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. Fishing For Love: A DIARY – Amy Olsen
  73. The Lost Valentine – Jeannette Suhr
  74. Brave New Friends – Dawn Young
  75. Scaredy-Cat – Danielle S. Hammelef
  76. Hard To Love – Robin Currie
  77. Brave Hearts – Susan Klaren
  78. Across The Road – Rachel Dutton
  79. Knight of Hearts – Ellen Crosby
  80. Tootsee Tulip Bulb’s Love-Treat – Judy Caldwell Hughes
  81. Brave in the Basement – Jessica Whipple
  82. Caleb’s Heart – Anne Bromley
  83. Corn Dogs on the Corner – Colleen Dougherty
  84. Brave Heart – Rebecca Gardyn Levington
  85. Knock, Knock, Knock – Marty Findley
  86. Villain-tine’s Day – Laura Bower
  87. Take A Deep Breath – Elyse Trevers
  88. Only Three Words – B. A. Schlosser Hill
  89. A Stolen Valentine – Martha Holguin
  90. Class List – Elizabeth Volkmann
  91. Cards and Cookies – Jennifer Reichow
  92. Chalk Tears – Judy Brewer
  93. Nurse A Broken Heart – E. Elle Bea
  94. Bravely Soldier On – E. Elle Bea
  95. New Kid Blues – Darcee A. Freier
  96. Valentine’s Recitation – Keely Leim
  97. Mama Love. Dada Love. – Nancy M. Tichenor
  98. A Valentine’s Treasure – Ingrid Boydston
  99. An Itsy Bitsy Valentine – Maria Antonia
  100. Dino & Gigi – Carolina Bottino (Nina K. Brown)
  101. Hearts Trail – Carolina Bottino (Nina K. Brown)
  102. The Giant’s Valentine – Sheila M. Hausbeck
  103. The Loneliness Street – Nina K. Brown
  104. Brave Little Valentine – Charlotte Dixon
  105. Playdate – Margaret Aitken
  106. Octopus Hugs – Chambrae Griffith
  107. Conversation Heart Courage – Becky Kimbrough
  108. My Friend Nate – Karima Davis
  109. Jojo’s Valentine – Sarah Hawklyn
  110. “I Like You A Lot” – Julie Schnieders
  111. Unconventional Friendship – Sarah Hawklyn
  112. The Flavors of the Heart – Armineh Manookian
  113. The Candybot – Ellen Seal
  114. An Otter Love Story – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  115. Floret And The Fondue – Ashley Sierra
  116. Be Brave, Be Kind, My Valentine – Susan E. Schipper
  117. Cupid’s Booty Camp For BabyBoo – Ally Enz
  118. Playing To Win – Norah Colvin
  119. Super Special Valentine – Aundra Tomlins
  120. A Brave Change of Heart – Amy Nicolai
  121. Sarla Asks A Question – Sandhya Acharya
  122. A Trail of Ketchup and Mustard – MeiLin Chan
  123. Juliet and Romeo: Verona’s Valentine’s Celebration – Cristina Raymer
  124. A Little Atom – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez
  125. Oscar Octopus Plants A Garden – Isabel Cruz Rodriquez
  126. My Bestest Friend – Roberta Abussi
  127. My Every-Day-Valentine – Roberta Abussi
  128. Sarah’s Valentines – Rachel Zimmerman Brachman
  129. Lemur In Love – Sarah McDermott
  130. A Cocoon of Love – Jyoti Rajan Gopal
  131. Eggbert – Charlie Bown
  132. A Valentine For Mom – Patricia Martin
  133. Becca’s Brave Hearts – Marty Bellis
  134. Little Truck’s Daring Delivery – Kristin Kolp
  135. The Valentine On My Shoe – Catherine J. Lee
  136. No More Pink – Robin Currie
  137. Shiny Sharp Scissors – Katie Fischer
  138. Valentine Love Languages – Jaymie Dean
  139. Val & Jack – Karen Keesling
  140. Brave Heart – Tonnye Fletcher
  141. Valentine Delivery – Katie Brandyberry
  142. Apple Pie: Valentine’s Day Treat – Sarah Skolfield
  143. Brave Little Friends – Judy Sobanski
  144. Lone’s Very First Day – Jennifer Reinharz
  145. The Monster’s Valentine Buffet – Kelly Conroy
  146. Freddie Frog’s Valentine – Lindsey Hobson
  147. A Simple Valentine – P. J. Purtee
  148. The Wonky Heart – Stacy Burch
  149. Roses From Valentina – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  150. A Natural Valentine’s Day – Sharon McCarthy
  151. Miss Hedgehog’s Valentine Mission – Amy LaMae Brewer
  152. Blown Away – Diana Webb
  153. Zooming Valentine’s Day – Susan VandeWeghe
  154. Snack Attack – Melisa Wrex
  155. Heart Hands – Sarah Heaton
  156. Bigfoot’s Valentine – Kirsten Leestma
  157. Geronimo! – Lydia Loeber
  158. The Most Terrible, Awful, Icky Valentine Ever – Melissa Trempe
  159. Babies Share Bedrooms – Kristi Newsome
  160. 214 St. Valentine Way – Tracy Anderson Martin
  161. Six Secret Valentines – Una Belle Townsend
  162. The Bees and the Birdss – Paul Kurtz
  163. Someone Special! – Paul Kurtz
  164. Zombie My Valentine – Donna Kurtz
  165. The Owl and the Kitty-Kat – Donna Kurtz
  166. No Pictures! – Diane S. Scotti
  167. Blue Flower – Mary Warth
  168. New Line Valentine – Marcia Parks
  169. Leo Lionhearted – Jill Lambert
  170. Bravery Is From The Heart – Sophia Zafra
  171. A Heavenly Visit – Deborah Dolan Hunt
  172. The Bird And The Cat – Beth Winslow
  173. THE Valentine Question – Kate Rehill
  174. How To Be Valentines (With A Boa Constrictor) – Mary Noon
  175. Desi’s Daring Delivery – Darci Nielson
  176. New Best Friend – Sherri T. Mercer
  177. The Gift Tree – Ciara N M Greenwalt
  178. One Shot – Dazzle Ng
  179. Fuzzy Bum – Stacey Miller
  180. Arrrrr Is For Valentine – Sara Ackerman
  181. Valentine’s Day Rocks – Samantha Haas
  182. Cyrus The Bold – Patricia Corcoran
  183. Saying What I Really Mean – Nina Nolan
  184. Mr. Grumpy’s Valentine – Anne Sawan
  185. Heart Shaped Everything – Rathi Munukur
  186. You Can Do This Jonathan! – Martina Palkovicova
  187. Caveman Valentine – Jennifer Lowe
  188. Percy’s Valentine – Nancy Derey Riley
  189. Brave Hearts – Mary Rudzinski
  190. Legendary Valentine – Audrey Day-Williams
  191. In Front Behind – Diana Webb
  192. A Punny Valentine – Linda Staszak
  193. Love is an Ocean Away – Kimiko Wadriski Lumsden
  194. Valentine’s Day Rescue – Brigid Finucane
  195. Mission: Cancel Cupid Call – Kalee Gwarjanski
  196. The Valentine’s Quest – Karyn Curtis
  197. Seeking Courage – Bonnie Kelso
  198. Valentina and Valentino – Claire Lewis
  199. Will You Bee My Valentine – Ranessa Doucet
  200. A Valentine Ski – Clara MacClarald
  201. Dance Like An Eagle – Jyothi Nookula
  202. A Gift For Abuelo – JC Kelly
  203. My Tummy Valentine – Janice Kay Alexander
  204. Elijah and the Valentine – Susan Twiggs
  205. Assortment Phobia – JC Kelly
  206. A Beastly Valentine – Steve Jankousky
  207. A Valentiny for ME! – Karima Davis
  208. Friendship Cake – Dea Lenihan
  209. Be My Valentine – Liz Kehrli
  210. Love Story – Liz Kehrli
  211. Love Birds – Lisa Lee Furness
  212. Mr. Grumpy – Mary A. Zychowicz
  213. Feep and Meep – Echo Roben
  214. The Cave of Utter Darkness – Bill Canterbury
  215. Yellow Like A Mango – Imelda Taylor
  216. Melanie’s Back! – Shari Della Penna
  217. All About Heart – Anna Lunt
  218. Tilly’s Great Big Heart – Amy Flynn
  219. Insiya’s Valentine – Aditya Simha
  220. Corazon Does Not Cliff Jump – Kate Rehill
  221. We’re Still Brave! – Kelly Coutsoubos
  222. The Cupcake Who Dared To Be Different – Susanne Whitehouse
  223. 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!

2,380 thoughts on “Be Brave, My Heart! – The 6th Annual Valentiny Contest Is Here!!!

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!”

  8. 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!”

  9. 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.

  10. 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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