New children’s book illustrates a sweet, salt-of-the-earth story about a Cajun boy’s journey to become whole again


NEW ORLEANS, La. — Salty is a divine Cajun boy created from the salt of the earth — literally. Dwelling deep within the hidden caverns of South Louisiana’s ancient salt domes, Salty spent his days cooking and caring for the critters of the Cajun swamp. Salty’s life was one of mineral harmony.

But when a crew of burly salt miners arrive, Salty’s ordinary world suddenly changes forever. When the miners crush poor Salty’s body into a witty, gritty pile of granules, his strong Cajun spirit is bottled up in a tiny salt shaker bound for the dining tables of New Orleans’ lively French Quarter.

Finding himself in the kitchen of a cranky chef, Salty strikes up a friendship with a timid girl made of peppercorns encased in a glass pepper grinder, named Pep. Hailing from Southern India, Pep shares her native culture with Salty and he teaches her about life in Cajun country. Together, they help each other endure being crushed and bottled up during their quest to become whole again.

“Salty Strong: The ‘Whole’ Cajun Story” (May 2020, Archway Publishing) is a beautifully illustrated, uplifting children’s tale about the joys of learning about new cultures, having different experiences, and the unlimited power of friendship and giving.

Chris Whitson | May 2020 | Archway Publishers | Children’s, Picture Books
Hardcover | 978-1480888647 | $23.95
Paperback | 9781480888661 | $13.95
Ebook | 9781480888654 | $3.99

About The Author

Chris Whitson was born and raised in New Orleans and now lives in Orlando, Fl. He and his wife have four children and six fun loving, high energy, grandchildren.

“Salty Strong” is Chris’s first children’s book and is inspired by his love for his grandchildren and his own struggles with sobriety and journey to becoming “whole” again. Never a strong reader himself, Chris wants “Salty Strong” to inspire children to overcome their insecurities, give of themselves, and to stay strong and have Faith in the face of adversity.

“Change starts from within.”
Chris Whitson is a proud LSU Tiger fan and member of the Who Dat’ nation who loves Cajun Cuisine and the New Orleans “Jambalaya” culture. When he’s not spending time with his grandchildren, Chris can be found enjoying his Cajun and New Orleans cuisine favorites such as, crawfish, muffulettas, and fried soft shell crab po-boys — dressed, of course!

In an interview, Chris can discuss:

  • Writing about New Orleans and the unique, intriguing, Cajun culture and cuisine and its vast popularity.
  • Incorporating Southern and Cajun history into a children’s book
  • How he learned how to write for children
  • How his grandchildren and journey to sobriety inspired him to write
  • How his Faith inspires him
  • The importance of inspiring resilience in kids

An interview with Chris Whitson

What gave you the idea to bring salt to life?

Salt is natural and pure. It has played an important role in survival, culture, business, religion, and society since ancient times. The significance and history of the natural salt domes in Louisiana are not often mentioned in history books.

How do you relate to Salty’s story?

The book came from a place of gratitude. About ten years ago, my first grandchild was born and my journey with sobriety had begun. As I began writing with no clear intention, unintentionally, the book began to mirror a blend of my childhood joys and stresses and my adult struggles and path to overcoming them. It encompasses all of the most important teachings that I challenged and had to learned through decades of life experiences.

Can you talk a bit about the influence of New Orleans and Cajun culture on your own childhood?

I loved growing up in New Orleans. For me, New Orleans and Cajun cultures are a celebration of family, faith , and community. They are welcoming resilient people who work hard and like to share their joy, culture, and world famous cuisine with others. Once it’s in your blood, it never leaves you!

How did you balance including Southern history in your story while still making it digestible for children?

I kept it simple. True Cajun dialect is much more intense than reflected in Salty Strong. I thought it would be fun and a learning opportunity for kids to read a taste of a unique dialect. I kept it to what many in Louisiana call, “the dis, dats, dese, and dose”. Aka, “this, that, these, and those”.

What do you want kids to take away from this story?

At some point everyone has struggles and may feel “crushed” like Salty. It may be a struggle with bullying, illness, addiction, loneliness… Hang in there, have Faith, give of yourself, and open your heart to others. You will become whole and stronger than ever!