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!

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…

UPCOMING EVENTS: Goodnight, Ark & Goodnight, Manger

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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!).

CREATING AND CONNECTING: One Picture Book Author’s Journey

laurasassi5In January the editor of my alumni magazined asked if I might be interested in writing a piece for their new essay series on the Princeton Alumni Weekly website called “Voices”.  My name came to his attention because of my blog (just in case you’ve ever been torn about the benefit vs. effort of keeping a blog), and he asked if I might be interested in writing something about my experiences as an author of children’s books.

I said yes.  And today that piece is live! Titled “Creating and Connecting: One Picture Book Author’s Journey”, the essay is about how my passion for story has opened my heart and broadened my sense of community.  I’d be honored if popped on over for a read. Happy reading 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.

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.

Celebrate NATIONAL READING AWARENESS MONTH with KidLitTV’s READ ALOUD LIVE STREAM!

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This week, in celebration of PICTURE BOOKS and READ ALOUD TIME, KidLitTV will be hosting a READ ALOUD LIVE STREAM. The event will take place tomorrow, Friday, March 3rd, from noon – 3pm EST. The festivities will be streamed  LIVE on the KidLitTV Facebook page and will include picture book readings from a whole host of authors and illustrators (including me)  who will be sharing their own books. I will be reading Goodnight, Ark.

So, please join us and share the magic of reading with your kiddos tomorrow afternoon. Tune in for a few minutes, or for 30 minutes, whatever works best.  We’re looking forward to celebrating reading aloud TOGETHER… LIVE with you!

Thank you, KidLitTV, for organizing and hosting this event.  Here’s the link to their Facebook page so you can easily hop on over: https://www.facebook.com/KidLitTV/ Happy reading all!

 

GOOD MORNING, LAKESIDE CHAUTAUQUA: A Christmas Story Time… in August!

fine print lakesideThis 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.

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The story time began with a cheerful rendition of “Jingle Bells!” with bells and all.  Next, to remind us of the real Christmas story, we enjoyed a lively pageant with children and parents playing the key roles. We even had sheep, a camel, and a cow!
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My basket served as the perfect impromptu manger for Baby Jesus.

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Then it was time to introduce Rooster, read “Goodnight, Manger”, and sing a lullaby to Baby Jesus.

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Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a simple ornament craft and coloring page. I even got to sign a few books!
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 Merry Christmas… in August to all!

Stop by the BHPL BOOK BLOG for a FUN INTERVIEW!

13507225_10153848033924094_2368832568996490477_nIn anticipation of my GOODNIGHT, ARK story time visit at the Berkeley Heights Public Library next Tuesday, I was interviewed by the librarian! We had the nicest time chatting about writing  picture books, working with an illustrator, living in New Jersey and more. Curious? Then hop on over. I’ll make it easy. Press here.

NOTE:  The GOODNIGHT, ARK story time will take place next Tuesday, July 19th at 10:30 in the Children’s Room of the Berkeley Heights Public Library. Please join us if you can.