Eliana de Las Casas And Her Mama’s Bayou

by Dianne on November 2, 2017

I’ll Always be Bayou By Eliana de Las Casas

My mom, Dianne de Las Casas, had a big heart and big dreams. Ever since she was a little girl, she wanted to write books. She was fascinated by picture books and how they could change children’s lives. She even quit her desk job to become a storyteller. She published a few educational books for teachers and librarians before she went on to publish her first picture book, The Cajun Cornbread Boy. Although I was young, I was there every step of the way from the time she wrote a story to the time she published it. I would help her with storyline ideas when she had writer’s block. Many times, I was also the one who would sit and watch her perform her stories and critique them.

I remember one particular night when I was little and my mom called me into her room. She said she wanted me to listen to a new story that she wrote for me. Of course, I was excited and wanted to hear it! I crawled into her bed and laid down next to her. She began to sing, “Mama’s by you on the bayou / Rockin’ you to the sounds of the crickets, chirp chirp.” She continued and sang the remainder of the lullaby. My mom told me that when my sister was a little girl, she wrote her her own lullaby. She wanted me to have my own as well. I immediately loved it.

This lullaby ended up becoming her third picture book, Mama’s Bayou, which was illustrated in beautiful cut paper and collage by Holly Stone-Barker. On the dedication page my mom wrote, “For Eliana, the Snugglebug in Mama’s Bayou. I love you!” This book became extra special to me. When the book was published, she made sure that I got a signed first edition copy from her and Ms. Holly. To this day, I still have that same book on my bookshelf. Whenever I want to remember my mom’s big heart and the sound of her voice, I will open up the book and sing the song as I turn the pages. And one day, Mom, I’ll be right there by you on the other side of the bayou.

About Eliana de Las Casas

Eliana is a 17-year-old award-winning celebrity chef, cookbook author, and radio show host. Known in the food industry as Kid Chef Eliana, she is the author of three cookbooks, Eliana Cooks! Recipes for Creative Kids, Cool Kids Cook: Louisiana, and Cool Kids Cook: Fresh & Fit. She is the 2016 Food Network Chopped Teen Grand Champion and CEO of Eliana Cooks! and Spice It Up!, a seasoning blend company.

Literacy Activity
November 2 – Mothers

“Picture books are meant to be read aloud, which automatically makes them a social experience.” ( from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013

Choose a book to read aloud that has mother/s as the theme. During read aloud, pick out rhyming words and/or onomatopoeia. Have students repeat words that are essential to the story as you read aloud. It becomes an engaging reading experience as they listen, speak and follow language patterns. After the read aloud, recall with students the rhyming words and onomatopoeia present in the book. Write them down on the board or on flashcards. Talk about these words and how it can be used for writing sentences and poetry.

Suggested reading:

The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse and Barbara Lavallee
Mom School by Rebecca Van Slyke and Priscilla Burris
The Runaway Bunny
by Margaret Wise Brown Illustrated by Clement Hurd

Be sure to download the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms for more engaging ideas and activities to bring picture books into the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies curriculum.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Penny Parker Klostermann November 2, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Thank you for this beautiful story about your mom, Eliana. It touched my heart.


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