The 2021 Holiday Contest WINNERS!!!

Well, hi there!

I don’t even have to ask what’s brought you to this neck of the woods today!

Because it’s obvious.

Clearly, you have stopped by because you can’t go another SECOND without knowing what your Snowman Name is!

Have no fear. I am here for you. All you have to do is follow the directions below!

Take it from Star McSnowflake (that would be me ☃️): there’s nothing like a Snowman Name to put you in the holiday mood!

Also, if you want to go the route of last year’s “What Holiday Picture Book Are You” theme, once you’ve discovered your Snowman Name, you can use it as the main character of your next picture book! As in
The minute Star McSnowflake slid into the bubble bath she knew it had been a bad idea to accept Snickerdoodle’s dare.

So there you go! The gift that keeps on giving. A Snowman Name AND a character for your next book!

Please feel free to share your Snowman Name in the comments so we all know what to call you 😊

Happy Holidays from Star McSnowflake and her sidekick snow dogs, Candy and Dreidel McSlushy! See you in 2022!


Except I forgot one little thing. . .

You’d probably like to know who won the

The 11th Annual Holiday Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  Really!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!

I want to reiterate how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  So if your entry wasn’t a finalist, please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And within the parameters of the contest, sometimes we have to put aside a great story because it did less of a good job meeting the contest criteria. The fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to revise, expand, and polish if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  A lot of people have successfully done that at this point – we have quite a few books in the world that were born in Halloweensie, Holiday, or Valentiny Contests, plus a chapter book series that came out of the Fractured Fairy Tale Contest one spring!  And not necessarily from people who were finalists – it’s about the idea and what you do with it. So bravo to everyone who entered!

But as you well know by now, with large entry numbers, all of high quality, come hard choices.  My assistant judges and I worked hard to winnow the total down to a manageable number of finalists that we felt were truly all-around deserving of that distinction, and those were the ones we presented to you on Tuesday for your vote.

There were, however, a few entries that barely missed being finalists, and many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another, or that the judges couldn’t reach a consensus on.

So my assistant judges and I would like to award recognition, a lovely badge, and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole: (entries we truly wrestled with not including in the finalists!)

Mia GeigerMew Year’s Contest
Deborah FosterErnie And The Science Fair
Lauri MeyersWitch’s Gingerbread House
Royal BaysingerUpon A Winter Solstice
Katie BrandyberryThe Tastiest Treat Christmas Contest
Vashti VerbowskiChristmas Carrots
Marty B.Katie’s Snow Creation

2. For Meaningful Message:

Ingrid BoydstonChristmas Isn’t
Cassie SilvaThe Most Beautiful Snowflake Of All
Marty FindleyWhat Christmas Means To Me
Karen J MooreLily And The Winter Festival
Amanda SherlockThe Contest

3. For Great Use of Language:

Allison StickSolstice Skaters

4. For Nice Use Of Cultural Elements:

Lynn Grace WongParol: This Little Star Of Mine
Carmen Castillo GilbertAndres’ Blue Ribbon
Shariffa Keshavjee2021 Monkey Merry Xmas
Judy Abelove ShemtobThe Winning Recipe

5. For Humor:

Becky GoodmanO Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree
Kelsey E. GrossThe Cookie Contest Caper

6. For Well Written Siblings:

Dina SilverbergAsher’s Chanukiah
Sarah Demarest GuthrieThe Clean-Out-The-Clutter Contest

7. For Great Use of Format:

Tiffany HansonReindeer Games (sportscaster format)

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com subject line Prize Winner to collect your award badge and prize, which is ten dollars (and possibly a picture book too, please ask when you contact me) for category 1 – Honorable Mention in the Competition as a Whole – and five dollars for all the other categories, in a format that can be emailed for you to put toward something you’d like at a large online store (and I’m being cryptic because if I’m not I get a ton of problematic spam mail, but hopefully you can figure it out.  The store starts with the letter A 😊 )

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2021 HOLIDAY CONTEST as voted on by you, our esteemed readers!!!



In First Place

Winner of the whole shebang…

who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Daniella Kaufman-Schloss

A Christmas Pickle Story!!!

Congratulations, Daniella, on a fun, kid-friendly, loving story that was clearly very popular with a LOT of readers!!!

In Second Place

Lisa Varchol Perron
Tree Of The Year

Congratulations, Lisa, on a sweet, touching story that truly celebrates the spirit of the holidays!  You get to pick your prize after Daniella.

In Third Place

Amy Leskowski
So You Think You Can Prance

Congratulations, Amy, on a delightful entry that made us want to get up and dance!  You get to pick your prize after Daniella and Lisa.

In Fourth Place

Paul Kurtz

Congratulations, Paul, on you entertaining twist on Cinderella. You had us at the title, and left us longing for latkes! You get to pick your prize after Daniella, Lisa, and Amy!

In Fifth Place

Emily Durant
A Miscalculation

Congratulations, Emily, on a very well written instruction guide to building snow forts. . .along with the caution to make sure they’re within range of each other 😊 You get to pick your prize after Daniella, Lisa, Amy, and Paul!

In Sixth Place

Jesse Anna Bornemann
Christmas. . .By A Nose

So much fun, Jesse! We loved all the “nose” alternatives! You get to pick your prize after Daniella, Lisa, Amy, Paul, and Emily!

In Seventh Place

Jennifer Lowe
The Perfect Star

Congratulations, Jennifer!  We loved the idea of a star catching contest, and how nicely you showed the nature of sibling relationships! I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 😊

In Eighth Place

Judy Sobanski
A Creature Was Stirring

Such a lovely, sweet story, Judy, in such perfect rhyme!  You get to pick after Jennifer 😊

In Ninth Place

Marta Cutler
Bear’s Christmas Cookie

Congratulations, Marta, on your entertaining entry. We loved how the other contestants worked so carefully on their cookies, and how Bear just piled everything on his and then asked with such sincere hope if he had won 😊 You get to pick after Judy 😊

In Tenth Place

Lindsey Hobson
Tree Number Nine

Congratulations, Marta, on a sweet entry that tugged at our heartstrings when we realized why it was so important to Sofie to win the contest! You get to pick your prize after Marta!

In Eleventh Place

Nicole Loos Miller
Simply The Best

Congratulations, Nicole, on your creation of a likable, relatable character who was consistently happy for her friends’ success even though she herself didn’t win.  You get to pick after Chelsea!

In Twelfth Place

Kelly Clasen
Phoebe’s Snowperson

Congratulations. Kelly, on a wonderfully original way to make a snowman – how creative Phoebe was to make one out of books! You get to pick after Nicole!

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  (The sooner the better!)  And for your convenience, the whole prize list is included at the bottom of this post.

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause and a shower of holiday confetti!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this contest SO MUCH FUN, whether by writing an entry, reading people’s stories, leaving comments for the authors, and/or voting in the finals, or by donating a prize.  It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!

As I… hmm… maybe didn’t mention…? but seem to do every year so you’re probably not surprised, I’m taking a little blogging break so I can spend time with my family. So I will see you all in a couple weeks – most probably the first week of January 😊

Before we part company, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday filled with love, laughter, joy, and family, and a happy, healthy and successful new year!  It is a pleasure and a privilege to get to spend time with you all, and I’m happy and grateful to know each and every one of you!

Looking forward to all the things we’ll do in 2022!

Happy Holidays, and all best wishes for a wonderful New Year!!!

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The Prizes!: Oh! Such wonderful prizes! All I can say is, how lucky are we to be part of such a talented and generous community that offers such amazing prizes!

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! 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with written feedback AND a 30-minute Zoom Chat with children’s author Vivian Kirkfield, author of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate, 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, 2020), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Clarion Books, 2021), and SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING (MoneyPenny Press Ltd, 2010)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with a recording of first read-through by children’s author and poet Sarah Meade, contributor to HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, 2020!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique/Zoom Chat (Non-rhyming) from children’s author Janie Reinart, author of WHEN WATER MAKES MUD: A STORY OF REFUGEE CHILDREN (Blue Whale Press, 2021)!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming) PLUS Zoom Chat from developmental editor Lou Piccolo! Lou studied English Literature, creative writing and teaching at university in South Africa. After working as an EFL teacher in France for twenty years, she studied proofreading and editing before becoming a developmental editor of children’s and young adult’s literature for independent authors. She is a graduate of Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab – Punching Up Prose With Poetry course and Making Picture Book Magic, the in-house writer for Editions Entrefilet’s language-learning magazine ‘Go English Kids’ for children of 8-12 in France, and a traditionally published author of MG and YA fiction with Burlington Books.

Developmental Editor, Lou Piccolo

⭐️ Connecting With School Librarians! Fabulous Opportunity for published or soon to be published authors! Winner’s Choice of either a Zoom or phone chat about how to connect with school librarians and get their ear or an Ask Me Anything Zoom or phone chat about K-8th grade author visits from a librarian’s POV from Kathy Halsey. Kathy Halsey is Storyteller Academy’s Community Manager and Ambassador. She enjoys writing picture books, humor, and nonfiction. Kathy’s active in SCBWI and blogs with other kid lit writers on the GROG. She serves on the Choose to Read Ohio Advisory Council and speaks at educational and literary conferences. Kathy’s a former K-12 school librarian and children’s bookseller. She writes monthly author studies for the Reading for Research Month along with Keila Dawson.

Writer, librarian, bookseller, blogger Kathy Halsey

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyme or Prose, fiction only) from children’s author Shelley Kinder! Shelley is the author of NOT SO SCARY JERRY (Spork 2017), THE MASTERPIECE (Spork 2018) and GOD AND ME AND THE SEA (Kregel Children’s Books, May 17, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (written) PLUS 15 minute Zoom Chat (no nonfiction) from Cindy Williams Schrauben author of THIS COULD BE YOU (Cardinal Rule Press, April 1, 2022)!

⭐️ Zoom Visit to a classroom or to kids at home by children’s author Ellen Leventhal! Ellen is the author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork, 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork, 2018), HAYFEST: A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press, 2010), and A FLOOD OF KINDNESS (WorthyKids, 2021)

Author, Ellen Leventhal

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Heather Gale, author of HO’ONANI: HULA WARRIOR (Tundra Books, 2019) which was one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids 2019, one of the Ontario Library Association’s 2019 Top Ten Titles, Featured on the 2020 Rainbow Book List, Featured on the 2020 Rise: A Feminist Book Project List, and received a Booklist Starred Review!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Maria Marshall! Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature fun for children. She’s a judge for the Cybils Awards and the #50PreciousWords competition. Four of her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty anthologies. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. The Picture Book Buzz  Website  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Maria Marshall

⭐️ A Reversible Handmade Christmas Stocking or Other Winter or Holiday-Themed Gift Bag from Karen Gebbia PLUS a Personalized Signed Copy of CURIOSITY’S DISCOVERY by Nancy Derey Riley to fill it!

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of either QUEEN OF PHYSICS:How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Sterling Children’s Books 2019) or TWO BICYCLES IN BEIJING (Albert Whitman 2020) (Winner’s Choice!) by Teresa Robeson


a Personalized Signed Copy of either LISTEN (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2021) or TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE (Harry N. Abrams 2020) (Winner’s Choice!) by Gabi Snyder

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⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE: Queen Charlotte’s Gift to England (Albert Whitman 2018) by Nancy Churnin PLUS a Digital Copy of THE STAR IN THE CHRISTMAS PLAY (Beaming Books 2018) by Lynne Marie

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Philomel July 2021) by Becky Scharnhorst PLUS a Kindle or Audiobook Copy of either FUNNY JIMMY (AuthorHouse 2011) or THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF RIDDLES (Avid Readers Publishing Group 2011) (Winner’s Choice!) by Vanessa Rose Lee

⭐️ Winner’s Choice of 2 of the following 4 picture books, kindly donated by Dee Knabb!

26 thoughts on “The 2021 Holiday Contest WINNERS!!!

  1. Nancy Riley says:

    Congratulations to all! Great stories.
    Thank you Susanna for another wonderful contest. I hope your holidays are bright, filled with family, joy, and . . . Chocolate!
    Holly McSparkle

    • seschipper says:

      Star McSnowy here! Congratulations to all of the winners and everyone who submitted a story! Susanna, thank you for all of the time and energy you exert to help hone the craft of writing!
      Enjoy a well deserved holiday break!🎄♥️

  2. ptnozell says:

    Congratulations to the finalists, to the honorable mentions, and to everyone who wrote, revised, and submitted to this fabulous contest. Reading these entries truly put me in the holiday spirit! And thank you Susanna, judges, and prize donors. I hope you enjoy some well-deserved rest these next few weeks and some glorious family time. And loads of chocolate treats! Happy holidays, from Sugarplum McSnowy!

  3. Marta Cutler says:

    Susanna, thank you for all the extraordinary work you put in to inspire us through these wonderful contests. Your heart and passion is contagious! So thrilled to be on the finalist list and thank you everyone for all your incredible words of encouragement and support!!!

  4. Sue Heavenrich says:

    Congrats to everyone! What a wonderful bunch of stories.
    From Sparkle McSlushy (a letter and birth month not my own – but hey- way more cool!)

  5. Beth Stilborn says:

    Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentioners! And thank you so much, Susanna, for all you do all year. Have a wonderful holiday break.
    From Hope McGlisten

  6. Judy Sobanski says:

    Congratulations to all who participated and to the finalists and honorable mentions! There were so many wonderful and creative entries. I’m honored to be one of the finalists. Thank you to Susanna and her crew of reader/judges for their time and commitment. I don’t know if you realize, Susanna, how much the kidlit community looks forward to your fun and creative holiday challenges! Thanks also to the donors who generously offered up the amazing prizes.
    Happy Holidays to all!! – Challah McGlisten

  7. steenahernandez says:

    From the bottom of Star McFrosty’s heart, thank you Susanna for having me in this fun contest! 🙂 Congrats to all the winners, honorable mentions, donors, and judges! I hope everyone has a lovely holiday season!

  8. Teresa 何 Robeson says:

    I don’t know how you manage to run these amazing contests year after year, Susanna! Congratulations to everyone who won and everyone who entered because it’s excellent practice and you’re brave for putting yourselves out there!

  9. sassyscribesblog says:

    Tinsel McSnowy sends congratulations to all who won and participated. I had a blast reading the fantastic stories. Thank you, Susanna, for your tireless work. I hope to participate again. Have a wonderful holiday season and a successful New Year.

  10. marty bellis says:

    As always, Susanna/Star, your contests offer a mega dose of fun, challenge, inspiration and enjoyment!
    Look forward to them every year.
    Joy McFrosty here, saying thanks; and congrats and happy holidays to all.

  11. Tiffany Hanson says:

    Jolly McGlisten here. Just wanted to say congrats to all of the finalists and participants. And a big thank you to all of the judges for your hard work. The contest was delightful and fun, looking forward to the next one 🙂

  12. ingridboydston says:

    I am beyond happy to be included in honorable mention for story with a Meaningful Message and honored to be in such good company! Another fun contest all wrapped up! Congratulations everyone and thank you Susanna! From a fellow McSnowflake! Merry Christmas!

  13. Stephanie Wildman says:

    Congratulations everyone and thank you Susanna aka Star McSnowflake for the inspiration and joy of the contest. My snowman name is the same as yours – so maybe we will write a story about twin Star McSnowflakes. Happy holidays to all.

  14. Penny Parker Klostermann says:

    Congrats to all! So many wonderful entries and so much creativity!

    Susanna, oh I mean Star McSnowflake, you truly are a star! Thanks for all you contribute to the Kidlit community! You are the definition of community!

    Happy Holidays!
    Sugarplum McSnowy

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