The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

I can barely contain my excitement because IT’S HERE!!!

The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

I look forward to these contests so much, because everyone who enters is so creative and writes such terrific stories that it’s like Christmas morning – or maybe like each new day of Hanukkah – clicking over to new entries as they go up, full of anticipation for another entertaining read!  I literally cannot wait!  (It occurs to me that I sound like a five year old :))

For those who are just arriving on the scene and might want to take a crack at it, here are the rules:

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story beginning with any version of “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing through the [any substance you choose] in a [conveyance of any kind].”  For example, “Dashing through the sand in a two-wheeled donkey cart” or “Sloshing through the swamp in a green and white canoe” or “Flying through the air in a striped hot air balloon…”  You get the idea, I’m sure 🙂  But “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh” is completely acceptable too – whatever works for you 🙂  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet,  religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (because I have to read them all in the week before Christmas! :))
Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog any time between today and Wednesday December 19 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below which will remain up through Wednesday December 19 (there will be no new post on Monday December 17 to get in the way :)).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments below.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)
The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to seven (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Friday December 21 (no PPBF that day) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Christmas Eve and the winner(s) will be announced on Wednesday December 26.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to fifth place.
The Prizes!:  When I said the prizes were fantastic, I wasn’t kidding.  In the spirit of the holidays, winners will be named for 1st – 5th place, and will each receive a picture book manuscript critique AND a $20 Amazon gift card to spend on the reading material of your choice AND the incredible fame of being able to say you won (or placed in) the Pretty Much World Famous 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!  The critiques have been generously donated by the following fabulous children’s authors (in alphabetical order by first name :)):
Alison Hertz: author and illustrator of FLAP! (Magic Dreams Publishing, November 2012)
Amy Dixon: author of MARATHON MOUSE (Sky Pony Press, October 2012)
Corey Rosen Schwartz: author of Hop! Plop! (Walker Children’s Books, April 2006), THE THREE NINJA PIGS (Putnam Juvenile, September 2012), and the forthcoming GOLDIROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS and NINJA RED (both coming from Putnam).  Corey also writes the Meter Maids blog with Tiffany (below).
Sarah Frances Hardy: author and illustrator of PUZZLED BY PINK (Viking Juvenile, April 2012)
Tiffany Strelitz Haber: author of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN (Henry Holt, July 2012).  Tiffany also writes the Meter Maids blog with Corey (above).

So!  With prizes like that on offer are you…

…Ready, set, GO!

Here is my pathetic and clearly hurriedly composed sample 🙂  It requires that you sing it to the tune, and even then there are a couple places where I may have taken some liberties with the meter 🙂  The good thing is, I’m sure everyone else’s is way better than this, so you can all take comfort in knowing that and feel brave about posting your entries! 🙂

Christmas Eve Travel Trouble
(341 words)

Flying through the air in a sleigh pulled by eight deer
Santa and his elves were filled with Christmas cheer
When suddenly the sleigh gave an unexpected pitch
“Look out!” warned Comet from the front, “we’re heading for that ditch!”


Lying in the snow, presents scattered everywhere
The reindeer tangled up, the sleigh needing repair,
Santa’s Right-Hand Elf said, “This will never do!
We’re only halfway ’round the world and it’s quarter to two!”


Cleaning up the mess, Santa said “I’ve got a plan!
If our sleigh won’t fly, we’ll use this gift for Dan.
Help me load the pack.  Everybody climb on quick!”
Soon they were bouncing on their way aboard a pogo stick!


Hopping through the snow, they got to France’s shore
But then old Santa gasped, “I can’t jump any more!
Let’s find a better way.  There’ve got to be a few.”
His Right-Hand Elf said, “How ’bout this?  A bicycle-built-for-two!”


Cycling through the drifts, they reached Saskatchewan
Then Santa said, “That’s it.  I simply can’t go on.
What else is in the pack?  We need a better choice.”
They took a look and settled on the gift for Jen and Joyce.


Rowing through the snow, in a fiberglass canoe
Their arms soon tired out.  They switched to something new.
But traveling by kite, it’s very hard to steer!
When heading for the USA they landed in Zaire.

Flailing ‘cross the ice in a plastic wading pool…

Sailing o’er the plains in a LEGO pirate ship…

Riding through the hills on a wooden rocking horse…

Santa sighed.  “I miss my sleigh.  There’s got to be a better way!”

They reached the final stop at three minutes ’til dawn
“We made it!” Santa said, with a gigantic yawn.
Just then the sleigh caught up, hitched to the flying eight.
Comet said, “I fixed the sleigh.  Why didn’t you just wait?”

Jingle bells
Santa’s swell
He will find a way
To get the toys to girls and boys
In time for Christmas Day!

Happy Holidays Everyone!
Please remember to check the comments for entries!  There are stories there from Linda, Yvonne, Jill, Marci, RJ, and 2 different entries from Bara (also one from Deborah, but hers is on the link list now)!

165 thoughts on “The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

  1. Stina Lindenblatt says:

    Do you know how hard this was to sing, Susanna, when you're cracking up???? I loved it. I'm going to sing it (badly) to my kids later. 😀

  2. Leigh Covington says:

    OOH! I had so much fun doing this last year. I wish the time to put together an entry for this year. Can't wait to read what everyone submits though! Sounds like fun! Have a happy holiday season!

  3. Jill Proctor says:

    Thanks Susanna for the fun contest! Here is my entry.


    Rambling down the road
    In our Ford on Christmas Eve
    O'er the bumps we go,
    Wanting to believe.
    Santa sent a note,
    “Meet me at the Square.”
    What fun it is to hope and pray
    That Santa will be there.


    Oh, rickety bang bang, rickety bang bang
    Bumping all the way.
    Oh, we wish that we could ride
    In Grandma's Chevrolet.
    Rickety bang bang, rickety bang bang
    Joggling to and fro.
    Santa Claus, we're on our way
    Please don't pack up and go.

    We pulled up to the curb
    And dashed into the Square.
    Looking up and down:
    Santas everywhere!
    Panic soon sets in.
    Now how are we to know
    Just who the the real Santa is?
    Then came a, “Ho, ho, ho!”


    A voice we'd heard before
    Came drifting through the air.
    It must be ol' St. Nick's,
    I'd know it anywhere.
    One kid on my left,
    Another on my right
    Leading me beneath the tree…
    Behold! A heav'nly sight!


    It isn't Santa Claus,
    Though he wears a suit of red.
    A beard and long white hair
    Are covering his head.
    We run into his arms,
    We must be quite a sight.
    Our dad is home from Afghanistan,
    A miracle tonight.

  4. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Oh, Jill! You made me all misty-eyed at the end there! What a lovely, lovely story! I love the chorus with the bumpy, rickety car noises, and I completely fell for the set-up, thinking it was all about finding the real Santa. So cleverly done, when I got to the surprise end and then looked back at the first verse! Excellent job, and a story that would touch many children's hearts! Thank you so much for entering and joining the holiday contest fun! 🙂

  5. Anna Lunt says:

    I love the irony at the end of your story, Susanna, after Santa has been through all that struggle. Very clever and funny 🙂 Thank you for hosting another fun challenge!

  6. Anna Lunt says:

    I laughed every time after the refrain and many times through out. But it just tickles me to think of sheep in their homemade antlers.

  7. Alayne Kay Christian says:

    Jill, this story is great. It starts out so funny and builds up to even funnier with all the Santas. And then Whoa! What a surprise ending. It gave me a chill, a smile, and a tear in the corner of my eye. Nicely done.

  8. Anna Lunt says:

    Elfie sure has some fun ideas. I love that she pictured the bumper car like Santa's sleigh. Also “Runaway bumper car” is fun to say.

  9. Anna Lunt says:

    What a fun perspective. Babies must think we are pretty clueless, huh? I love this, Linda (especially “tickle goes my tummy”). Delightful.

  10. Jill Proctor says:

    Thank you, Susanna. I have had so much fun reading all of the entries…they're just GREAT! Thank you, everyone, for your creative stories. It's so fun starting from the same point and seeing where everyone goes with it.

  11. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    POSTED FOR Bara Savastano-Genovese

    Where the Geese Winter by Bara Savastano-Genovese

    Slogging through the slush, in my green and purple boots, I slipped on a patch of ice and went sliding down down down, head over heels, boots flying off my feet and landing who knows where – until I was in a part of the forest I had never been in before.

    When the geese did their flybys past my house, I’d try to guess how many were in the formation. What I didn’t understand was that if geese fly south for the winter, why did they do flybys all year round past my house? Where was south for them? We lived in Minnesota.

    In this part of the forest that I’d fallen into, there were so many geese, that when you took a gander at them, you’d think that you’d landed in the place where all geese go to for the winter.

    By now, my toes were froze – my green and purple boots having taken their own flyby. Like snow, feathers began to pile up around me, especially to the south of me and my icy cold feet. Then, the biggest goose I ever saw, waddled toward me. It opened an eiderdown wing and I heard, like you hear when you put your ear to a seashell, a sound. It started as a honking chorus. But contrary to being easily identifiable as a flock of geese, sounded instead like a Hallelujah Chorus. Who knew geese could sing? Maybe they only sing when they find South.

    But sing they did, and my feet were warm. I must have closed my eyes for just a moment, for the next thing I knew, I was back home.

    Of course my mother scolded me for loosing my boots again. And she couldn’t understand, no matter how many times I tried to explain it to her, that I had found where the geese fly south for the winter. Oh nonsense, child, she’d say, in that way that she looks at me, with a little smile tucked into the corner of her mouth, we live in Minnesota.

  12. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    POSTED FOR Bara Savastano-Genovese

    Paolo the Pearl Diving Cat by Bara Savastano-Genovese

    Dashing through the mall, with my Christmas panicked feet, I realized that I still had a list as long as my arm to shop for. I could always go downtown to the Festival of the Last Minute. But just saying it made me tired.

    So I tromped home in time for dinner, then fell asleep in my soup. When I came to, our cat Paolo was hanging from my sister’s ponytail. Between the two of them, there was enough of a Cheshire cat smile to light two city blocks.

    “Whaaaat?” was all I could manage, as Paolo, now sitting atop my sister’s head, his long paws stretched down the side of Esmerelda’s ears, as if she had a secret swinging from each earlobe.

    “For once I know something you don’t know, and I could save you a lot of stress this Holiday Season.”

    “Anything,” I murmured, as Esmerelda and Paolo led me to the garage.

    “He’s been practicing,” she said, as Paolo stood up on his hind legs and pointed with his right front paw to the markings on the wall.

    “Paolo’s been stretching his legs every day, then he goes into the bathtub to hold his breath because Paolo wants to be a deep sea pearl diver. Imagine that? And so I thought that every cat ought to have its day in the sun and live at least one of its nine lives as it really wants to. So after he practices his stretches and holding his breath, I take him to the beach and throw him off the end of the pier, and in no time, he comes back with a pawful of oysters, which Paolo and I crack open, and polish the pearls. There’s enough for everyone on your list, including me.

    I kissed my sister on her impish pixie nose, and Paolo on his sea scented furry head – there’s not many places where you can safely kiss a multi-talented cat. And look forward to see how Paolo decides to use the next of his nine lives.

  13. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    What an interesting idea! A pearl-diving cat… with future adventures ahead in his other lives! And can't we all relate to that panicky last-minute feel, when we haven't found all the gifts we need and the shopping has worn us out? What a relief to discover that Paolo and Esmerelda have a solution! Thanks for a very original entry, Bara!!! 🙂

  14. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    You know, I always wonder the same thing about geese, Bara! How far south is south enough? I love the idea of your girl stumbling into their gathering area and being taken care of, and the ambiguity of whether she falls asleep or not. Thanks for a fun and creative entry!! 🙂

  15. Margaret says:

    Susannah, I loved your story — it would make such a fun picture book. Entertaining and geographically educational! Love your creative mind.

  16. Margaret says:

    What a cute and creative idea. I could just picture the sheep in their beards and hats sneaking down the street. I loved it!

  17. RJ Gee says:

    Getting it in just under the midnight wire! Set to the expected tune, with only minor work required by the reader to stick to the meter. Happy reading!

    Lost and Found
    Lying in the snow, it's very cold outside
    Got left on the tree, tragically hitched a ride
    Waited here all night, for my fate to arrive
    Believe I hear the truck at last, coming down the drive

    Lasting thoughts of seasons past, many memories
    Norway Spruce, Noble Fir, plastic christmas tree
    Ornaments, high and low, hung for all to see
    While there were a lot of us, how could they forget me?

    A gift from long ago, an fairly ugly elf
    Not appropriate for kids to sit upon a shelf
    Maybe an accident, maybe it was a plan
    In any case, the man is here to toss me in his van

    Grabbing hands, moving tree, I fall to the ground
    Sadly in the new wet snow I fail to make a sound
    Big black boot steps on me, wait he's looking down
    What's that look, I cannot tell, a smile or a frown?

    Ever since that night, gone my uncertainty
    No longer will I sit, only upon a tree
    Most other ornaments, come out but once a year
    Now I hang out all of the time upon this rear view mirror

    Garbage truck, ugly elf, rolling through the town
    The best of things can happen just when life is looking down
    For most folks, this new perch, would not be a treat
    Still with all the odors I must say that life smells sweet

  18. Deb Lund says:

    Not on my blog, and not for the contest… Just wanted to say thanks for a great year, and for all your friendship and support. What a gift to get to know you here!


    Just a beginning—Thanks for the inspiration!

    Crashing through the gifts, in a race on Christmas day.

    One cat, two dogs, three kids—laughing all the way.

    Bells and bows and bulbs are breaking left and right.

    Oh, what fun it is until it turns into a fight.


    Oh, kids all yell! Cat hits bells! Dogs just want to play!

    Oh, what fun to rip into your gifts on Christmas Day.

    Oh, kids all yell! Cat hits bells! Dogs just want to play!

    Oh, what fun to rip into your gifts on Christmas Day.

    To be continued…

  19. Alayne Kay Christian says:

    I wanted so badly to get through all the entries. But I only got through about 20 of the 32. I will have limited to no computer access from now until after Christmas. But I will get back to reading these great stories as soon as I can.

  20. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Definitely a different take on the Christmas story…so glad he is 'rescued'…reminds me of the story of “The Remarkable Rocket” by Oscar Wilde.
    Love your images…and the last line is fantastic!

  21. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Wow…this has a very fairy-tale-ish feel to it…kind of like 'The Wild Swans'…very dream-like. And the mom, just like many, makes light of the fantastic adventure her daughter had. Great images, Bara!

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