The wait is finally over! It’s time for Susanna Hill’s fabulous Halloweensie Contest.


According to the guidelines, you need to write a story for children that is 100 words or less and uses the words GHOST, SPIDER, and  MOON.

I’ve always participated in this challenge…it’s a great writing prompt that helps you come right to the point while trying to entertain kids.

Here is my entry…I hope you enjoy it. Please visit the link up on Susanna’s website so you can read the other stories. Some may be posted in the comment section of her blog for those people who don’t have their own blog. Voting will take place on November 7 and winners will be announced a couple of days after that.



Tucked in a box, Trick-or-Treat Bag slept. He dreamed of friendly ghosts, scary spiders, and a tummy full of treats.

One day, Bag’s world shook. Earthquake!

Bag felt a tug. Whoosh! Bag dangled in the air.

“It’s wrinkled,” said Sally.

“Shake it out,” said Sam.

Bag twitched.

“Don’t you want a new bag?” said Sam. “Your costume is new.”

Bag trembled.

Sally held Bag close. “My old costume was too small,” she said. “But this bag will always be just right for me.”

Bouncing to the beat of  Sally’s heart, Bag twinkled as they trick-or-treated in the Halloween moonlight.


I hope you enjoyed the story…I’ve never written one from a bag’s POV…now I can’t wait to read all of the other contest entries!

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends! And HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!






Perfect Picture Book Friday: MONSTER TRUCKS

Last weekend I attended the SCBWI ENCORE presentation at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts. I’m thankful for kid lit friends, Mona Pease, who drove all the way from Maine, and Beth Gallagher, who picked us up and chauffeured us to the event. The fall foliage was astonishingly beautiful and the day-long conference was filled with inspiring and informative programs.

Next weekend, another book event takes place…the Keene State College Children’s Book Fair. I’m hoping to be able to go. The only problem with going to these book events is that it’s tempting to buy every book!

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection is one I actually didn’t have to buy. At our local indie bookstore’s Teacher Appreciation Week, I placed my name in a raffle bowl. And I could hardly believe my ears when the manager from Toadstool Bookshop called and informed me that I was a winner of a picture book which is perfect for this Halloween-is-around-the-corner season. To read all of this week’s Perfect Picture Book reviews, hop over to Susanna Hill’s website.



Written by Anika Denise

Illustrated by Nate Wragg

Publisher: Harper Collins (2016)

Ages: 3 and up


Courage, never give up, you don’t have to be the biggest in order to win


From Amazon:

Readers will delight in this lively read-aloud story with a clever and surprising twist at the end—perfect for Halloween and year round!

 Ready, set, go! The monster truck race is on in this frightfully delightful picture book.  On a spooky speedway, Monster Trucks moan! Monster Trucks grumble! Monster Trucks groan!

 Join Frankentruck, Zombie Truck, Ghost Truck, and more as they race to the finish line. But one of these trucks isn’t quite who you think.

Why I like this book:

  • Love the clever simple rhyme that is matched perfectly with illustrations full of kid-appeal
  • Totally a new twist on a Halloween story for children that has just the right amount of tension and suspense without being scary


  1. Let your children design their own monster trucks.
  2. Make up silly Halloween rhymes with your children…take turns with each line.
  3. Check out other great Halloween picture books here: http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/holidays/tp/halloween.html


This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, dear friends and readers. If you enjoy writing children’s stories, don’t forgot about Susanna’s Halloweensie Contest. I’ll be posting my entry to the contest next Friday right here on my blog. But if you want to find out more about the contest, click on this link.



SYLVIA LIU: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway



Plate of Cookies






When I was new to this kid lit community, several names appeared frequently in blog post comments and writing challenges. These people seemed to have a confidence…a sense of knowing what they were doing. They were helpful, generous, and they made me feel so welcome. Sylvia Liu was one of those special people.


Sylvia Liu is an environmental attorney turned author and illustrator. Her debut picture book as an author, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books 2016) was the 2013 Lee & Low New Voices Award winner. She is inspired by her family, oceans, cephalopods, aliens, penguins, and more. Visit her website at http://www.enjoyingplanetearth.com. She is the co-founder of the kid lit resource website, www.Kidlit411.com. 


So, dear readers, now you know a little bit about Sylvia…and, by the end of this interview, hopefully you will know more.

Sylvia…I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar! I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of a copy of Sylvia’s brand-new book, Mornings with Grandpa, which I reviewed yesterday for Perfect Picture Book Friday. To be entered into the giveaway, please leave a comment at the end and share something you loved doing with a grandparent or something you enjoy doing with your grandchildren.

 ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?


Even though English wasn’t my first language (Chinese was), my mom took my sister and me to the library all the time to check out books. I don’t remember specific picture books I loved (other than the Dr. Seuss), but I fell deeply in love with stories like CHARLOTTE’S WEB (E.B. White), A WRINKLE IN TIME (Madeleine L’Engle), WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (Wilson Rawls), and THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER (E.L. Konigsberg). I stumbled across Andre Norton’s science fiction stories and that turned me onto a whole world of sci-fi and fantasy (Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Lloyd Alexander, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Frank Herbert).

ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?


I wish I had found a critique group sooner, though if I had, I wouldn’t have found my wonderful current group. I spent a lot of time writing and revising with little outside feedback, which resulted in a slow start and lots of wheel spinning.

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?


I usually write at my computer in my study, but I keep a sketchbook in my purse. I jot notes, random musings, and first drafts in the sketchbook. I sometimes write in my Notes app on my phone while waiting at one of my girls’ sports practices.

ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?


Usually, I spend at least a morning or an afternoon each day on creative pursuits, whether writing or illustrating. Sometimes I will go days without writing because I’m focused on illustrating, while other days, it’s the reverse.


 E: Why do you write for children?


To spread the love – to help other children discover the love of reading that I enjoyed as a child.

 ME: Sylvia, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that writers might want to hear.


My advice to writers has been said by many, but I’ll reiterate: read, read, and read some more. Write from your heart. Learn the craft. Connect with other writers. Never give up!

Wow…thank you so very much, Sylvia. Each one of your tips for writers would make an excellent poster to hang up for inspiration!

And here’s something else that will give many of you some inspiration for those left-over bananas that no one will eat…Sylvia’s recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


This is quick and easy recipe that takes 30-35 minutes to make from start to finish.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 or 1½ bananas, the riper the better
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (substitute ½ cup of chopped walnuts if you prefer)


Makes 12 muffins

Preheat oven 400 degrees

  1. In a small bowl, mix the wet ingredients together: egg (lightly beaten with fork), bananas (mashed), milk, and oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir together until just moistened. Do not overmix.
  4. Add the chocolate chips and mix in.
  5. Grease a muffin pan or use cupcake cups in a muffin pan. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.
  6. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Yum! I will definitely be making these!

To connect with Sylvia or to find out more about her book or her art (yes…Sylvia is an illustrator as well as an author:


Twitter (@artsylliu)



Please don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Sylvia’s new picture book. Just tell us something special you remember doing with a grandparent or something you love to do with your grandchildren. And if you are able to share the post on social media, more people will be inspired by Sylvia and get a chance to win a book.

 Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend…I’m off to Gardner, MA for an SCBWI ENCORE writing workshop program with Mona Pease and Beth Gallagher.


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