Best laid plans, darlings.
I was planning to post the finalists last Friday. . .and then last Saturday. . . and then definitely last Sunday by noon!
But as you can see, it’s a wee bit past that.
I’m campaigning for 30 hour days, but so far no one seems to be on board with the idea 😊
To make up for keeping you waiting, I have composed a tiny tale for you.
A ValenTiny Tale
At the Valentine Tail Contest, everyone was showing off.
“My tail is the best for making a heart shape,” bragged Lemur.
“My tail is best for hugs,” boasted Boa Constrictor.
“My tail is best for love pats,” blustered Beaver.
They all turned to Bunny. “What are YOU doing here?”
“I have a tail,” said Bunny.
Lemur, Boa and Beaver looked skeptical. “You call that a tail?”
“Tails are long,” said Boa.
“Tails are luxurious,” said Lemur.
“Tails are useful,” said Beaver.
“Sometimes tails are tiny,” said Bunny.
Lemur won 1st Prize for Beautiful Tail.
Boa Constrictor won 1st Prize for Longest and Strongest.
Beaver won 1st Prize for Tail Talent.
And Bunny won Grand Prize for Tiny Heinie Cuteness.
“A tiny tail is still a tail,” he called, as his little white cottontail bounced off into the Valentiny sunset.
Ah. Nothing like a tiny tale!
But if you want to read some that are actually worth reading . . .
. . . here are your finalists for
The 8th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest
~ for children’s writers ~
Please read these amazing stories, choose your favorite, and vote by Wednesday March 7 at 3PM Eastern. Skepticism. Story. Kids 12 and under. Valentine’s Day. Go forth! Read! Vote!
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. That goes against the spirit of the contest. Thank you so much in advance!
Now then! Prepare to have your socks knocked off!
1. Pepper’s Perfect Poem
She loves me.
She loves me not.
She LOVES ME!
I’ll do it! This is the year I ask Salt to be my valentine.
I’ll write her a lovely poem, walk to her cupboard, and…
What if she doesn’t like me?
I can’t do it.
I bet Basil or Cumin already asked her anyway.
I’ll just skip Valentine’s Day. Just like last year. And the year before that.
No, I’m Pepper! Bold! Spicy! I can do this! My poem has to be perfect though.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
We’re a good pair
Can I be your valentine?
Terrible. It doesn’t even rhyme. Hmm…
Roses are red
Violets are blue
You are sweet like sugar…
That’s not true.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
You are so nice
You smell like…
I’m not even going to finish that one.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
We’d make a good pair
Me plus you
That’s a winner!
Now I wait.
And wait some more.
I knew I shouldn’t have even tried.
Wait, what’s this? A poem. For me?! From…Salt?
“Roses are red
Violets are blue
I thought you’d never ask
I’d love to be your valentine”
Yep, we’re made for each other.
2. THE WORD PARTY
My teacher is destroying Valentine’s Day.
She said this year we’re trying something different.
A Word Party.
No cards, she said. No need for Valentine boxes.
This year, we’ll swap kind words about our classmates.
Adjectives, she said.
But I’m skeptical.
What’s a Valentine’s Day party without Valentines?
What ON EARTH am I supposed to say about Henry Murdock?
Last week, he put glitter glue on my braids.
The other day, he stole my pencil.
I am not at all sure about this Word Party.
And yet Valentine’s Day is here.
“Mia, please get us started,” says my teacher.
Pink roses bloom on my cheeks.
But then I look at my best friend Lily, and she grins.
“Fun,” I say. Lily’s smile widens.
Classmate by classmate, the words fill my mouth with sweetness.
I look at Henry and hesitate.
“Brave,” I say.
By the time I’m done, good vibes hum in the classroom.
But then it is Henry’s turn.
I’m dreading this.
At last, he gets to me.
“Perfect,” he says.
My face flames like a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
“OK, Henry, let’s move on,” my teacher says.
But the word hangs in the air.
The Word Party could have been worse, I suppose.
3. Mother’s Valentine Message
The wildlife has asked me to deliver a message to you.
Please visit the pond on Valentine’s Day!
Don’t be skeptical. Don’t be shy.
You’ll surely have the best time!
When you arrive, tread softly near the water.
Creatures may be nesting inside the shrubs and flowers.
Don’t get too close!
Parents are protective.
Other wild animals may drop by to drink.
Remember, they are more scared of you.
If you witness dragonflies and amphibians, that means your pond has been loved.
These creatures only lurk when the water and soil are clean!
Warning! You may be enticed to take home a cute creature. Don’t!
Everybody has an important job.
Did you know that one frog eats 100 insects overnight and an opossum 400 ticks in one day!
Are you still skeptical about visiting?
Pack a bag with these things.
A blanket, snacks, magnifying glass, camera, binoculars, paper, and crayons are handy items to bring.
I must warn you!
You’ll want to move. You’ll want to share your treasures, and your brain will figure the secret out.
You got it! All living things need each other. We need you to be a part of our world.
Now come! Fall in love with the pond, on Valentine’s Day.
4. Matilda’s New Job
Life as a shoebox was perfectly sweet—
Matilda loved shoes, and she didn’t mind feet.
She wasn’t in search of a change or a switch.
When it came to risk-taking, she just lacked the itch.
So, Matilda was filled with an odd sense of dread
When a small hand removed her from under the bed.
The hand of a kid! Now, what could that mean?
Matilda held loafers—a men’s size 13.
The kid grabbed some ribbons, red paper, and tape.
Matilda could see a new job taking shape.
This role would be tricky, if not downright hard.
Goodbye, dear old shoes. Hello, Valentine’s cards!
When she got to the classroom, Matilda’s lid shook.
She wasn’t quite sure that she had what it took.
Like a tight pair of sneakers, this job might not fit.
(Still, her glitter felt lovely, she had to admit.)
Somewhere behind her, she heard several squeals.
“Did you once store loafers? We carried high heels!”
“Gym shoes for me,” growled a deep baritone.
Matilda soon gathered she wasn’t alone.
No longer uncertain, she shimmied with glee!
“Everyone’s new here—it isn’t just me!”
She’d rise to this challenge! She knew that she could.
And what’s more, she noticed…the cards tasted good.
5. Be Mine? -Spider
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Dewdrops are sweet,
And so are you!
Be mine this Valentine’s Day?
My mom told me not to talk to spiders.
Skeptical at best,
My Dearest Fly,
I love your wings, your flawless skin.
Your sweet aroma sucks me in.
I love the way you slurp up goop,
And how you love to dance on poop.
Please don’t doubt me, I’m sincere.
All I want is you my dear.
Yeah… I don’t think I want to be “yours”.
Your hesitance is a mistake.
You clearly are not thinking straight.
I spent all day on your surprise.
I’ll meet you at my web at 8.
You’re really funny, yes it’s true!
Another thing I love about you.
Please bring a glass of blood-red wine
To enjoy while I –er, we dine.
One last request, my yummy one.
Please eat before you come.
Changed my mind. See you at 8!
P.S. Bird will be joining us.
Just realized you’re the wrong fly. Sorry. You all smell alike.
6. LOVE TAKES ROOT
I want to share love, right from my heart.
But not with a card, or candy, or art.
PLUCKED FROM THE PACK, I’M TUCKED INTO BED.
NOW REST TIME IS OVER, I’LL WAKE UP INSTEAD.
Water each morning, sunshine each noon.
Wondering, doubtful. Will roots come out soon?
I WANT TO GROW BIG, I WANT TO GROW TALL—
I CAN’T SEEM TO PUSH THROUGH THIS SOIL AT ALL!
V-day is coming, will my plant ever sprout?
I’ve taken good care, of that there’s no doubt.
REACHING, STRETCHING, I THINK THAT I MIGHT…
I DID IT FOR REAL! I FINALLY SEE LIGHT!
V-day is HERE, my present’s a dud.
No roots, no leaves, no stem, no bud.
WAIT! I’M HERE! LOOK CLOSER, I SHOUT.
YOUR LOVE MADE ME GROW. I’M HERE, I CAME OUT.
On the way to the trash, something catches my eye.
The tip of a leaf all tender and shy.
I POKE OUT SOME MORE, AS MUCH AS I DARE.
I WANT TO SAY THANK YOU FOR TAKING GREAT CARE.
What a sweet little shoot, you did it, you grew!
I never lost-heart, (but for a minute or two).
ARE YOU GOING TO GIFT ME? I’M HAPPY, YET SAD.
No need for goodbye ‘cuz you’re for my dad!
7. A Valentine’s Surprise
These cupcakes look delicious,
but they’re making me suspicious;
Has someone left these tasty treats for me?
The icing looks inviting,
with its bright-red swirly writing.
A message made of sugar… meant for me?
My nose is actually twitching,
for their smell is SO bewitching.
It’s clear that someone thinks the world of me.
My mouth is salivating…
I can’t wait, I’m going straight in.
Yummy-yum! They taste incredible to me.
Oh, look… Here comes my master!
But – oh-no – I sense disaster.
Perhaps the cupcakes were not left for me?
He’s yelling… yep, he’s mad.
This is really, really bad.
Apparently, the words were: MARRY ME?
I’ve spoiled his big surprise,
So, despite these puppy eyes,
I guess it’s in the doghouse now for me.
8. Doubting Thomas
What can you do when your homework goes unfinished and your dinner goes uneaten because you’re daydreaming about Valentine’s Day? When you’re hoping, hoping with all your heart that Lulu will give you a valentine. But you’re sure, almost positively sure she won’t because without question she is the most special, the most beautiful, the most awesome girl in the whole fifth grade.
You can get out the construction paper and secretly borrow your sister’s glitter glue and scented markers. You can make the most stupendous, glittering valentine that has ever been made. You can print to Lucille Weber in curlicue letters and drop it into the valentine mailbox when no one is looking. You can wait and wish, even though you already know it’s never going to happen. You can walk by Lulu’s desk a half dozen times hoping she will notice you. On the big day, you can watch, hardly daring to breathe while Lulu opens your valentine. You can hope she understands it was a labor of love. And then…and then…you can see her turn and smile shyly as she points to one of the unopened envelopes waiting on your desk. And you spot it! To Tom from Lulu and all the letter o’s are little red hearts.
9. The Princess is a Scientist
The princess viewed her valentines
and her eyebrows rose.
She didn’t buy such phony lines,
trite verse, or sappy prose.
What would her subjects say to her
if she did not wield power?
Would they still send valentines
or storm her high-rise tower?
The princess bolted shut her door
and left behind her crown.
She pushed a stone to open up
the well-lit passage down.
She hurried on some tight-fit gloves
and donned a snow-white gown,
then slipped into a science class
held in Ye Olde Mid-Town.
She learned how to hypothesize.
She journeyed on a quest.
She gathered all her questions
and put them to the test.
The survey she compiled
explored her subjects’ views:
Is our princess best for us?
Or does she mean bad news?
She totted up her subjects’ thoughts,
instead of just their taxes,
and plotted out her data points
upon an x-y axis.
Her findings showed the well-to-do
deemed her as good as queen,
while peasants only scraping by
saw her as cold and mean.
The princess is a scientist
who also wears a crown,
and when her research proved to her
how she’d let people down—
she handquilled heartfelt valentines
and slashed her lavish spending,
then gifted everyone a vote
to pick their happy ending!
10 . Hand-wrapped Love
I am love.
I am little Benny’s love.
I am little Benny’s love for his mom.
I am little Benny’s love for his mom, who needs to be gift-wrapped for Valentine’s Day!
Will Little Benny find something special enough to wrap me in?
I’m not sure…
Love deserves special wrapping, you know.
Little Benny drags me off on a hunt for the loveliest wrapping.
A cardboard box?
No thank you! Too hard for my soft, cushy bottom!
A watering can?
Not a chance! Too wet for my warm, sunny soul.
A pair of his favourite socks?
Never! Too dirty for my bright, gleaming heart.
“It’s hopeless, Little Benny!”
“I knew it, no wrapping is special enough!”
Am I not meant to be shared?
What is love if it isn’t shared?!
Little Benny calms me down.
Little Benny has a plan.
I have my doubts…
Love deserves special wrapping, you know.
But Little Benny convinces me to give it a try.
So we give it a try for Mom.
Carefully Little Benny wraps me up.
He wraps me in something soft but supportive, and cosy, but uncluttered.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom!”
Slowly, I am revealed,
As Little Benny opens his hands…
11. Convincing Cupid
When Cupid first chose Valentine’s
to be his holiday,
he hummed, “I’d love some extra help–
like Santa has his sleigh.”
Then *poof* within his hands appeared
an arrow and a bow.
“For me?” He asked bewildered
as the bow began to glow.
A voice from nowhere spoke aloud,
PLEASE ASK YOUR QUESTIONS NOW.
Then Cupid thought, I need to prove
these tools are safe. But how?
“Are these for extra help?” he starts.
THEY ARE. IT’S NOT A TRICK.
“Don’t arrows seem a little mean?”
THEY’RE STEALTHY AND THEY’RE QUICK.
“Will people notice they’ve been struck?”
THEY WON’T DETECT THAT PART.
“And where am I supposed to aim?”
The voice replies, THE HEART.
Then Cupid gasped dramatically.
“The heart?! Oh no, no, no!
I’m meant to help, not risk or hurt,
the place where love can grow!”
“There is no question,” he declared,
“I know what I must do.
I’ll test the arrow on myself
to tell me what is true!”
He watched the arrow tap his heart.
It made a gleaming mark.
Though Cupid did not sense its touch,
he felt a sudden spark!
“Of course!” He blushed and sang, “I love
this arrow and this bow!!!”
And on that Valentine’s became
the Cupid people know.
12. Tiny The Turtle
Tiny, the turtle, had a not-so-tiny fear
That nobody would be his friend for Valentine’s, this year.
His teacher, Mrs. Elephant -with not-so-tiny ears-
Had said he would get lots of cards from someone very dear.
“It’s Valentine’s,” she’d trumpeted, as elephants will do,
“A holiday of fun and treats, and cards with hearts for you!”
But Tiny -in his tiny shell, and tiny heart- just knew
That, out of all the animals, he’d get but one or two.
“I’ll have a bunch!” barked Douglas Dog, as sure as he could be.
Chirped Betty, quite the happy bird, “You won’t get more than me!”
And Cora purred, as cats like to, “I want three-hundred-three,
“From all my friends -and candy, too! Oooh! Just you wait and see!”
Tiny made some cards with hearts, to sadly give away.
With not-so-tiny fear, he thought, No one will care; will say,
“Thank you, Tiny. How’d you know? Come be my friend; come play!”
Poor Tiny, in his tiny heart, feared Valentine’s that day.
But Tiny’s doubts and Tiny’s fears; his not-so-tiny cares
All flew away, like Betty Bird, when he got to his chair –
For, at his desk, and on the floor, and falling everywhere;
Were valentines and candy hearts, from everyone. They cared!
13. TRICK OR TREAT?
Trevor held out a heart-shaped box. “Happy Valentine’s Day, sis!”
Claire pushed the box away. “I’m not falling for that again. I can still taste those chocolate-covered livers you gave me last year, and see those nasty worms crawling around from the year before.”
“I’m not that same prank-pulling little brother. I’ve matured. Trust me.”
She studied Trevor’s face. He looked sincere.
Nevertheless, Claire set the box on the table, an arm’s length away. She shielded her face as she flipped the lid.
Nothing. No explosion. No stink bomb.
“See,” Trevor said. “Just chocolates.”
“I’m not 100% convinced. You probably filled them with hot sauce.”
“Come on, Claire. You’re always talking about second chances. Trust me. Try one.”
Claire stared into Trevor’s eyes. No signs of trickery. She carefully picked up a chocolate, smelled it and then took a nibble. Mmm. She popped the whole piece in her mouth. Delicious! She ate another.
“Trevor, I’m sorry I doubted you.” Claire smiled and gave him a hug.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” said their mom, as she stepped into the room. “Claire, your teeth!” she gasped.
Trevor turned and dashed out of the house. Claire ran into the bathroom and screamed at her reflection, “Trevor! You are so going to get it…Trust ME!”
14. FIREWORKS AT DEADMAN’S BLUFF
Stripey scrambled to open his mail.
Normally his friends were careful not to surprise him because of his little problem.
It was a natural flight or fight response. All skunks had it, but his friends didn’t appreciate it.
That’s why Valentine’s Day was so special to Stripey. On this one day a year, his friends loved to surprise him with cards! Lots and lots of cards.
Stripey’s chest puffed out as he read them.
“You Rock my World”
“I Adore You”
“Wild about You”
But there was something odd about the last one. It wasn’t red, it didn’t have any hearts on it, and it didn’t even smell.
“Meet me at Deadman’s Bluff at Sunset. There will be fireworks!”
Stripey scratched his head. Surely this letter was meant for someone else. He checked the address.
“To Stripey T Skunk”
Stripey cringed. Skunks were not good with fireworks.
Stripey turned the letter over and over. Who would send him such a letter? He wouldn’t go of course.
But as the day grew longer, Stripey found himself on the path to Deadman’s Bluff. And at sunset, fireworks went off in his head.
For standing right there on top of Deadman’s Bluff was Sally, holding a big red love-heart. She was beautiful.
15. Land Meets Sea
Max the Labrador lived by the sea.
He liked to watch fishing boats
and run on the icy beach.
Max didn’t need anyone else,
especially not a valentine.
Until he met Nova.
She came into his life with a SPLASH.
she soaked his fur
when she jumped from the sea
and slid onto his beach.
Max wasn’t sure about Nova.
Was she the most amazing creature he’d ever seen?
Was she the perfect valentine?
Nova wasn’t a Labrador.
She wasn’t even a DOG.
She was a harp seal!
Max knew it would never work between them.
He had paws.
She had flippers.
He chomped on canned chow.
She munched on mackerel.
He liked living alone.
She had a colossal colony.
Was he tail over paws in love?
But when Nova asked, “Will you be my valentine?”
Max had to think.
He was land,
she was sea.
It could never work between them.
Max loved Nova.
Nova loved Max.
Maybe that was enough?
They both had fur, whiskers, and tails.
They could watch fishing boats together.
They could splash on the snowy shoreline together.
Did it really matter
if he was a Labrador
and she was a seal?
Max found his valentine
where land meets sea.
Oh. My. Goodness! Seriously tough choice, I know! But please choose the one you think is the best of all and vote for it in the poll below by Tuesday March 7 at 3 PM Eastern.
The winners and Honorable Mentions will be posted on Wednesday March 8 or Thursday March 9.
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! 😊
13 thoughts on “The 8th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest FINALISTS! – VOTE For Your Favorite!!!”
What a collection of stories!! I don’t know how you guys do it Susanna. Thanks for everything!
Wonderful finalists! I enjoyed them all!
Well, that was a challenge! But I voted!
I loved them all. Kinda like a Lay’s potato chip – hard to pick just one. Great job!
Reblogged this on Chel Owens and commented:
OH MY GOSH! I’M FINALLY A FINALIST!
Oh; and you can all read and vote for your favorite. In fact, I would highly encourage/demand you do. I’ve read through these all and know the work that went into crafting these tiny tales.
Congratulations to all finalists. It’s always hard to just choose one. Thanks to Susanna and her team for making it all possible.
Woo-hoo!!! Congratulations to the finalists!! And thanks so much, Susanna – you are INCREDIBLE! Just voted! 🎉🗳️❤️
Wow! That was really difficult to select just one! Thanks, Susanna and judges! 🙂
Thank you for all your work, Susanna and judges!
First of all, your ValenTiny Tail, uh, I mean Tale, is a winner, Susanna.
And ALL of these finalists are outstanding. Tough choice, indeed.
Thanks for all you put into these contests. I really appreciate you. 🙂
3. Mother’s Valentine Message
Oh, my stars, the voting was difficult! So many fabulously creative stories! But I picked one. Good luck to all!
Congratulations to all the finalists! It was hard to pick my favorite! Good luck to everyone!!