Laura Sassi has been reading and writing stories and poems since she was a child. When she grew up, she became a teacher, and guess what subjects she loved best. That’s right—reading and writing! Her many books share messages of kindness, comfort, and faith with children and their families. Today Molly and I are happy to welcome Laura, along with her cockapoo, Sophie, to tell us all about their newest release, Happy Birthday, Christmas Child, A Counting Nativity Book.
Kathy’s Interview with Laura
First, I’m going to ask Laura to tell us 5 special things about herself. Then Molly and Sophie will woof about Happy Birthday Christmas Child. Translation to human provided, of course!
Kathy: Are you ready, Laura?
Laura: Yes, thank you.
Kathy: What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
Laura: Since we are talking about books, I would say one of my favorite memories is reading with my mom when I was the age of the readers of my books. We read aloud together everyday and not just at bedtime. Books were always around and we picked them up and enjoyed them often.
Kathy: Your Mom gave you a very special treasure, indeed! Do you have a favorite place to read and/or write?
Laura: My favorite summer and fall writing spot is out on my front porch. In fact, that’s where I am writing right now and Sophie is right here beside me, keeping me on task. When the weather turns wintry, I like to sit at my desk in our foyer or in a cozy chair in our living room.
Kathy: Writing on your porch or from a cozy chair sounds delightful! Where did you get the idea to write Happy Birthday, Christmas Child?
Laura: The story is inspired by a favorite Christmas verse in the Gospel of Luke that describes Mary’s soul-filling wonder as the events surrounding the birth of Baby Jesus unfolded. It reads, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, ESV). Likewise, I hope this simple counting story of the night Jesus was born will encourage littlest readers and their caregivers to slow down and explore and count and marvel on each and every spread. I hope readers will find the story soul-filling and fun in a joyful Christmas way.
Kathy: Slowing down to marvel at the wonder of Christ’s birth is so important, and I think Happy Birthday, Christmas Child will help children do just that! What is a favorite Christmas tradition in your family?
Laura: I asked my daughter to chime in on this one since I couldn’t decide. She said two things: decorating the Christmas tree (which involves much singing and reminiscing) and opening presents all together as a family Christmas morning. I wholeheartedly agree.
Kathy: I enjoy those traditions, too! What do you like best about school visits?
Laura: Oh, my goodness, I love everything about school visits. I used to be a teacher and there’s nothing like interacting with children using a good book as the conversation spark. But if I had to pick one thing, I would say that my favorite part is the Q&A when we really get to interact. I’m always impressed by the thoughtful (and sometimes humorous) questions children ask and the insightful observations they make.
Kathy: As a teacher, I understand—children’s questions are so much fun! Thank you, Laura!
Okay the ball’s in your corner, Molly and Sophie. Go fetch it!
Molly’s Interview with Sophie
Molly: Whenever Kathy writes something, I feel a part of the project. I’m especially good at encouraging her to take breaks. I think it makes her a better writer, so I sit and stare up at her until she takes me for a walk! Sophie, what are some ways you help Laura with her writing?
Sophie: Funny you should ask. Laura recently shared about this on her Facebook Author Page as part of #FridayIntroductions Pet Edition! This is what she said:
“Meet Sophie, adorable assistant to the author. Sophie enjoys curling up beside the author during work hours. She also enjoys reading, assisting with bookish photo shoots, delivering books to Little Free Libraries and more. Her favorite foods are kibbles and bunny poop (which we were sure she would outgrow, but she hasn’t ). Her favorite Laura Sassi book? Hmmm… not sure but maybe Bunny Finds Easter – because of her dietary tastes? In any event, she is delighted to meet you and hopes you will check out our books!”
Woof, that pretty much sums it up, with one exception. I would say that my new favorite book is actually her newest Happy Birthday Christmas Child because it’s about two of my favorite things: Jesus and birthdays!
Molly: How about that! I help with bookish photo shoots, too, and Kathy also gets a little upset about some of my dietary choices. It sounds like you know all about Laura’s newest book, Happy Birthday, Christmas Child. Can you tell us about it?
Sophie: Yep, like I said it’s about a very special birthday – Jesus’s! It’s told in counting rhyme. If you can count to ten, you can help tell the story! If you can’t yet count, this book is a fun way to learn.
Molly: I love stories of Jesus’s birthday! Who are some of your favorite characters in the story?
Sophie: Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus are my favorite human characters. I also love the spiders – all six of them!
Molly: Wow, six spiders! God’s creatures are so interesting! God has given us dogs great hearing, and we love to listen. Does Laura sometimes read aloud to you and try out rhymes?
Sophie: Yes. I’m one of her most dependable listeners because I am always by her side.
Molly: We dogs are also known for our loyalty! How do you let her know when a rhyme is just right?
Sophie: I wag my tail!
Molly: Well, you must be wagging a lot, because Laura writes such good rhymes! Do you know how to count, Sophie? Puppy kindergarten didn’t teach me, but I think children love to count. What are a few things they’ll count in Happy Birthday, Christmas Child?
Sophie: There are lots of fun things to count in the book. My favorites are the spiders, the mice and the stars.
Molly: Spiders and mice and stars, oh my! What fun! Sophie, I like to use my nose to check out the presents under the Christmas tree. Do you? Kathy says children don’t use their noses as much. Instead, they love to look at pictures and point to things they find. What are some things children will enjoy finding in Happy Birthday, Christmas Child?
Sophie: Spiders, mice, bales of hay, lanterns, stars and so much more! You can catch a glimpse of them in this book trailer:
Molly: Your book trailer is great! You know, we dogs don’t see as many colors as people, but I bet you still have some favorite illustrations.
Sophie: I love all the illustrations, but here’s one of my favorites. I love how it shows that even though there was no room at the inn, the stable animals welcomed Mary and Joseph in. And you know what, I’d welcome them into my dog crate too!
Molly: I would, too, Sophie! What are Laura’s and your hopes for what children and their families will enjoy learning from Happy Birthday, Christmas Child?
Sophie: Laura already stated this in her part of the interview, but I know what her greatest hope is. It’s that the book will help children and their families pause to count and look and wonder and marvel at the real gift of Christmas —JESUS!
Molly: I know it will, Sophie ! I’ve really enjoyed woofing with you about Happy Birthday, Christmas Child. I love that God sent His son to be born in a stable with lots of creatures like us around. I hope someday we can share a bone. Well . . . maybe we can each have our own. God gave us dogs lots of skills, but sharing is something children do a lot better than us!
Sophie: Woof… it’s okay. I’m on a very strict diet, so I’d be happy to instead share a game. Fetch, perhaps?
Molly: Count me in! I love fetch and you and I are about the same size, so we’d be a good team!
Kathy and Molly: Hugs and woofs to you, Laura and Sophie, for sharing with us about your very special new book, Happy Birthday, Christmas Child, A Counting Nativity Book! Molly and I know children and their families will love sharing its colorful illustrations and beautiful message!
Where You Can Find Happy Birthday, Christmas Child
Kathy and Molly: Where can our readers buy Happy Birthday, Christmas Child?
Laura and Sophie: It’s available wherever books are sold! If you place a pre-order before October 4th, be sure to visit the book’s landing page at https://happybirthdaychristmaschild.com to get your own activity kit that goes with the book!
Kathy and Molly: That’s terrific! Activity kits are so much fun! And, Readers, you can learn lots more about Laura Sassi and all her terrific books on her website, Laura Sassi Tales!
Before You Go
Molly and I have enjoyed learning about all these special children’s books this past month, and we hope you have, too! Our newsletter next week will recap all 6 books, so you can review them all in one place. And we’ll tell you about an amazing museum you won’t want to miss!
So be sure to sign up for our newsletter. You’ll also receive a free guide to 5 Ways Art Benefits Children’s Cognitive, Physical, Spiritual, and Social Development, with a Few Fun and Easy Activities for each Benefit.
In October we’ll be back to our regular schedule with activities and devotions centered around an art masterpiece. We hope you’ll join us!
You may also visit our website where you’ll find free downloadable puzzles, how-to-draw pages, coloring pages for kids, and an updated list of my hands