Birthday Bash Memories: LOVE IS KIND

HOOT!  HOOT! PARTY TIME!  Yesterday afternoon, we celebrated the release my newest picture book, LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, August 2018) at lovely book store gathering with lots of enthusiastic young readers and their families.  The celebration included meeting Little Owl, hearing the story, making owl masks, taking pictures in the DIY-photo booth that Miss A. and I created, and, of course, signing books!  Thank you to everyone who came and to Barnes and Noble in Springfield for hosting the event – my fourth at their lovely store. (And I was delighted to meet people who’d learned of the event because of my efforts to spread the word through social media and old-fashioned flyers – proof that invitations work!)

Here are a few pictures that capture both the prep work and the event itself. (I just wish I’d taken a picture of the kids making their masks which were so colorful and CUTE!) It’s a SLIDE show! (I just discovered this feature.) Enjoy!

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SUMMER 2018 BOOK EVENTS with LAURA SASSI

Looking for something fun to do with the kiddos this summer? How about joining me for one of these summertime author events. Meet my storytelling companions – Diva Delores and Fernando – and enjoy a special craft.  And if you are vacationing on the Jersey shore the week of August 11, be sure to stop in at the Comfort Zone in Ocean Grove where I’ll be chatting with customers and signing ALL FOUR of my books including my newest LOVE IS KIND which releases with Zonderkidz August 7, 2018.  BONUS:  I’ll also be introducing my newest puppet companion – Little Owl – at the Comfort Zone.  Please stop in at one of these events. I’d love to meet you!

Summer 2018 eventsMark your calendars!

EXTRA! EXTRA! News Reporter Miss A. Weighs in on Latest AUTHOR VISIT!

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As part of our homeschool time together, I have looked for opportunities to make writing experiences as authentic as possible for my reluctant writer, so when Miss A. asked if she could join me on a Friday afternoon author visit to her old elementary school, I said yes – IF she agreed to be a journalist for the afternoon – taking notes on the visit, conducting a few interviews, and then putting it all together into a news article, using the format we’ve been examining while reading our local newspaper together.  She fully embraced the assignment!  Take it away, Miss A!

AUTHOR LAURA SASSI VISITS SCHOOL

By Miss A.

CRANFORD – On Friday, May 4th, my mother, picture book author Laura Sassi, came to Bloomingdale Avenue School to share her new book, Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse with kindergarteners through second graders. The purpose of her visit was to get kids excited about reading and writing and to share a little bit about how a picture book goes from inspiration to publication. 

Starting at 1:00 pm, three different groups came to the auditorium for this special event. The students quietly listened to their teachers and all had smiles on their faces. The kids looked very excited and happy to see that a special guest had come to visit them at their school. 

Dressed like a diva herself, and using lots of expression, even singing, Laura Sassi read her newest book. The kids “ooohed” and “aaahed” as if they were watching fireworks. After reading Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, the author showed the students the very first drafts of her story. She even showed the kids pictures of what Diva Delores looked like before she was a seal. The kids were surprised that she was once a hippo! Untitled

A few days after the visit, I had the chance to interview a student and two teachers to see what they thought of the visit. Everyone was very positive. Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Benoit, said that the favorite part for her students was “the author in costume and the use of her voice demonstrating not just fluency, but voices and even sound effects”.   She added that because of the visit, “The use of voices is starting to show up in speech bubbles in their writing.”  

Second grade teacher, Mrs. Oricchio, praised the visit as making “the art of writing a ‘real world’ experience” for her students.  She added, “I think Mrs. Sassi’s energy and passion for her work really came through and inspired my young writers.”

I was lucky enough to get student feedback as well! Second grader, Taylor, explained that her favorite part of the visit was when the author “dressed up fancy and was reading Diva Delores”.  She added that the visit also inspired her to make a writing notebook for her own stories. 

It was amazing being able to see my author mom in action reading her book. I could tell that the teachers and all the students enjoyed the visit. My mom enjoyed it too, especially when one of the students raised her hand and said, “You look like a movie star!” But my favorite moment was when I was able to reunite with all my teachers from kindergarten through second grade. I was so happy to be able to see my teachers and I was so happy to see so many kids enjoying and listening to the book.

SCHOOL VISIT: Thank you, West End School of North Plainfield!

 

I LOVED sharing DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE with the amazingly attentive 280+ kindergarten- second graders at West End School in North Plainfield. It was my largest gathering to date, but that didn’t stop them from being fabulous listeners. How do I know? I know because they laughed at all the right parts and were sad and concerned at all the right parts. Moreover, both before and after the story, they were right with me as we chatted about where writers get their ideas and what it means to use our imaginations. And when I asked them about readerly things such as the story’s setting, characters, conflict and even theme, those hands shot up like lightning and the answers they provided were bright and on target as anything. In fact, they were such an attentive, inquisitive bunch, that I even opened the floor to questions!  

The visit was one of the culminating events for a month long celebration of reading and writing and I’d just like to close by complimenting the teachers. You are doing a wonderful job of instilling those sweet kids with a love of reading and writing and that makes my heart happy!

Thank you for having me, West End School, and thank you for organizing the event, Barnes and Noble (Springfield, NJ)

HAPPY READING AND WRITING, all!

DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE: We’re Going on Tour… BLOG TOUR!

It’s official! In celebration of the release of my newest picture book, we’re going on tour! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be making stops at the following blogs. There will be interviews, giveaways and more.  Please stop by!DIVA DELORES BLOG TOUR FLYER pdf

SAVE THE DATE:  It’s a DIVA PARTY!

SAVE THE DATE: It’s a DIVA PARTY!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Introducing Diva Delores and Fernando (the Opera House Mouse!)

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In just three months Diva Delores, the star of my next picture book, DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling Children’s Books, March 6, 2018) will make her debut, as will her darling sidekick, Fernando.  And all of a sudden, last week, it hit me — what will they wear?  I mean a diva can’t  just wear any old thing to her debut. And neither can her companion.  They need to look special. They need to look dazzling.  They need to take your breath away.   I realized, I better get busy!!!

So, over the holidays, with the help of a couple of sweet elves (a special thanks to Dianne Herrick and Nancy Benz!), and inspired by Rebecca Gerlings wonderful illustrations, we got Diva Delores and Fernando all dressed up and ready to go. Since I plan on attending each and every book event and school visit as well, we pulled together a little something special for me too!

Ready for a sneak peek? Enjoy!

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Both Delores and Fernando were extremely cooperative with the whole “glam” up process.  Here they are right before we got started, chilling out with the notions on Dianne’s sewing table.

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Here I am sewing on Delores’ pearls.  She was a very patient seal and the pearls look “daahling”.

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Delores was dee-lighted with Dianne’s superb sense of style in creating a dazzling headpiece. Fernando, meanwhile, was extremely patient, though he did manage to get into the cheese while Dianne was sewing the headpiece in place. (See below.)

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With headpiece and pearls in place, it was time for me to drape and sew on Delores’ boa.  After all that work, she and I decided to take a little break and practice our cadenzas.

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After a few more cheese and crackers, we were ready to return and get Fernando dressed in a snappy blue jacket.  I’m still working on his spectacles.

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And since I plan to attend Diva Delores’ many events as well, we thought it only proper that I have something dazzling to wear too.  A big thank you to Dianne for finding the shoes and to Nancy for providing the snazzy pink fascinator, not to mention the long black gloves and gaudy baubles.  The pearls were my mother’s.  See you at the opera!  =)

FUN! Highlights from Cranford Public Library’s First Ever PICTURE BOOK PALOOZA

Cranford Picture Book Paloooza

This past Saturday I was delighted to participate in Cranford Public Library’s first ever PICTURE BOOK PALOOZA which featured six picture book authors sharing their books through readings, crafts, and a Q&A.  Despite the glorious fall weather and many, many other fun events scheduled in Cranford on the same day, we had a nice gathering of families.  I hope the pictures below give you a sense of the joy and love for reading that were celebrated at the event.

Before the event began, each author set up her craft table.

 

After a little browsing time, it was time to read our stories.  And how did we decide the reading order?  The children picked our names out of a hat! Cranford’s wonderful children’s librarian also provided a little song/movement time which added to the fun and author Elizabeth Upton taught the children a catchy action song based on her picture book MAXI THE LITTLE TAXI.  (I’m still singing it, Elizabeth!)

Here are some of the readings:

 

After the readings we had a brief Q&A.

Then it was time to do some crafts and sign some books!

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A special thanks are in order for Anne Laird, owner of The Town Bookstore, for providing books for sale and signing.  I’d also like to thank volunteer Michelle Howlett and her sweet daughter, Jane, for enthusiastically overseeing the book table.  Aren’t they darling?!

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Cranford Children’s Department Staff:  Lauren Antolino, Children’s Librarian, Judy Klimowicz, Head Children’s Librarian, Cathy Queenan, Children’s Department Assistant

Finally, a special thanks to the Cranford Public Library for hosting this event, with extra special recognition given to Lauren Antolino for making this program a reality. She really went above and beyond in thinking through all the little extras that made the event extra special – like original Picture Book Palooza book marks for each child, fantastic promotional flyers and outreach, terrific coordination and communication with the authors, and little details that made the atmosphere in Room 200 extra warm and inviting  – including colorful table cloths, a kid-designed mural, and a nice big, colorful and comfy rug for the kids to sit on during the story time and Q&A.

And now I can’t wait for NEXT year’s PICTURE BOOK PALOOZA!  Stay tuned for details…

MOPS Visit: Thank you, Woodside Chapel!

I LOVED reading GOODNIGHT, ARK  and GOODNIGHT, MANGER to the adorable toddlers and preschoolers at the Woodside Chapel MOPS group this morning.  I was also honored to share an inspirational Easter message with the moms as well as some tips for sharing our faith with our kids. Afterwards, I enjoyed signing books and chatting. Thanks for having me!  

MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. MOPS groups typically meet monthly at a local church.  Meetings may include a devotion, speaker, craft for the moms, as well as special story time/play time/ and crafts for the little ones.  Today’s meeting also included a tasty breakfast. To learn more about MOPS, check out their website at www.mops.org. You can also find encouraging words on their blog, Hello, Dearest.

KidLitTV Celebrates READING with a Special Read Aloud Event!

This past Friday, as part of National Reading Awareness Month, KidLitTV hosted a Read Aloud Live Stream to raise reading awareness and celebrate picture books. The festivities took place at the KidLitTV studio in New York City. For over three hours, energetically emceed by the delightful Katya Szewczuk, dozens of children’s authors, illustrators, librarians, and other book lovers, read picture books aloud. There was even a picture book themed poem in the mix and some singing.

I think all there agreed that it was wonderful spending the afternoon with  KidLit TV   sharing in their wonderful mission “to create fun new ways to reinforce an appreciation of reading that children will carry with them for the rest of their lives”.

Since the event was live and not recorded, you can’t watch it now, but I hope this small collection of snapshots captures the  excitement and magic of the event and, most especially, the magic of reading out loud!  There were, of course, many, many amazing authors present.  Below is just a sampling of the people I happened to take pictures of. (In hindsight, I wish I’d been a better camera girl so I had even more pictures to share.)

While waiting to read, I was delighted to meet author Elizabeth Upton.  We quickly discovered a shared passion for poetry and rhyme.  Here she is reading her darling rhyming debut, Maxi the Little Taxi, illustrated by the amazing Henry Cole and published by Scholastic.

I also had the pleasure of meeting best-selling Zonderkidz author Sally Lloyd-Jones who delighted the audience with her reading of Baby Wren and the Great Gift, illustrated by Jen Corace and published by Zonderkidz.

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Fellow New Jersey author Laurie Hallmark read her fascinating Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine illustrated by April Chu and published by Creston Books.  Laurie’s was one of several non-fiction picture books read and I loved each one. They were a good reminder to me about  just how diverse the picture book format can be – with books to please just about any age and interest.

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The adorably funny (and fully-costumed) Robin Newman no-doubt captivated our virtual audience just as much as she did those of us in the studio with her animated reading of Hildie Bitterpickles Needs her Sleep, illustrated by Chris Ewald and published by Creston Books.

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Instead of reading a picture book, author Carol Weston gave us a most charmingly moving reading of her poem “Picture Books”.  Afterward, I had the pleasure of chatting with her and was excited to learn that her newest book, Speed of Life, a novel geared to 11 – 14 year olds, and set to release April 4th, has already received three starred reviews! It’s on my list of books to read with Miss A.!

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I also especially loved hearing my wonderful critique partner, Rosanne L. Kurstedt, read her heartwarming mother/child picture book, And I Thought about You.  She has such a moving way with words.

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Finally, oops, I almost forgot, I got to read too!

It was a wonderful afternoon. Thank you for having us, KidLit TV!

About KidLit TV. Founded by Julie Gribble,  KidLit TV, is a fabulous resource for kid lit fans of all ages. Comprised of a diverse group of parents, educators, librarians, kid lit creators, and award winning filmmakers, KidLit TV works creatively to bring great books to kids. Their self-described mission is to create fun new ways to reinforce an appreciation of reading that children will carry with them for the rest of their lives. They are doing a great job and have even been awarded the Parents’ Choice Gold Award! What a wonderful contribution they are making to the world of children’s literature!