Once upon a time. . .
. . . on a blueberry-covered hill not all that far, far away in upstate New York. . .
. . .a princess lived in a little house in the woods.
(I know. You’re wondering why the princess lived in a little house in the woods. “That’s not right!” I hear you saying. “Princesses are supposed to live in castles, or be trapped in towers or dungeons!” But this is not your usual run-of-the-mill princess. . .)
This princess was a champion pogo-sticker (yes, that is too a word.) She had been training for years, doing hours of jumping, and keeping to a strict diet of Spring Beans and Garbouncebos. It was very effective. The villagers could often be heard proclaiming, “That princess sure is full of beans!” And, “Boy! Can she bounce!”
The Bouncy Trouncy Pouncy Flouncy Pogosticking Championship, the most prestigious of all pogosticking competitions in the Universe, was only days away, and the princess (whose name was Poppy – so fitting, don’t you think? due to all that popping up and down? it’s almost like her excellence in pogosticking was foreseen when her parents picked her name. . .) but anyway, Poppy passionately wanted to win the competition and the life-size golden pogostick trophy that was the prize!
There was just one small problem. . .
She was supposed to have posted the winners for the 7th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest and she had spent so much time jumping and bouncing and eating beans and various other explosive foods that she had not done it. NO, SHE HAD NOT!
So her mother said, “Poppy, there will be no Pogosticking Championship for you until you have met your obligations! I will not have shirkers in my little house in the woods!”
Well. Poppy REALLY wanted to get to that Championship! So she sat on her hippity-hop (great indoor leg strength building for bouncing and jumping muscles) and made the list of winners and honorable mentions in record time (because Poppy was all about making records, whether in pogosticking or in judging whilst hippity-hopping and continuing her bean eating!)
“I am so proud of you, Poppy,” her mother said. “Not only have you fulfilled your obligations, you have kept up with your exercise regimen and your bean eating at the same time, showing great commitment to your sport and your goals! Now, go to the Bouncy Trouncy Pouncy Flouncy Pogosticking Championship and jump the socks off your competitors!”
There will now be a short commercial break to announce the WINNERS of . . .
The 7th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest
~ for children’s writers ~
(don’t worry – you’ll find out what happened to Poppy after this break from our sponsors)
First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest. You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for so many! As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories! It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining! There is just so much talent out there amongst you all! The other judges and I are blown away anew each time!
Second, I’d also like to thank EVERYONE – writer, reader, or both – who took the time to read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments. This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories. It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed. I hope you all got as much delight and entertainment out of the reading as I did! Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! 😊
Third, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose! There were so many amazing entries. Really. I could find at least something terrific about every single one. The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut. We chose 14 finalists, and around 35 Honorable Mentions which we also loved, and even with those 49 total there were nearly 150 entries we couldn’t list! So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad. You’re in good company! There was a huge amount of competition. And remember that the judging is based on the contest criteria. If you wrote a great story that didn’t showcase pride enough or that was too grown-up or not related to Valentine’s Day, you didn’t make the final cut. But that DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story. Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner! You showed up. You did your best work. You practiced your craft. You wrote to specifications and a deadline. You bravely shared your writing with the world. And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 214 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript. So bravo to everyone who entered!
Because it was such a hard choice, and there were so many wonderful stories, before we get to the winners, my assistant judges and I would like to award bragging rights, recognition and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:
1. For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole: (entries we truly wrestled with not including in the finalists!)
Lori Sheroan for The Proudest Pencil
Susannah Lee for Shelby’s Heartache
Claire Noland for The Valentine Surprise
Chayala Nachum for My Icky Sticky Valentine (great kid appeal too!)
Rachel Bandy for V’s For Valentine
Terri Hellard-Brown for Isabella’s Valentine
Becky Goodman for ValenTalent Show
Lauri C. Meyers for My Gummy Love
Susanne Whitehouse for The Mural
Judy Sobanski for Sloth’s Original Valentine
Laura Bower for Llama Love
Sara Kruger for The Perfect Present
2. For Great Read Aloud:
Brigid Finucane for Love Somebody (makes you want to sing and dance 😊)
3. For Great Story For Younger Readers:
Patti Ranson for Valentines Breakfast For Mom
Cindy Greene for Valentine’s Day Heartache
Tara Knox Cerven for The Purrfect Valentine
Lori C. Evans for Never Too Many Valentines
4. For Humor:
Donna Kurtz for Don’t-Let-The-Dung-Beetle-Make-The-Valentine-Brownies!
Jill Purtee for Gumballs
5. For Fun POV/Character:
Jenna Elyse Johnson for Hammie’s Valentine Surprise (dog)
Deborah Foster for Gary Groundhog Conquers The Shadow Monster (groundhog/snowhog)
6. For Great Ending:
Alayne Kay Christian for What Kind Of Cupid Am I?
Kristy Roser Nuttall for Love Inside
Mary Schultz for Taffy’s Sweet Surprise
7. For Well-Written Story With Great Sibling Interaction:
Julianna Helt for Allie’s Biggest Heart
Armineh Manookian for Lost But Found
Erika Romero for You Make Me So Proud
8. For Beautiful Writing:
A. Kidd for Three Hearts
Corine Timmer for It’s A Matter Of Taste (also educational and funny ending!)
9. For Best Short Valentiny Story:
Marty Findley for A Valentine For You (64 words!)
10. For Sweet Valentiny:
Heather Ferranti Kinser for Teeny Houdini
Kathy Crable for Valentine Barks
Lindsay Moretti for A Valentine For Mr. Weatherly
11. Best Story From A Young Writer:
Sophie Moore (age 10) for Detective Spot And The Search For A New Cupid (also clever and funny!)
Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories! Please email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com subject line Prize Winner to collect your award badge and prize, which is five dollars in a format that can be emailed for you to put toward something you’d like at a large online store (and I’m being cryptic because when I’ve done this for previous contests I got a ton of problematic spam mail because of the way I worded the post, but hopefully you can figure it out. The store starts with the letter A 😊) I know it’s not much, but hopefully it will come in handy for something!
…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2021 VALENTINY CONTEST as voted on by you, our devoted readers!!!
In First Place…
Winner of the whole shebang…
who gets first choice of all the prizes…
A Change Of Heart!!!
Congratulations, Michaela! Terrific job 😊
In Second Place
Congratulations, Daniella! You get to pick your prize after Michaela.
In Third Place
Valentine Delivery – Part II
Congratulations, Katie! You get to pick your prize after Michaela and Daniella.
In Fourth Place…
Jesse Anna Bornemann
Showdown In Smoochalot
Congratulations, Jesse! You get to pick your prize after Michaela, Daniella, and Katie!
In Fifth Place…
Congratulations, Allison! You get to pick after Michaela, Daniella, Katie, and Jesse!
In Sixth Place...
Oog Love Rock
Congratulations, Katie! I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 😊
In Seventh Place…
Congratulations, Sarah! You get to pick next 😊
In Eighth Place…
Congratulations, Amy! You get to pick after Sarah 😊
In Ninth Place…
Congratulations, Laura! You get to pick after Amy! 😊
In Tenth Place…
The Valentine’s Cake
Congratulations, Kate! You get to pick after Laura! 😊
In Eleventh Place…
Congratulations, Sara! You get to pick after Kate! 😊
In Twelfth Place…
The Perfect Valentine
Congratulations, Kimberly! You get to pick your prize after Sara! 😊
In Thirteenth Place…
Congratulations, Emily! You get to pick after Kimberly!
In Fourteenth Place…
Hoppy Belated Valentine
All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes! (The sooner the better!) And for your convenience, the whole prize list is included at the bottom of this post.
Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest. You all deserve a huge round of applause and a gigantic chocolate heart… or lots of little chocolate hearts… or both… really, you can never have too much chocolate 😊 .
Oh! And as a special reward I will tell you that Princess Poppy went to the Bouncy Trouncy Pouncy Flouncy Pogosticking Championship and pogoed with astounding energy, bouncing and jumping as, one by one, all the other competitors fell victim to Jelly Legs and toppled off their pogo sticks, and she was so impressive that not only did she win the competition and the life-sized golden pogo stick trophy (“That’s my girl!” her mother said proudly), they also named a brand of beans after her, so now you can buy Princess Poppy Beans – Beans That Pop With Flavor and Will Make You Jump For Joy! They are high in fiber and an excellent source of protein so you really can’t go wrong! Try some with your chocolate! (er… or maybe that WOULD be wrong 🤣)
Thank you to everyone who helped make this contest SO MUCH FUN, whether by writing an entry, reading people’s stories, leaving comments for the authors, and/or voting in the finals. It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!
Have a marvelous Wednesday, everyone! 😊
The Prizes: Swoonworthy! As always, we are so fortunate to have an abundance of wonderful prizes donated by our very generous friends in the kidlit community! Just look at all these goodies!
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Read & Critique from agent Mary Cummings of Great River Literary, “an agency devoted exclusively to representing authors and author/illustrators of books for children and teens. Strong relationships with editors have resulted in a rapidly growing list of sales of board and picture books, chapter books and novels to such publishing houses as Knopf; Philomel; Viking; Nancy Paulsen/Penguin; Balzer & Bray; Walker; Little, Brown; Henry Holt; Holiday House; Feiwel & Friends; FSG; Running Press; WorthyKids; Abrams; Random House; Wiseman S & S; Chronicle; Candlewick; HarperCollins and many others.”
⭐️ 1/2 Hour Zoom Picture Book Manuscript Critique or Mentoring Session with author Lynne Marie!
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), Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and The Three Little Pigs And The Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022) and American Pie — art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, April 12, 2022)
⭐️ 30 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Keila Dawson, author of THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican Publishing 2016), NO VOICE TOO SMALL (Charlesbridge 2020), and OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK (Beaming Books, 2021)
⭐️ Access to author/editor Alayne Kay Christian‘s webinars! Alayne is the author of BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA (Blue Whale Press, 2008), SIENNA THE COWGIRL FAIRY: COWBOY TROUBLE (Blue Whale Press 2021), THE WEED THAT WOKE CHRISTMAS (Blue Whale Press, 2020), and AN OLD MAN AND HIS PENGUIN (Blue Whale Press, 2020)
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017), SADIE’S SHABAT STORIES (Spork, 2020) and PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Rebecca Gardyn Levington author of BRAINSTORM! (Sleeping Bear Press, Summer 2022), I WILL ALWAYS BE…(HarperCollins, Spring 2024) and a contributor to the delightful anthology HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, October 2020)
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonrhyming) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House, 2021), LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR (Aladdin, September 2022), and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique and Query Letter Critique from Jessica Stremer author of the forthcoming GREAT CARRIER REEF (Holiday House, 2023)
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Cathy Ballou Mealey author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Union Square Kids, 2019), SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, 2021), and the forthcoming MAKE MORE S’MORES (Sleeping Bear Press, 2023)
⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of Winner’s Choice of any available Susanna Leonard Hill picture book
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 birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊