EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO Read Aloud by Laura Sassi!

One of my JOYS over the past couple of months has been learning to read EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO (Vida Zondervan) in Spanish so that I can read it at bilingual school and library visits (all of which have now been temporarily canceled). For the first step, my ADORABLE dad, who speaks Spanish fluently, sent me little video tutorials so I could listen and then read on my own with his voice in my head. Here is a sample of one of his sweet tutorials:

The practice schedule intensified when my publisher invited me to do a Facebook Live! Story Time on their Facebook Page. I said yes, of course, but I still had a lot of practicing to do, so Dad and I began a lovely evening pattern of connecting via FaceTime at 8:45 pm so he could listen to me read through the story and then give feedback. It was extra precious because – due to Covid-19 – we’ve both been having to shelter in place – he in Virginia and me in New Jersey.

The EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO Story Time aired on April 1st (no kidding!) and it’s now on Youtube as well. I thought perhaps you might enjoy reading along with your copy (or ordering one if you don’t yet have one) as I share this story about the many ways love can be extended to others. Here it is:

And the Winner of LITTLE MOLE FINDS HOPE is…

I’m delighted to announce that the winner of last week’s special giveaway,  a brand new copy of LITTLE MOLE FINDS HOPE is…

Debbie A!!

Congratulations!  I will be in touch with you today so we can get the book to you.

Thank everyone who took the time to comment. And thank you to Glenys for writing the book and to Beaming Books for publishing it and providing today’s winning copy. Happy reading and writing, and remember that signs of hope are everywhere. Blessings all!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Tending the Soul DAFFODIL Style!

As I was out for a stroll with the pooch the other day (one of my Covid19 anxiety-relieving strategies), I was struck by the beauty and diversity of the daffodils in my neighborhood. I had no idea there were so many varieties – all heralding spring as they stretch towards the sun in full bloom. I was so moved with feelings of joy and calm, even in the midst of this pandemic which has me quite unnerved, that I stopped at several spots along my walk to take pictures of them with my phone.  I’ve been wanting to share the pictures, but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to say.

Then, just before bedtime, this lovely email popped into my inbox. It’s from Miss A’s second grade teacher. Miss A, as many of you may know, is now in 9th grade, but this teacher was a favorite and over the years we’ve bumped into each other at the super market and such. This note reflects a different kind of interaction- a fleeting drive by that I didn’t even notice at the time.   Here are her sweet words:

Hope all is well with you and your family. I often see you walking with your husband or dog. One day I saw you walking and taking pictures of flowers and it brought a smile to my face!!! Of course I always thing of [Miss A] when I see you.

After I read her note (which brought a smile to my face), I knew what I wanted to say in this blog post because I’m pretty sure the flowers she saw me taking pictures of were these daffodils! Of course, I’ve also been taking pictures of cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, azalea, teddy bears in windows (part of a town scavenger hunt to keep the kids entertained) and more! Those particulars don’t matter. The point is she caught me doing two things that are helping me to stay calm and even joyful in this time –– going on walks with the pooch and my husband –– and stopping to enjoy small things, like daffodil blossoms, along the way!  

So here’s my thought for the day. Like these daffodils, who bloom with such gorgeous diversity during this most unusual spring, we too can thrive, and even find calm and joy, in the midst of this anxious moment. There are lots of ways to bloom and thrive. For me – a walk helps.  Others find joy and peace in baking, or taking up beloved hobbies like quilting or knitting. I’ve spotted more people than ever out for runs and bike rides. Virtual gatherings have also helped to bring a sense of connection and love for many during this time. 

How are you finding ways to reach for the sun and dance in the breeze – during this unprecedented moment in time? As these daffodils remind me, there is not a single right way to tend your soul.  But however you choose to do it, I hope you take a little daffodil time today to nurture yourself. I, for one, plan to go on a nice long walk and see what small joys I can find along the way.  Happy Wednesday all!

SPECIAL SPOTLIGHT: An Interview with Danaé Sanchez, the TRANSLATOR of LOVE IS KIND! (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

I was delighted last Spring to learn that a Spanish edition of LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018) was in the works and couldn’t wait for its release this past December. Titled EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO and published by Vida Editorial, the Spanish division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, it’s a beautifully done edition. I’ve been practicing reading it aloud nightly in preparation for a live story time later this week and in doing so I’ve really come to love the charming flow of the translated version. This does not happen by chance! It’s the result of the efforts of a good translator. A close look at the copyright page of the Spanish edition revealed that the translator was a woman named Danaé Sanchez. I gratefully connected with her social media and asked if she’d be up for an interview. She was! I know you will enjoy her lovely spirit and keen insights into the translation process as much I have have. Here now is our interview, with my questions in bold. Enjoy!

Welcome, Danaé.  Please tell us a little bit about your journey into the book world.  How did you come to be a translator?

All my life, I had wanted to a graphic designer and when the time came to choose a career path, I applied twice for the best Design College in the country and was rejected –twice. I pouted. But God had a plan all along.  As a child I had prayed that God would use me for His Kingdom and I have a memory of finding a book by my mom’s bedside table. I opened it up and it read, “Thomas Nelson, Nashville”. I loved Nashville and said, “I am going to work there.” God was weaving His purpose in my life.

Years later, after being rejected twice in the Design school, the Lord spoke to me through my dad, suggesting that I major in translation/interpretation. I did. When the time came to do my internship, I started working with a friend who translated books for a Christian publisher. I knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life! 

Three years later I started collaborating as a freelance translator with Thomas Nelson, Zondervan and other Christian publishers, and since June of 2009, when my journey with books began, I have translated over 70 books. Each book has been a gift from God! I am so thankful for each and every book and author I have translated.

Wow, what an amazing path your journey you have had. I’m glad you listened to that voice. And I’m so delighted with the way you translated LOVE IS KIND.  What is your process for translating a book?

First of all, thank you, Laura! I enjoyed so much translating LOVE IS KIND! 

When I get a book to translate, I normally read about the author first to get into their world –I find it very important to immerse into the world of the author. Next, I read through the book in the original language to get familiar with the book as well. 

Then, each day as I sit down with the text, I pray for my job to be excellent, and for God’s grace to be able to convey the heart of the author for their audience in the translation. 

When I finish translating the book, which might take a couple of weeks or months, depending on the genre, the length and the topic of the book, I do a first read-through to check any grammar mistakes or anything that I might have missed. Then I do a more profound check to edit it, to find a better word I could have used, and to polish the whole text. Finally I print the text to do a final proofreading because sometimes there are mistakes or typos that are not visible for the eye on a screen!

Before turning in my work to the publisher, I pray again for the book and the author. It is a blessing to translate such wonderful material to make it available for people around the world!  And I always get giddy when I get the book in my hands and see it in print for the first time!

It strikes me that, as an author, I go through many of the same steps as you do to make sure that each word is just right and captures the heart of the story I’m telling. Thank you for sharing your process.

What challenges do you face when translating a book? 

Every book sets a challenge for the translator –but these are lovely challenges! There are books that set a challenge in terms of formatting, others set a challenge in terms of the topic or the nature of the text. There are books that present a challenge for the translator when the original material hasn’t been edited or proofread, and the translator needs to re-edit the translated book so it can be easily read in the target language. 

“El amor es bondadoso” was a challenge in terms of rhythm and vocabulary. When translating a book for children, you need to find words that a child can understand, without breaking the feel or the style of the author. That is why a translator must love words and be a good reader! In this case I found a lovely “song” in the prose that I didn’t want to disrupt. So, in this case, the challenge was to try to reproduce the song, the rhythm, and to come up with an ideal term in Spanish for a couple of places where you made up words. 

The example that stands out is “tooth-er-ific” which appears in the scene where Beaver finds Little Owl’s coins and thinks the tooth fairy brought them.  Beaver is so happy that Little Owl decides to let him keep the money and wishes him a “tooth-er-ific” day.  Fortunately, in this case I found two words in Spanish that mean exactly the same. Tooth: diente. Terrific: grandioso, magnífico, genial. I chose “magnifico”, as it merged better with “diente”. So, the word I chose was: dientífico!

I love that word! It’s so much fun and definitely in keeping with the feel of the story.  And here’s a picture of both the English and Spanish pages featuring “tooth-er-fic” and “dientífico in case readers are curious for a peek:

As you reflect upon your time translating the book, is there a special moment in EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO that is your favorite? 

Yes! Little Owl’s soft heart made me cry! I cried from the very first page, because Little Owl had saved his coins to honor his Grandma on her birthday. I too have a very close connection with my Grandma and love that Little Owl honored his Grandma –which is something that children need to learn and to live now: a culture of honor. 

Little Owl’s honest heart also impacted me so much– to sacrifice for the other. When he could have spent his money to finally buy Grammy her gift, he instead used it for the good of Mrs. Mouse and her baby! (I cried again!) And why do we do all those things? For love. 

Little Owl, as Grammy said, spread love everywhere he went. I think sometimes we think that to love is to do something outrageous, when in fact, simple love can make the most impact. Being together is love. I was impacted by the message of selfless love that we need so much in this time. 

And… the illustrations are sooo lovely! They melted my heart!  I really enjoyed so much translating your book, Laura! Thank you for writing such a delightful book!

Oh, thank you, Danaé.  And I hope Little Owl’s heart melts others hearts as well, so that love and kindness overflow. 

One last question before we close.  In addition to translating, you are also an author. Tell us about your book(s). Any other works in the pipeline?

I LOVE books, but I never thought I would become an author! About seven years ago, I wrote a book about what God has done in my life. I was bullied when I was little and lived through several things that threatened to hinder His purposes for me. I didn’t know who I was, and accepted so many different names, such as failure, loneliness, depression, suicide… and those were not mine to take! But God worked through those trials to show me who I am in Him and fulfill His purpose for my life. The title of my first book is “When He Called My Name”. It’s currently only in Spanish, but I am working on translating it.  Woven into the text are stories of Bible characters who went through trials that showed them who they were in God. 

I am currently writing my second and third books. My second book is going to be a follow-up on the first book and the third book is going to talk about prayer, and the importance of knowing the Word of God, and how to pray the Word of God –a journey I started with God 7 years ago. 

Thank you, Danaé, for sharing your journey with us today. It’s been fascinating to get an inside look into all that goes into translating a book.  You remind me a bit of dear Little Owl, for like him, you put all your heart into your work, be it writing or translating. Thank you for blessing your readers in this way.

Follow Danaé here: 

INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @danaegabrielasanchez

BLOG: danaelivingtheword.wordpress.com

YOUTUBE CHANNEL: Danaé Living the Word

TWO LAST THINGS: First please tune in this Wednesday, April 1st at 7pm ET for my Facebook Live! reading of EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO over the the Vida Editorial Facebook page. Here’s the lovely graphic they created for that:

Finally… THE GIVEAWAY! If you’d like a chance to win a FREE copy EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO (Vida Editorial, December 2019) post a comment below. (NOTE: Must have U.S. mailing address and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway is sponsored by Vida Editorial and ends Monday, 4/6/20 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced next week! 

And the winner of EASTER EGG DAY is…

I’m delighted to announce that the winner of last week’s special giveaway,  a brand new copy of EASTER EGG DAY (Zonderkidz, 2020) written by Tara Knudson and illustrated by Pauline Stewart is…

Lauralee H!!

Congratulations!  I will be in touch with you shortly so we can get the book to you.

Thank everyone who took the time to comment. Happy reading and writing, and Happy Spring!

The LOVE IS KIND Puppet Craft Challenge!

THANK YOU for joining me for the LOVE IS KIND Puppet Challenge! I just finished live streaming on Facebook and thought I would take a minute to share the challenge with you here. Please find the video of the Facebook Live stream here, or simply scroll down for the instructions below. (The video is just for extra fun.) I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Inspired by Little Owl, who extended love and kindness everywhere he went – and in very creative ways – the goal of this challenge is for children to extend love and kindness by creating a fabulous one-of-a-kind Little Owl puppet. They will then use that puppet to make someone else feel special and loved.  Here’s what you and your child need to do:

  1. Read LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018) and think about all the ways Little Owl was kind and loving.
  1. Using materials found at home have your child design their own, original Little Owl puppet. Possible construction materials include: brown bags, construction paper, felt, newspaper, fabric, Legos, an old sock or mitten, a yogurt tub or milk container, feathers, sequins etc. Be creative and have fun!
  1. Once the puppet is finished, spread joy by using the puppet as a side kick (like I do in my story times) to share LOVE IS KIND (or another story of your choice) with a special person in your child’s life – either in person or virtually! 
  1. FOR EXTRA FUN: Take a picture of your child’s puppet or you and your child reading with the puppet and send it to me. With your permission, and I will double check to make sure I have it, I will share the pictures on Facebook and my blog so we can all enjoy each other’s creativity!

WANT MORE IDEAS: Download the free LOVE IS KIND Activity Kit found here: https://www.zonderkidz.com/resources/freebies/.

INTERESTED IN PURCHASING A COPY? LOVE IS KIND is available wherever books are sold, but if you live locally, and want to show support for an indie bookstore — Anne, at The Town Bookstore if Westfield, NJ is offering 10% off any of my books (for a limited time only). Simply mention that you watched my Facebook Live Story Event.  If you’d like the books signed, mention that to Anne and we’ll make it happen!  The phone number for The Town Book Store is (908) 233-3535. You can also email Anne, at anne@townbookstore.com

LITTLE MOLE FINDS HOPE: Six Extension Activities for 4 – 8 Year Olds (Plus a GIVEAWAY)

Today I am delighted to feature Glenys Nellist’s charming new story LITTLE MOLE FINDS HOPE. Published by Beaming Books and illustrated by Sally Garland, this delightful hardcover picture book provides an engaging spark for conversations with your little ones about feelings of sadness. Told through the eyes of Little Mole, who comes to see that even in the darkness of his underground burrow, nature is pushing towards the light and that new hope will soon emerge in the form of spring buds and flowers, it’s a lovely way to talk about finding joy in the midst of sadness. It even includes a discussion guide for caregivers at the end. It’s a lovely book to share with the  little ones in your life.

Enjoy the book trailer. Then, in celebration of the book’s release, and in the hope of sparking some good conversations with your children, here are SIX extension activities for LITTLE MOLE FINDS HOPE.

Plant a seed in a hole. Since the author uses the analogy of winter bulbs and seeds bursting forth in spring to explain hope in the midst of sadness, recreate that sense of anticipation and joy by having your children plant some seeds or bulbs of their own. This can be done in a pot or in the garden. Either way, be sure to water gently each day and wait and watch in hopeful anticipation for the first signs of new life.

Send a note with Little Mole.  In the story Mama helps Little Mole find signs of hope when he is feeling sad.  After reading the story, let your child do the same by making a card with Little Mole on the front.  Inside the card have them write a message to someone special – perhaps a grandparent or beloved aunt or uncle or teacher – sending hope, love and joy. 

Use the book to spark a talk. One of the special treasures of this book is that it includes a thoughtfully crafted “Discussion Guide for Caregivers” at the end. The guide offers suggestions for talking about the story and tips to help a child who is feeling sad. Read these on your own ahead of time, or look at them together with your child after reading the book.

Take your children on a walk. After reading the story, take your child on a walk through your neighborhood or at a local preserve. Bring along a notebook so they can draw or keep a list of all the signs of new life they find. Be sure to look carefully for things like new buds, saplings, and tiny plants just starting to poke through the soil. Marvel together at the excitement of spotting new growth.

Take a picture read through. After reading LITTLE MOLE FINDS HOPE, let your littlest ones re-read it to you using the pictures as clues. Reading the pictures is a great pre-reading skill because it encourages interacting with the page. So, snuggle up and enjoy being “read” to. (Older kids who can read on their own, can also enjoy investigating the illustrations ways the pictures also tell part of the story.)

Do a “Read. Discuss. Do!” Author Rebecca Gomez has created a delightful reading extension initiative called Read.Discuss.Do! Here’s one she created for LITTLE MOLE FINDS HOPE. To find others for a wide variety of favorite titles, search the hashtag #ReadDiscussDo on social media.

BONUS:  Check out the publisher’s website for a teacher’s guide to accompany the story, chock full of book-themed activities.

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!! If you’d like a chance to win a FREE copy of LITTLE MOLE FINDS HOPE (Beaming Books, February 2020) simply post a comment below letting me know that you’d like to enter. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway is sponsored by Beaming Books and ends Monday, 3/30/20 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced next Tuesday! 

[Note: Thank you to Beaming Books for this complimentary book that I was under no obligation to review. The views and opinions expressed on this blog about books and other things are purely my own.]

SUNDAY REFLECTION: Thoughts on Wind and Faith

As it says on the banner above, this blog focuses on matters of reading, writing and life. Today’s post fits squarely in that last category. I hope it resonates as you walk through your day on this second Sunday (at least for us in New Jersey) of heightened regulations due to Covid 19.

I could really hear and feel the wind this morning as I was out on my first walk of the day. As it rustled the new spring leaves and tousled at my hair, I was reminded that God is present in the midst of this pandemic, even if we can’t see Him. And if we open our hearts we will sense His presence. 

But as I walked on, soaking up this beautiful, if brisk, sunny morning, it also struck me that God’s presence isn’t actually unseen. I cannot see the wind, but I can see how it makes flowers dance and branches sway. Likewise, I cannot see God, but I can see His movement as He works through those around me with acts of kindness, compassion, grace and more. I wonder how God will work through me and you today? Blessings, all!

EASTER EGG DAY: Five Fun Traditions that Inspired the Book with Author Tara Knudson (and a GIVEAWAY!)

Today I am delighted to welcome children’s book author Tara Knudson in celebration of her darling new Easter board book EASTER EGG DAY (Zonderkidz, 2020). Told in light verse, it’s a celebration of a beloved Easter tradition – decorating Easter eggs. Tara’s charming text opens with:

“Easter eggs,

Family fun!

White eggs dyed

One by one. ”

Tara then takes the reader through a family’s egg decorating celebration. Illustrated by Pauline Stewart, each spread is full of color and warmth and the most adorable little rabbit family. The back cover has instructions for decorating your own eggs – a fun and concrete way to extend the story.

And now, I have a special treat for you as the author herself shares five fun Easter memories that inspired her to write the book. Take it away, Tara!

About the Author

Tara Knudson is a former teacher who has been writing poetry and stories since she was a young girl growing up in Chicago. Her published work can be found in children’s magazines, greeting cards, calendars, and a poetry anthology for teens. She is the author of Christmas Cookie Day and Easter Egg Day, as well as the forth coming Fun Fall Day and Valentine’s Day Treats, all published by Zonderkidz.

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!! If you’d like a chance to win a FREE copy of EASTER EGG DAY (Zonderkidz, February 2020) simply post a comment below letting me know that you’d like to enter. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway ends Thursday, 3/26/20 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced that Friday! 

[Note: Thank you to the author for this complimentary book that I was under no obligation to review. The views and opinions expressed on this blog about books and other things are purely my own.]

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Five Fun Facts about WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY with Darlene Beck Jacobson

Today I am delighted to kickoff Darlene Beck Jacobson’s blog tour celebrating her charming new middle grade novel in verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY. Releasing with Creston Books on April 7th, 2020, it tells the story of Jack, who is worried about his father, who missing in action in Vietnam. His family, new best friend, and a bully unexpectedly all help Jack find the courage to do the right thing, not the easy thing. I was given an advance copy for review and was immediately engaged by Darlene’s voice in verse. It’s a great story and one that would be a nice addition to any library, class room, or middle-grader’s book collection. Now, in celebration of good writing and good stories, I’d like to introduce the author herself as she shares FIVE FUN FACTS about the book. Take it away, Darlene!

FIVE FUN FACTS ABOUT WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog Laura. I’m really excited to be here to share my new middle grade book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY  (Creston 2020). Today I’m going to share FIVE FUN FACTS about the story.

FACT #1: In the original title FISH, WISH, AND OTHER FOUR LETTER WORDS, every poem had a four-letter word for a title. This didn’t happen by chance. The main character – JACK – spoke to me one morning in May of 2018 as I was waking up. He introduced himself and was insistent that I listen to what he had to say. He shouted four letter words like FEAR, HOPE, WISH, GONE, etc and I pulled out a notepad and began to write them down. He gave me that tile, and the premise that he missed his DAD who was MIA.  I wrote down four pages of notes based on this early morning “wake up call”, and filled another page with four letter words. These words became the chapters – poems –  of the story written in verse.

FACT #2: I was around the same age as Jack and Jill in 1964, and all the things they had fun doing – kite flying, scavenger hunts, reading comic books, riding bikes, going to the beach and drive-in movies – are the things my sister and I enjoyed as kids.

FACT 3#: The space program was a new and exciting thing in the 1960’s. Jack remembers watching in school as astronaut John Glenn orbited the moon in a rocket called Friendship Seven. Our entire fifth grade class did the same thing. We crammed into the Kindergarten room – the largest room in the school before the all purpose room was built – and stared up at a small black and white television, counting down to “Blast Off!” and cheering when he reached orbit around the moon.

FACT #4: In order to stop himself from making a terrible wish, Jack needed a “cautionary tale” about what happens when wishes go terribly wrong. “THE MONKEY’S PAW”, a horror story by W.W Jacobs is that tale. To learn more check here.

FACT #5: “The Song That Doesn’t End” – featured in the poem titled SING (pages 198-199) was a popular song from a kiddie show called THE SHARI LEWIS SHOW, featuring a puppet named LAMBCHOP singing the song. We loved singing it as kids because it drove our parents crazy.  Some things never change. You can check it out on this You Tube link:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Darlene Beck Jacobson is a former teacher and speech therapist who has loved writing since she was a girl.  She is also a lover of history and can often be found mining dusty closets and drawers in search of skeletons from her past. She enjoys adding these bits of her ancestry to stories such as her award-winning middle grade historical novel WHEELS OF CHANGE (Creston 2014) and WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston 2020). 

Darlene lives and writes her stories in New Jersey with her family and a house full of dust bunnies. She’s caught many fish, but has never asked one to grant her a wish. She’s a firm believer in wishes coming true, so she tries to be careful what she wishes for.

Her blog features recipes, activities, crafts, articles on nature, book reviews, and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators.

Find her on the web at www.darlenebeckjacobson.com or on Twitter at @DBeckJacobson

Preorder her book now at Barnes and Noble or Amazon or your favorite indie bookseller.

TEACHERS: Learn more about the book and download the curriculum guide at the Creston Books website. Here’s the link: https://www.crestonbooks.co/wishesdares

And don’t miss the NEXT stop on her blog tour on Thursday, March 12, 2020 at https://joshuadavidbellin.blogspot.com/p/my-blog.html