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.
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.
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!
Here is a picture of the button and needle at the beginning of the Fashion District in Manhattan.
It was a fun trip and Soleil really enjoyed herself. This is Soleil at the restaurant, Mars 2112, on her birthday, 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.
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.
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.
Here is a picture of one of our Summer Reading Crowds at a Louisiana library. We love it when kids come to the library!
Here are some pictures of me and Eliana with fans. We love you!
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!
I feel special because I became a “Star Reader” this summer!
Here are some more 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.
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!
It was a great month of travel and promoting reading!