Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 27, 2022


Laura Sassi has written a new board book, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD, illustrated by Gabi Murphy and published by Paraclete Press on October 4th. Laura has agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Laura and Gabi.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!


Join Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds, sheep, and various stable critters as they celebrate the birthday of a very special baby in this rhyming counting book for little readers and their families.

Written by bestselling author Laura Sassi and illustrated by Gabi Murphy, Happy Birthday, Christmas Child! celebrates the warmth, wonder and excitement of the night Jesus was born. Written in gentle rhyme with bright illustrations and lots of things for little ones to notice and count, it’s sure to be a Christmas favorite.

Intended for little ones ages 0 – 4 and their families, Happy Birthday, Christmas Child is:

  • sturdy board book perfect for little hands
  • a charming introduction to the wonder and joy of Christmas
  • a spark for conversation about how Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus’ birth 
  • a fun way for toddlers and preschoolers to practice counting and naming things
  • a great gift option for Christmas, birthdays, baby showers, children’s ministry, preschool programs and more


I’d had it on my heart to write a Christmas counting board book for a while. I wanted it to be different from my first Christmas book GOODNIGHT, MANGER which had as its hook putting a crying Baby Jesus to sleep in a very noisy stable. Families connect with that story because they can relate to the bedtime struggle. And I love the underlying hope behind that book- that Jesus came into our mess, that he cried and thus that He is able to relate to us on a deeply human level.

But, there are other angles to the Christmas story and the vibe I wanted to catch in this new book was not one of noise and busy-ness, but of calm and joyful wonder. There’s a verse in the biblical telling that’s often read in church services during Christmas, that has always struck me.  From the gospel of Luke, it reads, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, ESV).

So with that verse in my heart, I joyfully set to work. First, hoping to capture Mary’s wonder as she saw the events unfold as the angel had foretold, I made a list of items (and creatures) in the Christmas story that little ones might find wondrous. These included the stable itself, the hay, small creatures like mice and spiders, angels, shepherds, and of course Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus with his ten tiny toes which play a finale role in the story.

Next, I set about finding a pattern of meter and rhyme that I felt captured the joyful wonder of that first birthday night. I chose four-line verses with an ABAB rhyme scheme in iambic meter.

Then I played with words, counting, and order, revising again and again until it felt right. I shared it at several stages with different critique buddies and with my agent. Then, when it was ready, we sent it to the team at Paraclete Press. They acquired it shortly thereafter and the journey to bringing the book to fully life with illustrations was underway.

The illustrator Paraclete chose for this project is Gabi Murphy and she has done a wonderful job capturing the wonder and fun of the story, as evidenced by the trailer.

After what must have been an intense period of illustrating, the book was finalized, went to print and even arrived in the warehouse ahead of schedule in August!

I’m delighted with the final product and hope families with little ones looking to savor a religious Christmas will enjoy this new addition to the Christmas board book world.


Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of six books for 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 won First Honor Book for the 2019 Best in Rhyme Award and 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 and her new board book with Zonderkidz, Bunny Finds Easter!

She writes daily from her home in New Jersey and finds special joy in sharing her love of reading and writing with the next generation at school visits and other book events.


Gabi Murphy’s first big influence in art came from an extremely bubbly tutor she had for A level art who declared, with much exuberant arm waving, ‘Darling, you must ‘do’ art!’ And so I did…

A foundation course in art was followed by a BA(Hons) in graphic design at what is now Middlesex University. Following this she went on to further study for a PGCE in Art and Design which qualified her to teach art at secondary level and above.

Realising that she had spent quite enough years in study – she decided she had to get on with the ‘do’ bit of the plan.

She has been a self employed artist ever since…..

Gabi spent many happy years illustrating greeting cards and then moved on to illustrating children’s books, and writing a few too!

Digital art bought about a real transformation in the way she worked. She says, “The learning curve may be steep but possibilities are endless as the world of digital art is constantly evolving. It is truly exciting and tremendous fun (as long, that is, as the computer behaves itself!).”

However, her creativity isn’t limited to digital work. Her studio testifies to the many different projects she undertakes and she says, “frankly, it generally resembles a chaotic muddle! But to me it’s a place of endless possibilities.”

Whether it’s hand decorated furniture – blanket boxes, toy boxes, nativity cribs and even an African styled Altar stand! Children’s toys including a large sit on children’s train, wall murals, church statue renovation – of which, a large statue of St Joseph with Jesus was a particular pleasure to work on as it enabled her to correct a divergent squint on little Jesus!

Laura, thank you for sharing your new book and journey with us. This would make a perfect Christmas gift for a toddler. I love how your combined the wonder and joy of Christmas with helping young children learn their numbers and identify the creatures and objects throughout the book. Gabi did a really good job illustrating your story. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you for having me on your blog today, Kathy! It’s a wonderful venue for celebrating new books. I’m honored to be included in the line up.


  2. Oh how I love point of view stories! Especially about this holiday! Looking forward to sharing it with family and friends.


  3. I love how you combine counting with the most important birthday of all! Thank you, Laura. The illustrations are so delightful. Young children will enjoy the story of Baby Jesus! Thank you, Gabi.


  4. This birthday celebration is my favorite of all year. This book’s illustrations are adorable and the rhyming text will be used as mentor text for me. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Pinterest, tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.


  5. Congratulations on this upcoming book, Laura and Gabi! It looks like the text has such a fun cadence for Christmas!


  6. So sweet❤️❤️❤️❤️


  7. This looks so bright and inviting!


  8. This book is so beautiful and will be a great addition to my grandsons’ library.


  9. This book is so beautiful and will be a great addition to my grandsons’ library.
    it was very useful blog post. if you shellc and visit website :
    Jeff Christian


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