WEDNESDAY’S BOOK: LOVE IS KIND Radio Interview (And a Winner!)

Dq2pILBX0AE4cJH.jpg-largeThis week it was my pleasure to be interviewed by radio host Care Baldwin for her program, Wednesday’s Bookmark, a weekly show that celebrates books. The interview aired October 31st at 4:30 EST on Family Radio CHRI 99.1 fm, Canada’s largest Christian family radio station.  Thank you, Care, for being such a great host!  I had a wonderful time.  Here’s the link for the interview. Please stop by.  =)

I’m also delighted to announce that the winner of last week’s special giveaway, a brand new copy of Mindy Baker’s debut Christmas picture book, MOUSE’S CHRISTMAS GIFT, published by Zonderkidz, and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk is…

Emmie!!!!!

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

Thanks again, Mindy, for an illuminating interview. I’d also like to thank Zonderkidz for providing the winning copy. Happy Friday, all!

Book Trailer PREMIERE: Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse

TRA-L-LA!!!!  Look what we created, just in time for National Opera Week, though Delores and Fernando (and I)  think every week is a good week to celebrate opera! It’s a BOOK TRAILER… our first. We hope you like it. =)

Happy Trailer-ing!  And Happy Reading!  And Happy National Opera Week!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from Little Owl!

Little Owl Halloween with text

LOOK! Little Owl, the sweet protagonist from LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018), is all dressed up for Halloween with spider buttons and a pointy hat.  And he’s got his little jack-o-lantern, ready to fill with Halloween treats. In this sweet illustration, created by illustrator Lison Chaperon (thank you, Lison!), it looks to me like he’s also whispering to Dragon that he’s ready to share his candy along the way and say please and thank you at every house he visits.  (That’s showing showing thoughtfulness and love in true LOVE IS KIND style, don’t you think?) Happy Halloween, all!

TRA-LA-LA!:  EIGHT OPERA-THEMED PICTURE BOOKS for ALL AGES

opera-themed picture booksDid you know this is National Opera Week? I love opera’s glorious ability to tell a story through song, dance, with rich orchestra and majestic sets! That’s partly why I decided it would be fun to write a picture book set in an opera house.  And did you know that reading DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE with your littles ones can be a fun and engaging way to introduce them to this great art form?  But why limit the fun to just one picture book!  In celebration of sharing a little opera love with our little ones, here are EIGHT picture books with delightful, kid-friendly opera themes.  Enjoy! (And if you can think of any I missed, please add them in the comments section.)

img_1407DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE

written by Laura Sassi and iIlustrated by Rebecca Gerlings 

(Sterling Children’s Books, 2018) 

The humorous tale of a new diva who needs all the help she can get, and the mouse who has offered to help (but she thinks she deserves bigger help than a mouse!). 

51GFENsN3ZL._SX446_BO1,204,203,200_

OPERA CAT 

written by Tess Weaver and illustrated by Andréa Wesson 

(Clarion Books, 2002) 

The charming story of a cat (who can sing) and a diva who has laryngitis!

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ENCORE, OPERA CAT

written by Tess Weaver and illustrated by Andréa Wesson 

(Clarion Books, 2009)

In the charming sequel to OPERA CAT, Alma and Madame SoSo travel to Switzerland!

51iCRAUWlJL._SX379_BO1,204,203,200_THE GREAT POOCHINI

written and illustrated by Gary Clement

(Groundbooks, 1999) 

Full of opera wordplay and doggy-transformed operatic names – such as the protagonist, Poochini- this is the fun story of a dog who seems ordinary by day, but at night he becomes an opera star!

 

3427269PET OF THE MET

written and illustrated by Don Freeman

(Viking, 1953)

A charming classic by the author of CORDUROY about a family of mice who live at the Metropolitan Opera House… oh, and there’s a cat! 

61OjQ7tRJ3L._SX403_BO1,204,203,200_BRAVO! BRAVA! A NIGHT AT THE OPERA: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH COMPOSERS, CAST, AND CREW

written by Anne Siberell

(Oxford University Press, 2002) 

An engaging, kid-friendly introduction to opera, full of fun facts and whimsical illustrations. 

 

51f3Bmbj5YL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_A SOUP OPERA

written by Jim Gill and illustrated by David Moose

(Jim Gill, Inc.; Har/Com edition, 2009)

A fun introduction the feel of opera using a silly soup story.  CD included. Hear Jim read it here – with music and voices!

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THE DOG WHO SANG AT THE OPERA 

written by Marshall Izen  and Jim West and illustrated by Erika Oller

(Harry N. Abrams, 2004)

Humorous tale based on a true story about a dog who sings with the Diva on opening night at the Metropolitan Opera House! 

LOVE IS KIND: Activity Guide and Printables (Bookmark this post!)

LoveisKind_emailheader_650x254_B.jpgTEACHERS AND PARENTS: This post is a treasure that should be book-marked. It contains a wonderful activity kit offered by Zonderkidz and created by my illustrator Lison Chaperon. The not-to-be-missed kit has an assortment of LOVE IS KIND-themed printables – including coloring pages, an adorable Little Owl mask craft and a post card activity!

41257812_1845944638825854_3088792384515866624_nYou can download the kit here.

IMG_7709And for your convenience, I’m also including the downloadable baking activity with  character muffin toppers seen above – perfect for birthday parties, class celebrations etc. Press here for that.

Happy reading and creating!

 

GUEST POST: The Inspiration Behind LOVE IS KIND

Version 2A few weeks ago Christian blogger, writer, and inspirational speaker Sally Matheny reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in being a guest on her blog.  I was honored to be asked and delighted to write a post. The topic I chose was the inspiration behind LOVE IS KIND.  You can find that piece here and it includes a special giveaway – a free 15 virtual visit with me!

In addition, LAST week Sally posted a very thoughtful review LOVE IS KIND.  You can find the review here.

Thank you, Sally, for inviting me to share my thoughts and for sharing your thoughts about LOVE IS KIND.

Happy Monday, all!

 

NINE TIPS for Reading Picture Books with Babies/Toddlers

New Parent MeetupLast week I spent a special morning at the New Parent Meet Up at Farinolio‘s, sipping coffee and sharing a little bit about myself and my journey into picture book writing… along with some tips and reasons for reading to our babies. Here are a few pictures that capture the joy of the morning.

During my mini-informal presentation, one of my mama friends also captured this snippet of a sweet reading-related testimonial about the special bonding demonstrated years ago when my son was born 16 weeks early.

I hope that this clip  – along with the nine tips that follow -inspire you to read, read, read with your babies – and babies on the way! Now, without further fuss, are the nine tips I shared.

NINE TIPS FOR READING PICTURE BOOKS WITH BABIES and TODDLERS: 

Tip #1: Make reading time special. (It’s about more than just reading. It’s about
bonding, interacting and fostering love of story and storytelling.)

Tip #2: Ask questions. “Where’s the___?” “Who/what’s that?” “What’s ___ doing?”

Tip #3: Read anywhere, anytime. Read often.

Tip #4: Add simple actions and/or sounds. (Like animal sounds)

Tip #5 Vary the delivery. Sing the story. Use different voices.

Tip #6: Let toddlers turn the pages. Anticipate what will happen.

Tip #7: Extend the story with an activity. (Like counting or drawing)

Tip #8 Read the same stories again and again… if they ask! That’s how they learn and grow.

Tip #9: Establish weekly library visits. (Let them pick some of the books.)

Happy Reading, all!

LOVE IS KIND Blog Tour: Stop SEVEN

5A32405B-843A-4B7A-A32F-0CEE2DE567CEToday Susanna Leonard Hill is featuring LOVE IS KIND as part of her Perfect Picture Book Friday series!  Head on over there to find out her review.  And, inspired by Lison Chaperon’s delicious LOVE IS KIND muffin baking activity, I’m also sharing my thoughts on the benefits of pairing picture books with a tasty treat with FIVE TIPS for doing that! (Oh, and there’s also a giveaway!) So grab that cup of tea and one of those delicious virtual muffins picture above head on over.  HAPPY FRIDAY, all!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: A Chat with Picture Book Author Melissa Stoller in Celebration of the Release of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH

Scarlet's Magic Paintbrush

Today I’m delighted to have fellow picture book author Melissa Stoller as my guest.  Last year Melissa released her first chapter book, The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return to Coney Island and her debut picture book, Scarlet’s Magic Paint Brush is about to release!  Please join me in welcoming her as we celebrate the upcoming release of this charming new book with an interview and I’ve chosen to write my questions in lovely teal to match the cover. Let’s get started. 

Thanks so much for joining us today, Melissa. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you become a writer?

Thanks so much for hosting me on Laura Sassi Tales! You know I adore Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, and I look forward to adding Love is Kind to my picture book collection!    (Thank, you, Melissa, for your kind words.) 

My writing journey has many twists and turns! I am a lawyer and also worked as a legal research and writing instructor and law school career counselor. When my oldest daughter was born twenty-two years ago, I tried writing picture books and amassed a huge folder of rejection letters. I took a break and wrote a parent resource book titled The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting with your Kids Through Reading. I also concentrated on writing parenting articles. Around five years ago, I decided to get back to writing for children. I took many classes, participated in lots of workshops and writing challenges, and attended several conferences to concentrate on craft. Also, I joined several critique groups as well, and I have been a member of SCBWI since 1997! I’m so happy that my debut picture book, SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH, will be in children’s hands very soon!

That’s an amazing journey, with lots of twists and turns, but I can see you were following an inner map that led you to this point. I’m glad you kept at it!

The premise of Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush is – what happens to a child’s creativity if a magic paintbrush suddenly disappears – is adorable.  What inspired you to create this story?  Do you, perhaps, own a magic paint brush?

Thanks, Laura! I am so excited about my debut picture book, Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush, illustrated by Sandie Sonke (www.SandieSonkeIllustration.com) releasing October 16th with Clear Fork Publishing. Sandie’s illustrations are incredible and it was such a joy to see how she brought her vision to this project. I sometimes wish I owned a magic paintbrush or even a magic pen! The inspiration for this story actually floated into my mind when I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where I live. I was gazing at my favorite Impressionist paintings, a Monet specifically. I remember thinking, “What would it be like to paint like Monet? I wonder what would happen if I had a magic paintbrush?” From there, I started thinking of all the possibilities about painting with a magic brush, and then I wondered about what would happen if the magic brush disappeared.

I love that you were inspired by visiting the Metropolitan! I think visits like that to museums are wonderful sparks for all sorts of creativity. 

What would you like readers to take away from this story?

I hope readers will leave thinking about how they can foster their own creativity. And I hope they realize they don’t have to be perfect, but instead they can create their own masterpieces. Also, hopefully readers will love the sweet illustrations and will relate to Scarlet. Finally, I hope they enjoy the magical touches throughout the story!

I am most certain they will!

Teachers and parents are always looking for ways to tie picture books into the curriculum or extend the enjoyment with post-reading activities. Do you have any extension activities your readers might enjoy?

I’m a big advocate of making connections through family book clubs. On my website, (www.MelissaStoller.com), I’ll include a parent-child book club discussion guide where I’ll offer discussion questions, an art project, suggested snacks, and related enrichment activities based around the themes of the book. 

What a terrific resource!

Finally, can you give us the inside scoop on some of your current projects?  What’s a typical writing day like for you?

In a typical writing day, I write or revise. I like to work in drafts so my stories always have many iterations. Aside from my picture books, I also spend time on my chapter book series. My debut chapter book, The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return to Coney Island, released one year ago. Book two, The Liberty Bell Train Ride, chugs down the tracks in February, 2019. Currently, I’m working on writing book three of the series, which takes place in Washington DC and features the Library of Congress. Also, I’m very excited about my second picture book, Ready, Set, GOrilla!, illustrated by Sandy Steen Bartholomew (also published by CFP). I love Sandy’s style and I’m so excited about how she’s adding her amazing vision to this story. It’s about a little gorilla who likes racing with his pals but really loves winning. When a gopher comes to town, the race is on! I really enjoy tackling many different projects in any given day. And of course, I am always observing, trying to think of new ideas and new inspirations. Also, I enjoy spending time reviewing the work of my wonderful critique partners. I learn so much from commenting on other stories and working with my critique pals to strengthen my own words. Finally, I try to leave time every day for connecting with others in the KidLit community, whether online or in person. It’s so important to me to foster these amazing friendships. 

Thank you so much, Laura! I enjoyed answering these questions and I’m so happy to be featured on your blog today! 

It has been my pleasure!  Best wishes with the release of the book!

And readers interested in learning more, please check out Melissa’s bio as well as the many ways you can connect on the web.

melissa stoller author pictureBIO:

Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection – Book One: Return to Coney Island and Book Two: The Liberty Bell Train Ride (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017 and 2019); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, Fall 2018). She is also the co-author of The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is an Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, an Admin for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY. Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy. When not writing, she can be found exploring NYC with family and friends, traveling, and adding treasures to her collections.

CONNECT:  

www.MelissaStoller.com

http://www.facebook.com/MelissaStoller

http://www.twitter.com/melissastoller 

http://www.instagram.com/Melissa_Stoller 

http://www.pinterest.com/melissastoller

LITTLE OWL’S TEA PARTY: A Baking Activity for LOVE IS KIND

happy fall

HAPPY FALL from LITTLE OWL and his friends! And a special thank you to illustrator, Lison Chaperon, for creating this adorable picture of Little Owl, Beaver, Rabbit, and Mrs. Mouse’s little mice ALL enjoying an autumn tea party!

And now, I’m delighted to share that you and your little ones can join in the fun by baking your own special LOVE IS KIND muffins and having your own tea party, complete with book-themed muffin toppers.

IMG_7709The recipe for Little Owl’s Chestnut Applesauce Chocolate Muffins was a collaborative effort between author and illustrator. I followed her recipe, but had to adapt for American ingredients and American measuring units.  I baked six batches before I got it just right!  The recipe calls for chestnut flour, which is delicious, but may be difficult to find. I got mine (and it was top-notch) at Nuts.com.  But, if you have nut allergies or just prefer to bake without it, the recipe is equally delicious if you simply omit the chestnut flour and increase the whole wheat flour to one cup.

Click here to download high quality at scale version for better printing. (Thank you, Lison, for providing!)

ENJOY!  And if you want to share snapshots on social media of you and your littles enjoying the book and this treat, we’d love that! Simply use the hashtag #littleowlsteaparty. Happy baking!

Little Owl Tea Party 1

Little Owl Tea Party 2