Created by picture book author Rebecca J. Gomez, Read, Discuss, Do! is a reading website designed to help children and their caregivers extend the magic of story time beyond the last page by following three simple steps:
Oh my, but do we have a special treat for you today. It’s an interview. And who is our guest? It’s Little Mole, the darling protagonist in Glenys Nellist’s newest book LITTLE MOLE GOES TO SCHOOL (Beaming Books, Fall, 2022) When I received my advanced reader’s copy a few weeks ago, I fell in love with Glenys’ sweet story about Little Mole, who is nervous about starting school for the first time. Will he like his teacher? Will he make friends? Will he be able to learn? My Little Owl worries about these things, too, so we read the story together. And guess what? Little Mole in the story (and my Little Owl, too) discover that school is a marvelous place where we all have special roles to play and gifts to offer. Little Owl loved the book so much that he asked if instead of having me interview Glenys, as I would normally do, he could interview Little Mole instead. So that’s what we’ve done! Take it away, Little Owl and Little Mole!
Little Owl: Hoot, hoot, welcome Little Mole. I’m so excited to meet you, but I have a confession to make. Just thinking about back-to-school makes my feathers tremble. How did you feel when you first learned you were going to be in book about going to school?
Little Mole: Hi Little Owl! I’m excited to meet you too! When I found out I would be starring in Little Mole Goes to School it was a whole big mixture of excitement and anxiety! I mean, I was thrilled to be in a book, but starting school is a big deal, and I was pretty nervous about lots of things. What if I was the last to know my alphabet? What if I wasn’t good at anything? What if I had a bad first day? (But I didn’t!)
Little Owl: I love everything about your story, Little Mole. Did you have a favorite a-ha moment in creating it with your author, Glenys?
Little Mole: Well, when she first wrote the story, we didn’t know what the title should be. Our ideas at first were: Little Mole Saves the Day, Little Mole to the Rescue, or Little Mole is a Hero! But the a-ha moment came when we realized it should simply be called, Little Mole Goes to School. Back-to-school books are always popular (and we hope ours will be too!)
Little Owl: The woodland world your illustrator, Sally Garland, made for you, is so fun looking. I just want do dive in and become part of the story. Do you have a favorite scene? Why is it your favorite?
Little Mole: Sally Garland is amazing, isn’t she, and she really brought me to life! My favorite illustration might be the one at the end of the book where I’m standing with Little Lark. In the story, I meet three new friends and we all use what we’re good at to help each other. (I won’t tell you what happened, in case you haven’t read it yet, but I felt so good about myself… as you can tell by looking at my little face!)
Little Owl: There might be a lot of other little owls and moles and mice and, oh all sorts of littles, who might be a little scared about going back to school. How might your book help?
Little Mole: Well, I hope that my story will help anyone out there who might have their own ‘what ifs’ about going back to school. And also, in the back of the book, you’ll find five great tips to help a child who’s feeling anxious about starting school written by a child and family therapist. I’m pretty sure they’ll be helpful, too.There’s even an activity pack full of helpful and fun activities.
Little Owl: Thank you, Little Mole, for joining me today. Where can I ask Grammy (and anyone else who might want it) to get your book?
Little Mole: Grammy can buy my book at her favorite bookstore, at Amazon, or wherever good books are sold. I do hope she loves it!
Little Mole was born and raised in the imagination of author Glenys Nellist and brought to life by the pen of illustrator Sally Garland. He is the star of three popular picture books, including Little Mole Finds Hope, Little Mole’s Christmas Gift, and his most recent release, Little Mole Goes to School. When he’s not digging for worms, Little Mole enjoys playing with his friends at Woodland School. He is looking forward to starring in his fourth picture book entitled Little Mole Gives Thanks, publishing August 2023 from Beaming Books.
Little Owl is the sweet protagonist in Laura Sassi’s LOVE IS KIND, published by Zonderkidz. He loves adventure, chocolate, and making new friends. This is his first time interviewing a guest for the blog.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!! If you’d like a chance to win a fresh off the press copy of LITTLE MOLE GOES TO SCHOOL (Beaming Books, 2022) follow this blog and leave a comment letting us know. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) Thank you, Beaming Books, for providing the winning book. This giveaway ends Thursday, 9/1/22 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced the next day.
[Note: Thank you, Beaming Books, for sending me a copy of 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.Also, if you enjoyed this post, please consider following my blog. I post once or twice weekly. Posts are devoted to celebrating reading, writing and life!]
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, if you live in the metropolitan NY/NJ area, I invite you to stop in at Perwinkles Gift Shop in Cranford, NJ, tomorrow March 26th from 1 – 3. Owner, Elaine, will have a broad selection of my books on hand, including BUNNY FINDS EASTER! Let’s help her sell them all. Details in image.
Second, be sure to check out Sally Matheny’s review of BUNNY FINDS EASTER. Her reviews are always so thoughtful. Here’s the link . While you are there, I hope you will enjoy exploring her many other reviews as well.
Third, I was honored to be featured in writer (and former English teacher) Joyce McCullough’s Spring 2022 Newsletter with an in-depth interview. Thank you, Joyce. Here’s the link.
Finally, earlier this week I had the pleasure of getting to chat with Christian children’s author, Christie Thomas about books and other fun things including, BUNNY FINDS EASTER. Here’s the link for that:
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
Tune in this Thursday, March 10, 2022 at 12:12 eastern on Instagram for my first Instagram LIVE interview. I’ll be joining Valerie Ellis, host and founder of Our Everyday Parables, a blog dedicated to “inspiring families to faith and compassion through everyday moments and excellent books”.
The interview will include questions from listeners, so if you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask about any of my books or about using books to foster faith in our little ones and want it answered on Instagram LIVE (squee!) please let me know in a comment here and I will share it with Valerie. You can also DM her with questions on the Our Everyday Parables instagram page. You can also type your question in during the interview.
If you want to come, I highly recommend popping over to her Insta page and signing up for the reminder. It’s easy and then Instagram will remind you to come! Neat, huh? I signed up so I won’t forget to come either. LOL.
Oh, and there will be a multi-book giveaway too. This image gives a clue as to which four books will be included in that. I hope you can make it.
Blessings all! And remember to leave your question. Any that aren’t answered at the interview, I will put in queue to incorporate into future blog posts!
One morning this fall, in anticipation of Christmas, I prayed that God would use my Christmas picture book GOODNIGHT, MANGER to bless others and point them to Him in a special way. I made a list of possibilities: preschool visits, a Christmas Women’s program, a virtual story time. These were all things I had done in the past. But God… Don’t you love that phrase? God had something bigger in mind and He placed that idea in the heart of a woman named Jessika Sanders, founder of Praying through Ministries. The idea was to bless families who found themselves with little ones in the NICU and PICU over Christmas with a copy of GOODNIGHT, MANGER.
Following God’s prompting, Jessika reached out to me. Sensing this might be God’s special plan, I said yes, and that I wanted to write notes of encouragement to accompany each book given because my precious son, now 21, had once been a baby in the NICU as well. Then, wow, with the help of generous souls across the country who donated the books, God grew that blessing to an amazing 771 books given to families in multiple NICUs and PICUs across sixteen states. We were even in the news.
And now I have a special treat you – an interview with Praying Through Ministries’ founder and president, Jessika Sanders. The story of how her ministry came to be is amazing and I know you will be blessed. So, grab a cup of coffee and join us as we chat with my questions in bold.
Thank you for joining me here, today, Jessika. Like me you are a NICU mama. Can you tell us a little bit about that story and how it led you to start this ministry?
Absolutely. Unlike the vast majority of NICU moms, my son was not born premature. He was born at exactly 42-weeks. Like I had with my second child, I went a very natural route with my pregnancy. I had the same midwife and opted out of all ultrasounds. I had my third natural birth, and my second at-home water birth. Nothing seemed all that out of the ordinary other than my belly shrinking in size the last month, but I attributed it to my son dropping and my getting ready to deliver.
When our son arrived, the rush of hormones had my head in the clouds. I didn’t realize anything was wrong until they weighed Ezra and a few words broke the heavy silence in the room while simultaneously breaking our hearts. “4 lbs 14 oz.” I could almost feel my heart drop. Something was wrong. I looked across the room at my husband and saw the fear and anguish on his face.
To give you some background, I had experienced a lot of spiritual warfare during my 3rd trimester. I couldn’t get rid of a nagging feeling that something was wrong. It wasn’t Godly intuition but rather the voice of the enemy. I know this because it instilled fear, a fear that threatened to consume me. Down Syndrome. Genetic defects. Death. Still birth. Critically ill. I remember fighting with scripture. Each time a negative thought would come to mind, I would take it captive and speak truth over myself and the baby growing in my womb. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Chosen. His. A purpose and a plan. Just three weeks before my son’s arrival, I had a really powerful encounter with God, one in which I heard His voice so clear it felt almost audible. His directions were simple—read through the book of Psalms, circle the passages He told me to circle, and faithfully pray them until He told me to stop. When I gave birth to my son I assumed the battle was over, but when we learned of his extremely low birth weight, I knew that was far from the truth. Thirty-six hours after he was born, we called an ambulance when he seized in our arms and so began the beginning of our 37-day NICU stay.
I’ll never forget the complex range of emotions I experienced while in the NICU with Ezra. Fear. Shock. Worry. Guilt. Uncertainty. Helplessness. I remember my sole and utter dependence on the Lord and crying out to Him in wordless groans. I wanted to pray continuously but I felt frozen, paralyzed by my circumstances. I sang worship songs and I prayed God’s Word back to Him—literally reading those verses He had me circle a month previously.
And one day, as I looked around me in the hospital lounge, at the front desk, and through the corridors and into the rooms of others—I was met with pained, worried faces. My heart ached with these women and men, but as my eyes met theirs, I managed a meek smile that I hoped would warm their hearts and show them I saw them and I understood. As I rested in God’s shelter, my pain seemed to diminish. But as mine lessened, I became heightened to the pain of those around me. I wondered to myself “How does anyone do this without Jesus?” This is when our NICU stay began to change course. Suited up in His Word and forever clinging to His character and His promises, I began to reach out to help those around me. I began talking with mothers at the sign-in desk, in the lounge, and in the Ronald McDonald House. I asked about their babies and how I could pray for them. I wrote down their names and their requests. I see now that this was the beginning of Praying Through ministries. God was slowly preparing me for what was to come.
Oh, Jessika, what an amazing story of God’s love sustaining you and your family through one of life’s most difficult situations and then, wow, God’s love flowing through you to others. I’m glad that each step of the way you listened to God’s promptings and what a precious reminder to us all of the comfort and power in that.
What are some of the ways your ministry reaches out to and blesses families journeying through the NICU, PICU and child loss?
The mission of Praying Through ministries is to equip and embolden men, women, and children with Biblical hope and encouragement as they journey through the difficult seasons of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Pediatric ICU, and Child loss. We provide Biblical support through our Christ-centered online communities (Facebook), through virtual events, and through outreach care packages.
While the obvious way we bless families is through our outreach care packages filled with personalized notes, artistic keepsakes, and carefully curated books, we are often told just how much our online communities mean to our members. It’s not uncommon for us to hear things like, “When I felt too paralyzed to pray, the Prayer Team and group members lifted me in prayer and provided words that I could pray myself.” I know that this especially blesses my heart because in addition to God doing this very thing for me with His Word, I also had one friend in particular who would periodically send me written prayers, too. Our communities are God-honoring groups where true friendships are cultivated. There is no condemnation, just a supportive group of individuals helping each other to keep their eyes fixed on Christ—even through trials and suffering.
Our ministry is also in the process of creating virtual resources and events to reach the families we serve. Because our outreach care packages are shipped within the United States, and we have members in Canada, England, Ireland, South Africa, and Australia, virtual resources and events will allow us to bless families regardless of their country of residence. Our first virtual event was actually our “Christmas in the NICU” Live Author Reading with you, Laura!
Everything your ministry is doing amazing and so honored and humbled to have been chosen to participate in that with you. It made my Christmas… that and all the notes and books we were able to send thanks to the donations of so many.
And I’ve been delighted to discover that you are also a writer. How does that fit in with your mission?
Yes, I am. I remember prior to Ezra, I felt like God had already given me plenty to write about what with a broken childhood, the divorce that led me to my salvation, and forgiveness. But when I was carrying Ezra, I just had this feeling that God was about to give me even more material. I never would have dreamed it would have been NICU and PICU stays with multiple close calls of almost losing him, yet that’s where He called us. With regard to how I feel my writing will fit in with our ministry’s mission, I believe there are real holes and felt needs within the audience our ministry serves. I am believing God will use me to create much-needed, faith-based resources for NICU families and resources specifically for bereaved fathers.
And those will be a blessing. I can’t wait to see where God takes you on that front. Finally, I know many of my readers will be moved by your ministry. How can they be involved?
Thank you so much for asking, Laura. Our ministry is fully funded by the generous donations of others. We are always in need of financial donations for the daily running of our ministry—fees for our website, communication platforms, and for creating marketing materials found in our care packages. We also always humbly accept any of the items from our Amazon Wish List. These are the books that make up our care packages. Generous donors can purchase them and have them sent to us directly—doing so helps cut out the turnaround time for packages to get sent out in a timely manner. To get involved in either of these ways, you can visit our the “Support Us” tab of our website.
For anyone who has experienced the NICU, PICU, or Child Loss—no matter how long ago it may have been, there is always room and an invitation for you to serve within the ministry. We can never have too many Prayer Team members for our online, Christ-centered communities on Facebook. We are also looking to fill a few of our Board Member positions for those who have experience with accounting, social media, and marketing. To learn more about these opportunities you can visit our website under the “About Us” tab.
And lastly, you can be involved by helping us be known! We would love for you to share our ministry with others. Whether it be sharing one on one with someone who is being impacted by the NICU, PICU, or Child Loss or sharing collaborative opportunities with your church team or local hospital, we would greatly appreciate your efforts to share our ministry within your sphere.
Laura, I cannot thank you enough for your love offering with our first annual “Christmas in the NICU” Book Drive. With your compassion and care, you have set the bar extremely high. It was an absolute honor to work alongside you and your precious group of friends to pull off such an incredible event. I look forward to seeing what God does next year!
Amen! Thank you, Lord, for using us to serve others this special way. And thank you, Jessika, for following God’s call. You are an inspiration to all.
HAPPY OCTOBER! In the fun category, I’m Guest Guru at Rate Your Story for the month of October. Check out the interview and learn more about this resource for picture book writers. As part of my special duties, I’ll be rating four stories over the course of the month. So honored to be participating in this way, helping others along this journey. I hope you’ll pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee or tea and pop over for a read. I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the link to the interview.
Little Ewe and I leaped into spring with great joy this week. After what seemed like a long winter, how wonderful it has been these past few days to hear the birds chirping at dawn, to see daffodils and crocuses, and to have four wonderful book sharing opportunities! Here’s a round up and I hope you grab a cup of tea and doing a little jumping from meadow to meadow, er, I mean blog to blog, with me and enjoy what each stop has to offer.
Meadow #1: GARDEN AUTHOR VISIT! On Tuesday I had my first in-person school visit in over a year at Calvary Nursery School and Child Care. The visit took place outdoors at a good social distance and everyone was wearing masks. The children were great listeners and empathized greatly with Little Ewe during her time of being lost. Everyone was relieved when Shepherd found her and it sparked great discussion over times they have been lost and how wonderful it felt to be found. It was the highlight of my week. Here’s a collage that captures the morning:
Meadow #2: INTERVIEW! On Wednesday, Little Ewe and were invited to Pastor Noelle Kirchner’s blog. Noelle is a TV host, pastor, writer, and mother of three boys. She’s also the author of an amazing bible study which I featured on my blog last fall. In my interview with Noelle this week, I answered questions such as “What inspired me to write LITTLE EWE?” and “Do I have a favorite tradition for celebrating Easter with my family?” I also shared several picture books have I found that successfully point children to God. I hope you hop on over to find the answers. Here’s the link. =)
Meadow #3: GUEST POST: FIVE SIMPLE STEPSFOR USING PICTURE BOOKS TO POINT LITTLE ONES TO GOD. A big thank you to blogger, writer, and speaker Sally Matheny for hosting me on her blog this week as I shared a topic close to my heart: using picture books to spark meaningful faith conversations with our little ones. Earlier this month she also reviewed LITTLE EWE. You can find the review here and the guest post here.
Meadow #4: REVIEW! 12 Things to Love About Laura Sassi’s LITTLE EWE Last, but not least, leap on over to picture book author Rebecca J. Gomez’s blog for her thoughts on LITTLE EWE. Thank you, Rebecca!
One of my favorite parts of having a new book out is getting to visit other people’s blogs. And today, I’m feeling thankful for the lovely invitation I received from children’s author Darlene Beck Jacobson to be interviewed on her blog in celebration of the release of LITTLE EWE (Beaming Books, 2021). In the interview she asks things like, “Did you intend to write this story in rhyme?” What do you think? Did I? Find the answer to this and other fun questions in today’s interview. Oh, and in the extra fun category, there’s a giveaway for one fresh-off-the-press copy of LITTLE EWE! Thank you, Darlene!