Daily VIP #70 - March 11, 2015
Alicia is a school librarian at Sacred Heart Academy in New Orleans. We've known each other for years and a couple of years ago, she brought me to her school as a visiting author. I had such a great time with all of the students, who really enjoyed my storytelling. Afterward, I signed books at their book fair.
Alicia is a staunch supporter of literacy and follows all the major hot topics in children's literature. She often visits Octavia Books, a New Orleans independent bookstore, attending author events, including mine.
Alicia is sweet, passionate about books, and fun to be around. She truly cares about the students at her school and strives to provide them with enrichment events that highlight literacy.
So today, I salute Alicia Schwarzenbach, a Very Important Person to me, to her family and friends, to her library at Sacred Heart Academy, and to the many students who visit her library every day. I light a candle for you, Alicia! #DailyVIP #VeryImportantPerson #VeryInspirationalPerson
Daily VIP #68 - March 9, 2015 Marlo Oubre Barbera
Marlo and I met through our mutual friend, Kristen Dumas Callais, when Kristen invited Kid Chef Eliana to do a mommy daughter cooking class for a group of her friends and their daughters at a condo that Kristin's family owns on the beach in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Marlo is so much fun! We laughed so hard that weekend and had a blast together. Marlo has two beautiful daughters and we had fun hanging out with them too. 👯
Marlo loved the chicken tortilla soup that Eliana made so much that she and her girls now make the soup often for dinner. It's become one of their "go to" meals. Marlo text me every time she makes the soup. LOL She is a huge supporter of Kid Chef Eliana, and always comments on our Facebook posts.
Marlo is outgoing, funny, and sweet. She's like me… she loves to laugh loud and proud!
So today, I salute Marlo Barbera, a Very Important Person to me and Kid Chef Eliana, to her husband and daughters, to Kristen, and to her family and friends. I raise a glass to you, Marlo! #ranchid #DailyVIP #VeryImportantPerson #VeryInspirationalPerson
Daily VIP #66 - March 7, 2015 Manolo Silayan
My Daily VIP today highlights a good friend all the way in the Philippines. Manolo and I became friends in 2004, on my first adult return trip to the Philippines, my other motherland. He asked me to do a workshop for the Alitaptap Storytellers Phils, which he was then in charge of. On the night of my workshop, a horrible typhoon, Yoyong, blew in. I thought I would have no one at the workshop but miraculously, people showed up!
Manolo connected me with important people like Meinard Cruz, who hired me to do a series of workshops with Scholastic Books Philippines. Through Manolo, I also met children's book author, Dr. Luis P. Gatmaitan, storyteller Jay Menes, Charlyn Depante Chua, and so many others. In fact, I connected with nearly the entire community of Storytellers in the Philippines because of Manolo.
Manolo is a driven, fearless leader, and is not afraid to take risks. He has a heart for the arts and literacy, particularly storytelling. He is always open to new ideas and loves helping others, being a connector of people. Manolo is giving, fun, and has an amazing son, Janro, who is a star storyteller himself!
Today, I celebrate Manolo Silayan, a Very Important Person to me, to his son and family, to the many storytellers in the Philippines, and to his wide network of business colleagues and friends. I light a candle in your honor, Manolo! #DailyVIP #VeryImportantPerson #VeryInspirationalPerson
Daily VIP #64 - March 5, 2015
Tara is another one of my friends I've never met in person. She and I became friends through our mutual passion for picture books. Tara is the founder of Picture Book Idea Month or PiBoIdMo, for short. Each November, people sign up on her blog and commit to producing a picture book idea each day for 30 days. PiBoIdMo is so popular that thousands of people participate each year. In fact, it's because of Tara that I chose November for Picture Book Month. A whole month dedicated to picture books!
Tara is one of the hardest-working women in Kidlit. She knows EVERYONE in the biz and is incredibly well-respected. She is an amazing picture book author and teacher, freely dispensing her knowledge, resources, and information. Although she is a super busy Wonder Woman and mom, she always has time for me when I need her. Tara and I both bonded over the fact that we both have daughters named Eliana!
Tara is driven, smart, giving, and sweet. Everyone who knows her adores her, including me!
So today, I salute Tara Lazar, a Very Important Person to me, to her family and friends, to the whole Kidlit picture book community, and to the readers of her fabulous books. I light a candle for you, Tara! XOXOXO #DailyVIP #VeryImportantPerson #VeryInspirationalPerson
Daily VIP #62 -March 3, 2015
Nancy W. LeBlanc
(i've been traveling so I'm playing catch-up…)
Nancy and I met many years ago. It's been so long I can't even remember when and where! She and her daughter, Katie, have been big supporters of me and Kid Chef Eliana. They always come to our events in Baton Rouge.
Nancy is the creator of the calendar for Baton Rouge Parents magazine. Whenever Eliana and I have events, Nancy makes sure that it's on the calendar!
Nancy is an avid gardener, a wonderful mom, and a caring person. I'm glad that our paths have crossed and that she is a part of our lives.
So today, I salute Nancy LeBlanc, a Very Important Person to me and Kid Chef Eliana, to her husband and her daughter Katie, to her friends and family, and to all the readers of Baton Rouge Parents magazine. I light a candle for you, Nancy! 👏 #DailyVIP #VeryImportantPerson #VeryInspirationalPerson
Daily VIP #69 March 10, 2015 - Susan Taylor Brown
Susan and I met in 1994, when I was a mere 24 years old! I had just joined my local SCBWI in New Orleans and Susan was already a member. We bonded over the fact that we were both "Cali" girls. Susan was already an experienced writer and became one of my first writing mentors.
I've always known Susan as "The Girl Who Loved to Write." She is one of the most tenacious, fiercely determine writers I know. Susan was not going to stop until she had children's books published. I remember when her picture book, Oliver's Must Do List came out in 1999! Her book, Hugging the Rock, a middle grade novel in verse, moved me to tears.
Although Susan lived in New Orleans and wrote for the Times-Picayune for a time, she moved back to California. She is, after all, a true Cali girl. She is renovating a house she just moved into, where views from her front door overlook a gorgeous landscape of trees and nature.
Susan is creative, artistic, driven, and kind. She is a dog lover to the core and really loves nature.
So today, I salute Susan Taylor Brown, a Very Important Person to me, to her family and friends, to her community of writers, and to the readers of her wonderful books. I light a candle for you, Susan! #DailyVIP #VeryImportantPerson #VeryInspirationalPerson
Daily VIP #67 - March 8, 2015
Stephanie and I became acquainted in 2004, when she reviewed my very first story telling audio CD for School Library Journal, Jamabalaya: Stories with Louisiana Flavor (now only available on iTunes). I wrote her a thank you note for giving me such a stellar review and, when we met at a library conference later, we hit it off.
I found out that Stephanie went to LSU and is from Shreveport, Louisiana. Every time we know we're at the same conference, we try to make time to hang out together. One such occasion found us singing karaoke and dancing at a hotel bar, bringing down the house!
Stephanie is an amazing librarian and is very active in the library community, having written reviews, served on committees, and taught workshops. She currently works at Wright university, where she continues to use her expertise in children's literature.
Stephanie is gregarious, fun, and has an infectious energy. She has a gorgeous smile and is someone I consider a "people magnet." I just love being around her!
So today, I salute Stephanie Bange, a Very Important Person to me, her family and friends, to her colleagues at her university, and to the library community at large. I light a candle in your honor, Stephanie! #DailyVIP #VeryImportantPerson #VeryInspirationalPerson
Daily VIP #65 - March 5, 2015 Molly Kimball
Kid Chef Eliana and I met Molly at the Louisiana Restaurant Association Expo. We hit it off with Molly because she is so sweet and personable. Molly is a registered dietician and the founder of Eat Fit NOLA, a program through Ochsner that helps local restaurants develop healthy meal options on their menus. Molly is also the host of "Get the Skinny," a weekly show in WGNO ABC 26.
Molly is so supportive of Kid Chef Eliana and has Eliana on her television show often. Molly is all about helping people reach their goals of living a healthier, active lifestyle.
Molly is ambitious, intelligent, fun, sweet, and fabulous! Eliana and I love being around her. She's so upbeat and inspirational.
So today, I salute Molly Kimball, a Very Important Person to me and Kid Chef Eliana, to her husband and family, to Ochsner and her co-workers at Eat Fit NOLA, to her "family" at WGNO, and to her many fans and viewers. I light a candle in your honor, Molly! 💖 #DailyVIP #VeryImportantPerson #VeryInspirationalPerson
Daily VIP #63 - March 4, 2015
Ashlynn is my 14-year-old niece, the daughter of my brother, Gary James. She is a sweet girl who loves music and makeup. Ashlynn is an aspiring makeup artist and has been practicing her skills. Just look at those eyebrows (on fleek)!
When Ash was a little girl, she used to write the funniest songs ("My Heart Aches Without You...") and loved performing in front of the family. Of all my nieces, she is the writer, always jotting things down and creating stories. She also loves improving her vocabulary and is constantly looking up the definitions of words and tries to incorporate them into her everyday vocabulary. The writer in me loves this!
Ashlynn is always helpful and has a kind soul. She loves helping others and is one of the most courageous girls I know. I love her with all of my heart.
So today, I celebrate Ashlynn James, a Very Important Person to me, to Antonio, to Eliana, to Soleil, to her mom and dad, to her siblings, to her grandparents Josie Chretien and Clay Chretien, and to her friends. You go girl! XOXOXO #DailyVIP #VeryImportantPerson #VeryInspirationalPerson
Daily VIP #60 - March 1, 2015
(I've been traveling so I'm playing catch-up…)
More than a decade ago, my friend, Kendall Haven, encouraged me to submit a book proposal to his editor, Barbara Ittner at Libraries Unlimited. So I did. While the book did not fit Barbara's imprint, she told me to send it to their sister imprint, Teachers Ideas Press. I sent my manuscript to Suzanne Barchers, who became my first editor.
Eventually, TIP was absorbed by Libraries Unlimited. my main editor became Sharon Coatney, whom I love and I've worked with for nearly a decade. At every conference, Barbara and I would hang out, have dinner, have drinks, and always think of ways that we could work together. We've even been roommates!
Finally, Barbara came to me with a book project. She asked me to write a book of Filipino folktales. I embarked on this time-consuming project with a co-author from the Philippines, my dear friend and amazing storyteller, Zarah Gagatiga. Just days ago, I found out that our book, Tales from the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories won a Storytelling World Award! Wow!
I am so blessed to work with Barbara. She is elegant, beautiful, and a wonderful human being. I absolutely and utterly adore her!
So today, I celebrate Barbara Ittner, a Very Important Person to me, to her family and friends, to her family at ABC-Clio Libraries Unlimited, and to the authors who cherish her as I do. I light a candle for you, Barbara! XOXOXO #DailyVIP #VeryImportantPerson #VeryInspirationalPerson
- Kid Chef ElianaManager, 2008 - presentManager of Kid Chef Eliana, a 13 year old cookbook author, radio show host, and celebrity chef.
- Picture Book MonthFounder, 2011 - present
- Award-Winning Author & Storyteller1996 - present
- Buzz (current)
Touring internationally, Award-Winning Author and Storyteller Dianne de Las Casas sizzles on stage with “revved-up storytelling.” Audiences don’t just listen – they sing, clap, dance, chant, and roar with laughter. De Las Casas adapts traditional folklore, adding fun audience participation, song, and of course, humor. A dramatic storyteller, she does not stay still! Through the use of character voices, creative movement, and animated facial expressions and gestures, she creates a world of fantasy and enchantment. Childhood travels around the world contributed to shaping her future as a storyteller. De Las Casas lived in the Philippines, Hawaii, Spain and traveled across Europe and the United States. A proud Filipina-American, she now resides in the New Orleans area. Her varied cultural experiences nourished her imagination, and she continues to draw on that knowledge, adding depth and richness to her tales.
A champion for literacy, she is founder of the international initiative, Picture Book Month, which celebrates picture books during the month of November. Picture Book Month was featured in Life Lift, The Oprah blog, among other media. De Las Casas is the author of several children’s picture books including The Cajun Cornbread Boy (Pelican Publishing; 2009), Madame Poulet & Monsieur Roach (Pelican Publishing, 2009), Mama’s Bayou (Pelican Publishing, 2010); The Gigantic Sweet Potato (Pelican Publishing, 2010), There’s A Dragon in the Library (Pelican Publishing, 2011), The House That Witchy Built (Pelican Publishing, 2011), Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate (Pelican Publishing, 2011) Dinosaur Mardi Gras (Pelican Publishing, 2012), and Beware, Beware of the Big Bad Bear (Pelican Publishing, 2012).
Her award-winning professional books for teachers and librarians include Story Fest: Crafting Story Theater Scripts (Teacher Ideas Press, 2005), Kamishibai Story Theater: The Art of Picture Telling (Teacher Ideas Press, 2006), Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take (Libraries Unlimited, 2008) Tangram Tales: Story Theater Using the Ancient Chinese Puzzle (Teacher Ideas Press; 2008), The Story Biz Handbook: How to Manage Your Storytelling Career from the Desk to the Stage (Libraries Unlimited, 2008), Scared Silly: 25 Tales to Tickle and Thrill (Libraries Unlimited, 2009), Stories on Board: Creating Board Games from Favorite Tales (Libraries Unlimited, 2010) Tell Along Tales: Playing with Participation Stories (Libraries Unlimited, 2011), A is for Alligator: Draw and Tell Tales from A-Z (Libraries Unlimited, 2011), Tales from the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories (Libraries Unlimited, 2011) and Handmade Tales 2: More Stories to Make and Take (Libraries Unlimited, 2012).
Her storytelling CDs have won multiple parenting awards and have received rave reviewed. Booklist says, “De Las Casas' commanding voice, unique characterizations, emotive vocalizations, and creative methods of reaching out to her audience are most engaging.” Publishers Weekly hails de Las Casas brand of oral tales as as “revved-up storytelling.” She is a Louisiana State Roster Artist, a Louisiana Touring Directory Artist, and a Mississippi Arts Education Demonstration Roster Artist.
She performs arts-in-education programs and residencies at schools, libraries, festivals, museums, and special events. Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and many other media outlets, de Las Casas is a sought-after international professional development workshop leader. She is a frequent presenter at IRA, ALA, AASL and other literacy and education conferences. An enthusiastic advocate of literacy and arts-in-education programming, Dianne de Las Casas continues to make the story connection with thousands of children every year, reaching and teaching through the wonder of stories.
- University of New Orleans
- West Jefferson High School, Harvey, Louisiana
- Lemoore High School, Lemoore, California
- Akers Junior High, Lemoore, California
- David Glaskow Farragut Elementary, Rota Spain
- Eva Beach Elementary, Eva Beach, Hawaii