Hello Friends –
I am so happy to share a new book and an interview with its creative and poetic author, Laura Sassi!
We have a new baby in the family and Laura wrote the perfect board book for us to share with Alice Noelle.
Take a peek…
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD: A Counting Nativity Book
Words by Laura Sassi
Illustrations by Gabi Murphy
Paraclete Press: 2022
Board book for ages 0-4
Themes – the Nativity, Counting
The story begins –
One stable on a busy hill
with only ox and donkey ‘til…
Tap, tap. “Hello?” Two heads appear,
“The inn is full. Can we stay here?”
“Yes, of course!” squeak three small mice.
“It’s rustic, but the view is nice.”
From one to ten, the story of the Nativity is told in beautiful verse that just begs to be read aloud. The illustrations are warm and bright and show a diverse group of characters. Laura made some fun and clever choices in this counting book including hay bales, dangling spiders, shepherds, and the best, ten tiny toes!
Babies love the musical verses and toddlers will enjoy counting the items and finding objects that are mentioned. I love the way the Christmas story is told in a way that is fresh and just right for young children.
This is the perfect lap book that will become a classic. I suggest you get a copy to share with the little ones in your life.
As a writer, I have followed Laura’s encouraging blog for a long time and always learn something new. I am thrilled that she took some time during this busy HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD launch season to share some tips and insights for us.
How do you develop stories for this tender young audience?
I keep a writer’s journal and, in that journal, I record story ideas, thoughts, and observations about things that I notice little ones taking interest in. These jottings become the inspiration for stories. Once I have an idea, I work on plot details, story arc, and — if the story is going to rhyme, as mine often do— I experiment with meter and rhyme until the story has the right feel. It can take me months, or even years, to revise and polish a story.
I am in awe of all that you do including book projects, blog posts, social media, church activities, family, and I’m sure many other things. Do you have any good suggestions for writers on how to best organize their time?
I’ve developed a few organizational practices that help keep me on track, and I try also to stop and self-evaluate periodically to see how I’m doing. Here are the organizational strategies that work for me:
- I begin each day with bible study, journaling, and prayer. This sets the course for the day.
- I make daily lists of the things that I hope to accomplish. (I try to be realistic here – and set no more than 10. These include not just writing but also things like exercise, errands, author visits, blogging/social media, and daily chores.
- I set the timer! This helps me stay focused on the task at hand.
- At the end of the day, I check off what I have accomplished and then decide to either graciously excuse myself from the tasks I didn’t get to or bump them to the next day’s list. (I do a lot of bumping to the next day, but that’s okay.)
Do you keep a list of ideas? How do you decide which story to work on next?
Yes, I love lists! In addition to listing story ideas, I also keep lists of words that rhyme and words that are fun to say. I keep lists of names I like and possible settings for stories. I also keep lists of themes and metaphors and messages that I might want to explore through story. When I sit down to write a new story, usually one of these get me excited and then I will start playing around with words and see where that idea takes me.
Do you write your first drafts on paper or on a computer?
I like to do all my preliminary jottings and first drafts in an old-fashioned notebook. I find the act of pressing pen to paper helps my ideas to flow. Later, once I have the first draft, I will type it in to my laptop. Then I make revisions digitally. However, if I find myself stuck and struggling to make some aspect of the story work, I will very often go back to paper and pen for a fresh round of revision.
Share with us some of your Christmas favorites:
Favorite childhood Christmas book?
The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry
Favorite Christmas song?
Favorite Christmas treat to eat?
Favorite Christmas memory?
I have many wonderful Christmas memories, but I’m picking this one because it ties into the nativity-theme of my board book. My sister and I loved putting on plays when we were little and for Christmas one year, we decided to have our own pageant. My teddy bear played the role of Jesus, I was Mary, my sister was the angel, and a couple of friends played the shepherds. However, we needed a Joseph, so we enlisted my dad. He did a great job wearing his plaid bathrobe and a dishtowel tied snuggly with ribbon on his head. He was kind of big and clumsy (sorry dad), but that was part of the magic!
Thank you so much, Laura, for taking the time to share writing tips and Christmas favorites.
I can’t wait to see your next projects in the year ahead.
To learn more about Laura Sassi and the books she writes as well as finding wonderful downloadable activities, visit her website –Laura Sassi Tales
Purchase your own copy of HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD! A Counting Nativity Book:
Thank you for taking a bookish field trip with me today!