraordinary vine. The book’s theme is that the kudzu covering trees and bushes by southern highways looks startlingly like “monsters” waiting to cross the road, or perhaps to gobble up some unwary traveler. My own children saw many such monsters in the masses of kudzu, and we often played a travel game similar to seeing faces and objects in the clouds. Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a vine in the pea family that is ubiquitous in the South. It climbs, coils, spreads rapidly and generally covers everything in its path (telephone poles, bushes and trees and even whole buildings) if left unchecked. Although dormant during winters in the South, come Spring it revives and can grow a foot per day in the summer heat. It is native to southeast China and southern Japan and was brought to the United States in the late 1870’s to use for cattle fodder and also for curbing erosion. Some animals (goats and llamas, for example) like it and other animals won’t touch it. State highway departments in the South planted kudzu as roadside erosion control, but it quickly grew out of hand. Kudzu is almost impossible to eradicate. It can spread by seeds in the pods that form on the vine, or by vine stolons (runners) It is actually a pretty plant with a deep green color and has a beautiful purple flower reminiscent of wisteria.

GRUNONS WITH ONIONS

Grunions-Cover-New-Front-WebThis is a story about a kid named Beevie, who like most little boys, didn’t like to eat his vegetables. He especially didn’t like his mother’s casseroles and usually pouted when supper wasn’t some cool food like pizza or burgers. He gets a little too big for his britches one night after a skirmish with his mother and takes off into town on a mission to find some real food. His trip into town becomes a surreal adventure as he encounters one weird fast food restaurant after another. They not only don’t seem to have the food he wants, but things get increasingly bizarre as the night progresses. At each restaurant Beevie thinks he has found what he is looking for, only to be further frustrated by food even more grotesque than the last. After a nightmarish night of many wild and unearthly foods, his fatigue and hunger get the best of him and he decides that maybe, just maybe, Mom’s cooking is not so bad after all. This is the moral of the story, but we have fun getting to this point. ABOUT GRUNIONS The “grunions” he encounters are sardine-sized fish (genus Leuresthes) which are found only off the coast of California and Baja Mexico. They are about six inches long and are known for their unusual mating ritual. During high tides, the females move to the shallowest water and dig their tails into the sand to lay their eggs. The whole thing usually occurs at night and lasts for only half a minute or so. On the west coast, it is called a “Grunion Run”

BEN AND THE LITTLE BLUE BUS

BLBB-Cover-WebOne bright summer day, a giant cruise ship arrives at the tiny Caribbean Island port of St. Melvin, Antibulla. A British couple and their two children disembark for a day tour of the island. Looking for a car and driver for the day, they try to employ a limousine, but the children spy a battered little old bus, driven by a tall gregarious island man named Ben. The children win out and the adventure begins. The children want Ben to take them to the top of the island volcano. The parents are horrified but give in to all the excitement. Between the market area and the volcano, they encounter numerous obstacles, each to which Ben calmly replies “no problem” and proceeds to “motor through” any difficulty presented. He also adds “and up we go” or similar saying at each instance of the parents’ doubt.