PICTURE BOOKS and END PAPERS: Thoughts and a GAME!

There’s something magical about picture books. For starters, their size is just right for reading snuggled together your child or grandchild. And, when done well, the intentional intermingling of image and text to tell a story is sure to captivate both child and caregiver. Indeed, a good picture book can be enjoyed again and again – with new discoveries unfolding with each reading.  

For example, it wasn’t until our seventh or eighth reading of GOODNIGHT, ARK, that my daughter discovered the toothbrush sitting on the window sill and then we laughed and laughed at the idea of Noah brushing the animals’ teeth. Similarly, it was with great joy after several readings that she later noticed that Chipmunk’s Chocolate Shoppe in LOVE IS KIND sells organic chocolate which made Little Owl’s gift seem just that much more special.

And among the many extra little details I hope readers will notice in my newest release, LITTLE EWE, are the many opportunities for counting things like frogs on logs and spider webs!

Perhaps you and your little ones have also noticed extra little details and wonders as you read and re-read your favorite books.

Well, today, I’d like to share another little extra that I never paid much attention to as a child or even during my many years reading bedtime stories with my kids. I’m talking about the end papers. For those of you who aren’t as book geeky as I am, those are the papers at the very front and end of the book. One of half of these end-spreads are pasted to the front and back covers of the book and help to secure the interior pages which have been bound together and set in the spine of the cover.  

Now that I’m aware of them, I’m smitten! I mention them at school visits and I always begin the reading of a new book by investigating them. Sometimes they are plain, but more often than not, they have illustrations or designs. And when they do, those illustrations or designs connect to the story in some fashion. 

For example, the end papers of the popular KARATE KID (Running Press Kids, 2019), written by Rosanne L. Kurstedt and illustrated by Mark Chambers provide a charming clue that the book might just be about different karate poses! And the end papers of the delightful TEA PARTY RULES (Viking, 2013), written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by K. G. Campbell provide wonderful opportunity to predict with children just where this story will take place and what it might be about. 

Now, here’s a fun game to play your kids.  Have them find their favorite picture books and – before reading the book again – open up to the end papers and see if you they can figure out how the end paper illustrations connect to the story. To get you started, I’ve included a collage below with the end papers for four of my books. Can you guess which end paper goes with which book?  If so, what’s the connection?  Have fun! (Answers below.)

And the answers (but you still have to figure out the connection).

Have fun investigating the end papers of your favorite books and don’t forget that to make a game of figuring out the connections!

SPECIAL OFFER: Pre-Order Your SIGNED Copy of LITTLE EWE!

Will you help my new book LITTLE EWE make a BIG SPLASH when it releases next month by pre-ordering your copy today?  I didn’t realize with my first two books just how important pre-orders can be in capturing the attention of readers, booksellers, reviewers and more. As I have now learned, pre-orders are important because those sales get included in the sales numbers for the first week of the book’s release. High numbers can influence how many runs a book has, whether it makes a best-selling list and more. All good and fun stuff!

So, if you are thinking of purchasing copies of my newest book, LITTLE EWE, I would be delighted if you would consider pre-ordering it from your favorite book store.  Or…. if you want SIGNED copies,  my favorite indie has a special deal for you!

If you PRE-ORDER my new book from The Town Book Store, in Westfield, NJ, any time between NOW and February 23rd (the book’s release day), owner Anne Laird is offering a 10% discount off the retail price.  Simply mention that you want the “LITTLE EWE DISCOUNT”.

If this interests you, please call the store to order LITTLE EWE. Be sure to explain that you would like to have the book signed by the author and pass along the names you’d like included. They will take the order and do the transaction. I will then come in and sign the book or books.  Depending on where you live, you can either pick them up in-store at no extra charge, or have them mailed. There will be a shipping fee to cover the cost of mailing, but they can give you those details.

I thought this was a nice way to make signed copies available, support a wonderful independent book store, and encourage pre-orders!

You can reach The Town Book Store at (908) 233-3535. You can also email the owner, Anne, at anne@townbookstore.com.  Either way, remember to ask for the “LITTLE EWE DISCOUNT”.

Thank you, The Town Book Store, for making this possible and thank you, readers, for supporting my books!

NOTE: If you are long-distance and choose to order from the vendor of your choice, I’m also happy to make arrangements for a signed book plate to be sent to you. Just let me know.

LITTLE EWE: The Countdown is ON!!

It’s hard to believe that after all the waiting and preparation LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP will be out in the world in just over two months! With that in mind, there are three things I wanted to share with you today.

First, I wanted to let you know that I’ve seen the ARC (that’s advance reading copy) and Tommy Doyle’s illustrations are darling. Thank you, Tommy and thank you, Beaming Books, for pairing us together for this project.

Here’s a sneak peek at one of the pages:

Second, based on feedback from teachers and parents, I decided to create an activity guide to go with the book. I brainstormed and drafted ideas for what to include and sent them to the amazing team at Beaming Books. They worked their magic and I’m delighted to share that it’s now available as a free download on their website. It includes ideas for discussion, crafts, games, coloring pages and a maze! You can find that here:

https://ms.beamingbooks.com/downloads/LittleEwe_ActivityKit_web.pdf

Third, I’m hoping you can help LITTLE EWE make a big splash when it releases by pre-ordering your copy today. Here’s the Beaming Books page for LITTLE EWE which includes links to several major vendors including indie bound. Thank you. =)

Blessings, all!

LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP – Six LOVELY Endorsements!

I was looking at the LITTLE EWE page on Amazon and was delighted to spot a new addition: six endorsements for this upcoming title. I’ve never had endorsements before and I’m very grateful. They are one tool a publisher uses to introduce a new book into the world.

And now, with the permission of Beaming Books, I’m delighted to share those endorsements here. I hope they inspire you to pre-order your copy of the book. And a big thank you to the endorsers for their thoughtful descriptions and recommendations.

“This adorable counting book incorporates the parable of the Lost Sheep and teaches little ones about the Shepherd’s love. With sweet rhyming text and colorful illustrations, parents will smile when their child says, “Read it again!” –– Crystal Bowman, bestselling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for Preschoolers and My Mama and Me.

“Meet Little Ewe and Shepherd in this perfectly penned rhyming, counting tale. A charming new take on an old story.”   — Glenys Nellist, author of author of over 20 children’s books including Little Mole Finds Hope and Little Mole’s Christmas Gift.

“Count along with Little Ewe as she explores the countryside in this beautiful picture book for young readers. Ignoring her shepherd, Little Ewe encounters spooky eyes and other captivating creatures. Caregivers and children alike will enjoy the reminder that when we feel lost and alone, our Shepherd’s love is always near and comforting.”  — Tina Cho, author of Rice from Heaven, My Breakfast with Jesus, and The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story

“From the engaging rhythm to the emotive illustrations, Little Ewe provides parents, teachers, and leaders with a powerful tool for sharing this seemingly simple retelling of the story of the Shepherd—and that one lost sheep. Kiddos will no doubt bounce and count along to the beat, while internalizing the unconditional love of a Shepherd who is always looking for that one mischievous little ewe.” —Amy Parker, Bestselling Author & Podcast Host

“Wrapped in lilting rhyme and inviting illustrations, Little Ewe is a delightful and poignant tale of God’s love for each one. Surrounded by a clever cast of characters and engaging numeric climb, we find our sweet Ewe in need of rescue that only the Shepherd can bring. Kids and grown-ups alike will enjoy the adventure again and again.” –– Becky Kopitzke, author of The Cranky Mom Fix and The SuperMom Myth

“Little Ewe skips away from her herd on her own counting adventure under the watchful eye of the Good Shepherd. Though her distractions lead her to a dark place where she is hungry and alone, the Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to bring her back in a ‘Shepherd’s hug.’  This parable for young readers not only teaches numbers but the healing power of reconciliation.” — Rev. Elizabeth Wilder, Lead Pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church & School, Maplewood, Minnesota

It won’t be long now, until “ewe” too can read LITTLE EWE because it releases in just over three months –– February 23, 2021!

Please consider PRE-ORDERING your copy today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, Indiebound.com or the vendor of your choice because pre-orders really do make a difference. If you do, let me know, and I’ll add you to my list of folks to send the pre-release link for the activity kit when it’s ready.

LOVE IS KIND Author Interview on Los Angeles Public Library Blog

It’s not every day that an author, or at least THIS author, is blessed with the opportunity to be interviewed by a senior librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library!

This lovely opportunity was set in motion at the HarperCollins booth at the ALA midwinter convention this past January where I had just beforehand had a book signing for the Spanish edition of LOVE IS KIND – EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO. That, too, was a wonderful experience with a line that snaked around the corner. I loved interacting with librarians from all across the country. I think I signed 150+ books that day!

After the signing ended, I was browsing the other booths, when I got a text from my host at HarperCollinsChristian, Selene Covarrubias, that Ana Campos, Senior Librarian from the International Languages Department of the Los Angeles Public Library wanted to video record me and set up an interview for their blog. I hurried back, of course.

The video never ran because it was an invitation visit the library – which closed for in-person visits less than two months after the convention due to the pandemic. But, Selene took a picture of me being recorded, so you can see that.

Then, with the lockdown, everything on the blog was pushed back. Finally last Monday, the interview posted! And even LITTLE EWE (my upcoming book) got a mention. What a lovely situation, all around. Thank you, Ana Campos and the team at the Los Angeles Public Library blog! Now, in case you are interested in reading the interview, here is the link:
https://www.lapl.org/collections-resources/blogs/lapl/interview-author-laura-sassi

ONE FINAL THOUGHT: All this library talk has gotten me thinking. If you haven’t done so already, would you mind checking to see if YOUR library owns LOVE IS KIND and EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO (or any of my books)? If they don’t, would you make a quick call to the children’s department and recommend them? Or, if you prefer, many libraries also have a “Suggest a Purchase” forms on their websites. Let me know if you do — as it would make my day.

Happy Reading!

MEET LITTLE EWE: My Companion for AUTHOR VISITS… STUFFY Style!

My decision to use puppets at author visits began quite by chance. Since a pair of skunks play an important role in my first book GOODNIGHT, ARK, 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 a fun way to introduce the story.

The skunks were such a great hit, that when my second book, GOODNIGHT, MANGER, came out, I knew I wanted a new, book-specific puppet. Thankfully, without too much trouble, thanks again to Folkmanis, I found the perfect companion — Rooster!  

My third book, DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE, stars a diva seal and opera-loving mouse.  And again, they are the warm-up act to my story times and, boy, are they a hit!  Delores even sings opera!  (She gets the kids to sing too… and the parents and teachers!)

My fourth book, LOVE IS KIND stars Little Owl and that puppet was made for me by the very kind director at one of the programs I visited. She said, “I can make you a puppet that looks just like Little Owl!” and then a few days later a delightful package arrived in the mail. Isn’t he darling! 

Now LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP will be coming out in November!  And I’m delighted to share that I’ve found my puppet. Actually, it’s not a puppet; it’s adorable Baby Gund stuffed lamb. I’ve named her Little Ewe, of course, and doesn’t she look like she’s just hopped off the cover of the new book – ready to share her story with children everywhere at author events!  She even plays music – which I think will make a lovely finale at preschool visits.  

Have all these adorable story companions inspired you?  If you decide to bring a puppet along to your next author visit and want a few tips for creative ways to incorporate puppets into your presentation, you might enjoy this guest post I wrote on Lauri Fortino’s blog on the topic USING PUPPETS TO ENGAGE YOUNG READERS.

And if you want to help Little Ewe make a big splash when she releases, please take a moment to pre-order your copy of the book now at your favorite online vendor – such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble or ChristianBook.com. You can also suggest the title to your local bookstore, which would be a wonderful way to help raise awareness of this upcoming title.

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!