Be Brave, My Heart! – The 6th Annual Valentiny Contest Is Here!!!

[For those trying to post, you must click on the Blog Post Title to get on the blog post page and access the comments]

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Like galloping hooves, our brave hearts are pounding with excitement and anticipation (or maybe trepidation!) because it’s time for. . .

The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

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 feels brave!

  • They can be brave about asking someone to be their Valentine, of course, but they can also do something brave to get a Valentine (the person or the gift), or do something brave to help a friend. They could be brave about giving something up, or brave about asking someone they’re not sure they like to be their Valentine just to be nice. . . sky’s the limit!  Think beyond the obvious!
  • 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 brave (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.
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

Post your story in the comment section below (preferred) or on your own blog between right now this very second and Sunday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT. If you only post on your own blog, add your post-specific link to the form list at the bottom of the post.  This post with all the entries in the comment section and the list of links for those who prefer to post on their own blogs will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy. If you have difficulty posting your entry to 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

We discussed changing the entry posting. The majority voted to have all the entries in one place here in the comment section, so we’re going to give that a try. But there were some who wanted to continue blog-hopping, so I’m going to include a link list for them at the bottom of the post. For those who are willing to post in the comment section but also plan to post on their own blogs, you are most welcome to post the link to your blog in your posted entry here (see example below.) That way people can come visit you if they want to but can also read most of the entries in one place on my blog if they prefer. It is certainly easier for the judges to have as many entries as possible in one place. We’ll try it this way one time and see how it works. We can always go back to the old system 😊

(So a sample entry might look like this:
ENTRY TITLE – word count
Author Name
(link to your own contest entry blog post if you have one and would like to share it)

Amazing wonderful Valentiny Contest story.😊

Dudley’s Brave Valentine – 212 words
by Violet Hill
http://bit.ly/3aOxhZm

It was almost Valentines Day and Dudley’s heart had sunk to somewhere near his big toenail.
(etc etc amazing story continues)

I know how hard you all work on your entries and how anxious you are to be sure your entry is posted, but please try to be a little bit patient if you’re waiting for your entry to show up in the comments or on the list of entries. I try never to get up from my desk during contests but sometimes it’s unavoidable. 😊

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 12 top choices which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Thursday February 18th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced Monday February 22nd depending on judging and voting time needed.  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 bravery and success in making us feel the bravery!
  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, PROOFREADING!
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 😊
  7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines. If you don’t follow agent and editor submission guidelines they won’t even read your submission.

The Prizes:  Talk about a pounding heart! Just look at these fabulous prizes!

Hannah VanVels – Agent, Belcastro Agency – PB MS Critique

Hannah will offer one lucky winner a PB MS critique. The winner may submit fiction or nonfiction, rhyme or prose – Hannah is open to anything!

(from Belcastro Agency’s website)

Winner’s choice of Renee LaTulippe‘s Lyrical Language Lab Intensive Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course OR a one-hour ZOOM consultation with Renee to get feedback on a manuscript of your choice, ask questions about writing in rhyme/lyrical prose, or spend however you like!

Renee LaTulippe

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyme or Prose, Fiction) from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019), COUNTING ELEPHANTS (Running Press Kids, March 2020), and THE NIGHT BAAFORE EASTER (WorthyKids January 26, 2021)

Dawn Young

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) from Kirsti Call author of The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall (Mazo Publishing, January 2019),  Mootilda’s Bad Mood (Little Bee, September 2020), as well as COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) which will release in 2021.

Kirsti Call

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017), and SADIE’S SHABBAT STORIES (Spork, October 2020)

Melissa Stoller

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction) from Becky Scharnhorst, author of the forthcoming MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

Becky Scharnhorst

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of A Flood Of Kindness (WorthyKids April 2021), DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction, fewer than 800 words) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, February 16, 2021) (which means it’s coming out in the middle of our contest!😊) and the forthcoming LITTLE RED (Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, Spring 2022) and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)

Rebecca Kraft Rector

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonfiction PB or rhyming PB) from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019), YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020), LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020), THE OLD MAN AND THE PENGUIN (Kids Can Press, December 2020), and the forthcoming LITTLE PENGUIN and LITTLE ZEBRA (Amicus Ink, March 2, 2021) and SAKIMOTO’S SWIM CLUB (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

Julie Abery


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by gifted author and former Holiday Contest prize winner, Jenna Waldman, author of the forthcoming Larry’s Latkes (October 2021) (originally written for the Holiday Contest!) and Shark-bot Shalom (August 2021) She is on twitter at @SarafinaDesign

Author Jenna Waldman

– Either a signed copy of WHEN A TREE GROWS OR a Picture Book Manuscript Critique – winner’s choice! – from Cathy Ballou Mealey, author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Sterling April 2019) and the forthcoming SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

– a personalized signed copy of SUNDAY RAIN from author Rosie Pova PLUS a personalized signed copy of DEAR GRANDMA from Yours Truly.

– a personalized signed copy of DON’T HUG DOUG: (He Doesn’t Like It) from author Carrie Finison PLUS a personalized signed copy of CURIOSITY’S DISCOVERY from author/illustrator Nancy Derey Riley!

– a personalized signed copy of The Night Baafore Easter from author Dawn Young PLUS a personalized signed copy of Hop To It: Poems To Get You Moving from poet Sarah Meade!

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

Now! Put your heart into it and bravely post your entries!

I can’t wait to read your stories!!!

Eager Readers: Check out the comment section for all the fabulous entries, and the link list at the end to visit the blogs of the authors who wanted to post on their own home turf 😊

ENTRIES IN THE COMMENT SECTION: (all entries are linked)

  1. Not “IT” – Danielle Sharkan
  2. A Goosely Valentine – Danielle Sharkan
  3. Charlie and Sienna – A Friendship Story – Laura Roettiger
  4. Most Valuable Valentine – Anne Lipton
  5. A Valentine’s Day Quest in the Land of Moore – Gregory Bray
  6. Red-Green Valentine’s Day – Stephanie Amargi
  7. A One-of-a-Kind, Just-in-Case, Not-at-All-Pink Valentine’s Day – Amy Leskowski
  8. Love Is Stronger – Teresa Traver
  9. Valentine’s Gotcha Day – Jessica Hinrichs
  10. Carmela’s Valentines – Lu Pierro
  11. Bee Brave – Gennie Gorback
  12. Crushed – Corine Timmer
  13. Too Chicken – Sue Lancaster
  14. Shelly and the Path of Peril – Sue Lancaster
  15. Brave Hearts – Jamie Donahoe
  16. Step-Brother Battle – Brenda Whitehead
  17. I Woof You – Debra Daugherty
  18. My Valenchicken – Glenda Roberson
  19. A Neighborly Valentine – Meg King-Sloan
  20. U R Brave – Lindsey Hobson
  21. If I Were Brave – Rose Cappelli
  22. Elonso’s Best Valentine’s Day Ever – Susan Drew
  23. Dibble and Wiscowski: “A Cookie Valentine” – Bru Benson
  24. One Brave Balloon – Susan Schade
  25. The Wibbler – Tracy Curran
  26. Brave Bonnie – Shannon VanStraten-Sundlass
  27. Cupid, Junior – Linda Staszak
  28. A Valentine Visit – Julie Maria
  29. Cupid: The Love Fairy – Rachel Shupin
  30. Be Brave On Valentine’s Day – Sara Kruger
  31. Operation Moonbeam – Simon Yeend
  32. A Valentine Rose – Daryl Gottier
  33. The Ballad of Bad Bart – Carrie Boone
  34. The Brave Little Seed – Michelle S. Kennedy
  35. Something I Want To Say – Jeny Morales
  36. Stella & Sparky And The Last Valentine – Patricia Nozell
  37. Stella & Hank – Nicole Loos Miller
  38. Untangled Valentines – Janie Reinart
  39. The Wildflower – Ashlee Hashman
  40. The Color of Love – Allison Strick
  41. Puppy Love – Deb Buschman
  42. Super Brothers – Shannon Howarth Nelsen
  43. Brave For Gigi – Kelly Swemba
  44. Wannabe my Valentine – Cynthia Stacey
  45. Cupix – Bridget Magee
  46. U To The Rescue – Amy Heath
  47. Blob’s Valentine’s Wish – Deb Sullivan
  48. Violet & The Valentine’s Vampire – Sarah Meade
  49. Jana’s Valentine’s Visit – Sarah Meade
  50. Mole & Miss Vole on Valentine’s Day – Sarah Meade
  51. A Valentine’s Mouse In Our House – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf (2 entries in one comment)
  52. Will you be my ninja – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf (2 entries in one comment)
  53. Grouchy Grover – Rebekah Hoeft
  54. Brave In A Cave – Cedar Pruitt
  55. Cardy’s Valentine Story In All Its Glory – Sally Yorke-Viney
  56. My Kind of Valentine! – Megan France
  57. Lavender Buzz – Vicky Langdon
  58. Love Sick – Abi Island
  59. Be Brave! – Lisa M. Clewner-Newman
  60. I’m Not Afraid – Patricia J. Franz
  61. The Girl With The Candyfloss Hair – Simon Yeend
  62. Valentine’s Day on Halloween Hill – Abby Wooldridge
  63. W-R-I-T-E For Each Other – Elizabeth Muster
  64. Olive You Forever – Ann Ferrello
  65. The Pink Pro – Kelsey Gross
  66. Brave Brave Brave – David McMullin
  67. The Witch of Valentine Lane – Marietta Apollonio
  68. Gordon’s One-Footed Hop – Kelsey Gross
  69. Charmadillo – Lauri C. Meyers
  70. “Soon” – M.R. Haqq
  71. More Than Cookies – Halley M. Cormack, LCSW
  72. Leroy The Lion (Hearted) – Lisa Varchol Perron
  73. Fishing For Love: A DIARY – Amy Olsen
  74. The Lost Valentine – Jeannette Suhr
  75. Brave New Friends – Dawn Young
  76. Scaredy-Cat – Danielle S. Hammelef
  77. Hard To Love – Robin Currie
  78. Brave Hearts – Susan Klaren
  79. Across The Road – Rachel Dutton
  80. Knight of Hearts – Ellen Crosby
  81. Tootsee Tulip Bulb’s Love-Treat – Judy Caldwell Hughes
  82. Brave in the Basement – Jessica Whipple
  83. Caleb’s Heart – Anne Bromley
  84. Corn Dogs on the Corner – Colleen Dougherty
  85. Brave Heart – Rebecca Gardyn Levington
  86. Knock, Knock, Knock – Marty Findley
  87. Villain-tine’s Day – Laura Bower
  88. Take A Deep Breath – Elyse Trevers
  89. Only Three Words – B. A. Schlosser Hill
  90. A Stolen Valentine – Martha Holguin
  91. Class List – Elizabeth Volkmann
  92. Cards and Cookies – Jennifer Reichow
  93. Chalk Tears – Judy Brewer
  94. Nurse A Broken Heart – E. Elle Bea
  95. Bravely Soldier On – E. Elle Bea
  96. New Kid Blues – Darcee A. Freier
  97. Valentine’s Recitation – Keely Leim
  98. Mama Love. Dada Love. – Nancy M. Tichenor
  99. A Valentine’s Treasure – Ingrid Boydston
  100. An Itsy Bitsy Valentine – Maria Antonia
  101. Dino & Gigi – Carolina Bottino (Nina K. Brown)
  102. Hearts Trail – Carolina Bottino (Nina K. Brown)
  103. The Giant’s Valentine – Sheila M. Hausbeck
  104. The Loneliness Street – Nina K. Brown
  105. Brave Little Valentine – Charlotte Dixon
  106. Playdate – Margaret Aitken
  107. Octopus Hugs – Chambrae Griffith
  108. Conversation Heart Courage – Becky Kimbrough
  109. My Friend Nate – Karima Davis
  110. Jojo’s Valentine – Sarah Hawklyn
  111. “I Like You A Lot” – Julie Schnieders
  112. Unconventional Friendship – Sarah Hawklyn
  113. The Flavors of the Heart – Armineh Manookian
  114. The Candybot – Ellen Seal
  115. An Otter Love Story – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  116. Floret And The Fondue – Ashley Sierra
  117. Be Brave, Be Kind, My Valentine – Susan E. Schipper
  118. Cupid’s Booty Camp For BabyBoo – Ally Enz
  119. The Cat And The Space Heater: A Love Story – Jen Fier Jasinski
  120. Playing To Win – Norah Colvin
  121. Super Special Valentine – Aundra Tomlins
  122. A Brave Change of Heart – Amy Nicolai
  123. Sarla Asks A Question – Sandhya Acharya
  124. A Trail of Ketchup and Mustard – MeiLin Chan
  125. Juliet and Romeo: Verona’s Valentine’s Celebration – Cristina Raymer
  126. A Little Atom – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez
  127. Oscar Octopus Plants A Garden – Isabel Cruz Rodriquez
  128. My Bestest Friend – Roberta Abussi
  129. My Every-Day-Valentine – Roberta Abussi
  130. Sarah’s Valentines – Rachel Zimmerman Brachman
  131. Lemur In Love – Sarah McDermott
  132. A Cocoon of Love – Jyoti Rajan Gopal
  133. Eggbert – Charlie Bown
  134. A Valentine For Mom – Patricia Martin
  135. Becca’s Brave Hearts – Marty Bellis
  136. Little Truck’s Daring Delivery – Kristin Kolp
  137. The Valentine On My Shoe – Catherine J. Lee
  138. No More Pink – Robin Currie
  139. Shiny Sharp Scissors – Katie Fischer
  140. Valentine Love Languages – Jaymie Dean
  141. Val & Jack – Karen Keesling
  142. Brave Heart – Tonnye Fletcher
  143. Valentine Delivery – Katie Brandyberry
  144. Apple Pie: Valentine’s Day Treat – Sarah Skolfield
  145. Brave Little Friends – Judy Sobanski
  146. Lone’s Very First Day – Jennifer Reinharz
  147. The Monster’s Valentine Buffet – Kelly Conroy
  148. Freddie Frog’s Valentine – Lindsey Hobson
  149. A Simple Valentine – P. J. Purtee
  150. The Wonky Heart – Stacy Burch
  151. Roses From Valentina – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  152. A Natural Valentine’s Day – Sharon McCarthy
  153. Miss Hedgehog’s Valentine Mission – Amy LaMae Brewer
  154. Blown Away – Diana Webb
  155. Zooming Valentine’s Day – Susan VandeWeghe
  156. Snack Attack – Melisa Wrex
  157. Heart Hands – Sarah Heaton
  158. Bigfoot’s Valentine – Kirsten Leestma
  159. Geronimo! – Lydia Loeber
  160. The Most Terrible, Awful, Icky Valentine Ever – Melissa Trempe
  161. Babies Share Bedrooms – Kristi Newsome
  162. 214 St. Valentine Way – Tracy Anderson Martin
  163. Six Secret Valentines – Una Belle Townsend
  164. The Bees and the Birdss – Paul Kurtz
  165. Someone Special! – Paul Kurtz
  166. Zombie My Valentine – Donna Kurtz
  167. The Owl and the Kitty-Kat – Donna Kurtz
  168. No Pictures! – Diane S. Scotti
  169. Blue Flower – Mary Warth
  170. New Line Valentine – Marcia Parks
  171. Leo Lionhearted – Jill Lambert
  172. Bravery Is From The Heart – Sophia Zafra
  173. A Heavenly Visit – Deborah Dolan Hunt
  174. The Bird And The Cat – Beth Winslow
  175. THE Valentine Question – Kate Rehill
  176. How To Be Valentines (With A Boa Constrictor) – Mary Noon
  177. Desi’s Daring Delivery – Darci Nielson
  178. New Best Friend – Sherri T. Mercer
  179. The Gift Tree – Ciara N M Greenwalt
  180. One Shot – Dazzle Ng
  181. Fuzzy Bum – Stacey Miller
  182. Arrrrr Is For Valentine – Sara Ackerman
  183. Valentine’s Day Rocks – Samantha Haas
  184. Cyrus The Bold – Patricia Corcoran
  185. Saying What I Really Mean – Nina Nolan
  186. Mr. Grumpy’s Valentine – Anne Sawan
  187. Heart Shaped Everything – Rathi Munukur
  188. You Can Do This Jonathan! – Martina Palkovicova
  189. Caveman Valentine – Jennifer Lowe
  190. Percy’s Valentine – Nancy Derey Riley
  191. Brave Hearts – Mary Rudzinski
  192. Legendary Valentine – Audrey Day-Williams
  193. In Front Behind – Diana Webb
  194. A Punny Valentine – Linda Staszak
  195. Love is an Ocean Away – Kimiko Wadriski Lumsden
  196. Valentine’s Day Rescue – Brigid Finucane
  197. Mission: Cancel Cupid Call – Kalee Gwarjanski
  198. The Valentine’s Quest – Karyn Curtis
  199. Seeking Courage – Bonnie Kelso
  200. Valentina and Valentino – Claire Lewis
  201. Will You Bee My Valentine – Ranessa Doucet
  202. A Valentine Ski – Clara MacClarald
  203. Dance Like An Eagle – Jyothi Nookula
  204. A Gift For Abuelo – JC Kelly
  205. My Tummy Valentine – Janice Kay Alexander
  206. Elijah and the Valentine – Susan Twiggs
  207. Assortment Phobia – JC Kelly
  208. A Beastly Valentine – Steve Jankousky
  209. A Valentiny for ME! – Karima Davis
  210. Friendship Cake – Dea Lenihan
  211. Be My Valentine – Liz Kehrli
  212. Love Story – Liz Kehrli
  213. Love Birds – Lisa Lee Furness
  214. Mr. Grumpy – Mary A. Zychowicz
  215. Feep and Meep – Echo Roben
  216. The Cave of Utter Darkness – Bill Canterbury
  217. Yellow Like A Mango – Imelda Taylor
  218. Melanie’s Back! – Shari Della Penna
  219. All About Heart – Anna Lunt
  220. Tilly’s Great Big Heart – Amy Flynn
  221. Insiya’s Valentine – Aditya Simha
  222. Corazon Does Not Cliff Jump – Kate Rehill
  223. We’re Still Brave! – Kelly Coutsoubos
  224. The Cupcake Who Dared To Be Different – Susanne Whitehouse
  225. Lucy’s Brave Lifelines – Karen A. Kelly

This form ONLY for people who prefer to post on their own blogs and are ONLY posting their entries on their own blogs!

2,382 thoughts on “Be Brave, My Heart! – The 6th Annual Valentiny Contest Is Here!!!

  1. Audrey Day-Williams says:

    LEGENDARY VALENTINE – 194 words
    By Audrey Day-Williams

    Hot sauce comes from Dragons’ tears
    Fairies sneeze confetti
    Leprechauns burp rainbows
    But I am just a Yeti.
    I sometimes smell like moldy cheese
    My feet are big and sweaty
    Can you find room inside your heart
    To love this hairy Yeti?

    Circle one:
    – Yes
    – No
    – Maybe so

    “This valentine’s to Unicorn?
    She’ll get a ton, no doubt.
    Yeti,” Nessie sighed, “You’ve
    got to make yourself stand out!
    For example,” Nessie gushed,
    “you brighten up the room.
    And did you know when you walk past,
    the frozen flowers bloom?
    You’re not only a legend but
    your farts smell sweet like pie.
    And when you tell your Yeti-jokes
    I laugh so hard I cry.”

    “Nessie, I had no idea—”
    Yeti’s cheeks turned red.

    Bravely, Nessie blurted,
    “I meant every word I said!
    Yeti, I have held this in
    until my heart turned blue.
    I worried things would get all weird
    and awkward if you knew.
    I know my poop’s not sparkly,
    I have no golden horn—”

    Yeti interrupted,
    “This note’s not for Unicorn.”

    He passed Nessie the envelope.
    She stared at the address.
    A serpent tear slid down her cheek.

    To: Nessie, at Loch Ness

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR DIANA

    In Front Behind

    Slithery Slippery Snodgrass Snail was hiding deep within his shell too scared to come out and tell his girlfriend Snealenor Stellena just how much he loved her.

    ‘ Bet you can’t make a great big silver heart right out there on the pavement before the moon comes round again without getting trodden on’ sneered his rival Slimey Take a Long Timey.

    ‘Bet I can!’

    And Slithery Slippery put out first one tentacle then the other and slowly slowly shimmied his way with all the limpid love he could limber leaving a trail in the likeness of the largest loveliest long long lastingest heart that he could lick into shape.

    And a boot came along. Trudge trudge trudge. And it missed him.

    Then a trainer. Jog jog jog. And it missed him.

    Then a slipper. Shuffely shuffely shuffely. And nearly came down on top of him . Shush. But Slithery slid.He slid with the speed of a moonbeam beaming.

    And there it was. The gleamiest streamiest right up over the top and down the other side winning teamiest picture of a silver heart that any snail by the name of a Snealenor Stellena could hope to find.

    And she did. And they slid. Closer and closer. And Slimey Take a Long Timey slipped away and hid.

  3. Linda Staszak says:

    I apologize to anybody who reads this–I couldn’t sleep and my mind wouldn’t turn off….

    A PUNNY VALENTINE
    By Linda Staszak 212 words
    Henrietta ran into the barn, her head bobbing, and she banged on a battered bucket.
    “Out of the coops everybody. It’s Valentine’s Day. Time to say something nice.”
    “You’re a real comedi-hen,” groaned Sheep.
    “It’s the quack of dawn,” Duck complained.
    “Where’s Piggie?” Henrietta asked.
    Horse snorted. “Farmer said ‘Hogwash, that’s despigable’ so Pig jumped in the tub.”
    “Hurry up,” grumbled Goat. “I haven’t goat all day.”
    “You’re all so a-moo-sing,” muttered Cow.
    “I’ll start,” said Henrietta as she fluffed her feathers. “I’m eggcited to know you all.”
    Cow cleared her throat. “I udderly adore you,” and she took a little bow.
    “Where’s Pig?” someone asked. “The tub’s empty.”
    “Pig is shy,” Duck said. “She might not want to talk. But I’ll say–I’m quackers about you!”
    “Next,” said Henrietta.
    Horse snorted. “You’re all good neigh-bors.”
    “Yeah, I can barely tolerate ewe,” added Goat. “Hey Pig, get in here.”
    “Be nice,” said Sheep. “Pig’s not baaaad, just scared of us.”
    “Let’s give Pig another minute,” said Henrietta.
    Duck waddled toward the door. “I’m hungry,” she quacked.
    Everybody turned to leave when Pig whispered, “I can do this.”
    “Wait,” she called Her tail quivered, she straightened her bow, and said, “Hogs and kisses to you all. Happy Valentine’s Day!”, and even Goat smiled.

  4. Kimiko Wadriski says:

    Love is an Ocean Away – 208 words
    by Kimiko Wadriski Lumsden
    https://www.wadriskiwrites.com/valentiny-love-is/

    I’m a shy fish with a snout like a pig. I’m the loneliest reef triggerfish in the sea. I’ve searched all over the ocean. Well, to be specific, just the South Pacific.

    Though I’m quite popular, everyone has a Valentine but me! Just look at Stink Bug and Slug cuddled slimy as can be. Or Goose and Moose huddled tenderly. Even Bear and Hare are snuggled so closely.

    All over the world animals are paired! Just look at Raccoon and Baboon sitting in a tree. Or Fox and Ox K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Even Beaver and Weaver nest comfortably.

    Should I ask Jellyfish? No, he’s too scary. I’m not courageous enough.

    Should I ask Manta Ray? No, he’s too mysterious. I’m not adventurous enough.

    Should I ask Monk Seal? No, he’s too fun. I’m not spirited enough.

    I’M JUST TOO SHY!

    There’s no one in all of Hawaii perfect for me! But wait… what if I flee? I’ll swim far away through dangerous seas.

    After 9,129 kilometers, I’m exhausted but excited to finally reach Australia on a moonlit night.

    I’ve done it! I’m enough!

    I’m Humuhumunukunukuapua`a.

    I’m a courageous fish with a snout like a pig swimming in front of a marsupial asking, “Will you be my Valentine, quokka?”

  5. Judy Sobanski says:

    Great job of showing the brother’s struggle! How sweet that he gave his last piece of candy to his hurting sister. Lovely story!

  6. booksinger says:

    VALENTINE’S DAY RESCUE! ~ 214 words
    by Brigid Finucane

    It had snowed for a million days. At least that’s what it felt like to Annie, as she
    filled a basket of her Valentine’s Day cookies and bounded off to surprise her best friend, Clarissa. Snow had turned bushes and houses into soft white hills. Nothing looked the same, but her nose led the way.

    Suddenly the town siren sounded. Oooooooh! That only meant one thing: Emergency!

    “Do you know what happened?,” she barked to Clarissa.

    “The Golden’s puppies are lost. They went out sledding this morning and haven’t returned!
    And roads are too deep for any rescue patrols to get here!”

    “Let’s go find them.”

    Off bounded the two beagles through the blinding snow. They took turns pushing through the high drifts, never giving up.

    “Arooo! Arooo!” they called at the top of the sledding hill. There was only silence.
    But wait! Was that a yip?

    They slid and tumbled to the bottom and crashed into something solid.

    “Time to dig!”

    A sled! Under it were three shivery puppies huddled together.

    “You found us!”

    Annie and Clarissa righted the sled and placed the whimpering puppies on it. They slowly dragged the sled up the hill to the Golden’s home where the puppies were happily reunited.

    Clarissa fetched her cookies, and they all celebrated!

  7. kaleegwarjanski says:

    MISSION: CANCEL CUPID CALL (214 Words)
    By: Kalee Gwarjanski

    2/14. 3:00am. Phase 1: Time Travel

    Sneak out of bed.
    Locate calendar.
    Destroy page 2/14.
    Display 2/15.

    I have to call Aunt Edna every Valentine’s. Her favorite day. (My worst.)
    Calling old people is terrifying. You can’t just smile; you need say something.

    8:00am. Phase 2: Sweet Talk
    “February 15th –a great day to be alive,” I fib during breakfast.
    “Today’s the 14th…” corrects Mom, “…that means Lady of Love is expecting a call from her favorite nephew/valentine. Where’s my phone?”

    My throat closes.
    What do I say?! She likes sewing not superheroes, sweaters not soccer, and doesn’t even understand texting.

    8:04am Phase 3: Cellphone Elimination.
    Spotted.
    Swipe.
    Hide under placemat.

    “I’ll call it,” says Dad.

    BuzzBuzzBuzzzzz
    The entire table vibrates. Busted.

    “Found it.” I act relieved. (I’m not.)

    “No time like the present.” Mom stares into my scaredy-cat soul.

    8:07am Phase 4: Surrender.
    Search Edna.
    Wipe palms.
    Press call.
    Deep breath.

    “Hello.”
    “Hi Aunt Edna, it’s Andy,”
    “Who?” she barks.
    “Andy, your nephew… your favorite valentine?”
    “Andy, my darling sweet boy. You never forget your old Aunt Edna on my favorite day. That’s wonderful. Thanks for calling, dear. Take care.”
    Click.
    Then I remember, no need to panic.
    Aunt Edna never talks more than a minute. Uncle Ralph is the chatterbox at Easter.

  8. KarynCurtis21 says:

    The Valentine’s Quest – 212 words

    Tom the knight peeked around the bush. His quest to bring Valentines chocolates and homemade bread to Princess Amanda was going badly. First, she probably didn’t even know he existed. She always had her head in a book. And second, there was the dragon. Which might actually be the bigger problem. It wasn’t a huge dragon, but still. Breathing fire and all. Between Tom and the princess.

    He swallowed. His armor was itching and the chocolates were melting. If he could just get past that dragon…

    He took a deep breath—and sprinted towards the castle. The dragon roared, and flames licked his feet. Tom tripped and his visor slipped down. He couldn’t see! Where was the gate? He fled blindly, the fire and thunderous noise on his heels.

    In desperation, he threw the chocolates over his shoulder. The roaring stopped abruptly.

    Slurp…
    Burp…
    THUMP!

    Tom lifted his visor. The dragon lay in a smoldering heap. Princess Amanda stood in front of him, holding a book.

    “That was really brave!” she said.

    “It was?”

    “Sure! How did you know dragons are allergic to chocolate?”

    “Umm…I didn’t?”

    “Oh. You should read more.”

    There was a long pause.

    Then Tom held out the bread. “I brought you some…toast. Happy Valentines!”

  9. Bonnie Kelso says:

    Seeking Courage – 214 words
    by Bonnie Kelso

    https://bonniekelso.com/seeking-courage/

    Finding lost things was Riley’s specialty.
    She found Mama’s keys!
    A shiny penny.
    Her sister’s doll.
    “Here it is, Kara.”

    Riley and Kara were playing hide-and-seek
    when Riley found Mama wrapped in a blanket.
    “I’ve lost my job.”
    “I’ll help you find it!” said Riley.
    Mama hugged her tight.

    Later Riley found
    a stack of boxes
    with Kara’s doll stuffed inside one.

    “We’re moving?” asked Riley.
    “I’m sorry I couldn’t find your job.”

    “I know moving is scary, Riley,
    but we have to find courage,” said Mama.

    Riley looked everywhere,
    but she couldn’t find courage.
    She wished courage would find her.

    At the shelter, Riley counted to ten
    and opened her eyes.
    She searched for Kara…
    in every room,
    in every closet,
    and on the patio.
    Cars zoomed in the street.
    Kara was lost!
    Her heart beat faster.
    “Kara!”

    “We’re in here, Riley,” said Mama.
    Kara was safe.

    Riley collapsed.
    “I can’t find my courage!”
    Mama smiled.
    “Riley, I found a job!”
    They squeezed each other tight.

    In their new apartment, they found wonderful things.
    Soft blankets.
    Friendly neighbors.
    Kara discovered a new word, Riley.

    Riley decided courage isn’t something you find.
    It grows inside, little by little,
    like making a friend,
    learning new words,
    or the feeling of home in a new place.

  10. claireflewis says:

    Valentina and Valentino – 214 words
    by Claire Lewis

    https://claireflewis.com/2021/02/14/valentiny-writing-contest-2021/

    Tree squirrels Valentina and Valentino were best friends – different, but perfectly matched.

    When Valentina gobbled all her nuts, Valentino shared his supplies with her.

    When Valentino didn’t dare to raid the bird feeder, Valentina raided it for him.

    Valentino loved Valentina but was afraid to say anything. ‘She’d never love someone timid like me,’ he thought.

    Valentina loved Valentino but didn’t want to alarm him. ‘He’d never love someone reckless like me,’ she thought.

    For Valentine’s Day, Valentino bravely sent Valentina an ENORMOUS card with flamboyant hearts, flashing balloons, and poetry. ‘Exactly the sort of razzmatazz she loves,’ he thought.

    Valentina limited herself to a small, plain card with one tiny heart, tucked discreetly beneath some moss. ‘He’ll appreciate the lack of fuss,’ she thought.

    Valentino called by. ‘Any valentines?’ he said casually, his heart thumping.

    ‘Yes!’ said Valentina. ‘A ridiculously over-the-top one! AWFUL! Did you get any?’

    ‘None, as usual,’ said Valentino. ‘It must be GREAT to get hearts, balloons, poetry… the works!’

    ‘So… if you WERE to love someone, you’d prefer somebody… over-the-top… like me?’ said Valentina.

    ‘Uh-huh,’ said Valentino, shyly. ‘And… if YOU were to love somebody, you’d prefer someone… quieter… like me?’

    ‘You bet!’ whooped Valentina.

    ‘In that case, will you be…’ they said, together.

    ‘…my Valentino…?’

    ‘…my Valentina…?’

    ‘YES!!!’

  11. ranessadoucet says:

    Will You Bee My Valentine?
    By: Ranessa Doucet
    214 Words

    Betsy always looked forward to the yearly Valentine’s Day party. The hive was abuzz with excitement.

    This year, Betsy was asked to sing the traditional bumblebee Valentine’s Day song, “Will You Bee My Valentine?”.

    Betsy had a beautiful voice. She loved singing, but not in front of a crowd. What if she messed up in front of the whole swarm? That would sting!

    When the day arrived, Betsy hid in the honeycomb, hoping to avoid everyone. No such luck.

    “Sweet-bee, what are you doing in there?”

    “I can’t do it, mom, I’m not brave enough!”

    “You can be brave and nervous at the same time,” said Mom gently “they go together.”

    Reluctantly, Betsy flew out in front of the hive. She trembled so much that a cloud of pollen surrounded her.

    She had the urge to fly away, but something stuck her in place like honey.

    Betsy knew deep down in her abdomen that she would never know if she was brave enough unless she tried.

    She took a deep breath, and when the pollen cloud dissipated, she closed her eyes and sang, “Will You Bee My Valentine?”.

    Betsy opened her eyes to the sweet sight of the hive fluttering their wings. She had never felt braver and happier, they must go together too.

  12. Clara MacCarald (@CMaccarald) says:

    A Valentine Ski – 214 words
    by Clara MacCarald

    Future polar explorer Mari gripped her ski poles. The snowy slope looked much steeper from the top. Maybe the Valentine’s Day Open Ski wasn’t her day to conquer the Tiger Jump Trail.
    “See you at the bottom.” Cora flew by.
    Cora was so cool. If Mari caught Cora below, she could offer her a chocolate heart.
    No explorer feared a little hill. Mari pushed off.
    Wind stung her face. Her skis sliced through snow as she zipped from side to side. Watch out, polar mountains! She passed Cora and gave a thumbs up.
    One of Mari’s skis started to slip. Uh oh. Both skis skidded. She hurtled to the side and plunged into the snow. Cut down in the moment of triumph!
    “You okay?” Cora asked.
    Mari lay still. She wished Cora would go away and never speak of this disaster again.
    Except explorers never hide from challenges. Mari struggled up and took a deep breath. “This is my first time on the Tiger Jump,” she admitted.
    “I fell five times on my first run,” Cora said.
    Really? Maybe Mari could risk failure too. “Want a chocolate?” Mari asked.
    “Sure.” Cora took it and smiled. “So I’m your Valentine?”
    Mari grinned back. “If I get to be yours.”
    “Deal.”
    “Race you down.” Mari soared.

  13. jyothi-writes (@JyothiWrites) says:

    DANCE LIKE AN EAGLE- 207 words
    By Jyothi Nookula

    “Eagles fly high, Eagles have a keen eye,” chanted the leader of the congregation. Everyone chanted, except Terry.

    Terry loved to dance. He longed for a partner to dance.

    “Eagles don’t dance. Eagles attack in a glance” said his friend.

    No one cared for a dance but Terry was determined to find a partner.

    He soared at sunrise and searched.

    He could not find anyone.

    He searched and searched some more.

    He found a plane passing by.

    Perhaps, the plane will join him in his stride.

    The plane was in a hurry to reach its destination and passed his offer.

    He found a mouse chewing on the ground.

    Perhaps, we can shimmy together.

    The mouse ran away on seeing him.

    Terry was worried. In his heart, the wish wouldn’t give up.

    Slowly, he began flying back home.

    And that’s when he saw it….

    The clouds parted to reveal a heart in the sky.

    Terry pondered for a moment before he leapt.

    Will they continue to be friends with me?

    Be brave! Have courage! Follow your heart, he heard a voice deep inside.

    He took a deep breath…

    He swirled with the clouds,
    Pirouetted with the mist.
    He peered at his flock,
    And leapt go of a kiss.

  14. writestuff99 says:

    A Gift for Abuelo
    (214 Words)
    JC Kelly

    My Abuelo is the “Quinceanera King.” He magically transforms shimmery silks and sparkling chiffons into amazing custom Quinceanera dresses. People come from all over for his creations. Or, they used to. Before COVID. Without big parties, Abuelo doesn’t have any orders.

    I miss seeing the usual smudge of glitter on his face. And the glimmer has left Abuelo’s eyes as he sits staring at tv all day. We try to get him to leave the house, but he refuses to wear a mask. He yells at anyone who suggests it.

    I still do my homework in his workshop, like I used to. But it’s too quiet without the hum of his sewing machine. One day, as I was looking for sequins to make valentines, I found a piece of simple grey fabric…. And I had an idea…

    My family cowered in the kitchen when I handed Abuelo the handmade Valentine’s gift. My mother whispered, “I don’t know if you’re brave, or crazy. He’s going to YELL!”

    When Abuelo unwrapped the gift I had sewn, his eyebrows shot up to ceiling. My family gasped as he put it on. I couldn’t see his mouth, but I’m pretty sure he was smiling behind the mask when he said, “I taught you well. It’s a perfect fit.”

  15. janicekayalexander says:

    My Tummy Valentine – 214 words
    By Janice Kay Alexander

    A large Valentine card was sitting on my desk for all to see.
    “Your tummy’s too chubby” was all it said.
    Whoever wrote the card was not brave enough to sign their name.

    I commanded my tears to stay put until class was over.

    The final bell brought fresh snickers as classmates jostled past me. Running across the school yard, my wet cheeks felt cold and numb, just like my heart.

    Finally, home, I threw my backpack on the hallway floor and ran out the back door. “Slam!”

    Snuggled under the protective branches of my favorite willow tree, my tears were interrupted. Through the wispy leaves, Momma handed me a cup of steaming tea in her favorite china cup. Had she seen the ugly valentine?

    My emotions tensed; awaiting Momma’s familiar counsel: “People who tease us are afraid and insecure”.
    Instead, Momma laid my precious art box beside me. She kissed my forehead and sat down.

    I opened the box and on top of my glitter pens, glue sticks and fancy paper, was a faded card that read: My Tummy Valentine.

    Momma smiled at me and said, “My brave girl, Momma learned to love her tummy and you can too”.

    Momma walked back to the house as I wrote “Dearest Tummy, Happy Valentines’ Day”.

  16. setwiggs says:

    Elijah and the Valentines-213 words
    by Susan Twiggs

    Elijah jumped over puddles on his way to school. His tummy jumped too. It’s his first Valentine’s day in America, and his sister bought him a package of valentines. He printed his name on each card. Then he printed the name of each classmate on the envelope. He licked the envelopes and the glue tasted like the dry crackers he’d eaten in the refugee camp.

    Two steps before the door, the wind whipped. The wind pulled. The wind snatched. The valentines fell like a waterfall.
    “Oh no,” Elijah cried, “my valentines are ruined.” Tears larger than stones fell.
    The bell rang. Elijah was having a bad day.
    Shawn stepped out of his mother’s SUV and ran to the door. He noticed Elijah and the valentines. Even though he’d be late, he stopped.
    “We’ll get them all picked up,” he said.
    Elijah protested, “But they’re wet. Who is going to want them?”
    “We can dry them on the heater,” Shawn said.
    Shawn spoke to their teacher. He showed Elijah where to dry the cards and they spread them out together.
    Elijah’s valentines rippled with watermarks and crinkled when his classmates opened them. Elijah smiled. Shawn helped him save his wet valentines and he’d made a new friend. That’s the best Valentine Day present ever.

  17. writestuff99 says:

    Assortment Phobia
    (208 Words)
    JC Kelly

    “Coconut tastes just fine,
    But caramel would be divine.
    Hazelnut is very yummy,
    I’d like some fudge inside my tummy…”

    I sing this song to myself
    as I peek into the glittery heart-shaped box.
    Nestled inside are “12 Assorted Chocolates.”
    “Assorted?” What exactly does that mean?

    I think it means they’re all different.
    Which would be ok.
    If I only knew
    which was which?

    I’ve had a few bad ones…
    like the raspberry mousse of 2018.
    And let’s not even talk about 2019:
    The year grandpa gave us cherry cordials

    Ever since the cordials,
    I have “Assortment Phobia.”
    Am I the only one who has a
    fear of unknown chocolates?

    Who knows what dangerous filling might lurk
    beneath the chocolate shell.
    I CANNOT bite into a chocolate unless
    I know what’s inside.

    But these Valentine’s chocolates look so good.
    They smell delicious.
    And, I read the ingredients…
    No cherries!

    I try to sniff them,
    And quickly learn that it’s not polite to sniff chocolates.
    I suggest that we cut them all open,
    but evidently everyone is still mad at me for sniffing all the chocolates!

    I cannot resist.
    I must face my fear.
    I hold my nose,
    and pop one right into my mouth.

    Ah, caramel – how divine!

  18. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR STEVE

    A Beastly Valentine – 214 words
    by Steve Jankousky

    “Riley!” Papa bellowed. “What’s on your bed?”

    Riley looked up from making Valentines at the dining table.

    “It has a long tail!” Mama chimed in. “Oh my gosh. Is it a monkey?”

    “It has strong mighty paws, Riley. It might be a lion,” said Papa.

    Riley was nervous now and ran to the front door, ready to escape if necessary.

    “Get it out of my room, whatever it is!”

    “It has big chomping jaws. It could be a tiger,” Mama cautioned.

    “Why is it on MY bed? This is the worst Valentine’s Day EVER!” Riley wailed.

    “It’s got thick black fur. It may be a bear,” warned Papa. “You’re going to have to get it off the bed yourself, Riley.”

    “But I’m scared.”

    “Be brave,” Mama encouraged.

    “Nooooo.”

    “You can do it,” Papa reassured.

    Riley put on some oven mitts and a bicycle helmet in case the creature attacked and then quietly tiptoed toward the bedroom.

    There was growling.

    Mama giggled.

    Riley charged through the doorway with the oven mitts raised for combat and then stopped dead. Staring down the fearsome beast, the beast stared back. Then it loudly slapped its tail against the comforter.

    Long tail.
    Mighty paws.
    Chomping jaws.
    Thick black fur.

    “It’s a…

    IT’S A…

    A PUPPY!”

    “Happy Valentine’s Day, Riley!”

  19. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR KARIMA

    A Valentiny for ME! -214 words
    by Karima Davis

    When I woke up this morning, Mommy and Daddy weren’t there. Gigi came in my room and said I should be brave. They would be back in two sleeps. I was sad. They went to get Baby Penny out of Mommy’s tummy. Gigi gave me a hug and told me she loved me. “Let’s make a card for Penny,” Gigi said. I didn’t want to make a card for Penny. I said, “Let’s make a card for ME!”

    Gigi and I played all day and read books before bed. When I woke up, Mommy and Daddy still weren’t there. I was sad. “One more sleep and they will be home,” said Gigi, “Let’s decorate cookies. Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day!” “Cookies for ME?” “Yes, for you,” said Gigi.

    That night Gigi told me I was being so brave for going to bed without Mommy and Daddy home. Only one more sleep! We snuggled and she gave me tickly Gigi kisses. The next day Gigi and I waited by the window for Mommy and Daddy to come home!

    Mommy came in the door and ran to me. She said, “I love you!” I saw Baby Penny. She’s so tiny. I asked Daddy if she was for ME. “Yes,” Daddy said, “A sister for YOU! Happy Valentine’s Day!”

  20. dealenihan says:

    Friendship Cake – 209 words
    Dea Lenihan

    Louise wound up the purple mouse her Dad sent for Valentine’s Day.
    It wiggled left and jiggled right.
    “My turn,” said Becca.
    “I just got it!” said her friend Louise.
    “You’re supposed to share,” said Becca.
    “Alright…” said Louise.
    Becca turned the key…one, two, three, four times…
    “That’s enough!” said Louise, “You’re going to…”
    PING.
    “You broke it?” asked Louise.
    “I didn’t mean to!” said Becca.
    Louise started to cry.
    Becca walked home and texted Louise.
    I’m sorry. I’m going to make you a Valentine cake. Friends forever? she typed.
    But Louise didn’t answer.
    Becca waited…and waited some more.
    Still no word from Louise.
    After dinner she asked if she could make Louise a cake.
    But what if she didn’t want it?
    What if she was still upset?
    What if she didn’t want to be friends anymore?
    She decided to do it anyway.
    She made the cake extra chocolatey.
    She made it extra Valentiny.
    She filled it with friendship.
    She walked to Louise’s house and knocked.
    “I’m sorry Louise. Are we still friends?”
    “Of course!” she said.
    “I thought you might be mad forever,” said Becca. “I almost didn’t make it.”
    “Well, I’m glad you did. Come in friend, let’s have a piece.”

  21. Liz Kehrli (@Liztiz3) says:

    Be My Valentine 214 words
    By Liz Kehrli

    Dear Lucy, I hope you like this Valentine I made. I knew you’d find it here in your favorite field of flowers. Will you be my Valentine?
    -An Admirer

    Dear Admirer, Thank you for the card. I don’t have a Valentine so I’m curious who you are.
    -Lucy

    Dear Lucy- Not sure what I was thinking. We’re too different. I don’t have lovely white wool like you. And you’d probably laugh at my crooked tail.
    -A
    Dear A, I have a slanted nose, plus I’m a terrible jumper. I can barely make it over a rock.
    -Lucy
    Dear Lucy, I’m a good jumper. I only wish I could dance. My long legs always get twisted like tangled tree roots.
    -A
    Dear A, I won the hip-hop contest last year. I’d be happy to show you some moves.
    -Lucy
    Dear Lucy, I could teach you how to jump-
    Hey- is it you?
    Hi Lucy, I’m Antwerp.
    Hello! I wasn’t expecting an antelope.
    Does it bother you? Hey- watch out for that puddle!
    Splat!
    Oops! I don’t mind, Antwerp, as long as you don’t mind me being a brown sheep.
    At least now we’re the same shade of brown! If you can swim, let’s go to the pond.
    I love swimming!
    Me too!
    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  22. Liz Kehrli (@Liztiz3) says:

    Love Story- 211 words
    By Liz Kehrli

    Tell me again, Dad- how you and Mom got together.
    Well, Cuppy, I was just a Hershey miniature when I first met your Mom. She was hanging out with some Welch guy. He was a sticky character with a grape jelly belly. When he began to sweet-talk her, I got cracklin’ mad.
    What did you do?
    Nothing! I panicked and couldn’t say a word. Maybe my wrapper was too tight.
    Aww, then what, Dad?
    When I got bigger, I played my cocoa bean bongos for her. It drove her nutty.
    My chocolate heart melted. I almost gave up.
    But you didn’t!
    No, Cuppy. When I heard the Jelly dude was trying to sandwich your Mom into marriage, I made my move.
    And…?
    You know the rest!
    Please tell me again, Dad- it’s the best part!
    I broke off one of my squares, and hurled it at him. But he ducked, and it hit Mom in her creamy center! She went down fast and rolled right into a hornet nest.
    Bzzzzzzzz- the hornets chased after Jelly dude. Then Mom took one taste of my chocolate.
    And that’s when you both realized what a great combination you made?
    Yup, and how lucky we were to create you- our favorite little peanut butter cup!

  23. Lisa L Furness says:

    Ahhh – late to the party but here’s my entry. Thanks, Susanna for hosting this fun contest!

    Love Birds
    by Lisa Lee Furness
    212 words

    Valentine’s Day was almost here and love was in the air.
    Red the Cardinal was the most popular bird in the flock. I bet he’ll get all the valentines. Blue Bird thought.
    But who will Red pick for his valentine?
    “I hope he picks me because I love him,” said Ruby.
    “I love him more,” argued Robin.
    “I know he’ll pick me,” said Rose.
    “I love him too, but Red will never pick me,” said Blue Bird.
    When Valentine’s Day arrived Red opened his valentines.
    Ruby’s said, “You’re so tweet!
    Robin’s said, “Some birdie loves you.”
    Rose’s said, “Be my tweetheart.”
    These were nice but Red wanted to give his valentine to someone who really needed a friend.
    And Blue Bird determined to give Red his valentine, waited for Red to leave his nest.
    While the others weren’t looking, he placed his valentine inside. But what if Red and the others laughed at him?
    When Red returned from his secret errand, he found it!

    Dear Red,
    Will you be my valentine?
    Love, Blue

    And when Blue Bird returned to his nest – there was something waiting for him.

    Dear Blue,
    I would love to be your valentine.
    Love, Red

    “How did you know?” asked Blue Bird.
    “A little birdie told me,” said Red.

  24. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR MARY

    MR. GRUMPY -214 words
    Mary A. Zychowicz

    Every day when Owen walked to school he’d greet everyone he saw on the way.
    They greeted him back. All except Mr. Grumpy. That’s what Owen called him–in his head.
    When Owen walked by his house, Mr. Grumpy sat on his front porch, all scrunchy faced.
    When Owen said “Hi”, he would grimace, groan and growl.
    Owen would run away with shaky legs and a quivering heart.
    One day, Owen took a deep breath, got very brave, walked right up to Mr. Grumpy and said, “Why do you growl at me when I say hello?”
    “I growl because I’ve been alone so long and I like it that way.”
    That night as Owen was writing out Valentines for his classmates he kept thinking about Mr. Grumpy. He wondered if he really liked being alone. Then Owen thought of something.
    The next day on his way to school, Owen walked up to Mr. Grumpy’s porch, reached into a bag, and pulled out a little red envelope and handed it to him.
    Mr. Grumpy opened the envelope, and pulled out a Valentine and read it.
    His grimace grew soft. He looked at Owen. “Hello. My name is Henry” he said.
    Then Owen knew Mr. Grumpy had a name and Henry knew he had a friend.

  25. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR ECHO

    Feep and Meep: (213 words)
    by Echo Roben

    Feep ran a race with Meep. Feep lost, again.

    “I’ll never be fast enough to get to the other side of the road,” said Feep.

    Feep went home and hugged his prized heart-shaped nut. It would be the perfect Valentine to give Nougat. But she lived across the street.

    “I wish I could fly.” But Feep wasn’t a sugar glider.

    Feep held the nut like a football, ran to the where the branch of his tree got thin and lept. “Wheee!” Feep tucked and rolled. But the nut rolled into the middle of the street. “Yeeps.”

    “Vrooom,” went a car. The nut teeter-tottered.

    Feep looked both ways, and ran as fast as he could. When Feep scooped up the nut, he stumbled. The nut went sailing through the air. Feep ducked as a car roared over his head. “Squeep,” yelled Feep, and he scurried to the other side of the road. But where was the nut?

    Meep squeaked halfway up Nougat’s tree, gleefully carrying Feep’s Valentine.

    “That’s mine,” yelled Feep.

    “The fastest squirrel catches the girl,” laughed Meep.

    “Hi Feep,” said Nougat, blushing at Feep.

    Meep bumped into a branch, and the nut fell right into Feep’s arms.

    “Hi Nougat. I brought you a Valentine.”

    Feep never had to cross the street again.

  26. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BILL

    Best,
    Bill Canterbury

    The Cave of Utter Darkness
    214 words

    Whale and Barnacle went everywhere together.
    Diving! Breaching! Splashing! WHEEEE!
    They were inseparable.
    Whale decided to surprise Barnacle with a Valentine card.
    But how could he make one without Barnacle noticing?
    Whale would have to make the card inside… THE CAVE OF UTTER DARKNESS!
    Whale had never swum in there. Anything could be lurking.
    He took a deep breath. His fins fluttered.
    “Whale? Where are you taking us?”
    “Just in there.”
    “No no no, that is… THE CAVE OF UTTER DARKNESS!”
    “If we stick together, we will be brave,” Whale spouted.
    “Oh, this is much too dark.”
    SCRITCH-SCRATCH.
    “Whale, what’s that noise?!”
    “Nothing.”
    “Are you writing something?”
    “Don’t be silly. Okay, let’s blow this hole.”
    Whale raced out like a whirlwind. Nobody whiles away a moment in… THE CAVE OF UTTER DARKNESS!
    Whale gave the card to Barnacle.
    “Surprise!”
    “‘You are my friend.’ Whale, this is the best Valentine card ever.”
    Whale blushed.
    “And I made one for you too!” said Barnacle.
    “You did? ‘Dear Whale, you are my best friend. Will you be my Valentine? Check box YES or NO. Please check YES. With highest regards, Edward James Barnacle, Jr.’”
    “I made it when you were asleep.”
    “Yes, Barnacle, I will be your Valentine.”
    And off they went together: Diving! Breaching! Splashing! WHEE!

  27. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR IMELDA

    YELLOW LIKE A MANGO (214)
    By Imelda Taylor

    My heart is not red like most people say. My heart is yellow like the sweet, sweet mango my mummy got for me.

    I want to show mummy that I love her too. But I’m not big enough to shop for a mango. I can’t go to town nor have money of my own. Yet, I really want to give mummy a mango.

    Our neighbour’s garden has several mango trees. They’re full of mangoes, some are green, some are red and some are yellow. I don’t need lots, just one sweet one will do.

    I’m too little, I can’t climb that tree. But I need to do it. I need to get one. I need to ask our old scary neighbour. Knock, knock, knock I go. She opens the door and looks down at me.

    “Well, what brings you here?” she asks. “Please, can I have one mango from your tree for my mummy?” I say in a trembling voice.

    Her eyes widened, my heart raced. As I swallow the lump in my throat she says, “Of course my dear, you wait here.”

    She fetches some mangoes not one, not two, but three! She’s not scary after all. I’m so glad she’s nice. Now I have enough hearts for my daddy and me too.

  28. Shari Della Penna says:

    Melanie’s Back! – 214 words
    by Shari Della Penna

    Melanie thought she’d outlived her hat collection when she stuffed it all in a box and stashed it in her closet.
    She stared at her 8-year-old reflection. Her chocolate colored eyes stared back. Same nose, just the right length to balance a spoon. Same grin. Same chin.
    Dangle earrings brushed her neck as she turned her head side to side.
    Her head. Melanie moved her hands from the ridge above her eyes to her crown and down to her nape. Not a hair anywhere. Just a smooth, round head. She breathed deep.
    She imagined the medicine, like knights, joust through her veins week after week since Thanksgiving. She imagined herself strong.
    Finally the magic word: remission.
    Now back to school: Valentine’s Day.
    Pulling what she needed from her closet, Melanie dressed and packed her backpack. She imagined herself daring.
    . . .
    Melanie stepped into her classroom. Chatter turned to silence. One huge gasp greeted her.
    Every eye stared—even Mrs. Bioni’s.
    Melanie turned away and rummaged through her backpack. She gathered her strength, stood, and jumped a 180 to face her class, arms outstretched, clown hat disguising more than her round, bald head.
    Her grin looked convincing.
    “Ta-da!”
    Her class’s gasp turned into a gaggle of giggles.
    Melanie bowed deeply and joined in.

  29. annaluntbooks says:

    All About Heart- 213 Words
    By Anna Lunt
    River, the young turtle, was awake early. She nibbled crunchy leaves into hearts to share with her chipmunk friend, Hickory.
    They weren’t pretty red and they weren’t fresh green, but River nibbled away to show her love.
    Finally, twenty hearts were strung around the tree by Hickory’s burrow.
    The hearts fluttered.
    The wind got stronger.
    They shook.
    The wind got even stronger and all those nibbled hearts flew away.
    “Come back!” River called but leaves don’t listen. They go where the wind blows.
    “Okay, plan B. What’s plan B?” River laid down to think.
    She thought and thought. “B-b-b-bake! I’ll bake a beautiful cake! What could go wrong?”
    Bravely she set forth.
    Gathering. Crushing. Pouring. Beating.
    The batter sure tasted good.
    River set the timer and left it to bake while she snoozed.
    “River! What’s that smell?” Hickory said, coming out of his burrow.
    She had slept too long.
    River rushed slowly to remove the cake from the oven.
    The heart-shaped cake was black and even a turtle couldn’t bite it.
    “Wow, you did this for me?” Hickory asked.
    “It was supposed to be a lot yummier,” River said.
    “You are a great friend! How about we make another together!” Then Hickory added, “This time, I’ll watch the timer.”
    Friendship sure tastes good!

  30. amyflynnnd says:

    Tilly’s Great Big Heart – 211 words
    By Amy Flynn

    Tilly’s heart was great-big.

    She carried it everywhere.
    Wrapping her friends in warmth,
    protecting them with strength,
    Sharing it when her friends were lonely.

    Yes, Tilly’s heart was great-big, and shared freely until…

    One day someone stole her heart and left it bruised, broken, and unbearably heavy.

    Now, carrying around her great-big heart seemed dangerous…too dangerous.

    So she decided to protect it.

    She built a big, strong box and tucked it inside, bolting the box shut.
    Padlocks. Ropes. Barbed wire.

    It was safe.

    No longer bruised.
    Or used.
    …but now, even heavier.

    Because, while her heart was safe…

    She was unbearably lonely.

    Tilly had a great-big heart and now, she had a great-big decision to make.

    Keep her heart locked up?
    Or let it out?

    Tilly thought and paced.
    She researched and talked.
    She cried great-big tears.

    But finally…

    Tilly decided.

    She needed her heart with her, even if it was dangerous.
    She couldn’t hide it away anymore.

    She snipped,
    untied and,
    unlocked.
    She flipped the bolts and opened the box.

    But to Tilly’s surprise, her heart was not alone in the box. Nestled beside it was her great, big bravery.

    Tilly tucked her heart under one arm, her bravery under the other and danced off to find her friends.

  31. Aditya Simha says:

    Insiya’s Valentine – 213 Words
    By Aditya Simha

    Insiya stared at the blackboard in her 5th grade classroom, where an oblivious Mr. Thompson was busy writing out something in what looked like Klingon. Well, it was just an algebraic formula, but regardless, it looked indecipherable for Insiya.

    “Psst.. Insiya!” whispered Shaan from the desk next to her.

    “What?” she whispered back.

    “I have a Valentine’s Day gift for you!” said Shaan.

    Insiya blushed and said, “I’m sorry, but my parents said, I can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day!”

    Shaan stared at her with a bemused expression, “Huh! Why not?”

    Insiya replied, “They said, it goes against our religion! So, I can’t!”

    “Oh, okay!” Shaan murmured, “So, should I give this to someone else? Yulia or Kiara, maybe?”

    “Yeah, that’s okay!” Insiya replied, feeling slightly disappointed.

    Shaan must have sensed the disappointment in her voice, because he replied, “No! This gift was for you, and I will give it to you, if not today, then sometime in the future.”

    Insiya beamed at Shaan, and he beamed back at her radiantly……

    Skip ahead a decade and three quarters

    “This happened seventeen years ago”, whispered Insiya to her little newborn bundle of joy snuggling in her arms. “That’s when I knew Daddy was going to be my Valentine forever!” She then tenderly kissed her little Alia.

  32. Kate Rehill (@KateRehill) says:

    Corazon Does Not Cliff Jump– 213 words
    by Kate Rehill

    Corazon and Latido had been best friends since always.
    They did almost everything together –
    except cliff jump.
    Latido’s cliff jumping made
    Corazon cringe and crumple just watching him.
    “C’mon!, Corazon!”
    Corazon inched towards the edge,
    but shivered and shook.
    She just couldn’t take the leap.
    Latido’s hand holding, secret best friend songs
    and bribery couldn’t help Corazon.
    On Valentine’s Day, Latido brought Corazon
    a heart shaped box filled with chocolates, candies and a note.
    Latido wrote, “To unlock your bravery to jump,
    stand at the edge of the cliff
    and say these words three times fast –
    ’I am loved, I am brave.’”
    I promise that magic will meet you in the water.”
    Corazon believed in the note, her best friend,
    and started to believe in herself.
    She tiptoed to the edge.
    She almost turned around but stopped.
    “I am loved. I am brave.” Her quick breaths calmed.
    “I am loved. I am brave.” Her hands stopped shaking.
    “I am loved. I am brave.”
    Corazon lept!
    Freedom air swirled around her.
    She smiled as wide as the river.
    Spluuuump!
    She opened her eyes to see pink glittery water
    swirling into purple, red, maroon
    and fuschia.
    “Wow!”
    Magenta fish came up under her
    and carried her to the river’s edge.
    “Latido! Let’s jump in again!”

  33. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR KELLY

    We’re Still Brave! – 214
    Kelly Coutsoubos

    Cora, moving through the hospital’s arteries, stopped at a sign that had a heart.
    “Is this the Valentine’s room?”

    Her mother opened the door.

    Cora opened her activity bag.

    She didn’t know what to expect with this doctor, so she focused on decorating cards.

    The nurse poked her head out. “Cora.”

    Her chest beat with uncertainty.

    Another girl checking in for her appointment, looked nervous. Her grandma asked, “are you still going to be brave?”

    Cora’s mother suggested she say hi.

    “No.” Saying hi right now felt scary.

    Inside a room, the nurse told Cora she was brave.

    “I’m actually nervous.”

    “Well, we can’t be brave unless we’re nervous.”

    Cora said nothing.

    “Brave heroes stand up to things that scare them.”

    “I don’t like how ‘brave’ feels then.”

    The nurse, attached a pulsometer and said, “You’ll see at the end how you didn’t melt away like a chocolate candy. Or how you didn’t fall to pieces like an old rose.”

    Cora felt herself relax a bit.

    When it was over, she proudly walked out with a sticker in hand. No longer nervous, she wondered if she wasn’t brave anymore.

    Seeing the other girl again, Cora blurted, “Hi! Happy Heart Day!” She handed her a card.

    The girl gave an uncertain smile.

    “We’re still brave!”

  34. Susanne Whitehouse (@WhitehouseSus) says:

    The Cupcake Who Dared to Be Different – 212 words
    Susanne Whitehouse
    http://www.booking-it.net/valentiny-contest-2021/

    As long as Pidge could remember, which was about two hours now, she was destined to be a pink frosted cupcake in the display case of the local coffee shop.

    Pidge was brand new to the baked goods world, but she was no dummy… she saw the white frosting and red food coloring nearby and knew the whole batch of them would soon be covered in sweet sticky grossness. So how did a freshly baked cupcake know she hated frosting? She just did. Down deep in all her ingredients, Pidge knew she did not want to be covered in anything.

    As her insides cooled, she quickly formed a recipe for success. Once her batch was slathered in frosting, placed in a box, and headed towards the coffee shop, Pidge started to spin. Round and round she twirled until every last bit of frosting had flown off her top.

    “There must be a mistake?” exclaimed the coffee shop owner opening the lid of the box, “I ordered a dozen Valentine’s cupcakes … but no worries, I have just the spot for this one.”

    Pidge was placed in the glass case next to some other similar treats. She smiled and puffed out her top when she saw the sign next to her that read: MUFFINS.

  35. kkelly0501 says:

    Lucy’s Brave Lifelines – 212 Words
    By Karen A. Kelly

    “Hey Eleanor, I think Lucy is hurt! She is limping on her back legs over by that big pink house!”, Pepper cries out to his sister.

    “Oh my, I think she was hit by a car! We need to get her help NOW!”, Eleanor wimpers while pacing back and forth in worry.

    Pepper and Eleanor start racing around the house trying to find ways to help their friend Lucy!

    “MEOW MEOW MEOW!” with her front paws kneading the couch, Eleanor yells to her human, hoping to get her attention!

    “GROWL GROWL GROWL!” Pepper snarls at his human while scratching her leg hoping she will know what they want!

    Their human leaps out of her chair and yells at her desperate calicos, “WHAT IS IT??! That hurt!!”

    Pepper and Eleanor shrug and glance at each other in confusion.

    Both dash to the large front window and start tapping with their paws hoping their human will look out and see Lucy hobbling along the lush green lawn across the street!

    “OH NO! LUCY! She is hurt! I need to tell her owner! You two stay here!” Human excitedly tells her panting calicos.

    Later that day, Lucy’s human knocks on the front door. “Pepper and Eleanor, you both are Lucy’s brave heroes. We love you!”

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