PoP Goes My Heart! The Second Annual Valentiny Writing Contest Is Here!!!

2/19/17 PM Note to Contestants: Sorry! Due to various circumstances finalists will not be posted by 3 AM Monday as hoped.  Judges are trying for late day Monday 2/20 or Tuesday 2/21!  Apologies for keeping you waiting!

(Hope everyone enjoys the blog title nod to Music & Lyric’s fictional band PoP 🙂 )

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Hang onto your chocolate everyone!  It’s time for . . .

The Second Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

valentinywriting-contest2017

Valen-tiny because the stories are not very long and are written for little people 🙂

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is confused!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone confused (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to submit more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Tuesday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Would You Read It or Perfect Picture Book Friday until the contest is over, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section below. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! Please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email – no attachments!)  Please only post your entry ONCE! Either on your blog and the associated link list, or in the comment section of my post!  Otherwise it gets confusing 🙂  Oh, and please, everyone, DO give yourself credit for your work and put your names on your entries so I know who wrote it (fun as it is to try to guess who pokypig379 or harrassedmomof7 is 🙂 )

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday February 20th.   The winner will be announced by Friday February 24th. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using 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! 🙂

The Prizes:  Oh. My. Goodness! do we have fabulous prizes!  If these don’t motivate you to write your best, I don’t know what will! 🙂  It’s a complete critiquefest!

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

author-photo-halverson_green_closeup_3x4-450x321

“Dear Editor” Deborah Halverson

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

jodell-sadler

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!!!

mr-particular

–  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?

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!

So now it’s time for me to post my little sample.  Prepare yourselves 🙂

A Valentiny Mistake (214 words)

The Monday before Valentines, Tilly found a heart-shaped note on her desk. You’re sweet. W
“I think it’s from Wendell,” she told Millie.
Tilly batted her eyelashes at Wendell.
Wendell stuck his tongue out at her.
“Maybe not,” said Millie.
On Tuesday another note said You smell delicious. W
Do I smell delicious?” Tilly asked Millie doubtfully.
Millie sniffed. “I think so,” she said loyally. “You smell like glue and crayons.”
“I’m making a Valentine for Walter,” explained Tilly, tossing her hair in Walter’s direction. “Maybe it’s him.”
Walter scowled.
“Maybe not,” said Millie.
On Wednesday, a third note said You sound scrumptious. W
“How can anyone sound scrumptious?” asked Tilly, bewildered. She wrinkled her nose thoughtfully. “Maybe Wilbur thinks I have a beautiful voice.” She blew him a kiss.
Wilbur pretended to gag.
“Maybe not,” said Millie.
Thursday, Tilly found the fourth note. I love you like ice cream. W
“Hmm….” Tilly frowned, puzzled. “Maybe it’s Werner?”
Werner was burping the alphabet.
“Hopefully not,” said Millie.
On Valentines, Tilly’s desk bore a beautiful sparkly pink heart. Be my bestie. W
“I don’t get it,” said Tilly. “They’re all signed W, but it’s not Wendell, Walter, Wilbur or Werner!”
“Silly Tilly,” said Millie. “That’s an M!”
“It’s YOU!” squealed Tilly.
“It’s me.”  Millie smiled.
And they were best friends forever.

Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I should certainly HOPE so! 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of yours!  I’m SO looking forward to them!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still nearly 5 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

So!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the list below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)

Eager Readers – click on the links in the list to visit the blogs and read the stories.  And be sure to read the 57 fabulous entries posted in the comment section below!!!

Happy Valentines Week, Everyone! ❤

Scroll through the comments to find these wonderful stories!

  1. Surprise, Surprise! – Rebekah
  2. Valentine Peas – Susan
  3. Banana In Love: A Valentiny Knock Knock Story – Ryan
  4. Bear In Mine, It’s For The Love Of Honey – Nina
  5. Love Makes Me Sick – Christyne
  6. Think Think Think – Betsy
  7. Two Hearts – Dr. Anne
  8. Cupid Claus – Christyne
  9. A Day For…Love? – Karen
  10. Peanut Butter Valentine – Sandra
  11. Little Frank N. Stein’s Valentine – Tracie
  12. What Is Love? – Anne
  13. A Valentine’s Day With Rain And Shine – Maria
  14. Brian & Katy Hare Find Something New – Marie
  15. Candy Cows – Jennifer
  16. Valentine’s Guy – Tasha
  17. Balentine’s For Bailey – Tasha
  18. Sophie And Nana – Jim
  19. Fiona’s Day – Molly
  20. Cupid’s Very Long Valentine’s Day – Robin
  21. Candy’s Hearts – Tracie
  22. Spider Legs – Carolyn
  23. The True Story Behind The Queen Of Heart’s Tarts – Kathleen
  24. Hungry For You – Rosie
  25. The Great A Mistake – Lauren
  26. Child Of Mine – Sandy
  27. V Day Is Here – Lorraine
  28. Myrtle, where are you going? – Cecile
  29. The Tiny Valentine – Lauren
  30. Liliana From Havana – Corine
  31. The Pirate’s Valentine – Judy
  32. The Cow That Was A  Little Hoarse – Elizabeth
  33. Gary Grossberger’s Valentine – Dina
  34. A Valentine’s Day Gift For Mami – Carmen
  35. November Is Scary, But Marriage Is Bliss (A Love Story) – Carol
  36. Hearts And Beans – Cammie
  37. Mister Zombie’s Undying Love – Terri
  38. Valentine Homework – Tracie
  39. Misaki’s First Valentine – Geoffrey
  40. Lion Hearts Mouse – Kim
  41. Did You Know THAT I Love You – Margaret
  42. Marry Me Mommy! – Michele
  43. A One-of-a-kind Valentine For Mama Mouse – JC
  44. Vampy’s Val-o-ween – Jana
  45. Valen-Rhymes – Katie
  46. Balingtine Day Mix Up – Jim
  47. Misunderstood At The Dance – Merriweather
  48. Valentine Blush – Sandy
  49. Happy Porcupine Day – Sara
  50. Punny Bunny’s Valentine Dilemma – Linda
  51. My Veggie Valentine – Deborah
  52. A Sweet Treat? – Samantha
  53. Oh My Darling Valentine – Ingrid
  54. Special Delivery! – Gina
  55. Love Bugs – Katherine
  56. A Surprise For Mr. Timms – Carol
  57. Word For Word Valentine – Deborah

Would You Read It Wednesday #241 – Socks Off (PB) PLUS The January Pitch Winner!!!

Oh. My. Goodness!

It is two days!

TWO DAYS, people! before the Valentiny Writing Contest opens!

Have I written my sample? you ask.

What you should be asking is if I have even thought about it!

I’d like to say I had the whole thing well in hand, but as usual I’ve been doing 50 million other things and haven’t given it a moment’s thought… so I’d better get down to it pretty darn quick!

I hope you guys are all coming along well with your entries!  Such a fabulous array of prizes are up for grabs – very critique-oriented, so lots of winners will get lots of help and pointers to get their writing year off to a good start!

I think we’re going to have tons of fun (and eat LOADS of chocolate 🙂  I mean, that’s what Valentines Day is all about… which makes it pretty much my favorite holiday… although Easter is right up there too… and of course, Halloween… but I digress 🙂 )

Now then, if you all would stop talking about chocolate holidays, we could get down to today’s business! 🙂

First of all, I’m thrilled to announce that the winner of the January Pitch Pick is…

…drum roll please….

Costantia with her PB pitch for Understanding George!  Congratulations, Costantia!  The readers have spoken and found your pitch to have the highest merit and thus a chance to be read and commented upon by editor Erin Molta.  Your pitch is already on its way to her inbox and I’m sure you’ll hear from her as soon as she’s able to reply!

Congratulations to our other talented pitchers as well!  You all did a really superb job, not just with thinking up great ideas and writing your pitches and bravely sharing them with everyone for feedback, but also for doing such a great job of revising based on that feedback.  The choice this month was one of the toughest, and you should all be really proud of yourselves.  I hope you found it an educational and helpful experience even though Erin won’t get to read your pitches!

Now then.  I’ve had as long a break as I can stand from talking about chocolate and I’m ready for something gooey and chocolatey and delicious.  How about you?

For today’s Something Chocolate, let’s have Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bites (which really by all rights should probably also contain the words ooey gooey in the name! 🙂 ) because they look SO GOOD!

Nom nom nom nom nom…

I think our mouths are going to be full for a while… also, a beverage would be lovely – anything with chocolate and peanut butter demands coffee, tea or milk (or a milkshake) to wash it down!

Ah!

I feel restored!

Ready to tackle today’s pitch?

It comes to us from Jill who says, “I’m retired, living in the woods. I love to rhyme and take photographs, though usually not at the same time. I’m a lover of music and avocados. In a room full of people, I can be found hiding in the back.”

Find her on the web at:

Twitter: @JillRichardsPro
Facebook: @www.facebook.com/Jill-Richards-Proctor-377198342334313/
Website: fromthesewoods.weebly.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title:  Socks Off

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 2+)

The Pitch: A child delights in spending the day feeling the world against his bare feet. The happy feet prickle, muddle and tickle. When a run-in with a cat causes clawing and clashing, a mud puddle leads to a trail of muck. But it’s nothing bubbling and scrubbing can’t fix.

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 Jill 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 March, 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!

Jill is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the Valentiny Contest which will open in less than 48 hours!!!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey

Well, folks, the groundhogs have spoken!

And apparently they were not all on the same page!

Punxsutawney Phil said 6 more weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phyllis was on the fence at first, but reluctantly ended up concurring with Phil when the sun undeniably came out and cast her shadow in all its beauteous perfection 🙂

Staten Island Chuck (short for Charles G. Hogg VII 🙂 ), who has the best track record of accuracy at 80%, said early spring.  (And you may be pleased to know that the current Chuck is actually a girl… so she’s probably right! 🙂 )

Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam agreed with Chuck.

So as you can see there is some furry headshaking and dispute over what will actually happen.  I guess we’ll all have to just wait and see who is right and who should have stayed in the burrow 🙂

Early spring or no, we can still enjoy Perfect Picture Books!

Although part of me wants to share a cozy fuzzy book today as an antidote to all that’s happening in the world, I think sometimes there’s an important place for more serious books that address meaningful issues in a way kids can manage and appreciate.  So today I have what I consider a very special book to share.

stepping-stones

Title: Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey

Written By: Margriet Ruurs

Illustrated By: Nizar Ali Badr

Orca Book Publishers,  October 2016, nonfiction – bilingual edition English/Arabic

Suitable For Ages: all ages

Themes/Topics: family life, geographic location (Syria), war, hardship, refugees, settling in a new life

stepping-stones-3

illustration copyright Nazir Ali Badr 2016

Opening: “‘Rama, wake up!’
the rooster crowed
every morning when we still lived at home

From my warm bed
I listened as Mama prepared breakfast –
bread, yogurt, juicy red tomoatoes
from our garden.

When I was little, not so long ago,
my brother, Sami, our friends and I
played on sunbaked soil.
We laughed, ran across rocks and sand,
free as birds.

When Papa came in from the fields,
he would sit for a time under the orange tree
and tell stories of our ancestors.

Brief Synopsis: (From the publisher’s description) “Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe.”

stepping-stones-4

illustration copyright Nazir Ali Badr 2016

Links To Resources: the foreword of the book tells all about how the author discovered the incredible stone artwork of the artist which inspired the story; the back matter gives information on “how you can make a difference”; the book itself is informational and educational

Why I Like This Book: Although this book deals with a very difficult and sensitive topic, one which has the potential to be upsetting to children, the author handles it so beautifully, so gently, with such poetic language, that the story manages to convey a wealth of information and experience in an accessible and palatable way while maintaining enough emotion to be truly meaningful.  It is really masterfully done.  The story is moving.  The art is exquisite.  The message is one everyone – adults and children alike – needs to hear and understand.  Jane Yolen said that “the text would both break and mend your heart.”  I think that describes it well.  An important book that everyone should have the opportunity to read!  The text is bilingual – English/Arabic.

stepping-stones-2

text copyright Margriet Ruurs 2016, illustration copyright Nazir Ali Badr 2016

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!

[Here’s hoping this version will work!  Google forms/spreadsheets does NOT want to cooperate!]

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #240 -The Troll Kingdom And Penelope Pickles (MG) PLUS The January Pitch Pick!!!

Happy Wednesday, my friends!

You’ve probably all noticed that today is February 1!  So exciting, isn’t it?  Not only is tomorrow GROUNDHOG  DAY, when Phyllis shall inform us all whether or not we can expect an early spring, but the days are getting steadily longer, each one a little lighter than the one before.  In my neck of the woods there are just about 9 hours of daylight on the shortest day of the year, but we are now happily up to 10 hours and 4 minutes!  I call that progress 🙂

In a shocking display of organization (mostly thanks to Julia sending me her pitch revision without prompting and thus reminding me to contact everyone else – thank you, Julia 🙂 ) I have the January Pitch Pick all ready to go today!

I know!

Unheard of! 🙂

But perfect, because most of this short month is going to be dedicated to the Valentiny Writing Contest so it’s just as well to get the Pitch Pick done now. (Haven’t checked out the contest yet? Click the link!  Awesome prizes!!!)

Here are the revised pitches for your thoughtful evaluation:

#1 – Julia – Tooth Fairy In Training (PB ages 4-7)

Flossie is determined to be the best Tooth Fairy at Molar Academy, but she has a serious case of odontophobia-the fear of teeth. Through perseverance, creativity and a little engineering she learns to work around her fear.

#2 – Robin – No More Turnips! (PB ages 4-8)

A new generation of wolves and pigs live in harmony around the turnip patch until Frank, the youngest grandwolf, determines to get a pork chop dinner. His plans are hog tied by the Three Little Grandpiglets who have just the cure for ham hock hankering.

Suffering Swine Snouts! Frank Wolf wants bacon on the table!

#3 – Michelle – The Stalking Seagulls (PB ages 5-8)

One boy. One sandwich. A flock of sneaky seagulls who have one mission. Alec must  foil their plan or be left with nothing toeat for lunch. Armed with his beastly beach balls, bucket and big enchilada Alec’s lunch should be out of harm’s way. It’s a day neither expect at the beach.

#4 – Costantia – Understanding George (PB ages 2+)

George has ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and doesn’t behave or react like the other children in his class. When he is unable to play with them, the children are left upset, and struggle to understand what makes George so different. Seeing the world from his perspective helps them to empathize with the challenges that ASD children face daily, and to accept that everyone is unique.

Please vote in the poll below for the pitch you think is best and most deserving of a read and critique by editor Erin Molta by Sunday February 5 at 5PM EST.  Many thanks!!!

Phew!  That was a tough decision, I know!  All the pitches were so good, and so thoughtfully revised!  We should probably restore ourselves with Something Chocolate before tackling today’s pitch!  You know.  Just to bolster our mental faculties 🙂  How about some German Chocolate Cheesecake?  This recipe comes from a site called Life, Love and Sugar and its tagline is “Life’s better with cake”  Now that’s a sentiment I can get behind! 🙂

Mmmmm-hmmmm!  Scrumptious!  I’m not even going to pretend to find any health benefits in this one 🙂  Just enjoy, and by all means help yourselves to seconds… etc… 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Kathryn who says, “Hi there! I’m Kathryn: master of the chocolate chip cookie, soon-to-be mother of two, and daily dance party enthusiast. Find me on Instagram @kathrynslibrary or at my blog kathrynrammell.blogspot.com”

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Troll Kingdom And Penelope Pickles

Age/Genre: MG Fantasy

The Pitch: Toadstool is a grumpy troll who is tasked with starting a plague to control the human population, but his plan goes amiss when he meets Penny, an 11 year-old with a contagious imagination.

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 Kathryn 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 March, so you have a little time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

Kathryn is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to my Groundhog Day School Visit tomorrow!  Phyllis is so excited she can’t sit still! 🙂

59eef-getattachment-aspx

illustration copyright Jeffrey Ebbeler 2005

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

Announcing The 2nd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Last year, a bunch of folks asked for a contest to cheer them out of the winter doldrums!

The result?

The First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!

(Valentiny because, like the Halloweensie Contest, it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂 )

We had so much fun that it seemed a good idea to go ahead with the 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!  I mean, winter doldrums are winter doldrums and must be conquered 🙂

So here we are!

Announcing . . .

The 2nd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

valentinywriting-contest2017

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is confused!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone confused (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Friday February 10th and Tuesday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my February 10th post.  There will be no Would You Read It that week, and no PPBF, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of that post once it’s up. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! Please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email – no attachments! And please do not submit emailed entries until the contest begins on Feb. 10!)  Please only post your entry ONCE! Either on your blog and the associated link list, or in the comment section of my post!  Otherwise it gets confusing 🙂

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday February 20th.   The winner will be announced by Friday February 24th. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using 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! 🙂

The Prizes:  yeah… as usual I’m still working on the prizes 🙂  Feel free to chime in in the comments if there’s something you’d particularly like to win! 🙂  Or if you have clout with anyone who could offer a good prize please contact me at once! 🙂  So far prizes will include:

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

author-photo-halverson_green_closeup_3x4-450x321

“Dear Editor” Deborah Halverson

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

jodell-sadler

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!!!

mr-particular

– 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?

where-are-the-words

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

. . . and more to be added . . .

So sharpen your pencils!

Get your butt in that chair!

See what amazing, knock-your-socks-off story you can dream up!

It’s a chance to hone your writing skills, practice your craft, write to specifications and a deadline, win amazing prizes, AND get to read and enjoy the wonderful stories written by all your fellows 🙂

Many, many thanks to Deborah, Jodell, Andria, Jodi, Heather, and Diana for their very generous prize offerings!  Please help me to thank them by visiting their websites, buying their books and recommending them to friends who might be interested, suggesting them for school visits, hiring them for critiques, writing book reviews on Amazon, GoodReads and other sites, following them on social media, or anything else you can think of to support them!

I literally cannot wait to read your stories!!! 🙂

Have a Wonderful Weekend everyone! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Goldy Luck And The Three Pandas

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everybody!

Is everyone ready for the Year of the Rooster?  And not just any rooster!  The Year of the Fire Rooster?

The Fire Rooster is characterized by creativity, passion and energy, so I think (hope!) we have a good year ahead!

In celebration of Chinese New Year, I have a terrific book to share.

goldy-luck

Title: Goldy Luck And The Three Pandas

Written By: Natasha Yim

Illustrated By: Grace Zong

Charlesbridge, January 2014, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: retelling of classic tale, holidays (Chinese New Year), taking responsibility

Opening: “When Goldy Luck was born her mother said, “Year of the Golden Dragon – very lucky year.  This child will have good luck.”
“She has a face as round as a gold coin,” said her father.  “This child will bring great wealth.”
But Goldy had neither great wealth or good luck.  In fact, she could never seem to keep money in her piggy bank, and she had a habit of breaking things.”

goldy-luck-1

text copyright Natasha Yim 2014, illustration copyright Grace Zong 2014

Brief Synopsis: Goldy Luck is sent to deliver turnip cakes to the Chan family for Chinese New Year in spite of the fact that she’s sleepy and hasn’t had breakfast yet.  When she arrives, the Chans are not home, so she samples their congee, tries out their chairs, and naps in Little Chan’s bed, leaving chaos in her wake.

Links To Resources: the back of the book includes an author’s note about traditions of Chinese New Year, a diagram and explanation of the Chinese zodiac, and a recipe for turnip cakes; Goldy Luck blog post with activities from 2nd Grade Snickerdoodles

goldy-3

text copyright Natasha Yim 2014, illustration copyright Grace Zong 2014

Why I Like This Book: I love retellings of classic tales, and this is a fun one.  It takes Goldilocks and the Three Bears to China to celebrate Chinese New Year 🙂  Although the story follows the basic format of the original, it departs after the Chans (panda bears in this version :)) come home.  Goldy initially runs away (as she does in the original story) but her conscience gets the better of her and she decides to take responsibility for her actions and returns to the Chans’s home to help tidy up.  The ending makes for a big improvement over the original 🙂  And I love that so much back matter is included, making it so easy to expand on the use of the book.  The art is bright and engaging, ending with a sweet picture of Goldy and Little Chan sharing turnip cake, the rug underneath them a depiction of the Chinese zodiac 🙂

goldy-2

text copyright Natasha Yim 2014, illustration copyright Grace Zong 2014

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 #239 -George (PB) PLUS The November/December Pitch Pick Winner!

Darlings!

In case you haven’t noticed, it is only one week and one day until the most important day so far this year…

GROUNDHOG DAY!

Poor  Phyllis has been laying low.  She took it pretty hard when Holiday House put her out to pasture.  I told her it was nothing personal.  She had a good 10 year run, which is more than a lot of books have.  She sallied forth into the Scholastic Book Clubs and was eagerly snatched up by loads of happy campers.  She was produced in French for Scholastic Canada – Debout, Marmotte! (though for some inexplicable reason they changed her name to Charlotte – maybe they thought it went better with marmotte?) –

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-1-49-43-pm

and she has been read aloud on cassette and CD.  She even has legions of devoted followers who have helped her celebrate her favorite day year after year.

Still… she has not taken kindly to obscurity.  She’s just not that kind of hog.

Last March, both PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS and APRIL FOOL PHYLLIS became available on Kindle.  That appeased her a little…

But now, hopefully, paws crossed!!! both of Phyllis’s books will soon be available through Amazon for POD (print-on-demand)!  They’re supposed to be up already (er, they’re not…) but hopefully they’ll appear any day.  And when they do, Phyllis feels strongly that there should be some form of celebration.  Likely it will involve feasting and a book giveaway, so stay tuned 🙂

Anyway….

The first order of business today is to announce the winner of the November/December Pitch Pick.

Drum roll, please….!

And the winner is Nadine with her delightful pitch for Armadillo Pillow Fight!  Congratulations, Nadine!  Your pitch is already in editor Erin Molta’s inbox awaiting her words of wisdom!  I’m sure you’ll hear from her at her earliest convenience.

And to all our other pitchers, hurray for you!  You all did a tremendous job!  You wrote a pitch, bravely put it out in the world for constructive feedback, took that feedback and used it to improve your pitch, and submitted it again for the judgment of your peers – no easy task!  Even though you won’t get thoughts from Erin, I hope the experience was positive and educational, and you’ve come away from it feeling like you have a better handle on this pitch in particular and pitching in general!  And thanks as always to all the wonderful readers who take the time to read and evaluate the pitches each Wednesday and provide their helpful thoughts.  We seriously couldn’t do this without you!

I think all this writerly camaraderie calls for a celebration in the form of Something Chocolate, don’t you?  And boy to I have a treat for you today!  Check THIS out:

Chocolate Cream Pie Bites!!!

choco-cream-pie-bites

Recipe HERE at Sugar Apron

Careful!  You’re drooling on your keyboard!  🙂

But really!  YUM!!!  I feel an honest-to-goodness chocolate swoon!

The great thing about virtual chocolate is that we can all have 14 of them without guilt and we never run out! 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Costantia.  Costantia has been gathering the knowledge and courage required to enter the world of children’s writing and illustrating after 15 years of teaching, a lifetime in academia and two young children. She is just beginning to tentatively dip a toe, her big toe… Or maybe a whole foot into what appears to be a huge pond of existing talent, and she is petrified! Could there be space out there for a new author/illustrator who wants to help guide children through new experiences and social processes that they don’t yet understand?

Find her on the web at:
Twitter: @Costantia
Facebook: @costantiamanolirumfitt 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: George

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 2+)

The Pitch: George has ASD. This means that he has some rather unusual behaviors – but what do the other children make of this? This is a simple story told in rhyming couplets about showing love and understanding for those who work in a different 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 Costantia 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!

Costantia is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to Phyllis’s books being available in paperback once again, and to getting the guidelines for the Valentiny Contest up!  Really, I am!  I’m still contemplating… and still working on prizes (that is a totally unsubtle hint if anyone has a prize to offer or knows where I can get my hot little hands on something of writerly value!) but I know you guys need time to write, so I’ll do my best to get them up ASAP!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂  And yes, definitely, have another Chocolate Cream Pie Bite! 🙂

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Fair Cow

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

I realize that since it’s Inauguration Day I should probably have chosen a book on a related topic… but I already reviewed President Squid last March 🙂

Setting one’s sights on the State Fair isn’t SO far off setting one’s sights on the White House… and being pinned with a blue ribbon is kind of like being sworn in as POTUS…

Okay…

Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch 🙂

But this is still a totally fun book and I hope you’ll get a kick out of it!

fair-cow

Title: Fair Cow

Written & Illustrated By: Leslie Helakoski

Two Lions (Amazon’s Children’s Publishing), August 2010, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: believe in yourself, be yourself, having goals

Opening: “Effie dreamed of being a state fair cow.  She loved living on the farm, grazing in the fields, and giving milk every day.  But still…she dreamed of being beautiful, of billowing blue ribbons, and big, bodacious barns.”

Brief Synopsis: Effie dreams of being a state-fair cow.  Petunia the pig gives Effie loads of helpful advice on how to become beautiful and win a ribbon. But in the end, it seems that maybe it’s best for Effie to just be Effie.

Links To Resources: Amazing Cow Facts For Kids; All About Cows For Kids And Teachers; Cow Coloring PagesShowring Ready: A Beginner’s Guide To Showing Dairy Cattle;

Why I Like This Book: Effie is cute and sassy, determined to make it to the fair, willing to follow Petunia’s (often ridiculous 🙂 ) advice to make her dreams come true.  The theme of the book isn’t new, but the execution is fun and fresh, and I think there’s always room for a book that encourages kids to be themselves and follow their dreams (er… come to think of it, I’ve written one myself, though it’s about groundhogs, not cows 🙂 )  The art takes the fun story to the next level of humor – colorful, fun and engaging, with plenty of silliness and great expressions.  And the repeating line of “Nothing a little {something} won’t fix” is used to great effect 🙂

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-7-26-39-pm

Text and illustration copyright Leslie Helakoski 2010

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 Wedesday #238 -Stalking Seagulls (PB) PLUS The November/December Pitch Pick

Big news on Blueberry Hill, my friends!

Cable internet is (AT LAST!) coming to our road!

It just goes to show that technology can even (tually) come to the Back Of Beyond 🙂

Look!

It does not get more exciting than this!

Now, I realize that this is a big project.  The cable won’t be laid for weeks…maybe months, and then there’s all manner of high-tech whatnot that will have to be organized no doubt, but it’s coming!  There is a light at the end of the tunnel!  The prehistoric internet I’ve been working with for years, which moves at the speed of hibernating turtles…walking backwards…through the mud…, does not allow for Skype, webinars, uploading photos and files, or even accessing email half the time.  So this upgrade is long-awaited and much-anticipated!

Who knows what amazing opportunities await once our internet moves at the same speed as the rest of the world’s!  (And NO! of course the ability to stream Netflix and binge watch Parks & Rec which my children have informed me I must do has nothing to do with my excitement! 🙂 )

So, if you all would stop talking about your favorite TV series to binge watch, we could get down to work! 🙂

First off today, we have the November/December Pitch Pick!

Here are the pitches:

#1 Carolyn – Celebirdy (NF PB ages 7-11)

This nonfiction story tells the account of a chicken that lived without its head for 18 months. The truth doesn’t get much weirder than that!

#2 Anne – Harry’s Magic (PB ages 4-8)

Eliza wakes up on the wrong side of the bed feeling quite grumpy, almost as if a monster has taken over her body. Her brother Harry says will cast a magical spell to drive out the angry beast and restore Eliza to her sweet, silly self.  This 560 word, rhyming picture book will have children ages 4-8 laughing as they watch Eliza running about gathering up all of the necessary and ridiculous ingredients for Harry’s magic potion, but will Harry be able to save his sister in time?

#3 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.

#4 Noel – Good Old Gus (PB ages 5-8)

No longer safe working on the boat, Gus, an ice cream loving dog is left to retire on the pier and wait for his captain’s evening return. Torn between obeying his master and engaging in the tempting seaside activities, when someone needs help, Gus’s decision becomes clear.

 

Please vote for the pitch you think is best and most deserves a read by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Sunday January 22 at 5 PM EST.  Results will be posted next Wednesday!

Golly!

It’s hard work reading and evaluating those pitches and trying to decide which one is best when they’re all so good!  I think we need Something Chocolate, don’t you?  (Though let’s be honest… when do we ever NOT need Something Chocolate?! 🙂 )

Seeing as how Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and we should be taste-testing and recipe-practicing, I’m thinking Strawberry Chocolate Cake!

It’s what’s for breakfast! 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Michelle who says, “I am an active member of SCBWI, numerous critique groups, and am on the advisory board for Authors.me. I am also a mother of 2 and married to a great man from Finland!”

Find her on the web at Twitter @Mmvattula

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Stalking Seagulls

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)

The Pitch: One boy.  One sandwich.  A flock of seagulls.  The dive bomb debacle of last summer will not happen again!  Those sneaky seagulls have one mission, Alec’s sandwich!  It’s Alec’s duty to foil their plans and not let those pesky birds triumph.  Victory is on the horizon until he unwraps his sandwich.

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 Michelle 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 could have a turn pretty soon to get  helpful feedback and have a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

One last item on today’s agenda: just a heads up that everybody’s favorite I-Heart-Writing competition, The Valentiny Writing Contest!, is coming soon to a blog near you!  (Er, that would be this one 🙂 )  If someone would just light a fire under the people in charge around here, the guidelines might ever get posted one of these days 🙂  But just so you know, the contest will run from February 10-14, so mark your calendars and get those thinking caps out of mothballs 🙂

Michelle is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting high speed internet (although not holding my breath) and to someone posting the guidelines for the Valentiny Writing Contest (and although not holding my breath for that either , it could happen at any moment and is likely to beat the high speed internet into existence 🙂 )

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – An Apple Pie For Dinner

Today is a special day.

Yes, it is Perfect Picture Book Friday, which is always special 🙂

But today is also my Brown Dog’s birthday!

Here she is when she was tiny:

773b5-dscn0128

And here she is now that she is 10!

img_2056

She is the best Brown Brownie in the whole wide world – my loyal, devoted friend who has stayed by my side during some of the toughest times I’ve been through, warm and comforting and kind.  I feel so lucky to have her.  So we will celebrate her 10th birthday tonight with a party, complete with yellow cake with vanilla icing so she can have some 🙂  Happy Birthday, my faithful, loving friend!

I guess I should have chosen a Perfect Picture Book for today that was about birthdays or dogs or cake…  I chose one about pie… that has a dog in it… (I mean the story has a dog in it, not the pie! 🙂 ) and ends with a party 🙂

apple-pie-pb

Title: An Apple Pie For Dinner

Retold By: Susan VanHecke

Illustrated By: Carol Baicker-McKee

Two Lions (Amazon Children’s Publishing), August 2009, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: resourcefulness, kindness, persistence, folktale retelling

Opening: “One day, Old Granny Smith wanted an apple pie for dinner.
She looked around her cozy kitchen.
She had flour and butter.
She had sugar and spices.
But there was one thing she didn’t have.

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-4-54-11-pm

Brief Synopsis: Granny Smith wants to bake an apple pie, but she doesn’t have any apples.  So she fills her basket with plums and sets out to see if she can trade.  She swaps plums for feathers, feathers for flowers, flowers for a gold coin… but will she ever find her apples?

Links To Resources: Apple pie recipe at the back of the book; author notes about the retelling and illustrator notes about how the three-dimensional mixed media art was created are also included at the back of the book; An Apple Pie For Dinner dedicated website with related activities

Why I Like This Book: This story has such a cozy, friendly feel.  Granny is so sweet.  She goes along, patiently hoping to find apples for her pie, doing good for everyone she meets and making their days better even though time after time she fails to get the apples she needs.  The story is cheerful and comes full circle to delicious ending 🙂  The mixed-media illustrations are delightful in their 3-D, stand-out-from-the-page, sunny, colorfulness.  An all-around satisfying read complete with an apple pie recipe to try at home!

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-4-53-13-pm

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!!! 🙂