PPBF: Brave Girl PLUS 50 Precious Words Contest

Are you ready for something fun, my friends?

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, so you know we are going to have a review of a great picture book. Plus, because this is Women’s History Month, I’ve chosen a book that celebrates an important Mighty Girl in American history, Clara Lemlich.

But first I want to tell you about a mini-contest. Wednesday was the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. One of his books actually came about because of a bet he made with Bennett Cerf, one of the publishing giants of Random House. Cerf challenged Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.

If you are currently writing picure books…or just reading them, you’ll notice that the average word length is getting shorter and shorter. So I thought, wouldn’t that be a great challenge…to write a story for kids with only 50 words. With a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wondered if I could do it. And I decided to open the challenge to everyone. Here are the guidelines:


  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count for the story is 50 or less.
  2. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
  3. Title is not included in the word count.
  4. No illustration notes please.
  5. Post the story on your blog if you have one and put the link in the comments OR post the story in the comments.
  6. Deadline for posting the story or the link in the comments is Friday, March 18th…that gives you two weeks.
  7. Winners will be announced on Saturday, March 19th, in our Will Write for Cookies post.
  8. Prizes? Of course! In honor of Women’s History Month, a copy of Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough. And we’ll see what else I can figure out.
  9. This just in!!!! Kristen Fulton is donating a seat in her April Nonfiction Archaeology class. Just to let you all know…I took her class in June 2014..and that was the step that led me down this path of writing nonfiction picture books. I wrote Sweet Dreams, Sarah the month after the class ended. And I’ve been writing nonfiction picture books ever since!
  10. I’m also going to offer a mini-critique of a picture book manuscript…hopefully, after years of writing, revising, and critiquing, my feedback will be helpful.
  11. Plus, I have a soft spot for mini-books…you know, those tiny books you can hold in the palm of your hand. It’s time to share a couple from my collection.
  12. Stop the presses!!!!! Another GREAT PRIZE has just been donated! My fabulous agent, Essie White, is going to give a critique to one of the winners! Thank you so much, Essie! This contest is shaping up to be so much more than I had ever expected. Thank you so everyone who is posting about it and sharing on Facebook and Twitter!
  13. Hurray…another great prize!!!! Next Saturday, as I mentioned, when I announce the winners, I’ll also be interviewing debut picture book author, Nancy Churnin. So I am adding a shiny new copy of her book, “The William Hoy Story” to the prize pool…woo-hoo!

I’ve been participating in Carrie Charley Brown’s ReFoReMo Challenge. The list of recommended picture books was astounding. Fortunately, my local library is able to get most of the books I request. Plus, they don’t have a limit on the number of books you can take out. One of my favorites so far is the story of the girl who led the fight for better conditions for workers in the garment industry. And I thought it was a stellar book to spotlight during Women’s History Month.

brave girl

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

Written by Michelle Market

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Publisher: Balzer & Bray (2013)

Ages: 5-9

Themes: Courage, standing up for what is right, working together, labor unions


Opening Lines:

“A steamship pulls into the harbor, carrying hundreds of immigrants—and a surprise for New York City.”


From Amazon: This is a true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history. This picture book biography includes a bibliography and an author’s note on the garment industry. It follows the plight of immigrants in America in the early 1900s, tackling topics like activism and the U.S. garment industry, with handstitching and fabric incorporated throughout the art.

When Clara arrived in America, she couldn’t speak English. She didn’t know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast.

But that didn’t stop Clara. She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a shirtwaist factory.

Clara never quit, and she never accepted that girls should be treated poorly and paid little. Fed up with the mistreatment of her fellow laborers, Clara led the largest walkout of women workers the country had seen.

From her short time in America, Clara learned that everyone deserved a fair chance. That you had to stand together and fight for what you wanted. And, most importantly, that you could do anything you put your mind to.


Why I like this book:

  • This is a moment in history that comes alive for children and that is what I love about these newer nonfiction picture books. The author paints a picture with her words and the reader and listener are there. Fingers crossed that my Sweet Dreams, Sarah will do this also.
  • The wonderful illustrations support the text perfectly…and with text by Michelle Market and illustrations by Melissa Sweet, this is no surprise.


How a parent can use this book and related activites:

  • Great read-aloud.
  • Springboard for a discussion on how one person can make a difference. What would have happened if Clara hadn’t spoken up?
  • Talk about people in your family who may have had similar experiences.


Make a Family Tree and Timeline

familytree_finalresult1Photo courtesy: http://www.alphabetkids.com

A family tree and timeline can be a great way for children to find a way to relate to ‘the good old days’. Find detailed directions at this wonderful website: http://www.alphabetkids.com/?q=parents/craft-activities/family-tree

If your child can speak with a grandparent or great-grandparent, they can find out lots of stuff…did they watch TV when they were a kid? What did they do when they got home from school? What did they learn in school? And, relating it to the story, did they ever go out on strike? If so, what for? Interaction between the generations is a valuable thing!


And for more wonderful picture book reviews, visit Susanna Hill.

So, my friends, I hope some of you will participate in the 50 PRECIOUS WORDS CHALLENGE.

Oh, I knew I forgot something! Here is my little sample example for you…it’s a story I had been working with on and off. It was over 500 words…but obviously, I cut it drastically. I’m excited to read all of your wonderful entries which will absolutely positively be better than mine.

Pilar the Pirate (50 words) by Vivian Kirkfield


     Pilar wanted to be a pirate captain. No treasure. No crew.

     She enrolled in pirate school. On a scavenger hunt, Pilar and her partners filled the bag. Soon they were lost. Lenny blubbered. Jenny sobbed. Pilar said. “Follow me!”

     “Aye, aye,” Lenny and Jenny piped up. “We’re right behind you.”


Have a wonderful weekend! I’m truly looking forward to reading your stories…I hope we have a lot of entries…this is a community of support and encouragement.

407 thoughts on “PPBF: Brave Girl PLUS 50 Precious Words Contest

  1. The Masterpiece, by Shelley Kinder

    Deep blue canvas.

    Passionate Painter.

    Splashes of pink,



    Will they love His sunrise,

    As He loves them?

    More pink…



    A punch of purple!

    It is finished.

    People point,



    Admiring the masterpiece.

    The Painter is pleased.

    God rests his brush,

    Excited for sunset…

    The possibilities!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks so much, Vivian! I had so much fun writing it. I was inspired by the morning sky a few days ago. Amazing how the sky changes so much throughout the day. My favorite is when it’s dark and sunny at the same time…and then it rains! So cool! I hope you have fun reading and judging all these phenomenal stories. Thanks so much for this challenge! Talk about cutting words!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Vivian! Here’s my story for your fun 50 word challenge (50 words plus one-word title)! What a cool contest. You inspire me 🙂


    Time to leap, the leaves whoosh out
    Bursts of color spray and spout.

    Goodbye, Fall, I’m moving south
    Salty tears drip ‘round my mouth.

    New house, new town, and sticky heat…
    Kids splash and laugh across the street.

    Time to leap and soar again,
    Spouts spray further with a friend.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Lori, Lori, Lori!!! Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone and putting up your wonderful story. It’s a thrill to have so many critique buddies and friends supporting this challenge! I really engaged with your mc…and I’m so happy that she, too, is going to leap and soar, reaching out to make new friends. 😉


  3. Vivian, I love your review of BRAVE GIRL. It’s on my reading list. You highlighted so many great points about the book that will inspire today’s readers, while also inspiring me to be a “Brave Girl” and enter your 50 Precious Words Contest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the review, Lori. I knew this story…the ‘real’ story about the Shirtwaist Factory Fire…and I was amazed at how beautifully the author and illustrator captured Clara’s spirit and determination. And yes…I’m really pleased that you entered the contest…WELL DONE!


  4. Nothing like waiting till the last day! *Phew*
    Here is my 50 word story!
    Thank you, Vivian, for this fabulous contest! What an amazing exercise for any writer! :O) Enjoy!

    Nancy’s Ants

    Nancy loved her new ant farm.
    Nancy’s parents loved that bugs were contained.
    They went to breakfast, on the bus, to school, to the playground, to ballet, dinner, movie and popcorn, and slept on the couch with Nancy.
    The next morning, Nancy’s parents sat and ate breakfast.
    With Nancy’s ants.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your story brought back so many memories, Monica. I LOVED watching ants when I was a kid and wanted one of those ant farms…of course, we lived in the city and my mom said NO. What a fun entry into the contest…thank you so much for playing along. 😉


      • Vivian,
        I love that you could relate! My parents never let me have an ant farm either! This is all about my days at as a mom- when my girls bring in bugs- in jars … Then minutes later… ??? The search is on… ☺️ Here’s to a fabulous contest! 🌟


  5. Here is mine

    More jokes
    More laughter
    More hugs
    More books
    More smiles
    More listening
    More sleep
    More peace
    More dancing
    More music
    More kisses
    More nature
    More play
    More walks
    More wonder
    More wandering
    Less fear
    Less fighting
    Less hunger
    Fewer tears
    Cuddling up for a story at night
    Just right

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your sentiments, Lindsey…yes, more of the good stuff and less of the bad. I’m voting for that! Thank you so much for joining in the fun…I’m so thrilled with all of the wonderful entries…it’s absolutely amazing!


  6. Homeless. Hungry. Help.

    Homeless. Hungry. Help.
    Mom, who is that man?
    Why is he hungry?
    I don’t know.

    Did he get food yesterday?
    Where is his family?
    I don’t know.

    Homeless. Hungry. Help.
    Why is the man still there ?
    He needs a little help.

    I found a quarter!
    Bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a great topic, Robin. I think we do need to help kids learn to reach out to others and be sensitive to their needs. And I love that your mc really SEES the man…and wants to help. Thank you so much…I’m so happy to meet you…and really appreciate your participation in my little (as in..very little) challenge of only 50 words.


  7. I look forward to reading Brave Girl!
    In the meantime, here’s my 50 word story (a very abbreviated version of a longer WIP). You can supply your own ending because I ran out of words before I could 🙂 Thanks Vivian for this great contest!

    Jay’s Dilemma

    A hungry jay cries “hooray!”
    He sees peanuts on a windowsill.
    Jay dives from his tree. He picks up one peanut with his beak…
    Hey, hey, hey, Jay can pick up two!
    Jay wants three peanuts to eat in his tree, but his beak is full…
    What would you do?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, hey…I would eat one right then and there! What a fun story, Linda. It reminds me of when I used to go to a restaurant for their buffet meal…my eyes were bigger than my stomach, for sure. 😉 Thank you so much for hopping over and playing along with the challenge.


    • Favourite Fun

      Crunchy cold, shoveling snow, dressed up warmly, WE SKATE.
      Shining sun, balmy breezes, brings robins roving, WE SKIP!
      Wild winds, makes leaves land, piled up high, WE JUMP!
      Dreamy days, lazy and long, diving deep, WE SWIM.

      Different days each filled with fun.
      Do you have a favourite one?



    Whatever you do,
    Do not think about a dragon.
    This story is about a pig.
    Aaaah! You were still thinking…
    Poor pig.
    What did you say?
    The pig has what?
    And she’s brave?
    Good bye dragon!
    See? This story is about a pig.
    You’re right. And a dragon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, this is funny, Stefanie…it makes me think of The Stinky Cheese Man book. I think that would be a great story with a dragon and a pig…quite an unusual pairing. 😉 I’m so glad you put up a story for the contest…thank you for joining in. 😉


  9. And one last entry…an email came in at 5pm…I just saw it…from a dear friend who is a world musician. She travels around the globe, sharing music,making instruments, and spreading joy to children everywhere. Daria posted the entry on her blog: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/50-precious-words-i-wished-for-a-washboard-a-musical-picture-book/

    And I am posting the story right here also:

    I Wished For A Washboard by: Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou

    I wished for a washboard
    So that I could play
    Some music with mom
    or my friends, everyday

    I’d make lots of rhythms
    Then guess what I’d do?
    I’ll give you my washboard
    And you could play, too!

    I wished for a washboard
    To make music my own
    And today I am happy

    Mom brought one home!

    Thank you so very much, dear Daria! I’m thrilled you got this story to me intime…and more than that, I’m just so happy you played along! I love your rhyme and the message of sharing music…which is what you are all about. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: My entry for 50 Precious Words writing Contest! | Agatha Rodi Books

  11. Pingback: 50 Word Story | Jena Benton's Blog:

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  13. Birthday with Friends

    Minh would miss celebrating his birthday in Vietnam.
    He used to decorate his toy elephant with yellow and red ribbons.
    Grandmother made moon-shaped cakes, yummy fruits, and coconut candy.
    Now playing with his new friends would be the best treat.


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