Guess what? I have another new book coming out with Zonderkidz! BUNNY FINDS EASTER, a board book, is scheduled to release February 1, 2022, just in time for Easter.
Here’s the scoop from Zonderkidz:
“Inside Bunny Finds Easter, little ones will learn the true answer to “What is Easter?” alongside Bunny. The rhyming text by bestselling author Laura Sassi and adorable illustrations help children see Easter may have many fun traditions, but it is really all about celebrating Jesus and his resurrection.
Coloring eggs, wearing a lovely bonnet, joining in the fun of an egg hunt, and attending church with family are special things that are a part of Easter! But the most important thing about this holiest of seasons is remembering the reason we gather to celebrate and focusing on Jesus most of all.
Bunny Finds Easter is:
For ages 0-4.
A board book perfect for little hands, and in a size that works great for lap reading.
Ideal for Easter gift-giving and fits perfectly in an Easter basket.
A conversation starter for a discussion of the true meaning of Easter.”
Thank you, Zonderkidz publishing my next book. I had so much fun writing it and I think the board book format is jelly bean perfect! And isn’t the cover charming? Thank you, illustrator Ela Jarzabek. I can’t wait for this one to hit shelves everywhere.
Will you take a moment to pre-order your copy of Bunny Finds Eastertoday and mark is as “to-read” on Goodreads? Those are two wonderful and easy ways to help a new book make a lovely little splash when it releases.
I’m so excited to be teaching the Master Class on Picture Writing for the Write2Ignite Conference for Christian Writers of Children’s and Young Adult Literature this coming April 24, 2021. Taught virtually – so writers from near and far can attend – it’s going be a day full of learning and fun – all while stretching our story-telling skills. To learn more about the Write2Ignite Master Class programs as well as the story of how this wonderful non-profit came to be, check out their website and blog. Registration details coming soon via their website. I hope you’ll join me!
I’d like to take momentary break from all things December, to share some fun Easter-themed news. I’ve been keeping this to myself for a little while, but the announcement ran in Publishers Marketplace so I think I can finally let out exuberant, “Hip-hop-hooray!”
Here’s the official announcement:
Thank you, Charlotte Wenger, for representing me so skillfully and kindly in the process of making this a reality.
And, thank you, Zonderkidz for saying “yes!” to this new board book that is rooted in my love of Easter traditions, but always with a heart towards pointing kids to the real meaning of Easter.
I can’t wait for you to meet Bunny as she hops through her day searching for what Easter is all about. You won’t have to wait long. The tentative publication date is February 2022!
P.S. The bunny pictured at the top is a little wooden bunny my mother painted for me, and which was part of my Easter basket in, gulp, 1980. Both at Easter and Christmas, she always did a great job of blending fun with meaning. I’d like to think I am following in her foot steps. I now keep that Bunny in an antique printer’s tray that hangs in our downstairs powder room. It’s full of all sorts of tiny treasures from my childhood. Remind me to share more about it in another post. =)
Thanks for helping me celebrate! Now back to December. =)
Today I am thrilled to interview talented children’s book author Karen Roster-Gruber in celebration of not one, but TWO 2020 releases. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TREES, illustrated by Holly Sterling and published by Kar-Ben Publishing is a cheery board book celebrating Tu B’Shevat—Jewish Arbor Day. Told in song-like verse, it captures the joy of planting a tree with three diverse children working together to get the job done. A CROWDED FARMHOUSE FOLKTALE, illustrated by Kristina Swarner and published by Albert Whitman, is Karen’s delightful retelling of an old Yiddish folktale. Told in a combination of prose and spot-on cumulative verse, it had me smiling with each page turn. Kristina Swarner’s illustrations, rendered in ink and watercolor with lots of texture and humor, work well with Karen’s charming text to capture the feel of a traditional folktale, but with modern humor.
Both are delightful and would make wonderful additions to your home or school library. I will be recommending them for purchase at my local town library. Now, the moment, you’ve all been waiting for — the interview with my questions in bold.
Congratulations on the release of both of these fabulous books. Let’s start with A CROWDED FARMHOUSE FOLKTALE. I’m smitten with this cumulative tale based on a Yiddish folktale. What inspired you to retell it? Is there anything special about the names Earl and Marge?
My parents are named Earl and Marge and I finally got to use them in a book! I tried getting my grandmother’s name in there as well, but the publisher took it out. Her name was Zelda.
I wanted to reimagine a Yiddish folktale and make it a story that everyone could enjoy, so I took out the Rabbi and the Yiddish words, and added in a wise woman because times have changed.
I also wanted to make the tale a bit more lyrical. I added a touch of rhyme–a repeated refrain, which kids love. Kids also like when they can predict something.
Right now this tale is perfect, as everyone is feeling like Farmer Earl, stuck in a too-small space with their cats, dogs, and kids during COVID; It’s too crowded!
HA! Yes, we can all relate to that cooped up feeling. That’s for sure!
The illustrations by Kristina Swarner mirror perfectly the folksy, whimsical feel of your text. Can you offer any tips for caregivers for how to make the most of this pairing? (Ex: stop and count, play “find the…” etc?)
Everytime I look at my book, I find things that I didn’t see before. Illustration-wise, the only thing I can take credit for is the duck on the front cover taking a bite out of the letter “A” in the word “FOLKTALE.” The duck was already on the roof in the sketches and sooooo very close to the letter “A,” that I thought it would be hysterical. I called my editor and she agreed.
She told the illustrator and it was done.
There’s also a toilet paper scene that quacks me up!
Many people I know are telling me that they have their kids counting the ducks, the horses, and the goats on each page. And, asking them to find certain things–like the duck in the toilet or the mouse underneath the bed.
I tell people to take notice of the fabric on the wise woman’s dresses, the drapes, and the wise woman’s chair. Look at the patterns on the wallpaper. And, to pay close attention to what appears in the wise woman’s windows. It will give the children an idea of what the wise woman will say to Farmer Earl next. Her plants grow in each instance as well.
In addition, the cats in the book are not amused with all of the ducks, horses, and goats coming into the house, so their facial expressions are a killer.
Here’s the toilet paper scene:
I agree. There are SO many ways young readers can delight in the joy of discovering the many details in both illustration and text.
Oh my goodness, life is good. Two books out in the same month – each as darling as the other! Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TREES.
In the past, I’ve had two books come out in the same year, but I’ve never had two come out in the same month! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TREES came about because I was invited to a luncheon sponsored by the PJ Library. When they told us what they were looking for, they said that they needed good board books. So, I went home and looked in my file for the many board books that I had written. I found one called, “Happy Birthday to the Trees.” I sent it to the PJ Library and won a 2000 author incentive award. Then my agent found a publisher for it.
(For my first 14 books I didn’t have an agent though. For these two I did.)
You certainly have a gift for rhythm and rhyme. Both stories shared today have very distinct rhythmic voices and rhyme patterns. As an author, how do you decide the verse style you will use for a given story?
It literally happens to me at 3am. With A CROWDED FARMHOUSE FOLKTALE, after reading countless folktales from all over the world and settling in on two, the next morning I wrote this on a sticky note. That note became the repeated refrain for the book.
I can relate to that! Good thing you keep sticky notes and a pen by your bedside. This has been such a lovely chat, Karen. In closing, where can interested readers find your books?
You can order both of these books from any bookstore near your house. If you want signed copies, though, I signed extra copies at my local bookstore: The Bookworm. To get a signed copy here’s their number. They can ship anywhere. 908-766-4599.
BIO: Karen Rostoker-Gruber is a multi-award-winning author of over 16 books with hundreds of thousands of copies sold. Farmer Kobi’s Hanukkah Match, was named a National Jewish Book Award Finalist and was awarded the 2016 Outstanding Children’s Literature Award from the Church and Synagogue Library Association. Her books Bandit (Marshall Cavendish 2008), Bandit’s Surprise (Marshall Cavendish 2010), and Ferret Fun (Marshall Cavendish 2011) all received starred reviews in School Library Journal; Rooster Can’t Cock-a-Doodle-Doo (Dial 2004) and Bandit were both International Reading Association Children’s Book Council Children’s Choices Award recipients; three of her books, Rooster Can’t Cock-a-Doodle-Doo(in 2005), Bandit (in 2009), and Ferret Fun (in 2012) were all chosen for the 100 Best Children’s Books in the Bureau of Education and Research’s Best of the Year Handbook. Rooster Can’t Cock-a-Doodle-DooandFerret Fun were nominated for the Missouri Show Me Award; Bandit was nominated for the South Carolina Book Award; and Rooster Can’t Cock-a-Doodle-Doo was a Dollywood Foundation selection two years in a row (in 2007 the Dollywood Foundation bought 73,579 copies and in 2008 it bought 88,996 copies). Karen’s book, Maddie the Mitzvah Clown, published by Apples and Honey Press, a division of Behrman House, was named a PJ Library book selection in July of 2017 and went out to 21,000 4-year-olds in the US and Canada. Karen’s latest books, Happy Birthday, Trees (KarBen) and A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale (Whitman), will both be out in 2020. Karen is an active member of SCBWI, has twice co-chaired the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature’s One-on-One Conference, and is one of the co-founders of The Book Meshuggenahs. http://www.karenrostoker-gruber.com
[Note: Thank you to Kar-Ben Publishing and Albert Whitman for the sharing ARCs which I was under no obligation to review. The views and opinions expressed on this blog about books and other things are purely my own.]
Today I am delighted to have children’s author Tara Knudson here in celebration of the release of her most recent board book with Zonderidz, FALL FUN DAY. First, enjoy the colorful cover, illustrated by Juliana Motzko. Then, enjoy her five fun tips for things to do with your little ones after reading the book.
FIVE FUN ACTIVITIES for a FUN FALL DAY
By Tara Knudson
Thank you, Laura, for inviting me to your blog today!
FUN FALL DAY allows the reader to step inside a fall fair with a petting zoo, pumpkin patch, hayride, and more! Even if you can’t go to a fall fair this year, there are still plenty of fun things in the book that you can do at your house or nearby. Here are five activities for a fun fall day!
GO FOR A NATURE WALK. Do the fall leaves change colors where you live? If they do, enjoy them with your kids. Shuffle through the leaves on the ground and hear them crackle and crunch! Collect the prettiest ones you can find. Make leaf piles and jump in! Where I live in Florida, the leaves do not change to the beautiful shades of red, yellow, orange, and gold that are associated with fall. I have not seen colorful fall leaves in several years and I miss the beauty of them. I hope to drive north and see some this year with my family.
PICK OUT A PUMPKIN. If you can’t make it to a pumpkin patch, it is still fun to pick out a pumpkin from a farmer’s market, your local grocery store or a roadside stand. Besides carving pumpkins, it is fun to decorate them with paint, stickers, glitter, and more.
MAKE A FALL TREAT. When I was young, we used to go to a village near Chicago named Long Grove and visit the Apple Haus. We bought and ate the most delicious apple cider donuts! You can bake apple cider donuts at home or a different fall treat with apples, pumpkin, cinnamon, maple – there are so many delicious flavors of the season.
MAKE YOUR OWN RIDE. A wagon ride may not be as exciting as a hayride, but it’s still fun. Have your kids cuddle under a blanket, feel the cool fall air, and admire the beauty of the season as you ride through your neighborhood.
Enjoy the season everyone!
Learn more about Tara Knudson and her books here. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
I have a special place in my heart for Noah’s Ark themed stories. Indeed, one of my very first childhood writings was a retelling of Noah’s Ark. It’s written on pale green lined paper in second-grade print, includes crayon illustrations… and is very dramatic. Later, when my own kids were little, I loved reading Lucy Cousins NOAH’S ARK with them. We even had the matching puzzle and enjoyed assembling it and naming all the animals. And even later, when I was inspired to write a bedtime story about being scared during a storm, the ark became the setting for my rollicking, yet ultimately soothing rhymer, GOODNIGHT, ARK.
So, as you can imagine, I was very excited this week when a fun new Noah’s ark themed board book sailed on to my porch. Written by Brock Eastman and illustrated by Lee Holland, BEDTIME ON NOAH’S ARK (Harvest House Publishers, September 2020) offers young readers and their parents a fresh take on this iconic bible story – this time with a bedtime routine theme.
There are three things I especially enjoyed about this book.
First, the sweet cartoon-like illustrations are warm and inviting with oodles of animals doing fun things – like brushing their teeth and putting on their pajamas. As a parent, I can see lots of opportunities to engage little ones in simple counting and naming games.
Second, I really enjoyed Brock’s use of similes throughout the board book text to describe the bedtime routines of the animals. My favorite might be “hop into your pajamas like a kangaroo” with “stick your tongue out like a giraffe” (when brushing your teeth) as a close second. Rich, fun language like this not only warms little ones’ ears to the vividness of words, but also provides fun opportunities to play some fun “_____ like a ____” games.
Third, this simple, fun story was a sweet reminder to me (and probably to parents everywhere) of how special bedtime is. Having a nightly routine, like the animals do in Brock’s story, really does lay an important foundation in the growing up experience. Those seemingly simple nightly habits not only foster good dental and hygiene habits, they also set the stage for important unwinding techniques to treasure for a lifetime like reading before bed and laying the joys and concerns of our day releasing through prayer.
Writing this post sparked fun memories for me of bedtime at our house when my kids were little. I must have been doing something right because bedtime was never something my kids complained about or tried to delay. In fact, they sometimes even asked to go to bed early. Why? Because, just like in Brock’s story, bedtime at our house was a special, cozy time involving bubbles and bath toys, toothpaste and brushes, bedtime stories and sometimes even a couple of before bedtime games… and always ended with prayer and a song.
I suspect that if my kids were still little, this little board book would quickly have become a favorite. Happy reading!
[Note: Thank you to the the publisher for a sneak peek at the book which I was under no obligation to review. The views and opinions expressed on this blog about books and other things are purely my own.]
Today I am delighted to have bestselling Christian children’s author Glenys Nellist here in celebration of the release of her most recent board book with Zonderidz, GRANDMA SNUGGLES. First, enjoy these delightful snapshots of Glenys with the book and her grandchildren. Then, take a peek at the lovely book trailer.
Now enjoy Glenys’ tips for staying connected during a pandemic and remember to enter the giveaway a chance to win a copy of GRANDMA SNUGGLES (Details at end of post.) Enjoy!
Ten Ways to Stay Connected with Your Grandchildren During Covid19
I never imagined when writing Grandma Snuggles two years ago that this little board book would be released during a pandemic—the very time when all grandmas everywhere are yearning for their snuggles.
The advent of Covid19 has meant that many families have been unable to spend time together, and grandparents have been forced to find new ways to stay in touch with their little ones. In honor of the release of Grandma Snuggles, here are ten creative ways to stay connected with your grandchildren during Covid19:
Write to them. This might sound old-fashioned, but children LOVE receiving real mail! Even if they can’t read yet, and even if they’re tiny, your letters will become treasures for them in years to come, especially if you describe the world we’re living in right now.
Celebrate milestones virtually. Just because you can’t be with your grandchildren physically doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate their birthdays, class graduations or other special occasions. For example—buy or bake that birthday cake, call your grandchild via Skype, Facetime or Video Messenger, sing Happy Birthday and have them blow out the candles on the cake. (Grandpa is, of course, hiding off-camera to blow them out!)
Designate a certain time and day of the week, such as ‘Friday Funnies at Five’ to share jokes over the phone.
Bake together via video call… arrange for your grandchild to have the exact same ingredients on hand that you have and bake cookies, or cupcakes, or try out a new recipe.
Work together on a craft via Zoom.
Do a Scavenger Hunt via Zoom or video call. Think of ten regular household items that your grandchild has to find. Name them one at a time and have your grandchild race to find them. Then let them name ten items for you! For extra fun, use a timer. Who was the fastest to find their ten objects…your grandchild, or you?
Do puzzles together via Zoom or Facetime. Download a printable wordsearch or crossword puzzle. Mail a copy to your grandchild or have their parents download it. Work together to complete it.
Use the Zoom whiteboard feature to play Tic Tac Toe or Pictionary together.
Read together via video call. For younger children, choose picture books that have lots of detail in the illustrations. After you read to them, play ‘I Spy’…ask your grandchild to spot things in the pictures. For older children who enjoy chapter books, try taking it in turns to read one chapter each.
Finally (and quite possibly, my favorite activity!) is to read Grandma Snuggles to your grandchild via video call. Written in rhyme, this brand-new board book features eight grandma animals with their little ones. A fun game to play with this book is ‘Guess That Grandma.’ Read each poem to your grandchild and have them guess the animal before you show them the picture. Can you guess this one?
I have a snuggly grandma,
God made her teeth so strong!
We build our home together,
It doesn’t take us long.
And when our lodge is ready,
We’re comfy as can be!
Grandma snuggles are the best,
She’s God’s gift to me.
And here’s one more bonus activity… download and print one of these cutecoloringsheets from Grandma Snuggles. Color together over Facetime, but don’t look at each other’s until you’re both finished. Then compare the colors you used. As you color, take turns to talk about your favorite things: colors/ games/ candy/ fruit / places/ animals/ books / movies/ cereal / ice-cream flavor etc.
However you choose to stay connected with your grandchild, the most important thing is to find what works for you, and simply stay in touch.
Thank you, Glenys! These are wonderful suggestions.To learn more about Glenys and her books, check out her website.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!! If you’d like a chance to win a complimentary copy of GRANDMA SNUGGLES (Zonderkidz, 2020) simply post a comment below letting me know. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) Thank you, Zonderkidz, for providing the winning book. This giveaway ends Thursday, 8/13/20/20 at 11:59 pm EST. NOTE: This giveaway is now OVER. The winner is announced here.
Special note: If you enjoyed this post, please consider following my blog or “liking” me on my Facebook Author page, Twitter, or Instagram. I’d love the support and connection.
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:
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.]
Signed picture books make wonderful keepsake gifts for the little ones in your life. They can also be given as gifts to teachers, pastors, caregivers and more. And now you can give signed copies of DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE, LOVE IS KIND, GOODNIGHT ARK or GOODNIGHT MANGER even if you can’t make it to a signing. Here’s how – and there are TWO options.
OPTION 1: I am excited to announce that this year once again, in response to requests from readers for signed copies, my local indie book store, The Town Book Store in Westfield, New Jersey, will be offering signed, personalized copies of my books for sale.
If this interests you, please call them to order the book or books you want. Be sure to explain that you would like to have them signed by the author and pass along the names you’d like included. They will take the order and do the transaction. I will then come in and sign the book or books. Readers can either pick them up in-store at no extra charge, or have them mailed. There will be a shipping fee to cover the cost of mailing, but they can give you those details.
I thought this was a nice way to make signed copies available and support a wonderful independent book store. Their number is: The Town Book Store (908) 233-3535. You can also email the owner, Anne, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OPTION 2: If you would prefer to order the books through your own local bookstore (which is wonderful too!), you can contact me via the contact tab (which is nestled under the About heading) and I can send you signed and personalized bookplates. You will need to send me a business sized SASE (stamped and self-addressed envelope) and the names you want inscribed, but we can figure that all out via email. It’s that easy!