Ho! Ho! Ho! The 10th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!

⭐️Deck the Halls! ⭐️ Light the menorah! ⭐️ Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja! ⭐️

It’s time for . . .

THE 10TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about a Holiday Helper!

Your helper can be one helper, or a pair, or a group or a bevy or a herd of helpers. Your helpers can be children, animals, elves, aliens, unicorns, fairies . . . whatever your heart desires. He/she/they can help bake, decorate, shovel snow, wrap gifts, clean the house, entertain guests, feed the hungry, comfort the lonely, bring the holiday spirit to those who have lost it – sky’s the limit 😊 But the focus of the story must be on helping – not just a brief mention in passing that Marla helped Dad set the table in the middle of a story about her frustration at not getting the starring role in the school holiday pageant.

Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season, but is not to exceed 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 😊 )  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 😊 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250!  Title not included in word count.)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)

Post:  Your entry should be posted between right now this very second and Wednesday December 9th at 11:59 PM EST, in ONE of the following three ways:

  1. Post your entry on your own blog and enter your post-specific link (not your main blog URL) to the link list below, OR
  2. Paste your entry in the comment section below (please include your byline since if your posting handle is something like MamaWritesByNightlight I will have no idea who you are 😊), OR
  3. If you have trouble pasting your entry in the comment section for any reason (which unfortunately does happen!) you can email it to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I will post it for you. If you email it, please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email NO ATTACHMENTS – they will not be opened. Please include your title and byline at the top of your entry. (And since there have been many questions about this byline means who it’s by, for example, The Hanukkah Helper by Janie Simcox.)

Please submit your entry only ONCE! If you add it to the blog link list, and the comments, and email me to post it, things get very confusing!  I try to stay as glued to my desk as possible, but sometimes I have to get up so if I don’t respond to your email or approve your post immediately, don’t panic!  I’ll get to it as soon as I can!

There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It, or Perfect Picture Book) for the duration of the contest so this post with the links and comments will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy until I post the finalists. 

The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 10 finalists (depending on the number of entries – if we get a lower turnout we’ll post fewer finalists, a higher turnout possibly one or two more.)  In the interest of finishing up the contest in a timely fashion so everyone can go about their holidays, we will do our best to post the finalists here by Monday December 14th for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 16th at 5 PM EST.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Thursday December 17th. (These dates are subject to adjustment if it takes the judges longer than we anticipate to get the judging completed.)

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Holiday Helpers! – the rules state a Holiday Helper story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about someone helping someone else in some way during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s, or whatever seasonal winter holiday you choose.  The story must center on helping  – the help must not be just an offhand mention/reference in a story about something else.
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 😊  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 6. PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Large numbers of entries make it easy to cut entries that haven’t been entered as we asked.

The Prizes!:  The prize list is completely and totally awesome! Read! Covet! Write your best! 😊

A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique by Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez of Olswanger Literary! Although she is currently closed to submissions (making this prize EXTRA special!) a look at her wish list will give you an idea of what she likes.

Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez

A 12×12 Silver Membership (valued at $177 but worth so much more!) generously donated by author and 12×12 founder and queen, Julie Hedlund! 12×12 is a fantastic, educational, supportive community with TONS to offer its members, including interesting and informational webinars of all kinds, access to forums and critiques, and the chance to submit to agents. If you’re not familiar with it, you can learn all about it HERE. Julie is the author of A Troop Is A Group of Monkeys (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2013), My Love For You Is The Sun (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2014), and the forthcoming Over, Bear! Under, Where? (Philomel Books, Fall 2021)

Julie Hedlund
Photo credit Kim Huggins

A Picture Book Manuscript Read and On The Spot Critique by prolific author Laura Purdie Salas! Laura offers a 50-minute on on-the-spot critique via Zoom for one picture book manuscript of up to 600 words (fiction or nonfiction, rhyming or prose or poetry). She will read it out loud to the writer and then do a critique right then and answer questions. Laura is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose, her own submissions and work for hire – she’s done it all! She is also the author of a number of fantastic books for writers which are often given as prizes here. Some of her books include A Leaf Can Be (Millbrook Press 2012), Clover Kitty Goes To Kittygarten (Two Lions 2020), Snowman – Cold = Puddle (Charlesbridge 2019), If You Were The Moon (Millbrook Press 2017), Making A Living Writing Books For Kids (CreateSpace 2017), and Picture Books The Write Way (CreateSpace 2014)

Rate Your Story owner, Picture Book Mechanic, and author Lynne Marie is offering 4 amazing prizes!

A 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com

Another 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com

A Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org

[From the Rate Your Story site] “A SPEED PASS allows a Non-Member to submit to Rate Your Story, as well as a Member to submit additional items to best serve the rating and feedback needs of our writing community.

We have a variety of Speedpass options, including pitches, query letters, art or a single manuscript at any time for a rating + guaranteed comments*, and it will be returned in less than 7 days’ time. Should you require a faster turnaround, fast pass options may be purchased to facilitate that.” 

Another Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org

Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019)  and  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and two others forthcoming.


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction, rhyme or prose) by accomplished author Laura Sassi, author of Goodnight, Ark (Zonderkidz 2014) , Goodnight, Manger (Zonderkidz 2015), Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse (Sterling 2018), Love Is Kind (Zonderkidz 2018), and the forthcoming Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep (Beaming Books, February 2021)

A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author Sandra Sutter, whose delightful books include The REAL Farmer In The Dell (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, March 2019) and Stan’s Frightful Halloween (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, September 2020)


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by gifted author and former Holiday Contest prize winner, Jenna Waldman, author of the forthcoming Larry’s Latkes (October 2021) (originally written for the Holiday Contest!) and Shark-bot Shalom (August 2021) She is on twitter at @SarafinaDesign

Author Jenna Waldman


Personalized, signed copies of For Spacious Skies (Albert Whitman, April 2020) and The Queen And The First Christmas Tree (Albert Whitman, October 2018) by award-winning author Nancy Churnin.



Personalized, signed copies of The Night Baafore Christmas (WorthyKids 2019) by Dawn Young and Louis (HMH Books For Young Readers 2020) by Tom Lichtenheld, illustrated by Julie Rowan-Zoch. The Night Baafore Christmas will be signed by Dawn, the author. Louis will be signed by Julie, the illustrator.



Two Picture Books (TBD) donated by Darshana Khiani, whose own picture book How To Wear A Sari is forthcoming from Versify in June 2021.


Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

This is the part in the proceedings where I would normally post my sample to entertain and encourage you. Ahem. Seems I’ve been a little over-scheduled with life lately, and my sample isn’t quite finished. . . If I can get it done whilst running the contest I’ll pop it in here. If not, you guys have the hang of these contest by now and you don’t really need my example! 😊

I know you guys are going to come up with great stories, and I’m so looking forward to reading them all! 😊

***UPDATE 12/8/20*** – I’m late adding this in and it would have benefited greatly from more time to work and a slightly longer word count, but. . .

A Little Christmas Joy (249 words)

Cara longed to play in the snow.
She wanted to open her mouth and feel the cold snowflakes melt on her tongue.
She wanted to lie on her back and make snow angels.
But Cara wasn’t allowed outside alone, and everyone was busy inside because it was Christmas Eve.
“So many presents to wrap!” Mom said.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.
She handed Mom scissors and tape, and pressed her finger to the crossed ribbon so Mom could tie a snug bow.
“This tree needs decorating!” said Dad.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.
She hung pepperminty candy canes from the fragrant-needled boughs wherever she felt spaces.
“So much cookie dough to bake!” said Cara’s big sister.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.  She grinned and scooped a fingerful of dough from the bowl into her mouth.
The whole day passed, and Cara never got to play in the snow.
She carefully placed cookies and milk on the hearth for Santa, along with apples for the reindeer.
When Santa arrived, he saw everything Cara had helped with – the presents, the tree, the cookies – and her snow boots waiting hopefully by the back door.
He smiled and whispered, “You help everyone else.  It’s time you got a little special help yourself.”
When Cara awoke, her gift was beside her.  A wet nose, a wagging tail, and a note in Braille on her collar that read: Hi Cara!  I’m Joy, your Guiding Eyes. I can’t wait to take you out to play in the snow!

*** There you have it 😊 ***

With so many great prizes up for grabs I hope there will be a lot of entries – the more the merrier!  And you’ve still got a couple days to write, so you can squeeze in under the wire 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!!!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the google form 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 – just go along the list of links, click on them, and enjoy the stories! And don’t miss the fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below!  The titles are listed and linked just below the link list at the bottom of the post and will take you directly to the stories!


Happy Writing and Happy Holidays!!!🎄⭐️ ✡️❄️☃️🕎

Don’t miss the 119!!! fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below!  The titles are linked and will take you directly to the stories!

  1. Ivy’s Christmas Wish – Anne Reilly
  2. Decorating The Tree – Gabrielle Cardwell
  3. Not Too Little – Marty Findley
  4. Christmas AngelBrenda Whitehead
  5. Decorations DeputyNicola Thackrey
  6. A Super ScooperEllen Turcio
  7. A Cranky ChristmasStacey Miller
  8. Sylvia KittySusan Drew
  9. Bug Academy Christmas Pageant Kathiann Weatherbee
  10. Calma The Llama Mattie Noall
  11. Don’t Let The Cat Help Decorate The TreeLu Pierro
  12. BigFoot’s SurpriseNatalie Cohn
  13. A Fine IdeaJill Proctor
  14. Holly The Holiday HelperAshley Congdon
  15. Ollie’s Christmas VisitsMarilyn Wolpin
  16. A Dust Bunny’s ChristmasMarty Bellis
  17. Naserian – A Maasai The Holiday HelperKetan Ram
  18. Who Will Do It? (April Helps Out)Elizabeth Westra
  19. Bambini ChristmasMartha Holguin
  20. Holiday HelpersShariffa Keshavjee
  21. A Servant’s HeartEllen Crosby
  22. Snail’s Starry NightBecky Loescher
  23. Sandy Claws’ HelpersSusan E. Schipper
  24. Dear SantaDawn Young
  25. Christmas NeighborLinda Staszak
  26. Sugar’s SpinMegan & Rob Hunnicut
  27. Elf And The PixiesVicky Langdon
  28. The Signed ConfessionCristina Raymer
  29. The Reverse Advent CalendarAnne Lipton
  30. Holiday Helper ExtraordinaireSusan Summers
  31. Home For ChristmasP. J. Purtee
  32. Three Christmas CamelsDeb Robertson
  33. Reindeer ShoesKatherine Rahoy
  34. A Little Holiday HelpNina Nolan
  35. Christmas Is For EveryoneGerry Lynne Baker
  36. The Best Christmas HelperJean Hall
  37. Gingerbread Construction CrewAshlee Hashman
  38. A Swedish Pageant And The Mystery Of The Missing MeatballsKathryn Rammell
  39. Christmas SmilesAlli Strauss
  40. A Hanukah DetourSandra Budiansky
  41. The Oldest ElfJim Chaize
  42. Santa’s HelpersE. Elle Bea
  43. La Navidad I’ll Never ForgetCarmen Gilbert
  44. Sinclair The Flying Squirrel’s Christmas CleanupHilary Margitich
  45. Father Christmas And Father TimeHilary Margitich
  46. I’m Helping For The Holidays (No, You’re Not)Krista Harrington
  47. Have A New Year!Karen Keesling
  48. Not Too Small At AllSarah Hawklyn
  49. To Celebrate We Mix It UpSarah Hawklyn
  50. Christmas GiftsDonna Kurtz
  51. Colin’s Christmas TreatSally Yorke Viney
  52. App-y Christmas!Paul Kurtz
  53. Santa’s Elves Need Helpers Too Katie Brandyberry
  54. The Red CabooseStephanie Cullen
  55. Christmas In GermanyElizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf
  56. Leo And The Tree LadyAnn Malaspina
  57. The Sleigh-Awake BandLaura Bower
  58. Baba’s Christmas WishTaylor Gardner
  59. A Dear, Dear BoyDarcee A. Freier
  60. Changing The WorldKathleen Campbell
  61. The Christmas Cookie CatastropheLynn Camacho
  62. Grandma’s Christmas Helper, A COVID Alphabet StorySarah Hetu-Radny
  63. Baia’s Bags Of BlessingsElyse Trevers
  64. Chanukah HelpersMarla Yablon
  65. The Farmyard NativityKrystal Snead
  66. Sprinkles For SantaCindy Sommer
  67. The Crocheted StarBeverly Warren
  68. The Toymaker And The Christmas TomteCathrene Valente Youngquist
  69. New Year’s CheerMia Geiger
  70. Santa’s Surprise HelperLiz Kehrli
  71. Holiday Helpers Galore! Isabel Cruz Rodgriguez
  72. Nothing To GiveMaria Marianayagam
  73. Holiday Helpers To The RescueSusan R. Waide
  74. Oy To The World: An Ode To 2020Mary Vander Plas
  75. Gingerbread CommotionJC Kelly
  76. Hummus For SantaLeila Boukarim
  77. Island Santa – Anne Sawan
  78. Samosas For Santa Namita Moolani Mehra
  79. Beaver’s GiftDeb Buschman
  80. Let It Grow! Let It Grow! Let It Grow!Allison Strick
  81. Star Light, Star BrightEstelle Grace Tudor
  82. Candy And Cain’s Big JobBecky Kimbrough
  83. Santa KnowsDiane Hanington
  84. The Best Christmas EverDiane Hanington
  85. Little LightPatti Tomarelli
  86. Runny-Nosed RudolphSarah Hetu-Radny
  87. Ask SantaJennifer Reichow
  88. Not Counting On Sweet Treats This YearLinda Hofke
  89. The Runaway Reindeer Caroline Perry
  90. Flossy’s Fairy Fail Laura Howard
  91. The Christmas TreeCynthia Stacey
  92. The Greatest GiftLisa Khan
  93. Adorable, Not AbominableKimberly Lee
  94. Maya’s LightKaryn Curtis
  95. Tiffani And The Talking TreeCourtney Ryan
  96. Santa’s HelpersMeghan Wallace
  97. Missing MagicDarci Nielson
  98. One Cold ChristmasToni Hawks Floyd
  99. Merry MarsmasMegan Walvoord
  100. Me Do It! Simon Yeend
  101. ‘Twas A Night On A FarmPenelope McNally
  102. Winter Welcome Jessica Whipple
  103. A Not-So-Helpful Helper Liv Gehlbach
  104. The Kindness CrewMichelle S. Kennedy
  105. Christmas For The Birds Elizabeth Volkmann
  106. Christmas ShelterRita Russell
  107. Princess ObliviousBill Canterbury
  108. A Forest ChristmasBarbara Keevil Parker
  109. Little Donkey, The Christmas HelperJacqui Boulter
  110. Cam’s ChristmasAnn Gray
  111. Santa’s Helper Mary Rudzinski
  112. “For The Girl Who Has Everything”Bill Canterbury
  113. Buon The ChristmouseGeorgette Kaftan
  114. Great Aunt MaccaBeaDanielle Sharkan
  115. Blue and Boots and the Christmas SpiritKatie Schwartz
  116. Santa’s SlumberJennifer Lowe
  117. The Holiday Helper ThingCindy L. Jeklin
  118. Holiday HelpersBonnie Anderson
  119. GRA’MERE’S COOKIESLoren Hackney

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Red And Lulu

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and not a moment too soon!

Have you looked at the weather forecast for today and tomorrow? There could be no better way to spend the next two days than with a pile of perfect picture books and a cup of cocoa and your favorite little readers (or your favorite little or not-so-little writers. . . yes, you. . . who are reading perfect picture books to learn from the masters 😊)

Today’s Perfect Picture Book is so pretty and so touching I know you’re going to love it!

Title: Red And Lulu

Written & Illustrated By: Matt Tavares

Candlewick, September 2017, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: holidays (Christmas), devotion, perseverance

Opening: “In the front yard of a little house,
on the branches of a mighty evergreen,
there lived a happy pair of cardinals
.”

text and illustration copyright Matt Tavares 2017, Candlewick


Brief Synopsis: [from the book jacket] “Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree.  But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each other again. Luckily, it’s just the season for miracles. . . . “

Links To Resources: the afterword contains a brief history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree tradition; what are some holiday traditions in your family? draw a picture, write a story or poem, or make up a song about a special holiday tradition in your family; in the story, the cardinals’ favorite Christmas carol is O, Christmas Tree, which was originally sung in German as O, Tannenbaum. Do you have a favorite Christmas or other holiday carol/song? Was it originally in English, or did it come from another language? Which one?

text and illustration copyright Matt Tavares 2017, Candlewick


Why I Like This Book: This is a such a sweet and lovely story – one of those stories that tug at your heartstrings and make it a little hard to read aloud in some parts past the lump in your throat 😊 Red and Lulu are so happy in their tree, and when the tree is taken, with Lulu still in it, Red flies as fast and as far as he can, determined not to lose Lulu. But a bird cannot fly as fast as a truck can drive. . . I love Red’s devotion and determination which clearly show his love for Lulu. I don’t want to give away the ending. . . so I won’t!😊. . . but it’s just right. The watercolor-and-gouache illustrations are full of detail – so pretty! Don’t miss this heartwarming 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 #371 – My Antler Is Missing (PB)

Seasons Greetings, my friends!

I think I can say that now that Thanksgiving is over and it’s December 😊❄️🎄

At some point in the not-too-distant future, I’m going to plug in all my holiday lights and see how many bulbs need replacing – always a fun job – which promises to be even more fun with Violet’s help! (Apparently there is no dog-tangled-in-Christmas-lights emoji, but there should be! 😊)

Since we’re embracing the Holiday Spirit, for today’s Something Chocolate let’s have some Candy Cane Pie! Doesn’t that sound delicious? And festive?!

Look at that chocolate-y crust, the little chocolate chips, and that lovely chocolate drizzle! Yum! And so pretty with the candy canes sprinkled in! I know I don’t even need to remind you of the health benefits of eating vegetables for breakfast (peppermint is a leafy green, and chocolate is a bean!) 😊

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Sarah. Sarah Tobias is a, writer, artist, master naturalist, and retired librarian. She loves rescuing worms from puddles, has a collection of dead insects, and found bones. She would rather be outside than inside even on a bad weather day. She discovered on the playground during recess, that the kids at school couldn’t remember if worms had eyes, she thought she should clear things up.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: My Antler Is Missing

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

The Pitch: “MY ANTLER IS MISSING” Moose cries when he wakes and scratches his head. A mystery is afoot. Moose and his bestie Mouse head off on an adventure discovering clues and track prints. They romp through the winter forest chasing down possible thieves as they search for Moose’s missing antler.

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 Sarah 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 January, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Sarah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to untangling miles of Christmas lights – so sparkly! 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Waiting For Snow

Happy Friday, Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

If you’re like most of the folks around here, you got up from the Thanksgiving table, decked your halls with boughs of holly, put up your Christmas tree, and strung your holiday lights! Maybe you even put one of those gigantic Santa-on-a-motorcycle blow-up air balloon thingys in your yard! After all, Hanukkah begins two weeks from today, and Christmas is four weeks from today!

I am not nearly that organized! If I get a tree up by December 18 I’ll count myself totally on top of things. (And, if I’m honest, I’m a little worried about Violet vs. Christmas Tree… so waiting a little might not be a bad thing… 😊) But all the holiday preparations around me did get me thinking about snow. We barely had any last year, and although I have no need for treacherous roads and the like, a little frosting for the holiday season is so festive!❄️

So I thought this was the perfect book to share today!

waiting-for-snow

Title: Waiting For Snow

Written By: Marsha Diane Arnold

Illustrated By: Renata Liwska

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 1, 2016, fiction

Suitable For Ages: publisher says 4-7… I think 3-6/7

Themes/Topics: patience, seasons (winter), snow, friendship

Opening: “Hedgehog found Badger staring at the sky.
“What are you doing, Badger?”
“Waiting for snow.  It’s winter and I haven’t seen one snowflake.”

Brief Synopsis:  Poor Badger is desperate for snow, but no matter what he does the weather won’t cooperate.  Hedgehog assures him that everything comes in its own time, but oh! it’s so hard to wait!!!

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-40-13-pm
text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold 2016, illustration copyright Renata Kiwska 2016… a glimpse of ways the friends try to pass the waiting time… 😊

Links To Resources: waiting is hard, and kids have to do a lot of it!  Have your kids/students make a list of things they have to wait for, or draw a picture of something they’re waiting for;  10 Ways To Play With Kids While You’re Waiting; 12 Games To Play While You Wait

Why I Like This Book: If you’ve ever had a kid… or been a kid… or, well, you’re anyone living life on this earth 😊 you’ve had to wait for things and you know how hard it is!  (er, ahem, writers… agency and/or publishing contracts…!  Am I right? 😊 )  This sweet, funny, and beautiful book is about a little badger who is waiting for snow.  He and his friends try everything they can think of to hurry it along but, as is so often the case when you really want something to happen, nothing works.  What he learns in the meantime is the value of good friends.  What he learns in the end is that everything happens in its own time.  I think we can all take a lesson from Badger’s experience 😊  The soft, fuzzy art is the perfect complement to the text – endearing, engaging, sweet!

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-40-43-pm
text copyright Marsha Diane Arnold 2016, illustration copyright Renata Kiwska 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!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 😊

Would You Read It Wednesday #370 – Gregory The Garbage Truck (PB)

Welcome to Would You Read It Wednesday, Everyone!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so it seems an appropriate moment to say

It would be no fun at all around here without you guys, so thanks for hanging around and participating in the high jinx and shenanigans and general tomfoolery! 😊

And since it’s almost Thanksgiving, let’s have something Thanksgiving-y for Something Chocolate today! I was going to go with chocolate-covered strawberry turkeys, (I added the link in case any of you wish to check them out) but this Chocolate Pecan Piecaken looked too good to miss 😊

Chocolate Pecan Piecaken

Doesn’t that look scrumptious?!

And everyone knows that pecans are really good for you because of some reason or other 😊 so you don’t even have to feel guilty having seconds! 😊

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Aundra who says, “I am a middle school special education teacher and mother to a 4 year old and 2.5 year old. This book was inspired by my 4 year old son who has loved garbage cans and trucks for more than half his life.”

Find her on the web at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JasperSammyand

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Gregory The Garbage Truck

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-9)

The Pitch: GREGORY THE GARBAGE TRUCK is a 548-word picture book for the 3-9 year old range, especially those who wake up early to watch the garbage trucks come by.
Gregory is a lonely garbage truck who putters through his daily routine: Drive around/Clamp the bin/Lift it up/ Dump it in. Day after day, his boredom, loneliness, and stench grows until he meets some clever and unexpected friends.
This whimsical, humorous story shows the struggle of making friends when you smell like old socks sprayed by a skunk and washed in dirty diapers. GREGORY THE GARBAGE TRUCK combines the refrain of TRASHY TOWN (1999) by Andrea Zimmerman with the desire for friendship in THE INVISIBLE BOY (2013) by Trudy Ludwig and the symbiotic relationship modeled in AMAZING ANIMAL FRIENDSHIPS (2017) by Pavla Hanackova.

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 Aundra 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 January, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Aundra is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. It’s going to be a little weird – not the big family get-together of other years because we’re all trying to be cautious and maintain small, same-household gatherings with appropriate social distance, for everyone’s benefit but especially because my parents are 91 and 90 – but still a moment to give thanks for all that we have, most especially each other.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone, and a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!!! 😊

Guess What? It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Contest Time!

‘Twas nearly Thanksgiving
When here on my site
I realized you guys needed
Guidelines to write
For the annual Holiday Contest. I know!
I’ve left you with only fourteen days to go!
So put on your thinking cap! Warm up your pen!
For Holiday Contest – numéro TEN!

Okay.

Clement C. Moore I may not be. . . 😊

I mean, if I’m going to be honest about it, I’m not really sure what a sugarplum even is. . . !

Let’s just put dancing fruits right out of our heads for a moment because I have big news!

Huge Excitement!

SOMETHING TO TWIRL YOUR TINSEL FOR!

The guidelines for . . .

THE 10TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about a Holiday Helper!

Your helper can be one helper, or a pair, or a group or a bevy or a herd of helpers. Your helpers can be children, animals, elves, aliens, unicorns, fairies . . . whatever your heart desires. He/she/they can help bake, decorate, shovel snow, wrap gifts, clean the house, entertain guests, feed the hungry, comfort the lonely, bring the holiday spirit to those who have lost it – sky’s the limit 😊 But the focus of the story must be on helping – not just a brief mention in passing that Marla helped Dad set the table in the middle of a story about her frustration at not getting the starring role in the school holiday pageant.

Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season, but is not to exceed 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 😊 )  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 😊 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250!  Title not included in word count.)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between 12:01 AM EST Monday December 7th and Wednesday December 9th at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Monday December 7th and remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It, or Perfect Picture Book) for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy.  If you would like to enter but don’t have a blog you are welcome to paste your entry in the comment section of my December 7th post when it goes up.  If you have trouble commenting, you can email me.  (We’ll go over this part in more detail on the December 7th post! 😊 )

The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 10 finalists (depending on the number of entries and final number of prizes – if we get a lower turnout we’ll post fewer finalists, a higher turnout possibly one or two more.)  In the interest of finishing up the contest in a timely fashion so everyone can go about their holidays, we will do our best to post the finalists here by Monday December 14th for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 16th at 5 PM EST.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Thursday December 17th. (These dates are subject to adjustment if it takes the judges longer than we anticipate to get the judging completed.)

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Holiday Helpers! – the rules state a Holiday Helper story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about someone helping someone else in some way during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s, or whatever seasonal winter holiday you choose.  The story must center on helping  – the help must not be just an offhand mention/reference in a story about something else.
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 😊  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 6. PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Large numbers of entries make it easy to cut entries that haven’t been entered as we asked.

The Prizes!:  The prize list is under construction. . .  But I wanted to get the guidelines up so you guys would have as much time as possible to work on your stories!  Stay tuned for an updated list at some point 😊

A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique by Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez of Olswanger Literary! Although she is currently closed to submissions (making this prize EXTRA special!) a look at her wish list will give you an idea of what she likes.

Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez

A 12×12 Silver Membership (valued at $177 but worth so much more!) generously donated by author and 12×12 founder and queen, Julie Hedlund! 12×12 is a fantastic, educational, supportive community with TONS to offer its members, including interesting and informational webinars of all kinds, access to forums and critiques, and the chance to submit to agents. If you’re not familiar with it, you can learn all about it HERE. Julie is the author of A Troop Is A Group of Monkeys (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2013), My Love For You Is The Sun (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2014), and the forthcoming Over, Bear! Under, Where? (Philomel Books, Fall 2021)

Julie Hedlund
Photo credit Kim Huggins

Rate Your Story owner, Picture Book Mechanic, and author Lynne Marie is offering 4 amazing prizes!

A 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com

Another 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com

A Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org

[From the Rate Your Story site] “A SPEED PASS allows a Non-Member to submit to Rate Your Story, as well as a Member to submit additional items to best serve the rating and feedback needs of our writing community.

We have a variety of Speedpass options, including pitches, query letters, art or a single manuscript at any time for a rating + guaranteed comments*, and it will be returned in less than 7 days’ time. Should you require a faster turnaround, fast pass options may be purchased to facilitate that.” 

Another Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org

Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019)  and  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and two others forthcoming.


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction, rhyme or prose) by accomplished author Laura Sassi, author of Goodnight, Ark (Zonderkidz 2014) , Goodnight, Manger (Zonderkidz 2015), Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse (Sterling 2018), Love Is Kind (Zonderkidz 2018), and the forthcoming Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep (Beaming Books, February 2021)

A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author Sandra Sutter, whose delightful books include The REAL Farmer In The Dell (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, March 2019) and Stan’s Frightful Halloween (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, September 2020)


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by gifted author and former Holiday Contest prize winner, Jenna Waldman, author of the forthcoming Larry’s Latkes (October 2021) (originally written for the Holiday Contest!) and Shark-bot Shalom (August 2021)

Personalized, signed copies of For Spacious Skies (Albert Whitman, April 2020) and The Queen And The First Christmas Tree (Albert Whitman, October 2018) by award-winning author Nancy Churnin.


Two Picture Books (TBD) donated by Darshana Khiani, whose own picture book How To Wear A Sari is forthcoming from Versify in June 2021.

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

So there you have it!  Fire up those brain cells!  Grab a cup of hot chocolate, plonk your tiny hiney into a comfy chair, and get to writing your potentially prize-winning Holiday Helper story!!! You have 14 full days!  (And remember, I’m being a helper because deadlines are great for creativity and productivity!)  So what if you’re in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this week! Your little cherubs can model helpfulness and serve as inspiration for your contest entry by peeling potatoes, making up the bed in the spare room for Great Auntie Brunhilda, bathing the cats, and whatever other little chores need doing! You’ll have plenty of time to write! 😊

On your mark…

…get set…

…GO!

I am SO looking forward to getting to read all your stories!!!

In this unusual year, when people have been isolated and separated and lots of folks are more than ever in need of holiday cheer, lending a helping hand seemed like a nice topic. I hope you’ll all have fun with it!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Over The River And Through The Wood: A Holiday Adventure

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and what with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to share this wonderful book by Linda Ashman because the song it’s based on always makes me think of going to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving when I was a kid! (Although we went by car, unfortunately, not by horse-drawn sleigh! 😊)

Title: Over The River And Through The Wood: A Holiday Adventure

Written By: Linda Ashman

Illustrated By: Kim Smith

Sterling Children’s Books, October 2015, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: family, holidays (Thanksgiving/Christmas), travel

Opening: “Pack up the pooches and load the van.
We need to leave by eight!
There’s so much to bring.
Do we have everything?
Come on, we can’t be late!

Text copyright Linda Ashman 2015, illustration copyright Kim Smith 2015, Sterling Books

Brief Synopsis: Grandma and Grandpa have sent invitations to all the family: Come to our house for the holidays and bring your favorite pie! So all the families pack up and head out… but travel turns out to be trickier than expected!

Links To Resources: Who do you visit for the holidays? Make a photo collage of a family holiday get-together; If you travel on holidays, how do go? Draw a picture or make a model of your transportation – plane? train? bus? car? boat? Make up your own version of “Over the river” and sing who you go to visit and how you get there; Thanksgiving Turkey Rice Krispie Treats (Recipe)

Text copyright Linda Ashman 2015, illustration copyright Kim Smith 2015, Sterling Books

Why I Like This Book: This wonderful story feels new and familiar at the same time; familiar because we all know the song upon which it is based, new because the travel troubles are fresh and fun (and anyone who has ever traveled for the holidays can relate!) The story is written in Linda Ashman’s trademark fabulous rhyme which is so fun to read aloud. And the art is delightful – a perfect complement to the story – and filled with fun little details… like what happens to the pies along the way 😊 And I love that even in this day and age of planes and trains and automobiles, the whole family ends up arriving by horse-drawn sleigh! 😊

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 # 369 – Little Witch Zooming Broom (PB)

Good Wednesday to you, my friends!

What’s new and exciting in your lives?

I don’t mean to make you jealous, but it’s pretty much non-stop fun and games here on Blueberry Hill where the dogs and I entertain ourselves with such tried-and-true favorite activities as vacuuming, laundry, sweeping leaves out of the garage, and dusting. (I know! What times are these when Susanna Hill is reduced to dusting?! 😊) Violet is especially helpful, doing her energetic best to protect me from the vacuum, abscond with every single sock she can get her little jaws on, pounce on every leaf, and grab the dust cloths and run away with them, refusing to be caught. Scout contributes by shedding so I have something to vacuum and dust 😊

The weather is getting colder. Yesterday it actually snowed at my house for a little while, and today the expected high temperature is only 34 degrees, so I think the perfect Something Chocolate is Hot Cocoa Cookies! Doesn’t that sound good?

Hot Cocoa Cookies

I think they’d be extra delicious with some hot cocoa! You can never have too much chocolate, especially on a chilly day! I mean, let’s face it – we need to be well-fueled because we’re burning an outrageous number of calories just staying warm! Or we would be if we didn’t have central heating and/or a fireplace or wood stove 😊

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Diana who says, “I am Diana Lynn Gibson, a retired teacher who never gave up her passion for children’s picture books. There are more picture books on my bookshelves than novels- and what serious children’s book writer does not? And the funnier, the better. Come on over and we’ll giggle together! Here’s my spinoff on Little Red Riding Hood.”

Find her on the web at

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Little Witch Zooming Broom

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

The Pitch: Look up! There she zips again. Now she’s off to Grandma’s house with her basket of Trick-or-Treat goodies. But when Werewolf tries to trick Little Witch Zooming Broom, he finds she has tricks of her own under her hat.

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 Diana 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 January, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Diana is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to writing something new if I can get Violet to take a nap long enough for me to put two sentences together! 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Oscar’s American Dream

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and in the wake of the recent election and Veteran’s Day, I have a wonderful book that celebrates the American Dream!

Title: Oscar’s American Dream

Written By: Barry Wittenstein

Illustrated By: Kristen & Kevin Howdeshell

Schwartz & Wade, October 2020, informational fiction

Suitable For Ages: publisher says 4-8, School Library Journal says 6-10 – I think SLJ is more on target

Themes/Topics: American history, immigration, American Dream, change and opportunity

text copyright Barry Wittenstein 2020, illustration copyright Kristen&Kevin Howdeshell 2020 Schwartz & Wade

Opening: “Oskar Nowicki
arrived at Ellis Island
carrying his life in a cardboard suitcase
and a skinny roll of money in his coat pocket,
a loan from his mother in Poland
for a down payment on his dream.

Brief Synopsis: 20th century American history unfolds on a street corner in New York City as a little shop changes hands and dreams, from a barbershop in 1899 to luxury apartments in 1999.

Links To Resources: an author’s note at the back of the book expands on the history included in the story; trace the history of your home, or of a building in your neighborhood or town that you find interesting (a library, a town hall, a church, etc.): when was it built? who built it? what kind of history has it seen?; design, draw, and/or describe a shop/building that you would like to own that embodies your dream!

text copyright Barry Wittenstein 2020, illustration copyright Kristen&Kevin Howdeshell 2020 Schwartz & Wade

Why I Like This Book: I really enjoyed the idea of seeing history unfold on a street corner. What an interesting way of looking at the passage of time! A succession of people from different backgrounds with different dreams bought the little corner shop, and as a barbershop, a women’s clothing store, a soup kitchen, an army recruitment office, a bodega, and several other incarnations, the little shop saw the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, Civil Rights – all the history of the 20th century – and how the shop played a role in fulfilling the American Dreams of the various owners. The art is a beautiful complement to the text, filled with interesting details, and reflecting the mood of the times.

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 #368 – Back To The Sea (PB)

It’s Wednesday, and I’m still in Halloweensie Land doing wrap up, but I knew you wouldn’t want to miss Would You Read It, so here we are! 😊. . .

. . . heading straight for Something Chocolate because some days, that’s the only option! 😊 Can I interest any of you in some Chocolate Eclair Cake?

Chocolate Eclair Cake

I mean really. How scrumptious does that look? It’s like hot chocolate turned into a cake. Clearly breakfast! 😊

nonnomnomnomnom!

Ah! I feel refreshed! How about you? Ready for some pitching?

Me too!

Today’s pitch which comes to us from Patricia. Patricia is a serial mover and mother to three adult humans and two orange pups. She loves gardening, snorkeling, and exploring new places.

Find her on the web at:
Wander, Ponder, Write
Twitter: @ptntweets
Instagram: ptnozell

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Back To The Sea

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

The Pitch: One magical morning on a lush, tropical island, a young child accompanies a cast of terrestrial hermit crabs as they scritchedy-scratch and clickety-clack on their annual journey to spawn in the sea. Inspired by a viral video of this rarely-viewed event, this lyrical STEM manuscript is Hawk Rising for beach lovers.

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 Patricia 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 January, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Patricia is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to a very long nap which I will be scheduling to take place when I have time. . . perhaps a year from Tuesday or so 😊

Before we go, let’s take a moment to celebrate and thank our veterans, since today is their day. I’m sure we all have at least one veteran right in our own families, and to say we owe them everything is not an overstatement. We live the lives we live today because of them. Thank you all for your service ❤️

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊