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‘There Ain’t No Reindeers on the Bayou’: Local woman publishes Christmas-themed children’s book

RESERVE — Local author Brandi Reynaud finds inspiration for stories in the curious eyes of her three children.

Her first children’s book, “Granny Thee Unstoppable,” was released this year as a way of helping her children cope with the recent loss of their beloved grandmother from metastatic breast cancer.

On Dec. 3, Reynaud released her second book, “There Ain’t No Reindeers on the Bayou.” This imaginative Christmas tale puts a Louisiana spin on the legend of Santa Claus. When Santa visits the bayou, his signature “Ho, Ho, Ho!” turns into “Ho, Ho, Ho, laissez les bons temps rouler!”

The book follow’s the story of Reynaud’s youngest daughter, Layla, as she eagerly awaits Santa’s arrival on a muggy Christmas Eve at her family’s alligator farm. The gumbo is hot and ready, and bonfires line the levee to light the way for Santa’s sleigh.

Hearing the jingle jangle of sleigh bells, Layla looks out the window and sees the reindeer caught deep in the mud of the bayou. She awakens her parents, and Daddy quickly informs Santa, “We had a hurricane this year, so ya reindeer just won’t do. Santa, you need my gators if you gonna ride the bayou.”

According to Reynaud, the inspiration for the children’s book struck when her family went visit the 2019 Blood, Sweat and Bonfires creation in Garyville. The 60-foot long alligator bonfire captured the imagination of her children who asked why the bonfire was in the shape of an alligator and not a reindeer.

“There Ain’t No Reindeers on the Bayou” was created as a fun way to explain how an alligator could connect to Christmas in Louisiana. Reynaud incorporated Southern Louisiana elements into the story, from gumbo filé to the dialect with which the characters speak.

The constant between all of Reynaud’s stories is the inclusion of her family members as characters.

“My children inspire me. I write all of my books for my children,” Reynaud said. “Once I read a version of the story to my children, I can really tell if they understand it. If it’s too much for them, they will just shy away from it. Then I’ll rewrite the story. If I can grab their attention with it, I know it’s good.”

Reynaud knew she had something special with her newest Christmas book. Not only has it become a popular bedtime story request; Bryce, Brayden and Layla have started reciting quotes from the book around the house.

During the self-publishing process, Reynaud wrote and rewrote several versions of the story. The book was sent to a developmental editor, a grammar editor and finally an illustrator prior to its recent release.

“I can tell from the children’s reactions what to do with the story. Should I lighten it up? Should I add more detail? They are my little critics,” Reynaud said. “They are starting to request characters and books now. Layla is in ‘There Ain’t No Reindeers on the Bayou’, and Bryce is in ‘Granny Thee Unstoppable’. I just wrote one for my son, Brayden. He has a speech impairment where he stutters. He wanted to be a superhero, and his speech impairment is one of his superpowers in a story I wrote in a story called ‘Magnolia Lane.’ They love being the characters.”

Reynaud has written many stories, but she didn’t think about publishing children’s books until Brayden asked her why other kids couldn’t read her stories. At a young age, he saw the potential for the “Granny Thee Unstoppable” series to help other kids with their grief the same way it had helped him.

Since its release just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, “Granny Thee Unstoppable” has garnered positive feedback from readers.

One reviewer commented, “This beautiful sad tale would be a wonderful addition to any child’s library who is facing metastatic breast cancer with a loved one in their lives. That even after their loved one is gone from this world they are truly still there, watching over them. This little ray of hope after death regardless of your personal belief system can give a child a peace that the loss takes away.”

Reynaud is planning two additional book releases for the first half of 2021. “Granny Thee Unstoppable” Volume 2 will be released for Mother’s Day, and a new book called “My Daddy Said Pretty Girls Don’t Need Makeup” will be released for Father’s Day.

Books can be obtained through Amazon or at brandi-books.com.