BLESSINGS upon BLESSINGS: LOVE IS KIND Brings Comfort to a Kindergartner… and the Mother’s Note Brings Joy to the Author (me!)

Last week in the comments section to a post I had shared on Facebook about Feeling Blessed by a Bouquet, a kind young mom left a thoughtful comment, which blessed my day in a extra-special way.

Here are her words, shared with her permission:

Laura, not related to this, but I just wanted to tell you how much joy your book “Love is kind” brought into my daughter’s life. Last year you came into her Kindergarten classroom for the reading and we purchased an autographed copy that day. It has become her favorite book! I cannot tell you how many times she re-read it during the lockdown and then during the months of remote learning. She really connected with it and it gave her comfort during these difficult months. Thank you!”

It’s almost like this mom was reading my mind because her message to me about the impact one of my books has had on her daughter was just what this heart needed.  In fact, I was so moved, that I responded to her Facebook comment with this:

Thank you for telling me this. You made my month! This past year has been so difficult – and especially for the kids. I’m glad to know the book provided comfort. That, I know, would make Little Owl very happy!

And then after some more thought, the next day I added this: 

I’m still so moved by your sharing this. May I have your permission to quote your kind words in post about one never knows the impact ones words/book can have and an encouragement to keep writing and speaking from the heart…I was feeling a bit in a writing slump and your comment really, as I said, made my month!

Her answer: “Of course!” 

And I so share these words today as both a reminder and an encouragement for me and for you to keep writing – or developing whatever special talents you’ve been gifted – with the knowledge that, just as surely as Little Owl helped one little girl face a difficult time in her life, your story or gift will surely also impact others in ways that, most often, we will never know. 

Happy writing and creating… and connecting!

Free Printable LOVE IS KIND and EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO Matching Game!

Are you a parent, teacher, or librarian, looking for a fun way to extend bilingual story time using LOVE IS KIND and its adorable Spanish version EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO?  Then this easy craft/game is just for you!  It’s primary purpose is to be a matching game, but you can also use the cards as stand-ins for puppets so your little ones can retell the story in Spanish or English, or both, in their own sweet words.  

LOVE IS KIND and EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO Matching Game

MAKE:

  1. Print out the English and Spanish versions of the cards.
  2. Color in the picture squares.  Then cut out.
  3. Glue the picture squares onto construction paper squares.

PLAY: 

  1. Place the cards face down. Take turns turning over two at a time.
  2. Name the pictures in Spanish and English. If they are a match keep them. If not, place back face down.
  3. Take turns until all the cards have been matched. Player with most cards wins.

FREE PRINTABLE GAME CARDS:

SPECIAL VISIT: Little Ewe Travels to Lexington, Virginia

Last week Miss A and I (and Little Ewe and Little Owl too!) made a special trip to Lexington, Virginia, a quaint historic town nestled in the lovely Shenandoah Valley. The week was refreshing and wonderful and extra special because it was our first in-person visit with my dad since before Covid.

 How wonderful it was to be together again and we made the most of it. Our visit included daily early morning walks (for me) downtown to the Lexington Coffee Shop, a special do-together sewing project for my daughter and my dad’s wonderful Dianne, delicious meals, ice cream, and even a trip to Animal Safari Park in nearby Natural Bridge.  And, of course, chatting and catching up throughout it all. And hugs. There were lots of hugs.

But the highlight for Little Ewe (and Little Owl too!) was a special LITTLE EWE (Beaming Books, 2021) and LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018) book signing at the Sugar Maple Trading Company on Main Street. Owner Cindy Hughes and her husband Jeff and their daughters were delightful hosts.

During the signing, we had a steady stream of customers who were eager to purchase signed books, including several who were in town from Indiana for a wedding. One of those was a young teacher, who just completed her first year teaching second grade at a rural Indiana school. (And I might do a virtual author visit with her class next year. I hope so!)

Others were parents and grandparents interested in books for their little ones. One was a fellow author who I had met back in November 2019 when I gave a talk at Kendal in Lexington. It was lovely to see her again as well. 

Best of all, my dad, was there beside me, chatting and being his charming self.  He also very kindly acted as chauffeur so that several residents in his retirement community who no longer drive, could come down for the signing.  I felt so blessed!  

Then on Sunday, I was invited to read LITTLE EWE for the children’s portion of the service at Lexington Presbyterian Church.  What a special way to spend our last day in Lexington.

After church, I connected with this lovely woman who at the signing had told me that she was going to give LITTLE EWE as a gift along with a sweater with little lambs on it that she was knitting for one of her grandchildren. I said I would love to see it, so we arranged a time to do just that!  It was a joyful moment for both of us, I think, and a wonderful reminder of one of my favorite things about being a picture book author— connecting with others! 

I look forward to returning in the fall. Thank you, Lexington, for making Miss A and me feel so welcome! And, thank you, Dad, for being not only a great dad, but also the best “southern book rep” an author could hope for!

To close, here’s a fun Instagram Reel we made to promote the event beforehand. Such fun!

Join Me for BILINGUAL STORY TIME at the Kenilworth Public Library!

I’m so excited for this event which was originally scheduled for May 2020 but had be canceled because of a certain pesky virus. A special bilingual craft will follow. I’m still working on it, so I can’t show it to you, but it will be muy fácil y muy divertido (that’s very easy and very fun)!

Here’s the official blurb and, please note, registration is required. Thank you for having me as your guest, Kenilworth Public Library Can’t wait!

Join author Laura Sassi for a special bilingual story time at the Kenilworth Public Library as she shares EL AMOR ES BONDADASO, the Spanish version of her picture book LOVE IS KIND about Pequeño Búho (Little Owl) who wants to get his Abuelita (Grammy) chocolates but his efforts get thwarted every step of the way. Published by Zonderkidz and Vida Editorial and illustrated by Lison Chaperon, this charming and heartfelt journey celebrates the many forms that love and happiness can take. Craft to follow. Registration required by phone or in person at children’s desk:(908) 276-2451. Books will be available for purchase and signing. (Registration opens July 1st for Kenilworth residents/ July 6th for non-residents.) 

Celebrate NATIONAL SKUNK DAY with GOODNIGHT ARK (and a QUIZ!)

Did you know that in addition to being Flag Day, June 14th is also National Skunk Day?! And since a pair of the little stinkers play an important role in GOODNIGHT, ARK, I’ve grown especially fond of the species.

So now, in celebration of skunks, not just once a year, but every day, here’s a fun quiz to test your skunk expertise.

1. TRUE or FALSE:  All skunks have black and white stripes.

2.TRUE or FALSE: A batch of baby skunks is called a litter.

3. TRUE or FALSE: Spraying that stinky mist is a skunk’s first defense mechanism.

4. Which of the following predators are IMMUNE to the skunk’s stinky spray?

A. foxes         B. coyotes             C. great horned owls       D.badgers

5. TRUE or FALSE: Bathing in tomato juice is the best remedy for “de-skunking”.

ANSWERS: (Skunk’s honor: no peeking until after the quiz.)

1. FALSE: All skunks are black and white which acts as a warning for predators to keep away. The specific fur patterning, however, varies.  Different types of skunks have different black and white patterns including stripes, spots, and swirls.

2. TRUE: Skunk babies are born in the spring. Mother skunks typically give birth to between two and ten babies per year.  The babies follow their mother around until late summer when they are ready to be on their own.

3. FALSE: Lifting the tail and spraying is a skunk’s LAST line of defense. Before resorting to spraying, skunks give several warning signs including growling, stomping feet and, finally, raising  tails and hind legs while stomping. These advanced warning signals give predators time to back-off without getting sprayed.

4. C. Great Horned Owls, and most larger birds of prey, are immune to the skunk’s stinky spray.

5. FALSE: Actually, according the Humane Society plain old tomato juice isn’t all that effective because it lacks the acidity necessary to neutralize the chemicals in the stinky spray.  Adding vinegar helps somewhat, but the best way to  “de-skunk”, according the Humane Society, is to make your own odor neutralizing home remedy.  For more on that, visit this helpful post from Humane Society.

To learn more about skunks check out these great resources from National Geographic, the University of Michigan and the Humane Society.

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.

Four FRUIT and VEGGIE-Themed Activities to Pair with GOODNIGHT ARK

Did you know that in addition to all sorts of extra pairs of animals (including two mice hidden on every spread) illustrator Jane Chapman has also added a yummy assortment of fruits and veggies to several of the illustrations in GOODNIGHT, ARK?  What a lovely opportunity to explore this delicious food group with your child! With that in mind, here a are FOUR fun food-themed activities to pair with GOODNIGHT, ARK.

Play “I Spy a Fruit (or Veggie)”. As you read the story with your child, be on the lookout for fruits and veggies. On the pages where you spot them, pause to play mini-rounds of “I Spy”.  Ex:  “I spy a carrot.” Take turns, seeing if the other person can find it.  For an extra challenge, instead of naming the fruit or veggie, describe it. Ex: “I spy a food that begins with B.”

Go on a fruit and veggie hunt. After reading the story, go on hunt in your kitchen (or better yet the produce section of the super market or a farmers’ market) and see if your child can spot any of the fruits and veggies they saw on the ark.

For even foodier fun, ask them what other fruits or veggies they think the animals on the ark might have liked and why? Then see if you can find them. (Make a mental note of these for reference in the next activity.)

Eat some fruits and veggies! After reading the story (and perhaps taking a trip down the produce aisle with your child), have fun brainstorming yummy snacks you could make together using the fruit and veggies depicted in the story (or the extra ones your child thought might also be enjoyed on the ark). Then prepare a fruit or veggie snack using those foods! Ex: Serve up sliced apples or bananas or carrot sticks.

For even more fun, use one of the fruits or veggies as inspiration for a simple cooking activity. Ex: Make apple pie with the apples or simmer up some carrot soup. Oven-roasted potatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper might also be fun and tasty treat. Or something better that you and your child decide upon… together!

Create stamp art using fruit and veggies. Cut a couple of oranges, apples, or even potatoes in half, then dip them in paint and use them as stampers to create beautiful works of art. Here’s a link with instructions: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/school-success/learning-toolkit-blog/how-to-use-fruits-veggies-to-make-stamps.html Enjoy! 

FOR EVEN MORE IDEAS AND ACTIVITIES (including coloring pages) check here: https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/books/goodnight-ark-extension-activities/

FUN NEWS! Cover Reveal for BUNNY FINDS EASTER

Guess what? I have another new book coming out with Zonderkidz!  BUNNY FINDS EASTER, a board book, is scheduled to release February 1, 2022, just in time for Easter.

Here’s the scoop from Zonderkidz:

Inside Bunny Finds Easter, little ones will learn the true answer to “What is Easter?” alongside Bunny. The rhyming text by bestselling author Laura Sassi and adorable illustrations help children see Easter may have many fun traditions, but it is really all about celebrating Jesus and his resurrection.

Coloring eggs, wearing a lovely bonnet, joining in the fun of an egg hunt, and attending church with family are special things that are a part of Easter! But the most important thing about this holiest of seasons is remembering the reason we gather to celebrate and focusing on Jesus most of all.

Bunny Finds Easter is:

For ages 0-4.

A board book perfect for little hands, and in a size that works great for lap reading.

Ideal for Easter gift-giving and fits perfectly in an Easter basket.

A conversation starter for a discussion of the true meaning of Easter.”

Thank you, Zonderkidz publishing my next book. I had so much fun writing it and I think the board book format is jelly bean perfect! And isn’t the cover charming? Thank you, illustrator Ela Jarzabek. I can’t wait for this one to hit shelves everywhere.

Will you take a moment to pre-order your copy of Bunny Finds Easter today and mark is as “to-read” on Goodreads? Those are two wonderful and easy ways to help a new book make a lovely little splash when it releases.

Happy Reading!

PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: The Lord’s Prayer (A Faith-Sparking Lesson)

When I was Children’s Ministry Director at a small church, I planned a Sunday morning children’s program called PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS:  Sparking Faith Conversations using Picture Books and Scripture. Each week, using an engaging picture book as the spark along with games and a craft, children ages 3 – 10 delved into Scripture as we investigated what it means to be a beloved child of God. The kids enjoyed the lessons so much, that I have decided to continue with a monthly series focusing on picture books that can be used as the spark for conversations about faith with your children.

Today’s lesson uses THE LORD’S PRAYER (Zonderkidz, 2011) illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson
with commentary by Rick Warren
as the picture book hook. I hope it sparks thoughtful conversations with your kids.

PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: A Faith-Sparking Lesson

featuring

THE LORD’S PRAYER

illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson
with commentary by Rick Warren

PURPOSE:  To understand that God wants to be in conversation with us. This conversation is called prayer. Jesus thought it was so important that He showed his disciples (and us) how to pray. This prayer is called the Lord’s Prayer.  Let’s celebrate and give thanks that we can talk to God by… praying!

OPENING PRAYER AND GATHERING GAME: Telephone (… a communication challenge!)

Open in prayer, then explain that in today’s book, we will be learning about how we communicate with God. But first, a game to see how effective it is (or isn’t) to communicate to another through a whole line of people! To demonstrate play a few rounds of the old-fashioned classic “telephone” in which all the children sit in a circle and one child is selected to whisper something to the child beside him/her.  The whispered message is repeated around the circle and when it comes back to the originator, the group can see if the message is correct or if it got jarbled along the way. Use this as a tie-in today’s story, where we’ll be learning about how we can communicate directly with God from his very Son, Jesus!

INTRODUCE THE STORY: Begin by saying one of our greatest privileges as teachers and parents is passing along our love for the Lord with our children. And one of the ways we do this is by learning to pray together. Ask if they know what prayer is?  When do they pray?  What do they pray? Do they know that prayer is actually talking to God – directly!?! (As opposed to the way we shared our message in the game we just played.)  Do they know that God LOVES it when we pray and wants us to pray to Him?  Yes, He does! Prayer is so important to God that He had His Son Jesus teach us how to do it while he was here on earth. That prayer is called the Lord’s Prayer and it is the focus of our book today. Explain that first you will just be reading the prayer through, and then you’ll go back and think about the meaning of each part of the prayer. 

FAITH-SPARKING CHAT TIME: After reading through the whole prayer, return to each spread. Have a child read that portion and then ponder together how the illustrations help us to understand what each part of the prayer means, using Rick Warren’s wonderful guide at the end of the book as an aid.  

Close the time by challenging the children to memorize this prayer as Jesus’ example of good praying. Then pray it together.

STORY-BASED ACTIVITY TIME:   The Lord’s Prayer Bookmarks

Ahead of time, type up the Lord’s Prayer using the columns feature on your computer to create long narrow text that can be cut into book mark shaped strips. Print on card stock and cut. Let the children decorate their book marks using markers and stickers. For an extra special finishing touch, punch a hole at the top and add colorful ribbon or yarn, as shown.

WRAP UP:  As children are finishing up their bookmarks – challenge them to begin memorizing the Lord’s Prayer, phrase by phrase. Then, give thanks that God loves us so very much that He even created a way for us to communicate directly with Him – through prayer. 

10 Book-Themed Crafts and Activities for LOVE IS KIND

TEACHERS! CAREGVIVERS! I’ve rounded up 10 activities created just for LOVE IS KIND, perfect for summer reading, which is just around the corner, or any time of year. Enjoy!

ONE: Bake and decorate Little Owl cookies inspired by the book at Celebrate Picture Books.

TWO: Read the story then spread a little kindness by making book-inspired kindness pots.

THREE: Use the book to teach a kid-min object lesson on the theme “kindness is a choice”. Then make a hanging owl craft with children’s author Denette Fretz.

FOUR: After reading the story with your family, do the heart banner kindness project at Glitter On A Dime.

FIVE: Make character-themed puppets inspired by LOVE IS KIND.

SIX: Make a LOVE IS KIND Jelly Bean Jar using this ReadDiscussDo! Activity in English or Spanish!

SEVEN: Make and send heart-shaped notes using the heart coloring page in the activity kit as your template.

EIGHT: Make Little Owl masks! Template can again be found in the activity kit.

NINE: Bake muffins with toppers created by illustrator Lison Chaperon!

TEN: Put on a LOVE IS KIND Valentine’s Day party (any time of year!

NEED EVEN MORE IDEAS? Then check out this post featuring SIX more!