Last week we lost a shining star in children’s literature. Dianne de Las Casas was the patron saint of literacy, a champion for storytelling, and creator for the internationally celebrated Picture Book Month. (See more about Picture Book Month here.) She was a Kidlit Superhero.
A world renowned story teller, she loved school visits and inspired kids to read, write and tell their own stories. Her many books paid homage to the Louisiana landscape and people she loved, wrapped in the engaging narrative of the tall tale. The rhythms and patterns, the musicality and the poetry of language. Mama's Bayou is a particular favorite. Another is Beware, Beware of the Big Bad Bear. You can find out more about Dianne's books here.
Dianne was kind to me when my first books were published. I marveled at her boundless energy, her passion for the craft, and her fierce love of life. She was a force of nature. She touched the heart of everyone she met, including my crusty old thing. Friends and family described her as a “Spirit Mama,” leaving a trail of glitter where she went.
What an everlasting legacy for a teacher: to wrap the world in a rainbow of glitter and story. In tribute, I am reminded of this stanza to Maya Angelou's beautiful poem, When Great Trees Fall:
"And when great souls die,(You can view the complete version of When Great Trees Fall, by Maya Angelou at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art here.)
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed."