An Iowa native who aims to boost children’s self-esteem will bring her ambitious marketing plan back home this week. Tess Cacciatore left her hometown of Urbandale after finishing Dowling High School, attended college in Missouri and then worked in New York and Los Angeles. This weekend she’ll come to Des Moines with a new children’s book she’s written titled “Bella Wishes.” The character is a girl hippo and the book contains a C-D of music kids can listen to and dance along. She says it’s a “launching pad” for products including a line of clothing, and exercise D-V-D, a doll and other future products. She says it all carries a message for kids that “bodies come in all shapes and sizes.” Cacciatore says she’s written other books but this is the first one published, and she’s fond of the hippo character, Bella. She says a professional illustrator who’s won Emmy Awards and worked for Disney and Warner Brothers did the art, captuing the essence of the hippo. Cacciatore says everyone who looks at the book loves it. Cacciatore says she often returns to Des Moines, where her family lives. That’s where she began working with a kids’ organization called the World Trust Foundation. As a producer in the entertainment business, she produced a four-CD boxed set of children’s music from artists from around the world. Cacciatore says it gave her the idea to raise money that way and she changed her mission to bridging cultures and connecting kids, through media, art and technology. Cacciatore says artists can reach out to kids in many parts of the world and still be “self-sustaining.” She’s created a media production company she dubbed “CarLou Productions” in honor of her parents, and auditioned kids for a Bella Wishes Dance Troupe that will perform at cultural events. Her visit to Iowa includes a stop at Des Moines’ Merle Hay Mall today (12/18 at 1:00 P.M.), reading to kids at a local school on Monday, and a book signing Tuesday at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Des Moines’ new Jordan Creek Mall.
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