With Prideful Heart – The 7th Annual Valentiny Contest Is HERE!!!

Hi Everyone! I’m so sorry, but there is absolutely no chance I’m going to have finalists Friday morning as I originally posted. I’m not even sure when to say I will have them, though I’ll get them up as soon as I can. It will not be over this weekend, I’m sure of that. Thank you all for your patience. I’m so sorry for the delay!

[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!

Whether your characters are filled with pride and joy, puffed up with pride, or in danger of pride going before a fall, the time has come for . . .

The 7th 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 proud!  They can be proud in a good way or a bad way. They can be proud of themselves for asking someone to be their Valentine, or they can be proud of how they asked. They can be proud of a Valentine they make, or a Valentine celebration they plan. They can be proud of giving something up, or proud of asking someone they’re not sure about for some reason in order to be nice. They can be proud of their performance in a Valentines Day play or concert or parade. . . sky’s the limit!  Just make sure it is clearly Valentine-centered! 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 proud (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 😊 ) You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊  No illustration notes please!

Post your story in the comment section below between right now this very second and Sunday February 13th by 11:59 PM EDT.  There will be no regularly scheduled posts for the duration of the contest (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It, or PPBF), so the post and all of your entries will stay up for everyone to enjoy.  If you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you. [Also, a small note: I have a serious family situation at the moment. I didn’t want to cancel the contest at the last minute, but please be patient with me if it takes me a while to post emailed entries and update the link list etc. I will do my best, but apologies in advance for delays.]

The Judging: my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-12 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Friday February 18th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced Monday February 21st 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 pride, and success in making us feel the pride (whether it’s good pride or bad)!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story and Valentine’s Day must be central to it!
  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.

The Prizes:  As always, we are so fortunate to have an abundance of wonderful prizes donated by our very generous friends in the kidlit community! Just look at all these goodies!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Read & Critique from agent Mary Cummings of Great River Literary, “an agency devoted exclusively to representing authors and author/illustrators of books for children and teens. Strong relationships with editors have resulted in a rapidly growing list of sales of board and picture books, chapter books and novels to such publishing houses as Knopf; Philomel; Viking; Nancy Paulsen/Penguin; Balzer & Bray; Walker; Little, Brown; Henry Holt; Holiday House; Feiwel & Friends; FSG; Running Press; WorthyKids; Abrams; Random House; Wiseman S & S; Chronicle; Candlewick; HarperCollins and many others.”

⭐️ 1/2 Hour Zoom Picture Book Manuscript Critique or Mentoring Session with author Lynne Marie!

Author Lynne Marie

Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019),  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and The Three Little Pigs And The Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022) and American Pie — art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, April 12, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

⭐️ 30 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Keila Dawson, author of THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican Publishing 2016), NO VOICE TOO SMALL (Charlesbridge 2020), and OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK (Beaming Books, 2021)

⭐️ Access to author/editor Alayne Kay Christian‘s webinars! Alayne is the author of BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA (Blue Whale Press, 2008), SIENNA THE COWGIRL FAIRY: COWBOY TROUBLE (Blue Whale Press 2021), THE WEED THAT WOKE CHRISTMAS (Blue Whale Press, 2020), and AN OLD MAN AND HIS PENGUIN (Blue Whale Press, 2020)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) 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), SADIE’S SHABAT STORIES (Spork, 2020) and PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Rebecca Gardyn Levington author of BRAINSTORM! (Sleeping Bear Press, Summer 2022), I WILL ALWAYS BE…(HarperCollins, Spring 2024) and a contributor to the delightful anthology HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, October 2020)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonrhyming) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House, 2021), LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR (Aladdin, September 2022), and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique and Query Letter Critique from Jessica Stremer author of the forthcoming GREAT CARRIER REEF (Holiday House, 2023)

Author Jessica Stremer

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Cathy Ballou Mealey author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Union Square Kids, 2019), SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, 2021), and the forthcoming MAKE MORE S’MORES (Sleeping Bear Press, 2023)

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of THE KING CAKE BABY by Keila Dawson

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM by Melissa Berger Stoller

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of IT’S A MUFFULETTA! IT’S A WHATA? (Sprok 2021) by Patricia Saunders

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 proudly post your entries!

I can’t wait to read your stories!!!

Eager Readers: Check out the comment section for all the fabulous entries! 😊

ENTRIES (all entries are linked) [will be linked tomorrow – sorry for delay]

  1. The Perfect Present – Sara Kruger
  2. Dr. Basil Discovers His Secret Admirer – Royal Baysinger
  3. Teeny Houdini – Heather Ferranti Kinser
  4. How To Win At Wordle – Anne Lipton
  5. Eva Valentina’s Day – Katie Fischer
  6. Chick Forgot Valentine’s Day – Jess Burbank
  7. The Make-A-Valentine Contest – Hanna Geshelin
  8. Never Too Many Valentines – Lori C. Evans
  9. Proud As A Peacock – Bru Benson
  10. Valentine Farm – Jennifer Lowe
  11. Gary Groundhog Conquers The Shadow Monster – Deborah Foster
  12. Tucker And The Sneezies – Susan E. Schipper
  13. When Dad Is Away – Aileen Stewart
  14. It’s Valentine’s Day, Thomas, The Worm – Maria Lahman
  15. The House On The Corner – Elyse Trevers
  16. Staying In The Lines – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf
  17. Top Of The World – Christine Alemshah
  18. The Canape Caper – Cathy Stenquist
  19. My Icky Sticky Valentine – Chayala Nachum
  20. The Best Card Maker – Stephanie Maksymiw
  21. Dad Gets Weird On Valentine’s Day – Debbie Day
  22. The Valentine Tiff – Sally Yorke-Viney
  23. Glitter & Glue – Janna MacLean
  24. Heart Aflutter – Kelly Clasen
  25. Little Things – Molly Ippolito
  26. Veronica’s Surprise – Janel Caverly
  27. My Quiet Valentine – Amanda Sherlock
  28. Who’s Ana? – Ellie Langford
  29. Prince Of The Pride – Jessica Seitz
  30. Cupid’s Big Day – Marty Bellis
  31. A Match Made In Socks – Laura Heath
  32. Momma’s Smile – Amber Hendricks
  33. The Perfect Valentine – Kimberly Shrack
  34. Miss Frog And Mister Turtle – Sharon McCarthy
  35. The Trees Of The Girl Who Raised Bees – B.J. Genovese
  36. Mailbirds: Valentine’s Day – Reed Ambrose
  37. The Perfect Card – Keely Leim
  38. Valentine’s Day Is For Everyone – Janet Scratchley
  39. Valentine’s In The Jungle – Melissa Rafson Friedman
  40. The Lovesick Groundhog – Debbie Daugherty
  41. Rosas For Senor Perez – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  42. Get Well Soon, Mrs. Love – Rebekah Hoeft
  43. A Valentine For You – Marty Findley
  44. Cupid, A New Generation – Linda Staszak
  45. A Valentine For Her – Marty Findley
  46. Mr. Sunder’s Valentine’s Day Cookie – Marta Cutler
  47. Valentine Countdown – Marta Cutler
  48. V’s For Valentine – Rachel Bandy
  49. ValenTINY – Jessica Milo
  50. Three Hearts – A. Kidd
  51. I Whale Always Love You – Kimberly Horch
  52. Isabella’s Valentine – Terrie Hellard-Brown
  53. Dear Moon – Carissa Brown
  54. A Nose For Love – Julie Kurtz
  55. Rabbit [heart] Rebecca – Anne Bromley
  56. The Heart Of A Wizard – Jany Campana
  57. Sweet Valentine – Daniella Kaufman
  58. The Valentine’s Cake – Kate Thompson
  59. Gene’s Forbidden Valentine – Vanessa Konoval
  60. The Best Part – Sarah Meade
  61. V-Day! – Sarah Meade
  62. The Special Valentine Card – Sherry Roberts
  63. Cutting Is Hard – Ashley Chance
  64. Hammie’s Valentine Surprise – Jenna Elyse Johnson
  65. Pinky’s Message – Elizabeth Muster
  66. Everyting You Taught Me – Shuba Mohan
  67. It’s A Matter Of Taste – Corine Timmer
  68. Broken Hearts Need Love Too – Stephanie Henson
  69. All Aboard – Debbie Whittam
  70. Dove Letters – Amy LaMae Brewer
  71. My Furry Valentine – Tiffany Hanson
  72. A Squawking Serenade – Tiffany Hanson
  73. Proud That You Are Mine – Tonnye Fletcher
  74. Mother, You Are One In A Million – Elaine D’Alessandro
  75. King Of Love – Sue Ko
  76. Rose’s Creative Valentines – Elaine D’Alessandro
  77. Dear Valentine – Jill Burns
  78. Subterranean Lovesick Blues – Andrea MacDonald
  79. Love, Mama And Me – Karen Olmstead
  80. A Gift For My Mami – Lana Montalban
  81. Baby Bear’s Heart – Lori Himmel
  82. Gumballs – Jill Purtee
  83. Beaming With Pride – Paul Kurtz
  84. Proud As A Peacock – Paul Kurtz
  85. Don’t-Let-The-Dung-Beetle-Make-The-Valentine-Brownies! – Donna Kurtz
  86. Best Valentine’s Day Ever! – Donna Kurtz
  87. To Sarah – Elizabeth Westra
  88. The Heart-Shaped Mitten – Sherri T. Mercer
  89. Love Inside – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  90. Valentine’s Field Trip – Darcee Freier
  91. Heart And Hands – Marjorie David
  92. Flicker’s Valentine – Laura Bost
  93. A Valentine For Birders – Geraldine Oades-Sese
  94. The Floofabims – Sabrina Shah
  95. I Wanted To Say I Love You – Joy Curtis
  96. Percy’s Performance – Allison Strick
  97. Showdown In Smoochalot – Jesse Anna Bornemann
  98. Theo’s Not-So-Perfect Valentine’s Day – Kelsey E. Gross
  99. Mama, Are You Proud Of Me? – Pamela Swanson
  100. Awesome Together – Sarah Hetu
  101. Valentine’s Breakfast For Mom – Patti Ranson
  102. Special Delivery – Emily Keener
  103. Harriet’s Cards – Jessica Reed
  104. Dolley’s Favorite Month – Lincoln Mansch
  105. Llama Love – Laura Bower
  106. Will You Be My Valentine? – Michelle S. Kennedy
  107. Sunshine Valentine – Vashti Verbowski
  108. Shelby’s Heartache – Susannah Lee
  109. Taffy’s Sweet Surprise – Mary Schultz
  110. Where Is Puppito? – Bridget Magee
  111. Princess Candace – Sheila R. Schmotzer
  112. Suzie And Jordan’s Special Day – Shadi Kafi
  113. Valentine Delivery – Part II (sequel to 2021 Valentine Contest Entry) – Katie Brandyberry
  114. A Friend For Valentine’s Day – Daniele Arndt
  115. Hoppy Belated Valentine – Zach Schloss
  116. Remember The Love – Ashley Murray
  117. The Proudest Pencil – Lori Sheroan
  118. My Gummy Love – Lauri C. Meyers
  119. Love ME – Melissa Rutigliano
  120. Love Potions And Laughter – Tiffany Hanson
  121. A Cake-tastrophe – Tiffany Hanson
  122. The Valentine’s Day Invitiational – Lori Keating
  123. Lost But Found – Armineh Manookian
  124. L-O-V-E – Ronda Einbinder
  125. Shakesbear In Love – MaryLee Flannigan
  126. A New Friend – Steve Jankousky
  127. What Kind Of Cupid Am I? – Alayne Kay Christian
  128. My Hero – Dawn Young
  129. Valentine’s Day Dance-Off In Nestville – Lynn Marie Moore
  130. Hidden In These Hallowed Hills – Shuba Mohan
  131. A Rose For Toad – Ashlee MacCallum
  132. I Do NOT Like Rohini Rao – Sandhya Acharya
  133. Untitled – M.M. Sutanto
  134. A Heart Of Gold – Ryan Schneck
  135. Haiku Valentines: Love In 5-7-5 Rhyme – Brenda Whitehead
  136. Kate’s Valentines – Sheila M. Hausbeck
  137. A Nest For Bluegill – Katie Palazzola
  138. A Puzzling Valentine – My Side Of The Phone Call… – Ingrid Boydston
  139. Smelly Kelly – Glenda Roberson
  140. Underneath It All – Carrie Charley Brown
  141. How To Find A Valentine – Bevin Rolfs Spencer
  142. My Daddy’s Valentine – Gayle Krause
  143. Proud Valentine’s Day – Deborah Hunt
  144. A Valentine For Annie B. Bear – Charlotte Dixon
  145. Valentine’s Day Heartache – Cindy Greene
  146. Valentine Shenanigans – Vasilia Graboski
  147. You Make Me So Proud – Erika Romero
  148. I Am Proud To Be Your Friend – Kerry Porter
  149. Love Somebody – Brigid Finucane
  150. Marcus Is Not An Elephant: How A Woolly Mammoth Makes A Friend – Susan Schwartz Twiggs
  151. Purple Lace – Liz Kehrli
  152. Puppy Love – Kathy Halsey
  153. Valentine’s Day Booty – Danielle Sharkan
  154. Wholeheartedly – Catherine Brewer
  155. Valentine Barks – Kathy Crable
  156. Oog Love Rock – Katie Palazzola
  157. C.I.T. (Cupid In Training) – Colleen Murphy
  158. Allie’s Biggest Heart – Julianna Helt
  159. Detective Spot And The Search For A New Cupid – Sophia Moore (age 10)
  160. The Valentine Surprise – Claire Noland
  161. The Purrfect Valentine – Tara Knox Cerven
  162. A Valentine For Mr. Weatherly – Lindsay Moretti
  163. A Proud Mum – Shariffa Keshavje
  164. Valentine’s Day At Sweet Pig’s – Patricia Corcoran
  165. Poppy’s Gift – Melanie Adkins
  166. Go Tell Bully Brady – Mona Pease
  167. Valentine Surprise – Abby Wooldridge
  168. Full Of Heart – Allison Burke
  169. Two Little Valentines – Judy Abelove Shemtob
  170. A Change Of Heart – Michaela Almeida
  171. The Mural – Susanne Whitehouse
  172. The Perfect Friend Chip – Cheryl Simon
  173. Sloth’s Original Valentine – Judy Sobanski
  174. Be My Fred – Lisa Furness
  175. Cupid’s Confidence – Amy Leskowski
  176. The Flower Code – Ashlee Hashman
  177. A Valentine For Jake – Andrew Fairchild
  178. Cardi V – Alicia Meyers
  179. The Heart Of The Matter – Sarah Marhevsky
  180. Bear And Fish – A Love Story – Aly Kenna
  181. Valentine Wins – Sara Petersohn
  182. Sweet Breakfast – JC Kelly
  183. ValenTalent Show – Becky Goodman
  184. Marla’s Mistake – Jessica Watts
  185. The Koi That Should Have Been In The Zodiac – MeiLin Chan
  186. Surprise Valentine’s Day Party – Una Belle Townsend
  187. My First Love – Adolfo Gomez-Herrera

1,776 thoughts on “With Prideful Heart – The 7th Annual Valentiny Contest Is HERE!!!

  1. Allison Strick (she/her) (@byallisonstrick) says:

    Percy’s Performance
    By Allison Strick
    213 words

    Peacocks lookin’ fancy! (Gasp!)
    Peacocks lookin’ fine! (Oh my!)
    Tonight’s the night they’ll strut their stuff
    and score a Valentine! (Aww!)

    The ballroom is aflutter.
    The party’s at its peak.
    But Percy watches all the others
    chatting cheek to beak.

    He spent the whole day primping.
    He memorized the dance.
    Though maybe not the boldest,
    Percy thinks he has a chance.

    It’s time for the performance.
    The ladies have a seat.
    The four-piece band begins to play
    a fresh and funky beat.

    The gents unfurl their plumage.
    There’s nothing left to lose.
    With puffed-up chests they do their best
    and peahens start to choose.

    Strut strut strut and flick!
    Turn and twist and shout!
    All the peacocks are in sync,
    but one is standing out.

    Percy’s really grooving. (Oof!)
    He thinks, “I’m in the zone!” (Watch out!)
    But when the music fades away,
    he finds himself…alone. (Sniff)

    Every other birdie
    has found a Valentine.
    Percy leaves, his head held high,
    but then he hears…
    “Be mine?”

    It’s shy but lovely Hilda!
    She blushes with a smile.
    “I don’t care much for dancing, but
    I can’t resist your style.”

    Percy’s feelin’ awesome. (Yeah!)
    Hilda’s at her best. (Mm-hmm!)
    Their hearts are full of love and pride, and now
    so is their nest! (Cheep cheep!)

  2. jesseannabornemann says:

    Showdown in Smoochalot
    Jesse Anna Bornemann
    202 words

    In the foothills of Smoochalot, Texas
    Lived a cowboy called Honey Pie Pete.
    He was dashing and thin
    With a lopsided grin,
    And, true to his name, he was sweet.

    “I’m like syrup on biscuits!” he gloated.
    “In this town, ain’t nobody sweeter.”
    And he may have been right,
    Except–one winter night,
    He bumped into Sugar Lump Skeeter.

    “I’M the sweetest!” ol’ Skeeter cried proudly.
    “And that’s the way it’s gonna stay.
    If you dare disagree
    You can square off with me
    In a showdown on Valentine’s Day.”

    “What kind of a showdown?” Pete wondered.
    “Valentine’s cards!” Skeeter said.
    “Make your sweetest design,
    And I’ll offer up mine.
    We’ll see which one comes out ahead.”

    “You got it!” Pete shouted with gusto.
    “Can’t see that this breaks any law!”
    So, when V Day came ’round,
    Both men stood their ground
    And hollered out: “3-2-1…DRAW!”

    Markers and crayons went flying!
    There were stickers and glitter and glue!
    When Skeeter was done,
    He said, “That was fun!
    And, by the way…this card’s for you.”

    “Oh, how sweet!” Pete exclaimed without thinking.
    In an instant, he realized his sin.
    Blushing five shades of pink,
    He said with a wink–
    “Fair enough, cowboy. You win.”

  3. kgross2 says:

    By Kelsey E. Gross
    WC 189

    Theo studied his teacher’s sample valentine.
    He grabbed scissors.
    Snip, snip…rip!
    He sighed.
    Theo started coloring.
    Scritch, scratch …streak!
    He frowned.
    Theo picked up paste.
    Dribble, dabble …splat!
    “I can’t do it right!” he muttered.
    Theo crammed his valentine into his backpack.
    At home, things didn’t go much better.
    His sister Charlotte accidentally dumped green food coloring in the cupcake frosting.
    Rufus chewed up Mom’s paper cupids,
    and Dad burned the heart-shaped pizza.
    “What a disaster!” said Mom.
    “Worst Valentine’s Day EVER,” said Charlotte.
    Theo stared at the blackened crust, green frosting smears, and paper scraps.
    “Hold on.”
    He unzipped his backpack,
    and pulled out his wrinkled valentine.
    “It’s not perfect…but I put my HEART into it!”
    Mom smiled. “I love it.”
    “Let’s have a ‘not-perfect’ Valentine’s Day party!” said Theo. “I’ll hang this where your cupid used to be.”
    “Yeah! We can still eat the middle of the pizza…and the green cupcakes!” said Charlotte.
    “Great idea.” said Mom. “This will be fun!”
    Dad chuckled. “Thanks to you, Theo, we’re having a CHANGE OF HEART!”
    Theo tossed paper scraps like confetti. “We did it! BEST not-perfect Valentine’s Day EVER!”

  4. pamelanaturalliving says:

    Word count:206
    Pamela Swanson

    Mama, Are You Proud of Me?

    Mama said when I was born I could not talk or move around. I ate and slept.
    Then I learned to roll from my tummy to my back. I looked into mama’s eyes and thought, “Mama, are you proud of me?” She clapped her hands and said, “I am proud of you, I love you.”
    Next, I jabbered noises to sound like words. I looked into mama’s eyes, did you see what I did? “Mama, are you proud of me?”. She clapped her hands and said, “I am proud of you, I love you.”
    I rolled from my back to my tummy. I looked into mama’s eyes, “mama, are you proud of me?” She clapped her hands and said, “I am proud of you, I love you.”
    I learned to sit, crawl, laugh, stand up, walk. Each time I looked into mama’s eyes and thought, “Mama, are you proud of me?” She clapped her hands and said, “I am proud of you, I love you.”
    I started to talk and use my voice and one day I said, “Mama are you proud of me?” Mama said, “I will always be proud of you. I love you.”

  5. Sarah Hetu-Radny says:

    213 words
    by Sarah Hetu

    Red puffed up like a cold cardinal. “I’m the BEST color today because it’s VALENTINE’S DAY!” He jumped into the air.


    Red floated away!

    Roses lost their rosiness.

    Orange disappeared.

    “Where’s Red?” Yellow asked.

    Blue sighed. “It’s not Valentine’s Day without Red.”

    “Colors!” Green said, “let’s get Red back!”

    They called his name. But he didn’t answer.

    Green frowned. “Maybe we could make a rainbow together and climb to the top of it and catch Red. Or–”

    But Blue interrupted. “Oh noooooo! I was supposed to make purple valentines with Red today!” Blue said. “Now I can’t.”

    “VALENTINES! That’s it!” Green said. “Let’s write love notes to Red and float them up on balloons!”

    Yellow wrote: You help me paint awesome sunsets!

    Blue wrote: We make the BEST purple hearts together!

    Green wrote: I miss you. Please come back.

    Pretty soon…

    “What’s that?” Yellow asked.

    Green shielded his eyes. “It’s Red! He’s riding down on a balloon!”

    Red landed and said, “It was lonely up there without you guys.”

    Green grabbed Red’s hand, “I’m happy you’re back.”

    All the colors joined hands.

    “Look!” Green said.

    Roses turned rosy again.

    Orange reappeared.

    Green smiled, “Look at how good we are at coloring the world TOGETHER!”

    “Yeah,” Red said, “I’m so proud of us!”

  6. Patti Ranson (@RansonPatti) says:

    Valentines Breakfast for Mom
    by Patti Ranson WC: 190

    The grape juice was way up high in the fridge, but I got the stool. And I only spilled a little milk when I poured it in my favourite bowl with some sparkly cereal. But that’s ok because Ollie licked it up. I’m taking breakfast to my mom in her bed. It’s Valentines’ day!
    I’m going to take it up, up… up…
    up there?
    There weren’t that many steps before.
    That’s sooooo far. I’m too small to carry it all the way up there, right, Ollie?
    You’ll come with me?

    Cup up,
    bowl u-u-p… swish, swish, slop, slop.
    “Lick, lick. lick.”
    Step up, step up.

    Cup up,
    bowl u-u-p…
    swish, swish, slop
    “Lick, lick.”
    Thanks, Ollie.
    Step up, step up.
    Ok, ok, ok. I can do this. I am big.

    Cup up,
    bowl u-u-p…
    swish, swish…
    step, step.

    Cup up,
    bowl u-u-p …
    One more step!

    Cup up,
    bowl u-u-p
    swish, swish…
    Oh noooo!
    Step, step,
    “Lick, lick, lick.”
    I love you too, Ollie.

    Happy Valentines Day, Mom! I brought you some juice, all by myself!

  7. Emily R. Keener says:

    Special Delivery
    By: Emily Keener
    Word count: 159


    Red construction paper hearts inside of pink construction paper hearts and glitter from top to bottom – that’s my front! My back says, “Made with love” and the “o” is a little red heart. Could I be any cuter?

    My maker, Ali, is going to give me to someone special, I know it! I am so proud of how I turned out.

    Inside, I say the sweetest thing: “Roses have thorns, Violet’s are tiny, but you’re just right, my Valentiney!”

    Oh, she’s picking me up! Here we go!

    Walking past her best friend? Ok, I was not expecting that. Past Javon? Hmm, he would have been special. Ok, who’s next? Sydney? Aaaand she keeps going.

    Where in the world is she taking me?

    We stopped. Whose desk is this? The new kid Jasmine?

    Hey, her box is covered in glitter like me!

    Am I going in?

    Wheeee, she’s putting me in! I knew she’d pick someone special.

  8. Jessica Reed says:

    Harriet’s Cards
    By Jessica Reed
    (214 words)

    Harriet Heart loved Valentine’s Day.

    She loved making valentines—and always made the most beautiful cards. Tomorrow was the class Valentine’s Party, the day everyone would exchange cards. But this year, Harriet was the new heart in school, and she didn’t have any friends.

    Harriet worked hard making her cards—they were beautiful. When she was done, she looked for friends to give them to. But the more she looked, the more she worried. And when a heart worries, it starts to beat loudly.

    When she looked at lunch, there was no friend to sit with.

    When she looked at recess, there was no friend to play with.

    When she looked on the bus ride home, there was no friend to ride with.

    She felt embarrassed and lonely.

    On the day of the party, her beat became louder.

    In class

    At the assembly

    In P.E.

    Harriet was too self-conscious to attend the party.

    She sat down and cried—she really wanted a friend to give a beautiful card to.

    Just then, Harriet heard something—

    There sat another heart sitting alone beating loudly, just like her.

    Harriet knew what to do.

    She took a breath and proudly delivered her card, “I hope to see you at the party.”

  9. lincolnmansch says:

    Dolley’s Favorite Month
    By Lincoln Mansch
    Word Count: 213

    February is the best time of the year.
    So much to celebrate and plenty to cheer.

    The birthdays of friends will allow her to play.
    And dress up as Cupid for Valentine’s Day.

    Dolley is a pup that always falls in love.
    With all the special reasons mentioned above.

    She is so generous to all of her friends.
    For each gift she gives away, it all depends.

    This month of joy brings one very special game.
    Who gives the best Valentine, that is the aim.

    This game they play proves a special connection.
    They are proud of their bond, a true affection.

    Giving presents to others can mean so much.
    Even when you add a small personal touch.

    Dolley is proud of her friends and likes to share.
    The point of their game is to show how they care.

    Gifts to others can come a number of ways.
    They can be candy, pictures or a short phrase.

    Dolley doesn’t hide who she is most proud of,
    It is those true friends that she will always love.

    February always seems to go too fast.
    But with Dolley it can always be a blast.

    Each day of the month there is much fun to do.
    She can’t wait to spend the time with only you.

    (Dolley would love to become friends on Instagram: @dolleyhoney_golden)

  10. Laura Jensen Bower says:

    Llama Love
    By Laura Bower
    214 words

    Luna Lllama was in love
    but was a tad bit shy.
    “Instead of saying how I feel
    I’ll write it in the sky!”

    “Or maybe bake a hundred cakes
    with orange-apple glaze,
    and get a giant teddy bear
    that talks and hugs and plays.”

    “For flowers, I will buy rare stems
    and make a huge bouquet,
    to let her know that she’s the one
    on this year’s special day.”

    But when she looked up at the clock,
    she saw there wasn’t time
    to do the things she had planned out.
    She hadn’t spent a dime!

    “I’ll never get my Valentine!”
    She sniffed and clicked and hummed.
    “I don’t have treats or gifts to give.”
    She’d never felt more bummed.

    Luna moped around all day
    until she saw Yvette
    about to walk right past her gate.
    Her forehead filled with sweat.

    “I won’t find out if I don’t try.”
    She raced across the yard.
    She took deep breaths and smiled wide
    and then let down her guard.

    “Will you be my Valentine?”
    She found a way to start.
    “I don’t have much to offer you,
    except what’s in my heart.”

    So proud she took a gutsy step
    and didn’t leave things be.
    Yvette told Luna “yes she would!”
    (The best things can be free!)

  11. Michelle S Kennedy says:

    By Michelle S. Kennedy

    Who will be your Valentine?
    I need to know…
    Will YOU be MINE?!

    I am proud, I must confess.
    I won’t nag—
    (so just say YES.)

    Who will be your Valentine?
    I need to know…
    Will YOU be MINE?!

    I am proud (at least in school.)
    I won’t plead—
    (‘cuz that’s not cool.)

    Who will be your Valentine?
    I need to know…
    Will YOU be MINE?!

    I am proud, but I’ll admit
    I won’t beg—
    (but I might quit!)

    Who will be your Valentine?
    I need to know…
    Will YOU be MINE?!

    I am proud, (but now unsure).
    I won’t lie—
    (I’m insecure.)

    Who will be your Valentine?
    I need to know…
    Will YOU be MINE?!

    I am proud, so one last time,
    I will ask—
    Will YOU be MINE?!

    Who will be your Valentine?
    I guess not me…
    I’ll let you be.

    You’ll BE my Valentine?
    I’m on cloud nine!

  12. Laura Jensen Bower says:

    So clever Kathleen! I love your conversation hearts story. You have a nice story arc, which is impressive with such a low count and only using conversation heart phrases! Nice work!

  13. Vashti Verbowski (@VashtiVerbowski) says:

    by Vashti Verbowski
    (213 words)

    If starting school wasn’t worrisome enough, Iris’s first day was on Valentine’s Day. The thought of meeting her classmates AND finding a Valentine made her heart leap. Iris curled into a ball and closed her eyes. “I can’t do it!”

    “You’ll love school,” said her neighbor, Ms. Crocus.
    “You’ll fit right in,” said Aunt Daphne.
    “Your Valentine will be waiting for you,” said her mother.

    But Iris wasn’t convinced…
    “I’m too shy.”
    “I’m too small.”
    “No one will want to be my Valentine.”

    When the big day came, Iris woke early. It was still dark… and frost covered the ground. Surely, this was a sign to skip school. Iris pulled herself into an even tighter ball. “I can’t do it!”

    But as the frost began to melt, Iris could feel a change. Instead of feeling small, she felt something bloom inside her. Something special. Iris realized she didn’t want to keep her head in the ground forever.

    Holding onto that thought, Iris pushed up, up, up… and sprouted. “I did it!”

    Garden school buzzed and chirped in welcome. Iris held her head high and waved at the other sprouts.

    And then, Iris began to glow, warm and green and bright.
    She looked up at the sun and smiled…
    “Yes, I’ll be your Valentine.”

  14. sslee1 says:

    By Susannah Lee
    Word count: 214


    Shelby adored Valentine’s Day. Too bad all her classmates were heartless.

    Being the only cuttlefish at Shell School was hard enough. Having three hearts and no outer shell was a recipe for heartache.

    In art class, she gave Olly Oyster a valentine woven from seagrass. He threw it on the ground and took a nap on it.

    At snack time, she presented Mikey Mussel with a heart-shaped algae treat. Mikey slurped it up and burped in her face.

    For shell show-and-tell, Shelby explained that her cuttlebone was actually an inner shell. “Okay, softie!” jeered Pam Clam. The class sputtered with laughter.

    Shelby turned red. Why couldn’t she be like everyone else?

    On their field trip, Shelby drifted alone behind pairs of giggling mollusks.

    “Watch out for currents!” said Miss Abby Lony.

    But the clams weren’t listening. A current swept by—and knocked Sam into an abyss.

    “Wow,” said Miss Abby, peering over. “He’s really stuck in that crevice.”

    “Help him!” cried Pam. No one moved.

    So Shelby shimmied down. She wriggled out a tentacle and located Sam, lodged in the rocks. Then they floated up, buoyed by her cuttlebone.

    “You saved me!” said Sam.

    The class cheered, clapping their shells.

    Shelby was not ordinary. She really was a softie. Her three hearts swelled with pride.

  15. Mary Schultz says:

    Taffy’s Sweet Surprise

    Charley thought Valentine’s Day was just for girls. He would be happier trading baseball cards with his friends. One day that all changed. Jessica,the girl next-door was blind. Her seeing eye dog Taffy was the best! Charley begged to go on walks with Taffy. Jessica tagged along.

    On their walks, Charley would make faces, or stick out his tongue thinking no harm done. Jessica couldn’t see him.

    On Valentine’s Day Jessica surprised Charley with a card. Charley felt terrible and not very proud of his secret mean memes.The card had a picture of a girl hugging a boy and those bumps blind people use to read. Taffy gave Charley a sad dog look. Ashamed, Charley blurted out “I like you too Jesse but I don’t deserve this nice card.” He told Jessica what he did in secret. “I’m not very proud of my my bad behavior.” Jessica held out her hand “ No worries. I see you.’”

    Charley felt confused.”What? You see me? “
    “Yes. I feel everything around me, like when Taffy licks my face” she said with a giggle.

    Charley smiled the biggest smile gently squeezing Jessica’s hand.

    Taffy gave a proud dog wag. He finally got these two together. Walking them would be much easier now.

  16. Bridget Magee says:

    Where Is Puppito?
    by Bridget Magee
    213 words

    Pablo and Puppito, go everywhere together…
    …to Abuelitas. He hugs Puppito as he watches her make tamales.
    …to the Fiesta. He holds Puppito as he watches his Primo make the piñata rain candy.
    …In the moving van. He squeezes Puppito as Papa pulls into their new driveway.

    Today is the Valentine’s day party at Pablo’s new school.
    He is proud of the Valentine cards he made for his classmates.
    He is proud of the Mexican wedding cookies Mama made for the party.
    But he is most proud of the heart-shaped collar he made for Puppito.

    Where is Puppito?

    Pablo checks in the suitcases.
    No Puppito.

    Pablo checks behind the moving boxes.
    No Puppito.

    Pablo checks under the packing paper..
    No Puppito.

    “Time to go, mijo!” Mama calls.

    Pablo hurries to grab his new backpack.

    “Pablo, ándale! We’re going to be late!” Mama calls.

    He sniffles as he tries to stuff in the cards.
    They won’t fit.

    He snuffles as he tries to cram in the cookies.
    They won’t fit.

    He sobs as he holds Puppitos heart-shaped collar.

    “Pablo, to the car!” Mama yells.

    Pablo jumps up quickly. His backpack flips and out falls…

    He dries his eyes on Puppito’s soft fur.

    Pablo and Puppito go everywhere.

    Today they celebrate Valentine’s day…

  17. sheilaschmotz says:

    By Sheila R. Schmotzer
    Words: 212

    Candace was a princess.
    She lived in a castle made of sugar, on a caramel hill.
    Princess Candace was the Princess of Candyland.

    The princess had more candy than anyone in the land.
    She was profusely proud of her candy collection.
    Lollipops lined every drawer.
    Gummies filled every closet.
    And one room had chocolate loaded up to the ceiling.

    Every year on Valentine’s Day, the children of Candyland would come to her castle for candy.
    The princess handed out goblets of goodies to all the girls and boys.
    In return, the children presented her with a candy cake.
    Dripping with icing, sprinkles, and kisses…Princess Candace thanked them and quickly took a bite.

    Ping. Ping. The princess felt a twinge in her tooth.
    Princess Candace had forgotten to brush her teeth.
    This sweet tooth made her feel not so proud.
    In fact, she felt ashamed.
    She vowed never to let this happen again…not to herself or the children.

    From that day forward, every year on Valentine’s Day, the children that came to Princess Candace’s castle got candy and….an additional treat. A new toothbrush!

    The children of Candyland were boastfully proud.
    Not only did they have the sweetest candy princess in the land…
    Even more, they had a princess who ruled from her heart.

  18. Shadi Kafi says:

    Suzie and Jordan’s Special Day
    by Shadi Kafi
    195 words

    “Dear Jordan,” writes Suzie on Valentine’s Day. “We have not spoken in third grade because we made new friends. I miss you. Will you be my Valentine?”

    Suzie includes a photo from kindergarten.

    “Do you feel better after writing Jordan a Valentine’s day card?” says Suzie’s mom.

    Suzie’s face glows, “Yes!”

    “I can’t wait to make Jordan’s day a special one!”” says Suzie to herself dashing to school with the Valentine’s Day card in hand.

    In their third grade class, Suzie notices Jordan surrounded by her new friends.

    “Ahem,” says Suzie. Jordan doesn’t notice.

    Suzie doesn’t give up. She waits to find Jordan at recess. At recess, Jordan is surrounded by her new friends again.

    “Ahem, Ahem” says Suzie. Jordan doesn’t see her.

    At lunch Suzie sees a sign: Send your Valentine a Song with Your Valentine’s Card

    “That’s it!” says Suzie.

    Jordan smiles cheek to cheek as she listens to the school choir surprise her with a song and reads Suzie’s card at the end of the school day.

    “I’d love to be your Valentine and miss you too Suzie!” says Jordan.

    Suzie grins wide. Her cheeks turn red as strawberries.

    “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

  19. kbrandyberry says:

    (A sequel to 2021 Valentiney Contest Entry)
    By Katie Brandyberry

    Last Valentine’s Day, Mail Truck bravely delivered the mail despite slick, snowy roads.
    This year, he has a different problem: nothing to deliver!
    All packages have been given to bigger, faster trucks.

    Disappointed, Mail Truck spins his wheels.
    “I’ll do my route anyhow. Maybe there’s mail to pick up!
    I’d hate to let the neighbors down, especially on Valentine’s Day!”

    As he pulls down 1st Avenue…
    THUD! A delivery truck launches boxes into flowerbeds.
    Mail Truck’s engine heats up. “That’s not where those belong.”
    He shuffles over and carefully places the packages in mailboxes.

    On 2nd Avenue…
    ZOOM! A delivery truck speeds by.
    “Whoa! There are kids around!”
    Mail Truck’s blares his horn. “HOOOOOONK! Slow down!”

    The delivery truck is busy on 3rd Avenue too.
    SPLASH! A package lands right in a puddle.
    The delivery truck doesn’t even notice (or care).
    Mail Truck’s blinkers turn red. “A wet package will not do.”
    He scoots over and dries it off.
    As he puts it in the mailbox, a neighbor runs outside with an envelope.

    “Ah-ha! Outgoing mail!”
    Surprise! The envelope is addressed to him!
    It’s his very own Valentine!

    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue.
    We appreciate
    All that you do.

    Mail Truck wipes away a proud tear and remembers why he LOVES his job.


  20. arndt4writing says:

    A Friend for Valentine’s Day
    By Daniele Arndt
    Words: 213

    Franny tried making friends…
    but it never worked out.
    She cut,
    “I’m going to find a special someone to give my Valentine to.”
    She hadn’t gone far when…
    “Are you a giant?” Franny asked.
    “You couldn’t tell? But I fee-fi-fo-fummed. I’m small for a giant. But I have other good qualities. I happen to have an impeccable sense of direction.”
    “Just what I need! I’d love your help finding a special someone to give my Valentine to.”
    Traveling with a guide came in handy for avoiding…
    poisonous plants,
    fire ants,
    and quicksand.
    Giant guided them…
    they stumbled upon a troll guarding his bridge.
    “May we cross your bridge?”
    Troll scowled. “Not today! Maybe tomorrow—depending on the weather. Forecast just in… cloudy with a chance of YOU CAN’T CROSS MY BRIDGE!”
    “You’re grumpy,” Franny said. “Wait a minute… Troll, this is for you.”
    Troll blushed. “No one has ever given me a Valentine. Thank you!”
    Giant scratched his head. “Very kind. And I’m proud of you, but… now you don’t have a Valentine for a special someone.”
    Franny beamed. “I actually made two Valentines. One for Troll and one for my new best friend—who is very special! Happy Valentine’s Day, Giant!”

  21. Zach Schloss says:

    By: Zach Schloss
    WC: 214

    It’s Valentine’s Eve!
    There’s love everywhere!
    It’s the (second) best holiday to be a hare.
    Hoppy hopped as she shopped,
    plucking flowers peak bloom,
    with a zig and a zag past the folks in the room.

    Hoppy was happy!
    Her flowers looked great!
    A gift for a friend… who is chronically late.
    She clutched her bouquet
    then bounced on her way
    to proudly present them on Valentine’s Day.

    When the morning arrived
    and the sun rose above,
    hopeful Hoppy was eager to soon share her love.
    But her pride became guilt,
    feeling hours tick by,
    as the flowers wilted and the sun left the sky.

    On the following day
    burrowed deep in her trunk,
    mopey Hoppy awoke to a THUNK! THUNK! THUNK! THUNK!
    Upside-down from a bough
    with a ginormous smile
    hung her good friend Slow-Joe with a MUCH LARGER pile.

    “…The one gooood thing about beeeing a sloth…
    …By theee time I arrrrive everything is half-off…
    …That’s twice as much candy for meee and yoooouuu…
    …if we celebrate late by a day or twoooo…”

    Her smile appeared,
    but soon was erased.
    She scooted in front of the sad drooping vase.
    …Beeesides, they taste better when wilted this waaaay!!”


    “Slow-Joe, I Love you, too!”

  22. Ashley Murray says:

    Remember the Love
    by Ashley Murray WC:212

    Guess what Mia loves most about Valentine’s Day?
    She loves giving Valentine’s cards to her friends.
    She was proud of her notes. She’d work on writing them the entire week before the class card exchange.
    Isabella was new to the class and Mia had an extra special card for her.
    “To: Isabella, Welcome to our class, I am so happy you are here! From: Mia.”
    Mia gave Isabella the card. Everyone gave her a card. But Isabella was sad.
    Why was Isabella Sad?
    At dinner, Mia told her mom about Isabella’s reaction. Her mom explained, “Sweetheart, people receive and give love differently. You show you care by giving cards. Maybe, Isabella likes to receive love another way. Valentine’s Day is about love, remember the love.”
    Remember the love. What did that mean?
    Mia thought of ways she showed love. “How can I show Isabella that I care”?
    The next day, Mia walked over to Isabella during recess, “Hi! Would you like to play with me?”
    Isabella smiled, “Yes! I love to play! Sorry I didn’t say thank you yesterday. Sometimes a lot of attention makes me nervous.”
    Mia was proud. She still loved writing special notes, but today she learned to show she cared in a different way. She remembered the love.

  23. lsheroan says:

    The Proudest Pencil
    By Lori Sheroan
    (194 Words)

    His lead was broken.
    Too chewed to erase,
    he fell unnoticed
    from her pencil case.

    Pink with hearts,
    a Valentine’s prize,
    he was sharpened
    down to half his size.

    The teacher found him
    and picked him up,
    then deposited him
    in the “Lost Pencil” cup.

    The last bell rang.
    The room went black.
    He missed his home
    in the pink backpack.

    “You’re too short,”
    said a tall number two.
    “No way any kid
    will write with you.”

    He thought of the art
    they had once created
    and refused to give in
    or feel berated.

    Morning came.
    The kids rushed in.
    He pitched himself
    to the edge of the tin.

    She sat at her desk,
    with a look of surprise.
    She couldn’t find him
    in her school supplies.

    “I’m here! I’m here!”
    He wished he could shout,
    and then the teacher
    lifted him out.

    She carried him over
    to the artist he knew.
    “Doesn’t this little pencil
    belong to you?”

    “Oh yes! Thank goodness!
    I was getting quite stressed.
    When it comes to pencils,
    he is the best!”

    Reunited at last,
    pride filled his heart.
    Then the Valentine’s pencil
    drew a new work of art.

  24. Lauri Meyers says:

    My Gummy Love
    By Lauri C Meyers
    214 Words

    Joey crafted a Valentine for Grammy and wrote, “I love you THIS much!” He added a gummy heart.
    But the gummy was little, and he loved Grammy a lot.
    Joey grabbed a pot and a box of cherry gelatin. He mixed it and poured out a big gummy heart.
    But he loved Grammy more than that.
    Joey grabbed a bigger pot and three boxes of cherry gelatin. He mixed it and poured out a bigger gummy heart.
    But he loved Grammy more than that.
    Joey grabbed the biggest pot and twenty boxes of cherry gelatin. He mixed it and poured out a gummy heart as big as the table.
    “I did it! Joey said. “That’s how much I love Grammy!”
    Ding, dong! Grammy was here!
    He poked the gummy heart. It jiggled with love.
    “It’s probably ready,” he said.
    He held his card and wrestled the gummy heart into his arms.
    The huge, wiggly heart flopped across his face.
    His fingers squished deep into the gummy.
    Drops of cherry goo trickled down his ear.
    Finally, Grammy opened the door… just as the giant gummy heart melted over Joey’s head.
    “You love me that much?” Grammy said. “Well, I love you this much!”
    She wrapped up her red, sticky, cherry-scented grandson in a Grammy-loves-you hug.

  25. Melissa Rutigliano says:

    Love ME
    by Melissa Rutigliano
    167 words

    Drowning in doubt
    Mourning in misery
    I am learning how to love someone…
    The scars are visible
    The cuts still bleed
    Yet only one person sees the ugly…
    Guilty for what I eat
    Treading water, sleep retreats
    I need someone to feed….
    Spending too much time
    comparing others to me –
    In sickness and in health
    The past? Has been. The future? To be.
    Someone will always be present…
    I should do more
    Push harder
    Slow down.

    Sinking deeper.

    I can throw a life vest to someone…
    Overcoming and changing
    Holding on and letting go
    I am trying better to know…
    I tell myself I’m enough
    I remind myself –
    I am OK
    Not being OK
    I am learning to love…
    Finding a friend within
    Discovering a person I can believe
    Someone here is different…
    A thinker
    A survivor
    A shark
    Leaving messy marks
    Making beautiful mistakes
    Give and take
    I am becoming proud to be…

  26. Tiffany Hanson (@Tiffany_Hanson7) says:

    Love Potions and Laughter
    By Tiffany Hanson
    Word count: 206

    I’m a W.I.T—witch in training. In order to pass my enchantment exams, I need to brew a love potion for Valentine’s Day. I should have passed already but I’ve had a few accidents like transfiguring the examiner into an egg and burning my broom.

    But this time I’m determined to succeed. I start up the cauldron and pour in my ingredients, pleased with my progress.

    Wait. Does the recipe call for a dash of dandelions or a splash of spiders? I add both and stir. The potion gives off a pink puff.

    Then I find my couple. A young man sits on a bench anxiously glancing at the girl beside him.

    I walk over and offer him my Valentine’s Day ‘tea’. He takes a gulp. I wait for my potion to work, proud of my plan so far.

    Then he starts to chuckle. Then chortle. Then cackle. Soon he is doubled over with laughter. I frown. Looks like I had made a laugh potion not a love portion. I’d never pass now.

    The girl looks at him, eyes wide. Then she grins and laughs with him. They walk off holding hands and giggling.

    I smile at my success, proud to have finally passed my test.

  27. Tiffany Hanson says:

    A Cake-tastrophe
    By Tiffany Hanson
    Word Count: 209

    This year for Valentine’s Day I planned to make mom a surprise cake—from scratch.

    I pull out the recipe and get out the ingredients.

    Two cups of sugar. I frown. Should it be a tall cup or a small cup? I settle for a mug.

    Beat in two eggs. I plop the eggs in the batter and start pounding them with my spoon. Specs of shell and flecks of flour fly everywhere.

    Then I turn to the icing, wanting it to be red. But when I get out the red food dye I accidentally knock in some blue. It turns into a purplish goo.

    I put it in the oven but forget to set a timer. I guess I’ll just wait an hour and come back.

    Later I smell something baking. Then burning. Then smoking.

    Mom and I rush to the kitchen and she throws open the oven door. A melted mess meets my eyes. So much for her Valentine’s Day surprise.

    “I’m sorry. I wanted to make you a cake, not a cake-tastrophe.”

    She smiles and hugs me. “I’m proud that you thought of me and tried. Thanks for the cake.”

    I grin and say, “You’re welcome. But next year I’ll get you candy for Valentine’s Day.”

  28. lorimkeatingyahoocom says:

    The Valentine’s Day Invitational
    By: Lori Keating
    Word Count: 212

    “The Valentine’s Day Invitational meet is tomorrow and I’m going to win,” Molly says, clapping her chalked hands together in front of Hannah’s face. Hannah barely recognizes the tone in her ex-besty’s voice. The gymnastics chalk dust settles in her hair. Still missing Molly’s friendship, Hannah graciously says, “Good luck, Molly.”
    At the meet, Hannah’s going first on bars. Molly walks by her and whispers, “Don’t fall.”
    Hannah shrugs and turns to face the judge. She leaps toward the bar, grasping, pulling, and circling with ease before landing firmly on the mat.
    After the awards ceremony, Hannah’s ready to celebrate her victory when she sees Molly crying. She thinks about letting her suffer, but instead, Hannah looks at the heart-shaped cookie she won and hands it to Molly.
    “Why?” Molly asks.
    “Because you mean more to me than the cookie or the win,” Hannah replies.
    “Please forgive me. I haven’t been much of a friend lately,” says Molly.
    “No, you haven’t.”
    “It’s been hard seeing you win all the time.”
    “I’d be jealous of me too if I were you.” Hannah winks.
    “Besties again?” asks Molly.
    “Maybe for half the cookie,” laughs Hannah.
    “Done.” Molly breaks the cookie in two.
    “Besties,” Hannah smiles. They bump their cookie pieces together, sealing the deal.

  29. Armineh Manookian says:

    By Armineh Manookian
    214 words

    Arpi had a big heart for Valentine’s Day.
    She beamed as she opened the box full of decorations.
    A garland on the mantle.
    Ribbons and bows on the railing.
    Even the bathroom got a sprinkle of Arpi’s Valentine’s cheer.
    “That’s silly,” her brother, Raffi, said.
    “It’s not silly to share your heart with family.”
    Raffi rolled his eyes.
    But Arpi’s face glowed with pride.
    She had an idea.
    Why not share her heart with outdoor decorations too?
    Arpi die-cut felt hearts with Mom’s help.
    She hung them by the bushes along with a special heart on the front door.
    “That’s silly,” Raffi said.
    “It’s not silly to share your heart with neighbors.”
    But on Valentine’s morning, Arpi lost her heart …
    … the one on the front door.
    She took down the outdoor decorations.
    “What happened to sharing your heart?” Raffi asked.
    “It’s lost!” Arpi flung the decorations and ran inside.
    A little while later, she saw Raffi come inside.
    “You’re putting away these decorations too?” he asked.
    “They’re silly,” Arpi said, sniffling.
    “It’s not silly to love big.”
    Raffi handed her something from behind him. “It was just the wind.”
    “You found my heart!” She gave Raffi a big hug.
    “You found mine, too,” he whispered over her shoulder.
    Arpi giggled with pride.

  30. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    By Ronda Einbinder word count: 203

    Papers stacked one on top of the other, on top of the other.

    Hearts, ribbons, glue, and glitter.

    Harper drew.

    Henry chewed.

    “Start from the top and glide down,” Harper said. “A sleeping line will rest on the top. A sleeping line will rest below—‘I.’

    Henry squirmed.

    “The letter ‘L’ sounds like luh, luh, luh,” Harper said circling her tongue.

    “LUHHH,” shouted Henry.

    “SHH, it’s a surprise.”

    Harper formed a ‘V’ larger than the ‘O’ followed by the ‘E.’

    Henry crawled in circles.

    ‘Y’ was a bit tricky and ‘O’ was a cinch. ‘U’ reminded her of an upside-down ‘n.’

    “Hmm, something is missing,” she thought.

    Drawing was just as thrilling as writing, but she knew what was even more thrilling.

    She folded Henry’s pointer finger and thumb around the colored marker drawing the biggest heart she had ever seen.

    Henry’s smile was HUUUGE.

    I L-O-V-E Y-O-U

    Harper placed the card in Henry’s right hand holding his left.

    “Henry’s first Valentine’s Day card,” Harper grinned.

    Mama squeezed Harper and Henry together whispering in Harper’s ear, “Henry’s one lucky little brother.”

    “Remember the first card I made for you?” Harper said.

    Mama pulled open the drawer of the side table.

    I L-O-V-E Y-O-U

  31. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    by MaryLee Flannigan
    213 words


    In the village of Hamlet, one bear lay awake.
    Tossing and turning, his heart full of ache.

    “Oh, what can I write to win Juliette’s heart?
    Soon Valentine’s Day will be here, I must start.”

    Shakesbear sprang out of bed, rushed and gathered his gear,
    then scurried to class with his thoughts still unclear.

    He started to draft his first poem in rhyme.
    Frustration, vexation, he had a hard time.

    “Disgusting! How dreadful,” he said in distress.
    “This gobbledygook’s simply one giant mess.”

    The bell rang for recess. He flumped by a tree.
    “I’m doomed, I am lost, my crush won’t notice me.”

    His pal, Edgar A. Crow overheard his laments,
    then flew down to Shakesbear and shared his two cents.

    He pondered his tip – that crow cawed good advice.
    Just write from his heart; and not question it twice.

    Through the long and dark night Shakesbear scribbled and inked.
    He finished his work, never slept, never blinked.

    It was Valentine’s Day; would his words win her heart?
    Shakesbear spied Juliette as she opened his art.

    He watched as she read his creation and then,
    she smiled up at Shakesbear then smiled again.

    With his heart full of pride, Shakesbear sighed, and he beamed.
    Juliette loved his verse, that was always his dream.

  32. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    by Steve Jankousky
    172 words

    There was a new kid in my class. Kind of quiet. A little cautious. Could probably use a friend.

    So, pretty much just like me.

    Mom always says the best way to make a friend is to be a friend. But I wasn’t sure how to do that for the new kid.

    Valentine’s Day was in a few days, so I thought I might do something then.

    A store-bought valentine like I’d be giving all my other classmates? Ok. But it’s nothing special.

    Candy? Too much.

    A flower? Way overboard for somebody I don’t really know that well.

    And then it came to me!

    On Valentine’s Day during the class party, everyone was opening their valentines and I saw the new kid open mine. It was a heart that I’d colored in rainbow stripes and it said “I’d be PROUD to be your Valentine!”

    The new kid had this gigantic smile and held the rainbow heart up and said “Thank you!”

    And I was proud to have made a new friend!

  33. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    by Alayne Kay Christian
    214 Words

    Eros Cupid wasn’t like the rest of his family. He didn’t like love.

    Kisses were noisy and wet.

    Hugs broke his arrows and squished his wings.

    Paper cuts from Valentines were the absolute worst.

    Most days, Cupid avoided love.

    “My arrows are sharp. No hugs please.”

    But on Valentine’s Day, it seemed the love bug bit everyone in the world. They’d hug, kiss and Valentine Eros to death whether he liked it or not.

    While the Cupid family was busy spreading Valentine’s-Day love, Eros hid in his closet. There was only one problem. He felt ashamed.

    “What kind of Cupid am I? Hiding from love when I should be spreading it.”

    Eros distracted himself by reading books about baseball and gardening. He even read about a porcupine who more than anything wished for hugs.

    “Maybe I can be a worthy Cupid, after all,” he whispered.

    Though he swam in his father’s leather motorcycle suit, Eros rolled up the legs and sleeves. He put on his brother’s catcher’s mask. “No wet kisses for me.” He slipped on his mother’s gardening gloves and filled a pillowcase with Valentines. “Not one paper cut. Time to go spread love!”

    In the end, Eros was most proud of how many porcupines he’d made happy with his hugs that day.

  34. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Dawn Renee Young
    214 words


    “Mom, when is Dad going to video chat again?”

    “I’m not sure, honey. Remember, he is busy protecting our country.”

    “I know,” I whisper. “I just miss him.”

    Before Dad left, he told me to stand proud and be the man of the family while he is away.

    I try my best. I help Mom with the dishes, clean my room, and take out the trash.

    Sometimes, when I really miss him, I put on his favorite sweat shirt. I can smell his after shave.

    “Hey Mom, I have an idea.”

    “What’s that?” she asks.

    “Valentine’s Day will be here soon. I’m going to make Valentine cards for Dad and his friends.”

    “That is a wonderful idea,” Mom agrees.

    “I want them to know how proud of them we are.”

    Mom helps me gather the materials and I get busy creating cards.

    We mail a box with cards and goodies. There are enough for Dad to share.

    On Valentine’s Day, Dad and three of his friend’s, video chat with us.

    They received our care package.

    Before hanging up, Dad tells me how proud he is of me for thinking of others.

    I tell him that no matter how far away he is, he will always be in my heart.

    MY DAD is MY HERO!

  35. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Valentine’s Day Dance-Off in Nestville
    Lynn Marie Moore
    WC 212

    “Fee-bee-fee-bee. Valentine’s Day Dance-off,” announced Chickadee.

    Nuthatch be-bopped headfirst down the oak trunk. “Whi-whi-whi. I’m ready to boogie!”

    Blue Jay whistled, “I mooove like Mick Jager.”

    “We’ll celebrate with treats, music and decorations,” twittered Chickadee.

    Blue Jay squawked, “I’ll string hearts in the trees.” Nuthatch tweeted, “Party hats! We love party hats.”

    From atop a spruce, they heard a trill. A bird, as red as candy hearts, fluttered down.

    “Are you from Nestville?” Blue Jay asked.

    “Just visiting,” said Cardinal. “I love dancing. Can I come?”

    “The Valentine party is just for us,” squeaked Nuthatch.

    “Red, you’re not welcomed,” shrieked Blue Jay.

    Chickadee chirped, “Don’t be silly. We welcome all feathered friends.”

    “Thanks Chickadee.” Cardinal strutted out singing, “Whatta-cheer-cheer-cheer! Sway right, sway left. Shake your tail feathers.”

    Woodpecker, Sparrow and Chickadee cheered. Nuthatch and Blue Jay pouted.

    “Hey birdies,” called Cardinal. “It’s Dance-off time!”

    Chickadee danced the cha-cha. Woodpecker and Sparrow danced a tango.

    Chickadee twirled over to Nuthatch and Blue Jay. “Be sweethearts. Whoop it up.”

    “No way.” “Nada.”

    But Blue Jay and Nuthatch tapped their toes. Slowly, they swayed and swirled. Soon they were hopping and bopping with everybird—including Cardinal.

    Chickadee smiled at her friends.

    She folded her wings over her heart. “So proud! You make my heart sing.”

  36. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Hidden in These Hallowed Halls by Shuba Mohan
    214 words

    “Within this fantastical kingdom there exists what you seek this day of Saint Valentine. The journey will be challenging but each of you has a destiny, a part to play, a skill to share.”

    Dressed in majestic crimson robes our ruler speaks in mysterious clues.

    “As you embark on a quest like no other, your destinies are entwined, though your message has been specially coded for you. Only by solving your clue and sharing your bounty can you all hope to decipher the path to the treasure within the Academy castle.”

    Tapping her long, bejeweled fingers, she warns, “Be brave. Be true. Be careful. For other creatures wander too, and if you fail, the prophecy states the enchantment you seek shall perish by days end and will fall into the principal’s fiendish hands.”

    She proudly cackles at our blank stares, reveling in our fear and uncertainty.

    We stay seated on the rug, unsure what to do next.

    Our teacher sighs.

    Solve the individual Valentine’s Day clues on your desks to find your puzzle piece, and come together to assemble the whole puzzle to find out where your treats are hidden before the principal and all the teachers finish them,” she says, unwrapping a foil-wrapped, heart shaped chocolate, and popping it happily into her mouth.

  37. Ashlee MacCallum (@_ashleedani) says:

    A Rose for Toad
    By Ashlee MacCallum
    Word Count: 214

    It was almost Valentine’s Day at Amphibian Academy, where it was tradition to give and receive rose grams.

    Toad and Frog both hoped for a rose.

    When February 14th arrived, Frog received three roses.
    But no rose came for Toad.

    Toad ran his fingers along the warts and bumps that covered his tough exterior.
    “Frog has slick, soft skin.”

    Toad tried to stretch his short legs.
    “Frog has long, beautiful legs.”

    Toad covered his large body with his arms.
    “Frog is slender and athletic.”

    “I’m sorry you didn’t get a rose. Have one of mine,” said Frog.

    Toad smiled as he took the rose.

    A thorn on the rose’s stem had pierced Toad’s skin.
    Even the rose wasn’t perfect.

    “My warts keep me safe. They have glands that slime people when I’m in danger.”

    “My body is larger because I can store extra fat. Without this, I wouldn’t have as much energy.”

    “My legs are short so I can crawl around on the ground.”

    Toad walked up to Frog and gave the rose back. He said, “I don’t need this to feel special. I am special just the way I am.”

    Toad didn’t know if he was going to get a rose next year, but he thought he might try sending one instead.

  38. sacharya78 says:

    I do NOT like Rohini Rao
    -By Sandhya Acharya, Word Count 212

    Hi Jack.
    Hi Josh.

    Did you hear? It’s Valentine’s day!
    So what?

    So, here’s your chance!
    To do what?

    To ask Rohini Rao.
    Ask her what?

    Ask Rohini Rao to play with you!
    I? Ask her? Never!
    I am the fastest, smartest, strongest kid in class. I am too good for Rohini Rao.

    But Jack, didn’t Rohini Rao beat you on the track?
    Oh, that? She got lucky.

    And didn’t she ace the math quiz?
    Pfft. I got sleepy.

    And didn’t she win in the tug of war?

    And, Jack, didn’t you tell me your heart goes something, something, when she talks?
    I did NOT!
    I am still the fastest, smartest, strongest kid in class.
    And Rohini Rao does NOT make my heart go
    Dub Dub Dub
    every time she talks.
    Certainly NOT!

    Oh, Jack, admit it. You like Rohini Rao. A LOT.
    I do NOT like Rohini Rao.
    Not a lot, not a little,
    not even a DOT!

    Rohini Rao is looking at you.
    Gulp! She is?
    Jack, Jack, she’s coming right here!
    Oh, dear!

    Hi Jack, It’s me, Rohini Rao!
    Dub Dub Dub
    I wanted to ask….
    DUb DUb DUb
    ..if I can
    ..play with…
    YES! YES! YES!

    …your friend Josh?

    She did NOT!

  39. Maria (@mmsutantowrites) says:

    Word Count: 213
    M. M. Sutanto

    Once upon a time, a prince named Vlad lived in a grand castle by himself. Vlad was anti-Valentine’s Day and proud of it. This Valentine, he bought all the flowers, chocolates, cards and gifts, so that no one could celebrate Valentine.

    The townspeople were disappointed that they couldn’t find flowers, chocolates, cards and gifts for their Valentines.

    On Valentine’s Day, as Vlad sat atop his couch munching on chocolate hearts, the doorbell rang. Strange, there was no one at the peephole. Feeling creeped out, he heard knocking!

    He summoned all the courage in his heart, threw the door open, and saw a little girl, looking up at him. She handed Vlad a piece of folded-up paper, smiling, “For you!” and walked away.

    Furious, Vlad slammed the door and trampled the piece of paper. Rainbow glitter and confetti rained out from the paper.

    “Bah! Now I have to clean this!” grumped Vlad. He opened the paper. It revealed a homemade card that said, “Happy Vlad-entine’s Day!”

    Vlad chased the girl and told her to invite the townspeople to his castle. Right now!

    Amongst the flowers, chocolates, cards, gifts and new friends, Vlad celebrated Valentine’s Day for the first time.

    Vlad was glad for Valentine’s Day and he was proud of it.

  40. Ryan Schneck (@Schneck_Ryan) says:

    by Ryan Schneck
    Word Count: 214

    Red and pink hearts shine throughout the hospital hallways and cafeteria.
    But this Valentine’s Day, the only heart everyone’s talking about…
    Belongs to my brother.
    Dad says Jake’s a hero.
    But, I don’t want a hero… I just want my brother back.

    Since the accident, he’s been here but not really here.
    We haven’t been able to race cars, climb trees, or play baseball.
    He just lies there.

    Today, everyone is supposed to say goodbye.
    When I try, my mouth opens, but no words come out.
    How can I say goodbye to my brother and best friend?

    Mom reminds me Jake has a heart of gold with kindness in his blood.
    I’ll never forget that kindness:
    Protecting me from playground bullies.
    Rescuing that baby bird.
    “Keep smiling,” he always said.

    Jake’s doctor says a little girl needs his heart of gold now.
    And his gifts will help seven other families.
    His kindness will flow through our town for years to come in those kids.

    So, in the spirit of the holiday, I grab some golden construction paper, scissors, and markers.
    And don’t quite say goodbye:

    To Jake,
    My hero with a heart of gold.
    I’m proud to be your brother.
    This isn’t goodbye as I’ll see you around town.
    Keep smiling!
    Love you forever.

  41. Brenda Whitehead (on social media hiatus) (@BrendaW_Prof) says:

    I didn’t think I’d be able to participate this year–yay for some found time for a bit of writing fun. 🙂

    HAIKU VALENTINES: Love in 5-7-5 Rhyme 😉
    204 words
    by Brenda Whitehead

    When’s Valentine’s Day?
    It’s one… two… three days away.
    Time’s slipping away!

    See, I love to write.
    I string words by candlelight.
    Okay, a flashlight…

    So MY valentines
    Will be three just-for-you lines
    On how each friend shines.


    *Maria, you’re brave!
    *Look at the spiders you save!
    *Here’s a V-day wave.

    *Mohammed, you’re smart!
    *The top of the reading chart!
    *Here’s a V-day heart.

    *Evie, you’re funny!
    *Ha! Your joke with the bunny!
    *Here’s V-day money! [sorry, I only have 8 cents…]


    Okay, this is tough.
    All of my haikus are rough.
    Am I good enough?

    Then a voice: “What’s that?”
    Ugh. My little brother Matt.
    “Nothing.” Feeling flat.

    “Make me one! Pleeeaaase??”
    “No way! Only friends get these!”
    His tears start to squeeze.


    *Matt, you’re so goofy!
    *You see pups and you ‘woofy’!
    *Your teddy’s poofy!

    Well, that’s a big smile.
    One that’s been gone for awhile.
    “Now write one for Kyle!”

    All night we wrote lines.
    Some were 1’s, others were 9’s.
    Our own valentines.

    On Valentine’s Day,
    Our haiku lines were okay,
    But smiles? Let’s just say…


    That night, on the ride:
    “Sis, what’s this feeling inside?”
    “That warm thing? That’s PRIDE.”

  42. Sheila Hausbeck says:

    Kate’s Valentines
    by Sheila M. Hausbeck
    213 words

    Kate loved making her own valentines.

    She made feathery owls that flew around the room asking, “whoooo loves you? I do!”

    Loud ones like peacocks that fanned their tails, screeching, “I love you and U R cute!”

    Sweet ones that looked like cookies, oops, CHOMP! Kate’s dog agreed.

    Funny ones like giraffes twisted into hearts.

    And special ones like the sloth.

    They all knew they’d be given to Kate’s classmates, but secretly each hoped they’d be chosen for the teacher. That was the biggest honor a classroom Valentine could have!

    Sloth dared not dream.

    He was slow and quiet.

    He hid in his tree.

    As Valentine’s Day approached, Kate signed and addressed her cards.

    The owls were for the kids in her reading group.

    The peacocks were for the kids who sang loudest in music.

    The giraffes were for the jokesters.

    The cookies went to her sweetest friends.

    Finally, she picked up sloth. Kate considered him for a moment then put him in an envelope. He was pleased to be included.

    At school all the kids passed out their valentines.

    Sloth felt himself being held and admired. “He has eyes like you, Miss Honeybun,” Kate said. Sloth blinked his big brown eyes right into the teacher’s, oh so proud to be HER Valentine.

  43. catpal1120 says:

    A NEST FOR BLUEGILL by Katie Palazzola
    214 words

    “I love you, Robin!”

    “I love YOU, Bluegill! That’s why I made us this house.”

    “Robin, that is a nest.”

    “I know! Isn’t it beautiful? I used only the finest twigs.”

    “It’s very nice, but – ”

    “Wait until you see this view! I chose it especially for you.”

    “I’m sure it’s lovely, but – ”

    “Can you believe I did this all by myself? I didn’t ask ANYONE for help – I wanted to surprise you.”

    “It’s certainly a surprise. You are very nice, Robin. There’s just one problem.”

    “What’s that?”

    “I can’t leave the water.”

    “You will have to leave the water if you want to live in our house.”

    “But I will die.”

    “Are you saying you don’t want to live in our house? The house I made for YOU? The house I toiled over with my own two wings? I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME!”

    “I do love you, Robin! That is why I am being honest with you. And if you love me, you will have to understand that breathing is important to me.”

    “That makes things complicated.”

    “Yes, but that’s love! Look, I can see the nest reflected in the water. I will make my home just beneath it.”

    “It will be like we’re together!”

    “It will. Now, tell me more about that view…”

  44. ingridboydston says:

    A Puzzling Valentine- My side of the phone call…
    By Ingrid Boydston-inspired by The Wonky Donkey
    200 words

    Hi Gram! Did you get it? Do you like your Valentine?

    I knew you would! Mom wasn’t so sure.

    What? You want to know how I made it?

    Ok, but you’re not going to believe this! It wasn’t so perfect when I started…

    I meant to cut out a heart. Instead I made a topsy-turvy, way too curvy, not really heart-shaped heart.
    So I sprinkled on some glitter. It was a super sparkly, topsy-turvy, way too curvy, not really heart-shaped heart.
    But the glitter wouldn’t stay on. I added glue. It was an icky sticky, super sparkly, topsy-turvy, way too curvy, not really heart-shaped heart.
    Then I dropped and stepped on it by mistake! It was a crinkly, crumply, icky sticky, super sparkly, topsy-turvy, way too curvy, not really heart-shaped heart.
    I thought perfume might help. It was a soggy, smelly, crinkly, crumply, icky sticky, super sparkly, topsy-turvy, way too curvy, not really heart-shaped heart.

    Why is it in pieces? That’s the best part. I cut it up!

    Why? So you can put it back together! I know you love puzzles! Cool idea, huh? I knew you would be proud of me!

    Happy Valentine’s day Gram! I love you too!

  45. Glenda Roberson says:

    I accidentally posted the wrong version! Ugh! Susanna, can you please delete the first one?

    Smelly Kelly (203 words)
    by Glenda Roberson

    Stinky Stella loved a fella.
    His stripes were most divine.
    Fluffy tail and skunky smell!
    Her perfect Valentine.

    Smelly Kelly wanted quiet.
    No flirts from you-know-who.
    Stella’s fawning was relentless.
    What WAS a skunk to do?

    “Hello, Kelly. You’re so smelly,
    my Valentine sublime!”
    “Come on, Stella. Find a fella.
    Please, not me this time!”

    “Oh, now Kelly! Stop your fussin’.
    You know you love me true.”
    (Don’t want to hurt her feelings,
    but what’s a skunk to do?)

    Smelly Kelly scratched his belly.
    He’s feeling quite perturbed.
    “Living single makes me happy!
    I WILL not be disturbed.”

    Late-night Kelly watched the telly.
    “That soap smells great on hair!”
    So he tried it, scrubby dubby.
    “My stink’s no longer there!”

    “Hello, Stella! Still your fella?”
    “Umm, no! You’ve lost your stink!”
    “Don’t be that way! It was for YOU
    I scrubbed my tooshie pink.”

    Stinky Stella snubbed this fella
    to find a smelly beau.
    Tricky Kelly proud and grateful,
    was glad for her to go.

    Kelly’s pride in foiling Stella
    was quickly turning sour . . .
    his itchy-twitchy nostrils feeling
    worse each passing hour.

    Smelling sweet of soap and flowers,
    not liking it at all,
    Kelly wanted back his stink now . . .
    Pride goes before the fall.

  46. Carrie Charley Brown says:

    by Carrie Charley Brown
    209 words

    My hood doesn’t feel fluffy anymore.
    It’s wet with tears and sticks to my face.
    “Are you okay?” Ms. B asks.
    “Valentine’s Day is yucky!” I say.
    “You know, a Valentine can be anyone and anything,” she says.

    The bus-steps feel like a mountain.
    I fall into a seat and close my eyes.
    Can a Valentine really be anything?
    Every bump and turn remind me of the places I’ve bounced.
    Foster home to foster home. Never really belonging to any of them.
    “Jordan, this is your stop.” My bus driver rouses me from rest.
    Yes, it’s my stop, I think. For now.
    His face is missing the smile I know he wears under his mask.
    And that’s when I get my idea.

    I dig in my backpack to see what I have.
    A few broken crayons.
    A few paper-scraps.
    It’s a start.
    I lean into the curve of each smile I draw, and notice. I’m smiling now, too.
    I find some scissors, but only enough tape for me.
    In the morning, I admire the smile on top of my mask, knowing I wear one underneath, too.
    My hood is fluffy again, so I snuggle in on the bus ride, thinking about the smiles I’ll deliver on this Valentine’s Day.

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