Interview & Book Give-Away with Angie Martin & Operation Birthday Celebration

Angie Martin headshotIt’s the 4th Tuesday, and that means it’s book-give-away day! But today is especially special since we’re also looking ahead to Christmas for the kids!

Friends, what an honor it is to introduce Angie Martin to you today. Angie and I met at a writer’s conference and I was immediately impressed with her work. My goodness, just wait until you see what she has available for you and the children in your family!

Are you like me and hesitant to add another secular focus to the Christmas season? Then you’re exactly the kind of person who needs to meet Angie Martin and get to know her materials! Be sure to read her bio below, but for now, just trust me that this is something you want for kids in your realm of influence.

Be sure to leave a comment for Angie and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Don’t forget to check back next week to see if you’re the winner.

Okay, let’s get started. Angie, I’m going to state the obvious. It’s September, not December. Why are we talking about a children’s Christmas storybook now?

Operation Birthday Celebration—A Journey to the Manger is a storybook with interactive features. Jesse, a shepherd-drummer boy, and his feisty lamb, Bongo, are part of a drummer squad whisked away by the desert wind from Bethlehem on a special Christmas adventure—leading families to the manger andAngie Martin book photo the true meaning of the season. These adorable characters must be hand-crafted to “come to life” in time for their visit in December. Now is the perfect time to order! The storybook comes with instructions for crafting the character dolls (which could be as easy as repurposing dolls already available). An “Assignment Manual” suggests activities and teaching moments for twenty-five days, ending with a birthday celebration for baby Jesus. Because each book is personalized with the child’s (or children’s) name, city and state, deadline for ordering books is November 16 to ensure delivery by December 1.

This is such a great idea! What inspired you to write such a book?

The idea for Operation Birthday Celebration came during a conversation with my daughter. She and her husband had decided not to facilitate the Santa fantasy in their home, rather focusing on the birth of Jesus. Many of her mommy-friends posted on social media about family fun involving a popular secular children’s book and activities featuring a magical elf. Feeling sad that her two young sons were missing out, she said, “Mom, it’s just not fair!” She vented a frustration of many Christians living in a media-saturated world with strong secular influences. They’ve bought into the misconception that the “world” has captured the corner market on entertainment and believers are missing out. I wanted my grandsons to enjoy the holiday fun, but my main motivation for the book was to affirm our identity as children of God. He’s the Master Creator and since we’re created in His image, He endows us with the gift of creativity. We should be setting the standard for entertainment! I felt commissioned to create a faith-based alternative to that popular elf. What a surprise that God allowed me not only to write the story but also to illustrate the book!

Angie Martin book pageWhy do you think Operation Birthday Celebration is a better choice for Christian families?

Christian parents want creative resources that capture a child’s imagination and fuel curiosity while staying true to biblical teaching. Operation Birthday Celebration is entertaining while supporting Christian values and doctrine. Children enjoy the characters Jesse and Bongo as they learn about the birth of Jesus. Crafts and service projects help grow their faith and love for God’s Word. Although the book is designed for ages three to nine, older siblings can join the fun by crafting the Jesse and Bongo dolls and leading the daily adventures for the younger ones. Grandparents also love participating.

What’s in store for Jesse and Bongo in the future?

Initially, I conceived the story and characters as a gift to my grandsons. But writing colleagues believed Jesse and Bongo would be welcome in many more homes and encouraged me to consider a wider Angie Martin photo OBCaudience. I introduced the book and characters to a dozen test families, whose enthusiasm confirmed the book’s appeal and purpose. Through social media they connected and shared holiday excitement and fun. God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine—and Operation Birthday Celebration is making its public debut! Besides enriching family life during the Christmas season, this innovative educational tool is useful for children’s ministry leaders, Sunday School teachers, Christian pre-school and elementary school teachers, childcare providers, and the Christian home-school community. Anyone involved with the developmental growth of young children will appreciate this creative approach that brings Scripture to life and presents on a child’s level such concepts as sin, a need for a Savior, God’s grace, and the perfect gift of His Son Jesus. Wondering what’s next for Jesse and Bongo? New adventures are on the drawing board!

Angie Martin Jesse&BongoThis is exciting, Angie! Where can we get Operation Birthday Celebration?

Please visit www.JesseAndBongo.com. A little drummer boy and his spirited lamb are eager to make friends with you!

Oh, Angie, what a joy to hear more about your interactive book and products. And although my grandkids are teenagers and have outgrown such a gift, I know of other little ones who would love to have their own adventures with Jesse and Bongo! Thank you for working so hard to help parents teach their little ones the true meaning of Christmas!

And friends, remember to leave a comment and then come back next week to see if you’re the winner. What an awesome gift for the kids on your Christmas list this year!

Grace and peace,

Vonda

Posted in categories: Business of Writing | Christian Living | Christmas | Interviews | Jesus | Uncategorized | Writing for Children | Writing Instruction

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  • I have four sweet grandsons now so this sounds intriguing. Count me in, Angie and Vonda! 🙂

    • Angie Martin

      How crafty are you, Cheryl? Jesse and Bongo character dolls made by their sweet grandma makes it all the more special! Visit the website and learn how to get started!

      • Angie, I’m afraid I’m not crafty at all. My daughters have lots more going on in that department than I do! 🙂

        • Angie Martin

          You are not alone!! I’ve been so amazed at what other participants have done by “re-purposing” a doll they already have– and lambs are rather easy to find. This is why I make a push in September-October for new participants to get a jump on getting their character dolls together. It needs to be fun!

    • Yes, you are the new grandma of all grandmas with all your babies! I know you’re enjoying them!

  • I have enjoyed this interview, and would love to win the book! This lines up perfectly with some of my blog posts on Christian parenting. I hope to read your book and share about it with my readers.

    • I’m so glad you found another resource for your readers, Sally. And thanks for your encouraging words for Angie!

    • Angie Martin

      How easy it is for us to be critical of today’s parenting instead of encouraging one another on to good works. I have to admit that I am distressed to see so many Christian families compromise some values for entertainment sake but quickly discovered that given better choices, especially those that honored God and lined up with their beliefs, these same families were quick to jump on board! Email me, Sally! jesseandbongo@gmail.com

  • Love this!! What a fabulous idea, and so fun to have the crafts and activities too!

    • Yes, it is, Michelle. I knew y’all would love it!

    • Angie Martin

      One of my goals is to enrich the holidays, not add to the busyness. We need to make the spiritual education of our children a priority and therefore be intentional about it, but I wanted OBC to be fun, engaging, and something families would look forward to for several years. The storybook is just the beginning of a curriculum designed to bring CHRIST into Christmas. The daily adventures of Jesse and Bongo, orchestrated in the home, are what really make an impact. The parents’ handbook is intended to help parents create a plan and take some of the guess work out of the “adventure”. The beauty of it is that it can be followed to the letter, modified, or used as an example to spur on new ideas…basically an aide to help them succeed in their efforts!

  • Nan Jones

    This is a FANTASTIC idea! We began each Christmas morning with Jesus’ birthday cake that the kids helped make on Christmas Eve. No presents were opened until we sang happy birthday and blew out the candles. Such wonderful memories!

    • Great idea, Nan! Thanks for sharing it!

    • Angie Martin

      There you go! Even one year later most of us don’t remember the actual present we received but memories last a lifetime! Memories and traditions build families and leave legacies for the generations to come.

  • Great interview. Fantastic Activity-Storybook. Way to go Angie!

    • Hi Bruce, thanks for stopping by and encouraging Angie.

    • Angie Martin

      Thank you, Bruce! Sometimes the gentle whisper of God’s direction in our lives gets lost when we become overwhelmed by the waves in the storm. Encouragement from others helps me refocus!

  • Gayle Veitenheimer

    We also focused on Christ’s birth at Christmas and skipped the Santa thing. I was mourning the loss of opening stockings when God gave me the idea of Wise Men gifts. We have three fancy containers we fill with stocking stuffers! God is good. Our children are grown and Wise Men gifts are still the first thing opened Christmas morning.

    • I love that idea, Gayle. And it’s one I’ve never heard of. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    • Angie Martin

      This is exactly how OBC was conceived… for every worldly thing we place on the altar of sacrifice, God can burn it out of our lives and replace it with something that is a sweet aroma to Him! We are never found wanting in Him!

  • Gwyn Hubbert

    What a wonderful idea God gave you. I still have one grandchild in the right age group, and many great nieces and nephews. We cannot do enough to bring forth the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you, Angie and Vonda!

    • Angie Martin

      I’m excited to see who will this free copy. I pray over all my books and for the families who are being intentional about bringing CHRIST into Christmas!

      • I’m exited, too, Angie. Thank you for being with us!

    • You’re right, Gwyn, we must do all we can to spread His Great Name!

  • Oh, dear! Even my great-grandchildren are beyond that age. What a wonderful concept! Thank you, Angie, for doing this. And thank you, Vonda, for letting us have morning coffee with you both.

    • Angie Martin

      Good morning, Judith! I can never stop boasting about the way our Lord gives us everything for our enjoyment! (1Tim 6:17) Parenting is hard work but He helps us find ways to be creative and have fun! Your loved ones may be older, but no doubt your know moms with little ones or other grandmothers…encourage them to take a look!

      • Actually, I’m sending the link to our youth pastor.

        • Wow, awesome. Judith! Thank you!

        • Angie Martin

          Whoo-hoo!

    • Judith, I would LOVE to have morning coffee with you again one of these days! And I know all your kids and grandkids and great-grands love you!