Dianne’s Summer Travels June/July 2008


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Friends:

This summer has been a time of closing chapters and opening new ones. On July 9, 2008, my beloved father-in-law, Jaime Roberto Casas, passed away somewhat unexpectedly. He was 78 years old and lived a beautifully full life, leaving behind a loving wife (Jennie), two wonderful children (Antonio and Pam), and two sweet granddaughters (Soleil and Eliana). Jaime and Jennie celebrated 41 years of love. Though I am saddened that he is no longer here with us, I am also comforted knowing that he is in a better place.

Eliana with grandparents, Jennie & Jaime Casas

Eliana with grandparents, Jennie & Jaime Casas

Soleil, my oldest daughter, graduated from high school in May with honors (Top 5) and over $140,000 in scholarship offers. To celebrate the success Soleil has enjoyed, my mother and I took her and her friend, Nea, to NYC for her graduation/birthday (July 21) present. We stayed at the Time Hotel right on Times Square.

Soleil & Nea on Times Square July 2008

Soleil & Nea on Times Square July 2008

We saw The Little Mermaid on Broadway and it was phenomenal! We ate at the New York’s famous Johnny’s Pizzeria, Mars 2112, Ruby Foo’s, the Olympic Diner, and Belly Deli. And we shopped. Boy, did we shop! I just adore SHOES!

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes! NYC July 2008

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes! NYC July 2008

Here is a picture of the button and needle at the beginning of the Fashion District in Manhattan.

The Fashion District NYC July 2008

The Fashion District NYC July 2008

It was a fun trip and Soleil really enjoyed herself. This is Soleil at the restaurant, Mars 2112, on her birthday, July 21, 2008.

Soleil at Mars 2112 NYC July 21, 2008

Soleil at Mars 2112 NYC July 21, 2008

We were able to visit family – my mom’s sister, Mary Ann, and my cousin, Valerie, who live in Queens. Here is a picture of me and pretty Valerie.

Dianne & Valerie in NYC July 2008

Dianne & Valerie in NYC July 2008

Eliana, my 8 year old, toured and performed with me all summer across the beautiful state of Louisiana celebrating the summer reading program, “Be A Star – Read!” We visited these parishes: Terrebonne, Cameron, Washington, LaSalle, Webster, Ouachita, Rapides, Iberville, and Winn.

Summer Reading 2008 - Eliana Performing Sausage Nose

Summer Reading 2008 - Eliana Performing Sausage Nose

We drove through beautiful forests, collected shells on the beach, saw alligators, admired the beauty of the bayou, drove across the Mississippi River in several parts of the state, and even drove through the state of Mississippi. Eliana learned so much about Louisiana and I really enjoyed spending this time with her.

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Dianne & Eliana Performing "The Magic Star"

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Dianne & Eliana Performing "The Magic Star"

Here is a picture of one of our Summer Reading Crowds at a Louisiana library. We love it when kids come to the library!

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 Library Crowd

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 Library Crowd

Here are some pictures of me and Eliana with fans. We love you!

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Dianne & Fans

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Dianne & Fans

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Dianne, Eliana (in pink & brown) & Fans

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Dianne, Eliana (in pink & brown) & Fans

A special thank you to our wonderful friends at the Rapides Parish Library who made Eliana’s 8th birthday (June 15) extra special. Tammy & Karla, you rock!

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Eliana Celebrating Her 8th Birthday at Rapides Parish Library

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Eliana Celebrating Her 8th Birthday at Rapides Parish Library

I feel special because I became a “Star Reader” this summer!

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Dianne is a Star Reader!

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Dianne is a Star Reader!

Here are some more Stars!

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Summer Reading Stars

Louisiana Summer Reading 2008 - Summer Reading Stars

One cool thing to happen to Eliana this summer was receiving a big package from the White House. Eliana received a personally signed letter from First Lady Laura Bush, “My American Journal,” stickers, autographed pictures, and White House fact cards. Laura Bush said:

“Dear Eliana, Your very proud mother sent me your nice review of Jenna’s and my book (Read All About It). You are a terrific writer! Thank you for your kind words. Reading will always give you pleasure. For the rest of your life, as long as you enjoy reading, you will have a friend by your side, ready to go with you on the most interesting adventures. Have a wonderful summer – and keep reading!” – First Lady Laura Bush, White House, United States of America

One of the highlights of my summer was attending ALA in Anaheim, California. Here, my book, Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take, is promoted at the Libraries Unlimited booth.

ALA Anaheim June 2008 - Handmade Tales Poster

ALA Anaheim June 2008 - Handmade Tales Poster

My presentation, “Handmade Tales,” was standing room only. There were over 200 librarians in attendance. After my presentation, I received invitations all over the U.S. and even to places as far away as Singapore and Italy! My books sold out so ALA turned out to be a great conference. Thank you to all the librarians who attended my session and purchased my books. I appreciate you! I took extra time and even explored the beach (Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Corona del Mar). I just love Southern California!

ALA Anaheim June 2008 - Huntington Beach Pier

ALA Anaheim June 2008 - Huntington Beach Pier

It was a great month of travel and promoting reading!

Warmly, Dianne