By Ashley Mackin
La Jolla High School graduate and author/poet Susan Bernardo returned to La Jolla from Los Angeles for a homecoming to celebrate the publication of her first book, “Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs” on July 14. She and illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (the two met when their children became friends) hosted a party at the La Jolla Recreation Center, which was followed by a book signing at Warwick’s.
Bernardo invited friends from high school and even some former LJHS teachers. “Coming back to my hometown to celebrate that our book is out there in the world just really fills me with gratitude,” she said.
She added that she wanted her high school teachers, particularly retired teacher Jules Tanzer, to be there because they were so supportive of her writing efforts during high school.
“A few years ago, I reconnected with my favorite teacher, Jules Tanzer, who was a mentor for me back then and he’s a mentor to me again as I launch my writing career,” she said.
Published in November 2012 and funded through a KickStarter campaign, the book is designed to comfort children who are experiencing a loss or missing someone they love.
Fletcher said the idea came after a friend died of breast cancer, leaving behind a 5-year-old daughter. Similarly, Bernardo was separating from her husband, and while her children were with their father, she was missing them.
So the two came up with the idea to write a book using the moon, sun and other elements of nature to represent the people that the children might be missing. “It reassures kids that the people they love are always connected with them, even if they are not physically present,” Fletcher explained. “That love is available to them through the sun and the moon, and through nature they can always feel connected to those they love.”
“Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs” is available at