If you are vacationing along the New Jersey shore, or live there, please stop by this Saturday, August 11, from 1 – 3pm at the Comfort Zone in Ocean Grove, NJ where I’ll be chatting with customers and signing books. I’d LOVE to meet you. And don’t you agree that books make perfect stocking stuffers, birthday gifts, baby shower gifts etc? So, stock up and I’ll even sign them for you to make them extra special. Hope to see you there. Thank you for having me, Comfort Zone!
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!
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.
Look who’s gaga over what arrived in the mail this week! I’m excited too because the arrival of these author copies of DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE means that books will soon be arriving at bookstores everywhere! So now, in anticipation of the March 6th release of this new picture book, I think it’s time to start sharing some dates! (More events to come…stayed tuned.)
Sunday March 11, 2018 2:00 pm. BOOK LAUNCH PARTY! Celebrate a DIVA debut at this special story time and book signing with craft! Barnes and Noble, Rte. 22 Springfield.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 10:30 pm. Join me for an interactive story time featuring DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE at the Garwood Public Library. Meet my storytelling companions – Delores and Fernando–and enjoy a book-themed craft.
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!
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?!
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…
Please join me at one of these upcoming book events. I’d love to see you!
TOMORROW!!!! Saturday October 21, 2017, 2 – 4pm. Join me along with authors Annie Silvestro, Robin Newman, Ariel Bernstein, Elizabeth Upton and Diana Murray at Cranford Public Library’s first ever Picture Book Palooza. There will be readings, crafts and a Q&A. Books will be available for purchase/signing.
Saturday, November 4, 2017 2pm. Join me for an interactive story time featuring GOODNIGHT, ARK and GOODNIGHT, MANGER at the Barnes and Noble in Springfield, NJ where I’ll be reading and signing both books as part of a book fair. All are welcome.
Saturday November 25, 2017, time TBA I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite reads and chatting with customers as part of Small Business Saturday at The Town Book Store in Westfield, NJ. I will also be signing books. =)
Saturday December 9, 2017 12:30- 2:00 pm. Join me for festive readings of GOODNIGHT, ARK and GOODNIGHT, MANGER with puppets, then shop at the Cranford United Methodist Church’s Christmas Shoppe and Soup Festival. Note: The festival is open from 10 – 3pm (and the soup is DELICIOUS!).
My decision to use puppets at author visits began quite by chance. Since a pair of skunks play an important role in my first book, and figuring that some of my very youngest readers might not be familiar with the species, I thought having a pair of skunk puppets would be an engaging way to introduce the story. Quite honestly, the former teacher (and crowd control freak) in me, also thought skunk puppets might be a friendly way to help young audiences settle down before and during the reading since, as you know, skunks are notorious for making a big stink if they get startled.
Well, the skunks were such a great hit, that when my second book came out, I knew I wanted to pair that story with a book-specific puppet as well. Without too much trouble, thanks to the wonderful puppet designers at Folkmanis, I found the perfect companion — Rooster!
Rooster’s very loud which, quite frankly, is a big problem because Goodnight, Manger is a bedtime story and bedtime is supposed to be quiet. So together, the kids and I decide that we’ll show Rooster what “quiet” looks and sounds like. After we’ve read the story, we see if we can teach him do a quiet cock-a-doodle-doo. If he learns well, we invite him to join as we sing a lullaby to Baby Jesus. And once again, like those stinky skunks, Rooster, too, has been a big hit.
In fact, these darling puppets have been so popular at author events, I’ve decided that each and every picture book that I write must be paired with at least one puppet. So far I’ve been lucky and have found perfect matches. Now, with more books in the publication pipeline, I am again in the market for puppets. Without revealing too much…. I need an adorable mouse, an owl, and if possible, a seal! Any leads? =)
Happy author visits, all! And perhaps you, too, will decide to bring a puppet along to your next author visit.
Please join me at one of these upcoming book events. I’d love to see you!
Saturday November 5, 2016 1 – 4 pm. Stop in at Farley’s Bookshop in New Hope, PA where I’ll be chatting with customers and signing books.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016 4:30 pm. Join me for an interactive story time featuring GOODNIGHT, ARK and GOODNIGHT, MANGER at the Fanwood Library. Meet my storytelling companions – Rooster, Stinkie and Pinkie – and enjoy some fun book-themed coloring pages.
Saturday November 26, 2015 10 – noon. I’ll be reading my books and chatting with customers as part of Small Business Saturday at The Town Book Store in Westfield, NJ.
Saturday December 10 2016 11- 1:30 pm. Join me for festive readings of GOODNIGHT, ARK and GOODNIGHT, MANGER with puppets, then shop at the Cranford United Methodist Church’s Christmas Shoppe and Soup Festival. Note: The festival is open from 10 – 3pm.
This week I returned once again to Lakeside Chautauqua for a visit which included a “Goodnight, Manger” author story time. Hosted by Bev and Joan, the lovely booksellers at the Fine Print Book Store, our Christmas-themed story time took place this Monday morning at 10:00 am. I hope the pictures below capture the fun we had. Thanks to all for a great time!
Ahead of time, Bev and Joan did a terrific job of promoting the event which took place at Green Gables, the charming Victorian home of the Lakeside Women’s Club.
Two weeks ago I received a surprise phone call from one of the first grade teachers at Hillside Avenue School with a special request. Her students had brainstormed special activities to make the end of the school year extra fun. Their top vote? Invite a MYSTERY READER to visit on the last day of school. Would I be willing, this teacher asked, to come and be, not just a MYSTERY READER, but a MYSTERY AUTHOR as well? Since I LOVE visiting with school kids, I said yes, of course!
Today was the day. Since the visit was a surprise, I tried to arrive as inconspicuously as possible. Here I am (above) giving the “top secret” signal just outside the main office.
Then it was time to quietly roll my author-visit cart down to Room 8. I snapped this picture just before entering the room. Then… SURPRISE! (I loved seeing all those wiggly-toothed smiles and could feel the EXCITEMENT in the room.)
While the children gathered on the rug, I set up my display. Soon it was time for introductions and an enthusiastic discussion about where we – as writers and artists – get our ideas. They all had such good thoughts!
Next we all enjoyed an interactive reading of GOODNIGHT, ARK with the help of my skunk puppets! We paused occasionally to notice things like word choice and page turns and how the illustrations added extra (and often funny) details to the story. What attentive readers they were!
Finally, I challenged the first graders to be writers and illustrators over the summer. And here’s the special part. If they write a snazzy story or poem that includes an illustration that includes extra details and, if their parents agree, they may send snap shots of their pieces to me via their teachers and I will post them on my blog! I can’t wait to see their work. =)
In the meantime…
HAPPY SUMMER ALL! And don’t forget to weave some reading, writing… and drawing time into every week!