And the Winner is…

BigSister_LittleMonster_Cover_HiRes (1)I’m delighted to announce that the winner of last week’s special giveaway, a brand new copy of Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum’s humorous new picture book BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER, published by Scholastic Press and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, is…

Tzippora!!!!!

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

Thanks again, Andria, for taking time to chat in this preview interview, and for offering to send one lucky winner a copy of your new book.. I’d also like to thank everyone who took the time to comment on this week’s post and to my daughter, once again, for lending me her snazzy hat for the drawing.

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ARBOR DAY: A Poem by James, age 7 and Art by Miss A.

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Earlier this week my adorable seven year old neighbor, James, reminded me that Arbor Day was just around the corner and that to celebrate, he planned to write a poem. It think he told me this because he knows I like to write too.  I told him I’d love to read the poem once he’d written it and Thursday after school I finally got the chance. “I’m going to read it over the loudspeaker at school tomorrow” he explained.

And that gave me an idea! With his mom’s permission, I asked James if he’d like to share it on my blog as well. He thought that sounded neat! And, to illustrate, Miss A. offered to let us use her newest art work – a stained- glass illustration of a cherry tree in bloom.  Now, without further ado, please enjoy this delightful collaboration between two young artists in celebration of trees!

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And now a bonus… an illustration by James as well!

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I think both the artist and the poet did a great job!  Happy Arbor Day to all!

AUTHOR VISITS… Puppet Style!

IMG_1044My 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.

GOOD NEWS: New Picture Book Deal!

IMG_3148I’ve been keeping this news to myself for some time now, but the announcement ran in Publishers Marketplace today, and I even spotted the book listed on the Target website, so I think I can finally spill the beans!

Here it is:

“Laura Sassi’s LOVE IS KIND, in which a little owl searches for the perfect gift for his beloved grandmother and learns about love along the way, illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet, to Barbara Herndon at Zonderkidz, for publication in December 2018, by Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency for the author (World).”

And now, in celebration, have a virtual nibble from one of these adorable cookies baked by Miss A. (She sure knows how to decorate a cookie!)

Here’s my writerly takeaway from this latest fun news: Keep writing.  Keep subbing. Keep honing your craft. Be true to yourself and good things will come. Happy writing all!

GOODNIGHT, ARK: A Framing Follow-up

After my post last week about about framing my newly arrived, and oh-so-special, original Jane Chapman illustration, many of you requested that I share the outcome.  As you may recall, I spent almost two hours at the frame shop dithering over matte, frame and layout.  That dithering led me to write (for myself, mostly) a little writerly pep talk, which I certainly needed that day. I hope it was just what you needed as well. Here’s that pep talk  post, just in case you could use a writerly boost.

Now, without further ado, here’s the final framed version – first in the shop…

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and now hanging in a cozy lamp-lit corner of my living room where I can enjoy it everyday!

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This is where I’m sitting right now as I write this post and this is where I look forward to writing some more tomorrow and on Sunday.  I hope you, too, can find a nice cozy place to curl up and be creative this weekend. Happy reading and writing, all!

Merry Christmas (And a Special Thank You)

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I just wanted to take a moment this Christmas Eve to wish you all a joyful Christmas. I also want to thank you for reading my blog and my books and for being such a wonderful community of encouragers and book lovers!  I’ll be back in January with brand new posts (and hopefully some fun new book news!)

In the meantime, take good care and keep reading, writing and celebrating life!

And the WINNER is…

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I’m delighted to announce that the winner of last week’s special giveaway, a brand new copy of Glenys Nellist’s beautiful picture book CHRISTMAS LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD, published by Zonderkidz and illustrated by Rachel Clowes, is…

SARA!!!!!

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

Thanks again, Glenys, for giving us a heartwarming glimpse into book’s dedication. I’d also like to thank everyone who took the time to comment on this week’s post and to my daughter, once again, for lending me her snazzy hat for the drawing.

SPOTLIGHT: Holiday Cards by Martha South

img_3357My mother was a storyteller.  Like I am, but not exactly. While I use words, my mother used pictures to tell her stories. Her stories didn’t take the form of books. No, they came in the shape of paintings and sketches and – best of all – cards!

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Any occasion, large or small, provided the perfect excuse for a card.  Birthdays, Christmas, first days of school, births of grand babies, you name it… she made cards. Each card featured her signature birds – but the story each card told was one-of-a-kind.

Over the years several stand out as favorites of mine.

 

For example, I have always loved the birthday card she made for my husband the year our son turned two. The inside reads, “Lessons the Professor hoped he would never have to teach.” Then, there’s the year my son, then age three, got inventive and made himself some firefighter boots out of toilet paper rolls.  My mom had a field day with that!

img_3353But one of my all-time favorites is this – a magical Christmas card featuring a little bonbon dancing with the Nutcracker.  Inspired by my daughter who was dancing her first Nutcracker that year as a little bonbon, it turned out to be the last Christmas card my mom made for her – and one of the last cards she designed before her ALS made it too hard for her to hold the pencils. Even though she made it when she was already sick, to me, the card sparkles with the magic of Christmas and it fills me with joy.

One of my mom’s dreams was to start her own card business. And to honor that dream, my sister has set up a card business in her memory. Now in celebration of Christmas and in honor of my wonderful mom, she has added a couple of holiday cards to the collection, one of which is this delightful Nutcracker card.

If you are in the market for holiday cards to send out this season, we  would be honored if you considered sending some cards designed by Martha South. To see the cards and learn more about ordering please visit http://www.marthasouth.com.

As an extra incentive, my sister is offering free shipping for a limited time  if you use the promo code “HOLIDAYS”. Thanks, Julie!  The promo code can be entered in at Checkout. Right above “Payment Information,” there will be a blue link called “Use Gift Card or Promo Code”. Click on this, and then enter “HOLIDAYS”.

Blessings all!

Happy Book Birthday! GOODNIGHT, MANGER (board book edition)

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Hip hip, hooray!

It’s on its way!  

GOODNIGHT, MANGER, the board book,

releases today! 

With sturdy pages and a padded cover, the board book version of GOODNIGHT, MANGER is terrific for littlest readers who want to turn the pages themselves. With full text, it’s a good size– perfect for showing off all the wonderful details in Jane’s illustrations.

Interested in a signed copy?  Here’s how:  Call The Town Book Store in Westfield, NJ 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.

It’s also available at your favorite local or online bookstore! Happy Reading, all!

THE PHOTO SHOOT: A Day in the Life of a Picture Book (and its Author!)

 

p1060649One of the unexpected necessities (and fun bits)  of being a picture book author is the occasional photo shoot. Luckily for me, my neighbor Rick Gerrity is a photographer.  Four years ago (Sheesh, where did the time fly?) he graciously took a few book flap/publicity shots of me at home – on the porch, on the stairs and with our sweet pooch, Sophie. The front porch picture now graces the book flaps of my first two books.

Now, four years older and with two more books coming out, it seemed about time to update those photos. Rick, once again, said he’d be happy to take the pictures and really went above and beyond in brainstorming new settings that would capture the picture book spirit.  He’s the one who had the idea to visit Donaldson’s Farm in Hackettstown, NJ, a beautiful fourth generation family-owned farm, and one of only five in New Jersey that grows sunflowers for the Audubon Society!

Our morning began with a tour of the farm given by the lovely Katie Donaldson. In addition to growing 40 acres of sunflowers, they also cultivate umpteen varieties of tomatoes, asparagus, peppers, lettuce, pumpkins, peaches, apples, berries and more! After the tour, it was time for the photo shoot.  =)

I hope the photos below give you a sense of the magic of the day. My daughter came along and Rick let her use one of his fancy cameras.  Thus, the shots captured below are both hers and Rick’s. Thank you Rick, Katie and Miss A. for helping make this such a special and memorable day!

The sunflower field we used was at its peak with about 22,000 sunflowers! Breathtaking! First, we took a few shots by the edge.

Then I stepped into the field… further and further!  What fun! We took shots with the hat and without.

Next, it was time for books to have their time in front of the camera.  The pumpkin patch seemed a fun setting. It was a little tricky getting the books to balance!

When the sun disappeared behind the clouds, we dashed back to the sunflower field for a few more shots.  All in all, I think Rick took about 100 pictures!  There were many good ones, but my favorite is the one I’ve saved for last.   Happy Monday, all!p1060633