With Hopeful Heart! – The 3rd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Update February 19 – Sorry folks!  We need more time to make our decisions between all these amazing entries!  I will get the finalists up just as soon as I can!!!

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Hang onto your chocolate everyone!  It’s time for . . .

The Third Annual Pretty Much World Famous
Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Valentiny Writing Contest 2018

Valen-tiny because the stories are not very long and are written for little people 🙂

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is hopeful!  Your someone can hope for something good or something bad.  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone hopeful (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Wednesday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link on the form below.  There will be no Would You Read It or PPBF this week, so the post and the list of links will stay up for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section below. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you!  susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com ) Please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email – no attachments!  Please only post your entry ONCE! Either on your blog and the associated link list, or in the comment section of my post!  Otherwise it gets confusing 🙂

The Judging: My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday February 19th (or possibly Tuesday February 20th if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced by Friday February 23rd. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using hopefulness and success in making us feel the hopefulness!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

The Prizes:  Oh, boy, do we have some GREAT prizes!  I feel certain you are all highly motivated to compete for these!!!

– a PB manuscript read and critique from Nikki Garcia, assistant editor at Little, Brown!


Nikki Garcia

– a PB manuscript read and phone call critique with Nicole Otto, assistant editor at MacMillan Children’s Publishing!

Nicole Otto

Nicole Otto

– a PB manuscript critique from the superb multi-published award-winning author/illustrator Iza Trapani

Iza 2014          Old MacDonald
Iza Trapani was born in Poland and moved to the US at age seven.  Her relatives gave her a large Mother Goose Treasury, and she began learning English through those rhymes.  Little did she know that someday her dream would come true and she would become a children’s book author and illustrator.
    Iza’s best selling nursery rhyme extensions, including The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Shoo Fly and Row, Row Row Your Boat are widely used in schools and libraries across the U.S. and abroad. Old MacDonald Had a…Zoo?  is Iza’s latest release. She is currently at work on her 27th picture book, as well as a childhood memoir.
You can learn more about Iza and her books at:


– a PB manuscript critique (ms not to exceed 800 words please) along with a follow-up phone call if the author is interested from the lovely and talented Katey Howes, author of Grandmother Thorn (Ripple Grove Press 2017) and Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe (Sterling Children’s Books 2018)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art

– a PB manuscript critique from the fantastic Lynne Marie, author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Sparkhouse Family, 2018) and Moldilocks and the 3 Scares (Sterling, pending) . Her stories, poems, folk tales and crafts have appeared in many magazine markets, including Family Fun, Highlights, High Five, Spider, Baby Bug and more. She was a first-round panelis for 2016 Cybils Awards and again, in 2017. In addition, she’s an on-staff writer for Jon and Laura Bard’s Children’s Book Insider and a book reviewer. She lives on a lake in South Florida with her daughter and Anakin, their little Schipperke, as well as several resident water birds. She has offers both critiques and mentorships for writers. You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com

Lynne          HH100th

– a PB manuscript critique (non-rhyming please) from the wonderful and amazing Melissa Stoller, author of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island (Spork 2017)

Melissa Stoller               Return To Coney Island

– a signed copy of Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke The Color Barrier In Golf (Albert Whitman 2018) from fabulous author Nancy Churnin accompanied by a terrific Teacher’s Guide (created by Marcie Colleen)

Nancy Churnin               Charlie Takes His Shot

– a signed copy of Twinderella from Corey Rosen Schwartz AND a signed copy of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island from Melissa Stoller

Twinderella          Return To Coney Island

– a copy of Laura Purdie Salas’s brand new book Making A Living Writing Books For Kids

Making A Living

– a copy of the 2018 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (it’s only February – still very useful!)

Children's Writer's & Illustrators 2018

I can’t thank these authors and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, buy and recommend their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, write them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!


I’m afraid the time has come for my sample (because I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself 🙂 )

Brace yourselves for mediocrity 🙂  (I recommend a large quantity of chocolate to get you through – perhaps a dump truck load or so?) and prepare for the return of Boris and Irma (who appeared in the inaugural Valentiny 🙂 )

A Hopeful Kind Of Valentine
(214 words on the nose!)

Three days before Valentine’s, Irma made her list.

“I will make 32 valentines!” she announced. “How many are you making, Boris?”

“Zero,” said Boris.

“Spoilsport,” said Irma. “I hope Norman’s not a spoilsport.”

Irma cut construction paper.

“Are you making pink hearts or red hearts,” she asked.

“Neither,” said Boris.

“Party pooper,” said Irma. “I hope Norman’s not a party pooper.”

The day before Valentine’s, Irma decorated. Confetti hearts and glitter flew everywhere.

Boris ignored her.

But then she said, “I hope Norman will be my Valentine.” She sounded so wishful that Boris looked at her thoughtfully. He had doubts about Norman.

Boris made a list.

On Valentine’s Day, Irma clutched her valentines. “I hope Norman will give me a valentine,” she told Boris on the school bus.

Boris worried.

Tears rolled silently down Irma’s cheeks all the way home. She went right to her room.

Boris went right to work.

At dinner, Irma sat with her eyes downcast and said nothing.

Although Valentine’s was stupid, Boris didn’t want Irma to be sad.  If only his plan would work.

He set the pink-frosted, heart-shaped chocolate cake he had made in front of Irma.

“It’s not Norman, but Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said.

“It’s perfect,” said Irma, hugging him.

“Yuck,” said Boris, but he smiled.

❤               ❤               ❤               ❤               ❤               ❤               ❤

Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I should certainly HOPE so! 🙂  After that horror show you can post yours with certainty that yours is better! 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of yours!  I’m SO looking forward to them!  I hope there will be LOTS – the more the merrier!  And there are still nearly 5 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!  Also, have I mentioned the number of people who have gotten agents or sold manuscripts to editors based on the writing contest entries over the years?  There are quite a few!  One of these days I’ll figure out how many and do a blog post 🙂


Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the list below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)  Please allow a few minutes and possibly refresh your browser before deciding that your link hasn’t posted and adding it a second time or emailing it to me.

Eager Readers – click on the links in the list to visit the blogs and read the stories.  And be sure to read the 76 fabulous entries posted in the comment section below!!!

Happy Valentines Week, Everyone! ❤

Scroll through the comments to find these wonderful stories!

  1. Victoria’s Valentine – Susan
  2. Victor’s Valentine’s Day Surprise – Sharmaine
  3. You – Jennifer B
  4. the most amazing fantastic special Valentine ever – Erin
  5. The Lost Dog Dilemma – Chris
  6. Thank You – Katelyn
  7. Positively Paulina – Nancy
  8. A Day In The Life Of Cupid – Marty
  9. Rose And Tulip – M.S.
  10. The Valentine Monster Crash – Megan
  11. Valenswine – Susan
  12. Top Secret Valentine – Marie
  13. Tiny the Pony Wants to be Special – Kaye
  14. Grandma’s Cookies – Deborah
  15. This Will Be The Year – Sara
  16. Who Sent This Valentine? – Marie
  17. Hope In A Jar – Anne
  18. A Fur-Ever Valentine – Beth
  19. A Card With A Heart – Laura
  20. Upside Down Valentine’s Day – Ryan
  21. Not Alone – Amy
  22. Valentine’s Day Strike – Chambrae
  23. I Love Ewe – Kirsten
  24. A Valentine’s Day Adventure – Sarah H
  25. Adeline’s Hope – Carmen
  26. Snowy Owl Valentine Delivery – Kathleen
  27. A Valentine Snowman – Rebecca
  28. The Heart Art Contest – Marie
  29. The Right Valentine – Lauren
  30. The Red Envelope – Karen
  31. First Grade Love – Darcee
  32. Mama’s Purple Heart – Anne B
  33. Valentine’s Day With The Deli Family – Sandra
  34. Valentine-Making Time – Robin
  35. Unexpected Valentine – Brian
  36. The Valentine Tree – Jenny B
  37. Valentine Treat – Judy V
  38. A Purrfect Valentine – Mia
  39. Eliza’s Broken Heart – Anne S
  40. Porcupine’s Gift – Jim
  41. Hope’s Valentine – Nancy R
  42. Yellow And Blue Valentines – Marty
  43. Tootsie The Wonder Dog’s Valentiny Poem – Kathy
  44. Sakie’s Flock – Gayle
  45. Teddy’s Valentine’s Day – Deb
  46. Dear Daughter – Sandra S
  47. Mum’s The Word – Judy S
  48. Hope Floats – Jen B
  49. Charlotte’s New School – M.R.
  50. The Valentine Genie – Anne S
  51. Triple The Love – Brandi
  52. Emily’s Big Idea – Beth
  53. Red – Mary
  54. The Valentine Hat – Gwen
  55. Winston Wins! – Corine
  56. Bamboo Panda’s Special Surprise – Liz
  57. Oh No! Where Did It Go? – Mona
  58. Sweet Love – Christine
  59. You Rock! – Karla
  60. Picture Perfect – Tiffany
  61. Bunny Hugs – Nina
  62. Timberdoodle Valentine – Leigh Anne
  63. Valentine For Mom – Susie
  64. The Muddy Valentine – Karen
  65. Chocolaty Delight – Gina
  66. Valentine Handyman – Meg
  67. Daisy Power – Patricia
  68. Cupid’s Graduation Wish – Lucretia
  69. Huggle And Snug – Stephanie V
  70. My Valentine – Kurt
  71. Cupid’s Candy Craving—Marvin’s Valentine’s Surprise – Lucretia 
  72. A Pirate Valentine – Ingrid
  73. Lily’s Leg – Stephanie K
  74. If I Gave A Witch A Valentine – Amber
  75. Bunnies’ Heart-Shaped Hopes – Jen R

706 thoughts on “With Hopeful Heart! – The 3rd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

  1. Susan Schade says:

    Victoria’s Valentine
    By: Susan Schade (213 words)

    Miss Meg was everyone’s favorite teacher.
    She always smiled, sang songs about math, and shared pictures of her puppy.
    Every student wanted to give her a special Valentine.
    Victoria made a huge heart cookie.
    She carefully mixed ingredients and baked it until golden.
    She decorated it with creamy frosting and delicate sprinkles,
    and placed it in a box with a bow.
    The box barely fit through the door.
    The others carried creative cards and colorful cardboard hearts.
    But she brought the only cookie.
    Victoria hoped hers would be the greatest gift.
    The room roared with chattering children unpacking their things.
    Bryce’s backpack slid to the floor, spilling books everywhere.
    Victoria hurried to help and caught the corner of the cookie box.
    The box landed with a crash.
    She peeked into the package.
    Her present was in pieces.
    Victoria’s heart was crushed.
    Miss Meg arrived, and the kids took their seats.
    Victoria blinked back tears.
    She did not have the greatest gift.
    Miss Meg smiled and swooned at the wonderful things the children had made.
    Victoria sadly handed her the box.
    When Miss Meg looked inside, she grinned and whispered to Victoria,
    “I love this because I can share it with the class.”
    As they ate, everyone agreed that Victoria gave the greatest gift.

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Victor’s Valentine’s Day Surprise
    by Sharmaine Bernard

    It’s Valentine’s Day and Victor is anxious. He made cards for all his friends. Some have heart shaped chocolates inside. Some have xoxo pictures with sweet messages. Some cards have pink lollipops taped to the outside. Others are hearts with a smile on the inside and outside.

    Victor smiled as he gave each friend their card. His classmates also exchanged their Valentine’s Day cards, taking turns trading candies and special messages, but Victor didn’t receive any Valentine’s Day cards or sweet candies. Victor was hopeful, but as the final Valentine’s Day cards were handed out and he still receive any, he was sad.

    Maybe, I will receive cards at lunch, Victor thought. Victor went to lunch. No cards. Maybe, I will receive cards on the school bus, Victor thought. Victor got off at his bus stop. No cards. Did all my friends forget me? Maybe, they put them in my backpack, he thought. He checked every pocket and pouch. No cards.

    As Victor opened his front door, he heard a roaring, “SURPRISE, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY.” Victor’s mom made a heart shaped cake with “We love You,” written on top. His friends hadn’t forgotten him. Victor’s Valentine’s Day was the best-ever. He realized, love is the best gift of all.

  3. Jennifer Broedel (@JBroedelAuthor) says:

    (214 words)
    By Jennifer Broedel

    Our first day together, my stomach did flips.
    My eyes lit with sparkle. Your name crossed my lips.
    I thought of our future, of serving you tea,
    the afternoon snuggles, how loving you’d be.

    I hoped you would like me. My heart felt a tug
    the moment I cuddled you close, in a hug.
    To love you felt easy. I carried you home.
    We frolicked through meadows, decided to roam
    the long way across spots where I used to play.
    It used to be lonely, but now, since that day,
    I don’t need to wonder or have to pretend
    how cozy a playtime can be with a friend.

    You’re expert at fort-building, kind as can be,
    a guardian angel who listens to me.
    You keep all my secrets and treasure my hopes.
    You share in excitement, and guide me through mopes.
    You fill up the holes that appear in my dreams.
    You show me that nothing is hard as it seems.
    You make me feel brave, hold my hand in the dark,
    You tickle my funny bone, send up a spark
    up through my belly and into my heart.
    But what’s really special, the very best part
    of all the adventures that we’ll ever share?
    You’ll always be with me. My Teddy, my bear.

  4. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    the most amazing fantastic special Valentine ever
    By EK Prichett

    Robin marched in circles around the nest, eager and excited.

    It was Valentine’s Day, and Robin had made the most amazing fantastic special Valentine ever – for Snowball.

    Robin worked all week long

    snipping hearts out of red craft paper,

    smooshing pink stickers onto the hearts,

    gluing the stickered hearts to posters,

    and attaching the posters to large wooden stakes.

    Everything was ready for the most amazing fantastic special Valentine ever – for Snowball.

    Robin rose early that morning, ready for the surprise.


    Snowball yawned


    and grinned from ear to ear.

    It was Valentine’s day, and Snowball had made the most amazing fantastic special Valentine ever – for Robin.

    Snowball had stayed up late

    collecting bits of dried grass,

    gathering small twigs,

    hoarding tiny snippets of red craft paper that littered the ground,

    and assembling it all in a heap.

    Everything was ready for the most amazing fantastic special Valentine ever – for Robin.

    Snowball was exhausted after so much hard work,

    but paced back and forth, in anticipation of the surprise.


    Robin flew out from the nest, feather’s fluffed….

    Snowball shot out the door, watching Robin soar overhead…



    It was the most amazing fantastic special Valentine ever. For both of them.

  5. Chris Eboch says:

    The Lost Dog Dilemma, by Chris Eboch

    “There’s a dog in our yard!” Xavier said. “Can we keep him?”

    “His owner probably misses him,” Dad said. “Try to find his home.”

    “But he’s so cute and wrinkly!”

    “I’m sure his owner loves him,” Dad said.

    Xavier sighed. “I can put up some fliers.”

    Later, Xavier said, “No one called about the flyers. So can we keep him?”

    “It’s only been an hour,” Dad said. “Have patience.”

    “But he’s licking my face,” Xavier said. “He likes me! His breath smells like bell peppers.”

    “You’re likable,” Dad said. “And lick-able. But remember his owner who probably misses him? Maybe the neighbors know who owns him.”

    Xavier sighed. “Okay, I’ll walk him. Maybe someone will recognize him.”

    At the park, someone had dropped a sandwich. The dog left the bread and ate the limp lettuce and tomato, then ate a flabby carrot out of the garbage!

    “A dog who likes vegetables?” Xavier said. “I know someone with lots of vegetables!”

    Xavier returned home alone. “He’s the grocer’s dog. Pumpkin is a vegetarian because he’s allergic to meat. Strange dog, but really cute. The grocer gave me a thank-you gift!”

    Xavier held up a brown bag. “Vegetables! He said I can visit Pumpkin any time. And now I have lots of ‘dog food’ for him!”

  6. Katelyn Turner says:

    THANK YOU (203 words)

    As we swung back and forth, we laughed and we smiled.

    But then the mood changed, because of one child

    “Can you open your eyes any wider?” she asked.

    I didn’t know how to respond, I just gasped.

    Her blue eyes stared at me, under golden blonde hair.

    Did she know how this hurt? Did she even care?

    So when I got home, I talked to my mom.

    I knew she could tell me what had gone wrong.

    “But what did she mean?” I asked through my tears.

    My mom started speaking, and easing my fears:

    “She just doesn’t know how different families can be.

    And how our family was made – love made us we.

    When you were a baby, we adopted you

    And we couldn’t love you more than we do.”

    As I grew older, people sometimes would ask

    Questions about me, my parents, and my past.

    I’d take a deep breath, and I’d let them know,

    “I love both my parents, because they helped me grow.”

    Now that I’m a mom, I can proudly say,

    “Thank you, blue-eyed girl, for your question that day.

    I’ll teach my son to be accepting and kind

    And to see everyone with an open mind.”

  7. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Positively Paulina by Nancy Montoya



    “Oh, that is Positive Paulina popping problems away”, answers Nancy.

    Paulina says, “Positivity pops problems away. If you think and feel positive, you will act positive and be better”.

    “I am worried about my test ”, cried out Willie

    Paulina grabs Willies hand she says,

    “Let’s try it together. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, say,

    I will do my very best.”

    Willie says, “I will do my very best.”


    Worrisome Willie becomes Willful Willie.

    Nancy yells at Paulina,

    “My best friend is mad at me,”

    “Hold my hand and think friendship.” Paulina says.

    “She will forgive me”, thinks Nancy


    Negative Nancy becomes Nice Nancy.

    “I won’t be forgiven. I broke my brother’s toy.” says Dan.

    “Let’s try,” says Paulina

    With closed eyes, Dan says “ I will tell the truth, it will be ok”.


    Doubtful Dan becomes Dutiful Dan.

    One day Paulina loses her favorite giraffe. She searches under the bed, peeks inside her boots, even inside the garage. Nothing.

    Paulina becomes Pouty Paulina.

    Her friends want to cheer her up.

    They make a heart shaped card with a fun picture of a giraffe.

    Pouty Paulina finds the gifts. With glitter rain surrounding her, she reads, “You are a GREAT friend.”


    Pouty Paulina became Positive Paulina!

  8. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    A Day in the Life of Cupid (204 words) by Marty B.

    Cupid plopped into his chair. What a day.
    His wings ached from the miles he’d flown.
    His bow arm throbbed.
    He’d shot a record number of arrows, replenishing his supply over and over.
    He just HOPED he’d spread enough love among the creatures of the planet to make a difference.
    It was a task dear to his heart, even though it left him exhausted.
    He flipped on the tv just as the news came on.
    The announcer was saying,
    “Newsflash: Astonishing events took place today.
    Dogs, cats, birds, and mice were observed playing together in the park. No hissing, no growling, no biting or scratching.
    Bullies were seen handing out Valentines to their classmates and assisting teachers and students in the classrooms.
    Brothers and sisters shared toys without being asked. No grumpy words. No thoughtless behavior. No squabbles or bickering.
    Laughter was heard in all corners. No raised voices or harsh sounds.
    Love seems to have taken over the day!”
    The news continued, but Cupid no longer heard.
    He was fast asleep, a smile on his face.
    His work was done………at least until the effects of those arrows wore off.
    Or maybe, just maybe, they never would!
    Then he’d consider retiring.

  9. marsue77 says:

    ROSE AND TULIP by M.S. Nass 196 words

    In a floral shop, not far away…
    Little Rose lived. Little Tulip lived across from her.
    They had a secret.
    Rose loved Tulip.
    Tulip loved Rose.
    Everything was wonderful −
    until Valentine’s Day.
    “Get ready for today,” said a Carnation.
    “What’s happening?” asked Rose.
    “It’s Valentine’s Day,” said a Gardenia.
    “What does that mean?”
    “No one will be left. We’ll all go to different homes.”
    Tears wet Rose’s stem. Panic rose in Tulip’s heart.
    Soon, a family walked in. A little boy said, “I like that rose. She’s little.”
    No-ooo. Tulip thought as he watched Rose get rolled and wrapped.
    Soon, a woman came in and a girl pointed at Tulip. No—ooo thought Tulip.
    Tulip was wrapped, rocked and rolled too.
    When Rose arrived at her new home, the boy said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.
    You’re the best teacher ever.”
    When Tulip arrived at his new home, the girl said, “Happy Valentine’s Day..I love
    Slowly, Tulip was unwrapped in his new home amidst chocolates and candy.
    “Rose?” Tulip quivered.
    “Tulip?” Rose’s heart leaped.
    Mrs. Sanchez put them in the same vase–so close they could Hug.
    Valentine’s Day is the best, they agreed.

  10. Megan Walvoord (@mjwalvoord2) says:

    The Valentine Monster Crash
    By Megan Walvoord
    212 words

    Once there was a monster named La La. The biggest, scariest monster in Fangville.

    She was so scary in fact, none of these monsters wanted to be around her. Her gnarly grin made them run away. She would cry herself to sleep because she was so lonely.

    One day she received an invitation to the Valentine Monster Crash. There would be contests for crushing, scaring, crashing and eating.

    The day of the V.M.C. she was so excited. She worked all day sharpening her fangs, brushing her fur and picking out the perfect accessories.

    La La stomped from her house to the town hall decorated with heart shapes recycled from the last city they frightened. She took a deep breath and entered the hall.

    At first, the other monsters seem to step away as normal, until she entered all of the contests.

    La La earned first place in crushing buildings and conquered the scare machine by scoring 100 percent.

    She scored the in the top three in crashing cars and gained second place in eating boxes of chocolates.

    When the scores were tallied up there was no denying La La was the grand champ. The monsters lifted her up and paraded around the hall. La La was the most monster of them all.

  11. Susan Schade says:

    (208 words) by: Susan Schade

    Signs were posted all over the farm,
    “Spoil your sweetie with a picnic brunch on Valentine’s Day.”
    Percy was taking Piper for pancakes, hoping for a perfect day.
    But already, it was not going as planned.
    He searched for colorful flowers,
    but only found green clovers.
    Piper smiled and said, “How lucky!”
    He complimented her lovely snout and bristly hair,
    And offered her his hoof to walk to the gate.
    But he tripped, stubbed his toe, and landed with an embarrassing squeal.
    At brunch, they were shocked to see so many couples.
    They were hogging all the tables.
    Percy hoped the wait wouldn’t be long.
    They tried reading the menu, but it made them too hungry.
    They tried walking around, but Piper was wearing heels.
    They considered leaving, but they REALLY WANTED pancakes.
    FINALLY, a table was ready.
    Percy noticed a family waiting with grunting and restless piglets,
    and gave them the table.
    Piper pecked him on the cheek.
    “Even if we wait all day, there’s no pig I’d rather be with.”
    They held hooves until their new table was ready.
    The day hadn’t turned out as planned, but it was perfect.
    Percy smiled at Piper as he ordered,
    “We’ll take the platter of pancakes please, NO BACON!”

  12. Marie Hoy-Kenny (@MarieHoyKenny) says:

    Top Secret Valentine
    By Marie Hoy-Kenny (214 words)

    Cat walked into the Trading Post. Mouse was hanging a string of hearts behind the counter.

    “I need a gift for my secret Valentine friend,” Cat whispered. “Can I swap my bowl for a tag to match his collar?”

    “Certainly,” Mouse said. He put the bowl away and wrapped the tag up in pink paper.
    Cat rushed outside.

    A few minutes later, in walked Dog. “Can I trade my collar for that dish?” he said. “I hope my secret Valentine pal will like it. It‘ll look nice with her bowl.”

    “Hmmm.” said Mouse. “Of course.” He put Dog’s collar away and wrapped the dish up in heart print paper.

    Dog left Cat’s gift outside of her door and rang the bell. He hid to watch her open it.

    “A dish!” she squealed. “Pretty like my old bowl.”

    When Dog got home, there was a present on his step. He ripped the paper. “This awesome tag would’ve matched my collar!” he exclaimed.

    Cat watched gleefully and raced away before Dog could catch her peeking.

    That night, while Cat and Dog were sleeping, Mouse snuck into Cat’s house and left her bowl beside her new dish and tiptoed into Dog’s house and placed his collar beside his new tag. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” he whispered and smiled.

  13. Kaye Baillie says:

    Tiny the Pony wants to be Special
    by Kaye Baillie
    214 words

    Tiny was not like the horses at the castle.
    They outran him,
    out-pranced him,
    and leaping … forget it.
    To top it off, every day he heard …
    “Ooh la la. Look at my stallion.”
    “My filly is soooo fantastic.”
    “Horses are totally cooool.”
    But would Silver Girl ever find him a teensy bit special? Sigh.
    Finally he had an idea.
    Tiny picked the prettiest blooms, wrangled those stems together,
    strutted his fancy schmancy headgear, but …
    Silver Girl was too busy admiring her knight’s new armour.
    Tiny practiced his moves.
    He whistled a catchy tune.
    Then tap danced his tiny pony heart out. But …
    Silver Girl raved over her prancing horse pals.
    Tiny needed a real show stopper.
    Think, Tiny, Think.
    “I’ve got it!” Make way, horse faces.
    Tiny flew across the moat,
    landed with a splash,
    then did backstroke with crocs and eels.
    Wait — what! Crocs and eels! Yowee!!
    Tiny needed to think outside the square.
    What could he do?
    While the whole castle watched the weekly parade,
    Tiny waited till it finished,
    then …
    “My turn.”
    “Me next.”
    “Tiny is the best.”
    Tiny was mobbed, adored!
    He was …
    Tiny was not like the horses at the castle.
    But to Silver Girl,
    he was very special indeed.

  14. Deborah Boerema (@Deborah_Boerema) says:

    Grandma’s Cookies
    By Deborah Bence Boerema (210 words)

    Acrid smoke filled his nostrils as Frankie swiped at hot tears. He slammed the cookies into the trash can and banged the empty baking sheet on the counter. After taking some deep, calming breaths, he resolved to try the recipe again. He hoped for better results this time.

    Frankie put a stick of butter in the bowl. As the mixer whirled, he slowly poured in the sugar, just like Grandma had showed him. He cracked two eggs, hoping he didn’t drop in any shell pieces. Then he added the vanilla, flour, and other ingredients.

    Frankie rolled out the dough, hoping he got it thin enough. He cut out dozens of hearts with the cookie cutter Grandma had given him. He watched them bake until they were the color Grandma called honey blonde. He spread the cooled cookies with pink frosting and packed them into a box tied with a red bow.

    Frankie carried the box to Grandma’s home. When he knocked on the open door, she looked up from her bed. He handed her the box and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Grandma.”

    “Why Frankie, you made my favorite cookies,” Grandma smiled.

    Frankie let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. Grandma’s awareness was everything he had hoped for.

  15. Sara Gentry says:

    Thanks for another fun contest, Susanna! These are becoming part of my holiday traditions 🙂

    This Will Be The Year
    By Sara Gentry
    214 words

    This will be the year.

    Gerald thought that every year. But this year, he had a three-step plan. Articulate. Decorate. Participate.

    “Good morning, Gerald,” said Mrs. Jenkins.

    “Good morning,” answered Gerald. “I’d really like a valentine this year too.”

    “Here’s hoping you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day,” she said with a smile.

    Next, he made a giant heart from paper confetti to let everyone know he was in the Valentine Spirit.

    When kids decorated boxes for their valentines, Gerald also participated. On his small box, he stamped a heart of paw prints. He saw a lot of teddy bears and puppies on valentine cards, so it seemed a great idea.

    Yes, this will be the year, he thought.

    “You may hand out your valentines,” announced Mrs. Jenkins.

    Kids bustled around the room. Gerald waited for someone to drop a valentine in his box. As kids returned to their seats, Gerald slumped down. Ignored again.

    He saw Hope Wilkerson talk to Mrs. Jenkins and point in his direction. Mrs. Jenkins smiled and nodded.

    Hope walked toward him.

    Gerald rose up.

    “I brought you a cupcake,” said Hope.

    Carrot cake – his favorite!

    “I also made you a valentine,” said Hope, handing him a red heart-shaped card.

    To Gerald the Gerbil,
    Happy Valentine’s Day!
    Your friend, Hope

  16. Marie Hoy-Kenny says:

    Who Sent This Valentine?
    By Marie Hoy-Kenny (213 words)

    See this valentine? From my secret friend?
    Well, I’m going to get to the bottom of who sent this to me and when I find out I’m going to give him or her a great, big hug.

    Suspect #1: Was it you?
    You look a little suspicious but you’re right, we just met, making it highly unlikely.

    Suspect #2: Monkey
    She’s definitely my friend. But is she my secret friend? Let’s examine her printing. No, it’s not like the writing on my card at all. It can’t be Monkey.

    Suspect #3: Lion
    He and I go way back. But look, he’s writing his cards out now, he always leaves it until the very last minute. I doubt it’s him.

    Suspect #4: Tiger
    Look at this, his writing looks similar to the writing on this card. Look at the rocket ships on my card, Tiger loves rocket ships.
    It must be Tiger! Tiger, are you the one who sent me the Valentine’s Day card? You’re not? Then whodunnit?

    Hey, do you know? Well then who? You noticed a footprint. Where? On the card? Oh it was Parrot? Ah, I should have known!
    Happy Valentine’s Day, Parrot! Thanks for the card.

    I’m such a skilled detective. Oh you? Well I guess you helped a bit.

  17. anneuro says:

    Hope in a Jar
    By Anne Lipton
    214 words

    “I hope we don’t have to make valentines this year,” said Sam. “I hate hearts and glitter.”
    “Oh,” said Jin. “I love hearts and glitter.
    “I hope we have a week of snow days,” said Sam.
    “I hope not,” said Jin. “The parade is on Friday.”
    “What parade?” asked Sam.
    “The Chinese New Year parade,” said Jin.
    “Isn’t it a little late for New Year’s?” said Sam.
    “It’s the Lunar New Year,” said Jin. “The lion dances are my favorite.”
    Sam gulped. “Real lions?”
    Jin laughed. “No, but there’s a dog parade because it’s the Year of the Dog. Do you want to come with me?”
    “Sure,” said Sam. “I like parades. And dogs.”
    The colorful parade of dogs, dancers, and drummers marched through town.
    “Gong Hey Fat Choy!” Jin handed Sam a red envelope with gold coins. “They’re chocolate. And eight is a lucky number.”
    “I thought seven was a lucky number.” Sam grinned. “But I’ll take eight!”
    Sam handed Jin a jar with a little toy dog glued inside the lid. “Happy New Year!”
    “What’s this?” asked Jin.
    Sam shrugged. “Call it a New Year’s Valentine. Or Hope in a Jar.”
    “A New Year’s Valentine? I like that.” Jin shook the jar, and hearts and glitter snowed over the little toy dog.

  18. Beth Saxton (@BethReads) says:

    A Fur-Ever Valentine (214 Words)

    Cleo licked her paw and smoothed her fur for the tenth time. She wasn’t a kitten anymore, but it could still happen.
    A family with three loud little boys passed by the banner reading “Adopt a Valentine”. Cleo shrunk back against the wall. Not them.
    She returned the stare of a round lady with thick glasses. The lady smelled like so many other cats it made Cleo’s fur stand up a little. No way.
    Cleo batted at the shiny red hearts taped to her fence and waited.
    “Awww, look. She’s playing with the decorations!” The little girl was barely big enough to bend over the fence, but she smelled good. Maybe?
    The girl held out her hand and waited for her. Cleo liked that.
    “The sign says that her name is Cleo,” said the girl’s mother.
    The little girl smiled. “Hi, Cleo! I’m Molly. You’re a pretty kitty,”
    That was a good start. Cleo walked over to the edge of the pen and gave Molly’s hand a little bump. “She’s friendly,” Molly said, petting Cleo’s back.
    “Can we take her home, Mommy?”
    Cleo wrapped herself tightly around Molly’s arm and rubbed her nose against her hand.
    Molly’s mother laughed. “I think that’s a yes, sweetie.”
    Cleo purred. She was going to her fur-ever home.

  19. Laura Sealey says:

    (183 words)
    By Laura Sealey

    A card with a heart was for sale in a store,
    his message a promise to love and adore.
    Behind him his envelope watched in dismay
    as nobody chose him for Valentine’s Day.

    He fumed “All the humorous cards have it made.”
    So rubbed out his heart and then drew on a spade.
    Then took back his ink (something cards often do)
    and wrote a new message that said “I dig you”.

    No luck, so he tried “You’re the dip to my fry”,
    “The pea to my carrot”, “The cream to my pie”.
    The envelope watched from the back of the shelf
    and thought “you are perfect, just as yourself”.

    Then one day a child dropped the card on the ground
    then put him back facing the wrong way around.
    He finally looked in his envelope’s eyes
    and wrote her a message to her great surprise:

    “Do you believe in true love at first sight?”
    She wrote back “I do, with all of my might”.
    They knew they were destined, like birds of a feather,
    then somebody grabbed them and bought them together.

  20. Rebecca Thill (@BookPassionista) says:

    A Valentine Snowman
    211 words

    Lucy rolled a gigantic snowball across her front lawn.

    Down the street, Brady huddled in his snow fort and watched her.

    Lucy’s best friend, Maren, snickered. “I bet he’s going to give you a Valentine.”

    Lucy started on the next snowball, not quite as big as the first. “I hope NOT!”

    Maren sang, “Roses are red, oranges are juicy, did you hear that Brady LOVES Lucy?”

    “Yuck!” Lucy kicked the snowball with her boot.

    “I hope he gives you a Valentine because I’m going to tell our whole class about it tomorrow,” Maren said.

    Brady kept to himself at school, so the other kids called him weird. The last thing Lucy wanted was a Valentine from the weird kid.

    After heaving the second snowball on top of the first, Lucy rolled the last one.

    With the final snow ball done, she lifted it up . . . but couldn’t quite make it.

    “Maren, help me! It’s going to fall!”

    Two gloved-hands helped to push it on top.

    Lucy turned around. “Thanks Mar –.”

    Brady grinned and handed Lucy . . . a Valentine! “That’s an awesome Valentine snowman.”

    After Brady left, Maren laughed, “I cannot wait for school tomorrow.”

    Lucy smiled. “Me, too. I hope you tell everyone about my Valentine.”

  21. Ryan Roberts says:

    Upside Down Valentine’s Day
    (185 words) by Ryan Roberts

    Mr. and Mrs. Turtle rushed to the Valentine’s Day party.
    “We’re going to be late!” said Mr. Turtle.
    “We’re going to be fine,” said Mrs. Turtle.
    They plodded up a hill. The party was just over the top, but- drats!
    Flop, tumble, plop!
    Mr. and Mrs. Turtle rolled down the hill and landed on their backs.
    “Great. Now we’ll never make it to the party,” said Mr. Turtle.
    “Everything will be okay,” said Mrs. Turtle.
    The sun dipped down in the sky, and the sound of a waltz drifted over the hill.
    “The party’s started without us!” said Mr. Turtle.
    “But isn’t it beautiful?” asked Mrs. Turtle.
    There was nothing else to do, but listen to the music and stare at the sky turning purple, then pink, then red.
    “A Valentine sky,” said Mr. Turtle.
    “Indeed,” said Mrs. Turtle.
    “There you are!” said a voice, and Raccoon appeared at their side. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” Raccoon righted the turtles.
    “We’d better get going,” said Mrs. Turtle. “We’ve missed most of the party.”
    “Actually,” said Mr. Turtle, “I don’t think we missed a thing.”

  22. Amy Frost Davidson (@Amy_F_Davidson) says:

    Not Alone
    (208 words) by Amy Frost Davidson

    It’s written in pencil, and it’s kind of smeary. But it was in my coat pocket at the end of recess, and it wasn’t there this morning, so I know it’s meant for me. But who put it there?

    It’s written on pink construction paper that came out of the classroom scrap paper bin. During quiet math work time, I pretend I need to sharpen my pencil, and I see a piece with a torn shape that looks just like the paper in my coat pocket.

    It says, “I get sad about my dad, too.”

    I don’t know how anyone in my class could know about my dad. I try not to show that I’m sad. But sometimes, I let myself cry a little behind the metal walls of the bathroom stall. But where it mostly gets to me is in the cafeteria, where the noise of the entire fourth grade rushes through my ears so I can’t really hear anyone at all, and I feel so alone.

    I look up from my worksheet to the hunched heads of my classmates. One of them is sad, too.

    And deep in the pocket of my coat is a little slip of paper that tells me it might be okay.

  23. Chambrae Griffith says:

    Valentine’s Day Strike
    By Chambrae Griffith

    It’s Valentine’s Day, YUCK!
    All that smooching, and hugging, and lovey-dovey shenanigans make me queasy!
    And pink, BLECH! Why does everything have to be pink?
    You won’t catch me turning all mushy gushy or going googley eyed, I’m going on strike!
    I refuse to accept a single Valentine.
    No cards, no candy, no flowers, NO pink!
    I sent out a memo.
    Hopefully everyone read it.
    Mom did because at breakfast my pancakes were not pink hearts, but plain old circles.
    At school everyone’s desks were adorned with pink mailboxes waiting to be filled with disturbing declarations of love. But PHEW, not mine. Miss Marks got my memo.
    And after school, when everyone’s arms were so stuffed with Valentine’s they could hardly walk, I skipped all the way home.
    So far so good. No cards, no candy, no flowers, no…
    He didn’t get the memo!
    Doesn’t he know he’s about to ruin the most perfect Valentine’s ever? I slide the memo through the crack and wait for him to leave.
    I turn the knob, “I DON’T want ANY Valentines!”
    “I know, I brought you this.”
    He hesitates then holds out his hands.
    It’s not mushy-gushy, frilly, or pink… an un-Valentine? It’s perfect!
    He’s perfect!
    Next Valentine’s we’re sending out a memo… together.

  24. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    I Love Ewe

    ‘Look Barbara, a Valentine’s card! For me!’

    Truly splendid, lovely ram

    I hope you will be mine.

    I know we’d get on, oh so well

    Please be my Valentine.

    ‘Someone really likes you, Barry.’

    ‘I know. But who?’ ‘Maybe it’s Dolly. Or Nancy, she’s always following me around.’ Barry frolicked off. Someone loved him. Life was sweeter.

    For a while. ‘But who loves me, Barbara?’

    Oh, Valentine who loves me so

    I know not who you are.

    Please meet me here under this tree

    Don’t love me from afar.

    When Barry returned to the tree Barbara was there already.

    I am too shy to show myself

    I may not take your fancy.

    I’m rather plain and not too smart

    A hint: I am not Nancy!

    ‘Did you see her, Barbara?’

    Come on my ewe now don’t be shy

    I’m sure we’ll be a fit.

    This time please wait under the bridge

    Don’t leave a note and split.

    When Barry got to the bridge Barbara was there already. ‘Barbara?’

    ‘Maybe you should forget your Valentine, Barry. You probably wouldn’t fancy her. She is plain and shy and not too smart. Just like me.’

    ‘Just like you, Barbara? You’re smart and beautiful. And nice shy. Just like you is… perfect!’ ‘Barbara, will you be my Valentine?’

  25. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    By Sarah A. Hetu-Radny

    Sammy awoke on February fourteenth, looked out the window, and grinned. “Sis, we’re in luck, there’s snow on the ground. We can go on a special adventure!”
    “Okay, Sammy.”
    “Take this spray bottle,” Sammy instructed, marching towards the front door with a container of pink water.
    “Sam, you can’t go outside in this storm.”
    “But Mom, I need this snow to make my fort!”
    “You can go out when the sun returns.”
    “Sammy, I want adventure.”
    “I have an idea, Sis. Follow me to the basement.”
    “Sam, you can’t build like this, even down here in the dust.”
    Sam sighed.
    “I want adventure,” demanded Sis.
    “Let’s search for ideas in the closets.”
    “Sam, you can’t cover the carpets with this clutter.”
    Sam groaned and pulled his hair.
    “Sis, think! We must use our imagination. There has to be an adventure in here somewhere…. I know, to the bookshelves! You can pick from this pile.”
    “I like the pink one, the one with the frog, the one with dragons, the one with kisses -”
    “I will read all of these books to you! We will go on many adventures.”
    “I love you, Sammy.”
    “You’re my favorite adventure partner, too, Sis.”
    “This one first!”
    “Okay. Now, listen….”
    (212 words)

  26. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Carmen Castillo Gilbert, PhD

    (180 words)

    ¡Hola! Hello!

    I’m Adeline Grace and I’m a month old.
    I’m part of a special family of top ‘A’ girls and women.

    I hope I grow up to be like them.

    Mami Angela, my mommy, works in a company that makes body parts for people who need new knees and hips.

    Prima Alejandra, my cousin, does gymnastics. She can tumble and is good on the balance beam. She has won many medals.

    Prima Ana Gabriela studies in France. She hopes to improve the world environment.

    I hope I grow up to be like them.

    Tía Ana-Ramona and Tía Allison are counselors. My aunts help many
    with their problems. They love working with people.

    Tías Abuela Ana Ramona and Anayansi, my great-aunts, speak English and Spanish and help others communicate in those languages.

    I hope I grow up to be like them.

    A – artistic
    D – determined
    E – eager
    L – loving
    I – imaginative
    N – neat
    E – educated


    However, right now all I’m hopeful for is that someone will walk into my nursery and change my diaper!



  27. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Snowy Owl Valentine Delivery
    by Kathleen Mazurowski

    An announcement landed near Pip’s nest.

    Wanted: Strong Snowy Owls to Deliver Valentines

    Apply at the North Tundra Nest

    by February 13th.

    “I want to deliver Valentines!” said Pip.

    “Maybe next year,” said Gramowl.

    “Your feathers aren’t snowy yet. You need to build up your wing flapping first.”

    Pip looked at his feathers, still brown and gray. Pip flapped his wings, getting better,

    but… and he still needed a nap.

    “I don’t want to wait a year.”

    Valentine’s Day was a week away so Pip got right to work. He started by doing ten sets of wing flaps. Then, grab and pulls with his feet and talons.

    “Not bad, “ said Pip. “Now to stay awake longer.”

    Pip increased his exercises every day and tried to stay awake longer. He was getting stronger, but his white feathers were not to be found.

    On Valentine’s Eve, February 13th, Pip fell asleep. He slept for a long time.

    Gramowl flapped her wings in a frenzy.

    “Pip, wake up! The Snowy Owl Valentine Delivery needs you! Several of the owls have the flu.”

    Pip got up, fluffed his feathers, and noticed that a few white feathers had started.

    “I am going to deliver Valentines!” said Pip as he flew to North Tundra Nest.

    “Happy Valentine’s Day, Gramowl!”

  28. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    (this entry was originally posted above and accidentally got deleted so I’m reposting it!)

    A Valentine Snowman
    211 words by Rebecca Thill

    Lucy rolled a gigantic snowball across her front lawn.

    Down the street, Brady huddled in his snow fort and watched her.

    Lucy’s best friend, Maren, snickered. “I bet he’s going to give you a Valentine.”

    Lucy started on the next snowball, not quite as big as the first. “I hope NOT!”

    Maren sang, “Roses are red, oranges are juicy, did you hear that Brady LOVES Lucy?”

    “Yuck!” Lucy kicked the snowball with her boot.

    “I hope he gives you a Valentine because I’m going to tell our whole class about it tomorrow,” Maren said.

    Brady kept to himself at school, so the other kids called him weird. The last thing Lucy wanted was a Valentine from the weird kid.

    After heaving the second snowball on top of the first, Lucy rolled the last one.

    With the final snow ball done, she lifted it up . . . but couldn’t quite make it.

    “Maren, help me! It’s going to fall!”

    Two gloved-hands helped to push it on top.

    Lucy turned around. “Thanks Mar –.”

    Brady grinned and handed Lucy . . . a Valentine! “That’s an awesome Valentine snowman.”

    After Brady left, Maren laughed, “I cannot wait for school tomorrow.”

    Lucy smiled. “Me, too. I hope you tell everyone about my Valentine.”

  29. Marie Hoy-Kenny (@MarieHoyKenny) says:

    Thanks for such a fantastic contest, Susanna. I can’t stop thinking about Valentine stories! This is my third (and final) entry.

    The Heart Art Contest
    By Marie Hoy-Kenny (214 words)

    This Valentine’s Day, Kate hoped to win The Heart Art Contest. The winner got a beautiful trophy.

    “Can I work on my picture?” Kate asked, after she finished her math.

    “Yes,” said Mrs. Baker. “Gigi is making one too.”

    Gigi was the new girl who sat behind her. Kate turned around. Gigi had drawn two girls on swings and hearts in the sky. It was good but maybe hers could be better.
    Kate drew hundreds of hearts and roses and colored them extra carefully.

    On Valentine’s Day morning, Mr. Bert’s voice boomed over the P.A. “Now, the winners of the Heart Art Contest.”

    Kate squeezed her eyes shut and crossed her fingers.

    “In third place, Carlos.”

    Carlos yelled, “Horray!” from the classroom across the hall.

    “In second place, Kate.”

    Kate tried to smile.

    “In first place, Gigi.”

    Kate had never seen Gigi grin so widely.

    Mr. Bert took a photo of Carlos, Kate and Gigi with their winning entries. Gigi held her trophy.
    Kate looked at Gigi’s picture again. One of the girls in it had a blonde braid, like Gigi’s. She looked at the other girl in the picture. She had brown pigtails, like her own.

    “Would you like to play with me at recess?” Kate asked Gigi.

    “I’d like that,” Gigi said.

  30. picturebookplaydate says:

    The Right Valentine
    By: Lauren Neil

    Austin’s heart was racing, butterfly wings beating against a cage.
    He checked his bag again. The 97th time.
    They were all there.
    Twenty red cards, labeled, each in it’s proper place.
    One pink card peeked out of the bunch.
    He fumbled his bag closed.
    He didn’t have to give it to her.
    There were few spare red cards, just in case.
    And he could always give her one of those.
    But he *wanted* to give her the pink one.
    Butterflies again.
    Ms. James let all of her students in at once.
    Chaos! A stampede!
    Cards shoved, squashed, squeezed into the paper bag mailboxes on their desks.
    Austin delivered the red cards to his classmates.
    Until only the pink card remained.
    He was nervous, yes, but there was something else. He felt…bright, like a light. Hope lit him up. And a smile slowly spread across his face.
    This was it.
    His eyes sparkled as he put the pink card on her desk.
    She smiled, opened it, and read the words he’d asked his mom to write:
    “I know 1 + 1 = 2.
    But can you teach me to read, like you?”
    Ms. James put the card down and smiled.
    “Of course Austin. I would love to.”

  31. Karen Morgan says:

    The Red Envelope
    by Karen Koepcke Morgan
    214 words

    “Maybe today will be the day!”, Liam shouts as he slams the gate behind him. He tears down the long driveway to the box standing at the end.

    He swings the door open to find an array of envelopes and colorful, glossy pages.

    None have his name on them.

    Liam dejectedly trudges back up the drive and through the front gate.

    The next day, Liam zooms out the door when he hears the mail truck rumbling down the road.

    He even beats the mailman to the box.

    “Anything for me?”

    The mailman rifles through the stack and shakes his head.

    Liam takes what the mailman offers and tromps back up the driveway, with his head hung low.

    Another Day. Liam is filled with hope.

    But, sadly, nothing for Liam.

    Another day passes.

    And, another one.

    Nothing for Liam.

    Nothing for Liam.

    “Today is the day!” Liam proudly announces, “I feel it down to my toes!”

    Liam runs.

    He speeds.

    He stops.

    He opens.

    He peers inside.

    Liam sees something red sticking out from the pile.

    Liam pages through the stack, with the speed of a race car careening around the track.

    There is his name written in familiar loops and curls….on an envelope filled with hearts.

    “Hooray! At last!”

    A Valentine from Grandma.

  32. Darcee Freier says:

    First Grade Love
    By Darcee A. Freier
    (214 words)

    Gracie loved first grade and learning to read. She loved her teacher and playing with Jane. But Gracie did not love Morris. Morris poked her with his pencil. He talked to her during quiet time. He chased her and Jane on the playground.

    “He likes you,” said Jane.

    In February, the class covered the bulletin boards with hearts. “Remember to give a valentine to each student,” said Mrs. Wright. Gracie hoped Morris wasn’t listening. She did not want a mushy card from Morris.

    Gracie dropped hints. She decorated her bag purple. Morris hated purple. Gracie announced, “I hate valentine cards,” whenever Morris was near. She passed a note to Morris. “No valentine, please.”

    On Valentine’s Day, Gracie watched as classmates dropped cards and candy in her bag. She plopped a purple card in Morris’ bag. But she gave Jane a valentine and chocolate.

    After school, Gracie opened her cards. Jane’s said, “You are my fairy best friend.” Gracie munched candy hearts. One big envelope was left. Inside was a picture of Morris and a red heart, signed, “Love, Morris.” “Noooo!” Gracie could never go back to first grade!

    Wait…. She looked again. The name after “To” was “Jane.” She stuffed the heart back in the envelope and skipped all the way to Jane’s house.

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