It’s Time for… the BUNNY FINDS EASTER Friday Roundup!

Happy Friday, friends! Bunny and I have four fun things to share with you this week. First, be sure to check out my blog interview with children’s author and host, Mindy Baker, as we chat about the magical role illustrations play in board books – with a focus on a favorite spread from BUNNY FINDS EASTER. Here’s the link: https://mindybakerbooks.com/a-chat-with-laura-sassi-about-her-new-book/

Next, did you know that March 9th was “Get Ready for Easter Day?” I didn’t either, but I learned about it over at one of my favorite blogs, Celebrate Picture Books, which pairs a picture book with a holiday. Each post includes a review of a book and an activity. And for this holiday the book was… BUNNY FINDS EASTER! Here’s the link: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/2022/03/09/march-7-get-ready-for-easter/

Third, in case you missed it yesterday at 12:12 eastern, here is the replay of my Instagram LIVE interview with host Valerie Ellis, creator of Our Everyday Parables, a blog dedicated to encouraging and empowering parents to use everyday moments and kids’ books to teach, connect, listen, and inspire. We had some technical difficulties at the beginning, but they resolved and she explains in the link how you can skip over those bits.

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to enter the 25 book giveaway for BUNNY FINDS EASTER which Zonderkidz is hosting over on Goodreads. (And while you are there, please add the book to your to-read list and/or review it, if you you willing.) Thank you! Here’s the giveaway link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/340275-bunny-finds-easter

The BUNNY FINDS EASTER Bunny Hop Continues with… a Review, a Podcast and a BIG Giveaway!

So many fun things to share this week as Bunny hops her way towards Easter. First, be sure to check out this fresh-off-the-press review for BUNNY FINDS EASTER from author Rebecca Gomez. She’s a real stickler for rhyme… and she loved it! (Phew.) And this cute little fella weighed in as well. Isn’t he darling? Here’s the link: https://www.rebeccajgomez.com/2022/03/review-bunny-finds-easter-by-laura.html

Also, last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mel Rosenberg for his “You’ve Got Mel” podcast. Enjoy it and all his other interviews with children’s authors on the New Book Network. Here’s the link: https://newbooksnetwork.com/bunny-finds-easter

Finally, Zonderkidz is sponsoring a 25 book giveaway of BUNNY FINDS EASTER on Goodreads. Be sure to enter. While you are there, please add the book to your “to-read” list. That will help others to discover it. And after you read it, or any of my books, if you could also leave a review, that would be wonderful. Good or bad, every review helps. Thank you! Here’s the link to the giveaway: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/340275-bunny-finds-easter

Time for the BUNNY FINDS EASTER Bunny Hop: Stop One

One of the joys of having a new book out is getting to visit and celebrate with a virtual book tour!  And because this tour includes more than just blogs, I’ve decided to call it the BUNNY HOP!  Each week, we’ll be visiting somewhere fun but it will be a surprise! Don’t worry, I’ll let you know where to go as we hop along together. 

And where is Bunny, the sweet protagonist from BUNNY FINDS EASTER (Zonderkidz, February 1, 2022) hopping to today?  I’m so glad you asked. She’s over at picture book author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog for Perfect Picture Book Friday! Thank you for having us, Susanna. The post includes a review, a craft (pictured) and a GIVEAWAY so hurry on over. Here’s the link: https://susannahill.com/2022/02/04/perfect-picture-book-friday-bunny-finds-easter-plus-a-giveaway/https://susannahill.com/2022/02/04/perfect-picture-book-friday-bunny-finds-easter-plus-a-giveaway/

SIMPLY CHRISTMAS: An Interview with Christian Author Tama Fortner

This week, I’m delighted to chat with Tama Fortner, an author of multiple faith-based books for children and adults. Today we are celebrating the release of her newest title with Ink and Willow, a Christmas devotional for mothers called Simply Christmas: A Busy Mom’s Guide to Reclaiming the Peace of the Holidays

Here’s the publisher’s description, which doubles as an invitation to read the book: 

Allow Simply Christmas to be your personal invitation to slow down and savor the beauty of the manger this year. These thirty-one devotions are not dated, so you’re welcome to begin reading anytime–whether that’s on December 1, Christmas Eve, the day after Thanksgiving, or the middle of July–without even a smidgen of guilt or shame.

Accompanied by seasonally inspired full-color photographs, this thirty-one-day devotional brings a bit of calm to each day through a short reflection and Scripture, together with points to ponder and fun ideas for simplifying your Christmas traditions. 

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I didn’t follow the instructions exactly, because I couldn’t resist and sat down and read the whole book in one sitting. What a delight! I plan to follow the suggested slower approach starting the day after Thanksgiving.

Now, without further ado, grab a cup of tea, or hot cocoa to match the cover, and join me as I chat with Tama with my questions bolded.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to write Simply Christmas: A Busy Mom’s Guide to Reclaiming the Peace of the Holidays.

My name is Tama Fortner, and I’m from Nashville, Tennessee. I’m a wife, a mom, an occasional author, and an always daughter of the King. I’ve been married to my husband, Jeff, for twenty-three years now. We have two college-age kiddos who have grown up much too fast for their mama’s liking. And I am the proud owner of the world’s laziest dog, who also doubles as a foot warmer.

For as far back as I can remember I have loved words—reading them and writing them. I love the way they “click” together to share a message, to communicate thoughts and feelings. One of my all-time favorite books is Little Women, which I discovered back in the third grade. At the ripe old age of eight, I decided I would be like Jo—even going so far as to set up a cardboard-box writing desk in the back of my childhood closet. Now, as a wife and mom, combining my love of words with my love for God and for my family just seems natural.

You and I are kindred spirits! I’m so glad you followed your passion to share God’s love with your words.  

What is your greatest desire for the moms who read this book? 

I remember one year, getting to the end of Christmas Day and staring at the mounds of crumpled wrapping paper, empty boxes, and scattered bows. And I thought to myself, Is this it? This can’t be it. There’s supposed to be joy—have I missed the joy? It’s not as if we’d had a terrible Christmas. It was wonderful in so many ways. But I wanted more—and the “more” I wanted was more God. I also realized that wasn’t just going to happen. I was going to have to be a bit more intentional with my time, with my nos and yeses, and I was going to have to learn to hold onto that joy even in the midst of the holiday chaos.

With Simply Christmas, I want to encourage moms to reconnect with the real reason we celebrate Christmas: the birth of Christ. I want to equip them with some tools, some tricks and tips—mostly ones I’ve learned the hard way—that will help them find and hold onto the joy. And I want to give them permission to slow down and savor this time with their loved ones and their Savior.

I couldn’t resist and read your book straight through and it’s wonderful! I can’t wait to slow down and re-read it one day at a time this advent season.

Do you have a favorite devotional in the 31-day line up?  Why is it your favorite?

That’s a little like picking a favorite child, isn’t it? But one of my favorites is Day 18. It’s about Mary and the verse from Luke 2:19: “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (niv). Keep in mind that this treasuring and pondering takes place after a less-than-comfy trip to Bethlehem, childbirth amongst the animals, and a flock of shepherds bursting into praise the Little One whose crib has been fashioned from a manger. I love it because Mary is a mom, collecting memories, treasuring, and pondering in the midst of all the chaos. She’s taking time to sift out what matters most, and she’s holding it close to her heart. Over two thousand years later, I think that’s what moms are still longing and trying to do.

Yes, indeed. I think that longing is timeless and that your book will most certainly resonate with mom all stages of motherhood – from moms of teeny tinies to moms of teens and beyond. 

You are also the author of several faith-based picture books including the joyful Christmas Is Coming! How can parents use this sweet book and others to point little ones to God?  Any specific tips?

It’s so important to spend time with God every day—and for our littles (and not-so-littles) to see us making that a priority. Of course, the more time we’re able to spend in His Word and in prayer, the better. But we’re moms, and our schedules aren’t entirely our own. So let’s fill our lives with resources—like verse-a-day apps, like Simply Christmas, Christmas Is Coming!, and your own Goodnight, Manger. Devotionals allow us to “grab” a verse and a quick thought to carry with us through the day. Picture books bless us with not only a chance to share a story about God, but also sweet snuggle time. Let’s grab every opportunity to pour God’s message into our lives and into our children. Because that’s where we find the Joy—in treasuring and pondering Him.

Amen! Now, just for fun, let’s close with a non-book-related question. What is your favorite mom Christmas memory?

It’s difficult to isolate just one. There’s this sort of collage that runs through my mind—images of smiles, of lights and trees, of singing carols and Christmas plays. There were the giggles and the rush to jump in bed when the official NORAD Santa Tracker showed his sleigh getting close to Nashville. There’s the annual making of the gingerbread house—always small and always slightly lopsided (check out Day 5 of Simply Christmas to see why that matters). There’s the sound of my children’s voices reading the real Christmas Story from Luke. There’s the feeling of holding littles in my lap and the wonder of their hugs and love now that they’re big. In short, I feel like I’ve gathered this whole collection of memories. And like Mary, I treasure and ponder them.

And leads me to something I want to encourage mom’s to do as they get ready for this Christmas: start by thinking back over past Christmases. What are the memories you treasure? What made you and your loved ones smile? I’m betting it wasn’t the perfect tree, the perfect present, the perfect dinner, the perfect . . . anything. It’s the smiles, the laughter, the love—of God, of family, of friends. Yes, right in the middle of the chaos. Focus on those things this year. Skip the comparison, the perfection, and let it simply Christmas.

This is WONDERFUL closing advise for all my readers and me too!  Thank you, Tama, for joining us today and for listening to that little voice that said, “Write!”

About the Author:

Tama Fortner is a bestselling writer with more than 40 titles to her credit. As a ghostwriter, she has collaborated with some of the biggest names in Christian publishing to create inspirational books for children, teens, and adults. But her greatest accomplishments happen in a happy little home on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her family and an incredibly lazy dog who doubles as a foot warmer. For more information, visit www.tamafortner.com


[Note: Thank you to Ink and Willow for sending me an advanced copy 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.
]

Celebrate HUG A SHEEP Day with LITTLE EWE: Craft and Review!

This past Saturday, in celebration of Hug A Sheep Day which takes place on the last Saturday in October, Little Ewe was featured over at Kathy Carroll’s wonderful Celebrate Picture Books blog. Head over there to find her review with this adorable craft that is also a game. It’s a cozy resting box for Little Ewe! It’s the craft I’ve been using at book store and library events this fall and it’s a big hit. There’s also a giveaway for a free copy of the book which ends 11/4/21.  So grab your favorite cozy November hot beverage and head on over. I’ll make it easy for you.  Here’s the link to the review/craft and here’s the link to the giveaway.  And to make that cute little knitted lamb press here. Thank you for celebrating with Little Ewe!

Where is Little Ewe today? Celebrating PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY with Susanna Leonard Hill (PLUS A GAME!)

Today I’m delighted to have LITTLE EWE featured on Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday Series. Head on over to get Susanna’s take on the book. And in the extra fun department, she asked me to share an activity to go along with the book. It’s a fun one! What could it be, you ask? You’ll have to pop over there to find out. I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the link:

Interested in purchasing copies in time for Easter? They are available at Barnes and NobleAmazon,  Christian Book or your favorite local bookstore.

Happy Reminiscing with Brock Eastman’s BEDTIME ON NOAH’S ARK

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!

Learn more about Brock Eastman and is books here.

[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.]

LOVE IS KIND: Book Review & Baking Activity

Did you know that LOVE IS KIND celebrates the precious bond between little ones and their grandparents? Indeed, it’s Little Owl’s love for his grammy that sets the story in motion… and it’s Grammy’s love for him that brings the story to a cozy resolution.

Here’s a sweet glimpse of that bond in a special clip illustrator Lison Chaperon made to celebrate LOVE IS KIND:

And now, in celebration of Grandparents Day, I’m excited to share that LOVE IS KIND is featured over at Celebrate Picture Books today with a thoughtful review, a baking activity (see picture above) and a giveaway of the new board book edition! So grab a cup of coffee, or tea, as I prefer, and head on over. I’ll make it easy for you. Press here.

LOVE IS KIND Blog Tour: STOP TWO!

9780310754893_imageToday children’s author Glenys Nellist is featuring LOVE IS KIND on her lovely blog.  Head on over there to read her review. Then keep reading as I share FIVE FUN FACTS about WRITING THE BOOK!  (Oh, and there’s also a giveaway!) So grab that cup of tea and head on over.  Happy reading, all!

And here’s the complete list of stops I’ll be making.  I hope you will join me each step of the way.  =)

Love is KInd Blog Tour Schedule

Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse BLOG TOUR: Stop TWO

IMG_6231I’m excited because today Susanna Leonard Hill is featuring DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE as part of her Perfect Picture Book Friday series!  Head on over there to find out why she thinks DIVA DELORES makes a great mentor text (Thank you, Susanna!). And after her review, keep reading as I share FIVE FUN FACTS about WRITING THE BOOK!  (Oh, and there’s also a giveaway!) So grab that cup of tea and head on over.  HAPPY FRIDAY, all!

And here’s the complete list of stops I’ll be making.  I hope you will join us each step of the way.  =)

DIVA DELORES BLOG TOUR FLYER pdf