By Diane Y. Welch
Famed for her global nutrition and weight loss franchise centers, founder Jenny Craig, has added a new title to her resume: children’s book author.
Craig’s book “I believe in Genevieve” — just released by Regnery Kids, a subsidiary of Regnery Publishing, Inc. — was launched at a lively champagne reception and book signing event at Warwick’s book store in La Jolla on Oct. 24.
Warwick’s events coordinator, Julie Slavinsky, introduced Craig to a packed audience. Retelling her early days, being the youngest child of six born in New Orleans during the Great Depression, Craig told the rapt audience about the inspiration for the book that encourages children to achieve their own greatness.
Its storyline draws upon Craig’s own life. Genevieve, the main character, is based on Craig who loved to ride horses as a child and who uses her given name for the story. Craig later changed her name to Jenny because she was not enamored with her French roots, she said.
Genevieve’s sister is Trudy, who is Craig’s actual sister, and Craig’s horse trainer, John Sadler, is also the trainer in the book. The horse in the story, Candy Ride, is Jenny’s (and her late husband Sidney’s) thoroughbred stallion who was the winner of the 2003 Pacific Classic, breaking the track record at that time.
The idea to write a children’s book was suggested by a friend of Craig’s daughter who works at Regnery Publishing, said Craig in a later interview. “I hadn’t thought of it before but when we talked about the idea I realized that I could get some positive messages across in the book using language that children understand.”
Before Craig committed herself to the project she was shown work samples of the illustrator who would partner with her on the book. “I could not believe the talent of Wendy Edelson, the artist, and the fact that she is self taught,” said Craig. “Her work is absolutely beautiful, and when I saw her illustrations I immediately said, ‘I will absolutely do this!’”
Edelson’s illustrations bring to life the message of “believing in yourself,” which uses Genevieve’s determination to compete in a horse show at the Rancho Paseana riding camp – based on Craig’s horse ranch in Rancho Santa Fe – as the vehicle.
Genevieve takes the necessary steps to be competitive by nourishing herself with healthy foods and keeping active by taking care of Candy Ride, who also grows fit and strong. By the end of the summer, win or lose, Genevieve learns the valuable lesson that by believing in herself she is already a winner.
This was a message followed by Craig her entire life. She heard it repeatedly as a child. “My dad used to sit me on his knee and he would often say to me, ‘You can be anything and do anything if you are willing to work for it and if you have passion for it,’ which means the same as believing in yourself,” Craig said.
In this way parents can be very powerful in helping their kids to develop a positive self-image, she added. Then joked, “I always said, ‘Gee I’m glad my dad didn’t tell me I could fly because I might have jumped off a building to try.’”
“I Believe in Genevieve” also serves as a fun, healthy-living guide for children with simple nutritious recipes and exercise plans included in the book’s pages. The book may be purchased at Warwick’s in La Jolla and from online bookstores (such as amazon.com) or from the publisher at www.regnery.com