Christmas Goodnight activities & GIVEAWAY!

Making paper puppets is a wee bit too much fun. Maybe it's because it's when I really get to see my art come alive with my kids! That's also probably why I love illustrating books and fabric so much, because I get to see children handling and playing with the art.

For A Christmas Goodnight, I've made some fun coloring pages and paper puppets to go with the story. I think you'll have fun making up all sorts of uses for these!

A Christmas Goodnight tells the simple story of a little boy saying "Goodnight" to all the characters in the Nativity...


Goodnight to the Baby in the hay

Goodnight to the doves, coo-coo

Goodnight to the sleepy Mother

Goodnight to Joseph too


But you don't realize it's the little boy saying goodnight until the very end, and it's just a charming read.



Download here.

So, what I did, was create 2 pages of characters and objects from the book, so you can create your own interactions and say "goodnight" as well! Some ideas for you:

1) Color in each character as you read the story

2) Make your own ornaments, and hang on the tree as you read the story to your children

2) Back with felt and make a felt board scene.

3) Make your own Christmas Goodnight scene and glue the pictures to the "Starry Night" backdrop I made for the puppet theater.

4) Play a "Find and Seek" game and while you read, have your child go seek the cut out character from around the room, to place on the tree, or in a scene.





Nativity Puppet Theater

Download here.


The Puppet Theater is simple, but really fun to set up!

In the book, I designed a very starry sky for that magical Christmas night.  We usually imagine that night with the ONE new star  in the sky. But while that star is the brightest, I imagined that if I were a star, I'd want to shine the brightest for Baby Jesus too! So, it's a starry night...full of stars that all want to shine their best!

This little scene is perfect for acting out and can even be added too with the coloring page characters, if you want to add more!




But right now...I really just want to say thank you!!

Thank you for all your sweet email, comments, notes and support. I've loved hearing how you have wrapped this up under the tree....or that you've already read it to your little children. Creating my very first book around the best story ever told, was such a wonderful challenge! Wonderful because best story ever told, but challenging because it also the most TOLD story ever told. How do you illustrate a story that EVERYONE knows, and loves? It was very daunting and very intimidating for much of the process. But in the end, I just feel honored to have illustrated this story! It's simple and unassuming...yet warm and magical. All how that night must have been.

And to say Thank You,

I thought we could have a little GIVEAWAY!!

All you need to do, is leave a comment below, and I'll choose THREE winners to get  a signed copy of the book, as well as  the "For Unto You" print, unframed. Or, any print of your choice. But I thought these would go well together!



1) Leave one comment below (making sure to leave your email in the comment form)

2) Like this giveaway on Facebook here.

3) Tweet about the giveaway or book using #christmasgoodnight  My twitter is here.

4) Comments will be closed Monday night at midnight (EST)

5) USA and International welcome!

6) I'll total up the number of tweets, comments and facebook likes to randomly select the winner.

7) But in the mean time...print off these coloring pages and have some fun this weekend!



Thanks again! I hope you are all getting into the Christmas Spirit! Love to you all!!







Peek into A Christmas Goodnight

I've made a book trailer that I think really gets to the core of what this book is about. Creating activity pages for children to play with goes right along with the themes of children interacting with the Christmas Story, and so I hope you enjoy!

You can purchase the book here.

More information on the book here.

You can download FREE PDF printables that go with the book in tomorrow's post.

I'm feeling more like Christmas than ever before. This book was so, so special to make, and finally enjoying the book with children has sealed the deal. I love this work.



The Nutcracker Puppet Theater

Ok. I am officially giddy over this post.

We've been up to a little something here in the and the elves  kids have been feverishly creating a little Nutcracker world, and we're all a bunch of giddy little sugar plums over it.

I've been wanting to make these for a while, and I just couldn't wait any longer. This weekend we were decorating gingerbread houses and watching the Maurice Sendak version of the Nutcracker with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. And the kids were glued. We've been acting it out ever since!

So we made this Puppet Theater set. I say "we" because it was really a joint effort. The kids would play, and I'd draw it out, and we'd imagine together what all the characters looked like.

Here's a little video of us putting these together. It's taken with my iphone (note to self...always hold the phone horizontal, not vertical when making movies!)


I'm getting a little obsessed with imovie. I used it for the first time last night making this...and um....I can see a lot more of these in my future. So super easy and fun!

So. This is what we've done. we've made the these PDF downloads (like the Peter and the Wolf Puppet Theater kit that has been so, so popular) and I'm including the story and music clips below so that you can act out the story right here! There are 13 characters...enough for literally hours of play.


1) Not all characters were created. I had to stop somewhere!

2) These should be cut out by an adult. They do have tiny parts, and so give yourself some time to carefully cut

3) This is a DOWNLOAD only. Instructions are included in the download for printing, brads, etc.


You can purchase the PDF download here.


So...are you ready? Get out your dolls....and play along!





(Simply play the music below each image while you are dancing to the scene with your paper puppet dolls)



The Overture

Clara’s family is having a Christmas party.  She and her little brother Fritz dance and decorate the tree.  Soon Clara’s mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives and gives her a special toy nutcracker.  Fritz pretending to be a soldier, breaks the Nutcrackers jaw and the doll is broken.  As Clara cries, kind Drosselmeyer ties his scarf around the Nutcracker and fixes him.



Clara and the Nutcracker

Clara Dances with her Nutcracker.  Relieved her new toy is fixed, Clara dances with the Nutcracker and pretends he is really a hansom prince.



The Battle

Clara falls asleep and shrinks to the size of the toys.  The Mouse King appears and the Nutcracker comes alive to defend Clara.  The Nutcracker fights bravely, but after a long battle the Mouse King knocks the Nutcracker to the ground.  Clara throws her shoe at the Mouse King and distracts him long enough for the Nutcracker to kill him.          



Pas de Deux

The Nutcracker becomes a hansom prince and dances with Clara.



Waltz of the Snowflakes

The Nutcracker Prince and Clara travel through a snowy forest on the way to his Kingdom.  Snow fairies and the Snow Queen dance all around them.




Clara and the Nutcracker Prince arrive in the Land of Sweets.  Sweets from around the world come to dance in turn for Clara, and thank her for defeating the Mouse King.



Arabian Dance




Chinese Dance



Russian Dance


Waltz of the Flowers



Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy



Drosselmeyer joins Clara and the Prince as everyone dances together.  Clara and the Prince are crowned rulers of the Land of Sweets.  (In some early versions Clara stays in the Land of Sweets and the ballet ends.  In others the prince takes her home, or she wakes up in bed with the doll in her arms realizing it was all a dream.  Pick the ending you like best.  I’ve never seen two identical productions. )





Wasn't that fun? I am feeling like I'm 7 again...all tingly and magical. Gosh, I love this music!

I had so much fun making this....I might even add more characters next year, but this, I think, is plenty! And look! They even can double as Christmas Ornaments when you are done. Or for practicing your ballet positions in your spare time!





Really. Paper Toys are so under rated. These kept my 5 year old boy busy all weekend. Gotta love paper dolls.

Merry Christmas!


sarah jane






In Review

CHRISTMAS cover for blog
CHRISTMAS cover for blog

When you put a book out in the world, it's only natural for you to hope people like it. I mean, it's a labor of love, and you get really close to your work, and you really have no idea how it will be received out in the big (critical) world out there.

I finished this book a year and a half ago. Can you believe that? I started it when Ella was born. It's a weird idea to promote something that people are seeing as fresh and new, but really it's something that is a part of your soul....from 2009. I know it's part of the industry that I'm in, but I still can't get used to it:)

So finding out that A Christmas Goodnight has received some warm praises, is such a highlight. This is my first experience with having my name in papers, and online reviews, so you can imagine how I'd be a little shy about hearing what people have to say. I'm just so glad that readers are finding it a classic and special way to bring in the Christmas Season!

new york times book review
new york times book review

Yesterday, A Chrismtas Goodnight was featured in the NEW YORK TIMES Book Review section, which is pretty neat. And I realized, that I haven't really shared any reviews with you! Here you go:

"...a debut for Wright, the illustrator, "A Christmas Goodnight" features sweet faced children and animals and an especially cosy looking manger, which work well with Buck's graceful rhymes."

The New York Times

“Buck and debut illustrator Wright produce a book that deserves special status, to be kept off-season with other holiday decorations and then brought out each year at Christmas. Great for grandparents to give.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Quietly charming. A fine read-aloud for a group of little ones, but also a cozy choice as a December bedtime story. A terrific introduction for preschoolers who are just learning about the Nativity story.”

Kirkus Reviews

“The soothing rhyming text and soft palette of the illustrations is ideal for bedtime read-alouds while also serving as a straightforward introduction to the important characters in the story of that first Christmas. ”

The Horn Book


The most important reviews are the ones from the kids though. I love getting your emails sharing with me your children's reactions....their favorites little characters (everyone loves either the little tiny bunny or the baby lamb) and it's so special for me to hear that! Reactions from the children are the most important. I'm a newbie here in the publishing world, but I'm already working on more books...and if you have a review to share, I'd love it if you could post one online.

Last week, Kenneth and I took the kids out for a little family date night (ice cream cones and a trip to Barnes and Noble) and as we walked into the children's section, guess what we saw for the first time! Addie and Ian had the cutest faces. The face that says: "No way! This store has the same book that mom made?" Ian was sure to hurry and point out the little hidden secrets in the book that he loves to see

Happy Monday! I've got tons of fun downloads and activities and Christmas play things to show you in conjunction with the book and with Christmas. I feel like a Christmas Elf!

Thanks all of you who have shared your wonderful emails and comments about the book. It's a sweet, simple, uncomplicated book...the way the Christmas Story should be. It's the kind of book that you have to read slow and feel. And I've loved reading your comments:)

signed bookplate
signed bookplate

And just a reminder...there are just a few more days (Dec. 10th internationally and Dec. 15th within in the U.S.) that you can get autographed bookplates from me that I'd be happy to sign and write a message on. You can get them here.

Happy Monday!!



RE-POST: Christmas Book Advent Calendar

This is a post from last year, but it's been so popular that I wanted to post it again in case any of you need ideas for an advent Calendar this year! You will most likely have everything you you can start today! Here's the link to the original post from 2010.

I've been wanting to do this advent calendar for years...and I finally get to do it!  This will be our first Christmas home since having children, and I've wanted to have this be a family tradition of ours since I saw this idea from a neighbor of mine years back.

Children's Picture Book Advent Calendar: What is it?

24 Christmas Picture Books, all wrapped up and marked for each day leading up until Christmas. This way, we will be reading one Christmas story a night!

Now don't panic...getting 24 Christmas Books isn't as hard as it looks. When you can check out Christmas books from the Library for 3 weeks at a time, it makes it rather may need to renew one time in there, but it still makes for a lovely tradition! And inexpensive too!

And Book the Bible, so that lessens the load a bit. But you'd be surprised how many Christmas books you already have.  Really, I am sure you have more than you think you do. I think books on winter can even count too... And don't forget any Christmas Anthologies with short stories in there too.

Here's a list of a few of mine in there:

A Christmas Goodnight

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I'll Be Home For Christmas

The Polar Express

The 12 Prayers of Christmas

Christmas In the Manger

Christmas is Here

Christmas Day in the Morning

Snowmen at Christmas

A Wish to be a Christmas Tree

God Gave us Christmas

Who is Coming to Our House?

Olive, the Other Reindeer

Oh there are SO many Christmas books that I want to get my hands on....I have so many favorites that I don't even have own yet! But this year, most of the books in our Advent Calender we DO own (thanks to the need to have a few books for "research" when working on my book) but even the children, these books will be like new since they are all wrapped up.

These books are now in our open bookcase in the basement (thus the really lousy photo...sorry!) But this way, they are in plain visibility. Another good place is the hearth of the fireplace...or in your child's bedroom.

Anyways...I wanted to share in case anyone needed a good idea for an advent calendar this year. And the best part? It's either "rented" or a good reason to add to your already established Christmas collection.

Have any of you ever tried this one? It's a new tradition for us this year, and I think this one is here to stay!

Happy Christmas!




A bit of news:  LUCKY magazine, the seasonal LUCKY KIDS insert to be exact, featured my blog in their best blog round up!

Wow. That was fun to see!

And what made me smile, is that the thumbnail image is my son's head. He has a cute head. But he's 5, and I don't know if I'll show him that his profile is shared with Jessica Simpson. Not just yet at least. Don't want him to get any ideas, you know?

No, really...I'm really so flattered that they'd choose my blog as "The Best Blogs" in their Winter issue! Wow. Really. Wow. Thanks so much Lucky!

As part of the feature, I'll be GUEST BLOGGING this week at LUCKY KIDS with a daily round up of handmade, creative, and great finds for the holidays. I used to blog more about my favorite things...but now thanks to twitter, pinterest, etc. I can post things like that there. So this was fun to put together! Come say hi!

And as promised, I can't finish a post with out a sketch from my current sketchbook.

I've been thinking about cold bunnies lately. You?



Mood Boards

I like to put mood boards together. Inspiration boards. Story Boards. Whatever you call it, it's really good for me to put my ideas in one place, and make little families.

My brain is always so full of information, it really helps to put bits and chunks in one place and see how they work together. Sometimes they are digital, sometimes they are on my wall in my studio...sometimes they are cut and paste, or printed out on paper. Pinterest is awesome for collecting name form, and I have collected ideas there.

This one is for a top-secret mission and I can't say anything about it.

Just kidding. I'm working on new fabric again (!) and this is a peek at just the ideas behind it. Too early to show anything just yet...but it's rather fun to see how it all gets started. The conception of ideas usually starts with random bits of information in my head (information for me = sounds, colors, shapes, people, phrases, memories...) and plop them down on the table and then I start to see where and how they work together. I move the pieces around like it's a puzzle, and eventually pieces shift, get thrown out, come to the front...and I have something to work with. The conception stage takes the longest for me. Like a really good, slow simmer!

But I'm liking it so far! I think the octopus is blushing...and it makes me smile to wonder at what! Cute little guy!


And PS: The Cyber Monday sale is still going on here and here! Read more here. Happy Holidays!!! Yipee!





Black Friday/ Cyber Monday Weekend sale!

I'm still full from yesterday, and happily lounging in my PJ's with my family this morning, but had to stop in real quick and let you know (if you didn't get the memo in my newletter) that this weekend we're having an awesome sale!

The best part about this sale, is that when you make an order with the code thanks15 you'll get a code for a 20% off coupon in January! And if that wasn't fun enough, all orders with the code thanks15 will be entered to win a $100 gift certificate to the shop that I'll announce on Tuesday!


(On ETSY and the new shop!)

So, I know you are all doing shopping this weekend, but stop on in enjoy the sale!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

See you soon!

xo sarah