I’m thrilled to welcome multi-published children’s book author Laura Sassi back to Frog on a Blog! Laura first appeared here in 2018 when we were a stop on her blog tour for her beautiful picture book Love is Kind, when she introduced us to Little Owl, her story time puppet. Read about how Laura uses puppets to engage young readers HERE. Laura’s returned today to share a bit about herself and her darling new board book Happy Birthday, Christmas Child!: A Counting Nativity Book, which published on October 4, just in time for Christmas shopping. I had the pleasure of viewing the digital arc, and this book is so, so special. Let’s hear more about it from Laura!
Q. You were a teacher before becoming a children’s author. Do you think your experience as a teacher has helped you in your writing career?
L.S.: Absolutely! There’s nothing quite like teaching elementary school to immerse a future author into the world of writing for children. As a teacher, I pored over each text so I could engagingly teach my kids about the many wonders of storytelling including setting, mood, plot, character development, theme and more. I also decided early on that, just like my students, I would keep a daily writer’s journal. For fun, I often assigned myself the same writing projects I gave them. All this helped to lay a great foundation to the daily discipline and nitty-gritty of writing, revising and polishing my own work.
Q. What do you love most about picture books?
L.S.: The storyteller in me loves the magical way picture books use both words and images to tell a complete story. Neither is complete without the other and the result, when well done, is vibrant and interactive because readers must engage with both for the full reading experience. I also love the size and feel of picture books. They are just perfect for reading with a little one by your side or in your lap, and there’s nothing more magical than that.
Q. Your books often feature feel-good messages of kindness, friendship, hope, and love. How important are those themes to you? And what inspires your writing?
L.S.: When I look over all the stories, poems and articles I’ve written over the last twenty years, I do see common messages of kindness, friendship, hope and love. Other themes that have woven their way in include perseverance, forgiveness, and telling the truth even when it’s difficult. I consider these to be important seeds of good living that were planted in me by my parents. They are themes that I hope to pass on to my own children – as well as the children I write for. I’m delighted to say that I see these seeds blossoming in young children everywhere, and that inspires me to keep writing.
Q. Tell us about your beautiful new book Happy Birthday, Christmas Child!. Why did you decide to make it a counting book? And was it always intended to be a board book?
L.S.: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD! invites children and their families to join Mary and Joseph as they wait for Jesus to be born. It’s inspired by a favorite Christmas verse from Luke 2:19 that describes Mary’s wonder as she pondered the events surrounding the birth of Christ. Similarly, I hope that by infusing counting into HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD!, littlest readers and their caregivers will slow down, explore, count and marvel with Mary and Joseph as they await this special birth. And, yes, I envisioned it from the beginning as a board book, perfect for even the tiniest hands to hold.
Q. Gabi Murphy’s illustrations are so bright and cheery and complement your joyful, rhyming text so perfectly. How did you feel when you saw the completed book for the first time?
L.S.: I have been blessed with wonderful illustrators for each of my books and Gabi Murphy just continues that blessing! I love her bright and joyful rendering to the text and love each and every spread. I felt JOY when I saw the completed book for the very first time, JOY and ANTICIPATION, not just for the book’s release, but also for Christmas, which is one of my favorite times of year.
Q. Where can fans connect with you online?
L.S.: I would love for readers to check out my newly renovated website and blog – Laura Sassi Tales – and follow me there for weekly fun in your inbox. I also love connecting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @LauraSassitales! (Same handle for all three.)
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers? What’s next for Laura Sassi?
L.S.: Well, in the fun planting seeds category, I’m delighted to share that I have two dear-to-my-heart books releasing in 2023. The first, MY TENDER HEART BIBLE, is a rhyming board book that includes 12 of my favorite bible stories that point to God’s love, releasing with Paraclete Press in February. Then in Fall 2023, I’m looking forward to the release of MY TENDER HEART PRAYER BOOK, a collection of 24 short rhyming prayers to take a child through the day and foster conversations with God. And beyond that? Hmm… good things, I hope.
Congratulations, Laura! We can’t wait to see your new books and the many more to follow!
Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of multiple books for young children including the best-selling Goodnight, Ark, which was a 2015 Christian Book Award Finalist; Goodnight, Manger; Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, which is a 2021-2022 Iowa Goldfinch Award Nominee; Love Is Kind, which was a 2020 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award Honor Book; Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep, Bunny Finds Easter, and Happy Birthday, Christmas Child!, her new counting board book. Laura’s Tender Heart Bible and Tender Heart Prayer Book are both forthcoming in 2023 from Paraclete Press.
Laura had a successful teaching career before becoming a children’s author. She’s been a homeschool mom, children’s ministry director, historic museum interpreter, and more. She writes daily from her home in New Jersey and finds special joy in pointing kids to God and to good through story and sharing her love of reading and writing at school visits, church gatherings and other events.