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1. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

(Still haven't solved the link list problem, so today's post is both here and on the new site!  http://susannahill.com/blog/)

Today is one of those days I love.  Not only do I get to share a truly delightful picture book, it happens to be by an author whose friendship I value and whose work I am already a fan of.  AND I got to read an advance copy, which means it's like a secret - practically no one else has gotten to read it yet.  I'm like a member of a super special secret club :)  Maybe we should have a secret handshake... Ooh! or a password...! but I digress... :)

Come on!  Quick!  You're going to love this one! :)

Title: Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep
Written By: Robin Newman
Illustrated By: Chris Ewald
Creston Books, Fiction, April 12, 2016

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: problem solving, communication, fractured nursery rhyme/fairy tale, humor

Opening: "There's a little-known secret about Hildie Bitterpickles.  She needs her sleep.
Every night Hildie brushes her teeth, puts away her spell book, and goes to bed with her cat, Clawdia.
Until the night when Hildie's quiet neighborhood changed.
Someone moved in next door.  A very loud someone."

Brief Synopsis: What's a desperate-to-sleep witch to do when an elevator-clanking giant, an old woman with a shoe full of noisy children, and a roof-blowing big bad wolf move into her previously quiet neighborhood? Checking the real estate listings and moving seems like the answer, until she learns that a little communication can go a long way and it's better to deal with your problems then run from them.

Links To Resources: Fabulous Teacher's Guide!; discuss with your kids or students what things might bother them while they're trying to fall asleep or do other activities and how they might constructively cope with those annoyances

Why I Like This Book: First off, Hildie Bitterpickles and Clawdia!  Who could possibly not want to read about characters with names like that? :)  The story is tons of fun.  Poor Hildie gets grumpier and grumpier and more and more discouraged, until she comes full circle back to a very familiar spot.  She learns an important lesson (in a not-at-all-preachy way!) about the importance of facing problems rather than running from them.  And she comes up with some clever solutions that solve problems for everyone.  Plus there is a whole spread in the middle showing a page from The Daily Witch that will tickle your funny bone :)  Favorite line in the book?  When the wolf says, "My specialty is demolition, but I could give repair work a try." :)  Appealing art in soft fairy tale colors for daytime and rich night-time hues round out the book perfectly.  Pre-order your copy, encourage your local library to do so as well, and/or write a really great Valentiny Contest story and possibly win a signed copy! :)

And if you haven't seen the trailer...



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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!!  And keep a weather eye on the... well... on the weather, since the most important weather prediction day of the year is coming up next week! You all know what day THAT is... :)



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2. Come On Over To The New Blog For Would You Read It #199!

Psst!

Have you heard?

I'm moving my blog...

Well, maybe...

Wordpress and I have a few things to iron out before I commit completely...

But for now, Would You Read It is HERE so come on over!!!

http://susannahill.com/blog/

And we have Gooey Chocolate Caramel Brownies!!!

See you in a minute... :)

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3. Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Complete Adventures Of Big Dog And Little Dog

Woo-hoo!  It's Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I'm sure you'll all be thrilled to know that I'm in a mad rush today, which means I shall attempt brevity (stop laughing - I can hear you!), which means a quicker than usual read for you :)

Just a quick note - I still haven't solved the link list problem over at my new wordpress blog, so although today's post is located there as well, the link list is here.


Title: The Complete Adventures Of Big Dog And Little Dog
Written & Illustrated By: Dav Pilkey
Harcourt, June 2003, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: publisher says 4-8, I'd say 3-6

Themes/Topics: friendship, humor

Opening: "Big Dog and Little Dog are hungry.  Big Dog and Little Dog want food."

Brief Synopsis: (from the jacket) "Big Dog is ready for some fun!  Little Dog is ready too.  Join these irresistible puppy pals on five zippy adventures, together for the first time in one cozy picture book collection."

Links To Resourcesactivities to help teach oppositesopposites worksheetsfriendship activities

Why I Like This Book: You may be familiar with Dav Pilkey from The Stupids or Captain Underpants.  This is a different side of him - simple and sweet with gentle humor.  These two dog friends do everything together (including get in trouble!) and always look out for each other.  These five stories were originally published separately but are now all together in one book which gives them the feel of George And Martha or Frog And Toad, but with a lot less text.  Simple and fun, I know from experience that these stories appeal to very young readers.  And also, as many of you may have figured out, I like dogs :)

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

So there you have it!  Wasn't that the shortest post ever?

PPBF bloggers, please leave your links in the list below!

Oh, but one more thing before we all go off to enjoy everyone else's PPBF picks and our weekends!  Due to the incredible generosity of the people in the kidlit community, the prizes for the Valentiny Contest are rolling in!  So be sure and check the contest post for updates - the prizes will knock your socks off and you will definitely want to work on your entries this weekend as a result!

Have a great weekend, everyone!



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4. Come On Over To The New Digs For Would You Read It!

You'll love it!

I promise!

It's nice over there!

And we have Brownie Sundaes! :)

http://susannahill.com/blog/

See you soon! :)

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5. Oh, Boy! We're Going To Have Some Fun Now!

Hey there!

I'm posting here for anyone who hasn't signed up for post notifications over at the new place yet.
(And because it's just possible I'm going to end up continuing to use this blog if Wordpress doesn't start playing nice!)

Please come on over and read about the Exciting CONTEST NEWS!

http://susannahill.com/blog/


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6. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Lemonade In Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money

Woo hoo!  It's Friday!

And you know what that means...

Perfect Picture Books! :)

As you know, I'm trying to switch my blog over to Wordpress... http://susannahill.com/blog/ ...but there are (possibly insurmountable) issues, including the fact that I can't get a link list to appear over there.  So for today at least, I'm posting here as well so you can all add your links, and I'm going to try to add them manually to my post over there... I just won't get it done until late in the day or evening... and I wanted you to have visitors before that!

It will all work out eventually... :)

Meanwhile, I have the perfect picture book for a winter day :)  I especially love it because it reminds of when my kids did a very similar thing - set up a lemonade stand on the corner of a completely untraveled country road, certain they would make their fortune and with no inkling that they had no hope of a single customer.  (Of course, I couldn't bear for them to be out there waiting so hopefully only to get crushed with disappointment, so I made some phone calls to make sure at least a few cars came along full of thirsty passengers :)

Title: Lemonade In Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money
Written By: Emily Jenkins
Illustrated By: G. Brian Karas
Schwartz & Wade, September 2012, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: math/money, cooperation, hope, entrepreneurship

Opening: "An empty street.
Outside, a mean wind blows.
Icicles hang from the windowsills.
Inside, Pauline presses her nose to the frosted glass.
"I know!" she says.
"Let's have a lemonade stand.""

Brief Synopsis: Undeterred by the wintry weather, Pauline and her little brother John-John gather up all their quarters, buy supplies, and set up a lemonade stand.  Alas, customers are few and far between, forcing Pauline and John-John to be creative to try to increase sales.  In spite of their best efforts, they spend more than they earn... but they earn enough for something that pleases them both.

Links To Resources: the book itself is a resource in terms of showing creative business management :) - Pauline and John-John try advertising, sales, decorations, and entertainment.  It also shows money and math in action, and there is back matter in which "Pauline Explains Money To John-John."  Ask your child or students to think up their own business ideas.  What would they sell?  How would they go about it?  What supplies would they need?  How much would they need to charge and how much would they need to earn to make their business a success?

Why I Like This Book: This book is so cute, and so completely believably child-like!  Only kids, full of hope and belief in themselves and their abilities, would set up a lemonade stand in a howling snowstorm on a mostly deserted street :)  In spite of the poor odds, they're determined to make their business a success and come up with all kinds of creative ideas.  Unfortunately in the end they learn a hard lesson about business... but at least something good comes of it (which I hate to give away, but it's so cute I have to tell you - they lose money, but have enough for two popsicles - the perfect treat in a snowstorm, apparently :))

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

(And at some point tomorrow, Sunday or Monday, I will post the promised new writing contest guidelines!  I'm trying desperately to scrounge up some prizes for you! :))


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7. Would You Read It Wednesday #197 - Nicky And The Inchworm PLUS A Plethora Of Pitch Pick Winners!

Hi there!

As you know, I'm in the process of switching blog sites, so today's post is appearing HERE (http://wp.me/p32vSY-NA)  (I'm hoping one of those will work, but you can also try http://susannahill.com/blog/)

Please hop over to visit! :)

I've got to tell you, though, while wordpress may have many lovely attributes, I'm not finding it as versatile to blog on.  I can't change font type, size or color (and you know how much I like bright colors!)  I can't make the blog post titles appear in anything but capitals.  And, most problematical of all, I can't figure out a way to add the link lists I use for Perfect Picture Book Fridays and the writing contests.

It might just be me.

We all know I'm a technomoron :)

But if I can't sort it out, I will be continuing to blog with blogger!

Meanwhile, please come over to the new digs for today's post and delicious Something Chocolate snack!

http://susannahill.com/blog/


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8. A Plethora Of Pitch Picks!

HI!

I'm so glad to see you! :)

This extra Monday post gives me a whole 'nother day to hang out with you!

(And a Monday post reminds me (just come along on the stream-of-consciousness train of thought here) that it's been ages since we did Oh Susanna!  So if anyone - writer, teacher, parent - has a question of any kind about reading, writing, submitting, picture books, etc... - feel free to email it to me using the handy Email Me button or susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and put Oh Susanna in the subject line.  Your picture book questions answered!  I'd love to run Oh Susanna! again, at least occasionally :))

But today is all about Pitch Picks!  So many!  In appreciation of your hard work and dedication, I will supply Something Chocolate - extra Something Chocolates! Triple Something Chocolates! - for each Pitch Pick!

Ready?

Here we go!  (And please remember I'm in the process of switching to my new website and blog, hoping to encourage you all to migrate over to my cozy, pretty new hangout at wordpress (not that I'm at all biased :)), so if you haven't visited yet, please do! - Website and Blog - and follow over there so we won't miss each other when I stop posting here!)

The September Pitch Pick... with this delicious, delectable, Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust... YUM!!!

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust
Recipe HERE at OMG Chocolate Desserts
http://omgchocolatedesserts.com/triple-chocolate-cheesecake-oreo-crust/

#1 Lizette - Moms (PB ages 1.5 - 3)

This book is an illustrated story about mothers. It demonstrates that mothers from all over the world love and care for their children no matter what walk of life they come from. It is very reflective of Canada's multicultural community and celebrates diversity. It is a simple story where the only text is the word " Mom" "Mother or "Mommy " in various languages. The illustrations will represent the feelings and interactions that occur daily between a mother and her children.  Pictures can capture emotions and can be understood by all and make for an open ended reading experience.

#2 Maria - Firefighters' Busy Day (PB ages 2-6)

Firefighters are busy! They have many tasks to do each day including “washing, waxing shining the truck, cleaning the gear, getting rid of the muck.”
Many don’t realize that firefighters do much more than just put water on fires. In Firefighters’ Busy Day, they can see the jobs firefighters do before, during, and after a fire call. Through the use of movement written into the text, they can even help firefighters get their jobs done.

Young children can pretend to be busy firefighters too, by trying some of the exciting fire safety activities included such as a fire truck parade or having firefighter-themed meal. The activities included are sure to turn everyday learning into firefighter fun.

#3 Diana - Wait For Cate (PB ages 4-8)

Cate has made a promise to her school friends to be on time for the big kickball game at recess. And they need her! When Cate encounters the new girl stuck in the sand in her wheelchair, Cate needs to make a decision. Should she keep her promise to her kickball team or help a new friend out of a “sticky” situation? 

#4 Zainab - Dear Cat (PB ages 4-8)

Persistent Bird keeps bugging Cat with his letters to be his friend.  Cat snubs Bird...until it's snack time. Cat is ready for a tasty meal except Bird has his own devious plan in mind for this "clever" cat. 

Please read and consider Lizette, Maria, Diana, and Zainab's pitches and choose the one you think is best and deserves a read by editor Erin Molta, and vote for it in the poll below by Tuesday January 12 at 7 PM EDT.

Poll
September Pitch Pick 2015
Aaaaand...  a little more Something Chocolate to keep your strength up... Triple Chocolate Poke Cake (bonus points to anyone who can tell me what a poke cake is! :))
Triple Chocolate Poke Cake
Recipe HERE at Beyond Frosting
http://beyondfrosting.com/2013/12/08/triple-chocolate-poke-cake/


The October Pitch Pick

#5 Kirk - My Next Door Neighbor Is A Dragon Princess (MG)

I didn’t care much for Maddie Buckner. At two, she bit my ear. At four she pushed me off a slide. At 8, she broke my favorite model airplane that took five months to build. At 10, she kissed me – on the lips! – under the Big Toy in the playground and told me she loved me. At 11, she spit in my face and said she hated me. Then she asked Parker Williams to the sock hop. Parker Williams! Oh, how I despised her. But then she had to go and save my life. That’s when I discovered her secret.

#6 Lisa - Kitten Ciao (PB ages 4-7)

Kitten Ciao is fed up with Mama’s cooking, so he consults his food lover’s map and dashes off to Europe.  It all seems so right, but everything goes wrong.  The rain in Paris turns his crepes to goo, his English pudding is filled with (gasp!) raisins, the sauerkraut at Oktoberfest is, well, he’s not sure what it is, and there’s no chocolate dip for his Spanish churros.  Most tragically, he accidentally bites his tongue while eating pasta in Rome.  Kitten Ciao swiftly learns there is no place like home – and a grilled cheese sandwich.

#7 Patricia - Aunt Elvira and the Watermelon Seed (PB ages 4-7)

A visit from Great-Aunt Elvira happens once in a lifetime.  But why must it be during Clarissa's lifetime? Her prim and proper twin, Marissa, is sure to shine. With her slurps, burps and spitting skills, Clarissa can’t imagine how to shine, let alone survive dinner, even with watermelon on the menu.

Please read and consider Kirk, Lisa, and Patricia's pitches and vote for the one you think is best and deserves a read by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Tuesday January 12 at 7 PM EDT.
Poll
October Pitch Pick 2015And now, last one!  You're doing great!  And here's a little more Something Chocolate to keep you going!  Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake... sorry if you're drooling on your keyboard... I take full responsibility :)
Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
Recipe HERE at OMG Chocolate Desserts
http://omgchocolatedesserts.com/triple-chocolate-mousse-cake-by-vera/

The November Pitch Pick

#8 Jessica - Showdown At The Sippy Cup Saloon (PB ages 4-8)

In the tiny town of Toddle, in the cradle of the West, Sheriff Wyatt Burp is snoozing in his crib when Wild Bill Hiccup arrives to wake up -- and shake up -- the pint-size population.  "Don't go gettin' yer onesie in a twist," Wild Bill warns Wyatt, but tempers flare until the two go bib to bib in a showdown at the Sippy Cup Saloon. Who will emerge the rootin' tootin' squirt gun shootin' hero of the West? 

#9 Sandy - Caterwauling Cats (PB ages 4-8)
Jack and Dave miss their happy home where they take cushy naps and eat Kitty Cat Comfort Cozies. After several attempts to escape overdressing and mud pie feeding from Esther, they learn to yowl like monsters under her bed. Esther exits and the kitties have their own room for napping and noshing. 

#10 Christie - The Naked Goose (PB ages 3-7)

When Honk flies south, he meets a few oddly dressed geese and tries to follow suit. However, he does not realize they are lawn ornaments. After an awkward inquiry, followed by several disastrous outfits, Honk discovers he is happier the way he came - naked. 

#11 Jen - Ernie's Toothfake (PB ages 4-8)

Ernie Blossomfoss rushes home to get his first lost tooth under his pillow, but when he trips he watches it go sailing into the playground woodchips.  Convinced the tooth fairy won’t come unless she has a tooth to collect, Ernie hatches a plan to leave the perfect counterfeit.  When the clever fairy doesn’t fall for it, Ernie ups the ante until he finally discovers that being honest is more valuable than a crisp dollar bill.  
Please read and consider Jessica, Sandy, Christie, and Jen's pitches and vote for the one you think is best and deserves a read by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Tuesday January 12 at 7 PM EDT.

Poll
November Pitch Pick 2015
Phew!  I know!  That was a lot of pitch reading and picking!  You are all the absolute best, and that is why I and everyone who submits a pitch love you so much.  Know that you have done a good deed for the day and that the universe will return that goodness to you in multiples!

And now, this extra poll-laden post wouldn't be complete without me telling you the results of last week's poll on the subject of an extra writing contest in February....

The response was overwhelmingly in favor of a contest!

So I guess I'll be seeing what I can put together for you all! :)

Ooh!  This is exciting!

Stay tuned!  I'll get the contest guidelines up as soon as I think of them... and keep your fingers crossed that I can rummage up some good prizes for you on short notice!!!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone, and thanks again for all your help with the pitches!  We couldn't do it without you! EmojiEmojiEmoji


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9. Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Almost Terrible Playdate

This is so exciting!  It's the first Perfect Picture Book Friday of 2016!

(Because I know you guys are a bunch of wild revelers and would have been too tired on January 1st to appreciate PPBF :)  Really.  That's the reason.  I was thinking of you.  It had nothing whatever to do with the fact that I spent the holidays not working :))

Woo hoo!

Just think of all the terrific books we're going to read and share this year!

And my pick for today is one that none of you have read or probably even heard of because it's not out yet! :)  You'll just have to drool with anticipation until February 16! :)

Before we get to it, though, one quick housekeeping note!

As I mentioned Wednesday, I'm about to have a brand new website and blog!  Actually, I kind of already do - it's up!  We're just still working out a few kinks...  so don't be shocked and horrified if you see a typo or something looks a little off kilter (but please let me know :)) You can go look at it if you want to :)  It's located at susannahill.com.  I hope you'll like it as much as I do!

For now, I'm posting blog posts here and there, but I'm hoping to switch to only there by next week... I just don't want to leave anyone behind *sniff sniff*  That would be so sad!  So please add the new blog ( http://susannahill.com/blog/ ) to your reader, or sign up to follow it by email, or whatever system works for you so you don't miss any of the fun and I don't miss you!  I'm looking forward to a new year full of high jinx and shenanigans serious writerly pursuits - among other things very possibly including a writing contest in about 3 weeks, judging by the poll response so far from Wednesday (if you haven't voted, please go HERE so you can express your opinion :)) so PLEASE!  Come along! :)  Remember... I have chocolate... not that I'm trying to bribe you or anything... :)

So I hope I'll see you all over there and now let's get to this fabulous book already!

Title: The Almost Terrible Playdate
Written & Illustrated By: Richard Torrey
Doubleday Books For Young Readers, February 16, 2016, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: friendship, compromise, getting along, imagination

Opening: "What do you want to play?"
"What do you want to play?"
"How about I'm the queen of the universe and my doll, Pippy, is my sister queen, and you visit my castle?"
"Or how about I'm the giantest dinosaur ever and you're a dinosaur too - but not the giantest - and we stomp around smashing stuff?"

Brief Synopsis: A girl and a boy with active imaginations each have very different ideas about what makes a fun game.  Will the afternoon end with two kids playing alone on opposite sides of the room, or will they find something that is fun for both of them?

Links To Resources: Class Compromise Activity for grades 3, 4 & 5 - Planning A Class Party; let your child or student draw a picture of what they think would be a fun game to play; discuss the meaning of compromise and the importance of getting along - what would happen if everyone insisted on getting his/her own way?  Give examples of situations where people might have to compromise and have kids discuss how it could be handled, for example if one child wants to go to the zoo and the other wants to go to the playground, or how to plan a family picnic that will be fun for a variety of interests, etc.

Why I Like This Book: First of all, how fun is it that I got to read this book and share it with you when it's not even out yet?!  :)  This is a delightful story, told completely through dialogue and illustration (a good mentor text for writers who are working on similar stories.)  The writing is spare and there is no written narrative - it's all a conversation.  The girl is completely sure that her idea is best, her game the most fun...and not surprisingly it gives her the starring role.  The boy is equally convinced that his totally different idea is best, his game the most fun...and not surprisingly it gives him the starring role :)  Anyone who has ever spent time around kids will recognize this dynamic.  The children's imaginative descriptions grow more and more elaborate as they try to convince each other, but it is not to be.  Before long the girl is playing her game, and the boy is playing his.  But they are side by side... sneaking glances at each other... ultimately unable to resist their curiosity about each other's games and the allure of having someone to play with, not just next to.  The resolution is just right - very believable - and brings young readers full circle.  But one of the best things about this book is the art!  Childlike crayon drawings depicting the imagined games - SO much fun, and not to be missed!

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  And don't forget (hopefully I won't forget! :)) that we're going to have a special blog post on Monday to vote for all the best Would You Read It pitches from September, October and November!


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10. Would You Read It Wednesday #196 - Unicorn With A Stache (PB) PLUS Some New Year's News!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I hope you all had wonderful, happy, healthy holidays and are raring to charge full speed into 2016!

I confess that I'm unusually glad to be starting a new year.  I'm ready for some changes and I hope you'll be excited to come along with me!

For starters...

DRUM ROLL...!!!

I'm about to unveil my new and improved website and blog!

Some people (who shall be nameless) (you know who you are Julie Hedlund and Katie Davis) have been urging me for some time to switch to Wordpress.  So I'm taking the plunge!  Seeing as how I'm completely inept when it comes to technology there are bound to be some glitches during the switchover, so I beg your patience with me! :)

I am also (hopefully) on the verge of launching a totally awesome newsletter (she said modestly).  More on that when it's closer to ready - I'm still working on layout and format, and my incredibly talented artist and I are still working on the banner.

I am also hoping to have a new class and/or workshop on offer at some point... though that may take me a little longer since I'm wrestling with how to make it make sense and work smoothly.  It's in the hopper, though, so fingers crossed!

In the meantime, my old class will be now be offered at two levels: the traditional one that's been offered for the past 3 years at a wee price increase and a new Self Study version (for less $) where you can work on your own.

I'm cutting back on critiques a bit for the next little while to give myself more time to work on these other projects, but will continue to offer a shorter, quicker, (cheaper :)), less formal version of my critiques for those interested as well as a limited number of full critiques for returning writers who have gotten critiques from me before.

WOW!  That's a lot of new news, don't you think?  I'm thrilled by all of it... now it just remains for me to get it all finished and up and running! :)

Now then!  Onto the business of Would You Read It Wednesday!

Somehow, due to one thing and another, we haven't had a Pitch Pick since July!  So this coming Monday January 11 there will be a special Pitch Pick post in which you will have the chance to choose your favorite pitches from September, October and November without having to focus on anything else - a new pitch or a Perfect Picture Book or whatnot.  I will provide an extra Something Chocolate to make it worth your while :)  but it just seems easier and less stressful to put the Pitch Picks by themselves then to lump them all in with another post, don't you think?

But, lest you be in voting withdrawal :), I have something else for you to vote on today.

Quite a few people have asked me how I'd feel about running a writing contest in February to break up the winter doldrums.  If there is interest, I'd be happy to run one with a Groundhog Day or Valentines Day theme (providing I can drum up good prizes on short notice.)  I've never run one in February before because I feared it would be too much for you all coming so close on the heels of the Halloweensie and Holiday Contests, but it DOES seem appealing to have something fun in February, and it WOULD be a great opportunity for you to create a new manuscript!  So here's a poll where you can vote to let me know if you'd like a contest and whether you'd prefer a Groundhog Day or Valentines Day theme or if you have a better idea!  And if anyone has brilliant ideas for prizes (given that a Groundhog Day Contest would take place in barely a month!) please mention them in the comments or email me! :)  I'll leave the contest poll open from today until Saturday evening.

February Writing Contest?And now, the moment you've all been waiting for (admit it! :))... today's Something Chocolate!  It is frigidly cold here in the Northeast, so I'm thinking rich and delicious and decadent Belgian Hot Chocolate would really hit the spot!!!  (Which if you've never tried you MUST!)
Recipe HERE at
Busy Creating Memories
http://busycreatingmemories.com/belgian-hot-chocolate-recipe/

Ah!  That's better!!! :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Gabi.  Gabi lives in Oregon with her husband, two kiddos, one dog, and one dog-like cat. She loves reading, nature, and caffeine, and she'd love to see you at her blog: https://writingtoconnect.wordpress.com/.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Unicorn With A Stache
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Meet Eustace.  Like his fellow unicorns, he smells like roses. Unlike his fellow unicorns, Eustace grows a mustache. He likes his dapper new look, but his schoolmates tease. 

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 Gabi 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in November so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Gabi is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting all my projects finished and launching my new site, and to your answers about a February Writing Contest!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


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11. The 2015 Holiday Contest WINNERS!!!

Hi there!

I'm so glad you're here!

I have something of great import to discuss with you, and it really cannot wait another minute.

No, not the questionable decision to place Holiday Inflatables in your front yard... although if you do that we should probably talk... :)

And no, not the age old question of what that stuff in fruit cake really is... because darn tootin' it's no kind of fruit I could identify!

I think you can guess what it is. . .

. . . the thing that is first and foremost on all of our minds today. . .

. . . and that is. . .

. . .

. . .what our Official Holiday Elf Names should be!!!

Seriously!  We're running out of time to decide!

Apparently I've got a choice of 5:

Cupcake Gingersocks
(generated by http://christmas.namegeneratorfun.com/ - random)

Cinnamon Embercrystals
(generated by http://christmas.namegeneratorfun.com/  - based on first and last name)

Elvis McJingle
(generated by http://mix108.com/if-you-were-an-elf-what-would-your-name-be-find-out-now/ 

Candy Sparklepants
(generated by http://965kvki.com/whats-your-elf-name-generator/ 

or

Sugar Candykirk
(generated by http://www.elfontheshelf.com/content/elf-name-generator 

I'm torn!

I really am!

I think I have to go with either Cupcake Gingersocks or Candy Sparklepants, though... although Elvis McJingle is very appealing too!  Which one do you think I should pick?

And you should go get yours!  Right now!  And share it in the comments!  You know you want to... :)  I'm all about the giving over here - I went and researched these helpful links just for you, so that you could waste a little time spend the holidays being called by your official Elf Name :)  Think of it as my little holiday gift to you :)

So now, happy holidays!  See you in 2016!  May the force be with you etc.!


What?


You were expecting to discuss something else?


Something more important than official Elf Names? (as if there could be anything more important...!)

Oh!

Right!

I knew there was something else. . .

:)


                    The 5th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!

WINNERS!!!
As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  Really!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!

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

There were, however, many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another.

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

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole:
     David McMullin for Christmas In Discomfort (also so original and creative)
     Jaclyn Kruzie for A Rockin' Christmas Wish
     Sam Steinfels for Unsilent Night
     Melissa Bulls for Santa's Stain (also a fun-for-kids mystery)
     Heather ??? for A Real Christmas Tree

2. For Great Kid Appeal: (not already mentioned in the finals or other categories)
     Wendy Greenley for Cookin' Up The Holiday Kid-Style
     Kirsten Bock Mel The Marshmallow's Cocoa Catastrophe (also great ending!)
     Gabi Snyder Christmas With Kevin The Nanny Bot

3. For Excellence In Evoking Mood And Holiday Spirit And Tradition:
     Joni Klein-Higger for Happy Festival Of Lights
     Shelly Bond for Christmas Story Time!
     Tracey Cox for Zippin' Around On Christmas Eve

4. For Beautiful Rendition Of The Christmas Story:
     Kristi Veitenheimer for A Christmas Birth
     Aileen Stewart for Huddled Around The Stable Door

5. For Most Original Setting:
     Anne Sawan for The Outback Christmas Hop
     Lorraine Nelson for A Very Spacey Christmas

6. For Favorite Character:
     Marla LeSage for spunky, resourceful, entertaining Sheila in Holiday Heist

7. For Best-Written Original Point Of View:
     Julie Bergman for The Little Burnt Latke (POV of a latke!)
     Joanne Sher for Precious Cargo (POV of the donkey who carried Mary)

8. For Fun Story In Fewest Words:
     Miranda Ireland for Christmas Party Hop (4 lines, 44 words - the overworked judges love you :))

9. For Best Entry For Parents :)
     Shari Schwarz for Rocking Beside The Christmas Tree (so sweet :))

10. For Best Entry For Writers :)
     Debbie Austin for What Happened When I First Sat Down To Write This Story (so clever and entertainingly done! - writers you will not want to miss this one!)

11. For Fun Well-Written Animal Entries:
     Ashley Franklin for Picture Perfect (dog)
     Catherine Flynn for Pouncing Around The Christmas Tree (cat)
     Carol Lescinski for Rockin' Reindeer
     Jo Hart for Jungle Bell Rock (a whole menagerie :))

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com to collect your prize, which is your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they're about) (and if you request a paperback, please include your snail mail address!)


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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ultimate Fiction Thesaurus by Sam Stone OR

In paperback:
Show & Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing by Jessica Bell, OR

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

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

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt, OR

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

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


And now...

...the moment you've all been waiting for...

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2015 HOLIDAY CONTEST as voted on by you!!!

rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat

DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

In First Place...

Winner of the whole shebang...

who gets first choice of all the prizes...

Jennifer Reinharz
for The Hanukkah Elf!!!

Congratulations, Jennifer, on a fabulous entry that was clearly very popular!!! :)

In Second Place...

Vivian Kirkfield
for The Christmas Seed

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

In Third Place...

Suzy Levinson
for City Critter Christmas

Congratulations, Suzy!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jennifer and Vivian choose theirs.

In Fourth Place...

Cindy Williams Schrauben
for Jugglin' High For Pumpkin Pie

Congratulations, Cindy!  You get to pick after Jennifer, Vivian, and Suzy.

In Fifth Place...

Kris Allen
for The Incident

Congratulations, Kris!  You get to pick after Jennifer, Vivian, Suzy, and Cindy.

In Sixth Place...

Lisa Connors
for The Gift Of The Magpie (And Friends)

Congratulations, Lisa!  I'm sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now :)

In Seventh Place...

Sandy Jones
for Red Berries In The Snow

Congratulations, Sandy!  You get to pick next :)

In Eighth Place... a 4-way tie!

Linda Schueler
for Randolph, Not A Reindeer
Nancy Tandon
for No Peeking!
Sheila Lynch-Afryl
for Clucking Christmas
Jen Bagan
for Ned's Christmas Wish

Congratulations, Linda, Nancy, Sheila and Jen!  You get to pick after Sandy!  And we'll just have to sort it out between us since you tied!

And in Twelfth Place, rounding out the top dozen of these amazing finalists and the 97 Holiday Contest Entries for 2015...

Deborah Boerema
for A New Classic?

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!  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 Holiday Treat which is not fruitcake! (unless you happen to like it :))

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!

As I... hmm... maybe didn't mention...?, I'm taking a little blogging break so I can spend time with my family - I've got children to fetch, cookies to bake, Christmas presents to shop for and wrap, and my sister and her family are arriving form Georgia on Monday! :) -  Oh, and we're going to see the new Star Wars movie on Wednesday!  So I will see you all in a couple weeks - most probably Wednesday January 6th for Would You Read It :)

So now, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday filled with love, laughter, joy, and family, and a happy, healthy and successful new year!  It is a pleasure and a privilege to get to spend time with you all, and I'm happy and grateful to know each and every one of you!

Looking forward to all the things we'll do in 2016!

Happy Holidays, and all best wishes for a wonderful New Year!!!

Love,
Susanna

The Prizes!!!  (items in color are links for more info!):

A Picture Book Manuscript read and critique (winner's choice of in-person, on the phone, or via email) by Claire Dorsett, Editorial Assistant, Roaring Brook Press!!!
   A bibliophile and outdoor enthusiast, Claire spent her childhood summers road-tripping across the United States, reading constantly on the long car rides between parks and museums. Her love of literature led her to pursue a BA in English from Cornell University, where she was involved with campus publications The Daily Sun and Rainy Day literary magazine. Claire then completed the six-week intensive Columbia Publishing Course before finding a home at Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, assisting VP and Publisher Simon Boughton. She has worked on a range of projects during her time at Roaring Brook, including Lane Smith's middle-grade debut Return to Augie Hobble, Steve Sheinkin's National Book Award finalist Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War, and picture books The SkunkThere is a Tribe of Kids, and Ned The Knitting Pirate
- a brand new Picture Book Webinar Bundle including one webinar on Concept Books and the other on Rhyme, Verse and Lyricism in Picture Books, generously donated by Emma Walton Hamilton, author, editor, writing coach, and teacher of the fabulous Just Write For Kids courses.
- a 2016 Membership to Children's Book Insider, including their Children's Writing Knowledge Base, an absolutely fabulous resource for kid lit writers of all kinds, generously offered by Jon Bard and Laura Backes
 - A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author/illustrator Iza Trapani, author of JINGLE BELLS, OLD KING COLE, ITSY BITSY SPIDER, and many, many more!
 - A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by the fabulous Lori Degman, author of 1 ZANY ZOO and COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS!
 - an e-copy of the fantastic How To Promote Your Children's Book generously donated by Katie Davis!

 - Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class - in January or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 - A 6-Month Membership to the new and fabulous One Stop For Writers Site!
 2016 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
- another 2016 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
- a pack of Susanna Leonard Hill's amazing What's The Story Cards (hitherto un-introduced to the world!) - writing prompts for every occasion :)
 - another pack of Susanna Leonard Hill's amazing What's The Story Cards

I can't thank these authors and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, buy and recommend their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, write them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you've read and liked their books, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!

The Contest Winner gets first choice of the prizes.  2nd place gets next choice of what's left and so on.  I do it this way in the hopes that no one will get something they already have and also because I think all the prizes are fabulous and I wouldn't want to make anyone feel less valued by giving them as 6th place as opposed to 1st. :)

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12. The 5th Annual Holiday Contest Finalists - Vote For Your Favorite!!!


The 5th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
FINALISTS!!!
Darlings!

I must apologize!

Just look what I've done to you!

You look haggard!

Bags under your eyes!

Hair in a disarray!

Nervous tics and twitches popping up at every turn!

And chocolate of all kinds being consumed in an uncontrolled fashion!!!

(Well, okay, I admit that around here the chocolate thing is pretty much par for the course, not confined to anxiety over waiting for contest finalists to be posted... uncontrolled chocolate consumption is a good thing :))

But I do sympathize!

Bad enough that I always make you wait the weekend to find out who the contest finalists are, but this time I made you wait a WHOLE EXTRA DAY!  I'm so sorry!

Is that a jam stain on your blouse?

Please.

Go take a shower and put on clean clothes.

We'll wait. . . 

. . .

. . .

. . .

There now.

Isn't that better?

And now, at long last, the waiting is over!

Almost :)

Because as always, we must begin with a few words from the people in charge around here.

First, I want to thank EVERYONE who found time in their busy holiday season schedule to write an entry for this contest - all 96 of you!  The overall quality of the entries was amazing!  There were no easy cuts.  My assistant judges and I found something to like in every story and hated having to cut anyone!

Second, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time to go around to as many of the 48 different blogs as you could, as well as the 48 entries posted in the comments here, and read and leave supportive comments for the writers who worked so hard on these stories.  In this business where rejection is a common and unavoidable part of the process, it means a great deal to writers to know that their work was read and enjoyed, and to receive a few kind words about their writing.  It is one of the best things about this community - that people are so generous and kind to each other.

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

Finally, I'd like to be very clear about the voting process.  Due to the large number of entries, there are 12 finalists listed below.  I have deliberately listed them by title only, so as to help with objectivity.  Please read through them and choose the one you feel is best and vote.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about Mrs. Claus dancing the makaraina with Rudolph or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  I thank you in advance for respecting this.

Now, without further ado, here are your finalists.  There is a mix of poetry and prose, funny, cute, and poignant - quite a spread!

Remember that the judging criteria were:

1. Kid-appeal! - These stories are intended for a young audience, so entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness or whose humor or content felt more appropriate for an older or adult audience did not make the cut.
2.  It (hopefully) goes without saying that you must follow the contest rules - there were very specific instructions about the opening line which almost all of you followed to the letter... but a couple of strong entries did not.  I thought the instructions were clear because of the multiple examples given... but one entry in particular caused serious debate among the judges as to whether the rules had been followed or not - the opening line was clearly modeled on the song but did not follow the pattern spelled out.  In the end, we did not add that entry to the finalist list because some people who weren't sure emailed for clarification and this author did not, and about 90 of the 96 entries followed the correct pattern flawlessly.  So... executive decision... although we weren't entirely happy about it.
3. Quality of story - the rules stated that entries were to tell a story, so if they appeared to be more of a description or mood piece, they didn't make the cut.  We looked for a true story arc, and unfortunately there were quite a few lovely, well-written entries that failed to meet this criteria.
4. Quality of writing - use of language, correctness of tense, spelling and grammar, quality of rhyme and meter for the poetry entries, and overall impression of writing were factored in.
5. Originality and creativity - because that is often what sets one story above another.

We cut 84 entries to leave you with these 12.  It was very hard!  We did the best we could.  T
here were a number of stories where the judges loved the concept, but the rhyme/meter needed too much work to make the finals.  And there were some that modeled the song beautifully with perfect meter and rhyme that failed to tell a story.  In any case, I hope you'll all find at least one of your favorites on the list below.

#1 CITY CRITTER CHRISTMAS


Soaring over skaters at the Rockefeller Rink,
Pigeon spies a Christmas tree and stops to have a think.
Perched upon a frosty branch that twinkles red and blue,
he wishes that the holidays were meant for critters, too.

Dashing through the Christmas tree in front of 30 Rock,
Squirrel bumps into Pigeon and he stops to have a talk.
"Why so sad?" he asks the bird. "It's Christmas Eve, you know."
"Not for critters," Pigeon says. "Hey, look who's right below!"

Trudging home from Macy's (where he worked a double shift)...
it's Santa Claus! He slips, he slides, he winds up in a drift!
Squirrel and Pigeon watch him fall—it's not a jolly sight.
They scurry down the Christmas tree to see if he's all right.

Twisting on the sidewalk while the critters yank his boot,
Santa Claus begins to yell, "Lay off my Santa suit!"
"We'll help you up," the critters say. "We know you're in a rush!
You should be heading to your sleigh, not stuck here in the slush!"

Getting to his feet as shoppers shop and skaters twirl,
Santa grins at Pigeon, then he turns and grins at Squirrel.
"Thanks," he tells the critters, gently wringing out his hat.
"I'll give you both a Christmas gift!" They like the sound of that.

Sharing roasted chestnuts Santa purchased on the street,
Squirrel and Pigeon sit upon their Christmas tree and eat.
They look out at the city, filled with angels, while they chew,
agreeing that the holidays are meant for critters, too.

#2 Red Berries in the Snow


Hopping along the twisty trail in the quiet, wintry woods,
Rabbit spied red berries poking through the snow. “The Giver will be here
soon,” he squealed. Then a heavy branch dropped snow on his head. Rabbit’s
whiskers froze into tiny icicles.
He hopped to Mole’s house and thumped his foot on the cold
ground near the door. Thump, Thumpity-Thump, Thump. “I saw red berries in the
snow!” Rabbit hollered down the hole. “Please tell the Giver that I’d like a warm
scarf this year. I’m going home to thaw my whiskers.”
Mole was dizzy from Rabbit’s wild thumping, but he clawed
his way through his dark tunnel and popped out next to Mouse’s tidy nest. “Red
berries in the snow,” Mole announced. “Kindly tell the Giver that Rabbit would
like a scarf to keep his whiskers warm. And I would like a lamp for my tunnel. I’m
going to sit in my favorite chair until my aching head feels better.”
“Oh dear, oh dear,” stammered Mouse as she pulled on her boots.
“Rabbit and Mole are so impatient. Red Berries in the snow! Scarves and lamps!
I’ve no time to waste.” She scurried up an oak tree and teetered on a tiny
branch. “Good evening Owl,” she said. “It’s the sharing season and we must send
the Giver a message. Tell him that Rabbit would like a warm scarf and Mole would
like a bright lamp. Since I never seem to have enough time, I would like a
watch.”
Owl listened carefully, then he lifted his strong wings and
flew North until he saw the tallest evergreen in the woods. He circled it three
times and landed deep within its boughs.
In the warmth of the morning, Rabbit found his scarf. Mole
switched on his lamp and Mouse admired her watch. Beside each present lay a
note that read: Your greatest gift will be found just outside your door. “Hooray!”
said Rabbit, and he threw open his door. Mole and Mouse were staring back at
him, and he knew the Giver’s words were true.
#3 The Incident

Fleeting through the crowded aisles 
Of the mall - both hands held tight,
'Cause Mom and Dad are really mad 
About "the incident" tonight.
It all started with a fun-filled trip 
To sit on Santa's knee
So I could tell him all the things 
I hoped he'd bring for me.
But when I saw the line of kids 
Went far past Santa's sleigh,
I knew somewhere, someway, somehow, 
I had to get away.
So I thought up an escape route,
'Cause I think it's so unfair, 
For kids to wait instead of play
When toys are everywhere.
Quick - I bolted up the steps,
Down aisles, and through a store.
I figured it was better than 
that long line - what a bore!
But the store was NOT a fun one. 
It was filled with frilly things,
Stuff that grown-up ladies wear, 
NO TOYS like Santa brings.
And then . . . my parents found me.
I knew it wasn't good.
So I hid inside a clothes rack 
Like any smart kid would.
Then without so much as looking, 
Mom reached in and grabbed my collar
While Dad stood with his lips pinched tight, 
trying not to holler.
They yanked me from that clothes rack, 
Past holiday displays,
Down the escalator, 
And 'round people like a maze.
And as we fled past Santa, 
I thought I saw him grin -
I guess I'll send a letter 
About how good I've been.
#4 The Hanukkah Elf

Tapping on the window pane at the Klein family home was Max, Santa’s hungriest elf.  He was waving a jar and a letter.  It read:

Dear Santa,
Potato pancakes, jelly donuts, games and light.  Please come to my house on Hanukkah.
Love, Joe

“Santa has to deliver presents tonight,” the elf stepped inside.  “So he sent me, Max.  And this oil.  When do we eat?”

“After we light the menorah,” Joe said.  “Bring the jar.”

Max filled each of the eight cups with Santa’s gift.  The boy and the elf lit the wicks.

The menorah glowed bright, but Santa’s oil was gone.

Joe frowned.  “We need more to make the latkes and sufganiyot.”

Max’s stomach growled.  “Time for a little elf magic.”

Twinkle.  Wiggle.  Clap.

The jar refilled.  “Okay, Joe.  Let’s get cooking.”

Max flipped the potato pancakes.  Joe fried the donuts.

The boy and the elf devoured their feast.

Bellies full, faces sticky with applesauce and jam, Max and Joe settled their stomachs with a game of dreidel.

“I think I’ll save my chocolate winnings for the ride home,” Max said.

Joe read the letters on the top.  “Nun.  Gimel.  He.  Shin.  In Hebrew that stands for A Great Miracle Happened There.  Thank you for the oil.”

“I came for the food and made friend,” Max smiled.  “I hope we can celebrate Hanukkah together again.  Santa will be flying by soon.  I should get to the roof.”

But Max didn’t move.

“What’s wrong?” asked Joe.

“How will Santa know where to find me?  This isn’t one of his usual stops.”

“Yes it is.”  Joe grinned and pointed to the stockings on the mantle.  “We celebrate Christmas too.  Merry Christmas, Max!”

“Happy Everything, Joe!”

#5 The Christmas Seed


Circling round the planet Mars on their space craft RV-3,
the children begged and pleaded for a real live Christmas tree.
“There is no way,” cried Maw and Paw, “for that to come about.”
So Sue and Lou and Baby Boo would have to do without.
No Christmas tree? That cannot be…they vowed to find a way.
Sue climbed up high and searched the sky, but only saw a sleigh.
And Lou got tangled in the lights while looking in a drawer.
And Baby Boo picked up a seed as he crawled on the floor.
“Take that away,” cried Maw and Paw, “that’s not for Boo to eat”
But Boo skedaddled like a flash to the ejection seat.
Maw screamed! Lou tripped! Sue scrambled down! Paw reached to
save his kid.
They heard a BOOM! It shook the room! The spaceship blew its lid!
They watched as Boo flew through the air; it was a fearful sight.
This wasn’t quite the way they’d planned to spend this Christmas
night.
And Maw, she moaned, and Paw, he groaned, and Sue and Lou,
they cried.
But then they heard a HO! HO! HO! and Santa slid inside.
He opened up his big red sack – plucked out a doll for Sue,
a watch for Paw, a book for Maw, a bat and ball for Lou.
But Maw and Paw, their faces drooped, and Sue and Lou, they
frowned,
until they heard, deep in the sack, a most familiar sound.
Then Santa reached way down inside and pulled out Baby Boo.
“I saved the best for last,” he said. “This one’s for all of you!”
And scrambling up onto his sleigh, he pointed straight at Mars
The seed Boo found had grown into a Christmas tree with stars.
And Santa’s booming voice rang out as he rode out of sight,
“May peace and love and joy be yours on this and every night.”
So if you get a telescope, please aim the lens towards Mars,
and you might see Boo’s Christmas tree, adorned with twinkling
stars.

#6 Randolph, Not A Reindeer


“Packing up the presents at the North Pole workshop.” The elves and reindeer sang the traditional Christmas song. But Randolph couldn’t sing. Tears made the words stick in his throat.
Randolph was thinking about when Santa had told him that Randolph had not been chosen to pull the sleigh. “It’s not that you’re not fast enough, Randolph,” Santa had said, his eyes sad. “It’s…”
“Yes, I know, Santa,” Randolph had said, blinking back the tears. He had heard the rumours already. How all the children had cried, because Randolph had melted all the snow as he flew by.
Because Randolph was not a reindeer, but a raindeer, it rained wherever he went.
So instead of singing with the elves and reindeer, Randolph was doing what he did best: cleaning.
The elves started to chatter about the snowstorm that had taken place the night before in Canada.
“I’ve heard the snow is all the way to the rooftops,” said one elf.
“Santa is bringing extra food along,” said another.
The Christmas sleigh flew off , and everyone listened to the radio as it gave updates on Santa’s progress. All was well.
Then Santa hit Canada. The radio crackled, “Santa here, over. We’ve got an emergency, over. Send over everyone, over.”
Santa wanted everyone? Even Randolph?
Randolph flew high in the sky. Faster, faster, faster until he reached Santa and his sleigh.
Snow was not only up to the rooftops, but it was also covering the chimneys. That meant that Santa could not deliver the presents and food!
Elves were digging out the chimneys as fast as they could, but it was not fast enough. Randolph knew what he must do.
He flew over a house. The rain from the raindeer’s clouds melted the snow from the roof. Soon the chimney was exposed.
“Ho ho ho, well done, Randolph,” laughed Santa.
Santa went down the chimney, and then Randolph flew to the next house. And the next one.
“Packing up the presents at the North Pole workshop.” The elves and reindeer sang as they worked, and this time Randolph sang along.

#7 No Peeking!

Sneakin’ around the present stash
At the bottom of the tree,
In stealth mode, got my ninja on,
Look how black-ops I can be!

I shouldn’t look, but too late now,
Hey, I think this one’s for me!
Later I might regret this choice,
But right now I’ve got to see.

Santa, please forgive me sir, it’s awfully hard to wait.
Voices saying, “It’s not Christmas – put that present down right now, Miss!”

Sneakin’ around the present stash
Is the most fun thing to do.
Parents are at their office bash,
If you were me, you’d peek too!

Here I go, I’m gonna open just one little gift.
Peel the tape slow, careful – don’t tear…
Jokes on me now, I got UNDERWEAR!

Wrap it back up, no time to waste
Hide this sneaky thing I did.
I’ll call St. Nick and plead my case,
“Please remember, I’m a kid!”

#8 The Gift Of The Magpie (And Friends)


Flitting around the birdfeeder at the tiny woodland house, birds of all kinds shared the feast that appeared like magic when winter arrived. Chickadee dipped and swooped while spreading his dee dee dee cheer. Goldfinch called po-ta-to-chip. Titmouse tap-tapped his seed. Magpie noticed Sparrow whose feathers slumped as she stared in the window.
“What’s wrong dear friend? In this season of chill, these people feed us from their goodwill. You should chirp, you should sing, you should eat your fill.”
“It’s the boy,” Sparrow cried.
The birds loved the boy. He watched them whenever he was home, and he spent his allowance on birdseed.
“His mom said there isn’t enough money to buy a Christmas tree this year.”
Magpie peered into the house. The boy was drawing birds, but Magpie saw him wipe his eyes.
“We’ll help him smile, I do decree. We’ll get our friend a Christmas tree.”
The closest trees to the house were maples and oaks whose leaves had fallen for the winter. Squirrel nibbled the stem of a young cedar tree so they could take it to the boy. But the whole flock of birds couldn’t lift one tree.
“Plan B is better, this I know. You’ll still need your muscles though,” Magpie enthused.
They practiced making tree-shaped pyramids, but the bottom birds got tired or hungry before the star-bird could settle on top. On their third attempt the neighbor’s cat almost got her own Christmas treat! Feathers flew; Cat missed, but Magpie got an idea!
“Who says we need an evergreen? Come all my friends, it’s time to preen!”
On the dawn-quiet of Christmas morning, the boy donned boots and a coat. He went to the closest maple by his window to hang birdseed ornaments for his friends. He gasped and smiled. From it’s naked branches hung colorful, delicate feathers gleaming with the new day’s light. He sang out loud as he added his ornaments. “Merry Christmas my woodland friends!” The morning air filled with bird song in reply.
#9 A New Classic?


Waiting in line for Santa’s knee
At the mall we always shop.
Suddenly, someone nudges me.
It’s an undercover cop!
You will not believe this crazy story when you hear…
He’s dressed like an elf, by golly!
In my shock, I drop my dolly.
The cop asks for my help, you see.
This is what he has to say:
“Three bullies have been on a spree.
For their stunts they now must pay!”
“They must be stopped,” I do agree
“What kind of help can I bring?”
He replies, “Teamwork is the key.
We will organize a sting.
“Those creeps are smashing candy canes swiped from little kids.
Wait ‘til you get to Santa’s chair.
Then get your cane, and I’ll be there.
“They’ll grab your treat and try to flee.
It will really make my day
To catch them in the act—all three—
And propel them on their way.”
Our plan works out just perfectly.
We make an unlikely team:
An elf cop and a little girl.
Sounds just like a wacky dream!
The mall’s now very safe, you’ll find;
So hop up on Santa’s lap.
Watch out if mischief’s on your mind,
For we’ll set another trap!

#10 Clucking Christmas

Sneezing around the reindeer pen on the night before Christmas… AAAAACHOOOO! HOOONK! Santa blew his nose for the 50th time that Christmas Eve. “You’re done with your bath, Donner. Now you’re sparkling clean for our big… ACHOOO! HONK! …night.”
Mrs. Claus, with Agnes, her favorite backyard chicken, clucking behind her, said, “Santa dear, you’re allergic to those reindeer. There’s no way they can lead your sleigh tonight.”
A triple sneeze shot out of Santa and onto Donner. “Hogwash,” Santa muttered weakly.
Agnes scurried back to the henhouse. “Santa’s allergic to the reindeer. We have to help him!”
“Poor Santa! He’s a good egg,” Beaker moaned.
“Should we buy him allergy pills?” Lovey asked.
“This is our big chance!” Dixie flapped.
“Everyone in favor say ‘squawk,’ ” said Agnes.
“Squawk!” It was unanimous.
The chickens bustled outside and took a place in front of the sleigh.
Santa sighed. “I guess I have no choice. Reindeer, you get the night off.” He grabbed the reins. “On Agnes! On Bertha!”
The chickens weren’t listening. “Agnes! Why did he call your name first?!” Dixie clucked.
“Jiminy Christmas! You chickens don’t rule the roost,” Santa sputtered. “On Lovey! On Beaker!”
The chickens frantically flapped their wings. The sleigh crept forward, then moved faster and faster. It lifted a foot off the ground and Santa breathed a sigh of relief.
Bu

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13. Hold That Holiday Thought...

Okay.

So, remember how I said I might post the finalists Monday or it might be Tuesday?

Well....

as you've probably guessed by now, it might not be Monday.

Because that's today.  And apparently the judges (who shall be nameless) are having some trouble reaching a consensus.  And Judging Rules state clearly that there shall be no twisting of arms, issuing of invective, or threatening to withhold chocolate for purposes of coercion!

So, sorry to keep you waiting, but we want to do a good job and there are so many great entries!

Meanwhile, continue to enjoy reading and commenting on all the fabulous entries at


And if you're in the mood for a little writerly holiday shopping, let me refer you to an older post


(And no, we have certainly not been distracted by visions of sugar plums, nor have we spent more time eating chocolate than judging!  We are hard at work!  We promise! Although there was a small incident of gingerbread baking...and eating... and if you haven't had gingerbread with hot fudge sauce and homemade whipped cream, let me tell you... you need to get right on that! :))

See you tomorrow, good lord willing and the creek don't rise!  And thank you for your patience!


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14. Ho! Ho! Ho! The 5th Annual Holiday Contest Is Here!!!

Deck the halls!

Light the menorah!

Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja!

It's time for...

The 5th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
WA-HOOO!!!! :)

The Contest:  Write a children's story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) beginning with any version of "Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop."  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version "[Verb of your choice]ing [any preposition you choose] the [any item you choose] [any preposition you choose] the [venue of your choice]."  For example, "Surfing along the wind-whipped waves at the Yuletide barbeque," or "Wandering through the pine-sweet woods at the cut-your-own tree farm," or "Quarreling in the checkout line at the local Toys R Us," or "Waltzing among the candy canes at the Holiday Bazaar"....   You get the idea, I'm sure :)  But "Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop" is completely acceptable too - whatever works for you :)  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (I know!  So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest :))  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful :)), but no more than 350!)  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 right now this very second and Friday December 11 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below which will remain up through Sunday December 13 (no WYRI or PPBF during that week.)  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 7th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I'll post your entry for you! But please don't send attachments!  Just copy and paste your story into the email.)  And please be sure to include your byline!! We don't want to have to guess who wrote your entry!

The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on either Monday December 14 or Tuesday December 15 (depending on the number of entries :)) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Thursday December 17 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Friday December 18.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place.  Judging criteria will be kid appeal/kid-friendliness, creativity, quality of story, quality of writing, and originality.

The Prizes!:  Wow!  We've got some truly great prizes! (items in color are links for more info!):

A Picture Book Manuscript read and critique (winner's choice of in-person, on the phone, or via email) by Claire Dorsett, Editorial Assistant, Roaring Brook Press!!!
   A bibliophile and outdoor enthusiast, Claire spent her childhood summers road-tripping across the United States, reading constantly on the long car rides between parks and museums. Her love of literature led her to pursue a BA in English from Cornell University, where she was involved with campus publications The Daily Sun and Rainy Day literary magazine. Claire then completed the six-week intensive Columbia Publishing Course before finding a home at Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, assisting VP and Publisher Simon Boughton. She has worked on a range of projects during her time at Roaring Brook, including Lane Smith's middle-grade debut Return to Augie Hobble, Steve Sheinkin's National Book Award finalist Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War, and picture books The SkunkThere is a Tribe of Kids, and Ned The Knitting Pirate
- a brand new Picture Book Webinar Bundle including one webinar on Concept Books and the other on Rhyme, Verse and Lyricism in Picture Books, generously donated by Emma Walton Hamilton, author, editor, writing coach, and teacher of the fabulous Just Write For Kids courses.
- a 2016 Membership to Children's Book Insider, including their Children's Writing Knowledge Base, an absolutely fabulous resource for kid lit writers of all kinds, generously offered by Jon Bard and Laura Backes
 - A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author/illustrator Iza Trapani, author of JINGLE BELLS, OLD KING COLE, ITSY BITSY SPIDER, and many, many more!
 - A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by the fabulous Lori Degman, author of 1 ZANY ZOO and COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS!
 - an e-copy of the fantastic How To Promote Your Children's Book generously donated by Katie Davis!

 - Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class - in January or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 - A 6-Month Membership to the new and fabulous One Stop For Writers Site!
 2016 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
- another 2016 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
- a pack of Susanna Leonard Hill's amazing What's The Story Cards (hitherto un-introduced to the world!) - writing prompts for every occasion :)
 - another pack of Susanna Leonard Hill's amazing What's The Story Cards

I can't thank these authors and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, buy and recommend their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, write them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you've read and liked their books, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!

The Contest Winner will have first choice of the prizes.  2nd place will have next choice of what's left and so on.  (I'm doing it this way in the hopes that no one will get something they already have and also because I think all the prizes are fabulous and I wouldn't want to make anyone feel less valued by giving them as 6th place as opposed to 1st.)

So let's get this Holiday Party started! :)

I want to warn you in advance that this may actually be the worst story I've ever written - embarrassing for me, but very comforting for anyone who is worried about the quality of their story - I can say with complete confidence that ANYTHING you write will be better than this sample! :)  Every time I do this I'm amazed by how fast I use up my 350 words!

Christmas Pie
350 words

Skimming across the sugar snow in a one-horse open sleigh, Rabbit headed for the Holiday Festival with his specialty Christmas Pie, fresh-baked, still warm, and smelling delicious!
He passed Mouse.
“May I have a ride?” asked Mouse.
“Sure!” said Rabbit.  “Hop in.  But careful of the pie!”
Mouse climbed up beside Rabbit and off they went.
Soon they passed Squirrel.
“May I have a ride?” asked Squirrel.
“Sure!” said Rabbit.  “Hop in.  But careful of the pie!”
Squirrel climbed up beside Rabbit and Mouse and off they went.
Soon they passed Possum.
“May I have a ride?” asked Possum.
“Sure!” said Rabbit.  “Hop in.  But careful of the pie!”
Before long they had passed the Turkey Twins, Raccoon, Badger, Fox, Bobcat, and Deer and his eight out-of-town cousins visiting from somewhere up North, and they ALL climbed in.  The sleigh was very crowded indeed, but the pie sat safe beside Rabbit, fresh-baked, still warm, and smelling delicious!
“Got room for one more?” asked Bear as they drew up alongside him.
“Sure!” said Rabbit.  “Hop in.  But careful of the pie!”
Bear hopped in.
But the way had grown steep…
…and the sleigh was VERY full!
Pretty soon the horse stalled out and the sleigh wouldn’t budge another inch.
“We’ll help!” volunteered the passengers, and they all got out to push.
Up, up, up the hill they went until…
…YIKES!
The hill pitched steeply down the other side.
The sleigh took off at high speed and crashed into a snow bank at the bottom.
Animals tumbled helter-skelter.
The Christmas Pie sailed through the air…
…and landed high in the branches of the Holiday Festival Christmas Tree!
“My pie!” wailed Rabbit.  “We’ll never get it down!”
“Yes, we will!” said Bear.
Squirrel, Possum, the Turkey Twins, Raccoon, Badger, Fox, Bobcat, and Deer and his eight cousins all climbed up on Bear.  All the way to the top of that tippy-tippy tower climbed Mouse, who plucked the pie from the high branches and passed it down to Rabbit, fresh-baked, still warm, and smelling delicious!
“Hurray!” cheered Rabbit.
           And they all ate Christmas Pie!

So now!  Is everyone filled with confidence about their entries?  I certainly hope so after that display!  Never let it be said that I'm not willing to make a fool of myself for you guys :)  It just proves how much I love you :)

I can't wait to read all of your (much better!) stories!  I hope there will be a lot - the more the merrier!  And there are still nearly 5 days to write, so you have time if you haven't written yet and want to join the fun.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  If you just want to enjoy reading, that's great too!  We need all the readers we can get, so feel free to spread the word to parents and teachers!  And what better way to entertain yourself and your kids while waiting for the holiday goodies to bake?  Or get someone to read aloud while everyone else wraps presents :)

Remember to put your post-specific link (not your general blog link or people will find the wrong page if you post again before the contest is over) in the list below!

Rejoice! and let the festivities begin!!! :)

Don't miss the # fabulous entries in the comment section! Click on the names or titles to go to the story.  Please note that it takes a minute to load.  And please also note that clicking on these links will allow you to read the story and leave your own comment, but not see previous comments left on that story... I don't know why... so if you want to see all the comments left on the story, you'll have to scroll through the whole comment section.



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15. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Oskar And The Eight Blessings

Hey there!

Surprised to see me?

After last week's debacle...???

I still can't believe I forgot to post last Friday!  I'm so sorry!  There I was, all caught up in family and leftover pie, and I never even realized it was Friday until it was suddenly Saturday and I hadn't posted!  Any of you who had a Perfect Picture Book last week are welcome to add that link to today's link list in addition to your titles for today!

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that this will be the last official Perfect Picture Book post for 2015, as the next few Fridays will be taken up with the Holiday Contest and then the holidays themselves.  So I'll meet you back here for the next PPBF on Friday January 8, 2016!!!

Now then, I hope you will all enjoy the today's story.  I think it's beautifully done, and has much to offer young readers!

Title: Oskar And The Eight Blessings
Written By: Richard Simon and Tanya Simon
Illustrated By: Mark Siegel
Roaring Brook Press, September 2015, Fiction (with some fact)

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Hanukkah, kindness/compassion, looking for the good

Opening: This is an unusual picture book.  It has what could almost be called a prologue before the actual story starts - a set up to explain why Oskar happened to be traveling alone to New York City in December 1938 - with the text in italics and the illustrations on a black background.
Opening of the book: "Oskar's mother and father believed in the power of blessings.  So did Oskar...until the Night of Broken Glass."
Opening of the story: "Oskar arrived in New York on the seventh day of Hanukkah.  It was also Christmas Eve.  He knew his Aunt Esther would be lighting the menorah at sunset. To reach her before the sun went down Oskar would have to walk over a hundred blocks on the avenue called Broadway."

Brief Synopsis: Oskar is a refugee, seeking sanctuary from the horrors of Kristallnacht.  He arrives in New York City with nothing but a photograph and an address for an aunt he has never met. It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, he views the city's many holiday sights, and encounters various people. Each offers Oskar a small act of kindness, welcoming him to the city and helping him on his way to a new life in the new world, and proving the truth of his father's last words to him: "Oskar, even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings."

Links To Resources: The book is a resource unto itself.  An author's note details the origin of the story and the historical accuracies, including the presence of both Count Basie and Eleanor Roosevelt in New York City on Christmas Eve 1938.  There is also a map of Manhattan, showing Oskar's route from the ship to his Aunt's house with some of New York City's well-known landmarks.  Older children/students can discuss Kristallnacht and the holocaust.  All children/students can discuss the power of kindness and think about what small acts of kindness they might be able to perform during the holidays and all year round.

Why I Like This Book:  This story tackles a difficult subject in an accessible, child-friendly way, and it reminds us of the true meaning of the holidays with its emphasis on compassion and human kindness, looking for the blessings in life even when times are hard - lessons that should not be reserved for the holidays, but carried with us throughout the year.  The art has the feel of an old photograph album, like pictures your grandparents might have shown you.  The inclusion of historical fact makes the story feel believable even though it's mostly fiction.  Though on some levels a more serious holiday title, the story is uplifting, and the ending emotional.  A wonderful addition to any library!

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

Now then, before we all go off for our weekend of fun, I want to remind everyone that the Holiday Contest opens on Monday!!!  Whoopee!!!  Think of all the stories we have to look forward to!  Think how much fun it will be to read them ourselves and share them with our children and students!  I can't wait!

except for the teensy weensy difficulty of not having an inkling of what I will post for a sample...

Polish up those drafts!  Put the finishing touches on your masterpieces!  There are some pretty great prizes on offer!

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a great weekend, everyone!  See you Monday for the Holiday Contest extravaganza!!!


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16. Would You Read It Wednesday #195 - Peyton The Cat And The Princess Who Loves Everything Pink (PB)

Good Wednesday to you all!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Those of you who frequent this neck of the woods may have noticed that my Thanksgiving was so lovely and absorbing that it finally happened.  After 5 years...  I totally forgot to post the Perfect Picture Book Post on Friday!  Just completely never even thought about it until Saturday when I realized I had somehow missed the fact that Friday was Friday!

(Sorry about that!  Anyone who had a perfect picture book last Friday can add it to this Friday's list... assuming I remember to post that! :))

But that reminded me that it has actually BEEN 5 years - my 5th blogiversary was yesterday, December 1!  Can you even believe it?  How time flies!

In celebration of December, and the holiday season, and my 5th blogiversary, let's have something festive and pretty for our Something Chocolate, shall we?  I'm thinking Snowflake Peppermint Bark!

So pretty!  AND chocolate!!!
Recipe HERE at Baked By Rachel
http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/snowflake-peppermint-bark-memories/
Aren't those snowflakes beautiful?  And delicious-looking??! :)  I will probably have to try out that recipe...!  Probably today.  Probably soon today!  Maybe before lunch :)

I had planned to post the September and October Pitch Picks today... since we seem not to have gotten around to them yet... but I only heard back from 2 of the 7 pitchers about revisions...  So I'm thinking I'll come up with a Plan B.  Maybe a random day dedicated to pitch picking when we can do September, October and November all together in one fell swoop.  And have chocolate even if it isn't a Wednesday :)

Meanwhile, today's pitch comes to us from Diane who says, "I am a freelance writer, in Southern California. I’m published as a magazine author but love the delight of writing for children. Therefore, I am an aspiring children’s book writer and belong to the SCBWI along with CBI. My web page/blog is at dianedramirez.com. (Although I have a page on my site with my PB’s WIP, the blog is more of an inspirational one)."

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Peyton The Cat And The Princess Who Loves Everything Pink
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: What’s Peyton, a witty-cat, to do when his new owner, Pauline—a self-procliamed princess, loves pink and thinks he should be a princess with glittery pink bows too? Peyton dislikes girly stuff and fears he’ll live with pink forever. When Peyton develops some cat-devious ideas, to alert his owner he’s unhappy and should be a prince, Pauline is met with some challenges a princess should never have.

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 Diane 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Diane is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to Snowflake Peppermint Bark and the upcoming HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!  It's next week, people!  I can't wait to read all the amazing stories that I'm sure you're hard at work on even as we speak (... right? :))  There are some pretty good prizes on offer, so it's worth your writing time!  I, of course, haven't got even an inkling of an idea what to do for my sample... somehow I feel like I've been in this position before... :)  But there are still a few days!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!!


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17. Would You Read It Wednesday #194 - Ernie Fakes A Tooth (PB)

Holy Pumpkin Pie, Batman!

How did we get to the day before Thanksgiving already?

If you're like me, you still have to vacuum, bake pie, clean the bathrooms, bake more pie, make sure there are fresh towels, and bake more pie :)  And those of you not cleaning and baking probably have to travel.

So we're going to keep today's post as short and sweet as possible!

In honor of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I think our Something Chocolate should be festive and turkey-oriented, don't you? :)

Obviously dark chocolate is preferable to milk chocolate,
but we'll take what we can get :)
Gobble, gobble, gobble!!! :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Jen who says, "I’m just starting out on my journey into the overwhelming and wonderful world of picture book writing.  When I start to doubt myself, my two young kids cheer me on and get me back in the game.  We live in the beautiful seacoast of New Hampshire.  Next up – work on my social media presence!"  

Here is her pitch: (and she would especially love feedback on a title since she's not wild about this one but has yet to come up with anything she likes better!)

Working Title: Ernie Fakes A Tooth
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: In a rush to get his first lost tooth home and under his pillow, Ernie Blossomfoss trips and watches his tooth go sailing into the playground woodchips.  Convinced the tooth fairy won’t come unless she has a tooth to collect, Ernie hatches a plan to leave the perfect counterfeit.  When the clever fairy doesn’t fall for it, Ernie ups the ante until he finally learns a lesson more valuable than a crisp dollar bill.  

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 Jen 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Jen is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to having the family together for Thanksgiving tomorrow... even though I have to vacuum :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!





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18. Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Great Thanksgiving Escape

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!!!

Even as you read this, I shall be driving to the Green Mountains, accompanied on my journey up my my trusty Audible version of A Storm Of Swords (Book 3 in A Song of Ice and Fire - you know, Game of Thrones :)), and accompanied on my journey back by child #5! :)  And by the time we get home, child #3 will be there too!  I love the holidays and having the kids home! I can't wait!!! :)  I have baked Heath Bar brownies in preparation...which I sampled...and they are GOOD! :)

So although I shall be nowhere near my computer today, I will be with you in spirit for PPBF.  I hope you'll enjoy this entertaining Thanksgiving offering!

Title: The Great Thanksgiving Escape
Written & Illustrated By: Mark Fearing
Candlewick, September 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: family, holidays (Thanksgiving), humor

Opening: "It was another Thanksgiving at Grandma's.
"You can play in here with the rest of the kids," Gavin's mother told him.  "We'll call you when the turkey's ready."
"Have fun!" Gavin's dad called.  
But Gavin knew it was not going to be fun.  Not fun at all."

Brief Synopsis: While waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey, Gavin is supposed to play with his cousins.  But most of them are drooling, stinky babies.  No fun!  He and his cousin Rhonda plan their escape to the swing set in the back yard, but it's not easy to navigate the perils of a family get-together!

Links To Resources: Turkey Songs, Poems, and Finger Plays; Turkey Coloring Pages; play Duck, Duck, Turkey :)

Why I Like This Book:  Anyone who has ever been to a family get-together knows about the football-watching uncles gathered around the TV, the cheek-pinching aunts just lying in wait, and the annoying little cousins who demand attention and entertainment :)  This story is drolly told from the point of view of the kids who realize that "sometimes you have to make your own fun."

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful, happy weekend, everyone!!! :)

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19. Would You Read It Wednesday # - Showdown At The Sippy Cup Saloon (PB)

Howdy folks!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Would You Read It for this important message from our sponsors:

Voting continues in the Halloweensie Contest until 5 PM today!!!  If you haven't had a chance to weigh in yet, please hop over HERE to read the amazing finalist stories and vote for your favorite!!!  We need all the votes we can get!!!

Now then, back to WYRI!

And by "back to WYRI" I of course mean "time for Something Chocolate!!!" :)  And since it's only a couple days after Halloween, what better than leftover chocolate Halloween Candy???

Whoever thought up Halloween was a genius! :)
YUM!!!  Of course, I don't actually HAVE any leftover chocolate Halloween candy... I can't imagine why... :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Jessica Swaim, a parttime poet who spends an inordinate amount of time playing with her dogs.
Take a peek at both her books and her dogs at http://jessicaswaim.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Showdown At The Sippy Cup Saloon
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: In the tiny town of Toddle, in the cradle of the West, Sheriff Wyatt Burp is snoozing in his crib when Wild Bill Hiccup arrives to wake up -- and shake up -- the pint-size population.  "Don't go gettin' yer onesie in a twist," Wild Bill warns Wyatt, but tempers flare until the two go bib to bib in a showdown at the Sippy Cup Saloon. Who will emerge the rootin' tootin' squirt gun shootin' hero of the West? 

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 Jessica 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Jessica is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to finding out who wins the Halloweensie Contest!  Tune in tomorrow!!!  Meanwhile, try to keep calm and think about something else so you won't go nuts waiting.  Really.  Just don't think about it.  Don't keep wondering who the winner might be, and who might be second and third....! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone! :)


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20. 2015 Halloweensie Contest WINNERS!!!

As you all know, I do not normally post on Thursdays.

That is because Thursday is my day for lying on the couch eating bonbons.

I am making an exception today because I have something VERY important to discuss with you.

Something that I know has been weighing as heavily on your minds as it has on mine.

Something very crucial!

Something so earth-shatteringly important that it probably kept you up all night!

So let's just lay it out on the table, shall we?

What is the deal with nuts in dessert items?

I'm serious!  Whose idea was that???

Obviously a dessert like pecan pie requires nuts.  I'm okay with that.

But brownies, cookies, and ice cream were made to be fudgy, chewy, and creamy respectively.  I'm sure you can see how adding hard, crunchy nuts is totally counter to the texture experience and therefore to the true enjoyment of said desserts!  Such appalling effrontery!

I think it's high time we take a stand, don't you?

NO MORE NUTS!  NO MORE NUTS!

What?

You think I'M nuts???

I won't lie.  I'm a little hurt.

Sad face.

Sniffle-sniffle.

Were you expecting a discussion on another topic?

I'm not sure anything needs our attention as much as the ongoing nuts/no nuts debate...

...except maybe...





THE WINNERS OF
The 5th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!
WA-HOOOOOOO!!!!!


(But wait!  Before I announce, do you want to state your opinion on whether nuts belong in dessert items?

No?  You're sure?

Alrighty then.  Don't say I never gave you a chance to be heard :))

As you are all aware by now, we had a record turnout for the Halloweensie Contest - 145 entries! (Plus 2 that came in after the deadline!)  Holy Halloweensie!  Who'd-a-thunk it?

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

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

There were, however, many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another (one reason being that, at a certain point, we just had to stop adding finalists to the list! :))

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

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole:
     Mishka Jaeger for The Little Trick-or-Treater
     Vivian Kirkfield for Halloween Fever
     Sandy Jones for Frank-N-Stein's Store      
     Gabi Snyder for Jack's First Night (which could also have placed in Best Original POV for being told from a pumpkin's viewpoint!)

2.  For Best Entry For Teen Readers:
     Lori Dubbin for Indelible! (beautifully done!!!)
  
3.  For Great Kid Appeal: (not already in the finals)
     Charlotte Dixon for Arabella's Web
     Stacy Jensen for Gilda's Zombie Fix
     Julie Rowan-Zoch for Creeeaak....
     Shaelyn Berg for Scaredy House
     Saundra Jones for Halloween Countdown (youngest readers)

4.  For Best Descriptive/Mood Piece:
     Rosi Hollinbeck for The Halloweensie Party
     Becky Shillington for Monster Bash

5.  For Best Use of Poetic Language:
     Randi Sonenshine for March Of The Gargoyles
     Suzy Levinson for Trick For Treats

6. For Spookiest Entry: (not already in the finals)
     Bradin Farnworth for Buddy
     Amanda Sincavage for The Haunted Dash

7. For Funniest Entry: (not already in the finals)
     Stephanie Salkin for Mummy Unveiled (which also had great poetic language!)
     Mike Allegra for Night Ninja
   
8. For being Judge #3's Favorite Entry :)
     Lynne Pisano for Boo Who?
   
9.  For Best Written Original Point of View:
     Johnell DeWitt for Dark's Knight (POV of the dark!)
     Marlaina Gray for YIPE! (POV of a terrier :))
   
10.  For Originality/Creativity:
     Carrie Burrows for Sophie And The Teal Pumpkin (because we learned about the Teal Pumpkin for allergy-sensitive trick-or-treaters!)
   
11.  For Favorite Character:
       Lisa Riddiough for Mo, The Ghost Who Said Moo

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

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

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

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

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

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

In paperback:
Show & Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing by Jessica Bell, OR

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt, OR

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

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

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

We have 9 fabulous prizes, generously donated by authors and various professionals in the writing field.  My policy is to let the first place winner have first pick of all the prizes, the second place winner have second choice, etc.  That way hopefully nobody gets something they already have, and hopefully everyone gets something that's valuable to them.  All prizes are listed at the bottom of this post for your convenience in perusing the goodies :)

Now.

Finally!

Onto the moment you've all been waiting for. . . 

. . . the reason you got out of bed this morning. . . 

. . . to tell the world once and for all how you feel about nuts in your dessert!

. . . THE WINNERS OF THE 2014 HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST as chosen by you, our esteemed voters!!!!!

In First Place, winner of the whole entire contest and top of the heap who gets first choice of all the prizes...
Shelley Kinder
for
A Meaty Trick-or-Treat

Congratulations, Shelley, on a delightful entry that was all around well done and clearly very popular!!!

In Second Place,

Sam Steinfels
for
Spooky Spies

Congratulations, Sam, on an exceptionally clever premise beautifully executed! You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Shelley chooses!

In Third Place, a tie!!! between

Marla Lesage                         Polly (sorry I don't know your last name!)
                   for                                                                    for
 Pirate Prepares For Halloween                                   Nothing To Wear

Congratulations, Marla and Polly, on entertaining, well written entries that we all loved!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Shelley and Sam choose!

In Fifth Place, a three-way tie!!!

      Buffy Silverman                    Cathy Mealy                           Jana Locke
               for                                       for                                           for
Spider's Halloween Debut       Goodnight Halloween     The Unicorn Ate My Candy Corn:
                                                                                                  A Halloween Tall Tale

Congratulations, Buffy, Cathy and Jana, on your wonderful entries!  You get to pick your prizes after Shelley, Sam, Marla and Polly!

In Eighth Place,

Patricia Nozell
for
Leila's First Halloween

Congratulations, Patricia, on a standout entry that was markedly different from the others with its unique theme!  You get to pick your prize after Shelley, Sam, Marla, Polly, Buffy, Cathy, and Jana!

In Ninth PlaceJulie Abery for The Teensy-Weensy Witch!  Congratulations, Julie!  What a determined little witch!  You get the idea of the prize picking by now I'm sure :)

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

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

Congratulations again to all our winners - it was a stiff competition!! - and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause, a confetti parade, and a large amount of chocolate cake :)

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!

And before we go, I will give you all advance warning so you can start planning a little time into your December schedule...

The 5th Annual Holiday Writing Contest will be coming up sometime in the neighborhood of December 7-11 so we can all fully enjoy it and still have time for last minute holiday things.  I will do my best to post the rules well in advance so you all have time to work on your stories!

Have a terrific Thursday everyone, and thanks again for making the Halloweensie Contest such a wonderful time for all! :)



The Prizes:  we've got some seriously amazing prizes! (words in color are links to more info)

 - a read and comments on a PB ms by fabulous agent Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency!!!

 - a picture book manuscript critique by picture book author Diana Murray!  website

 - a query critique from Heather Ayris Burnell, founder of the Sub It Club

a 6 month subscription to One Stop For Writers (value $50)

 - an e-pub or PDF copy (winner's choice) of Linda Ashman's Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books

  - personalized signed copies of Sarah Frances Hardy's Dress Me! and Paint Me! (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

 - a personalized signed copy of Amy Dixon's Sophie's Animal Parade (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

a personalized signed copy of Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca Gomez's What About Moose?(Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

 - a personalized signed copy of Penny Parker Klostermann's There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed A Knight (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

Please join me again 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, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up :)


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21. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Leaf Man

Wahoo!  It's Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Is there anything more fun for a picture book writer or illustrator, a parent, a teacher, or a child then the prospect of diving into a pile of great picture books?

I didn't think so :)

Unless maybe it's the prospect of diving into a pile of great picture books with a cup of hot chocolate near to hand (though not quite near enough to get kicked over during the diving :))

It is also tons of fun to dive into a pile of autumn leaves!!!

Given the fact that I've spent the last two weeks up to my hair in Halloweensie, I'm totally cheating and recycling a book today that I posted last year.  But it's an excellent book, and you won't want to miss it!  Get ready to have your breath taken away by this thing of beauty! :)

Title: Leaf Man
Written & Illustrated By: Lois Ehlert
Harcourt, September 2005, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: seasons (autumn), nature, imagination

Opening: "Leaf Man used to live near me, in a pile of leaves.  But yesterday the wind blew Leaf Man away."

Brief Synopsis: From the publisher: "Fall has come, the wind is gusting, and Leaf Man is on the move. Is he drifting east, over the marsh and ducks and geese? Or is he heading west, above the orchards, prairie meadows, and spotted cows? No one's quite sure, but this much is certain: A Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows."

Links To ResourcesTeacher's Guide (Harcourt); Lesson Plan (Scholastic);  the jacket flaps of the book are covered with "mystery leaves" - pictures of the leaves with a hint about where they come from so children can try to guess/identify them; the endpapers of the book show examples of many types of leaves, pictured and labeled; go on a leaf walk and collect leaves of your own - how many different kinds can you find? how many colors and shapes?; make a leaf collage, or a pencil rubbing of a leaf, or any kind of leaf art.

Why I Like This Book: If you've spent any time at all on Perfect Picture Books, you'll know that 99.99 times out of 100, I choose books because I love the words or the story.  This is one time when I chose a perfect picture book for the art.  It also has a whimsical story :), but it's the art that sells this book.  It's simply gorgeous.  The illustrations are made from actual fall leaves.  The pages are cut and layered in the shapes of hills.  Each page pictures its subject made out of leaves, for example, on the page where perhaps Leaf Man flew over the turkey, there is a turkey crafted from fall leaves.   The colors are vibrant, and both the story and the art allow children to fancifully imagine all that a leaf might do as it blows before the wind.  The whole book sings autumn - it's just lovely!

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can't wait to see your picks for this week!



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22. Would You Read It Wednesday #192 - Cursing Cats (PB)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Today is a very exciting day!

Remember how a few weeks back I was all excited because my house was no longer two-tone but all one color... after a year or more of being unfinished?

Apparently this is a trend because let me tell you about my stove.

Once upon a time, we moved into this house with a new stove.

22 years later (which was last year), on Thanksgiving, the oven decided it didn't feel like working any more.  Our turkey did not cook.  Really.  I am not making this up.

Now, you'd think, given the trauma of Thanksgiving without a turkey, we would have gotten right on that and bought a new stove immediately...  But that is not the way things work on Blueberry Hill.  After all, the oven still functioned well enough to bake brownies and cookies, which is pretty much all I use it for :)

So we coasted along happily using the stove top... and then summer came and we could use the grill outside... and all was well.

But a few weeks ago, we started talking about Thanksgiving.  And using my keen powers of reasoning, I astutely realized that we were going to find ourselves in the same predicament this year as last, since our oven had not magically resurrected itself, which did not bode at all well for the Thanksgiving turkey.

So I bit the bullet and bought a new stove!

It's so pretty!

It has convection roast and convection bake as options (not requirements, for those of us who embrace change slowly) and a simmer burner and a power burner and a griddle/grill for the stovetop.  If all goes according to plan, our Thanksgiving turkey will cook this year!

There's just one little thing.

The gas has yet to be hooked up.

And it turns out the stove/oven doesn't work so well without it :)

But that's supposed to happen today.  TODAY, I tell you!  So let's get ready for some baking!

And speaking of baking makes me think of Something Chocolate (shocking, I know :))  How about some triple chocolate cheesecake with oreo crust?  Sound good to you?  It sounds good to me!

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust from OMG Chocolate Desserts
http://omgchocolatedesserts.com/triple-chocolate-cheesecake-oreo-crust/
and yes the recipe is on that link :)
YUM!  And I believe it covers all the basic food groups... dairy, veggies (chocolate comes from beans, remember?!), whole grains (there has to be some kind of flour/wheat product in oreos!), and chocolate!  Eat up, lambies!  You need your strength! :)

Now that we are all fortified, and our brains are functioning at 200% power, today's pitch comes to us from Sandy who says,  "I started buying picture books for my kids before I even had kids! And even though my seven-year-old granddaughter can read chapter books on her own, she still lets me read picture books to her. I've published one story in the now defunct "Pennywhistle Press," a Gannett Press newspaper insert for kids. I also write non-fiction articles for local publications."

You can find Sandy on FB at Sandy Lowe Ink.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Cursing Cats
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Tired of being misused and overdressed by a little girl, Jack and Dave learn "curse words" from watching TV. They hope that using words like "bifurcated" and "crepuscular" in front of the girl will ensure her grandmother won't let her play with them anymore. They succeed, but in a way they weren't expecting. 

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 Sandy 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Sandy is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting my stove hooked up and trying it out!  Plus, my lovely sister-in-law, upon hearing we were getting a new stove, sent me a new cookbook to go with it!  Hopefully it's idiot-proof and will provide recipes for the cooking-challenged that I can actually be successful with!  Wish me luck! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)



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23. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

You'll all be thrilled to know that my stove has been successfully installed!

(I know you were waiting with bated breath to find out :))

I may have to bake some cookies to see whether the oven works... who can tell? :)

You will also be thrilled to know that in spite of days of heavy rain everyone on Blueberry Hill is still above the water level... albeit in our canoe :)

Today, for PPBF, I have SUCH a fun book to share with you.  It was love at first read for me.  This book surprised me and made me laugh out loud - a real winner! - and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do!


Title: Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook (Learn From The Best!)
Written & Illustrated By: Anne Vittur Kennedy
Candlewick, August 2015, Fiction


Suitable For Ages: 3-7


Themes/Topics: Humor, animals (farm)


Opening: "I'm Ragweed.  I'm a farm dog, and I'm really, really good at it.  Most dogs aren't.  But don't worry.  You'll be great.  You have the handbook."



Brief Synopsis: Ragweed sets out to tell you everything you need to know about being a farm dog... mostly, everything that ISN'T your job :)


Links To Resources: individually or as a group (in classroom or homeschool) make up your own handbook/story about how to be/do something, for example, Bossie's Milk Cow Handbook about how to be a milk cow, or Archie's Wind Up Handbook about how to pitch in baseball.

Why I Like This Book:  It's cute and funny!  Ragweed is so lovable, and so believable as a character.  He's a dog, but his behavior is very reminiscent of a preschooler's :)  His handbook focuses on all the things you should NOT do to be the farm dog, and only at the very end does he reveal what the farm dog's job actually is.  But I'm not telling.  You'll have to read it to find out :)  The illustrations are delightful and perfect for the story, bright and engaging.  Ragweed is so expressive!  I dare you not to love this one.  It made me laugh out loud!


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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

And now, before you all toddle off to your weekends, I want to give you a heads up that I will be posting something interesting on Monday (even though I don't post most Mondays these days) so be sure to check in... I don't think you'll want to miss it! :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!!

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24. Monday Munchday...An Exciting Announcement!

Darlings!

So nice of you to drop by on Monday and visit me!  I missed you so over the weekend :)

And you won't be sorry for coming over!

I have SUCH exciting news!!!

Guess what???

I have invented a new recipe!

Yes!  It's true!

I must give credit where credit is due.  I was inspired by Shelley Kinder in a blog comment on the Halloweensie Winner's post.  During all the talk about nuts vs. no nuts in dessert, she suggested the benefits of peanut butter chips... and an idea was born!

Lo and behold, my new recipe:

Take the brownie recipe of your choice and add 1/2 (or 1/2 +) cup of peanut butter chips!  YUM!

And this gave rise to ANOTHER idea... add 1/2 (or 1/2+) cup of toffee chips!

OR add 1/2 (or 1/2+) cup of crushed peppermint!

OR go the s'mores route and add 1/2 cup mini marshmallows and 1/4-1/2 cup graham cracker cereal!  (Although that might get mushy... I'll have to experiment...!  Maybe crushed graham cracker at the bottom with the brownie batter mixed with marshmallows added on top...?)

I KNOW!

And you're welcome, because I know I have just given you a whole new outlook on your holiday baking plans! :)

At least, I've given MYSELF a whole new outlook on MY holiday baking plans! :)

And the added benefit?  An unexpected Monday Something Chocolate Snack:



Please forgive the photos - I'm a baker not a photographer :) - but I promise they taste delicious!!! :)

So, thanks for stopping by.  I hope it was worth your time.  And I hope you weren't expecting anything else...

What?

You were expecting something else?

Well in that case...

...maybe I should tell you...

...that it's time for...


The 5th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
WA-HOOO!!!! :)

The Contest:  Write a children's story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) beginning with any version of "Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop."  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version "[Verb of your choice]ing [any preposition you choose] the [any item you choose] [any preposition you choose] the [venue of your choice]."  For example, "Surfing along the wind-whipped waves at the Yuletide barbeque," or "Wandering through the pine-sweet woods at the cut-your-own tree farm," or "Quarreling in the checkout line at the local Toys R Us," or "Waltzing among the candy canes at the Holiday Bazaar"....   You get the idea, I'm sure :)  But "Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop" is completely acceptable too - whatever works for you :)  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (I know!  So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest :))  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful :)), but no more than 350!)  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 7 and Friday December 11 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 7 and remain up through Sunday December 13 (no WYRI or PPBF during that week.)  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 7th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I'll post your entry for you! But please don't send attachments!  Just copy and paste your story into the email.)

The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on either Monday December 14 or Tuesday December 15 (depending on the number of entries :)) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Thursday December 17 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Friday December 18.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place.  Judging criteria will be kid appeal/kid-friendliness, creativity, quality of story, quality of writing, and originality.

The Prizes!:  Ok, so I'm still working on the prize list and will have to update, but here are some of the prizes that will be offered, and I think we're going to have some additional awesomeness to add! (items in color are links for more info!):


 - A picture book manuscript critique by talented author/illustrator Iza Trapani, author of JINGLE BELLS, OLD KING COLE, ITSY BITSY SPIDER, and many, many more!
 - a picture book manuscript critique by the fabulous Lori Degman, author of 1 ZANY ZOO and COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS!
 - Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class - in January or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 2016 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
 - a pack of Susanna Leonard Hill's amazing What's The Story Cards (hitherto un-introduced to the world!)

I can't thank these authors enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, buy and recommend their books to your friends with kids, write them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you've read and liked their books, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!

And now!  Sharpen those pencils!  Top off those coffee mugs!  Get those derrieres in your chairs!  And start writing those prize-winning entries!!!

I can't wait for the festivities to begin! :)


0 Comments on Monday Munchday...An Exciting Announcement! as of 11/16/2015 4:54:00 AM
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25. Would You Read It Wednesday #193 - The Nude Goose (PB)

Happy Wednesday, dearies!

Boy has it been a busy week so far!  First off, the guidelines for the 5th Annual Holiday Writing Contest went up on Monday!  If you haven't seen the post yet, you can check it out HERE.  I have already updated the prize list twice with new prizes coming in, so make sure to take a look at the goodies on offer to the winners!!!  And rest assured, there are more to come! :)  (At least I'm hoping... fingers crossed! :))

Also, I just got done with two full days of school visits which are always tons of fun, but always leave me playing catch-up with the rest of my work!  So if you're waiting for an email reply or a critique or a response to a comment you left on my blog, or, I don't know, pretty much anything :)  I'm working on it and will get back to you as soon as I can! :)

And the week promises to get busier still since Thanksgiving is approaching and that means kids returning to the nest - a thought which fills me with joy! :)

What with Thanksgiving on the horizon, I think today's Something Chocolate should be Something Turkey and Something Easy Recipe :)

Recipe HERE at the Krazy Coupon Lady
http://thekrazycouponlady.com/at-home/snacks-under-5-kid-friendly-thanksgiving-oreo-turkeys/

Easy Oreo Pretzel Turkeys seem like they'll cover all the requirements!!

YUM! :)

Even I can probably manage this recipe... and I can practice it for the afore-mentioned returning kids :)

Now then, today's pitch comes to us from Christie who says, "I’ve loved writing since I was small, but when an academic counselor suggested I study something that could get me a “real job”, I mistakenly took her advice - until eight years ago. I’ve since been writing, attending conferences, joined SCBWI and 12X12. I am a wife, mom, and pet person who loves Don Quixote and when someone else does the cooking."

Please find her online at http://www.christieallred.com  And hot-off-the-presses news: Christie is having a “housewarming” party on her new website, where people can come celebrate with her for a chance to win a prize.  So hustle on over and check out her site!!!

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Nude Goose
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch: When Honk flies south, he meets a few oddly dressed geese and tries to fit in. However, he does not realize they are lawn ornaments. After an awkward inquiry, and a few disastrous outfits, Honk discovers he is happier the way he came - naked. 

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 Christie 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Christie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to practicing with chocolate, oreos and pretzels and having my flock return to the fold! :)

I hope you've all got those writerly thinking caps on and are cooking up your Holiday Contest stories!!! :)  I, of course, will likely not give my sample a moment's thought until 10 PM on December 6th when I shall fly into a panic at having to come up with something RIGHT THEN in order to post it on time.  You'd think knowing this would encourage me to plan ahead...  You'd think...!  What is that saying about teaching old dogs new tricks??? :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)




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