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. Life Lesson #9 by Susan Jones

    Frogs crashed the princess party scene…
    Pink and green Mayhem!
    Princesses running every which way
    Except for Nina
    Who saw an opportunity…
    Nina gave a kiss on a warty head
    And the only thing that happened is…
    She skipped on her merry way
    And gave up kissing frogs that day!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Everyone’s stories are delightful. I wrote this for the upcoming holiday.

    Red Egg on grass.
    Bunny sees egg.
    Bunny hops to egg, hippity-hop.
    Bunny sniffs egg, sniffity-sniff.
    Egg rolls on grass.
    Bunny jumps, hippity-hop.
    Bunny sits on egg.
    Boy sees bunny.
    Boy runs to bunny.
    Bunny hops away, hippity-hop.
    Boy sees egg.
    Boy picks up egg.
    Easter Egg!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This was a fun challenge. Here is my story.

    by: Susan M. Schade (49 words)

    Remy’s mouth watered when the doorbell rang.
    His stomach rumbled in anticipation.
    He crept towards the kitchen.
    His nose nudged open the door.
    The crispy crusts crunched.
    He ran from the room before the scolding began.
    Licking his chops, he wondered,
    “Why do they keep food in the trash?”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh Susan…you got me! I was sure this little pup had eaten the pizza that was sitting on a counter…but he only ate what was in the garbage…great story with a subject kids will be able to relate to. 😉 Thank you so much for coming over and joining in!


  4. This was fun! Thanks for the inspiration, Vivian! Here is my entry:

    Pair Skate

    A boy
    And some skates
    And a great
    Frozen lake.
    A girl
    And some twirls
    With wind
    Through her curls.
    How they glided
    And swizzled
    And leaped
    and giggled.
    Till the sun
    Set beyond
    That great
    Frozen pond.
    And they left,
    Skates in hand —
    A grand ice
    Routine planned.

    Liked by 8 people

  5. OK, I’ll take the plunge! Thanks for doing this, Vivian! I love all the others!

    (The two lines about the birds were supposed to be indented in a different font, but it didn’t work here. Whoops! )

    By Ellen Leventhal

    Marianne went out one day,
    set food down on her red lunch tray.
    Birds came swarming in a bunch,
    swooping close down near her lunch
    The hummingbird grabbed one black bean
    Two crows pecked her whole plate clean.
    Marianne thought, “That’s ok.
    The birds need it more than me today.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • You know something…I think you could make this a counting picture book….with a longer word count, of course. 😉 I love it,Ellen…I’m so glad you were able to get a story written…I know you’ve been watching for possible flooding. Thank you for playing along. 😉


  6. Thanks for the challenge, Vivian! Gotta keep those writing cells active. Here’s my entry.

    At The Top

    A mischievous wind blew Ant’s balloon into the grasses.
    Ant searched by land, but couldn’t find his balloon.
    “I need a new perspective.”
    Ant climbed a hollyhock.
    At the tippy-top he found a new friend, his balloon held tightly in her hand.
    And soon he had her hand in his.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Here is mine — I had fun writing rhyme, something I do not often do. Thanks for the challenge, Vivianne!


    I’m adding Lynne Marie’s story here so no one will miss it:
    FAR AWAY FRIENDS by Lynne Marie

    Penguin and Polar from opposite ends,
    First became pen pals, and next became friends.
    Then came the problem – they lived far away.
    How would poor Penguin and Polar bear play?
    Neither gave up – they were just not the type.

    Penguin and Polar played games via Skype.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Zowie! Awesome story, Lynne Marie. I love your main characters…hold on to them…they would make a great early reader series…Penguin and Polar Bear conjure up a great visual. And your rhyme was wonderful. 🙂 Thanks for playing along.


  9. This was a fun challenge, Vivian. All the stories are fantastic! Here is mine.

    By Jenna Grodzicki

    Splash! Pool party!
    But Emma can’t swim.
    Dipping toes is not enough.
    What to do?
    Look! What’s that?
    Sammie swims over with a float.
    “You can join us in the pool on this!”
    Slowly, carefully, Emma climbs aboard.
    Her grin is as bright as the sun.
    Giggle! Giggle! Splash!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The Small, Quiet Rabbit

    My teachers and classmates said, “You are a small, quiet mouse!”

    Well, I think I am a rabbit, small and light brown. Sometimes, I like quiet gardens. Sometimes, I like having friends around.

    But I am not quiet when I eat with two, big, front teeth.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My sister always called me a little mouse…but I think I am more like your rabbit…with big front teeth…and I do love carrots. 😉 What a great story, sg…Wonderful character…and I really connected. I appreciate you joining in the fun of #50PreciousWords. 🙂


  11. Hi Vivian, here’s mine.

    One Snowy Enchanted Evening

    “Snow-lo, I’m Frosty.”
    “Snow-hi, I’m Avalanche”
    “New here?”
    “Was built this morning.”
    “I’ve been here awhile.”
    “I’ve been in the clouds, lately.”
    “Rain a-coming”
    “Then, goodbye hat.”
    “Blustery winds.”
    “Cheerio, carrot nose.”
    “Then, sunshine.”
    “We’re doomed.”
    “Snow-lo Santa! Flying to the North Pole?”
    “Snow-hi Santa! We need a ride, desperately.”

    Hopefully there will be more stories! Loving this.
    Thanks so much for the contest.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Here’s number two. Thanks!

    By Rita Antoinette Borg



    Ugh! Stop!


    Stop it!


    Because I AM SINGING!…Now, I’m leaving.









    No! OOOOOuch!



    UP YOU GO. Better?


    Now I’ll leave.



    Let’s share.

    Share? Together?



    Liked by 1 person

    • Love the message, Rita…helping each other and working together…that is perfect…just what we need to do in our kid lit community. 😉 You are wonderful to do three stories for the contest…hats off to you, dear lady. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks you so much Vivian. Great stories are flowing in the site. You should do this every year! If you focus enough the stories just keep coming and characters pop in your head.


  13. Here’s my third.

    Herman Hamster travels to Hawaii
    by Rita Antoinette Borg

    “Here’s the plane, Dog.”
    “A wish-maker…taking me to Hawaii.”
    Dog lifts up Herman, closes door.
    Cat presses “ON” button.
    Inside, Water gushes.
    “Ooooooooooo, Waves!”
    “Ooooooo, Bubbles!”
    “Ooooooooooo, Hula dancing!” says Herman.
    Herman bursts from the dishwasher.
    “He’s going to Alaska next”, says Dog.
    “Refrigerator?” asks Cat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh dear, Rita…this is definitely thinking outside (or perhaps inside) the box. I think Hamster is a bit gullible and Dog and Cat are clever entrepreneurs…how much are they charging Hamster for the trip to Alaska? 😉 Very creative…and a wonderful entry into the challenge!!!


      • Actually I aimed for herman is a mad crazy selfish hamster .While dog is practical and tries to straighten herman hamster.Cat is worried about herman and his escapades too. They do his bidding just to appease herman mad scientist side.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. What a challenge! I might just see what I can come up with! From the looks of the comments, you have your work cut out for you with the judging! Thanks for being a part of the Booknificent Thursday reading community this week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That would be wonderful, Tina! I hope you can enter…I always try to post a link to your Booknificent Thursday reading community…maybe some of them will hop over and give the challenge a try. 😉


  15. A Whale of a Day

    Tiger fell asleep, near the ocean.

    I’m in your dream. (Fish)
    I’m a striped sea bass.

    I have stripes too. (Tiger)

    I see a whale. (Fish)

    Where are we? (Tiger)
    It’s dark. I’m scared.

    Whale opened his mouth. Hurry! We need to swim out. (Fish)

    We made it! (Tiger)

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Hi Vivian! I wrote this in response a girl who told her story on NPR about leaving Iran and the guilt she felt about being able to leave. It’s definitely on the older end of the age bracket you set for us!

    out the apartment window
    all I see:
    Men protest, women scurry, children flee

    Should I stay?
    Speak and fight?
    Or continue…

    For my life
    What I know is right…
    I have too much to lose.
    I can leave this all behind.

    And so I do.

    Thanks for allowing us to join in on this challenge! I love it. Totally needed to focus on writing something new. 🙂


    Liked by 6 people

    • Shari…I need to complain to WordPress…there should be a ‘love’ button, not just a ‘like’ one. 😉
      Please don’t apologize for the age level…in war-torn countries, children much younger than 12 are soldiers, children much younger than 12 are scavenging garbage heaps for a bite to eat, children much younger than 12 are walking many miles to skim a bucket of water from a dirty river so there will be something to drink…your story is lyrically beautiful and exceptionally powerful…about making choices, which children much younger than 12 have to do every day.
      Did I already say I love it? I’m grateful you entered the contest…thank you so much!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Aw, you are welcome…and you made me tear up with the truth of your words. I lived in a remote village in the Philippines for a while and have seen these things, of which you speak, firsthand. I’m happy that I could enter the contest. Thank you, Vivian!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m usually the one reading all the entries instead of participating, but I really wanted to give this one a try. So here goes!

    By Monique Wakefield

    It sure is hard being a cowboy:

    Chasing tumble weeds out of town,

    Catching prairie dogs in the garden,

    Getting wrapped up in my lasso.

    Yep, it sure is hard being a cowboy.

    But the best part is –

    Getting to eat all the ice cream in town!

    Liked by 4 people

    • I LOVE cowboys! And I love ice cream even more! Great story, Monique, with lots of action kids would love…thank you so so much for playing along with my little challenge. It’s turned into so much more than I had hoped for…people are really throwing their hearts into it. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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