Just When You Thought It Would Never Happen. . . The 2022 Valentiny Contest FINALISTS!!!

At last, my friends, just when you were probably beginning to suspect that the whole “family medical situation” was a cover story and I had actually disappeared to parts unknown having undergone plastic surgery to mask my identity whilst hiding out from the FBI, or gone into witness protection because of my secret past, I have materialized with the Valentiny Contest Finalists!

I know.

My secret past sounds intriguing.

And let me assure you, IT IS!

But it is a story for another day.

Today we need to focus on the finalists and the voting. It would be irresponsible of me to distract you from the task at hand by telling you about my days as an undercover operative, or about rescuing the princess of a country whose name I cannot divulge and restoring the throne and the government of said country, or the fact that my left pinky is registered as a lethal weapon, or any of the other things I did before I reinvented myself as a mild-mannered picture book writer as vanilla as they come. There will be no distractions today. No sirreee, Bob! Not one!

We’re going bare bones.

Here are your finalists. There are 14 because Valentine’s Day is on the 14th of February and I am finally posting finalists on the 14th of March. (Also because we couldn’t decide on only 12 and there were 13 prizes so I’ll just add one 😊)

Please read these amazing stories, choose your favorite, and vote by Wednesday March 16 at 9PM Eastern. Pride. Story. Kids 12 and under. Valentine’s Day.

A word about the voting. You are welcome (and encouraged!) to share today’s post anywhere and everywhere! The more readers and voters we get, the better because all these marvelous stories deserve to be read and enjoyed by as many people as we can get! But the finalists are listed by title only in order to preserve some anonymity so that the voting can be as merit-based and unbiased as possible. Please do not troll for votes. Please do not ask people to vote for entries by number, title, or description (i.e. the one about the lovesick unicorn who wept marshmallow tears 🦄) That goes against the spirit of the contest. Thank you so much in advance!

Now then! Prepare to have your socks knocked off!

#1 – Special Delivery


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.

#2 – The Valentine’s Cake

“Today,” said Miss Rabbit, “you’ll each get to make,
a yummy, fantabulous Valentine’s cake.”

Anteater frowned, “But Miss, who are they for?”
“For someone you’ve chosen who makes your heart soar.”

Anteater pondered, while whisks whizzed and whirled.
A someone who’s special, who lights up my world…?

“Eureka!” he cried. “I know just who to choose!”
And grinning, he mixed up a brown cakey ooze.

The ovens all roared as the cakes baked and browned,
til “Quick!” said Miss Rabbit. “Come gather around!”

Anteater’s tummy flipped, what would he see?
He hardly dared look, but then… Wow! Could it be?!

His cake was magnificent, tall, round and wide.
The flips turned to flutters, his chest swelled with pride.

“Such wonderful cakes,” said Miss Rabbit with glee,
“they’ll make someone happy, but who will that be?”

Anteater watched as his friends leapt away,
excited to celebrate Valentine’s Day…

… a fruitcake for Gran Bear, a loafcake for Miss,
and baby Racoon got a cupcake and kiss.

Then Anteater followed, his cake carried high,
to the someone he’d chosen who made his heart fly.

“Excuse me,” he whispered, “I wanted to say,
how special you are. Happy Valentine’s Day!”

The ants scurried out as the cake touched the floor,
and anteater feasted on someone’s galore.

#3 – Flicker’s Valentine

Flicker the dragon stomped past the valentines for sale in town.
“None of these work!” he fumed, but he needed valentines for the valentine party.

He bought chocolate heart valentines.
“Agh!” he cried, “They’re melting!”

He bought paper heart valentines.
“Agh!” he cried, “They’re burning!”

“Besides,” growled Flicker patting them out–he was ashamed so he felt angry–“They aren’t dragony enough!

“The dryad brings heart-shaped willow wreaths, so her valentines are dryad-y.

“The mermaid brings heart-shaped pearls, so her valentines are mermaid-y.”

“Nobody wants melty, singed, dragony valentines. Yuck!”

Just then he spied…
“Marshmallow hearts?”

“Oo!” thought Flicker.

“Is it valentine time?” Flicker gasped rushing into the party.
“Yes,” said the Dryad. “Did you bring some?”

“Yup!” grinned Flicker, “Can I borrow a stick?”

The dryad handed Flicker a slim willow branch from her wreath.

He pushed the heart-shaped marshmallow onto the tip of the stick.

Lifted it up and—Fwoosh!
A beautiful, toasted marshmallow heart.

“Here,” said Flicker, beaming. “A properly dragony valentine. It’s melty. It’s singed! And I made it just for you.”

The dryad popped the toasty treat into her mouth.

“It’s perfect!”

That year and every year after all the magical creatures looked forward to Flicker’s melty, singed marshmallow valentines. And he toasted them up–one by one–with great dragony pride.

#4 – Valentine Wins

Whistle blows,
racers run,
every kid
except for one.

Leo limps
and comes in last.
Kat takes first.
She’s rocket-fast.

Kat sees Leo
limping in.
He does not quit,
though he cannot win.

Kat likes Leo.
He is kind.
He helps with math
when she’s behind.

Teacher says,
“For Valentine’s Day,
let’s show love
in some new way.”

Back at class
it’s time for art.
Leo makes
a bright red heart.

He hands Kat
his Valentine
while all the kids
get back in line.

Whistle blows,
they race again.
Kat starts out
in first, but then…

She runs back
to Leo’s side.
Teacher’s face
lights up with pride.

Kat and Leo
run the race
and win tenth place!

Teacher gives them
both a prize:
a bag of mini
chocolate pies.

Walking home
along Pear Street
Kat and Leo
share their treat.

Both of them
know this is true –
fast or smart,
me or you:

It’s fun to win,
or ace a test,
but being someone’s
friend is best.

#5 – A Change Of Heart

Valentine’s Day is Mabel’s least favorite holiday.
The worst thing about Valentine’s Day…
Conversation hearts.
These hearts were bad enough without posters and stickers of them spread all over school.
“They’re too lovey-dovey,” Mabel rolled her eyes.
“Agreed. Let’s do something about it,” said Lev.
“I’ve already got a plan!” Mabel smirked.
She filled him in, and they got right to work making a poster.
Conversation hearts are gushy and mushy!
Let go of the old sayings and make way for…
Mindful hearts!
Take some hearts, write your best encouraging sayings, and drop them in the box.
The contest created a flurry.
When they checked the box after school it was overflowing.
Mabel high-fived Lev.
“Let’s do this!”
They pulled the mushy, gushy hearts off the walls and replaced them with the new hearts.
The next day, students and teachers crowded the hallways, reading the hearts aloud.
“Now that’s a conversation!” said Lev.
Mabel beamed.
Maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad after all, she thought.

#6 – The Perfect Valentine

“It’s Valentine’s!”
said Mrs. Hughes.
“And so I’d like
for you to choose
a person who you
love real hard
to make an extra
special card.”

Cecilia chose her
cousin Sal
and Pablo chose
his closest pal
Patricia who
sat next to Brad,
who chose Brianne,
who chose her dad.

And as for me,
I chose someone
who truly cannot
be outdone.
The brightest bulb,
A-plus! First rate!
The pride of
P.S. 28.

The smartest kid
in all the school.
The fastest in the
swimming pool.
A star in art
and music class,
with talent no one
can surpass.

The bravest kid
in the whole grade
who’s super tough
and not afraid
of roller coasters,
snakes or sharks,
of monsters, bugs,
even the dark.

“Time for lunch!”
Mrs. Hughes said.
“So take your finished
cards and spread
them out to dry
on that shelf next
to all our other
art projects.”

Before I head on
out the door,
I gaze upon
my card once more.
It’s perfect as
I knew it’d be
because this one’s
addressed to me.

“You shouldn’t have!”
I tell myself
and place the card
up on the shelf
with all the other
(that just aren’t quite
as good as mine).

#7 – Valentine Delivery – Part II

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.

#8 – Sweet Valentine

The third-grade class all write their names
and doodle heart designs
on baggies colored red and pink
which hold their valentines.

They peek into each other’s bags
and chat about the treats.
Today they’ll exchange cards, but more
importantly eat sweets.

Millie glances nervously
at snacks her classmates bought.
She made cute cards with special notes,
but cards were ALL she brought.

Twenty unique valentines
specifically addressed,
she’d worked so hard creating them
she’d missed what kids like best.

One by one, the class delivers
mail to each other.
Candy wrappers crinkle as they
swap with one another.

Millie’s cards are tossed aside
for lacking sugar loot,
and her (once beaming) confidence
dwindles…dims… goes mute.

But then a nearby classmate shouts,
“Oops! This card fell behind.
No candy? Hmm… this one is from…
Millie!! You’re so kind!”

The whole third-grade then drops their treats
to shuffle through their piles,
and as they read what Millie wrote,
the room fills with sweet smiles.

“She likes the way I heart my i’s.”
“She noticed when I shared.”
“Millie saw I learned to draw!
I thought nobody cared.”

Millie shines as her friends say
they never would have guessed,
that candy’s nice, but feeling proud
is what they all like best.

#9 – V-Day!

When Radney Rat broke up with Vivian Vole on February 13th–
right before her Valentine’s party–
Vivian vented to her best friend, Morley Mouse.
“I’m done with love! The party’s canceled!
No conversation hearts!
No pink balloons!
No valentines whatsoever!”
Morley blinked.
“Absolutely no ooey-gooey or mushy-gushy.” Vivian sighed.
Morley patted her paw. “We could still celebrate . . . SOMETHING.”
He pointed to her calendar.
V-day was scribbled on February 14th.
“V-day?” Vivian mused.
Morley nodded. “Your favorite letter.”
“Morley, you’re a genius!” Vivian cried.
Morley’s ears turned pink with pride.
They called their friends.
No ooey-gooey. No mushy-gushy.
But V things were VERY encouraged!
Morley chopped vegetables.
Vivian placed violets in vases.
They donned new vests.
Would their friends come to a V-day party on Valentine’s Day?
They came!
And they delivered:
A violin.
Vacuum cleaners!
Vanilla ice cream.
Vampire books.
A Venus flytrap!
And a Velveeta volcano!
Guests played volleyball and watched videos.
“Wow,” said Vivian. “This is better than a Valentine’s party! Thanks, Morley.”
Morley’s cheeks turned as pink as his ears with pride . . . and something sweeter.
He smiled. “My favorite V thing is . . . you!”
Vivian beamed at her best friend.
“Strike a pose!” someone called.
“Let’s dance!” Vivian pulled Morley’s paw.
Vivian, Morley, and all their friends vogued.
“Happy V-day!”

#10 – Percy’s Performance

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!)

#11 – Oog Love Rock

One Valentine’s Day, Cupid set out to help Oog the Caveman find love.

But this was long, long ago, and Cupid was still getting the hang of his bow. He didn’t always hit his target…

His arrow missed Ugga.

It whizzed by Unk.

It flew over Froon.

But then, it struck!

A boulder.


Oog made Valentines for Rock out of moss and bark.

He sang love songs to Rock.

He carried Rock everywhere. “Oog tired!” (Rock was very heavy!)

When spring came, it was time to move to a new cave, far away. Too far for Oog to carry Rock.

But Oog would not leave his beloved Rock behind.

He pressed his shoulder against Rock.

“Oog push!”

But Rock wouldn’t budge.

He made a rope and tied it around Rock.

“Oog pull!”

But the rope wasn’t strong enough.


Oog flipped Rock end over end, but it made him go very,



“Oog never get there!”

Then Oog had an idea.

He chipped and chopped, scraped and smoothed, until…

“Rock roll!”

Oog had invented the wheel!

“Oog proud.”

Cupid was proud too. He might not have been aiming at that boulder, but Oog and Rock were the perfect match.

“Oog love Rock.”

#12 – Showdown In Smoochalot

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.”

#13 – Hoppy Belated Valentine

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!!”

[SLOPPY BITE! SHOVE! CHEW!] “Slow-Joe, I Love you, too!”

#14 – Cupid’s Confidence

My cherub classmates look my way.
I hear them whisper “Cupid … .”
They laugh at something I’ve said wrong.
“That archer sure is—”


Sure, numbers jumble in my mind
because my gears are turning.
I know, though, I’m a gifted chum.
Mistakes mean I’m still learning.

In basketball, my shot gets blocked.
I hear some seraphs snort.
And when my next one nicks the net,
they reason, “Cu’s too—”


So what if I can’t alley-oop
and rebounds find me last?
My layup’s featherlight and suave.
My breakaway is fast!

If teardrops drip, their eyebrows raise.
(I cry when sad AND happy.)
“Wah-wah,” they mock.
“Boo-hoo,” they squawk.
“Oh, Cupid, you’re too—”


They might not fathom feelings now,
but that’s about to change.
My arrow’s primed for Valentine’s.
I’ll keep their hearts in range.

Phew! Do you see how we had such a hard time even getting it down to 14?! Please vote for your favorite in the poll below by Wednesday March 16 at 9PM Eastern! Then go take a nap. That was hard work!

I will do my very best to post the winners before April 14 😊 Shall we say Thursday, Friday or Saturday? I’ll do my best!

Now then, my darlings! Go forth and VOTE! And share the post with everyone you know who might enjoy reading these stories to themselves or their children or their students – the more the merrier! 😊

16 thoughts on “Just When You Thought It Would Never Happen. . . The 2022 Valentiny Contest FINALISTS!!!

    • viviankirkfield says:

      And now it’s 3am on the next night/day – and it hasn’t gotten any easier to choose. The writing talent is AMAZING. Oh, did I already say that in the last comment? But it’s totally true.
      I voted!

  1. chardixon47 says:

    Congrats to all the finalists–all terrific stories! Thank you, Susanna and team, for this delightful Valentiny experience!

  2. Penny Parker Klostermann says:

    Oh my, my, my, my, my, my, MY!!!! A very tough choice. I wanted to vote for more than one but after reading them over and over, I narrowed it down to 14! LOL! Seriously, I finally chose one of them and voted, but what fantastic entries! Hooray for all the finalists!

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