March 29, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday - The King, The Mice And The Cheese


For this lovely Perfect Picture Book Friday before Easter, I have chosen a book...

... that has nothing whatsoever to do with Easter at all.

Not in any way.

Even I, a master of twisting things around to suit my theme of the day, cannot really see how to make a book about cheese connect to Easter.  But it's still a good book! :)

The King, The Mice And The Cheese
Written By: Nancy Gurney
Illustrated By: Eric Gurney
Random House 1965 (also HarperCollins 1986)

Suitable For Ages: 3-8, great for beginning readers

Themes/Topics: tolerance, getting along, problem-solving

Opening: "Once upon a time, in a faraway country, there lived a king.  He lived in a beautiful palace.  He had everything he liked.  He liked cheese best of all."

Brief Synopsis: The cheese-loving king has the best cheese makers in all the land.  The cheese they make smells so good that it brings in mice from the country.  The king doesn't like sharing his palace with mice, so he calls on his wise men to come up with a solution.  But the solution doesn't work out quite the way they had in mind! :)
how cute is this mouse? :)

Links To Resources: Fun Facts About Cheese (with some other links), Kids Facts About Dairy Products, History of Cheese, Cheese Making

Why I Like This Book: Any book that includes the sentence,"'Listen, boys, let's make a deal," said the king.'" already has a point in its favor :)  I love the way the king and the wise men, in an effort to solve the palace's mouse problem, make it far, far worse.  It's the kind of cause-and-effect snowball situation that is full of hilarity and that kids love.  The wise men call in cats to chase away the mice, and then dogs to chase away the cats, and I won't tell you the rest because that would spoil the fun :)  But the message of the book is one I really like - that it's important to learn to get along with one another.  And ultimately, the book tells a circular story... so I'll leave you to try to figure out how :)

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

Now that I've shared my book, I think we should have some fun.  I believe it's time for our annual What's Your Favorite Color Of Jellybean Poll :)

Ready?  Go!

I will admit that I love red and black equally and could really not decide!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy Easter! :)  PPBF bloggers, please put your post-specific links below so we can all come visit! :)


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March 27, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #81 - The Adventures Of Tomato And Pea (Chapter Book)


Happy Would You Read It Wednesday, Everyone!

I'm up to my ears this week, so just you watch how succinct I am today.  It will be a lesson in brevity! (I can hear you!  Stop that snickering.  I can be brief - I'll prove it! :))

Since this weekend is Easter, our Something Chocolate today shall be Rabbit Hole Cupcakes! :)
photo credit Stacy S. Jensen used by permission
Yum!

Now... (brevity in action...)

Today's pitch comes to us from none other than This Kid Erik!  Eleven-year-old Erik plans to eventually take over the world. Right now he's a bit too young, so he is spending time as a fifth grade student, book review blogger and hopeful writer.  Erik blogs at This Kid Reviews Books.

Working Title: The Adventures Of Tomato And Pea
Age/Genre: Chapter Book (ages 7 and up) - intended as the first of a series.
The Pitch: For years the evil villain Wintergreen has tried to destroy super crime-stopper, Tomato, and his sidekick, Pea, and take over planet Oarg. In a plan gone wrong, Wintergreen and his gang tangle with Tomato and his friends in a runaway rocket ship that crashes on a strange planet called EAR-TH. Follow this brawling bunch of aliens as they try to get along, survive all the dangers on the strange planet, and find a way to get back to Oarg.

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 Erik improve his 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in June so polish up your pitches for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Erik is looking forward to your thoughts on his pitch!  I am looking forward to jelly beans... and chocolate :)

Have a great day, everyone! :)
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March 25, 2013

Announcing The Winners Of The In Just Spring Contest!!!

It's finally here!

The day you've all been waiting for!

Monday!

No, seriously, I know you've been on pins and needles all weekend, wondering who the winner of a picture book manuscript read and comments by editor Laura Galvin of Kidsbooks was going to be.

And I fully intend to tell you, right after I recite Moby Dick.

"Moby Dick: Or The Whale, by Herman Melville.  Chapter 1.  Loomings.
Call me Ishmael.  Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no  money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world...."

Hang on.  This is a really long book.  I think I need a drink of water.

Also, it's really heavy.

And I'm already bored.

Now.  Where was I?

Oh yes.  You were wondering about who won the In Just Spring Contest.

Which reminds me that when I was little, one of my favorite things about spring was that it was finally warm enough to take my pogo stick outside and jump.  I was (and still AM if I may say so) an extremely good pogo sticker.  If only pogo sticking were an Olympic Sport....  Anyway, I grew up in a fourth floor apartment in New York City, and though my mom would let us do many things in the kitchen (roller skate, skate board, climb the walls in the back hall... well, okay, maybe she didn't exactly let us, but we did it :)) she was very firm about the pogo stick.  It was an outdoor toy.  And our downstairs neighbors had enough trouble dealing with the sound of roller skates and skateboards, and the water damage from the bathtub flooding we perpetrated every night... but that's another story...  But anyway, technically, a pogo stick is a big spring.  In a way.  So you can see how relevant this story is.  About springing in spring.

Okay.  I'm sorry.  I'll stop fooling around :)

We had the best turnout of writers we've ever had for this contest - 42 - a record we'll have to aim to beat next time :) - and the best turnout of voters for the finalists.  After 4 days of voting (which I know from the comments caused everyone trouble - all the entries were SO GOOD!) the results are in.

AND THE 1st Place WINNER IS:  (DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOOOOLLL PLEASE!)

TERESA ROBESON for her story WHAT HENRY KNEW!!!

Congratulations, Teresa!  Winning this contest was no mean feat!  And now, in addition to the fame of winning a Pretty Much World Famous Susanna Hill Contest, you have the opportunity to send one of your picture book manuscripts to editor Laura Galvin at Kidsbooks!  Please email me for details, or, if for some reason you want the alternate prize, please let me know!

2nd Place, and winner of a $25 Amazon gift certificate as well as her choice of the books listed below (unless Teresa for some reason doesn't want the first place prize in which case they'll swap) is:

WENDY LAWRENCE for her story LITTLE FOX'S SPRINGS!!!
Congratulations, Wendy!  Fame for you too! :)  Please email me with your choice :)

3rd place, and winner of her choice of the craft books listed below is:

JILL PROCTOR for her story BREAKFAST TIME FOR A HUNGRY BEAR!!!
Congratulations, Jill!  And there's plenty of fame to go around :)  Please email me with your choice :)

Congratulations again, not only to the winners and other finalists, but to ALL the writers who worked hard, polished stories, bravely posted them for all of us to read, and provided us all with wonderful entertainment.

Thank you to all the writers who entered, all the readers who read and commented, and all the voters who agonized and chose.

The contests couldn't happen without you all! :)

Sigh.  So now it's back to normal blogging life.  I have such fun with the contests that I'm always sorry when they're over.  But we still have great things to look forward to: a new Would You Read It on Wednesday, new Perfect Picture Books on Friday, Easter candy... although that's not technically limited to my blog... :)

So have a happy and productive Monday, everyone!

Now.  I'm off to hunt down a certain small brown marmot who has some explaining to do about why it's SNOWING! :)






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March 22, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday PLUS Please Vote!

Happy first Friday of spring, everyone!

I am not letting the fact that it continues to be 20 degrees, windy, and snowy get me down.  It is officially spring!  Time is on our side :)  I haven't seen Phyllis is days... she's keeping a low profile.  I think she might actually be on the lam, hiding out in sunny Mexico where it feels like spring has arrived.  She and I are going to have words when she gets back! :)

Speaking of spring, if you have not yet had a chance to vote for your favorite finalist in the In Just Spring Contest, please go HERE - the voting is open until tomorrow - Saturday Match 23 at midnight.  It's quite a tight race, and there's an amazing prize on the line, so pretty please vote!

The In Just Spring Contest!

Please read the fantastic finalist stories and vote for your favorite HERE!!!


I had actually intended to skip Perfect Picture Book Friday today, so that the post with the vote would stay up until the poll closed, but I realized I forgot to say that ahead of time, and I thought some of you dedicated bloggers probably had PPBs scheduled to post today and I didn't want to stand you up.  My compromise, such as it is :), is to not post a PPB today myself, but put up the contest voting reminder in pretty colors, and then post the link up list for you all to attach your wonderful books to so we can all come visit :)

So please add your post-specific link to the list below and we'll all come add to our weekend library list! :)

Have a great weekend, everyone, and stay tuned Monday for the announcement of the In Just Spring Contest winner!  Ooh, the suspense!!! :)

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March 20, 2013

The In Just Spring Contest Finalists! - Vote For Your Favorite!


The In Just Spring Contest!



Well folks, the voting day has arrived, and I barely survived the selection process to tell the tale!

My goodness!  I must tell you that narrowing down this FANTASTIC field of entries to a manageable number of finalists was nearly impossible.

Seriously.

I had to call in an extra assistant judge!

There was much gnashing of teeth debate as we argued calmly discussed the merits of each entry and fought tooth and nail for presented our favorites.

Before I present the list of finalists for you to vote on, I would like to thank each and every one of the 42 writers who submitted a story to this contest.  It was such a pleasure to read so many wonderful stories from so many talented people.  There wasn't a single entry that was easy to discard, and we really agonized over our decision.  You all deserve a prize.  Reading these stories really helped make it feel like spring was coming in spite of the exceedingly wintry weather we've been having :)

I'd also like to remind you that judging this contest is no different from the overall editorial process that happens in publishing houses every day.  Ultimately the judges' (or editors') opinions are subjective - what one doesn't care for particularly, another loves.  If your story did not make the list of finalists, it is NO REFLECTION on your abilities as a writer, or even on this particular story, which another set of judges might have chosen.  Every one of you should feel proud of your efforts!

Now, to the finalists.

The criteria we used to choose the finalists were:
1. Kid friendliness - this is, after all, a contest for children's stories.  Entries which made reference to something too mature for a child audience, or whose content or ending we deemed a little harsh for our young readers, had to be cut no matter how much we loved the rest of the story and writing.
2. Spring-ness :) - how well did the story evoke spring?  This was tough, because some of the stories that evoked spring the best, didn't measure up as well in terms of kid-friendliness and overall quality of writing.  Ah, compromise, compromise!
3. Overall quality of writing - which, across the board was pretty darn good :)
4. Completeness/satisfaction level of story - I realize the 350 word limit was the culprit in a lot of endings that felt a little hurried and incomplete.  There are quite a few stories here that would be fabulous at 400 words :)

So here they are.  We narrowed the 42 down to 7 (for which I think WE deserve a prize... or at least a little something for the ulcers we developed whilst agonizing :)  how about chocolate? :)).  Please read through them and then vote for your favorite in the poll below.  You will have until midnight Saturday March 23rd to cast your vote.  The winner will be announced on Monday March 25th.  And since we got so many entries, prizes will be given through 3rd place, or maybe more, depending on what goodies I have kicking around :)

Ready?

#1 Breakfast Time For A Hungry Bear

When Bear awoke from a long winter’s sleep, he poked his head outside his den; he expected spring to whack him on the nose. But all he saw was white. Snow. Everywhere.

Bear clambered out of his den. A faded sun hung high in the gloomy sky. “The woods seem to be stuck in winter,” Bear thought. 
“No smell of grasses in the air.
And it’s breakfast time for a hungry bear.”
Then Bear saw a rainbow in the distance and he plodded through the snow until he came to the rainbow’s end.

The bright rainbow colors were flowing into a swirling pool. Bear stuck his paw into the pool and raised it to the sky. He painted the faded sun yellow, and the air grew warm.

Bear placed his paw into the pool again and painted the sky and the river blue. The ice melted and the river began to flow.

Fish began jumping and orioles began singing. Bear painted them orange.

Bear dunked his paw back into the pool and painted the trees and grasses green. A flock of bunting birds flew from the trees and Bear painted them indigo.

Bear dabbed again and painted a field of red tulips and yellow daffodils.
With a dainty stroke of his paw, Bear painted yellow and violet patterns on fluttering butterfly wings.

Bear climbed a pine tree and settled on a thick branch to gaze at his colorful handiwork. A swarm of bees buzzed his nose.

“Mm, mm, mm.
I smell honey in the air.
 It’s breakfast time for a hungry bear!”

A beehive hung above Bear’s head. He stood on the branch and stretched and stretched, but he could not reach the hive. Then Bear slipped. Kerplop! He landed softly on his back among the daffodils.
Grateful to Bear for melting winter away, the bees dropped a sweet, golden piece of honeycomb into Bear's hungry mouth.

"Mm, mm, mm.

Wintertime is in the past.

Spring," sang bear, "is here at last!"


#2 Best Buds

Sam skipped across the kitchen. “Squitch! Squitch!” Froggy feet tracked muck across gleaming white tiles. “Mum! Look what I found,” she exclaimed, thrusting out her fist.
Her mother grimaced. “Samantha Ann Davis,” she screeched through gritted teeth, “see what I found, after I spent my entire morning spring cleaning.” “Boots, off! Outside with your mess!”
Cheeks flushed, shoulders slumped, Sam turned towards the door. Even the blossoms in her sweaty palm seemed to droop.
“Woah! Watch where you’re walking, kiddo,” Dad cautioned. “Don’t wanta bop you with this bat.” “Dad! Look what I found,” Sam exclaimed, thrusting out her fist.
“Cool, Sam,” Dad replied, as he rummaged for a water bottle. “See ya later. Gotta run! First team practice. Tim! Hurry up! I’ll be in the car!”
Tim sprinted past, bumping Sam’s arm. Daffodils dropped, crocuses careened, and grape hyacinths tumbled across the floor. “Sorry, sis,” he mumbled through a mouthful of Lucky Charms. “Team’s waiting!”
Sam scrambled to reassemble the bedraggled bouquet. CLOMP! CHOMP! A daffodil dangled between clenched teeth. Pumpkin quivered; her tail thumped; she eyed Sam.
“Pumpkin! No!” Sam hopped towards the hound. Off she bounded. The chase was on!
“One fewer won’t matter,” Sam sighed, tossing daffodil remains into the compost bucket. “The rest won’t last anyway, unless I set them in water.”
Sam stared at the high shelf where vases shimmered in the sunlight. She spied the stepstool on the far side of the kitchen. Could she drag it over, climb up and grab just one tiny vase?
But she could imagine glittering glass blanketing tiles, Pumpkin shrieking in pain, and Mum screaming, “Samantha Ann Davis…”
Sam collapsed on the back stoop. Sun-warmed bricks eased the chill seeping through her worn jeans and torn hoodie. Robins wrestled worms from steaming soil as chick-a-dees chattered.
Sam heard a “tap, tap, tap.” Glancing around, she spotted Mrs. Young waving from her curtained window. She was pointing a gnarled finger towards a plate of steaming cookies.
With a broad grin, Sam raced towards her neighbor. “I picked these for you!”
Sam knew, Spring was really here!


#3 What Henry Knew


Henry spotted snowdrops unfurling their leaves and bobbing their little white heads.

“Look, Pappy,” he said to his grandfather. “Spring is here!”

Pappy scratched his white-as-snowdrops head. “I don’t know, Henry,” he said. “Sniff the air; does it smell like spring yet?”

Henry took a deep breath. “I smell snowy clouds and drippy icicles,” he said.

Pappy nodded. “Me, too.”

“Not spring yet,” said Henry.

The next morning, Henry awoke to a light snow covering everything, including the brave little snowdrops that had tried to bloom yesterday.

But the sun came out and melted the snow. Henry spied some pointy crocus leaves piercing the soil.

“Look, Pappy,” he said to his grandfather. “Spring is here!”

“I don’t know, Henry,” said Pappy. “Does it smell like spring yet?”

Henry took a deep breath. “I smell frosty air and frozen ponds.”

Pappy nodded. “Me, too.”

“Still not spring yet,” said Henry.

The next morning, Henry awoke to a frosted yard and icy plants. The crocus tips sparkled like glass.

But the sun came out and thawed the frost. Henry saw the golden glint of daffodils up by the house.

“Look, Pappy,” he said to his grandfather. “Spring is here!”

“I don’t know, Henry,” said Pappy. “Does it smell like spring yet?”

Henry took a deep breath. “I smell wriggly worms and muddy grass.”

Pappy smiled. “Me, too. And look, there’s a grape hyacinth!”

Henry knew Spring was really here!


#4 Spring

Up squirmed the worms from their homes in the ground,

Inching along never making a sound.
Down plopped the ducklings in puddles to play,

Splishing and splashing on this rainy day.
Under the leaf with its dainty wings dry,

Butterfly hung looking up at the sky.
Over its web stretching fuzzy legs out,

Spider watched raindrops fall gently about.
Into their hives for the afternoon showers,

Bees dreamed of nectar in blossoming flowers.
Out of the earth waking up from the rain,

Blades of green grass were appearing again.

Raindrops and clouds disappeared without trace.

Sunshine and blue skies smiled down in their place.
Spreading her wings gently butterfly flew.

Bees dreamed no more. There was now work to do.
Spider inspected her web with most care.

Worms found their homes to have no water there.
Ducklings fluffed feathers to dry in the sun.

Another new season of spring had begun.


#5 The Sweet Smell Of Spring

Everyone was talking about SPRING, but Roxy had no idea what that meant.
She trotted to the treat cupboard. No one paid any attention. SPRING couldn’t be about food.
She dropped her rubber bone in a lap. It fell to the floor. SPRING wasn’t about fetch.
She flopped on her bed and sighed. SPRING obviously wasn’t for dogs.
Her leash jingled.
“Come, Roxy. Let’s go on a Spring walk,” said her girl.
Roxy danced through squishy grass. She barked at a bright-chested bird. And she stared longingly at a ball slapping into a boy’s gloved hand.
Which one was SPRING?
“Mmmm,” said her girl. “It smells like Spring.”
SPRING was a smell? Roxy absolutely loved smells. But there were so many.
The leftover people smell of a soggy mitten.
The earthiness of a wriggly worm.
Puddles. Leaf shoots. New grass. Rubber boots.
Which one was SPRING?
Roxy caught a whiff of something fresh. Something different. That had to be it!
She lunged for the smell. Her leash slipped free.
“Roxy, wait!”
But Roxy had to find SPRING.
She splashed through trickling water.
Quack!
A fat bird snapped. A whole line of little ones peep, peep, peeped.
Roxy sniffed, but they were not SPRING.
She scrambled up a muddy bank.
Plunk!
A small, spotty lump hop, hop hopped.
Roxy sniffed, but it was not SPRING.
The fresh, sweet smell of SPRING filled her nose. She was close.
Her girl called, “Roxy, stop!”
But Roxy couldn’t. SPRING smelled too delicious.
Her nails clicked on the sidewalk.
Ding-a-ling! Ding-a-ling! Wheels gritted to a stop.
Roxy’s nose twitched. She drooled. She shook off the mud, ready to sniff up SPRING.
“Euw!” someone said.
“Get that muddy dog away from the ice cream!” cried someone else.
PLOP!
At last! SPRING! Roxy licked as fast as she could.
Her girl snapped on her leash. “Roxy, you found the ice cream truck! Now I know Spring is really here.”


#6 Little Fox's Springs

Little Fox was almost one year old.
LIttle Fox remembered summer. He played in the sun and swam in the brook.
Little Fox remembered fall. He hid in the leaves and ran with the wind.
Little Fox remembered winter. He cuddled with his mama and tunneled in the snow.
But he didn’t remember spring. It was so long ago!
“What’s spring?” he asked his mama.
“Spring is when you were born,” said his mama.
“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.
Little Fox tiptoed out of his den. He found Jackrabbit.
“What’s spring?” he asked Jackrabbit.
“A spring is a bounce!” said Jackrabbit. “Here, I’ll show you.” And Jackrabbit sprung around the meadow and back to Little Fox.
“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.
Little Fox now had a spring in his step. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He found Raven.
“What’s spring?” he asked Raven.
“A spring is a coil that wiggles and jiggles. Here, I’ll show you.” And Raven flew to his nest, rifled through twigs and toys and carried a spring back to Little Fox.
“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.
Little Fox now had a spring in his step and a new toy spring in his paw. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He saw Moose.
“What’s spring?” he asked Moose.
“A spring is delicious!” said Moose. “Here, I’ll show you.” And Moose trod to a small hole in the moss where clear water was bubbling. Little Fox took a drink.
“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox, licking his lips.
Little Fox now had a spring in his step and a toy spring in his paw and some fresh spring water in his tummy. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He saw Deer.
“What’s spring?” he asked Deer.
But Deer couldn’t talk. She was busy with two very tiny, very spotted fawns.
Little Fox remembered what his mama had said. He was born in the spring. The fawn gave Little Fox a slobbery kiss.
Little Fox knew spring was here at last.

#7 Spring's Promise
Since Dad’s accident, Mom was at the hospital all the time.


Instead of pizza Friday night, Maya and Pearl had to eat whatever the neighbors had kindly delivered.

It had only been a week, but nothing was the same.

“I want to go outside,” Pearl complained. “Grandma promised. But she fell asleep.”

Maya forced a smile. “C’mon,” she said. She couldn’t make Dad better. She couldn’t cook dinner. But she could play with Pearl.

She flipped her collar up against the wind.

“Look!” Pearl pointed to a nest on the ground.

“It probably came down in the wind,” Maya said. “Don’t worry. It’s from last year. Most birds haven’t come north yet.”
  
She walked toward the metal pole in the middle of the yard. The bottom half of the pole to their purple martin houses. Purple martins were Dad’s favorite birds. He even talked back to them, imitating their joyful gargling sound. She helped him clean the houses each winter.

“We’ll put the houses back up on Saturday,” Dad had said last weekend. “To be ready for the scouts.” 

Then the truck rear-ended Dad’s van.

What would happen if a scout came, and the house wasn’t up?

Dad would be sad. Their yard would be quiet. And buggy. Purple martins ate a lot of mosquitoes. Maya thought of Dad again.

He wanted the houses up.

Maya could barely lift the houses. Another pole attached to the underside. She couldn’t balance it over her head to slip it onto the pole in the ground.

“Let’s go!” she told Pearl.

“I don’t want to go in,” Pearl groused.

Maya took Pearl’s hand and went next door.

Mr. Landers answered her knock. “What can I do for you?”

Maya explained the problem.

Before Mom came home, Mr. Landers had the house up.

“You shouldn’t have,” Mom said. “Everyone has done so much already.”

“Just glad to hear Don is doing better,” Mr. Landers said.

“Look!” Maya pointed to a lone bird circling overhead. “It’s a scout!” And she smiled for the first time in a week.

Maya knew Spring was here at last.


I would also like to extend Honorable Mention to the following writers:
To Vivian for Waiting For Spring - a lovely, poignant story.
To Erik for Spring Schming - what a great twist to have story told from the POV of a melting snowman :)
To Bradin for Spring And The Bear With Golden Fur - a creative story told in a wonderful fable/folk tale style
To Delores for Maddy's Spring Surprise - so perfectly kid - we could completely imagine Maddy speaking!
And to Meg for Stella's Spring - full of lovely language and imagery that made us feel spring was knocking on our door - "tweet tweedle wicka wicka wicka" :)

Again, thank you all - the writers who worked hard to entertain us with these amazing stories, the readers who took the time to read and comment on them all, and everyone who takes the time to vote.  Someone is going to have the chance to put a picture book manuscript in an editor's hands :)

I can't wait to see who the winner will be.  The suspense will be thrilling :)

Happy voting! :)

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March 15, 2013

The In Just Spring Contest!!!


The In Just Spring Contest!


Hurray!  It's here!!  The In Just Spring Contest!!!  And so timely, because I'm really ready for spring and it doesn't seem to be obliging just yet :)

The Contest:  Write a children's story, in poetry or prosemaximum 350 words.

The story must be about something that really says "SPRING" to you - something that really makes you feel that spring is here!  It can be nature oriented - the robins or geese returning, eggs hatching, flowers blooming, baby animals being born, bears waking up, sunshine or rain, etc.  It can be holiday oriented - St. Patrick's Day, Easter, April Fools' Day etc.  It can be school oriented - the spring pageant, spring vacation, the spring talent show.  It can be activity oriented - picnics, bike riding, baseball - anything at all that makes you think spring.

The only other requirement is that the last line must be "[Character Name] knew Spring was really here!" or "[Character Name] knew Spring was here at last!"  (You can also write in first person if you want - e.g. I knew Spring was really here.... and present tense is fine too.)  I've given the rhymers amongst you a choice... but if you can't make either option work with your rhyme scheme you have permission to tweak it slightly as long as the essential meaning stays the same.

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Friday March 15 at 12:01 AM EDT and Monday March 18 at 11:59 PM EDT, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on this post which will remain up through Tuesday March 19 (no new post on Monday March 18).  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments here.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I'll post your entry for you!)

The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to five finalists (or possibly a couple more if we get a lot of entries :)) which will be posted here on Wednesday March 20 (no WYRI that day) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at midnight March 23 and the winner will be announced on Monday March 25.

The Prizes!:
The First Place Winner will get the chance to put one of his/her picture book manuscripts in the hands of editor Laura Galvin of KidsBooks for a read and comments! (and who knows? she might love it! :))

If we get more than 20 entries, prizes will be give through 3rd place.  2nd Place will receive a $25 Amazon gift certificate, and 3rd place will receive his/her choice of the craft books listed below.

Should the winner happen not to be a picture book writer or for some reason not want to show his/her work to an actual real live editor at an actual real live publishing house, he/she will receive a $25 gift certificate to Amazon and a choice of Writing Picture Books: A Hands On Guide From Story Creation To Publication by Ann Whitford Paul, Writing With Pictures: How To Write And Illustrate Children's Books by Uri Shulevitz, How To Write A Children's Book And Get It Published by Barbara Seuling, The Writer's Guide To Crafting Stories For Children by Nancy Lamb, or 2013 Children's Writers And Illustrators Market by Chuck Sambuchino, and the editor prize will go to the highest placed finisher who wants it.

Here is my sample, squeezing in just under the wire at 348 words:


That's Better

     As soon as the hockey rink opened in November, Charlie shot out the door with Dad to go skating.

     “Hold it, mister!” said Mom.

     Charlie skidded to a stop.

     Mom pulled a hat down over his ears.  She wound a scarf around his neck.  She slid mittens on his hands.  “That’s better.”

     Charlie didn’t think so.  “I itch,” he complained.

     Mom shrugged.  “No warm clothes, no skating.”

     That was a no-brainer.  Hat, scarf, and mittens stayed on, and Dad and Charlie went to the rink.

     When the first snow fell in December, Charlie raced outside to build a snowman.

     “Hold it, mister!” said Mom.

     Mom pulled the hat over his ears, wound the scarf around his neck, and slid the mittens on his hands.  Then she zipped him into his winter jacket and stuffed his feet in clunky boots.  “That’s better.”

     Charlie didn’t think so.  “I’m hot,” he complained.

     “You won’t be when you get outside,” said Mom.  “Now scoot.”
     Charlie scooted.
     In January, when the deep cold gave the snow a perfect icy crust, Charlie sped out to sled.
     “Hold it, mister!” said Mom.
     Out came the hat, the scarf, the mittens, and the boots, but this time Mom bundled him into his snowsuit.  “That’s better.”
     “Mo-om,” said Charlie.  “I can’t even walk!”
     “You can stay in and help me fold laundry,” Mom offered.
     “Hmmm,” said Charlie, “maybe I can walk,” and out the door he shuffled.
     All through February and March, for tobogganing, fort-building, and snowball-fighting, Charlie could not get out the door without every inch covered in warm clothes.
     “I’m tired of winter,” he said.
     Then the days got longer.  The sun got warmer.  The snow melted, and one day there were robins on the lawn.
     Charlie opened the door and the air was soft and warm.
     “Hold it, mister!” said Mom.
     “Please, Mom,” begged Charlie.  “I don’t want all those clothes.”
     Mom smiled.  She put his baseball cap on his head and handed him his ball and glove.
     “That’s better!” said Charlie.  He hugged her and laughed.  “Now I know spring is really here!”

Now.  I KNOW you can all do better than THAT - talk about circling the drain! - so take heart and get those stories posted!  I can't wait to read them! :)  Don't forget to add your post-specific link to the list below so that we can all come read your stories and feel like spring is coming!  The list will stay up through midnight Tuesday March 19.

Good luck! :)
And please remember to check the comment section!  There are already entries there from Linda, Jill, Pat, Marie-Therese, Nancy C, Jenny, Doris, Nancy M, Kimberly, and Lizzie.  (You may have to scroll down aways...)

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