#50PreciousWords 2021: And the Winners are…

Welcome all! It’s been a busy month, for sure!
Writers writing!
Judges reading!
And an entire kid-lit community supporting with encouraging comments.
To me, the thread of almost 11,000 positive comments is probably what I love most about the contest. Well…perhaps the 770 fabulous stories and the courage of their authors are what I love the most. And honestly, I’m pretty fond of my five assistant judges who read all of the stories and commented on them. It was only when the sheer number of comments broke the Linky List that I instructed them not to comment, but to concentrate on reading because the blog was taking so long to load after each comment.

Thank you to all who participated – you wrote – you revised – you submitted – you did exactly what you are supposed to be doing as a writer. And every story had merit! Some had amazing titles! Others had phrasing that knocked our socks off. There were clever stories and funny stories and stories that wrenched our hearts and brought tears to our eyes. In the end, the process of selecting winners is a subjective one – just like with editors at publishing houses, each judge wanted to fall in love with your story. And if she did, she put her initial next to it. As is done with the Cybils, the stories that got the most votes landed at the top of the list. Sometimes a story that I loved wasn’t loved by the other judges. This is exactly what happens when your manuscript goes to an editor at a publishing house. If she falls in love with the story, that’s not enough. The entire team has to get behind it – and then it is acquired.

Please remember that there were 770 submissions – the competition was fierce. If you don’t find your story in the top 51 or in the Honorable Mentions, please keep going with it if you love it. Some of the submissions weren’t real stories yet – but they were magnificent mood pieces or lyrical lists. What amazing writing! If you love your story and your critique buddies love it, expand it – work on it – you just might have a book there. Several of the lyrical poem-type submissions are close to being board books right now, with a little tweak or two.

To remind you of the prizes at stake, here is the link to the contest post where you can see more details about each prize – and make sure you scroll through ALL of the prizes before you make your choice – although all of the editor and agent critiques are up on top, the ordering of this list has nothing to do with the value of the prize – there are seats in picture book writing classes, critiques from authors and illustrators, picture books, day planners and other items for writers, and even an original piece of art from Mirka Hokkanen: https://viviankirkfield.com/2021/03/02/50preciouswords-2021-is-officially-open/

Prize A: Critique with HMH editor Ann Rider.

  1. Critique with Little Bee Books editor, Courtney Fahy.
  2. Critique with my agent, Essie White from Storm Literary.
  3. Critique with her partner, Vicky Selvaggio from Storm Literary.
  4. Critique with Spork/mg editor and publisher, Callie Metler-Smith.
  5. Seat in Callie Metler-Smith new class on Marketing for Authors.
  6. Critique (nonrhyming pb) with Clear Fork art director and CBA founder, Mira Reisberg.
  7. Critique with Melissa Richeson, associate agent Storm Literary.
  8. Critique with Lisa Amstutz, associate agent Storm Literary.
  9. Seat in Making Picture Book Magic class from author Susanna Leonard Hill.
  10. Picture Book Editor-in-a-Box package from author and editor Emma Walton Hamilton.
  11. Seat in Art of Arc course and set of webinars on craft of writing from Alayne Christian.
  12. Seat in Master Class in Picture Book Writing from author Karla Valenti.
  13. A 60-minute Zoom manuscript consultation OR a Seat in the Lyrical Language Lab Rhyme and Meter Self-Study Course from the incredible Renee LaTulippe.
  14. Membership in New Hampshire Writers Projectyou do not need to live in New Hampshire to use this online prize.
  15. llustrator Portfolio Review or 30-minute Zoom chat with Erika Meza .
  16. Rhyming PB Critique from author Lori Degman . 
  17. PB Critique plus a copy of her latest PB from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.
  18. PB Critique and copy of NOVA THE STAR EATER from author Lindsay Leslie.
  19. PB Critique from author Keila V. Dawson.
  20. Non-Rhyming Picture Book Critique from author Melissa Stoller.
  21. Picture Book Critique or Query Letter Critique from author Laura Roettiger.
  22. Picture Book Critique from author Maria Marshall.                                                
  23. Awesome bundle #1 of THREE brand-new picture books donated by Maria Marshall.
  24. Awesome bundle #2 of THREE brand-new picture books donated by Maria Marshall.
  25. Awesome bundle #3 of THREE brand-new picture books donated by Maria Marshall.
  26. Picture Book Critique from author Katey Howes.
  27. A PB Critique from Kirsti Call.
  28. PB Critique from author Ellen Leventhal or a signed copy of one of her books.
  29. Picture Book Critique from author Tina Cho.
  30. Picture Book Critique or Signed Picture Books from author Amber Hendricks.
  31. Picture Book Critique from author Beth Anderson.
  32. Picture Book Critique from author Liz Bedia.
  33. Signed copy of one of her books from author Nancy Churnin.
  34. Picture Book Critique (fiction) from author Lisa Katzenberger.
  35. Picture Book Critique from author Jenna Grodzicki.
  36.  Picture Book Critique from Lydia Lukidis.
  37.  Picture Book Critique from Carrie Charley Brown.
  38.  Picture Book Critique from author Rosie J. Pova.
  39. Signed Copy of LAILA AND THE SANDS OF TIME from author Shirin Shamsi.
  40. A 30-minute Zoom chat with Vivian Kirkfield – about anything.
  41. Two Beautiful Board Books from Rina Singh.
  42. The Writer’s Weekly Planner from Judy Cooper and Dea Lenihan.
  43. A Teacher’s DREAM prize! Are you a writer who teaches? Award-winning author Darlene Jacobson is offering a 30-minute Skype/Zoom classroom visit PLUS a copy of each of her middle grade books: Wheels of Change AND Wishes, Dares, & How To Stand Up To A Bully.
  44. A PB Critique or a 30-minute Zoom chat with debut PB author Anna Lazowski
  45. An Author Showcase Premium book marketing package to gain visibility and publicity for your children’s book on The Children’s Book Review – or A signed copy of both Don’t Wake the Dragon and Who Loves the Dragon? from author Bianca Schulze.
  46.  A PB Manuscript Critique with a 20-minutes phone chat from author Zeena Pliska.
  47.  A Writer’s Dream Bundle: Cool canvas tote/mug with tea/copy of Jumpstart Your Writing in 30 Days by Heather Kelly from author Cathy Stenquist.
  48. A Picture Book Manuscript (non-rhyming) Critique with author Lisa Rogers.
  49. A PB Critique (fiction, nonrhyming) with a Zoom Chat from author Ana Siqueira.
  50. One of Mirka Hokkanen’s amazing HAND-PRINTED ORIGINAL Nature prints from FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: An Animal Counting Story

A Huge THANK YOU to all of these generous prize donors! Please support them in any way you can – for the authors, please buy their books, review their books, ask you local library to purchase copies of their books.

To read the winning entries or any of the honorable mentions, please go to the original contest post: https://viviankirkfield.com/2021/03/02/50preciouswords-2021-is-officially-open/

The Linky list isn’t working, but if you enter CONTROL + F, a little window SHOULD open and you can type in the title of the story. It should take you to the listing on the linky list and should also show give you an arrow you can click on for wherever else in the document that title appears – that trick was working the other day – hopefully it will continue to work. Otherwise, it will be an adventure, scrolling through 11,000 comments to find the story you want to read.

If you find your name in the top 51 list, PLEASE EMAIL ME ASAP at viviankirkfield@gmail.com. Otherwise, if we aren’t connected (although I guess I am connected to quite a few of you) I will have to scroll through the entire chain of comments to find each of your stories to access your email…or I’ll have to hunt through Twitter and Facebook to see if I can contact you. If you email me now, when it’s time for me to contact you regarding your prize, I will already have your email. This will save me many hours.

And this is how it goes: First place spot gets first pick of the prizes. I will reach out via email and I ask that you tell me which prize you’d like as soon as possible. I will give each person 24 hours (hopefully, you will respond RIGHT AWAY – if you don’t respond within 24 hours, I will go to the next person on the list. Please realize that distributing 51 prizes will take a long time, even if everyone responds in a timely manner. When the first place winner has chosen, I will reach out to the second place winner who will choose from the remaining prizes and notify me as soon as possible. If you choose a book, it can only be mailed to a US address. But critiques or online classes can be chosen by anyone.

And without further ado, here is your list of the top 51 stories followed by almost 100 Honorable Mentions. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!!!


  1. #3 My Friend by Ha Dinh
  2. #6 A New Mission by Brittany Pomales
  3. #7 My Setting Sun by Amy Leskowski
  4. #695 Home by Natalie Lynn Tanner
  5. #484: Baby Steps by Barbara Kimmel
  6. #653 Emperors of the Frozen Sea by Beth Stewart
  7. #33 Story Trees by Catherine Friess
  8. #22 Laughter Is by Kimberly Lee
  9. #726 Our Together Train by Leslie Goodman
  10. #363 If I Had One Wish by Maria Marshall
  11. #303 Fire Seeds by Carolyn Bennett Fraiser
  12. #448 Julia Chase-Brand: Women’s Distance Running Trailblazer by Stephanie Razler
  13. #194 The Penguins Alfred by Marty Lapointe-Malchik
  14. #82 Friendship Rock by Diane Tulloch
  15. #5: Mole Loves Vole by Donna Kurtz
  16. #378 Ayate is the Moon and Stars by Beth Gallagher
  17. #373 The Great Penguin Race by Cristina Rayner
  18. #8 By the Sea by Jyothi Nookala
  19. #81 Countdown to Mars by Jessica Fries-Gaither
  20. #620 We’re Human by Mary Vander Plas
  21. #164 Surfing the Green Wave by Danielle Sharkan
  22. #454 Motorcycle Mama by K.J. Mordacque
  23. #49 Never Underestimate the Speed of a Snail by Sue Lancaster
  24. #9 An Entire Life by David McMullin
  25. #139 New Girl at the Irish Dance by Jessica Whipple
  26. #182 Butterfly Life Cycle by Debbie Evelyn
  27. #121 Misunderstood by Stephanie Rondeau
  28. #147 Caroline’s Dream by Erica Sharifzadeh
  29. #145 Chris Nikic, Ironman by Summer Cox
  30. #102 Hide, Seek by Chelsea Tornetto
  31. #89 The Ant Problem Problem by Christina Frigo
  32. #638 Because He Existed by Serge Smagarinsky
  33. #253 Zoo’s Knees by Gaynor Andrews
  34. #21 Unlikely Hero by Priya Kumar
  35. #465 An Unexpected Journey by Ken Major
  36. #149 The Skipping Stones by Kelly Swemba
  37. #51 Opening Night by Sara Ackerman
  38. #382 The Collector by Kristy Rose Nuttail
  39. #409 Alpaca Needs a Friend by Wanda Sobota
  40. #67 Stella Looked Up by Nicole Loos Miller
  41. #60 Margaret Underground by Jonathan Pelley
  42. #724 The Song of Rattlesnake Grass by Judith Jongory-Cohen
  43. #153 My Mother’s Whisper by Kaloud K Tarapolsi
  44. #738 My Words by Erin Matzen
  45. #670 Dear Sky by Syor Kevney
  46. #627 Watch Out for Cars by Kathi Huber
  47. #421 Undersea Carousel by Tonnye W. Fletcher
  48. #548 Eagle by Brigid Finucane
  49. #479 Kind Mole by Georgette Kaftan
  50. #171 I Can Explain by Jana Mattern
  51. #725 Summer Surprise by Kelly Rice Schmitt



#12 A Perfect Fit by Becky Kimbrough
#30 Birth Announcement by Kathleen Latlip
#125 Deployment Blues by Jessica Stremer
#270 In My Heart by Chloe Emiko Ward
#280 Community Garden (Love) by: Armineh Manookian
#303 Abuelita’s Garden by KT Mae
#512 Summers With Paati by Lakshmi Thamizhmani
#588 Animal Rides! By Ashley Sierra
#618 The Last Cookie by Simon Yeend
#731 Cottonwood Stars by Mary Beth Rice


#10 Moving by Natasha Khan
#18 Leonard And Archie  by Michelle Ramirez
#52 Friends Around the World by Lori Housley
#121 Misunderstood by Stephanie Rondeau
#152 We’ll Weather Together by Rebecca Gardyn Levington
#349 A Friend Found by Melissa-Jane Nguyen
#435 My Best Friend Gwen by Elizabeth Barrett
#630 One Plus One by S. K. Wenger 
#744 Chop Suey Saves A Friend by Kristen Kirwan Browning


#76 The Story of Snow by Amy Olsen
#86 Alone a Raindrop, Together a Cloud by Molly Ippolito
#265 Off a Fraction by: Cathy Stenquist
#281 A Place for Everything: Robert Mills, America’s Forgotten Architect by MM Baker
#346 Bolts by Erik Ammon
#419 Fractions by Janet K. Crane
#564 Gift for Giver by Janie Reinart
#706 When Mollie Left Memphis by Alice Faye Duncan


#256 The Glob by Aline Pusecker Taylor
#266 The Bird by Rose Cappelli
#362 Lili and the Purple Dove by Carmen Castillo Gilbert
#370 Home Alone by Amanda Perry
#473 Gambel’s Quail by Patricia Franz
#529 Birds of the Pacific Northwest by Keely Leim
#542 Wings by Elizabeth Volkmann
#546 Mountain Lion by Helen Kampion
#631 The Sentry Learns to Share by Karen McCollister
#761 Tides by Katie Munday Williams


#140 Frankie’s Fiery Fart by Dana Marie Miroballi
#210 Fire Alarm by M A Cortez
#221 Gorilla in the Garden by Jennifer Buchet
#355 Tidal Wave by Laura Roettiger
#361 Paper Mache by Dazzle T Ng
#417 Not So Sweet by Lana Montalban
#487 Truck’s New Day by Laura Bower
#511 Chookie and Foxie by Julia Wakefield
#544 First Day School Bus Blues by Mia Geiger
#680 My Missing History Report by Bruce C. Rule


#47 Blast Off! by Richard Stonebridge
#151 School Lunch by Leah Kelley
#312 The Lonely Sandwich by Kristina Campbell
#470 Fancy Eater by Jennifer Kaap
#471 Strawberry by Daniele Arndt
#493 The Spell by Jessica Hope
#499 Pee-Yew by Aly Kenna
#501 The After Bedtime Secret by Amy Flynn
#527 Socks On Strike by Joannie Duris
#598 How Many Cakes? Jim Chaize


#46 tendu, tendu, kick ball change by Ashley Chalmers
#106 Roller Coaster by Kelly Conroy
#188 They Belong by Tina Mowrey
#324 Salish Sea by Natasha Zimmers
#350 The Last Match by Sheri Murphy
#365 Perfectly Imperfect by Janette Springer-Willms
#369 Galax-Sea by Sarah Hetu
#763 Today I Am A Princess by Robin Currie


#99 A Spring Memory by Chris Garcia- Halenar
#146 Lullaby Of Light by Hollie Wolverton
#255 Springtime Wishes by Buffy Silverman
#289 The Night Knight by Ashley B Pedigo
#327 Sleepytime Sea by Anita Crawford Clark
#341 Alphabetter by Sarah Hirsch
#347 Fish Dish by Jenna Waldman
#366 Joe’s World by Sharon Moschopoulou
#402 Playground Decisions, A Reverso Story by Joyce Schriebman
#503 Quietude by Molly Blaisdell
#579 Mail Day by Marykate Smith Despres
#632 Kindness Chain by AJ Irving


#109 Hidden Hug by Kathy Shanahan
#159 Grandpa Has A Mission by S. J. Little
#215 School Starts Soon by Danielle Hammelef
#296 Grandma’s Window by Tara Cerven
# 371 The Terrifying Two-Month Tantrum: How President Trump Nearly Destroyed Our Democracy by Erin Treacy Siska
#566 The Children’s Home by Jaclyn S. Miller
#612 Pre-Teens On The Screens by Meli Glickman
#740 Go Figure by Rita Russell

What an AMAZING ARRAY OF TALENT! HARD WORK! POSITIVE ENERGY and ENTHUSIASM! Thank you, all, for sharing your precious words with us!

And Ha Dinh – Congratulations! I will be reaching out to you shortly via Twitter (because I don’t have your email) to find out which prize you will select!!!

66 thoughts on “#50PreciousWords 2021: And the Winners are…

  1. Congratulations to the winners and honorable mention writers!! Thank you, Vivian and judges, for an amazing experience. There is so much heart in this beautiful, talented community 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations to all! Thanks to you, Vivian, for this fun and inspiring contest. Thanks to the judges for their time and to those who contributed amazing prizes. Can’t wait to try again next year. Happy writing, everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations to all the winners, honorable mentions, and everyone who entered! Vivian, your kindness and love of writing shines through and makes #50PreciousWords a fun and delightful challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Quite a success and as most people will agree, I don’t know how you do it!
    I’m thrilled that I have earned an honorable mention for kid appeal – an important element in any picture book. 😊 thanks for hosting another wonderful contest.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Wanda…glad you discovered your wonderful ALPACA NEEDS A FRIEND snagged spot #39 in the contest! CONGRATULATIONS!!! Please email me so that we can be connected when it is your turn to claim a prize. Each person picks a prize, starting with Winner #1…and then I contact Winner #2 and that person picks from the prizes that are remaining. And this continues until I go through the entire list of winners and all of the prizes are given out. Because this process takes a while, it will probably be a couple of weeks till I contact you. My email is: viviankirkfield@gmail.com


  6. Thank you so much, Vivian Kirkfield! Your contest was fun and challenging! I learned from having to limit my word count and I loved reading entries from other writers. Thank you!! – Wanda


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: METEOR! – Audrey Day-Williams

  8. Congratulations to the winners and everyone who corralled 50 words together and marched them into a great story! I read some amazing posts!


    • Oh my gosh, lest I forget! Many thanks, Vivian, for this giant work of love that you do for your fellow writers. Thanks to the prize givers, the judges and your whole team who help inspire inspire picture book writers everywhere!


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