TIME TO BAKE: FIVE tips for PAIRING PICTURE BOOKS with TASTY TREATS.

Little Owl and I want to share with you something special that illustrator Lison Chaperon created to go with our book LOVE IS KIND – a muffin recipe with adorable muffin toppers! In addition to being absolutely delicious, this LOVE IS KIND-inspired baking activity has gotten me thinking about how wonderful it is when we pair picture books with a tasty book-themed treat. 

In doing so, not only are we giving our kids the opportunity to learn some baking/cooking skills, we are helping them to connect to the story in a new and fun way.  As we nibble and chat about the book, we’re also instilling in them a framework to talk about the stories we read and an opportunity to think about how picture books relate to our lives and the world. Finally, we’re fostering good critical thinking skills as we converse with our little ones about what treat would be best paired with a particular picture book.

With all this in mind, here are FIVE TIPS for PAIRING PICTURE BOOKS with TASTY TREATS.  Enjoy!

TIP #1: Pick any picture book (Better yet, let your child pick the book.)

TIP #2: Pre-read the story so you can gather your ingredients. Once you’ve selected your picture book, take a few minutes a day or two ahead of time so that you can anticipate what types of treats you and your child might want to create to pair with the story.  This way you can be sure to have the ingredients in stock for a seamless and tasty brainstorming to baking to eating experience. 

TIP #3 As you read with your child, ponder the treat-making possibilities.It’s most beneficial (and engaging) to your budding critical thinkers if you include them in the process of deciding what book-themed treat to create, though it’s perfectly acceptable, in my opinion, to gently lead them towards the ingredients you have on hand (see step two). As you are pondering, the treat might be obvious. For example, in my third book DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE, Fernando the mouse loves gumdrops, popcorn, and cheese on try toast, so those would be obvious picks. 

But…

TIP #4: Sometimes you will have to be creative!  Some picture books, however, won’t have such obvious choices. My recommendation, in these instances, is to pick a character or a defining element of the story and create a treat inspired by that.  For example, on her blog, Easy Elegant Entertaining™, trained chef and cookbook author (and mom to an adorable young budding reader) used the concept of tails in GOODNIGHT, ARK to create an adorable book-themed treat.

You can also create character-based cookies for almost any book, as my daughter did for DIVA DELORES and GOODNIGHT, ARK.

TIP #5: Have fun!  (Need I say more?)  

And if you are interested in the link to the LOVE IS KIND muffin recipe with adorable muffin toppers, here it is.  

A version of this post previously appeared on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog with a lovely review.  You can review that here, if interested.

Happy Reading and Treating!

And the winner of EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO is…

I’m delighted to announce that the winner of last week’s special giveaway,  a brand new copy of EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO (Vida Editorial, 2019) written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by Lison Chaperon is…

Pamela H!!

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

Thank everyone who took the time to comment. Happy reading and writing, and keep spreading love and kindness!

And the Winner of LITTLE MOLE FINDS HOPE is…

I’m delighted to announce that the winner of last week’s special giveaway,  a brand new copy of LITTLE MOLE FINDS HOPE is…

Debbie A!!

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

Thank everyone who took the time to comment. And thank you to Glenys for writing the book and to Beaming Books for publishing it and providing today’s winning copy. Happy reading and writing, and remember that signs of hope are everywhere. Blessings all!

And the winner of EASTER EGG DAY is…

I’m delighted to announce that the winner of last week’s special giveaway,  a brand new copy of EASTER EGG DAY (Zonderkidz, 2020) written by Tara Knudson and illustrated by Pauline Stewart is…

Lauralee H!!

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

Thank everyone who took the time to comment. Happy reading and writing, and Happy Spring!

Cover Reveal – LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP

Guess what? I have a new picture coming out in 2020 with Beaming Books!  LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP is scheduled to release November 17, 2020, just in time for the holidays.

Here’s the scoop from Beaming Books:

Little Ewe would rather jump on logs and investigate spider webs than follow the shepherd when he calls. But what happens when she gets lost? How will she find her way home? Told in whimsical rhyme, this humorous counting book for our littlest ones is a delightful reminder that, like a loving parent, our Shepherd will find us and care for us, even when we wander from the path.

In Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep, award-winning author Laura Sassi and illustrator Tommy Doyle tell an endearing tale of a distracted sheep and her persistent shepherd, inspired by the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15.”

Thank you, Beaming Books, for publishing this next picture book. And now for the moment you (or at least I) have been waiting for… the COVER REVEAL! Thank you, Chirping Moms for hosting. The cover reveal plus an interview (and maybe even a sneak peek at an interior spread!) can be found by pressing here.

Happy Peeking!

SURPRISE MAIL: A Thank You Note from Australia (and a FREE SKYPE Invitation for YOU!)

There’s nothing quite as special as getting a surprise package in the mail – especially one that’s postmarked Australia! I knew immediately who the special parcel was from – lovely group of third grade girls and their teacher who were interested in learning the ins-and-outs of writing! Their teacher, Ms. Barry, had reached out to me in June to see if we could Skype. As it turned out, we were too far from each other to get a reliable internet connection, so instead I sent them a short video introduction with an invitation to ask me questions via email. They took me up on my invitation to ask questions and I answered each and every one. You can see my post about that here.

What fun it was, then, to receive this lovely thank you note from the girls, along with two darling koala bear stuffies. Their kind words brought me such joy that I thought you might enjoy seeing the note, too, along with my video thank you to them.

My video “thank you” note to them:

Now, in celebration of spreading my love of reading and writing with the next generation, HERE’S MY INVITATION: This wonderful visit happened because a teacher reached out to me via the contact tab in the banner above. I LOVE connecting in special ways like this. And I’d like to extend the invitation now to teachers near and far. So, in celebration of books and words, I’m offering FIVE free 2O minute Skype sessions with classes and/or homeschool co-ops. We can tailor the visit to your needs, but typically it includes me reading one of my books, talking a wee bit about how I wrote it, followed by a Q & A , which, in my humble opinion is the best part because it allows the children to interact with a real-live author! If this interests you, please reach out by using the contact tab (in the “about” section) and we’ll get something on the calendar!

Happy reading and writing, all! Laura

PUBLISHING MILESTONES: Celebrating the Journey in Special Ways

What do you do to celebrate special milestones in your publishing journey?  Do you clink a glass of sparkly for each book or magazine piece that comes out? Do you bake thematic cookies?  Do you go out for a special dinner with your family or friends? 

I, for one, like any excuse for celebration, and while I’m not big on champagne, I have, over the years, developed several fun ways of celebrating the publication of my work – which I view as part of my legacy that I am passing on to my children. 

First, since the publication of my very first magazine piece in 1999, I have kept a binder of my magazine clips.  The binder is so thick now that I’ve now started a second.  The binders are loosely organized by alphabet and genre and date of publication and each clip is preserved in an acid-free sleeve.  Over the years, I’ve enjoyed browsing through the binders with my children and at school visits. It’s fun to see how far my writing has come since I first embarked on the journey over 20 years ago.

If you follow me on social media, you will also know that my daughter loves to celebrate my book releases by creating her own beautiful art in the form of painted ceramics, cookies and even appliqué!  And her creations make my heart sing and the non-edible ones have become part of our home decor!  Thank you, Miss A.!

Finally, for each book that has released, as well as for a couple of favorite published poems, I’ve created a little framed gallery.  So far, the gallery contains three framed poems and framed hangings of spreads from my first two picture books. 

In the busy-ness of the past year, I got a a bit behind in my framing, but am delighted to share that over the December break my dad and I finally got to my favorite frame shop, The Artist Framer in Cranford, NJ to update the gallery with framed spreads from my two most recent books, DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE and LOVE IS KIND. Here are some snapshots of the delightful morning we spent picking out matte and frames.  Thank you, Dad, for the gift of the framed art. Thank you, Stephanie, for your artistic expertise in picking out just the right combination to compliment each spread. Thank you to my publishers, Zonderkidz and Sterling Children’s Books for taking on the projects. And finally, thank you to my illustrators – Rebecca Gerlings and Lison Chaperon for working their artistic magic across the pages of these two most recent books! 

I can’t wait to bring these new framed pieces home so I can add them to my gallery.  

What you do to celebrate your publishing milestones? I’d love to hear.  Happy creating, all!

GOOD NEWS: New Picture Book Deal!

I’ve been keeping this to myself for a little while, but the announcement ran in Publishers Weekly yesterday, so I think I can finally let out exuberant, “Baa-aaah!”

Thank you, Beaming Books, for taking on this project, one of my favorites. I can’t wait for you all to meet Little Ewe and share in her adventures as she counts her way farther and farther from Shepherd. You won’t have to wait too, too long. The book releases in November 2020!

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!

And the winner is…

I’m delighted to announce that the winner of last week’s special giveaway, a brand new copy of Shari Barr’s newest book with Barbour, “Camp Club Girls: McKenzie” is…

Sara M.!!!!!

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

Thanks again, Shari, for stopping by to share your inspiring experiences with writing in assignment and for providing the winning copy.  Happy reading, all!

SPECIAL TREAT: Inspiring Young Writers… in Australia!

SO SPECIAL! A lovely 3rd grade teacher from Australia reached out to me because her students are writing their own stories and she thought it would be special if they could meet an author and ask questions about writing. We tried to make it “live” but couldn’t get a good connection, so instead I sent them a short video introducing myself and welcoming them to ask me questions via email. On Friday, Ireceived their questions and they are WONDERFUL and I thought you might enjoy reading a few of them. I’m also including a short excerpt from my video chat with them. What a marvelous use of technology and the former teacher in me LOVED sharing my joy of writing with the next adorable generation “down under”!

First, the video clip:

Now a picture from their end along with the sweet thank you notes they penned on the class white board:

Finally, three of their amazing questions, along with my responses. (There were 26 in all.)

How does it feel being an author? (Lauren)

It takes a lot of discipline and you have to have thick skin because it takes a lot of rejections before a story is accepted by a publisher. All that hard work feels good, though. Plus, it’s a chance to see the world through writer’s eyes and that brings me joy.  I love being an author.

 Are any of the characters in your books describe you or a family member? (Ava)

I would say that the characters or, more typically, the events in my stories often describe things that have happened in our family. For example, the scene in LOVE IS KIND where the tooth fairy has forgotten to come was inspired by a very traumatic situation in our house when the tooth fairy forgot to come as well. Don’t worry, though, because in both the story and in real life, it all worked out in the end.

Were you shy about the idea of other people reading your stories and books? (Taleeya)

I was a bit at first – especially when the first reviews of the books came out! Now, though, I treasure the idea of children and their parents enjoying my books at story time. They were a joy to write I hope they bring joy to others who read them.

(And the other 23 questions were just as thoughtful. Well done, girls!)

HAPPY READING AND WRITING, ALL!