More Book Winners For February

Thanks to so many wonderful authors, February has been a month of amazing book giveaways on this blog. Today I have two more to announce.

Kizzi Roberts is the winner of a copy of the board book BUNNY FINDS EASTER  by Laura Sassi.

bunny easter

The winner of a copy of ABSURD WORDS by Tara Lazar is Mia Geiger.

absurd coverCongratulations to the winners and thanks to all who left comments about these awesome books. Please email me your addresses so I can send them to the authors and you can get your books.

GUEST POST: Sparking Conversations with BUNNY FINDS EASTER (and a Book Walk Activity) by Laura Sassi

Bunny Finds Easter by Laura Sassi, Board Book | Barnes ...

Thank you, Darlene, for having me as your guest today. You asked me to share how I came to tell this story in such a simple way and wonderful (thank you!) way. Here’s the scoop:

As a young child I was confused about what we were celebrating at Easter. I loved getting dressed up and hunting for colorful eggs, but it wasn’t until I was a tween that I made the connection that Easter is when we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection.

Later, as a parent with young children, I tried to be intentional about connecting the wonderful traditions of Easter to the real meaning of the holiday. My favorite strategy was making simple, concrete connections. For example, while nibbling jelly beans with my little ones, we’d ponder how they were good, just like God, who in His goodness, sent us Jesus. Or, while oohing over ducklings at the park, we’d marvel at our new life in Christ.

Hoping others might appreciate a book like this, I set about writing BUNNY FINDS EASTER.  And after many, many rounds of revision, it was acquired by Zonderkidz. It’s my fourth book with them.

Here’s the link to the book trailer for this story:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ltaGEWoeyk

Now, in the hopes that BUNNY FINDS EASTER will be used as part of Easter celebrations this year, here are instructions for creating a Book Walk with BUNNY FINDS EASTER at your church or faith-based preschool. (And special thanks to my publisher for creating this beautiful pdf with the instructions.)

BunnyFindsEaster_BookWalk_2022_2

Happy Easter season!

Laura has agreed to do a giveaway of this delightful book to one winner age 18+ with a US street mailing address (Not a P.O. Box). Please leave a comment to be entered in the random drawing. If you share this post on social media, you will be entered twice.

thumbnail_Laura Sassi with SunflowersLaura Sassi

Children’s book author and poet

GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, August ’14)

GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, October ’15)

DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, Spring ’18)

LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, Fall  ’18)

EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO (Vida Zondervan, Fall ’19)

LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP (Beaming Books,  Spring ’21)

BUNNY FINDS EASTER (Zonderkidz, Spring ’22)

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The Reviews Are In: How Many Book Reviews Did I Post in 2021?

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and looks forward to a new year with new hopes, fresh possibilities, and maybe a book contract? If the contract seems a bit too far away, there is still hope that whatever books we have out in the world will find new audiences.

With that in mind, I am sharing my third New Year Book Review Post letting you know the books I wrote reviews for on Amazon and Goodreads in 2021. The best way to spread the word about great books and unknown authors is to WRITE A REVIEWIt only takes a few minutes to write a couple sentences telling the reading world what you like about a book. As a children’s book author, I can tell you how much it means to see some kind words about a book and sharing it on your solcial media.

Here are the books I enjoyed and posted reviews for in 2021:

  1. A HORN IS BORN (PB) by Bill Borders
  2. CODE BREAKER, SPY CATCHER (PB) by Laurie Wallmark
  3. WORDS COMPOSED OF SEA AND SKY (YA) by Erica George
  4. FROM HERE TO THERE (PB) by Vivian Kirkfield
  5. RISSY NO KISSIES (PB) by Katey Howes
  6. LITTLE EWE (PB) by Laura Sassi
  7. DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT (PB) by Robin Newman
  8. STEPSISTER (YA) by Jennifer Donnelly
  9. STARFISH (MG) by Lisa Fipps
  10. BOARDWALK BABIES (PB) by Marissa Moss
  11. WE BELIEVE IN YOU (PB) by Beth Ferry
  12. THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM (MG) Holly Goldberg Sloan
  13. SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (PB) by Cathy Ballou Mealy
  14. STOMP, WIGGLE, CLAP, and TAP (PB) by Rachelle Burk
  15. ORANGE FOR THE SUNSETS (MG) by Tina Athaide
  16. WISHES (PB)  by Moun Thai Van
  17. ISABEL AND HER COLORS GO TO SCHOOL (PB) by Alexandra Alessandro
  18. WALKING WITH MISS MILLIE (MG) Tamara Bundy
  19. PIXIE PUSHES ON (MG) by Tamara Bundy
  20. WOOF: THE TRUTH ABOUT DOGS (PB) by Annette Whipple
  21. BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES (PB) by Mike Ciccotello
  22. DINO PAJAMA PARTY (PB) by Laurie Wallmark
  23. SCURRY: THE TRUTH ABOUT SPIDERS (PB) by Annette Whipple
  24. A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNDERPANTS (PB) by Christine Van Zandt
  25. LILLIAN LOVECRAFT AND THE HARMLESS HORRORS (MG) by David Neilsen
  26. A QUEEN TO THE RESCUE (PB) by Nancy Churnin
  27. DEAR MR. DICKENS (PB) by Nancy Churnin
  28. SWEET BLISS/GOOD CATCH (an adult series about Harper Landing) by Jennifer Bardsley
  29. 101 PRANKS AND PRACTICAL JOKES (MG) by Theresa Julian
  30. A HOME AGAIN (PB) by Colleen Kosinski

Were there some books you enjoyed in 2021? I’ll bet there will be some more amazing stories in 2022. Why not make a resolution to post reviews for some of your favorites. I guarantee you will make an author’s day!

Happy Reading!

Two Winners For Two Picture Books…

Today I am happy to announce the winners for the recent give-away for copies of two picture books featured o this blog.

ewe cover

A copy of LITTLE EWE by Laura Sassi goes to Julie. (don’t have a last name, but I will contact you via email.)

thumbnail_Fuzzybutt_Cover copy

A copy of DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT by Robin Newman goes to Ashley Sierra. Please forward you address to my email so I can get the books out to each of you.

Congratulations to the winners and many thanks to all who commented on these amazing books.

Laura Sassi Presents: LITTLE EWE: The Story of One Lost Sheep + A chance to win a copy.

Today I am delighted to bring you an interview with award-winning picture book author LAURA SASSI. Laura will talk about her latest book titled LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP Illustrated by Tommy Doyle  http://www.beamingbooks.com

ewe cover

What inspired you to write about a “lost sheep”?

The “lost lamb” who I have sweetly named Little Ewe in my story is inspired by one of my favorite of Jesus’ parables. The parable is about a shepherd who realizes one sheep is missing and so he leaves the flock to find that one and bring it safely home.  As a child I loved this beautiful reminder that, like the shepherd in the parable, Jesus came to find the lost and, oh my, how wonderful it feels to be found. My hope is that, like Little Ewe in my story, readers of all ages will sense the comfort and joy of knowing that our Shepherd, too, wants to find us and care for us when we are lost.

ewe shot

The rhyme scheme is gentle and perfect for the story. Did you intend to write it in rhyme?

I think “gentle” is a lovely way to describe the feel of the rhyme and rhythm of the text. Yes, from the beginning, I intended for this story to rhyme. My vision was to tell the tale in gently bouncing quatrains that would evoke the playfulness of Little Ewe’s day of adventure as she wanders from the flock and also capture the gentle comfort of being found at the end of the day.

Did you plan on making the story a counting one? Tell us how that came about.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted this to be a counting story. One of my favorite aspects of Jesus’ parable was that the shepherd left the 99 to find that one lost sheep. That counting aspect really resonated with me, but I didn’t want my story to be the typical counting book where readers just look for objects on the page that don’t necessarily relate to the plot. Rather, I wanted the counting in LITTLE EWE to be an integral part of the story, helping to escalate the tension as Little Ewe wanders farther and farther from Shepherd and to conjure feelings of comfort when she is found. I hope readers will agree it adds a rich dimension to the story.

What message do you want young children to take away from the story?

This answer is easy! I want children to know that just like Little Ewe, they, too, have shepherds who care for them. These kind shepherds include special people like parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. teachers and more. And who is the kindest shepherd of all?  God, who cares for and loves them and wants them to return safely home, even when they wander from the path.

Please check out the link for an activity kit that can be used with the book. It is filled with puzzles, craft activities, coloring pages and more.

ACTIVITY KIT:  https://ms.beamingbooks.com/downloads/LittleEwe_ActivityKit_web.pdf

Here is Darlene’s review for this book:

“Little Ewe is out grazing with her herd when her curiosity makes her ignore calls to come, instead wandering off to explore. She frolics all day until dark descends and she realizes she is alone, lost, and afraid. Under the loving and attentive care of the Shepherd, Little Ewe is reunited with the flock once again. Told in gentle rhyme, this counting book is a fresh and thoughtful addition to the genre. It reminds readers that since God watches over us, we are never alone and we need not be afraid. A comforting message for all.”

I am giving away a copy of LITTLE EWE to one lucky reader drawn at random from those who leave a comment on this post. Share the post on social media and you will have a second chance to win. Just let me know where you share it.

laura sassi shotLaura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of five picture books including the best-selling Goodnight, Ark, which was a 2015 Christian Book Award Finalist; Goodnight, Manger; Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, which won First Honor Book for the 2019 Best in Rhyme Award; Love Is Kind, which was a 2020 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award Honor Book; and Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep. Her next book, Bunny Finds Easter, will release in 2022. In addition to books, she’s published over one hundred poems, stories, crafts, and articles in various children’s publications.

A graduate of Princeton University and UCLA, Sassi had a successful teaching career before becoming a children’s author. She’s been a homeschool mom, children’s ministry director, historic museum interpreter, and more. She writes daily from her home in New Jersey and finds special joy in sharing her love of reading and writing with the next generation at school visits and other book events.

Make Valentine Treat Bags For Your Favorite Valentine.

This is one of those easy craft projects I saw in a magazine and instantly did a forehead slap – why hadn’t I thought of this? If you and your kiddos want a clever way to say “I Love You” for Valentine’s Day, make some of these HEART ENVELOPES to put a sweet treat into.  All you need are construction paper or doilies, scissors and glue. Just follow the photo instructions and you’re all set!

2     3

Glue the seams together like in the photo below.

4    5

Don’t be limited using just one color or paper style. Try lining the envelopes with tissue paper or doilies for a fancier, Victorian effect:

7   6

If you’re looking for some perfect picture books with a Velantine’s Day tie-in, here are two of my favorites:

LOVE IS KIND by Laura Sassi  Love Is Kind by [Sassi, Laura]

 

SEALED WITH A KISS by Beth Ferry  Sealed with a Kiss

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

LOVE IS KIND:Celebrating Acts of Kindness with Laura Sassi (and a give-away!)

photo promo with text love is kind instagramSince a central theme of LOVE IS KIND is spreading love and kindness, Darlene asked me to reflect on three acts of kindness that have touched me as a picture book author. It’s a delightful topic and one that makes my heart sing with gratitude and joy for the many, many examples of kindness that I have both witnessed and been the recipient of.  However, as I ponder which to choose, one stands out – and it’s one that I’ve for a long time been seeking a way to honor – so I hope that it’s okay, Darlene, that I have chosen just one. It involves the editor of LOVE IS KIND – so it’s really a perfect fit. Zonderkidz editor, Barbara Herndon, edited not just this book, but my first two as well, and she is a remarkable person with a very kind heart. I hope her example will inspire us all to spread love and kindness as the opportunities unfold before us.  
Here’s how this act unfolded:
It was October 2013 and my mother was dying of ALS. Except for labored one or two word bursts, had lost the muscular ability to speak and was growing weaker day by day. One morning as I was praying for my mom – who lived 6 hours away in Virginia – it suddenly struck me that she might not live long enough to see my first book, GOODNIGHT, ARK, published. My mom had been a great encourager to me on this journey into children’s book writing and I’d always appreciated her artistic perspective (she was an artist) as she read and critiqued my manuscripts. She and I had been so excited to learn that Jane Chapman would illustrate, and now, I realized, she might not get the chance to see those illustrations. 
 A wave of sadness poured over me and I emailed my editor, Barbara Herndon, at Zonderkidz, to ask she if she had a sketch or illustration sample or anything that I could share with my mother while she was still able to communicate – even if only in a limited way.  Within the hour, she responded that yes, of course, they could send something  – and not just anything – she had already special ordered two folded galleys of the entire book – and when would I need them by.  
Already feeling blessed beyond measure at this act of kindness, I now added that my sister and I had a special trip planned for mid-October to see our mother – we’d both be swooping in from our faraway homes for a special mother-daughter weekend. It was short notice, but Barbara did not hesitate. She said she would do her very best to make sure they arrived in time for that visit and immediately made arrangements for them to be mailed by overnight express to my parents in Virginia.  
The pictures here show me with my mom and dad opening the package from Barbara and then enjoying the folded galley together. 

Because Barbara responded so quickly and so kindly, my mom was able to enjoy Jane’s illustrations and she even got to communicate her love for the illustrations with Jane via a short email. Then, Jane – in her own act of kindness – sweetly responded to my mother’s thoughtful artistic reflections about Janes’ illustrations.  

It was a very special shared moment made possible by a compassionate editor who responded above and beyond the call of duty to make something special happen for a dying woman (my mom) and her daughter (me). I will forever be grateful for that act of kindness and it came just in the nick of time. My mom passed away a month later – and that trip with those folded-galleys turned out to be our last -and very treasured – time together. 
 
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Zonderkidz has offered to give one copy of LOVE IS KIND to one reader of this post. To qualify, you must be a U.S. resident with a street address (as opposed to a P.O. Box) and at least 18 years old to enter. Leave a comment describing an act of kindness you were the recipient of.  One name will be drawn at random from all who entered.
Darlene here:  LOVE IS KIND is a beautiful story that is destined to become a classic.  Here is my review of this special book:

Owl takes the coins he’s saved to buy his beloved grammy a box of chocolates for her birthday. When he drops the coins, and they are picked up by beaver, Owl sees how happy beaver is and doesn’t ask for the coins back.  Owl has other opportunities to buy the chocolates, but things happen along the way and Owl returns to grammy feeling sad because he has nothing to give her for her birthday. After he tells grammy  what happened, she reminds Owl of all the love he spread everywhere he went and how that was the best gift a grammy ever got.

Based on LOVE as described in 1 Corinthians 13, this heart-warming story of kindness celebrates the love between kids and their grandparents. The sweet and delightful illustrations remind readers of all the ways we express Love. A rare treat and the perfect gift for parents and grandparents to share with their little “Owls”.

BIO: Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme.  A graduate of Princeton University and UCLA, she had a successful teaching career before becoming a children’s author. She is the author of four picture books including the best-selling GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, 2014) which was a Christian Book Award Finalist, GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, 2015), DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, 2018) which was featured on BBC’s Cbeebies Bedtime Stories, and LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018).  She lives in
New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie.

Laura Sassi with Sunflowers.jpg
Laura Sassi
Children’s book author and poet
GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, August ’14)
GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, October ’15)
DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, Spring ’18)
LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, Fall  ’18)

twitter.com/laurasassitales

Five Great Picture Books.

On my early summer trip to the American Library Association (ALA) Convention in San Fransisco, I was thrilled to meet some of my favorite authors and to get signed copies of some great books.  Here are five picture books I highly recommend from some of my favorite authors.

  1. WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? by Debbie Redpath Ohi (Simon and Schuster): Spencer loves his books.  Spencer ADORES his books.  Spencer can’t find his books!  They are disappearing from his shelves and soon they’ll all be gone.  What’s going on?  Young readers will be delighted to help Spencer solve the mystery of his disappearing books in this engaging PB.   2014-08-25 02.19.08

2. SEAVER THE WEAVER by Paul Czajak is the latest book from the author of the popular MONSTER NEEDS Series published by Mighty Media Kids.  Seaver is a spider.  But not an ordinary spider. His webs are extraordinary, marvelous and wonders to behold. This is a delightful tale of how being different is something to be celebrated.

2014-08-25 02.30.30

3. GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz) is the second book from author Laura Sassi, following on the popular GOODNIGHT, ARK published in 2014.  Like ARK, MANGER is a beautifully written and tender story that is perfect for bedtime reading.  As baby Jesus tries to sleep in a manger full of livestock and visitors who come to see him, what will his parents do to quiet the excited crowd?  How will they get their baby to sleep?     2014-08-25 02.19.44

4.  LAND SHARK by Beth Ferry (Chronicle Books) is the second book for the author of the New York Times Bestseller STICK AND STONE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).   Bobby has only one wish for his birthday: To get a pet shark.  He leaves hints all over his house so his parents will know.  Bobby is sure he has a fool proof plan.  Until his birthday arrives and he gets a…puppy?  Can this shark-loving boy learn to love a land critter?  This is a perfect book for kids to sink their teeth into!    2014-08-25 02.18.59

 

5. THIS ORQ (Boyds Mills Press)  by David Elliott is a hilarious “prehistoric” tale of a cave boy and his woolly mammoth friend who have to deal with a couple of bullies.  The whimsical and humorous illustrations by Lori Nichols add to the fun. From the book jacket: “Orq and Woma best friends. Dorq and Caba mean. Story BIG.”  A guaranteed delight!       2014-08-26 01.38.17

Next time you’re at the library or bookstore, why not check out some of these great books?!