March Madness Writing Contest Finalists!!!

I know you’ve all been on tenterhooks, waiting with bated breath, counting the minutes until you find out which of the amazing fractured fairy tales entered in the March Madness Writing Contest made the finals!

Well, I’d love to tell you, but we couldn’t decide.

The MarcMadness Writing Contest!
Just kidding 🙂  We decided… in the end… but it was nearly the end of us, and I’m not sure who will be living happily ever after!

We agonized.

Seriously.

We’ve done nothing but eat, sleep and breathe fairy tales for the last 3 days solid.  (Well, not counting a school visit on Tuesday which took me out of the judging room for a large portion of the day.)  And we stayed up WAY past our bedtimes last night (which is likely to result in a challenging school visit today!), evaluating and re-evaluating, weighing kid-friendliness, story quality, creativity, and originality, good beginnings, good endings, and clever twists, stories for youngest readers, middle grade readers, and teen readers.

We had entries that moved down out of the finalists short list and back up.  We had entries that were incredibly creative and well-written but weren’t quite stories.  We had entries that were great ideas but their plots didn’t quite hang together.  We had entries we loved until the last two sentences.  We had a couple that even the judge who usually goes for such things thought were a little too dark.  We had entries we loved that we thought were a little too adult or that had elements of humor we thought were too adult for the rest of the story.  And we had a LOT of entries that were great but we felt just lacked that certain something to put them quite over the top onto the list… and that of course is subjective to some degree, so another group of judges might have chosen differently.

Any of you who had a chance to read through the entries will know how fantastic they were.  Across the board  you guys should all be so proud of yourselves!  Not only did you show up, you delivered!  And like I said, the choice was incredibly hard.

So, without further ado…

… let me give you a few statistics that I’m sure you’ll find thrilling 🙂

In case you were wondering (admit it, you were), the fairy tale entries broke down as follows:

Goldilocks: 10
Red Riding Hood: 8
Cinderella: 5
Jack & Bean Stalk: 5
Mash-Up: 5
Princess & Pea: 4
Billy Goats Gruff: 4
Hansel & Gretel: 4
Nursery Rhyme-related: 4
3 Little Pigs: 3
Little Red Hen: 3
Boy Who Cried Wolf: 3
Sleeping Beauty: 2 (one of which was submitted by my husband and was therefore just for fun)
Gingerbread Man: 2 (one of which was mine, so technically not an entry :))
12 Dancing Princesses: 2
Emperor’s New Clothes: 1
Snow White: 1
Rapunzel: 1
Shoemaker & Elves: 1
Frog Prince: 1
Tortoise & Hare: 1

Also, the human eye blinks an everage of 4,200,000 times a year… since we’re talking statistics 🙂

And now, without further ado…

Wait.  One more thing.

There were so many great entries we DID after much tearing of hair and rending of garments come up with a finalist list, but in order to do so we had to be incredibly picky about minute details.  Many of the stories we cut were fantastic… but for one tiny detail which dropped them out of contention.  So on Monday, when we announce the winners, we will also announce a list of 12 Honorable Mentions (a nice even dozen :)) who almost made the list and truly deserve recognition, and they will probably qualify for a little prize of some kind which I will think up over the weekend 🙂

VOTING:  Please read through these 10 amazing stories, choose the one you think most deserves to win, and vote for it in the poll below.  Stories are listed by number and title only – author’s name deliberately omitted to help with objectivity in voting.  If you’d like to share this post on FB, twitter etc. so that the deserving finalists get more reads and votes, you are encouraged to do so, but I ask that you please not attempt to influence the vote by requesting people to vote for specific numbers or titles.   That is not in the spirit of the competition, and if I find out you’ve done it you will be disqualified.

And now, really without further ado…

…here are the 10 Finalists:

#1  The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff

“Melting snow is swamping the soil! Time to head to higher ground,” said Papa Worm.
Papa, Mama and Baby Worm squirmed to the surface and wiggled up the grassy slope to face—
the dreaded sidewalk.
“Ow! It’s rough,” said Baby.
“Go as fast as you can.” Mama gave him a pat. “And keep a lookout for birds.”
Baby wiggled as fast as he could.
But he was only halfway across when a robin swooped down.
“I’m going to gobble you up and take you to my babies!” the robin squawked.
“I’m a baby myself. Barely a bite, and not worth your flight. Mama is coming, she’s more than a morsel. Why don’t you wait for her?” said Baby.
The robin thanked Baby and sent him on his way.
When the coast looked clear, Mama wiggled as fast as she could.
But she was barely halfway across when the robin hopped out from a bush.
“I’m going to gobble you up and take you to my babies!” the robin squawked.
“I’d make an adequate dinner, but if you want to treat your babies to a feast you might want to wait for Papa worm. He’s coming next,” said Mama.
The robin thanked Mama and sent her on her way.
Papa did calisthenics, warming up his wiggle. Between the birds and the pavement heating up, He needed to be fast!
Papa wasn’t halfway across when the robin landed in his path.
“I’m going to gobble you up and take you to my babies!” the robin squawked. “You are plump perfection!”
“Is it true that the early bird gets the worm?” asked Papa.
“That’s true.” The robin opened wide.
“Stop! How do I know you’re the early bird? Maybe someone else is supposed to eat me,” said Papa.
A second bird saw its chance. “I was here first.”
“No, you weren’t!” the robin screeched.
“I’m the early bird!” they both insisted.
The two birds went beak to beak, pecking and pulling feathers.
While the birds quarreled, Papa wiggled,
across the concrete and—Ploop!—down a hole in the grass.
“No worm for the early bird today.” Papa hugged his family.
They wiggled down to enjoy their damp, but not flooded, springtime home. .

until summer heat baked the soil and they had to return across the sidewalk again.


#2  Sweetie Witch

A sweet old witch named Hilda
Lived deep in Toffee Wood,
Weaving magic, casting spells…
Some bad, but mostly good.
One day while dipping in a stream
To catch a moonlight pearl,
She heard a sob, and in a bush
There crouched a tearful girl.
“I beg you Miss, don’t eat me!”
Pleaded little Gretel,
“My bones are dry, my flesh is thin,
My blood tastes yuck, like metal.”
Hilda laughed and shook her head,
Though Gretel was suspicious.
“Why would I eat you dear
When my house tastes so delicious?”
The witch led Gretel through the trees
Into a fairy glade,
And Gretel’s eyes grew round as hoops
At wonders there displayed.
A cottage built from gingerbread
And cake, instead of oak.
Up from the chocolate chimney pot
Rose cotton-candy smoke.
Brightly colored lollipops
In pots beside the door.
Honeycomb for roof tiles,
And sherbet on the floor.
A table made from liquorice,
With soft marshmallow chairs.
A rug of woven apple-whips,
And jelly-beans for stairs.
“The best part’s round the back, my dear,”
Hilda trilled with glee,
“My sweetie tree makes anything – look –
I’m growing a muffin settee!”
When Gretel saw she gave a gasp
For on it her brother sat,
His mouth crammed full of muffin crumbs,
Stroking the witch’s cat.
“Hello there, my name’s Hansel,”
The foolish glutton said,
“Could you get me some milk to wash this down?”
Suddenly… the witch… saw RED!
“Oh, greedy boy!” yelled Hilda,
“You really are a hog!”
With that she waved her candy wand
And turned him to a frog.
Poor Gretel started weeping,
Which softened Hilda’s heart,
And she turned her to a frog too
So they’d never be apart.
Now Hansel and Gretel live happily
In Hilda’s little stream,
Diving down for moonlight pearls

And eating fly ice-cream.


#3  The Princess And The Stinky Cheese

“If you don’t find a princess to marry soon,” the Queen said, “I’ll be forced to give the crown to the dog.”
“Mother, your ridiculous “true princess” tests are the problem,” Prince Plumbottom whined. “Let’s see. Merida didn’t feel the grain of rice in her pillow.”
“Snored like a bear.”
“Fiona couldn’t taste donkey snot in her soup.”
“Gobbled it down like a dragon.”
“Even if a princess passed your test,” Prince Plumbottom said, “Princesses are so boring. I want to marry a daring lass!”
“Very well, son. We will look for a true princess who is also daring. I know just the right test.”
“Here comes a girl now, and she has a branch in her hair!” he clapped his hands. “This young woman has had an adventure.”
The prince skipped over to the soaking wet maiden.  
“Hello, I’m Prince Plumbottom.”
“Hello, I’m Princess Peabody,” she said. “I was tracking a rattlesnake, but I fell into the river and now I’m quite lost.”
“A rattlesnake? How daring!” the prince squealed. “Won’t you join us for lunch?”
Princess Peabody wiped her muddy face with a napkin. She was about to blow her nose, but stopped when she heard the Queen whisper “Stinky Cheese Test” to the prince. She had heard of queens like this.  
“Cheese, dear?” the Queen asked.
“Oh, it’s a lovely green,” Princess Peabody said. “But it’s not nearly stinky enough.”
The prince beamed.
The Queen thumped on the table. “Cook! Bring the stinkier cheese!”
The cook held a handkerchief over her nose and presented the stinkier cheese.
“Yummy. It smells like an ogre’s shoe,” the princess said. “But my Kingdom has much stinkier cheese.”
The Queen’s face turned red. “Guards! Find the stinkiest cheese in the land!”
The knights returned with a metal trunk which smelled like a dragon’s armpit.
“Open it!” the Queen commanded.
The knights closed their armor masks and reached with a sword to open the chest.  The stench was so horrific, so terrible, so… stinky that everyone fainted.
Everyone except Princess Peabody.
She fed the stinky cheese to the royal dog who didn’t mind the smell at all. Then she blew her nose, finally clearing it of river mud.
The Queen came to and saw the empty cheese plate. “A true princess!”
Prince Plumbottom declared, “A daring princess!”
Burp! The dog agreed.

And they all lived stinkily ever after. 


#4  The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster

Torito’s brothers were sound asleep, 
but Torito . . . was as perky as a cactus.
Naps are no fun, he thought. He twiddled his ears until he got a wonderful idea.
“Help!” he cried. “There’s a Gila monster under our bed!”
Torito’s brothers jumped so high, they bumped the ceiling. Mama burst into the room, broom in hand. Torito giggled.
“Torito,” Mama said, grabbing the stuffed Gila monster he’d hidden, “YOU are supposed
to be asleep.” She handed him the toy and left.
Torito and his brothers snuggled into their bed. Soon his brothers were sound asleep, but
Torito . . . was as restless as a tumbleweed.
Naps are boring, he thought. I know . . .
“Help!” he cried. “There’s a Gila monster under our bed!”
Torito’s brothers cowered in the corner. Mama burst into the room. Torito laughed so hard, his sides ached.
“Torito J. Jackrabbit,” Mama said, grabbing the stuffed Gila monster, “YOU—”
“I tricked you!” Torito teased.
Mama crossed her arms. “It isn’t nice to trick. Now go to sleep.” This time she kept the toy.
Torito and his brothers snuggled into their bed. Torito was as tired as a tortoise.
He closed his eyes.
Scritch-scratch!
Torito tore off his covers and peeked under the bed.
He gasped.
Two beady eyes stared back at him. Five sharp claws flexed on each hand. A long, purple tongue flickered out.
“Giiiiii-laaaaa monnnn-sterrrrr!” Torito yelled as he leaped into the closet.
His brothers didn’t move. They covered their ears and rolled over.
“Mama!” Torito screamed.
But Mama called back, “Go to sleep, Torito.”    
The Gila monster stretched its jaws. Torito’s heart raced. Suddently, he got a wonderful idea—he knew Mama wouldn’t like it—but he didn’t know what else to do.  
“Watch out!” Torito cried, “There’s a coyote in this closet!”
The Gila monster scoffed. “I’m not falling for that.”
Torito pulled the string on his stuffed coyote. Yarooooooooo!the toy howled.
The Gila monster hissed and scurried out the window. When he was far enough away, Torito called out, “I tricked you!”
“Torito . . .” Mama’s voice drifted from the kitchen.
“I know—it isn’t nice to trick.” (Unless it saves your life,) he thought. 
Clutching his stuffed coyote, Torito snuggled between his brothers.

Soon, he felt as calm as the desert sand and drifted off into a peaceful jackrabbit slumber. 


#5  Little Red Riding Hood And The Tiny Rude Bunny

Once upon a springtime, Little Red Riding Hood encountered a bunny nibbling grass near the forest path. He said, “Good morning, little girl. Where are you going?”
Now, Red knew she should not talk to strangers. She had talked to a wolf once, and had almost been eaten! But this was just a tiny bunny, so she said, “To grandmother’s house.”
“What’s in your basket?”
“Fancy eggs,” Red answered, showing him. The eggs sparkled like beautiful pink, blue, green, and gold gems. “We’re going to share them with the village children.”
“I want them!” The bunny grabbed at the basket. He was not a very polite bunny.
“No!” said Red. And off she went.
The bunny was angry. He wanted those eggs! He would trick her into giving them to him.
Over the river and through the woods, the bunny raced to Grandma’s house. And, because bunnies are very fast when they want to be, he got there well before Red.
Bunny knocked on the door. No one was home. So he ran inside, put on Grandma’s clothes, and jumped into her bed, just as Red got to the cottage.
She was suspicious immediately.
“Grandma, you look so small today.”
“People shrink as they age,” the bunny said. “It’s not nice to point it out.”
“What big ears you have.”
“Ears never stop growing. A polite girl wouldn’t mention it.”
“What big whiskers you have.”
“How rude!”
“What big teeth you have.”
That was the last straw for bunny. “The better to eat your eggs,” he said and jumped from the bed.
Red wasn’t scared. After all, this wasn’t a big, bad wolf, this was a tiny rude bunny. She picked him up by the scruff of his neck. “No,” she said. “In fact, as punishment, you can deliver these eggs to the children for us.”
“Good idea,” said Grandma, coming in and pulling out a wand. (Ever since the incident with the wolf, Grandma had been studying witchcraft as self-defence.) She cast a spell to make the bunny deliver the eggs.

But the bunny was tricky. Instead of giving the eggs to the children, he hid them around their houses. The next day he went back and stole the ones they’d missed. But the kids had so much fun that Grandma let the bunny keep his eggs, so long as he promised to hide more again next year.

#6  Goldibawks And The Three Pairs

Once upon a time there lived a mama duck, a daddy duck and junior duck.
One day after mama fixed seaweed stew they went out for a waddle while it cooled.
Meanwhile nearby, Goldibawks, a young chicken as yellow as the sun, who had just wandered out from the countryside, spotted an ad.
WANTED:
BASKETBALL PLAYER
FOR NCAA MARCH MADNESS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
TODAY AT CHICKERBOCKER ARENA
c/o National Chicken Athletic Association
Wattles wiggling, Golidbawks was eggstatic.  Back on the farm, the roosters refused to let her play. This was her chance to show those roosters in the coop that this chick can play hoop!
In a shirt, skirt and heels, Goldibawks needed gym clothes but she was too far from home. Just then she saw the ducks’ house. She knocked. No one answered. She tried the door and it opened so she let herself in.
Goldibawks looked around for gym shorts.
She found papa’s pair but they were too boring.
She found mama’s pair but they were too bright.
She found junior’s pair and they were just right, so she put them on.
Next Goldibawks looked for socks.
She found papa’s pair but they were too dingy.
She found mama’s pair but they were too white.
She found junior’s pair and they were just right, so she put them on.
Finally, Goldibawks looked for some cool kicks.
She found papa’s pair but they were too heavy.
She found mama’s pair but they were too light.
She found junior’s pair and they were just right, so she put them on.
Then the ducks burst in. Goldibawks hid.
“Somebody tried on my shorts, socks and sneakers,”  quacked papa duck.
“Somebody tried on my shorts, socks and sneakers,”  quacked mama duck.
“Somebody tried on my shorts, socks and sneakers, and still has them on,”  quacked junior duck.
With that, they spied Golidbawks, dressed in junior’s gear.
“I can eggsplain,” she clucked and told the ducks the whole story.
Eggcited for Goldibawks, the ducks escorted her to the arena.
Goldibawks joined the team alongside Charles Bawkley, Larry Byrd, Mag-chick Johnson and Michael Jord-hen.
She had a stellar game, with a dozen dunks , half a dozen assists and went twelve for twelve from the fowl line.

Her signature Goldibawks blocks and the team’s peck and roll offense led them to the NCAA championship game, which they won when Goldi tipped in the winning shot.

#7  Mongoose’s Holi Party

#8  Sleeping Beauty: Burn The Wheel, Spare The Barrel

After waiting a really, really, really long time a king and queen had a baby.
“To celebrate we’ll invite everyone in the kingdom, especially the fairies!”
But not the Dark Fairy.  It could be that they forgot, or maybe she was a downer and no one wanted her there.
If you are the only person not invited to a party, it’s not difficult to notice.  The Dark Fairy could hear music at the castle and see bonfires, and crowds.  Can you blame her for being mad?
“Curses red, yellow and green, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and DIE at age 15!”
“I change it to a nap that ends in a kiss,” said another fairy.
“Burn every spinning wheel in the kingdom!” cried the king and queen.
The spinning wheels were burned.
“But how will we make clothes?” asked the king’s subjects.
You see, spinning wheels are used to create yarn and thread.  Yarn and thread are woven into fabric, and fabric is made into clothes.  No spinning wheels, no clothes.
“What will we wear?” asked the people.  “We can’t afford to buy clothes from other kingdoms!”
Soon everyone was wearing the strangest things.
“Does my wine barrel make me look fat?” asked a maid.
“I wouldn’t recommend suits of armor without underwear,” said a chaffed knight.
Storekeepers wore pots and pans.  Subjects grew out their hair.
“We best wear pots and pans too, so everyone will stop being mad at us,” said the king and queen.
When the princess was 14 years and 364 days old the king’s subjects had had enough.
“Our barrels give us splinters!”
“Pans are too heavy!”
“Let’s smuggle in a spinning wheel,” someone said, no one remembers who.
“Where do we hide it?”
“The one place the king and queen won’t look… the castle’s attic.”
The smugglers had forgotten about the princess.
The king and queen had too.  On the princess’ birthday they went on a date.
Exploring, the princess discovered a strange contraption in the attic.  “What an interesting machine, I think I’ll touch this sharp point.”
The princess pricked her finger on the spindle and fell into a deep sleep.
“We are in so much trouble,” said the smugglers.
“I’m not going to kiss her, I’m married.” one said.
“She’s already asleep so we can have spinning wheels now.” agreed the others.

And they did.


#9  The “Princess” And The Pete

Late in the evening, in cold April showers
A maiden on horseback approached Prince Pete’s towers
“I hate to be forward,” she said, “but I’m beat!”
“Would you have a place I could hide from this sleet?”
Her warm, friendly smile…
Her natural glow…
Now here was a person Pete wanted to know!
He asked her inside
His mom piled the bed up
To give her the test that had Pete truly fed up
“This pea stuff!” Pete spluttered. “You’re always so pushy!”
“Who cares if the girl has a sensitive tushy?!”
But he knew that his mom glorified the elite
So to marry this girl he might just have to cheat
So just when his houseguest was washing her face
He took out the pea…
And put a squash in its place
But next morning, weirdly, the girl simply said
“I’m really enjoying this mile-high bed!”
The queen looked annoyed. “Not a princess, I see.” 
The worried prince begged her for leniency.
And later when evening was starting to fall
He switched out the squash for his dad’s bowling ball
But next day, more thank you’s!
Our poor prince was shaken
And knew that this night drastic steps must be taken
So just as the girl said good night to the queen
He lifted a mattress and squeezed in between
And all through the night, hardly taking a breather
He wiggled and wriggled and kicked underneath her.
The prince felt her toss
Heard her groan “What the heck?”
In the morning he noticed her rubbing her neck
Still, when asked by the queen if she’d had a good rest
The girl simply beamed and said “It was the best!”
Prince Pete was confounded. Confused! Mystified! 
He decided to fess up and ask if she’d lied.
She looked disbelieving. “Of course! I’m a guest!
When asked if I slept well I always say yes!”
Prince Pete couldn’t help it; he asked for her hand
She shook her head sadly, said “Please understand…”
“Someday I might marry (right now I’m all set)
But I’m not going to marry a guy I just met
And even a girl who’d get hitched in a hurry
Might find your MOTHER a real source of worry.
But I could use a friend, and some laughs, and a talk
So how about this… Let’s start with a walk?”


#10  Goldilockup

“Someone has been sleeping in my bed!” exclaimed Papa Bear.
“Someone has been sleeping in my bed!” exclaimed Mama Bear.
“Someone has been sleeping in my bed!” exclaimed Baby Bear. “And there she is!”
At that, Goldilocks awoke with a shriek, jumped out the window, and ran away as fast as she could.
But it wasn’t fast enough. Before she could disappear into the forest, a large hand clamped down on her shoulder and slapped on the cuffs.
The man was in uniform. He scowled at Goldilocks and spoke into his crackling walkie talkie. “I got her,” he growled. “I’ll be downtown in ten.”
Then he turned to Golidlocks. “You’re coming with me, blondie.”
“What? Why?”
“Breaking and entering, grand theft porridge, vandalism, squatting… You’re a regular crime wave, kid.”
And into the squad car she went.
“You punks are all alike,” the officer said once they arrived at the station. “You always think you’re the hero.”
He pointed to a boy getting his mug shot. “See that kid? He thinks he’s a hero, too. But he’s been charged with murder, burglary, and chopping down a giant beanstalk without a forestry permit. He ain’t no hero, girlie, and neither are you.”
Goldilocks was shoved into a holding cell. She was terrified by the lowlifes who surrounded her. There was a woodsman who practiced stomach surgery without a license. Pigs who attempted to boil their dinners alive. Prince charmings found carrying unregistered swords and daggers. Billy goats accused of assault and battery.
It was a motley crew.
“What’s going to happen now?” Goldilocks asked the officer.
“Well, first we gotta catch up with Cinderella and Snow White,” he replied.
“What are they wanted for?” she asked.
“Oh,” the man replied, “we’ll come up with something.”
At that moment, another officer shouted in triumph. “We got ‘em!”
A joyous “Whoop!” went up throughout the precinct as Snow White and Cinderella were booked, photographed, fingerprinted, and tossed in the cell with the others.
“A good day’s work, gentlemen!” said the police captain emerging from his office. He wasn’t exactly a police captain, though.
He was a Big Bad Wolf.
The officers then pulled off their masks.
Giants!
Ogres!
Stepmothers!
Goldilocks and the other prisoners shuddered at the sight.

It was official: Fairy Tale Forest was under new management.

Please vote for the one you think deserves to win by Sunday March 30 at 5 PM EDT.  Winners will be announced on Monday March 31!!


Thank you all so much for reading and voting!  I can’t wait to see who the winners are!!!

Have a terrific Thursday and a wonderful weekend!

See you Monday with the winners 🙂

106 thoughts on “March Madness Writing Contest Finalists!!!

  1. J Sirkka Wirkki says:

    I voted for the one my nine-year-old daughter likes best. It's my favorite too. But there are things I LOVE in many of the stories.

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I love that you shared with your daughter! After all, it's kids we're writing for. I'm glad there was one she really liked. Thanks so much to both of you for reading and voting! (And I would love to know privately which one she loved – I'm always interested in knowing which ones speak to kids!)

  3. Victoria Warneck says:

    Oh, it was HARD…but I finally pulled the trigger. So much talent! I love how you keep the finalists anonymous, Susanna.

  4. Joanne Roberts says:

    Congratulations to all the finalists!!!

    I already had a top two in mind, but neither of those made it to the finals. Decisions, decisions. It was hard to choose. (Though much harder for Susanna, right?) Thanks S L H. Great contest!

  5. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    It's so hard to choose the finalists! There are always people whose stories I love that end up getting cut. We have three judges for a reason! I'm sorry neither of your top two made it, Joanne… maybe at least one of them will show up in the Honorable Mentions tomorrow 🙂

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