Perfect Picture Book Friday: IF YOU HAD YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY ON THE MOON plus #50PreciousWords WINNERS!

Hold on to your seats, everyone! We are ready to blast off! Our Perfect Picture Book Friday story is the obvious choice for such a momentous blog post that will also contain the WINNERS of #50PreciousWords.

Most of you know that I left home on February 19 and didn’t get back until April 8. That time was spent in Sydney at the Australia/NZ SCBWI conference (which rocked!) and sightseeing through the beautiful city and its lovely beach areas. Maria Marshall and I walked EVERYWHERE! Below is a photo of Maria and me at a beach where they had the most amazing poster art graffiti – since my slogan is Nothing is Impossible if You Can Imagine It…we had to take a pic with the bottle of dreams and me holding the little heart pillow my six-year old granddaughter had sewed for me to take on my trip as a little lovey.

viv and maria at sydney beach poster


Then in New Zealand, Diane Tulloch took me EVERYWHERE and I had the opportunity to read my debut picture books to 100 six-year olds at a primary school and at a library story hour (what fun!).

I also traveled to Switzerland, where Julie Abery took me EVERYWHERE and we both read our debut books to the preschool class at the International School in Lausanne. (awesome!). And when I wasn’t eating raclette (yum!) and Cailler chocolate (more yum!), we were jetting over to London for a weekend to catch the Dior exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum or ferrying over to Yvoire, a medieval French town,.

viv and julie on Thames river cruise with wheel

And then for the final leg of my journey, we trained to Italy for the Bologna Book Fair where Maria Marshall and Fiona Halliday met up with us. And we connected with so many wonderful authors and illustrators. Two of them joined our group for dinner and we had a fabulous time…mostly because Simona Ceccarelli and Eleanor Ann Peterson are fabulous people…but maybe a tiny bit because they both speak fluent Italian…and that definitely helps when you are ordering food in an Italian restaurant in Italy.

Bologna book fair viv julie maria eleanor fiona

I discovered that Simona is the illustrator of a brand-new picture book, If You Had Your Birthday Party on the launches on April 26…and if you have a child who wants to be an astronaut or a scientist or an astronomer or ever planned a birthday party…well, you get the idea…this is a book filled with #STEM info, presented in the most enjoyable way.

if you had your birthday party on the moon


Written by Joyce Lapin

Illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli

Published by Sterling Books (2019)

Ages:7 and up

Themes: Space exploration, birthdays, friendship

Synopsis: From Amazon

If you had your birthday party on the moon, what would it be like? Blast off to an extraterrestrial celebration and find out! This cool picture book combines fun and facts to help kids learn all about outer space.  
Have your birthday party on the moon and everyone will come! After all, who wouldn’t want to ride in a rocket and celebrate for a day that lasts as long as a month on Earth? Then, young partygoers could romp in a low-gravity playground; watch candles and balloons behave weirdly in the Moon’s atmosphere; and see why the “moon angels” they make in the thick carpet of lunar dust will last for thousands of years. With each discovery, kids learn the science behind the surprise, explained in terms they’ll understand. Complete with sidebars and a glossary, this entertaining adventure is perfect for sharing at home and at school.

Why I love this book:

  • Wonderful #STEM info on the planets, gravity, and other topics – all presented in a kid-friendly story
  • Fabulous illustrations…fillled with action and energy, light and shadow
  • Very appealing premise – what kid wouldn’t want to plan a birthday party on the moon, right?


Outer-Space-CraftsPhoto courtesy:

Not one, not two…but twenty-one different crafts related to space travel. For detailed instructions:

For more picture book reviews and activities, don’t forget to visit Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up where people who love picture books come to share stories.

And please remember that the finest gift you can give an author or an illustrator is to buy their book, review their book, tell your friends about their book, and/or ask your local library to add the book to their collection.

And now, thank you for your patience and understanding these past few weeks while I completed my travels.


But first I need to explain why it took so long to do this. One of the reasons it took so long was that there were 300 entries.

WOW! I am so grateful to all who participated.

Another reason was that the entries were soooo good!

Double WOW! You all stepped up your game and worked super hard to submit polished pieces that were filled with heart or humor or both. That made choosing really difficult. I am so proud of all of you!!! You inspire me!!!

And the third reason was that I promised the agent and the editor who are donating critique prizes that I would wait until mid-April to announce because they had other obligations to take care of.

Please join me in a huge thank you and round of applause to my three partners in crime, Maria Marshall, Julie Abery, and Diane Tulloch. All of them read every single entry and commented on them and spent hours chatting with me about each and every entry.

Triple WOW!

Here is a quick rundown of the guidelines and the prizes.

  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 of 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. IMPORTANT: Post your story in the comment section below. If you have your own blog and want to post your story there also, please do. And let us know your post link.  I ask for the link so that people will visit each other and find new friends in the kid lit community. But no matter how many other places you want to post your story, make sure at least one of those places is in the comment section of this blog post…and please make sure you put your name in the post because some of you have very creative emails/avatar names and I won’t know who you are. If you have any trouble at all posting the story, please email me and I will be happy to do it for you:
  6. Deadline for posting the story in the comments is Wednesday, March 6, at 11:59pm. And if you plan to ask me to post it for you, please send it at least the day before.
  7.  When I do start contacting the winners, 1st place will choose whichever prize he/she wants. Then I will contact 2nd place with the remaining prizes to choose from. And so on down the line. And here, for your dining and dancing pleasure are the wonderful prizes.


  1. A critique from Storm Literary Agency partner Vicki Selvaggio who is one of the finest agents and loveliest people I know.

vicki selvaggio

2. A picture book or chapter book or MG critique (if you choose this prize, you will need to wait until after June 1 to claim it) with Clear Fork editor Callie-Smith.


3. A seat in Susanna Leonard Hill’s MAKING PICTURE BOOK MAGIC: This is the first picture book writing class I took in February was a stellar foundation and it has served me well. Susanna is an amazing mentor and a seat in her class can be life-changing!


4. A seat in Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy class on HUMOR – how to find it in your heart and how to write it into your picture books. I have not taken this class yet…but I know I should:



5. A complimentary viewing of Alayne Kaye Christan’s latest webinar: Top Ten Reason’s for Rejections.  

If you want tips on some corrective action that you might take to improve your chances of submission success, and/or if you would like to deepen your understanding of plot and arc, this webinar is for you.


Alayne Kay Christian is the content and developmental editor for Blue Whale Press and an award-winning children’s book author. She is the creator and teacher of a picture book writing course, Art of Arc. She has been a professional picture book and chapter book critique writer since 2014 and has worked as a critique ninja for Julie Hedlund’s 12 X 12 for three years. Alayne is a graduate of the Institute for Children’s Literature and she has spent the last eleven years studying under some of the top names in children’s literature.


6. Picture Book manuscript critique from author Lindsay Metcalf

lindsay h. metcalf (credit anna jackson)Photo courtesy: Anna Jackson Photography

Lindsay H. Metcalf is a children’s author, poet, reporter, and former editor for The Kansas City Star. She will debut with two nonfiction picture books in 2020. In the fall of that year, Charlesbridge will release Taking the Mic: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, a poetic anthology co-edited by Lindsay, Jeanette Bradley, and Keila V. Dawson, and illustrated by Bradley. It features fourteen contemporary young activists, each spotlighted by a well-known poet. Subjects include literacy activist Marley Dias, water protector Jasilyn Charger, Scout for Equality founder Zach Wahls, and immigration reformer Viridiana Sanchez Santos. Contributors include Nikki Grimes, Joseph Bruchac, Lesléa Newman, and Guadalupe García McCall. Details about Lindsay’s second nonfiction picture book will be forthcoming. To learn more about her books and paid critique services, please reach out on or on Twitter @lindsayhmetcalf.


7. Picture Book manuscript critique from author Melissa Stoller.

head shot

Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection – Book One: Return to Coney Island and Book Two: The Liberty Bell Train Ride (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017 and 2019); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, 2018). Upcoming releases include Return of the Magic Paintbrush and Sadie’s Shabbat Stories (Clear Fork, 2019). She is also the co-author of The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is an Assistant and Blogger for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a Moderator for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/MetroNY. Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Trustees at The Hewitt School and at Temple Shaaray Tefila. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy.

8. Picture Book manuscript critique from author Amber Hendricks.


Born and raised in the Midwest, Amber Hendricks grew up reading everything she could get her hands on- including the morning cereal boxes. That passion melded into writing, and by the age of 11 she was writing and binding her own “books”.  Amber is the author of Sophie and Little Star (Clearfork/Spork 2018) and two yet to be announced picture books.  Amber has worn many hats in her career : Army wife, Mother, Visual Merchandiser, Certified Pharmacy Technician, and most recently, Childcare Professional.  But she has always circled back to her first love of telling stories.  Amber currently resides in Missouri with her husband and two children.

9. Picture Book manuscript critique from author Sherry Howard.


Sherry Howard lives in Middletown, Kentucky, in a household busy with kids and pets. She worked as an educator, and now has the luxury of writing full time. Her debut picture, Rock and Roll Woods, released in October, 2018. And her middle grade NF, Deep Sea Divers, just released. She has quite a few books in the pipeline for publication soon.

Sherry Howard | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 Meet Kuda and Rock and Roll Woods here.

Deep Sea Divers

10. Picture Book manuscript critique from author Julie Abery.

Julie Abery

Mother. Writer. Teacher of the very young. I live in Switzerland with my partner and Tilly, the Springer Spaniel.

I ❤️ my job (it’s not every day you get to be an honorary five year old!)

I ❤️ chocolate  (I live in Switzerland after all!)

I ❤️  walking the dog (well, I did eat all the chocolate!)

I ❤️  picture books!

If you would like to learn more about me, please visit

11. Picture book critique from author Tina Cho.

tina cho

Tina Cho is the author of four picture books– Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books/Bonnier Publishing August 2018), Korean Celebrations (forthcoming Tuttle 2019), Breakfast with Jesus (forthcoming Harvest House 2020), and a new sale yet to be announced. Although she grew up and taught in the United States, she currently lives in South Korea with her husband and two children while teaching at an international school.

The Girls Guide to Manners


12. Picture book critique from author Carrie Finison.

carrie finison headshotrexize

Carrie Finison began her literary career at the age of seven with an idea, a box of markers, and her father’s typewriter. She has been writing off and on ever since, though she has (somewhat regretfully) traded in the typewriter for a laptop. Her poems and stories for children have appeared in Babybug, Ladybug, High Five, and Highlights magazines, and her debut picture book,DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS, illustrated by Brianne Farley, will be published by Putnam in 2020. She lives outside Boston with her husband, son, daughter, and two cats who permit her to write in their cozy attic office. Find her online or on Twitter @CarrieFinson.

13. Picture book critique from Maria Marshall

Maria Marshall photos

Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature fun for children. She was a round 2 judge for the 2018 & 2017 Cybils Awards. And a judge for the #50PreciousWords competition since its inception. Two of her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2016 and 2014-2015 anthologies. She is the parent of two amazing adults and lives in the Pacific Northwest with two Pixie Bob cats. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. The Picture Book Buzz

Website  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram


14. Signed copy of book by Laura Sassi

laura sassi

Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme.  Her picture books include  GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, 2015), GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, 2014), DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, 2018) and LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018). She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie. She is represented by Lara Perkins of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and you can learn more about her and her books at

15. Signed copy of THE MASTERPIECE by Shelley Kinder

The Masterpiece - cover image

Shelley lives in Indiana with her family and loves writing for little people. Not So Scary Jerry (2017) was her first picture book. The Masterpiece (2018) is her second. Its original version got eleventh place in Vivian’s #50PreciousWords Contest in 2016

16. A signed copy of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH

Sweet Dreams Cover Template Revised


four otters cover amazon

18. A Signed copy of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE

cover on amazon

19. Surprise Bundle of 2 PIcture Books #1

20. Surprise Bundle of 2 Picture Books #2

The quality of stories was fantastic…I loved the heart and humor that so many of the stories contained. I cried. I laughed. I was amazed by the wide range of topics and styles. It was extremely difficult to narrow it down to 20 Winners and 40 Honorable Mentions. But my hope is that EVERYONE will move forward with their stories…there were so many that could totally be worked into board books or picture books or chapter books. 

Let me just say that you all made this really difficult for us by writing such amazing stories…in only 50 words or less! That is crazy! And of course, this is a very subjective contest…just like publishing is a subjective business. What one person loves, another may not. But I looked for a story that captured my heart or made me laugh or nod my head in recognition of an experience I’d had as a child. If the story was rhyming, the rhyme had to be spot on. There were many mood pieces, with amazing lyrical language that I fell in love with, but to me, they needed a bit more story…a beginning, a middle and an end. All four of us agonized over these stories – and in the end, everyone’s top 10 appear in the top 20 winners…so I think we were of like minds on many of the stories.

Please join me in the drum roll and applause for the top 20 winners  


    by Jennifer Broedel 

Moonlight glowing, breezes blowing,
egg is waiting. Slowly growing.
Little wriggle, sideways squiggle,
hatching outward. Hopeful wiggle.

Leafy munching, body bunching,
Slowly climbing, slimy lunching.
Eeking, inching, lightly cinching,
swaddled tightly, almost pinching.

Body wrapping, time for napping.
Transformation: wings for flapping!
Flying, freeing, sky-view seeing.
Journey onward, wind-borne being.

    by Jolene Gutiérrez

The men took Papi back to Mexico, so
Mamá makes tortillas for two, not three.

I wait by the window,
watching, wondering:
Will Papi come home?
And if Mamá gets taken, will I be alone?

Solamente uno,
tortillas for one.


  1. WAY TO GROW by Beth Stewart

Root said, I’ll dig in.
Stem said, I’ll hold us up.
Leaf said, I’ll face the Sun.
I’ll catch light till day is done.
Flower stretched, pink and wide.
Bee took Pollen for a ride.
Fruit hugged Seed, then let her go.
Wind carried her away so she could grow.


  1. HOLD ON, DAD!
    by Kathleen Doherty

I’m riding.
I’m riding.
I’m starting
to sweat.

I’m dipping.
I’m slipping.

I’m turning.
I’m learning—
and then
I steer straight.

I’m whooping,
and whistling.
Dad, ISN’T

I’m riding.
I’m riding.

I’m riding.

I balance.

I’m flying.



    by Jill Richards Proctor

Slurping. Smacking.
Bear cub snacking.

Rushing. Raiding.
Ants invading.

Grumbling. Growling.
Bear cub scowling.

Bustling. Biting.
Ants exciting.

Whacking. Whomping.
Bear cub stomping.

Scooting. Scouting.
Ants rerouting.

Swiping. Swatting.
Bear cub plotting.

Dashing. Darting.
Ants outsmarting.

Flopping. Falling.
Bear cub Bawling.

Fussing. Fretting.
Ants regretting.

Coaxing. Caring.
Sticky sharing.


  1. DANCE ON ICE by Lisa Katzenberger

Skating rink
Silky, shiny, slick

Freezing air
Let’s get ready quick

Whooshing, swooshing
Wind blows by
Snowflakes dot my nose

Whirling, swirling
Dance on ice
Barely feel my toes

Before I know it
Lose my balance
Wiggle, wobble, drop

Get back up,
Start again,
Never want to stop

    by Michelle Klump 

Hand crank tightly, tightly wound.
Music plays, triumphant sound.
Dancer twirling, twirling, spins,
pirouettes to violins.
Music steady, steady pace.
Moderato, never race.
Tempo tardo, tardo now.
Dancer slows to take a bow.
Music stopping, stopping. Still.
Silence taking hold, until…
Cranking, cranking just once more.
Dancer spinning like before.

    by Jyoti Rajan Gopal

Waiting in the wings
Silk skirts shimmering.
Heart thundering
Feet tapping.
Drums beat a rhythm
for the
Festival of Colors.
Little Veda spins and whirls,
bangles jingling,
anklets tinkling,
bindi sparkling.
Heart full
Holi is here!

  1. SQUARE PEG by Anna Ouchchy 

Square Peg.
Round hole.
Can’t fit.
Can’t roll.

“You’re square.”
“Straight lines.”
“No friend
of mine.”

Peg tries.
Trims sides.
Shrinks down
and hides.

New shape
in town.
Here’s Sphere.
So round.

Sphere rolls.
Sphere tries.
Can’t fit.
Sphere cries.

“Don’t fret,
I’m Peg.
Let’s play.”

    by Lauri C. Meyers 

Tug on sock.
It’s too tight.
Slide it left,
It goes right.

Pull it up.
Feeling lumps.
Press it smooth.
Full of bumps!

Stupid sock!
Start to frown.
Yank it off.
Throw it down.

See it new.
What about…
Perfect fit—
Inside out!

  1. PLAYGROUND LEGENDS by Robert Andrews

Players race up and down the court
Like gazelles in an open field
Flat out runnin’ and gunnin’
Long passes,
No look passes
Fade away
Jump shot
Count it!
Beyond the arc – SWISH!
Take it to the hole
(And one)
Alley oop pass above the rim
Ferocious dunk
Game over…

 12. THE SALMON RUN by Pamela Courtney

Breezes beat against the battered bark.
Trees lean low
Icy waters surge.
Salmon stop their journey.
Bears search.
Eagles circle . . . waiting.
Hunger pangs.

Warmer waters wash in gifts,
dimpling streams.

Trees stretch.
Bears gorge.
Eagles circle . . . DIVE!
Forest Feast.

    by Cynthia Harmony

On Sundays we tackle secret recipes together.
Aromas drift, mix and spread through Abue’s kitchen.

Fizzy flop!

Bold and brave, from scratch again.
“Marinate with stories and love,” Abue whispers.
Saute chiles.
Stir in chocolate.
Sprinkle spices.


Family fiesta follows.
Scrumptiously sweet!


by Susie Sawyer

Said Big Bug to Small,
“You pitiful crawler,
unfortunate you never grew.
I’ve never encountered
anything smaller.
You’d drown in a droplet of dew!”

Said Small Bug to Big,
“Indeed, you’re the winner.
You get more attention, it’s true.
For instance, that anteater
searching for dinner
is certainly noticing you.”

    by: Aimee Satterlee

Red truck
Jazz blasting
Pop Pop’s here!

Glazed donuts
Easy chair

Whoooh! WHOOOH!
Train whistle
Wave to the caboose

Down country lane
Honeysuckle sweet

Fly fishing
Nothing caught
Stars appear

Rod aimed skyward
Pop Pop catches
One twinkle for me.

    by Mary Rudzinski

One elephant sings good night
Two iguanas start a fight

Three koala kneel to pray
Four baboons swing and sway

Five crocodiles beg for hugs
Six flying bats catch green bugs

Seven rhinos turn off lights
Eight piranhas sharpen bites

Nine cockatoos tuck each head
Ten gorillas break the bed

    by Mandy Yokim 

“What’s in the box, Mom?”
“Broken dinner plates going to the trash.”
But I see potential.
My big sister helps me carefully smash the plates into tiny pieces.
We arrange a mosaic,
glue the pieces together,
add grout,
then frame our creation.
It reminds us:
broken can still be beautiful.


By Sarah Meade

To the tip-top!
Rabbit first.
Two horses follow.
Three penguins next.
Four billy goats go.
Five zebras move along.
Oh no!
One rabbit, two horses, three penguins, four billy goats, and five zebras get up.
They try again…
To the tip-top!

  1. MAGIQUE COMES HOME by Teresa Traver

Smoke rises.
Ash falls.
Sirens wail.
Animals run: up trees,
into ponds, under culverts.
Whew — safe.
Hide. Wait.
Then, cautious steps.
Fearful sniffs.
Come home? Only ruins.
Wait. Hunger. Hunt. Wonder.
Sniff. TUNA?! Come running!
Gulp, gulp, caught.
Hello, old friend! Purr.
Car ride.
New home.
Warm lap.
Welcome back!


by Aimee Isaac

Wild child
Kissing toads
Hoarding stones
Lurking in corners
Climbing trees,
Racing across streams.
A bucket full of treasures,
Boots full of mud.
Splosh, Squelch, Splash!
Wild child takes a bath.
Mommy scrubs,
Daddy hugs,
A sleepy turtle under covers.
Goodnight my little
Wild child.

Phew! Now you can see why it was so difficult to make choices…but please don’t think that there weren’t many more amazing stories. There were! And so, here are forty more in the Honorable Mention category in no particular order.  I really wanted 100, but I think I would run out of room on this page and definitely be trying your patience.


    by Danielle Hicks

Maple cradled her leaves

as they unfurled tiny spring wings.

In the summer, she joined in their songs.

At the fall ball, they were most beautiful of all,

but the dance was bittersweet.

Sticky tears dripped down her trunk

when they whispered it was time to let go.

  • BOSCO by Jose Cruz

The box holds memories of magic:

Rusted bullhorn.

Sawdust smell.

Greasy rainbow paints.

Laughter bubbling from a peppermint tent.

Me: front row. Your biggest fan.

The show is over, but I’m still here.

And I’m learning to smile again.

Bosco: greatest clown that ever lived.

Greatest grandpa who ever was.


  • FINGERPRINTS by Suzy Garner

Tiny fingers,
patterns swirling on their tips,
captured in salt-dough impressions
and spattered paintings.
Puppy-licked fingerprints,
plucking fluffy dandelions,
tracing letters in the sand.
Fingerprints popping soapsuds bubbles,
winging butterfly shadows across the wall.
Sticky, sweet fingertips
kissed and loved,
always and forever
into a mother’s heart.

    by, Lynn Katz

Squirrels scampered under the baffle, beneath the sparrows.
They jumped and they jostled, they leaped and they toppled.
A feast swayed gently in the winter breeze, out of reach.
Elisha spread seeds over the snow, like sprinkles on her birthday cake.
“Everyone’s welcome,” she said. “Now, the party can begin.

  • CAT ON A QUILT by Betsy Etchart

New pants,
new dress,
new shirt,
new skirt.
Pap’s bandana,
flour sack,
hobo’s bag
from across the track.
and ink,
and stink.
Ain’t no such thing
as good clean fun.
“You still growin?
Ain’t choo done?”
Soap and wind
Snippin’, stitch.
New quilt,
Sunshine warm,
Makes us rich.


  • SNOWFLAKE CAKE by Maureen Morrison

Mom said I could go,
To sit outside and wait for snow.
I sat and waited
All I saw was naked trees.

Then I felt a change.
It was like the air had rearranged.

Clouds made dessert, no need to bake,
I had a piece of snowflake cake.

  • TO THE STARLIGHT BUNGALOW by Kathi Morrison Taylor

Whistle, train whistle,
train whistle fading slow.
Sleepy child sways
in the midnight moonglow.

“Where are you going?”
asks Mama’s radio.
Whistle, train whistle:
“To the starlight bungalow

“To perform with gentle dreamers
in their sleepy-bye play,
to tiptoe, soft-shoe, waltz
till Papa’s whistle lights the day.

  • HAND IN HAND by Deborah Holt Williams 
    Hold my hand, Olivia.”
    “Why, Dylan?”
    “There might be dragons at the park. Don’t be scared.”
    “Dragons? I’m not scared!”
    “You better hold my hand. There might be monsters.”
    “Monsters? I’m not scared!”
    “Ooooh, Dylan. THAT’S scary! Let’s hold hands.”


    By Tami Traylor

beneath brambles,
beside the empty house.
Seen only by
the occasional squirrel.
Red paint rusted,
lost years
before the sound
of sneakers
breaks the sleeping spell.
Before a breeze
reveals its hiding place.
“Look. What’s that?”
Skinny arms
untangle strangling vines.
“Let’s take it home,
fix it up.”


  • TO FIND YOU MAMA by Zainab Khan

I flew
above the sun,
the seas.
The Earth,
the worlds,
the galaxies.

I hopped
across some meteorites
shooting stars,
the heavenly sights.

I jumped
black holes
asteroid belts,
radio lobes

No Mama.

I lay
my weary soul
to bed.

To find


  • SNOWSHOES by Amy Center Cory 

Snowflakes swirl.
I point webbed shoes outward.
Wind whirls across white drifts.
I turn . . .
sway . . .
Tears become crystals.
I rise . . .
steady . . .
floating over brittle waves.
Moon arrives,
then stars.
With rhythmic crunching,
latticed feet head home.



Under a tree, Lucy knitted a scarf for Squirrel.
Lucy measured and weaved.
Animals lined up for garments.
Lucy’s needle broke!
Snow sprinkled.
Lucy shivered.
Squirrel got an idea!
He gnawed a twig.
The animals intertwined their garments. A blanket!
No longer cold, Lucy felt warm. Especially, her heart.


Tickling my toes
Swirling my knees
Splashing my nose

Saltwater kisses cover my eyes
Upon foam bubbles
Up, I rise

Till it pushes me down
Tumbling, choking
Will I drown?

I feel Dad’s hand
Grab mine and
Pull me upon the sand

We share a grin
Race back in

    by Penny McNally

After it rains,
Grandpa and I put on our boots and go for a walk.
We find lots of puddles.
Jump! Splash!
And lots of worms too.
We pick up the worms and put them back in the grass.
We are worm heroes!
Jump! Splash!
All the way home.



    by Anna Brooks

I visit Mom’s office.
What a disaster!
“I can help,” I say.
Wordy writing on the whiteboard? Wiped!
Piles of printed pages? Pitched!
Stacks of scribbly sticky notes? Scrapped!
Mom shakes her head. She is speechless.
Clearly, she’s impressed.
“Next year,” she says, “You can visit Dad’s office.”

  • WHY THE LAMP IS BROKEN by Lindsay Maeve Shubert  

Raccoon Pip raced his rocket ship over the bookcase.
Neerrroom, under the table.
Wooosh, over the sofa.
Weeeoooh weeeoooh!
Oh no! Engine overheat!
Brave Pip tightened his helmet and seat belt.
Mayday, mayday!
Crash! Bang! Boom!
But from the rubble, Pip rose, triumphant!
…and that, mom, is exactly what happened.

    by Serge Smagarinsky

Miss Cybil sent us home with “monster seeds”; but they wouldn’t work with water, light, nor heat.

Then I played them Monster Mash. Brutus howled along. And that’s when one seed grew… and grew… and growled.

Now, how do I explain to my parents, that my homework ate our hound?


  • SQUIRREL-LING RIVALRY by Sarah A. Hetu Radny

“My nut!” said Squirrella.
“Mine!” said Oaken.
“I found it.”
“I buried it last Fall,” Oaken said.
“I remembered the location,” Squirrella said.
“I dug it up,” Oaken said.
“I’ll eat it,” said a deer, entering the clearing.
“No way! It’s ours!” said Squirrella.
“Ours?” Oaken asked.
“Yeah, we’ll share!”

    by Debbie Day

Kat the rat
swings her bat.
It’s a fly!
Wait – oh my.
Where’d it roll?
Down THAT hole?
Creepy, steep.
Dark and deep.
Now she spies
Kat’s worst fear
inching near.
Creepy crawl.
There’s the….BALL?
“Here you go!”
“Really? Whoa.
…Want to play?”
“Hmmm. Okay!”

    by Paulette Sharkey

Coiling, climbing, tendriled vine
Didn’t use the door
Found an open window
Ran across the floor.

Covered an abandoned toy
In vegetative wrapping
Continued growing weedily,
Past Puppy, who was napping.

To the stove where Dad stood
Unsuspecting, stirring stew
Kudzu traveled up Dad’s back and
Tapped his shoulder–

  • TERRIFIC PIG PAGEANT by Vicki Hammond

“French manicure. Purple, please,” snorted Pignelope.
“Oui,” clucked Becky.
Peck, peck, peck,
Pignelope…stand still!
feathers flew
straw dust too
“C’est la vie, Pignelope.
What will you do?”

Stand tall. Head high.
Attitude. Strut.

“The winner…Pignelope!
wearing purple feathers with a touch of straw-dust
—how chic and European.”


  • GLUG THUMP WHOMP by Monica Acker 

We drive into the open mouth.
Bubbles scrubble grumble tumble.
Tentacles bump. Feelers thump.
Rollers squish.
We glide toward the light ahead.
The car sparkles in the sunshine.

  • WASHOUT by Martha Seif Simpson

Rain, rain
What a pain
My school vacation’s
Down the drain.
Grandma tells me
“Don’t complain”
But all this rain
Is inhumane.
I think that I
Will go insane
From five full days of
Pouring rain.
I wish someone
Would please explain
When there’s no school
Why must it rain?

    by Lindsay Fiore 

Countdown ready,
Whiskers steady.
“Peewee platoon,
Ready the spoon!
5-4-3-2-1! LET’S RUN!”
One plump jump,
Projectiles THWUMP!
Cheese goes ZOOM!
Across the room.
Catch it quick,
That golden brick.
Mission complete.
“Let’s all eat!”
The floor goes CREAK…
The mice say, “SQUEAK!”
Two knees fall weak…
The human screams, “EEK!”

  • KING OF THE COUCH  by Evelyn Bookless

One eye opens, then the other.
I bolt upright.
I race downstairs,
with a plan in my head.
Cushions, blankets and the couch will do.
I lift and squeeze and shove.
I start again.
Lift. Squeeze. Nudge.
Finally! I’m king of the castle.
Now where’s my breakfast banquet?



    by Mona Pease 

My friends dance.
I fall!
My sister sings.
I squeal!
I can swim.
No pool!
I can climb.
No wall!
But, I…
Blend yellow to swish swaying grass.
Paint millions of dandelion seeds floating high.
I make a wish.
I bow.


  • Arabesque! Jeté! Pirouette!

           by Kaitlyn Sanchez

I want to dance,
I’m not good enough…

Sally’s feet are flexible.
Timmy’s spins are superb.
Then there’s me.

Totter, slip, fall.

I try again.

Totter, slip, land.

And again…

Totter, balance, land.

Then again…

Développé, balance, land!

I can be a dancer.
With practice.


         by Glenda Roberson

Carrot top,
I hate my

Mr. Bates.
Human traits.

Individuals with
Red hair.
Blue eyes, too?
Super unique you!

Everyone’s looking
At me.
No longer thinking,
I’d rather be dead
Than red on the head!

Carrot top,
I love my

    by Mary Vander Plas 

Mira Mira
Kick the ball.
Shoot the ball.
Hit the ball.
You’re the fiercest girl of all.
Spike the ball.
Drive the ball.
Catch the ball.
See your name up on that wall.
Mira Mira
Work and dream and if you fall,
get up…don’t quit…you’re strong…that’s all!



  • LITTLE SEED by Nicole Loos Miller 

Little seed, little seed,
With water,
And air,
Look how you grow!

Little plant, little plant,
With water,
And sun,
Look how you grow!

Little flower, little flower,
With water,
And bees,
Look how you grow!

Little seed, little seed…
Here we grow again!


    By Amber Hendricks

Down, down deep,
little seedlings sleep.
Drop, drop, drip.
Seedlings take a sip.
Stretch, stretch, curl.
Tiny sprouts unfurl.
Reach, reach, strive!
Wildflowers thrive.

    by Amelia Jane

Morning Colors.




Peek through my window.

It’s time to catch the sun.

Outside, I dance across the grass.

My shadow dances behind me.

I reach up.

Sunbeams bounce on my fingers.

Laughing, I lift my face,

And drink the rays of light.




Morning happiness.


  • NATURE’S CIRCLE by Shannon Stocker


Springtime coaxes snow away from winter’s icy grip.


Summer’s swelter calls the water back into the sky.


Autumn twisters beckon storm clouds, pitter, patter, plop.


Winter closes nature’s circle with a frosted gift.

    by David Wortman

When the sun dips,
children leave the playground,
and the moon brings
friends from the forest.
Squirrels and gophers swing.
Wolves and foxes slide.
Bears cross monkey bars.
Rabbits, skunks, and snakes
spin via merry-go-round.
But when the moon seesaws
with the sun,
children come back to play.



    by Tina M. Shepardson

We stomped over rocky limestone.
My soles strolled through Edelweiss one last time.
Soil covered us step by step.
Inside school, we huddled.
Bare floorboards held us together.
Farewell friends.
Tomorrow we travel to America.
We wiggled at the thought of cement sidewalks.
We tapped to ourselves with excitement


  • I, FUEL
    by Kelly Rice Schmitt

Out I gush,
seeking purpose.
Filling pipes, lots of pipes.
Into boats, trucks, trains, traversing.
Boil me up, refine me.
Now I’m feeling helpful.
People keep warm.
Planes fly.
Cars zoom.
Boats glide.
And though it will end me,
I fuel,
hoping to empower you
to find a better way.



  • LOLLY BEGOLLY by Joy Moore

I’m Lolly Begolly and
I’m mad, mad, mad.
Just am.

Shadowy meadow says,
I sprawl out flat.

Me and cloud eyeball each other.
Happy and mad
tangle and fight.

something unlocks.

This secret place says,
feelings are welcome.

I smile,
Laugh, dash, bounce
To home.


  •  ALONE by Ellie Royce 

Sometimes, when the world is too loud,
and too busy,
I like to be alone.
Alone is wild and wonderful.
Alone is twinkly and still.
Alone is special time.
Yes, sometimes, I like to be alone.
But then, just before ‘alone’ turns to ‘lonely’…
…together is good too!


    by Sarah Hoppe

Gray Sky
Gray Town
Gray Feeling, Deep Down

Red Bird
Eyes Bright
Flitting By, Heart Light

Tired Eyes
Drink In
Scarlet Warm, Thoughts Grin

Red Bird
Gray Town
Not So Gray, Deep Down

  • A STEP
    By Sara Gentry

I took a step, not knowing where it would lead.
I took another, knowing one was not enough.
I took big steps, small steps, sidesteps, many missteps,
pressing toward the finish line.
A fulfilling adventure,
but not my last, so
I took a step, not knowing where it would lead.




           by Jean James

Two soup cans
butchers twine,
grab a can,
pull the line.

You run there,
I’ll go here,
put your can
around your ear.

Mouth to can
I yell, “Hello!”
and watch sound travel
to and fro.

My friend replies,
“No need to shout,
I hear you clearly,
Over and out!”

    by Sherri Jones Rivers

Find a shovel, dig some dirt,
Careful of the hose’s squirt.
Pound and mix, mix and pound,
ball them up and make them round.
Flatten them and fill the pan;
finish up your master plan.
Bake them slow; you’ve got a winner.
Tummy yummy, Mud Pie Dinner.

    by Mary Beningo

Tractors plowing.
Plant the seeds.
Ask for rain.
Oh please, oh please!
Sun is shining.
Seedlings sprawl.
Crops are growing
Green and tall.
Air is cooler,
Watch the field.
Combines harvest
Highest yield.
Rest in winter.
Back to farming
In the Spring.

Special shout out to Julie Abery…not only did she host me in Switzerland for two weeks and accompany me to the Bologna Book Fair, she read and comment on every entry, she also wrote one herself…and I love it. I hope she sends it to our agent because I think it will make a perfect board book:

  • BOOK BABIES by Julie Abery


singing a nursery rhyme.


turning one page at a time.


finding a corner to chew.


lifting a flap – peek-a-boo!


laughing –the world is so new.


Sharing sweet moments with you.


Well my friends, as Porky Pig used to say…that all folks! 

Oh, wait a minute. One more thing.

From April 29 to May 6, I will be hosting the #50PRECIOUSWORDSFORKIDS INTERNATIONAL WRITING CHALLENGE. I am hoping for a lovely turnout with participants from all over the world. This is such a wonderful opportunity to encourage children to express themselves…to empower them with the knowledge that they, too, are storytellers.

Please spread the word now because many teachers need to plan for this in advance, especially with all of the curriculum obligations they have. This challenge coincides with Children’s Book Week and makes a wonderful homeschool or classroom activity for the kids. I’ll provide the information below and will be posting about this on Facebook with the flyer soon. Please contact me if there are any questions.

logoLogo by Vicky Fang


  • Children aged 12 and under can write a story in 50 words or less.
  • Story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
  • Story can be happy or sad, poetry or prose.
  • Homeschool parents, please send one story per child.
  • Teachers can have students work individually, as a team, or as a class collaboration.
  • Please email stories to me by May 7:
  • I will post all the stories on my blog on May 11.
  • Every parent and teacher will receive a certificate of participation which can be copied and individualized for each child who writes a story.
  • Please email me with any questions.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Holidays to all who celebrate!


48 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: IF YOU HAD YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY ON THE MOON plus #50PreciousWords WINNERS!

  1. So many great stories!

    I can’t believe I missed Carrot Top when reading the stories after they were posted. I remember learning how unique red hair and blues eyes are and finally appreciating my uniqueness.

    I live all the unique stories created in 50 words or less.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was such a fun contest — I’m so excited to be among the top 20 winners. Thank you, Vivian, for all of your hard work, and thank you also to Maria, Julie, and Diane for reading through so many stories. There are some really awesome stories in the bunch!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vivian, thank you so much for the perfect recap of your trip, I LOVE that it literally started with your slogan, how perfect!😍
    Thank you for hosting this inspiring contest and for taking the time to name honorable mentions too, as a first time participant, getting and HM is so wonderful!😍
    And of course, seeing so many wonderful names I recognize was the best! Such beautiful stories that will hopefully be published beyond this too. Can’t wait to find out.
    Finally, I’ve shared the kids version with a friend already and can’t wait to share the fb link😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I heard about this book and was curious about to know what it would be like to celebrate a birthday on the moon. I used to have long conversations with my scientist dad about life on other planets. If my dad were still with me, I think he would enjoy this book. Looks like I’ll have to enjoy for him, too. Also, congratulations to all the winners of your 50 precious words contest. The stories are remarkable.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My goodness you have been on the fast track the past month or so. Conferences, traveling the world, blogging and a contest, Wow! I could use your energy!

    What a delightful and captivating cover — a birthday party on the moon! Am ordering it for my 5-year-old great grandson who has become interested in the planets. He’ll love this book!


  6. I don’t know how you manage to do it all Vivian! What a wonderful collection of 50 Precious Words stories! Thank you all (Marie, Julie and Diane) so much for all the time you put into reading and commenting. Thanks for the honorable mention. Looking forward to checking out that birthday on the moon book…fun!


  7. Vivian, thank you so much for hosting this wonderful contest and also to the judges panel for their help. It is my first time participating, and I am honored to receive an honorable mention! The writing shown here is excellent and everyone should be very encouraged!! Keep writing and entering contests, and day by day improvement comes. Congratulations to all the winners!


  8. Congratulation Winners! And what an amazing time you’ve had Vivian, traveling the world and setting this wonderful writing challenge in motion. Thank you. I so enjoyed reading the poems.


  9. First of all, a big “THANK YOU” to Vivian for making this writing opportunity available to the writing community. There is work involved in this for you, and I appreciate the time and thought you dedicated to this fun and challenging contest.

    I enjoyed reading all of the entries and extend a hearty congratulations to the winners. “Well done!” And keep on writing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.