Perfect Picture Book Friday – Finding Spring

Look at that!  It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday again!

And just in time, too!

In keeping with my theme for this week (you know, the one where I insist that spring is coming in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary 🙂 ) I have the perfect book!

Finding Spring cover

Title: Finding Spring

Written & Illustrated By: Carin Berger

Greenwillow Books, January 2015, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (though I think a lot of 3 year olds would love it too 🙂 )

Themes/Topics: seasons (spring), animals (bears), perseverance, patience

Opening: “The forest was growing cold.  Mama said that soon it would be time to sleep, but all Maurice could think about was his first spring.

Brief Synopsis: Mama bear says it’s time to sleep, but all Maurice can think about is spring.  So when Mama goes to sleep, Maurice sets out to find it.  He has never seen spring, however, so he’s not really sure where to look or even what he’s looking for!

Finding Spring - interior

text and illustration copyright Carin Berger 2015

Links To Resources: take a nature walk and look for signs of spring; make up a list of signs of spring and check them off as they appear – is spring here yet?; How To Make A Diorama (video); Diorama Crafts For Kids; try making your own diorama about spring; make paper flowers; how to make tissue paper flowers (video)

Why I Like This Book: Every child on earth understands impatience – how hard waiting is, and how much more fun to take action!  Maurice is not deterred in the slightest by the fact that he doesn’t actually know what spring is.  He just looks until he knows he’s found it.  And he can tell he’s found it because it’s the most magical thing he’s ever seen!  Just wait until you see what it is (and no, I’m not telling! 🙂 )  The book is illustrated with dioramas and cut-paper collages and is just gorgeous – a feast for the eyes of kids and grown-ups alike.  A perfect choice for those of us currently longing for spring 🙂

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #245 – I Am… (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor Nov/Dec

Spring has sprung, peeps!  It’s official!

Hello Spring!


I am ignoring the fact that we have 2 feet of snow on the ground and the low temp tonight is supposed to be 7 (I don’t know who is in charge around here, but I’d like to suggest a change of personnel! 🙂 )  Pshaw! I say to the snow and the cold!  (Because actually I have never said Pshaw! but people in books do it all the time when they want to snort at something so I thought it would be fun to try it out.)  I refuse to pay heed to snow and cold and shall instead revel in thoughts of green grass, luxuriant blossoms, and cute baby animals 🙂

Now that we are all feeling suitably spring-y, I’m thrilled to be able to share Straight From The Editor with you today for the winner of the November/December 2016 Pitch Pick – Nadine with her PB pitch for Armadillo Pillow Fight.  You will recall her pitch:

Nadine – Armadillo Pillow Fight (PB ages 4-8)

It is Willow Armadillo’s birthday and she wants a pillow fight party.  She asks her friend to help spread the word of this nocturnal affair. Her animal friends mess up the message spreading details by accident.  Did Willow say to meet at the peat moss or where the streams cross?  Poor Willow. Hopefully she will have someone show up to her burrow tonight.

Here are editor Erin Molta’s thoughts:

This sounds like it could be cute. Though I’d  add a hint of more substance because otherwise the story is about a poor armadillo whose party invitations got messed up—which is humorous but pretty slight because if nobody comes to the party then story is over. Or if only some come, it’s still a matter not much more story. It could be as simple as working up to the party, sway, Willow Armadillo had everything ready for her party—perfect pillows, soft mattresses, twinking fairy lights and the most delicious birthday cake ever! But her friends got the details confused…

Something like that implies more of a story.

 Best of luck…

Thanks so much to Erin!  As always, I find her thoughts enlightening and I hope you do too!

I don’t know about you, but I’m starving!  Something Chocolate would sure hit the spot right about now!  Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars sound good to you?

YUM!  Me too! 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Lisa.  Lisa Katzenberger is an active member of SCBWI where she serves as the Social Media Co-Coordinator for the Illinois Region. She wrote short stories and novels for many years before her kids helped her discover the world of children’s literature. When she’s not taking care of her six-year-old twins, writing, or lingering on twitter for too long, she works as a freelance writer to fund the writing classes and conferences she is addicted to taking. Lisa is thrilled to be a part of the fun and supportive KidLit community.

Find her on the web at:

Twitter: @FictionCity

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: I Am…

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-6)

The Pitch: Giraffe gets scared by a spider and climbs a tree to hide. When his friend Zebra finds him, he listens to Giraffe and helps him work through his irrational fears, pointing out Giraffe’s strengths. But there’s one last problem Giraffe is facing, and he’s not sure he has the courage to admit it so he can get the help he needs.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Lisa improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)


Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read It in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in May, so you have a little time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and have a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

Lisa is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to wearing shorts and a tee shirt outside and not being cold.  I know… I’ve got a little bit of a wait yet… but I’m still looking forward to it! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


Perfect Picture Book Friday – Big Cat, Little Cat

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

Oh boy, do I have a gem to share with you today!

Perhaps this lovely book particularly appeals to me because its message of loving, losing, and new beginnings strikes a chord with me right now, but I think anyone and everyone can appreciate what it has to offer!  I wish I could show you the whole thing – every page! – but you’ll just have to trot right out to the library after PPBF! 🙂

Big Cat Little Cat

Title: Big Cat, Little Cat

Written & Illustrated By: Elisha Cooper

Roaring Brook Press, March 2017, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-6 years

Themes/Topics: friendship, cycle of life

Opening: “There was a cat who lived alone.  Until the day a new cat came…”

big cat little cat 2

copyright Elisha Cooper 2017

Brief Synopsis: Two cats become friends and do everything together until one day the older cat has to go…and he doesn’t come back.

Links To Resources:  draw a picture of you and your pet; write a story or poem about your pet; how would you describe your pet to someone who had never met it?  talk about what love means – is love for a pet the same as love for a sibling or friend or parent?  what are some things that let you know you love someone, or that someone loves you?  has a pet you loved ever died?  how did it make you feel?  what did you do to feel better?

Why I Like This Book: I LOVE this book.  It is the most beautiful, perfect, sweet book I’ve read in a long, long time.  186 words of sheer genius.  The kind of book every writer (well, at least this one!) dreams of writing.  A full, emotionally satisfying, complete story arc in less than 200 words.  Simple, yet so evocative.  Wonder and delight, learning and play, joy, contentment, friendship, love, grief, endings and beginnings – it’s all here.  The art is  a perfect complement – simple black and white drawings that convey personality, action, expression, and just enough detail, with one page in gray to show sadness, and a soft glow of pale butternut on just three pages to show warmth and contentment.  The text and art are also thoughtfully spaced to give time and distance where needed.  A lovely book to gently help children understand life, love, loss, new life and new love.  And writers, if you haven’t seen this book, rush out and read it – seriously I am not kidding! – a fabulous example of how to do it right!  Definitely in the “wish I wrote that!” category 🙂

big cat little cat 3

copyright Elisha Cooper 2017

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #244 -Fiona Flynn Finds Out (MG)

So, in a complete break with my usual MO, I am writing this post AHEAD OF SCHEDULE!

I know.

It boggles the mind.

But here’s my reasoning: every single weather service that exists appears convinced that we’ll be getting heavy snow in our area on Tuesday.  Heavy snow (or light snow… or a cloud… or an overzealous hummingbird in the wrong spot…) means my internet will most likely not be functioning for an extended period of time.  And I didn’t want this week’s scheduled pitcher to get bumped by bad weather.  So here I am, making sure the post is written and scheduled on Monday night, so that whatever my fickle, unreliable internet decides to do I will Be Prepared!

All that preparing ahead definitely earns us Something Chocolate… not to mention all the snow we’re going to have struggled through by the time you’re actually reading this!  So I think we need some Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust, don’t you?

I knew you’d think so.  And I think we can all agree that was definitely the right choice!  Feel free to help yourselves to seconds or thirds, especially if you had to do a lot of snow shoveling!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Alexandria who is the author of over a dozen children’s books, including the Scott O’Dell award winning Worth and Walking Home to Rosie Lee, a picture book about the heroic journey to reunify African American families after the emancipation proclamation. She teaching the MFA program in the Writing and Illustration for Children and Young Adults at Hollins University. You can catch up with her in her Facebook community, Sylvanocity, on Twitter, or her website.  ”

Find her on the web at:

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Fiona Flynn Finds Out

Age/Genre: Middle Grade (ages 8-12)

The Pitch: Fiona Flynn finally takes her long-awaited first horseback ride on the fiesty Snickers who canters right into her familial role as fairy physic—a physician to a magical world of animal guides who are in the fight for their lives against the evil goddess, Epona who seeks to destroy everything the fae protect and anyone who stands in her way. What can Fiona do to stop her?

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Alexandria improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)


Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read It in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in April, so you can get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and have a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

Alexandria is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to digging out from the snow and stepping lightly into spring! 🙂

Hope everyone who was in Stella’s path stayed safe and warm!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Rock Maiden

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Today we have a special treat!  Author Natasha Yim is blog touring with her brand new book and she has been kind enough to share her writing inspiration with us!

rock maiden

Title: The Rock Maiden – A Chinese Tale of Love And Loyalty

Written By: Natasha Yim

Illustrated By: Pirkko Vainio

Wisdom Tales, March 2017, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: retold legends/folktales, faith, hope

Opening: “There was once a beautiful maiden named Ling Yee.  She lived in Hong Kong, a fishing village on the southern coast of China.  All the young men in the village wanted to marry her.
But Ling Yee loved Ching Yin, a young fisherman.  She was touched by his kindness.  H often helped the old men pull in their boats and haul in their fish.

Brief Synopsis: From the publisher: “When her fisherman husband fails to come home after a storm at sea, the beautiful maiden Ling Yee is heartbroken. Every morning, she puts her baby on her back and clambers to the top of a cliff looking for any signs of his return. But day after day, she is disappointed. The villagers try to convince her to give up her vigil. “No,” she would say, “He will come home soon.” Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Heavens, takes pity on her grief and turns Ling Yee and her child into stone so that they would mourn no more. The fisherman eventually finds his way home―only to discover that his wife has been transformed into the Rock Maiden. Will the family forever be kept apart? Or will devotion and faithfulness ultimately be rewarded?”

Links To Resources:  The Rock Maiden is a retelling of an old Hong Kong legend.  What favorite folk tale, legend or other classic tale might you retell?  How would you do it?  Write your own!  Draw a picture that represents a favorite moment in one of your favorite folk tales or legends. The story of  The Rock Maiden explains how a certain rock came to be.  Write a story about how something you know of came to be – a specially shaped rock, like in The Rock Maiden, or a mountain range, or a lake or pond, or an ancient tree…

Special Resource!  A glimpse into inspiration and writing – author Natasha Yim shares her thoughts about how she became inspired to write the story of The Rock Maiden:

“The story of the Rock Maiden has been brewing in my head—and my heart— since my adolescent years growing up in Hong Kong. On occasional weekends, to get away from the bustle of city crowds, my parents would take the family to Sha Tin, a region in the New Territories, an area of Hong Kong that in the 1970s was still rural. We referred to it as our “countryside,” even though it was on the outskirts of a city of six million people.

On these weekend outings, we would often lunch or have afternoon tea at a hotel with an outdoor patio. From the patio, one could get a good view of the Amah Rock, a natural granite rock formation shaped like a woman with a baby on her back. In the lobby of the hotel was a plaque that told her story: how a young woman had lost her fisherman husband at sea and her faithful vigil on top of a hill looking for his return. Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, took pity upon her and turned her into stone so she wouldn’t mourn anymore.

This story captured my adolescent romantic fancy and on every outing to Sha Tin, I would gaze at the Amah Rock wondering what happened to this family. As I grew older, this woman and her baby continued to penetrate my thoughts from time to time. I knew that one day, I’d write her story.

Years later, when I did sit down to write this tale, I was writing for children and imagined it as a picture book. However, I thought it was a bit too sad and depressing as a story for kids to have her end up as a rock on top of a hill. So, I re-envisioned the story with a happier ending.

I created the story about twelve years ago, but it’s had a difficult time finding its way to publication. Many of the rejections I received said it was a lovely tale but too “quiet” or that it doesn’t have a child protagonist or that folk tales are a “hard sell” as standalone picture books.

One of the lessons I’ve learned as a writer is that if a story sinks its teeth into me and won’t let go, I must write it. And two, every story has to have a champion to help it find its way into the world. First, the writer who feels compelled to write it, and then the editor/publisher who feels its voice needs to be heard. For this reason, I am grateful to Wisdom Tales Press for their vision, insights, and support of The Rock Maiden.

I hope children around the world will enjoy the story of the Amah Rock as much as I did as a child.”

Why I Like This Book: I love retellings of classic tales – especially tales I’m unfamiliar with.  This one, though sad for a while, is a story of love, faith and hope.  And in Natasha’s retelling, it has a happy ending in which love overcomes all obstacles.  The art is so beautiful – delicate and stunning – a perfect complement to the story!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

The other stops on Natasha’s blog tour are listed below, in case you are interested in finding out more about Natasha and her wonderful new book!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

MARCH 3: Jeff Barger, NC Teacher Stuff
MARCH 7: Sheryl Hagan-Booth, Booth Talks Books
MARCH 10: Susanna Hill, Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog
MARCH 14ReaderKidZ, reviewer Nancy Bo Flood
MARCH 20: MaryAnn Scheuer, Great Kid Books
MARCH 22: Pam Margolis, An Unconventional Librarian
MARCH 28: Stephanie Kammeraad, Mama-Lady-Books

Would You Read It Wednesday #243 -Riley And The Haunted Cupboard (PB)

Good Wednesday to you, everybody!

Before we get to our pitch today, I just have to share something fun… please forgive me my little moment of giddy excitement 🙂

Look what showed up on Sunday!



It’s so thrilling to see!  I think it’s so cute, and Erica did such a great job!  And I’m told that the wheel on the cover will actually spin!!!  How fun is that???

Okay.  I’m done.  Thank you for indulging me! 🙂

Let’s celebrate with Something Chocolate, shall we?  That’s your reward for listening to me gush over my book cover 🙂  Today I think we have to go with Millionaire’s Shortbread.  “Sweet simple, crisp shortbread, rich chewy, homemade caramel, and thick dark chocolate ganache…”  How, I ask, can you possibly go wrong with THAT?!  Even if you have no clue what a ganache actually is? 🙂


Recipe HERE at

There’s really no possible way any of us are stopping at one of those, so please help yourself to five or six to sustain you through sharing your thoughts with Traci followed by an exceptionally productive morning of writing!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Traci who says, “I write picture books and ghostly young adult full time. Ghost stories are my favorite to read and tell to my family and their friends. Social media posts, media clips, and movies that have happy animals in them will keep me entertained for hours. Promoting authors and illustrators on social media makes me happy because I want to help get quality literature into the hands of as many children as I can.”

Find her on the web at:
Twitter @1967BoldWriter
My webpage :
Facebook: Traci Bold :

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Riley And The Haunted Cupboard

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: What started out as fun game of hide-and-seek with his dog, Scout, turns hairy when creepy noises coming from the cupboard under the stairs force Riley to face more than one fear.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Traci improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)


Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read It in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in April, so you could get your pitch up for some helpful feedback pretty quick and have a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

Traci is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to actually holding a copy of THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT in my hands and trying out that spinning wheel!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


Perfect Picture Book Friday – Waiting For Pumpsie

Hey Everyone!

After our weeks off for the Valentiny Contest, it’s finally Perfect Picture Book Friday!

And as I believe I mentioned on Wednesday… and am likely to keep mentioning 🙂 … spring is right around the corner.  (I am choosing to ignore the fact that the weather people in this neck of the woods are predicting a decidedly un-spring-like 8 degrees tonight!)  With spring comes baseball, so what better time for a book about baseball – with some history and civil rights to make it even better?!

I hope you’ll enjoy today’s Perfect Picture Book which comes to us from a talented debut author with more titles coming soon!


Title: Waiting For Pumpsie

Written By: Barry Wittenstein

Illustrated By: London Ladd

Charlesbridge, February 2017,  historical fiction

Suitable For Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: civil rights/race relations, sports (baseball)

Opening: “I’m Bernard, and I’m crazy, crazy, crazy about the Red Sox.  Everybody in Boston is.  It’s just something you get born into.  We’re lucky, I guess.
We always want the Sox to win.  But Mama says we gotta root for all the colored players, no matter what team they’re on.

Brief Synopsis: From the jacket: “It’s 1959.  Bernard lives in Boston, and he dreams about a day when a baseball player who looks like him will play for his beloved Red Sox.  Bernard’s mother says change is coming soon.  Bernard’s father says she’s always right.  But they are all disappointed when no black player is called up from the minors to start the season.”  Will Bernard ever get to see someone like him play for the Sox?

Links To Resources: back matter in the book includes an author’s note with historical information; list of first black players on every MLB team with photos and bios; history for kids – civil rights movements; with your children or students, discuss a time when they were unfairly excluded from something – how did it make them feel? draw a picture of the situation, write a letter to the person who excluded them, or write a poem about how it felt.


Why I Like This Book: I love books that give young readers a slice of history encapsulated in an engaging story.  One of the best things about this book is Bernard’s voice.  Although he’s a fictional character, he feels real.  He sounds believable.  His enthusiasm for baseball in general and the Red Sox in particular comes through clearly, along with his acute awareness that his team is the only holdout in the major leagues – the only team that has yet to play an African-American.  When at last Pumpsie Green gets his chance, helping the Red Sox to a win, Bernard and his family are there to witness the historic moment.  I think my favorite line in the book is: “The Sox win.  After the game, I stop walking for a minute and turn around.  I look at Fenway and the crowd and tell my eyes to take a picture.”  Isn’t that just wonderful?  Haven’t we all had moments like that when we try to commit every single detail to memory so we’ll never forget?  A wonderful choice for baseball fans, young historians, or anyone who likes a good story!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂


Would You Read It Wednesday #242 – Lizards Got Talent (PB)

Hello, Everybody!

Can you believe it’s March 1???

How did that happen already?!

I, for one, am tickled pink about it even if I have little to show for January and February 🙂  Because if today is March 1, that means spring is right around the corner and I am a HUGE fan of spring 🙂

I had this clever plan that I was going to start my newsletter on March 1 but, well, here we are and I haven’t figured out the whole MailChimp newsletter thing yet so… maybe by April?  I need a clone so I can do twice as much work in half the time!  Although actually, not a clone – I need the other version of myself to be WAY savvier at technology! 🙂 Among other things! 🙂

I don’t need a clone to enjoy chocolate, however, so let’s do that, shall we?  Grab your spoons and dive into this Something Chocolate – a thing of true beauty!

Chocolate Brownie And Mousse Trifle

Ah!  That’s trifle the way it should be!!!  YUMMMM!!!

Now then, if you can all bestir yourselves from the chocolate coma that scrumptious breakfast probably pulled you into, let’s have a look at today’s pitch which comes to us from Robin, whom you will remember from January with her pitch for No More Turnips!  Robin leads the children’s departments of Midwestern public libraries providing reference and literacy foundations to the smallest patrons and supporting their parents. Mid life, she was called to ordained ministry as a parish pastor. She continues to read to children as a volunteer in developing countries and writes stories to read and read again! Robin is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

Find her on the web at:

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Lizards Got Talent

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: It’s Talent Show time at the Academy of Flickcraft and Lizardry! The geckos and skinks polish their acts in the rain forest, except for Chameleon whose talent is…nothing. (In a very colorful way!)

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Robin improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)


Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read It in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in February, so you have a little time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and have a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

Robin is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to figuring out that MailChimp newsletter thing…eventually!  And of course I am looking forward to spring which is now, technically, only 19 days away! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


2017 Valentiny Contest Winners!!!


It’s Friday!

And you know what THAT means! . . .

. . .

It’s National Tortilla Chip Day!

It is!  I would not tease you by making something like that up!  If you don’t believe me, you can go check!

It is also the 178th anniversary of Mr. William S. Otis receiving a patent for the steam shovel!

And as I’m sure you all know, the invention of the steam shovel is of EXTREME historical import not because of stuff like the Panama Canal but because without it we would never would have had MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL! 🙂

(And did you know that William’s cousin Elisha thought up the elevator ?- those Otises were clever boys!)


Today is also featherweight boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s 40th birthday, so we should probably have cupcakes 🙂


All around great day, wouldn’t you say?


Thanks so much for stopping by!  Hope you all have a great weekend!



Oh wait.


I have this nagging feeling I may have forgotten something . . .


think.  Think!  THINK!!!


OHHHHH yeahhhhhhhh!!!!!



Seems like maybe we have a few winners to announce, and prizes to give away! 🙂

We had a great turnout for the 2nd Annual Valentiny Contest – 117 entries!

I was thrilled beyond measure to see so many wonderful stories and meet so many new writers!

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

There were, however, many other entries that were well-written, entertaining and very enjoyable even though they might not have made the finalists for one reason or another (one reason being that, at a certain point, we just had to stop adding finalists to the list! :))

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

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole:
All the terrific entries on this longer-than-usual list were well-written and within a hair’s breadth of being chosen for the finalist list and were cut for the nit-pickiest of details and judges’ inability to reach a unanimous consensus!

Meagan Friedman for Bob’s Valentine Dilemma

Jill Proctor for Val N. Tine’s Day

Kimberly Delude for The Shape Of Love (also original POV – shapes!)

Leslie Liebhart Goodman for Showing Love

Anne Sawan for What Is Love?

Cathy Ballou Mealey for Something’s Fishy – A Valentiny Tale (also clever and funny!)

Molly Golden McDonough for Fiona’s Day (also likable/relatable character!)

Jim Jones for Balingtine Day Mix Up

Congratulations to the All-Around Honorable Mention Winners!  Because of the outstanding quality of your entries, you are eligible for one of the 3 following special prizes should you prefer one of them to the regular honorable mention prize options below.

The Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman (for Kindle), OR

Writing For Children And Teens by Cynthea Liu (paperback), OR

$10 Amazon gift card

2.  For Fabulously Written Entry That Didn’t Seem Quite Confusing Enough But We Otherwise Loved:

Linda Evans Hofke for Punny Bunny’s Valentine Dilemma 

Vivian Kirkfield for A Valentine’s Day Cake For The Queen (also great use of language!)

Ingrid Boydston for Oh My Darling Valentine

Kimberly Delude for Ways To Say I Love You (also very sweet for younger readers!)

Allison Alley for Inseparable (also original POV – 2 halves of friendship necklace!)

Penelope Aaron for Abuelita’s Valentine’s Day Surprise (also lovely incorporation of Spanish!)

Jana Locke for Vampy’s Val-o-ween

Christyne Elizabeth for Love Makes Me Sick


3. For Stories That Had Us Until The Ending (for one reason or another):

Terri Ross for Mr. Zombie’s Undying Love (also great character!)

Christine Evans for A Martian Valentine (also humorous!)

Although in other contests here prizes are often awarded for best character or humor or kid appeal etc, in this particular contest the entries that would have qualified were chosen for overall good writing, so we did not feel the need for the extra smaller categories.


Congratulations to all of you for your wonderful stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com, subject line Prize Winner to collect your prize, which is your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they’re about)

Please email your HM prize choice within 2 weeks so we can wrap up the contest in a timely fashion 🙂

For Kindle:

Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

How To Query An Agent Or Editor: A Children’s Writer’s Insider Guide From Mentors For Rent by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Getting Published: How To Access Editors: A Children’s Writer’s Insider Guide From Mentors For Rent by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

The Easy Way To Write Picture Books That Sell by Robyn Parnell OR

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi , OR

The Postitive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To City Spaces by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Personal And Natural Places by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

The Ultimate Fiction Thesaurus by Sam Stone OR

In paperback:
if you choose an item that has to be mailed, please include your snail mail address 🙂

The Six Senses In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Bleak To Bold Narrative by Jessica Bell OR

Adverbs And Cliches In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions Of Adverbs & Cliches Into Gourmet Imagery by Jessica Bell OR

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt, OR

Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard


Now then.  A word about the prizes before I announce the winners.

We have 10 fabulous prizes, generously donated by authors and various professionals in the writing field.  My policy is to let the first place winner have first pick of all the prizes, the second place winner have second choice, etc.  That way hopefully nobody gets something they already have, and hopefully everyone gets something that’s valuable to them.  All prizes are listed at the bottom of this post for your convenience in perusing the goodies 🙂  Since we had a problem with follow-through in the last contest, I’d like to ask that winners who choose a critique please be sure to use it within a month so that the professionals who are generously donating their time and expertise are not left hanging! 🙂

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

…THE WINNERS OF THE 2017 VALENTINY CONTEST as chosen by you, our esteemed voters!!!!!

In First Place

Winner of the whole shebang…

who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Kayla Prochnow

Love Bug

Congratulations, Kayla, on a fabulous entry that was all around well done, and clearly very popular!!! 🙂

In Second Place

Ryan Roberts
Banana In Love: A Valentiny Knock-Knock Story!!!

Congratulations, Ryan!!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Kayla makes her choice.

In Third Place

Heather Kinser
Valentine Crush

Congratulations, Heather!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Kayla and Ryan choose theirs.

In Fourth Place

Geoffrey Hyatt
Misaki’s First Valentine

Congratulations, Geoffrey!  You get to pick after Kayla, Ryan, and Heather.

In Fifth Place

Jilanne Hoffman
Cupid’s Heart Finds A Home

Congratulations, Jilanne!  You get to pick after Kayla, Ryan, Heather, and Geoffrey.

In Sixth Place

Katie Frawley

Congratulations, Katie!  I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂

In Seventh Placea tie!!! between

          Colleen Murphy                       and                                      Katelyn Aronson
                     for                                                                                              for
    Sebastian, Say Something                                          Lilla, Not Just Vanilla (A Tiny Self-Love Story)

Congratulations, Colleen and Katelyn!  You get to pick next – we’ll negotiate 🙂

In Ninth Place,

Jen Garrett
Never Text A Valentine

Congratulations, Jen, on a humorous entry!  You get to pick your prize after Colleen and Katelyn.

In Tenth Place,

Aileen Stewart
A Mixed Up Valentine

Congratulations, Aileen!  You get to pick a prize after Jen!


And, I don’t think I need to remind anyone that in addition to all these fabulous prizes, everyone mentioned on this page has bragging rights as having won or placed in the 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Contest!  Not just anyone can say that 🙂

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  Finalists who did not finish in the top 10 (David, Joanne) may also contact me for their choice of the Kindle or paperback prizes listed above.

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a standing ovation, a glitter heart confetti parade, and a large amount of Valentine chocolate 🙂

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

Have a terrific weekend everyone, and thanks again for making the 2nd Annual Valentiny Contest such a smashing success and a wonderful time for all! 🙂


The Prizes:

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from “Dear Editor” Deborah Halverson!!!

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from children’s literary agent Jodell Sadler!!!

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from Andria Rosenbaum, author of the forthcoming Trains Don’t Sleep (May 2017) and Big Sister, Little Monster (September 2017) as well as others!!!

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from children’s author Jodi McKay!!!

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from Amy Dixon, author of Marathon Mouse, Sophie’s Animal Parade, and the forthcoming Maurice The Unbeastly!!!

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from children’s author Jason Kirschner!!!

–  A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from Children’s Author Vivian Kirkfield!!!

– A Query Letter Read and Critique from SubIt Club founder Heather Ayris Burnell!!!

– a personalized signed copy of Jodi McKay’s delightful Where Are The Words?

– a personalized signed copy of Diana Murray‘s wonderful (and very seasonally appropriate!) Groggle’s Monster Valentine

Once again, please join me in thanking Deborah, Jodell, Andria, Jodi, Amy, Jason, Vivian, Heather, and Diana for their incredible generosity, and show your appreciation by visiting their sites, buying and recommending their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, writing them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and showing your appreciation to them in any way you can!  I truly can’t thank them all enough!

The 2nd Annual Valentiny Contest FINALISTS!!!

Okay.  So this is the part where we pretend it’s Monday morning instead of Monday fashionably late evening 🙂

(Don’t look at the clock!  You’re only imaging that it’s nearly midnight and basically Tuesday for all intents and purposes!)

You have only yourselves to blame!

There we were. . .

Three innocent judges minding our own business, confident in our ability to choose a group of finalists for this contest, happily gobbling heart-shaped chocolates whilst sipping delicious coffee from writerly-themed mugs, glasses perched, pens in hand, ready to make informed decisions, and . . .

. . . WHAM!!!

We were blind-sided by such a landslide of unrivaled entries that we quickly found ourselves overwhelmed by awesomeness to the point where we had to drag in an extra judge to help settle disputes that threatened to become physically violent!

A certain amount of knock-down-drag-out-fighting confusion ensued over what, exactly, constituted “confusion” as opposed to frustration, indecision, lack of knowledge,  coordination and/or ability, or just plain ole mystery!  Someone, (ahem!), should have thought more carefully before choosing confusion as the emotion.  It will NOT happen again! 🙂

If it weren’t for the quick thinking of Judge #1 (moi) who cleverly thought to break up the fight with a box of glazed chocolate Munchkins (no comment on exactly how those Munchkins were used to break up said fight, but let’s just say some of us grew up with brothers and have experience with sling shots and very precise aim… 🙂 ), or it might have ended in injury!

Luckily for all involved, a little Munchkin magic was worked, we all simmered down, and by some miracle we managed to come to some kind of contentious consensus.

May I present to you . . .

The 2nd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest




And may I just say, once again, that the quality of entries in these contests is improving every time.  This means there are fewer obvious standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there a LOT of very good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over!  It is agony, I tell you!  Hence the Munchkin mayhem!

Before we get to the actual list of finalists, I have a couple things to say.  (I know you’re shocked as I’m normally such a girl of few words :))

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for many!

Second, I’d also like to thank EVERYONE – writer, reader, or both – who took the time to go around and read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments.  This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories.  It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed.  I hope you all got as much delight  and entertainment out of the reading as I did!  Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! 🙂

Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 214 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Now.  Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using confusion and success in making us feel the confusion!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

We really tried to choose stories that did the best job of fulfilling ALL the judging criteria.  There were some truly wonderful stories that didn’t have much to do with Valentines Day (remember – it was supposed to be a Valentines Day Story for kids), or didn’t seem to really showcase confusion, or didn’t seem particularly kid-oriented even though they were very creative and well-written, or that really had us…until the last line or two when things sadly fell apart.  We tried our best to select finalists that checked all the boxes.

So without further ado, I present to you the finalists in the 2017 Second Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite in the poll below by Thursday February 23 at 12 PM (noon) Eastern time.

To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.

And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the most confused baby in the playpen or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  I thank you in advance for respecting this.

#1 Banana In Love: A Valentiny Knock-Knock Story

Banana gathered his courage. Flowers in hand, he stepped up to Orange’s door.
Knock! Knock!
“Who’s there?”
“Banana who?”
“Banana who?!? I live next door!”
“Are you the red, shiny, popular guy who brought me flowers last week?”
“No…” Banana sighed and glanced at his flowers. “That’s Apple.”
“Oh. Are you the short, funny, fuzzy guy who brought me chocolates?”
“No!” Banana rolled his eyes. “That’s Kiwi!”
“Aw. So, you’re the squishy guy, who wrote me that poem, ‘What It Means to Be a Fruit’?”
“No, no, no! That’s Tomato! Look, never mind. I’m gonna split.”
“Wait!” shouted Orange. “If you’re not them… By chance, are you the tall, yellow, handsome guy that I find so….”
Orange flung open the door.
Banana and Orange looked into each other’s eyes.
Banana cleared his throat. “Orange, you going to be my Valentine?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”

#2 A Mixed Up Valentine

Charlie Thomas carefully cut and pasted, glittered and glued, wrote and colored. Then, he sat back and admired the valentine he’d made for Rose. Charlie had adored Rose since Kindergarten, and every year he created a special card just for her.

When he finished admiring the card, he carefully placed it on her desk and returned to his seat. Just then, Sam passed down that aisle. The breeze he created when passing caused the card to float to the floor next to Jenny’s desk.

Jenny entered the class shortly afterwards and noticed what she thought was a note. She picked it up, looked around, and decided it was for her. Carefully she unfolded the heart shaped card and began to read. She smiled at the signature that said__ Love Charlie.

Jenny had adored Charlie Smith since kindergarten. She walked to Charlie’s desk, bent down so they were eye to eye, and hugged him around his neck. Charlie turned bright red. He wasn’t sure why Jenny had hugged him, but he had admired her since kindergarten, so he didn’t mind at all.

#3 Lilla, Not Just Vanilla (A Tiny Self-Love Story)

Lilla was a plain, ol’, donut hole.
Whenever a fancier donut rolled by, her tummy ached.
Strawberry icing…chocolate coating…snazzy sprinkles…nut topping…coconut flakes…
“I don’t even have a sugar glaze,” she sniffed.
“Cheer up, lil’ lump!” said Mini Muffin. “You’re just…vanilla. Vanilla is exotic! Vanilla comes from Madagascar.”
“But I don’t wanna be ‘just vanilla’!’” said Lilla.
She wanted to be a little something extra. But extra what?
On Valentine’s Day, Lilla decided a makeover was just the treat she needed.
She took the Rainbow Sprinkle Plunge.
The sprinkles wouldn’t stick.
She showered in powdered sugar.
She even went cinny-dipping.
Lilla lolled about, lost. Her tummy only ached more.
She rolled, roly-poly-slowly, to the doctor’s.
“Flavor?” said Dr. Cruller.
“Plain,” said Lilla.
“Hmm…”  Flummoxed, Dr. Cruller ran one final test.
“Well, well, well. You aren’t so ‘plain’ after all, Lilla.”
Lilla peered at the x-ray. She saw a secret kiss of raspberry jelly, baked right inside her.
“I’m a surprise-inside kind of cake?!” she cried.
“No one will ever know unless you smile,” he said.
Lilla’s tummy ache faded.
BOING! She bounced out of the doctor’s, beaming.
“MINI! I’m not JUST vanilla!”
And from then on, everybody knew it.

#4 Never Text A Valentine

Happy V-Day to my BESTIE! Won’t you bovine?


No, I mean pea vine.
Stupid auto car wreck.

Are you OK?
What happened?

BFF? Are you there?
Hey! Why don’t you answer???

Sorry, phone died.

How did the car get wrecked?

What are you talking about?

You said your auto got in a car wreck.

What? No!  The car’s fine.


It’s my phone. Keeps autocorrecting my worms.

Oh, gotcha.

I was trying to say

TY! Slime to you!

Um gist going to call.



#5 Sebastian, Say Something

Nell held in her hands three Valentine’s cards
She made in her class during Art.
Miss Polly, her teacher, had helped her to trace,
Then carefully cut out each heart.

Nell glued them on paper she’d folded in half.
Miss Polly had said they looked good.
She wrote on each inside, “I love you so much!”
As well as an eight-year old could.

But now as she held them, while perched on the bed
She slept in the end of each week,
Nell said to Sebastian, her step-mother’s cat,
“Sebastian, I wish you could speak!”

“I know I have known you for only two years.
And clearly, at first I was mad.
I wanted my parents to stay as they were,
But your mommy married my dad.

“I hated to come here; I hated you all.
Leaving my mother was hard,
But your mommy, Susan’s, been ever so nice.
Now, I want to give her this card.

“Sebastian, the problem’s my mother still cries.
I’m worried what harm I might do
By giving to Susan this Valentine’s card
And telling her I love her too.

“So, give me some signal, a simple meow
Or purr to convince me I’m right,
But hurry Sebastian; she’s coming in soon
To hug me and kiss me goodnight!”

#6 Too Many Mannys

“Look,” said Manny Mooney. “I found a valentine on Penny Pepper’s desk. It says, ‘For my marvelous Manny. You do the funniest things!’”

“It must be for me,” said Manny Mackey. “I mimic messy monkeys.”

“Or, it could be for me,” said Manny Meany. “I march through muddy muck.”

“No, it’s for me,” said Manny Murphy. “I make myself milkshake mustaches.”

“You forget about me,” said Manny Mitty. “I moo to mixed-up music.”

“And what about me,” said Manny Moony. “I mumble with a mouthful of mini-marshmallows.”

All five Mannys held onto the valentine and performed their funny feats.

Penny Pepper pranced in and was perfectly perplexed.

“What are you doing with my valentine?” She asked.

All of the Mannys answered at once, “I’m proving this valentine was meant for me.”

“Oh,” said Penny Pepper, “this valentine is not for Manny Mackey, Manny Meany, Manny Murphy, Manny Mitty, OR Manny Mooney.”

“But there are no more Mannys” said the many Mannys.

“If you look closer,” said Penny Pepper, “this valentine says, ‘For my marvelous Mommy.’ I’m bringing this one home.”

#7 A Picture-Perfect Valentine

Moose eyed the pile of valentines. On top was a handmade card from Maya. Honestly, he was surprised to see any valentines, let alone one from Maya.

On the card, she’d drawn a doughnut with sprinkles. “Sweet?” Moose whispered. “Sweetie? Sweet Thing?”

Next was a picture of something with wings. “A bee,” thought Moose.

Below that, a drawing of Maya herself. Moose stared, confused.

Why would Maya give him a valentine? He broke her crayons and stole her snacks. Well, not every day. “Sweetie, be mine.”

Moose grinned.

“Thanks for the valentine,” he told Maya. Now Maya looked confused. “I figured it out. See? Something sweet…”

“A doughnut,” Maya corrected.

“And a bee.”


“And that’s you,” Moose continued.

“Well, sure, but…”

“So the message is, ‘Sweetie, be mine!'”

“Actually,” said Maya, her nose wrinkling, “that’s just a bug. Get it? ‘Donut bug me,’ like, leave me alone and don’t steal my candy today.” Maya walked away, shaking her head.

Moose blushed. He sank into a chair. Then he noticed another valentine on his desk, two candy hearts glued to construction paper. One said, “PUPPY LOVE.” The other said, “NO WAY.”  Signed, Chloe.

“No way,” he repeated. “Not puppy love? Then it must be true love.”

“Hey, Chloe,” he shouted “thanks for the valentine!”

#8 Cupid’s Heart Finds A Home

Dear Stupid Cupid,

Last year, you gave me a green candy cane. I barfed. Please don’t do that again.

Disgustedly Yours,



Dear Hurty Gertie,

You hurt my feelings. It’s not nice to call someone stupid.

Sorry you’ve been sick. I know nothing about candy canes or the color green. I only know about chocolate, the color red, and hearts. Maybe you have me confused with someone else?




Dear Clueless and Confused Cupid,

Sorry to hurt your feelings, but I’m sure it was you. Speaking of red, you wear a red suit, don’t you?




Dear Gertie,

No, I wear my birthday suit.


Bare-bunned Cupid


Dear Birthday Suit Cupid,

Now I’m confused. My birthday’s in June, but I got the candy cane in December, along with a bunch of toys. Does your mom really let you go outside naked?




Dear Gertie,

I have no family, no home. I’m just a lonely cherub, spreading love and chocolate around the world, not toys.




Dear Sad and Homeless Cupid,

Please come live with me! You can sleep in my room, and I’ll give you clothes to wear. We’ll hide the chocolates under my bed.

Your friend,



Dearest Gertie,

On my way! Happy Valentine’s Day!

All my love,


#9 Misaki’s First Valentine

Misaki hugged her mother goodbye, went into school, and hung her coat. She was surprised to find many little envelopes and papers waiting in her locker. They were pink and red and white, and many were cut in the shape of hearts. On each there was writing — English letters that Misaki could not read yet.

Holding these pretty papers, Misaki walked into her classroom. She saw her friends were holding their own pink and red and white papers. She watched as Rosa handed a red heart to Sophia, and Caroline gave a pink note to Ramin.

Misaki looked at the papers in her hand. She wanted to keep them all, but she picked a white heart with red writing and gave it to Oskar.

Oskar smiled and gave it back. “This is your Valentine, Misaki. You don’t give it away. Ramin made this one for you. We give cards to our special friends on Valentine’s Day.”

Misaki looked again at her friends giving cards to each other. She smiled at Oskar, and took a red paper from the art tray. Misaki made 14 quick folds, just as her grandmother had taught her, and the paper became a delicate red heart. Misaki placed it in Oskar’s hand and said, “You are a special friend.”

#10 Valen-Rhymes

Hi, Didi!
Hi, Gogo! Want to help make valentines?
Sure! What do I do?
You draw a little picture, and write a little poem. Like this:
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you!

Neat! Let me try.
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet.
So brush your teeth later!
No, no, no. That doesn’t rhyme.
It doesn’t?
No. It has to rhyme.
It does?
Of course! Like BLUE – YOU – SHOE – TRUE. Those words rhyme!
If you say so.
Let’s try again.
Violets are blue.
Roses are red.
I dream of our friendship
Each night in my…

No, not sleep. Bed! Like RED – BED – HEAD – FRED.
Who’s Fred?
Fred is no one.
Then why are you writing him a valentine?
Jiminy Cupids, Gogo! Pay attention.
Okay. I’m ready.
Are you sure?
Daises are white.
Some roses are too.
If I were a cow
I would stand here and…

Forget it! I give up! You CANNOT rhyme!
What is it, Gogo?
I made this for you.
Didi, you’re special.
You are my best friend.
I know I’m no poet.
But I love you a lot.
Oh, Gogo. Thank you.
Did I do it right?
You did it perfectly.

#11 Valentine Crush

I hope you’ll be my valentine.
You’re not so sure? I see.
You wonder why the card I gave
is crushed and crumpled?


I fashioned it with you in mind–
with paper, sequins, glue–
then gently walked it to your house.
The next part’s strange, but true…

I tried to place it in your box.
(Yes, that’s what I had planned.)
Just then, a sentimental ape
removed it from my hand!

She lumbered down the street so fast
(your note crushed in her fist).
She seemed to think she’d won my heart
but in a crazy twist

a magpie spied your valentine
as ruby sequins flashed.
It stole her heart! She stole your card,
flew far away…

then crashed.

A smitten chipmunk found your note
and stuffed it down a hole.
It would have stayed there–disappeared–
except a lovelorn mole

insisted it was in his way
and swept it from his floor.
It popped up at my feet. What luck!
I bolted to your door.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts,
so don’t look so confused.
This valentine’s a fine design
it’s just a little…used.

And anyhow, it demonstrates
the kind of love I feel.
This crushed-up valentine is proof–
my crush on you is real!

#12 Love Bug

My sister Anna has been acting funny all day, working on some top secret card.
She’s been humming to herself, giggling, and was nice to me!
Anna even shared her Valentine’s chocolate with me.
Something must be wrong.

“Anna was bit by the love bug,” Mom said.
“Gross!” I said. I HATE bugs.
“Is she going to the doctor?” I asked. My Mom just giggled. Maybe she was bit too.

I wanted to find this bug.

I went outside with my butterfly net and a jar of leaves. This bug was mine.

I swished and I swooshed the net around until it was crawling with critters to fill up my jar.

Caterpillar, no.
Cricket, no.
Beetle, no.
Dragonfly, no.
Lady bug, no—Wait! The lady bug has a heart shaped spot on its wing! Love bug!

I was so excited that I ran inside to show Anna the love bug that bit her.

There was a boy sitting at the kitchen table with her eating cookies. Anna handed him the secret Valentine’s card, and he gave her one back. They were both giggling. She must be contagious!

“Who’s that???” I asked.

“That’s the love bug, sweetie,” Mom said smiling.

“Gross!”, I said. The only thing worse than bugs are boys!


Now that you’ve had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 12PM EST Thursday February 23.

Tune in Friday February 24 to see THE WINNERS!!!

Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote!  These contests simply wouldn’t be what they are without all of you!

I can’t wait to see who the winners will be!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to a tropical island paradise to recover from all that reading and agonizing and negotiating.


Not really.

I will actually be frantically trying to catch up on things I shoved to the back burner whilst reading Valentiny stories… right after I meet a dear writer friend for lunch and spend a good portion of the day gabbing since we have a LOT to catch up on and we have been waiting WEEKS to get together!  But after that, yes, definitely back to work! 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday everyone!!! . . . now that it’s Tuesday 🙂