VIRTUAL STORY TIME: Little Owl visits OKLAHOMA!

In the totally FUN department, about a month ago my lovely publicist at Zonderkidz alerted me that Love Is Kind, Little Ewe and Goodnight Manger had all made the Oklahoma Bestsellers list. Here’s proof:

Seizing the moment, I asked my publicist if one of the indie bookstores that tally this list might be interested in having me for a virtual story time. She kindly reached out to Best of Books in Edmond, OK to ask and the answer was…. YES!

The story time took place yesterday at 1pm central. Since I’m all about natural lighting and Little Owl is all about staying cool, we picked this lovely spot by our front corner window and close to an air conditioning vent as our storytelling spot.

What was extra special about this reading, besides the fabulous lighting =), was that after the reading I got to share some neat behind-the-scenes artifacts PLUS I read excerpts from two different translations. So if you want to hear me read a snippet in Spanish and French and learn how to say “Love is kind” and “Little Owl” in those languages, here’s your chance.

I’m sharing the story time below in the hopes that you and your littles might use it for your own story time this summer. See if you can get of the book ahead of time from your favorite store or your local library. And if your local library doesn’t have it, please recommend it for purchase.

After the storytime, extend the experience with one of these extension activities or pick your own. Have fun! And if you really want to bring joy to a certain Little Owl, post a picture of your project on your favorite social outlet and tag us! We LOVE seeing kid-created book-themed art. =) NOTE: If you prefer not to click this embedded link, you can also go directly to the Best Of Books Facebook page and search their videos for this story time.

You’re Invited to a VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH PARTY for LITTLE EWE!

Click here to get to the event page on Facebook. If you mark yourself as “interested” or “going”, then you will receive a reminder on Facebook so you don’t miss it. It can also be viewed after the event.

Who’s ready for a party? I am and so is Little Ewe. That’s why we’re inviting “ewe” to join us for a FACEBOOK LIVE BOOK PARTY on Thursday, February 25th at 7pm Eastern to celebrate the release of LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP (Beaming Books, February 23, 2021). Enjoy a reading, games, a virtual snack (inspired by Little Ewe’s taste buds) and a simple book-inspired craft. To access the party, simply stop by my Facebook Author Page at 7pm Eastern on the 25th.

BUT, WAIT. THERE’S MORE!!! Since SIGNED copies are part of the fun, I’m delighted to share that my local independent books store, The Town Book Store in Westfield New Jersey, will have copies available for purchase and I will come in and sign any books that are ordered through them. Anne, the owner, is even offering a 10% off the book if you mention the “LITTLE EWE DISCOUNT”.

If this interests you, please call the store or stop in 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 or curbside 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. 

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”.

NOTE: If you are long-distance and prefer to order from your own local book shop, I’m also happy to make arrangements for a signed book plate to be sent to you. Just let me know.

HOLD ON… THERE’S EVEN MORE!!! The craft is all ready! We’ll be making our own fluffy Little Ewes and then I’ll explain how they can be used to play a game. It’s all going to be so, so cute and so, so fun. (Just saying.) You can find craft instructions here. Local people can also pick up craft kits at the Town Book Store beginning February 10th and while supplies last. Here’s picture of the craft.

SPRINGTIME OFFER: Free LITTLE EWE Visit with the Author!

One of my favorite parts of having a new book out is sharing the story at author visits. And now, with so many preschools, daycares and churches learning via hybrid and/or virtual, I have a special invitation. 

From now through June 30, 2021, I am offering free 15-minute LITTLE EWE author visits to TEN special groups – ideal for preschools, church ministries, homeschool coops and more. These can be in–person or VIRTUAL which means I can visit near or far!

If you are interested, reach out to me here.

IMPORTANT DETAILS:

For each FREE 15-minute LITTLE EWE visit I will:

  • I introduce the story with the help of Little Ewe, my adorable stuffy companion. 
  • I engage the children in an interactive reading.
  • Ponder together who the real Shepherd is— Jesus! 
  • Close by sharing a follow up game idea they can make on their own to play their own round of “Where is Little Ewe?”  or have a brief Q&A.

BONUS: Here’s an activity pack chock full of follow-up activities to extend the fun after reading the book together.

REQUEST:  The visit is free, but I respectfully request that you purchase a copy the book for your class/church library and let families know that they can purchase copies as well. I do not sell my own books, but they are available through the major online vendors as well as your favorite local indie book stores. To help spread word to families, I can provide an order form for schools/groups to collect and order as a group from the vendor of your choosing. Or you can simply let families know that they can purchase books on their own by providing a link to the local or online vendor of your choice. Either way, be sure keep a list of first names for book inscriptions and, as a thank you, I will provide a signed and personalized book plate for each book purchased!

I look forward to spreading Springtime joy in this special way. 

 

GOODNIGHT, MANGER Virtual Visit with Jane Chapman!

It began with a simple email to Jane Chapman, illustrator of GOODNIGHT, ARK and GOODNIGHT, MANGER. In my note I wished her a Merry Christmas and mentioned how blessed I felt to have several Christmas storytime events in place for December, despite the pandemic. I said how sharing our book, GOODNIGHT, MANGER, about putting a fussy, overtired baby Jesus to sleep in a very busy stable, has become one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. I mean, really, I can think of nothing better than sharing the good news of Jesus through story! It’s how I came to know Jesus – through someone telling me the story!

Her answer was simple: “Just a thought, but if you ever want me to turn up at a virtual GM Christmas story time and the time zones aren’t too far apart, I’d love to come! xo, Jane”

My response? “Oh, my goodness, that would be so special!!! I’d love that!”

New Providence Children’s Ministry Director, Christine Voegeli, was delighted with the idea of expanding the virtual story time we had already arranged to include a visit with Jane. All the children from church were invited, as well the kids from the church affiliated preschool and kindergarten- and even a few friends and family from far away. We had a great turn out!

Here are a few pictures of the event, just for fun. Merry Christmas everyone!

Christine opened us in prayer, then I introduced the story with my puppet companion Rooster. I also had several figures from our nativity set by my side so I could share the inspiration behind the story. If you’re curious, here’s a post about that.

Next, Jane read the story to us with perfect pacing and heart. What a blessing! And we all loved her British accent, of course.

Then it was time for the drawing lesson. I’m omitting their sweet faces for privacy, but please just imagine how entranced and sweetly intense the children were, each in their own little box, as Jane instructed us step by step how to draw our mice And after each step, she asked the children to hold up their mice and they did. It was virtual engagement at its best!

And here are some finished drawings by the kids (and one by me.)

After the drawing lesson, I shared how to make the Wide Awake Baby Jesus crafts that each child had picked up at the church ahead of time. Here’s the link, if you want to make one.

We closed with a short prayer. Then, no one wanted to get off, so we all lingered a bit, enjoying each other’s company. A lovely way to spend an afternoon. Thank you to all who came, and especially to Jane, who made her special appearance all the way from England.

BACK TO SCHOOL OFFER: Celebrate KINDNESS with a FREE Author Visit!

LOVE and KINDNESS. They are more than just words. They are life-affirming actions that start in the heart. When extended to others, they spread joy and sweet affirmation that we each matter and are loved. They can make all the difference in a person’s day… and life. They are gifts both to be given and received. 

Since my kindness-themed picture books LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz) and DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling) made their debuts in 2018, I have been visiting local schools and libraries in-person sharing a message of kindness. 

Now, with so many classes learning via hybrid and/or virtual, I have a special invitation.  Between now and November 13th, which is World Kindness Day, I am offering a FREE 20-minute KINDNESS-THEMED author visit to TEN preschool and early elementary teachers.  If you are interested, reach out to me via the contact tab in the About section.

IMPORTANT DETAILS

For each FREE 20-minute visit I will:

  • Briefly introduce myself and describe what it means to be an author. I will also share the inspiration behind the book I will be sharing.
  • Read either LOVE IS KIND or DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE with a kindness take-away challenge for each.
  • Use puppets to aid in the storytelling.
  • Have a brief Q&A.

OPTIONAL: If you are interested in a longer virtual visit that includes a presentation of the journey a picture book takes from spark to publication, using early sketches, drafts and more, I also offer longer virtual visits that are fee-based. If a fuller visit interests you, please let me know that. My fees are reasonable and we will make the visit work to fit your budget.

Either way, I respectfully request that you or your school purchase a copy the book you select for your class library. I also request that book orders be made available to families so they can order books from the vendor of their/your choice.  I do not sell my books, but they are readily available through your favorite bookseller. I will provide a signed personally inscribed book plate for each book purchased. 

I look forward to spreading kindness in this special way this fall!  

This offer is good through November 13, 2020. Spots will fill quickly, so reach out to me soon via my contact tab in the About section. 

Happy Fall!

LOVE IS KIND: Story Time in… AUSTRALIA plus 7 Tips for Virtual Readings

Last week, I was delighted to see that LOVE IS KIND was the featured story time for Australian book store chain Koorong’s new virtual story time series. Their line up has been quite impressive with books featured by the likes of Max Lucado and Rick Warren so, as you can imagine, Little Owl and I were very excited to be in the line up.

The story times, read by Petronella and her adorable companion, Charlie the monkey, are fun to watch and I really enjoyed how she read LOVE IS KIND. In fact, I thought she did such a good job that I it might be worthwhile to reflect on what exactly, in my opinion, made her reading so delightful and what we, as potential virtual story time readers, might extract and learn from her charming expertise.

Here now, inspired by this story time, are five tips for making your virtual read-aloud the best it can be:

Tip #1: Choose a reading spot that has good lighting (not overly back lit) and a pleasant, but not distracting background. Her bookshelf background was perfect, but the background can also be solid. For example, I’ve done virtual storytimes against the rich brown background of my porch shingles and also against the warm creamy yellow of my living room.

Tip #2: Keep the introduction simple and include any permissions wording required by the publisher. (Check the publisher’s website for this, as each has their own specifications.)

Tip #3: Don’t rush as you read and be sure to use lots of expression (but in a natural, not overdone way.)

Tip #4: Add even more richness by incorporating different voices for each character. You might even consider taking this to the next level, as Petronella does in her reading of LOVE IS KIND, by adding a subtle expression or action for various characters. For example, each time Rabbit spoke, Petronella snuffled and scrunched her nose (just slightly) before reading her lines.

Tip #5: Pause before each page turn to allow the readers to really immerse themselves in the illustrations.

Tip #6: At choice moments, it’s okay and even fun to infuse the story with a couple of thoughtful questions or comments. For example, Petronella pauses a couple of times to say things like, “Oh no, poor Little Owl!” or “What do you think will happen now?”

Tip #7: Have fun!

Thanks again, Koorong, for featuring LOVE IS KIND and thank you, Petronella, for reading it so delightfully. If you are in Australia, I hope you will pop in at your nearest Koorong to pick up your very own copy. And if you live here in the US or Canada, I hope you will consider getting this sweet book whose message is both timeless and very timely for someone you love from a vendor in your neck of the woods.

Happy reading, all!

SUMMER ON THE PORCH STORYTIME CRAFT: GOODNIGHT ARK Painted Rocks

Hooray for summer mornings, good books and cozy porches – perfect for story time! With that in mind, each Tuesday throughout July I will be hosting Summer Story Time on the Porch (and a Craft!) on my Facebook Author page. Here’s the schedule:

This week’s story time features GOODNIGHT ARK, my rollicking, yet ultimately soothing story about Noah trying to put the animals to sleep on at the ark! I do hope you will join me! You can get there by clicking my Facebook picture in the sidebar of this blog.

Now for the craft:

Inspired by Jane Chapman’s delightful renderings of the animals aboard Noah’s Ark, these painted rock animals are easy to make and fun to display.

Here are the steps for creating your own:

  1. Read GOODNIGHT, ARK and marvel at all the different kinds of creatures that illustrator Jane Chapman has included the illustrations. 
  1. Have your child find an unclaimed rock.  Examine that rock together with creative eyes.  Then look through the illustrations in GOODNIGHT, ARK again. What animal could it be transformed into?
  1. Using acrylic paints (so you can display your rock outside and the paint won’t wash off in the rain),  let your child paint their rock to look like their chosen creature. Tip:  Apply paint without diluting with water.  Let one color dry before adding another.
  1. FOR EXTRA FUN: Take a picture of your child’s finished painted rock and send it to me. With your permission, and I will double check to make sure I have it, I will share the pictures on Facebook and my blog so we can all enjoy each other’s creativity!

And here’s the story time (just in case you didn’t get a chance to watch it live.