Happy Friday, friends! Bunny and I have five fun things to share with you this week. First, if you live in the Bedminster, NJ area, I invite you to join me at Pluckemin Presbyterian’s annual Eggstravaganza taking place this Sunday, April 10th from 11:15 – 1 pm. Here are the details. No registration required. There will be copies of BUNNY FINDS EASTER on hand for purchase. Cash or check only.
Next, here are two interviews you might enjoy. The first is over at Read,Discuss, DO! where I chat with Mindy Baker about the inspiration behind the book, the board book format, book-themed activities and more. The second is a feature article that appeared this week in my town’s TapInto news outlet. This the one to read to get the inside scoop on what the journey to publication in the picture book world has been like (at least for me).
Fourth, I am the guest author today over at StoryJumpers, a bi-weekly Christian podcast that features a children’s book read by the author and an interview with the author. The podcast airs today, April 8th, 2022 over at The Bridge Podcast Network, part of The Bridge, a community supported, non-commercial Christian radio station serving Delaware, South Jersey, parts of Maryland and beyond. Here’s the link to the BUNNY FINDS EASTER episode.
Finally, just in case you missed it, I thought you’d like to see the Easter bonnet I created, with the help of my daughter, to wear to all my visits. It’s getting a lot of smiles because I look so silly, er I mean, beautiful wearing it! It’s just like Bunny’s from the book. What do you think? (This is from one of my zoom visits this Easter season.)
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/
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
HAPPY MONDAY! In celebration of BUNNY FINDS EASTER’s release, Zonderkidz has created several colorful memes which capture the essence of the story. Over the course of the next few weeks, you’ll see them pop up here and there. Here’s the first. Isn’t it darling?
Happy Friday, friends. I have two fun items to share today in this little BUNNY FINDS EASTER Bunny Hop round up.
First, yesterday I picked up the framed piece (pictured above) from The Artist Framer, a gem of a local frame shop in my neck of the woods. Stefanie has framed spreads from each of my six children’s books and those framed illustrations now hang in my foyer. This one is a little different however. It was Stefanie’s idea to include both the cover and an interior spread from my new board book! So sweet. What do you think?
Second, the BUNNY FINDS EASTER “Bunny Hop”, as I am calling it, continues this week with a stop at author Darlene Beck Jacobson’s blog where I am answering her question: “How did you come to tell the story in such a simple and wonderful way?” (Thank you, Darlene!) She’s also running a giveaway for one free copy of the book so hop on over. I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the link:
And be sure to download out the free printable activity kit that goes with book- perfect for extending the book fun with coloring pages, a maze and more!
Many churches and children’s ministry teams are planning for Easter celebrations and community outreach events, so today I thought I’d share a fun way to use BUNNY FINDS EASTER (Zonderkidz, 2022) with your church or in your community by having a Book Walk!
This fun intergenerational activity has the feel of an Easter Egg Hunt – and can even include jelly beans and other goodies – but the “hunt” is walking along a trail (outside or inside) to discover progressive spreads of the story BUNNY FINDS EASTER mounted on boards culminating in a craft or activity table at the end of the walk.
Find all the details below in this free downloadable instruction sheet.
Happy Easter! And if you do end up doing a BUNNY FINDS EASTER Book Walk be sure to tag me. I’d love to see it in action!
In exactly four weeks from tomorrow, my newest Zonderkidz title, BUNNY FINDS EASTER, will release. And a few days ago, it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t yet have a story telling companion to help me at school visits and other events. This is a problem because I have special helpers for all my books. Most have been puppets that I purchased and embellished so they had a specific bookish flair. But then, a few years ago in a tremendous act of kindness, a lovely woman named Stacy Currie, who was the church children’s ministry director at one of the churches I visited with LOVE IS KIND, surprised me by handcrafting a Little Owl puppet that looks exactly like Little Owl.
Her puppet has been a big hit at visits and it has inspired me to try for the first time to hand-craft the puppet for this newest book, BUNNY FINDS EASTER.
And now, without further fuss, let me introduce you to BUNNY, inspired both by illustrator Ela Jarzabek’s delightful depiction of the little rabbit and by Stacy Currie’s puppet-making technique using felt and glue, and in my case, pencil rather than crayons. I also added a ribbon – repurposed from a festive holiday package.
After the glue dried, Bunny and I enjoyed chatting for a bit and my daughter took the lovely picture featured above. Bunny and I are both very excited at the prospect of doing oodles of school visits between release day (February 1) and Easter! Interested in a visit? Reach out to me using the contact tab above and we’ll set something up.
Also, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post with details for you can arrange for a FREE mini-visit from us!
Have you been through dark seasons in your life? Perhaps a season of illness or joblessness. Perhaps a season of infertility or loneliness or grief in the death of a loved one. I’ve been through several, but something stands out with each. Looking back, I can see how God has used each one for good – in that each has provided a connection point to come alongside others as they go through similar situations.
And I am so grateful and in awe, really, at how this Christmas season, God took the dark season of our time the NICU with our son and turned it into a special connection point so that He could bless others and reveal His presence through a book drive organized by Praying through Ministries in which copies of GOODNIGHT MANGER were delivered to NICU and PICU families across the nation, including 15 at the very NICU my son was in 21 years ago. My role as author and former NICU mama was to hand write a note of encouragement to accompany each book (and if you’ve read my other posts about this, you know I had helpers because that’s a lot of notes!). And indeed, each book, arrived at its destination with a note.
Wanting to reach even more families with a message of God’s love and hope in the midst of the difficult, Praying through Ministries founder Jessika Sanders hosted a special culminating Facebook Live event that took place on Little Christmas Eve (December 23rd) and included words of encouragement from both of us along with a reading of GOODNIGHT, MANGER.
If you have been following along with me on Instagram or Facebook, then you may have seen the special “Christmas in the NICU” book blessing (with Goodnight Manger as the book) that I have been so honored and amazed to be a part of. Read here to learn how, at God’s prompting, it grew from 15 to just over 770 books.
Here are a few pictures from along the way:
Now all these the books and notes have either been delivered (or are being delivered this week) to multiple NICUs and PICUs across nine states and will be given to families who find themselves with little ones in the intensive care over Christmas.
As a NICU mama myself — my 24-week, 1 lb 9 oz preemie is now in college — my heart goes out to the 770+ families who will be receiving the books and notes. It is, most certainly, a dark and scary time. But there is hope… and light… and LOVE to be found in our Lord God. He is the Great Comforter and what better time to celebrate that than at Christmas.
With all this in mind, founder Jessika Sanders has added an extra layer of blessing. This Thursday, December 23rd at 7pm Eastern on the Praying Through Ministries Facebook page, we will be having a special Facebook LIIVE “Christmas in the NICU” Reading. Jessika and I will be there together to share some Christmas love with families — current and past — who have journeyed through the NICU or PICU with their precious ones or who are in the midst of the journey now. I hope you will join us.
Today I am delighted to welcome back beloved children’s book author Glenys Nellist. Glenys has two new books out just in time for the Christmas season. One is a bible story book called I WONDER: EXPLORING GOD’S GRAND STORY. It includes thirty vivid retellings with three “I wonder” questions at the conclusion of each. The other is an advent devotional for families called ‘TWAS THE SEASON OF ADVENT: STORIES AND DEVOTIONS FOR THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. It is comprised of 25 readings, stories and prayers. Published by Zonderkidz, both are wonderful and my mind is already abuzz with ideas for how I can incorporate them into my role as Sunday school teacher as well as using them for our family advent readings this December.
Now enjoy a special guest post from Glenys as she shares some ideas for family activities around the Christmas tree. Zonderkidz isalso offering a copy of each book in a giveaway so be sure to read about that at the end of the post. And now, without further fuss, here’s Glenys:
Five Family Activities Around the Christmas Tree
by Glenys Nellist
The season of Advent is a wonderful time to make memories and establish family traditions with our children. Set aside some time each night to gather around the Christmas tree and enjoy these activities together.
Celebrate Advent: Begin a new family tradition from Dec 1-Dec 25 by reading one story per day from Twas the Season of Advent. Countdown to Christmas using the family activities and the 25 free, downloadable Advent images available here.
Favorite Ornament: Have everyone choose a favorite ornament from the tree. Take turns telling each other why you chose that one.
Wondering About the Birth of Jesus: Download your free coloring sheet of the birth of Jesus from the I Wonder Coloring Pack. If you have a copy of the book, read the Christmas story together, or simply talk about what you see in the pictures. Spend some time talking about the three I Wonder questions. Then color the picture together.
Light of The World: Turn off all the lights in the room except the lights on the Christmas tree. Sit quietly for a few minutes as you think and talk about how Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus said that we should let our light shine. Brainstorm how you could be a light in your family or neighborhood this Christmas.
Favorite Memories: Take turns sharing your favorite memories of the past year. Now write about (or draw) them. Put each in its own envelope or a special box and save them. Next year, open and read them around the tree.
Thank you, Glenys, for sharing these terrific ideas.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!
If you’d like a chance to win a FREE two-book bundle that includes one copy each of TWAS THE SEASON OF ADVENT and I WONDER: EXPLORING GOD’S GRAND STORY both written by Glenys Nellist and published by Zonderkidz let me know in a comment below. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident with a street address (as opposed to a P.O. Box and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway ends Monday 11/22/21 at 11:59 pm Eastern. The winner will be announced the next day.
[Note: Thank you to Zonderkidz for sending me an advanced copy of each of these books 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.]
This past August, I invited you to join me in what I’m calling the Snail Mail Blessings Challenge to write and send one hand-written note to someone each week. I had the idea because in this age of instant texts and emails, I’ve been missing the special connection of a different kind of correspondence – the old-fashioned hand-written note.
Well, I’m realizing God also was preparing my heart (and hand) for something special because about a month ago I received lovely note from a woman named Jessika Sanders who has a ministry called “Praying through the NICU” which supports families in the NICU through prayer and other forms of encouragement.
Here’s her note:
Hi Laura! I just had an idea come to me and I wonder if it is from the Holy Spirit! We were in the NICU with our son on Christmas 2 years ago. It was so hard. The kindness of a stranger gifting us a baby toy touched our hearts—especially because it was the one toy I hadn’t gotten our son but had wanted to. ❤️
This year I was thinking of doing something special for our local NICU as well as some of the families in our online community that find themselves in the hospital for the holiday. I would love to gift them a Christmas book to read to their baby. My first thought was your “Goodnight Manger” board book. ❤️ Would you prayerfully consider being a part of this somehow? I know you are a NICU mom and your book is a beautiful blessing. Would you pray about it and get back to me? ❤️ God bless you!
I am indeed a NICU mom. Our son, who is now in college, was born 16 weeks early and spent 105 days in the NICU. And those days were so difficult — facing the unknown, wondering if he would be okay and what the future might hold.
But just as Jessika experienced, during that time, God used strangers to comfort us with words of encouragement and prayer. A teenager and former preemie came to visit the NICU one day, stopping at each isolette and serving as testament to God’s presence and mercy. A monastery of complete strangers prayed for us. A quilting guild of women I didn’t even know, not only prayed, but made a quilt that we still use. Three beautiful examples of strangers reaching out with God’s love in the midst of the difficult.
So, of course, I said, yes. And what would my special role be? Writing a note of encouragement for each book donated.
I also said I would donate three books and my wonderful publisher, Zonderkidz donated 12 more. Jessika was thrilled and she said could match our fifteen with fifteen of her own. And we were on our way. She also mentioned that she and her team would have a book drive and so the totals might be a little bigger. Maybe 75? Would that be okay, she asked. Of course, I said. I would write as many notes as needed.
Well, God has knocked my socks off! The number of copies of GOODNIGHT MANGER that have been generously purchased by kind-hearted souls eager to bless those babies and their families is now approaching 450!
And in the kindness begets kindness department, and because 450+ notes of encouragement is a lot of notes to hand-copy, I have been blessed with a team of friends and family who have offered to pitch in with the letter writing – leaving a space for me to sign. These include:
an 84 year old former preschool teacher
my sister and her two kids, ages 10 and 13,
a dear friend who I’ve known for ages (who has beautiful penmanship!)
a wonderful friend who is also a NICU mom and was one of the first strangers to reach out to me with encouragement and prayer when our son was first born. (That’s how I met her!)
a new friend who just loves and idea and wants to pitch in
a lovely steward of a local Little Free Library who I met when I dropped a copy of LOVE IS KIND off there last year. We have become friends and she is a NICU mom and is eager to pitch in a big way
and I have a feeling more will join the team in the coming weeks.
I will send the hand-written, signed notes to Jessika. She will then distribute them to her team to be packaged with the books that have been donated. And it’s not just for a couple of NICUs. Her team is comprised of wonderful NICU mamas who have blessed by Jessika Sanders “Praying through the NICU” ministry. They are the ones who will hand deliver the packages to their respective NICUs in at least four states that span the nation!