#50PreciousWords 2022 WINNERS and HONORABLE MENTIONS

WELCOME EVERYONE!!! I’M SO VERY HAPPY YOU ARE HERE!!!

Art by Vicky Fang

Thank you to all the brave writers who submitted their entries and to the caring folks who read the stories and commented. It wasn’t easy to leave comments after the first day because WordPress gets a bit tricky when there are over 1000 comments. But many people persevered. Here’s the link for the official contest post with all of the entries, just in case you want to stop by and read some of them or leave comments.

Let’s take a look at the numbers generated by the contest this year:
3,949+ Positive and Encouraging Comments
749 Amazing Entries
400+ Children’s Books Purchased to be Donated to Schools in Need
200+ Fabulous Honorable Mentions
57 Astonishing Stories in the Winners Circle
57 Generous Prize Donors
11 Tired Judges
1 Incredible Kid Lit Community
A huge thank you to my loyal judges: Maria Marshall, Diane Tulloch, Julie Abery, Hanh Bui (and her daughter, Lauren), Shirin Shamsi, Pamela Courtney, Carmen Castillo Gilbert, and Amber Bouchard (and her daughters, Evelyn and Izzy). Maria created a numbered master list for us and categorized & collated all of the Honorable Mentions. We held our final judge Zoom on Friday night – and I’m happy to say that all the judges want to return next year!!!

I know that the contest provided a moment to turn our attention to creating something wonderful – and that’s really important when the world feels inside out and upside down. We need to keep creating positivity – we need to keep sharing kindness – and no matter what, we cannot stop writing books that educate, entertain, and most importantly, inspire young readers to make the world a better place. It was a joy to read all of your stories – many felt like books right now – others just need some fleshing out and polishing. But all were exceptionally unique and special – there is a place in the world for all of your precious words!

This year I created a literacy initiative in partnership with my local independent bookstore, The Bookery in Manchester, NH. I’m thrilled to share that on April 1st, I’ll be delivering over 400 books to McDonough Elementary, Merrimack Middle, and Memorial High School – thanks to you all for supporting this – the school librarians are so excited to receive new books for their students! By the way, if you didn’t get a chance to purchase a book from the Bookery, it’s never too late. They will be happy to add your order to the #50PreciousWords pile!

The guidelines for the contest were simple – write a story for children in 50 words or less. Of course, writing a complete story in 50 words or less is not simple at all! But many of you did it! And did it magnificently! If you didn’t win a prize or receive an Honorable Mention, please, please, please don’t be discouraged. Many of the stories that didn’t win will probably become books – the ideas were phenomenal! And some of the titles – oh my gosh – they were perfect! Please keep writing! Please continue working on them. As you can well imagine, with 749 entries, my assistant judges and I had to make some difficult choices.

Here are the Honorable Mentions arranged by category and then in the order they appeared in the comment thread. These stories were filled with heart or humor or both. We could definitely envision these as books on shelves.

FAMILY: 

Flash! by Christine Alemshah
We Fall Forward by Kathy Halsey
Daddy Days by Robin Currie
Family by Connie Newbauer
Dad at the Playground by Meredith Flory
Your Family Is by Joy Moore
Sandwich Car by Laura Health
That First Hug by Alexis Ennis
You’ve Been Heard by Carmen Castillo Gilbert
Saturday Surprise by Hannah Lepehn
Best Mother’s Day Ever by Elizabeth Kalasinsky
Warm Afternoon by Sarah Hawklyn
The Generational Pot by Denise Seidman
Fishing with Grandpa by Stephanie Anne Box
Mama’s Voice by Trish Noble
Pa’s Song by Tara Truscott
Becoming You by Rinda Beach

FRIENDSHIP: 
Tree & Cloud by Melissa-Jane Nguyen
One by Kathleeen Lowry
Soup for You by Emily Holewczynski
A Friend in the Storm by Linda Staszak 
Friends Find a Way by Janet Krauthamer
Tree and Cloud by Searra Simpson
Arfur’s First Day of Kindergarten by Debra Collins
First Day Firsts by Danielle Hammelef
50 Precious Words of Friendship by Jennifer Ward Laird
The Treetop Quartet by Tonnye Fletcher
Old & New by Beth Kander
Muffet’s Time Machine by Jesse Anne Bornemann
Masha Skips Rope by Anna Brooks

SEL:  
At the Bus Stop by Jessica Hope
I’m a Big Girl by Maria Marshall
What If? Tara Knox Cerven
I’m Wonderful by Pradeep Velugubantta
Don’t Call Me Santa Claus by Rebecca Berbuccio
Harriet’s Big Hair by Monique Fields
Rutabaga Winnebago Said No by Amanda Green
Beware! by Ingrid Boydston
Persistence by Luce Williams
The Little I Know by Lexi Donahue
Just Teddy by Lucy Tandon Coop
It Starts With Me by Chirstina Dankert
I Just Want to Be Famous by Monica Dietrich
Gratitude Glue by Jill Lambert
The Girl with Pink Powers by Mary Jenner
Chopsticks by Terri Lim Diefenback
Pansies Purpose by Annette Bethers
All the Feels by Maureen Leuba

STEM/NF:  
A Rock is a Rock by Kate Allen Fox
Don’t Call Me a Bug by Dana Marie Miroballi
Baby Snowflakes Journey by Melanie Kyer
GROW! By Cathy Sheafer
Cardinals by Patricia Brown
Assassin Bug vs Ogre-Faced Spider by Meilin Chan
Once Upon a Pond by Catherine Valerie Youngquist
Road Trip by Robin Wiesneth
Panda What? By Kanini Rodney Phillips
Lost: A True Beluga Whale Tale by Susan Twiggs
Spotted Salamander by Priscilla Gilman
Deadly Amber: True Crime Stuck in Time by C J Penko
A Story is Born by Sara Ackerman
Aspen Stays Awake by Jennifer Brennise
One Good Turn – A Symbiotic Tale by Judie Offerdahl

NATURE/ENVIRONMENT:

Bonita Beach by Kari Ann Gonzalez
Garden Gnomes Don’t Do Deserts by Lori Clement
The Fairytales by Amanda Sherlock
Mama Sunflower by Laura Kiehner
The Forest Storm by Candace Spizzirro
Too Cold by Michelle S. Kennedy
Spring Dew by Marianell Rodriguez
What is Unconditional Love? By Azra Rahim
Into the Ocean by Andrew Fairchild
Mother Earth’s Plea by Jill Burns
Prickly by Elizabeth Metz
Grand Canyon by Cora Krenn

ANIMALS: 

Pelicans on Parade by Jessica Stremer
The Most Dangerous Bird In The World by Danielle Sharkan
Salmon Circle by Mesa Schumacher
One Bored Elephant by Gaynor Andrews
Fireflies by Daisy Church
Squirrelock Holmes by Marjory Ruderman
Kai Bird by Judith Zeilenga
Ducklings in my Pool by Zainab Khan
Jonathan the Tortoise by Ken Major
Sparrow’s Spring Search by Cassy Clareq
A Birdy Lunch by Ellen Leventhal
Ode to the Worker Ant by Kristen Reinsel
Otter’s Favorite Stone by Amber M. Bouchard

KID-APPEAL: 
Until Further Notice by Amy Leskowski
My Science Experiment by Daniele Arndt
The Mystery by Callie Dean
Kidstorm by Dierdre A Prisahmann
How to Gallop to Greatness by Becky Goodman
How to Homeschool by Liz Kehrli
Dinosaurs Don’t Eat Dessert! By Nicole Williamson
Ready for Recess by Brian Burak
It’s Raining Iguanas! Ronny Frishman
The Zippy Blippers from Planet Flizzbart by Vickie Eiden
Scat’s Target Practice by Abbi Lee
Lunch-Tray Doomsday by Jeff Zilch
At Bat by Kate Rehill
Again! Again! by Beth Wylie
Fifth Grade Drama by Sarah Hetu
Talking Trash by Colleen Murphy
Paper Puzzle by Mary Vander Plas
Mud Puddles by Melissa Chupp
It’s Not My Fault by Janet Scratchley

HUMOR: 
MILK by Jessica Hinrichs
People Mail the Strangest Things by Brittany Pomales
I Would Like French Toast by Stephanie Katz
Curtis the Cookie by Katherin Hunton
From Trash to Treasure by Andi Chitty
There Once Was A Grandma by Isabel Cruz Rodriguez
The Near-Sighted Sorcerer by Kimberly Shrack
If You See a Muddy Puddle by Mona Pease
Front Porch Fishing by Deb Buschan
Boldy Socks and the Three Dares by Lori Sheroan 
The ABCs of Pie by Sara Gentry
Narek’s Day by Astghik (Astrid) Kamalyan
From the Sky by Adria Karlsson
Raindrop’s Destiny by Colleen Dougherty
The Dinner Invite by Angie Isaacs
Cake Stall by Elenore Byrne

ANIMAL HUMOR:

Egg-Hausted by Tara Shiroff
Cockadoodle Loo by Kellie Tune
The Princess and the Dragon by Jenny Bourke
Mouse by Kris DeCaro
Mademoiselle Skunk by Megan Stadnik
Brachiosaurus Starts a Business by Becky Grant
Alligator and the Chocolate Chip by Jessica Reed
The Quick Brown Fox by Jamie Bills
Bear and Fish by Aly Kenna
Cat R. Wall Daily Report by Sally Yorke-Viney
Dance Studio Dog by Andrea Mack
Goofy Gophers Golfing by Erik Ammon
The Pig-culiar Performance by Meena Banasiak
Puppositions by Julia Reich

ACTION/ADVENTURE:
Little League Errors by Federico Erebia
Space Spiders by Emily Chibwana
The Meteorite And The Moon by Laura Clement
Firefighter Maya by Rebecca Sheraton
Cinder Robin by K J Albright
Akumal (Place of the Turtle) by Kathy Chalas
Coconaut by Kathy Fork

LYRICAL/POEMS:
Lunchtime Haiku by Ashley Chance
JaMya Races the Moon by LaTonya R. Jackson
Shadow Dance by Kelly Vavala
Paper Bird by Jessica Coupe
Freckle Face by Ellen Seal
Sometimes Less is More by Michael Samulak
The World’s Ok-est Dad by Logan Jones
Stars are Everywhere by Maria M Salanto
I Rock You Forever by Tony Tong
Before by Nadia Salomon

TIMELY/CURRENT EVENTS:
Drums to Dust by Ebony Lynn Mudd
The Refugee by Julianna Helt
War by David Alan
Great Migrations by Dawn Shea
February 24th 2022 by Yasmin Aslam-Hashmi
Mission by Paul Maza
Zuko-Lolly by Jim Chaize
The Beauty of Words by Caterina Salvatori
Check A Box by Karen Gripko
Teddy Bear Philosophy by Joanna Benn
Leaving Home by Tanya Elchuk

CONCEPT (ABC, Counting, Bedtime, etc.): 
My Moon by Jessicca Watts
Night Sky Lullaby by Kathleen Kelly
A Blustery Bedtime for Bear by Susannah Lee
One Happy Child by Susan Summers
Family Reunion by Sarah Meade
Not All Girls Think in Pink by Kathleen Latlip
Grit by Elizabeth Bookman
A Thousand Words by Lauren Grace
Dancing Dinos by Emmie R. Werner
The Story by Davon Miller
Boots by Emma Horrocks

HOLIDAY/SPECIAL DAYS:
Does Santa Look Like Me by Tunisia Williams
Peekaboo Ramadan Moon by Shifa Safadi
My Havdallah – A Book About the Five Senses by Ann Koffsky
Sitting Shiva by Sarah Claxton
A Kiwi Summertime Christmas by Diane Tulloch
Poppy by Naz Alibhal

FOOD: 
Delicious Stew by Anita Garodoick
Love Dumps by Helen Sha-Sen Coe
Pan Dulce in a Paper Bag by Laura De La Cruz
Pantry Raid by Susan O’Neill
Pie for Dinner by Jane Serpa
Chutney by Afsheen Atif
L’Abbiocco: The Tale of the Midday Nap by Alicia Meyers
Pie Sounds by Melissa Flinn

UNIQUE POV: 
The Lost Crumb of Cake by David Filmore
Stubborn Seed by Nancy Ferguson
The Journey of a Germ by Ryann Jones
Chair Means Go by Maria Lee
The Lonely Sunbaked Sidewalk by Lori Aach
The Red Wheelbarrow by Christine Rivera Creque
Mosquito Camp Fire by Naja Lund Aparico
What I Do Until Jerome Returns by Linda Evans Hofke
On the Road Again by Richard Kovelant

Amazing talent!!! And such beautiful diversity – in both the topics and the creators! You can be sure many of these are going to be books on shelves in a few years!

And now, dear friends, here are the 57 WINNERS of #50PreciousWords 2022.

#1. Walk On! by Dena Davis
#2. One Precious Word by Jennifer Lowe
#3. Balloon and Boy by Andrew Hacket
#4. Salmon Says by Barbara Kimmel
#5. When Zero Meant More by Danna Zeiger
#6. Safe Haven by Cheryl MacAller
#7. Meadow’s Song by Hannah Roy LaGrone
#8. But I Don’t Want a Baby Brother by Sharon Coffey
#9. What Happens in a Bookstore at Night by A. L. Wegwerth
#10. Winter Solstice by Elise Derstine
#11. Dance My Own Way by Talara Ruth
#12. Moments in Time by Christina Shawn
#13. Between the Cracks by Elizabeth Volkmann
#14. Wind and Water by Lisa Varchol Perron
#15. The Giraffes of Longcharo Island by Han O’Reilly
#16. Save the Sea Turtles by Steena Hernandez
#17. Where Sunflowers Grow by Amanda Robinson
#18. Super Sub by Julie Parkin
#19. The Seed by Beth Gallagher
#20. The P Predicament by Armineh Manookian
#21. Be Brave Little Seed by Samantha Bremekamp
#22. Midnight Thunderstorm by Tracy Schuldt Helixon
#23. Spelling War and Peace by Rita D. Russell
#24. The Show Must Go On by Melissa Miles
#25. How to be Brave by Jessica Ruthven
#26. Mama and Me by Tumara Jordan
#27. Mother’s Day by Rozana Rajkumari
#28. The Visit by Emily Keifer
#29. Finding Home by Laurie Smith Murph
#30. Dig! by Katie McEnaney
#31. The International Cobweb Contest by Eleanor A. Peterson
#32. Sky Soil by Natasha Zimmers
#33. The Rescue by Julie Fruitticher Schroeder
#34. The Midnight Grunion by Jyn Hall
#35. Learning To Tango With My No. 2 Pencil by Andrea Strahan
#36. Knit One, Purl Two by Debi Boccanfuso
#37. New Life by Kristy Rose Nuttall
#38. Lonesome Coyote by Rebecca McMurdie
#39. Baby Magic by Taryn Skipper
#40. Popcorn: A Mindfulness Story by Aimee Satterlee
#41. Stop Counting Sheep, We’re Exhausted by Audrey Day Williams
#42. I Belong by Jyothi Nookula
#43. One Perfect Cupcake, Two Hungry Friends by Jessie Kay Young
#44. First Day by Kristen Donohue
#45. Snifferdawdle by Deborah Williams
#46. Rooted by Annette Martin
#47. Donuts With Dad by Chloe Ward
#48. Free Your Sole by Julia Mosca
#49. Operation Mars 2020 by Sandhya Acharya
#50. How Rainbows Were Born by Steve Jankousky
#51. I Am An American by Yolimari Garcia Ramirez
#52. Frustrated Artist by Serena Gingold Allen
#53. I Hate Beans by Jennifer Cowan
#54. Space Hawks by Jodie Houghton
#55. Angel Voices by Mary Beth Rice
#56. Blubberstorm by Mark “Spuddle” Wright
#57. Following the Recipe by Russell Wolff

Congratulations to the winners, honorable mentions, and all of the participants.
If you see your name on the top 57 list, PLEASE EMAIL ME IMMEDIATELY: viviankirkfield@gmail.com so that I can contact you when it’s your turn to choose a prize.

Distributing prizes (especially when there are 57 of them) is like a full-time job. First place winner will choose first from all the prizes. Second place winner goes next and can choose from the remaining prizes. And so on.  There are critiques and above the slush-pile submissions with EDITORS and AGENTS and critiques and Zoom coaching sessions from PUBLISHED AUTHORS, seats in WRITING CLASSES, SIGNED PICTURE BOOKS, the new Paula Cohen Martin Big Dreams Mentorship…and thanks to the generosity of Highlights director George Brown, a 3-Day Personal Retreat at Highlights Foundation in Pennsylvania…and more. The book prizes are limited to USA addresses, please.

HERE IS THE LIST OF PRIZES – Editors and Agents are mostly in the first group, seats in picture book writing classes in the second group, and author critiques and signed copies of picture books in the third group, but as more prizes came in, I just added them wherever I could. And just because something is Prize A or B or Prize 1 or 2 doesn’t mean it’s the best prize…if you are one of the 57 prize winners, the best prize is the prize that is best for you.

Prize A: A 3-Day personal retreat at the Highlights Foundation. It is a $500 value and includes three nights lodging plus meals (based on availability).

The Highlights Foundation offers personal retreat opportunities for our community at our campus in northeastern Pennsylvania, The Barn at Boyds Mills.

cabins

On your personal retreat, time is yours to focus on your work, be in nature, and spend as you please. No structure. No schedule (unless you make one).  You can come as an individual, or in groups (friends, critique groups, writing partners, interest groups, and more).

PRIZE B: An Above the Slush-pile Submission with Little Press editor Michele McAvoy. (They are currently closed to submission – so this is a fabulous opportunity!)

The Little Press is a traditional publisher bringing new talent and new voices to children’s literature. 
Our books offer windows, mirrors, doors, escape hatches, trampolines & bungee cords because life, even for the young, is full of twists & turns.
For more info and their catalogue: https://littlepresspublishing.com/about-us

PRIZE C: Developmental Editorial Notes on 1st 30 pages of a YA or MG from Storm Literary Associate Agent Michelle Hauck.

Michelle Hauck is an associate literary agent for Storm Literary Agency. Michelle is currently accepting young adult, middle grade, and select adult genres. She has a particular love of science fiction and fantasy as well as cozy mystery, and is not the best fit for romance, though she does love a romance sub-plot. Please check out her full wishlist and submission directions at Storm Literary Agency.

She likes positive, upbeat characters, quirky humor (or really any humor) and is always excited to see stories with diverse underrepresented voices (including and not limited to LGBTQA+, neurodiversity, BPOC, Latinx, Indigenous People, and disability). Other traits she likes in a story are: Characters with lots of backstory that is revealed slowly, villains with complex motivations and layers, and stories set on secondary worlds or settings that are other than American or European.

PRIZE D: An Intensive Rhyme and Meter Self-Study Course from Master Lyrical Lady, Renee LaTulippe.

Renee LaTulippe is an amazing mentor to the kid lit community. I took Renee’s regular Lyrical Language Lab course back in 2014 and it totally helped me become a better writer. This self-study class is perfect for those who like to pace themselves – lyrical writing is necessary in both prose and rhy’re me writing. And if you don’t win this awesome prize, make sure you check out Renee’s many free resources on her wonderful website: https://www.reneelatulippe.com/

PRIZE E: THE PAULA COHEN MARTIN BIG DREAMS MENTORSHIP – A month-long mentorship with Vivian Kirkfield for a writer who is pre-published and not yet agented. Need to bring a beloved manuscript to the next level? Want help with a query/cover letter? Have questions about the path to publication? In celebration of Paula’s life and the success she achieved in this business while holding on to her sense of humility and humor, we are going to follow her path and do the work, together.

Many of you knew Paula, but for those who didn’t, I’m sharing the bio and story behind the story that she shared with me for a blog post in January:

I’ve been an editorial illustrator for years, and writing children’s stories was my “hobby.” About 6 years ago I decided to learn more about writing for children. I took classes and webinars, joined SCBWI and Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 challenge.  During that time, my mother passed away and I regretted that I’d never asked her about her childhood, much of which was spent in her family’s grocery store. When an opportunity to apply for a weeklong workshop at PJ Library Publishing came up, I realized that I had the chance to create the story of little Shirley, who worked in her family’s tiny store in an immigrant neighborhood in upstate NY.

Just a month after “workshopping” my story in June of 2019, I met Christy Ewers from the CAT Agency at an SCBWI conference. She liked my work and we stayed in touch throughout the year.  In the meantime, I did some illustration work, including Honey on the Page (NYU Press), an anthology of translated Yiddish stories written for children.  When I’d completed the dummy of Big Dreams, I sent it to Christy.  I fully expected to have to send it to 50 other agents, but Surprise! She loved it, and offered to send it to Arthur Levine at Levine Querido.  I waited for his polite No, but Surprise! He loved it.  When I sent yet another story to Christy she offered me full representation and, of course, I agreed.   I couldn’t wish for a better Agent or a better first Editor!

PRIZE F: A Fabulous Package of Books and Book Swag from North/South Publishers.

For more than 30 years, NorthSouth Books has published a wide range of high-quality picture books. They began in 1989 as an English-language imprint of the Swiss-based NordSüd Verlag. Since then, NorthSouth Books has released about 30 books a year, with titles that span the globe. From Japan to France, from Germany to the US, we are a truly international publisher. Regardless of their origin, a NorthSouth picture book brings with it a love of detail and originality. Find out more here. And NorthSouth is also donating books and swag to the #50PreciousWords literacy initiative. The #50PreciousWords winner who picks this prize will receive: A copy of EINSTEIN, written and illustrated by the award-winning Torben Kuhlmann along with a signed art print from Torben, a copy of RAINBOW FISH TO THE RESCUE by Marcus Prister along with a Rainbow Fish plushie, and a copy of LITTLE POLAR BEAR AND THE REINDEER by Hans de Beer along with a 100% cotton Little Polar Bear bath towel. And a cool drawstring bag to carry books or other treasures. Since I will have to mail this package, the winner will need a U.S. address.

PRIZE G: A One-Year Membership in The New Hampshire Writers Project

The New Hampshire Writers’ Project (NHWP) supports the development of individual writers and encourages an audience for literature in our state. The membership provides a member’s rate on all webinars, workshops, and the 603 conference.  There is also access to a members-only resources section on the website that offers discounts on software, PR services, editing and publishing services, book cover design, access to our webinars, archives, and the opportunity to participate and win prizes in exclusive events such as the Three-Minute Fiction Slam, the 603 conference Pitch Party, and the new monthly Writing Prompt Challenge. This is open to anyone – you don’t need to live in New Hampshire:
https://nhwritersproject.org/resources/

  1. Picture Book Critique with Penguin Random House UK editor COURTNEY FAHY. Courtney was my editor for MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD – she was a joy to work with.

Courtney Fahy is an editor at Penguin Random House UK. Some of Courtney’s picture books at her previous company, Little Bee Books, include Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit by Linda Marshall, Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield, Mootilda’s Bad Mood by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call, as well as Moonbeams: A Lullaby of the Phases of the Moon by Ann Bausum. Prior to joining Little Bee Books, Courtney interned at Macmillan at Roaring Brook Press and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for Young Readers, as well as W.W. Norton. Originally from New Jersey, Courtney graduated from Pace University with a Master in Science in publishing. You can find Courtney on Twitter @courtneyfahy.

2. A PB Critique with my amazing agent, Essie White, Storm Literary partner

There isn’t enough room on this page to detail how amazing my beloved agent, Essie White is. This is an unbelievable opportunity to get your manuscript in front of a stellar agent who is currently closed to submission.

3, A PB Critique with the lovely Helen Wu, editor at YeeHoo Press.

Helen H. Wu is a children’s book author, illustrator, translator and publisher. She is the author of Tofu Takes Time, illustrated by Julie Jarema (Beaming Books, 2022), and Long Goes To Dragon School, illustrated by Mae Besom (Yeehoo Press, 2023). Helen is the associate publisher of Yeehoo Press, an independent children’s book publisher. Being fascinated by the differences and similarities between cultures, Helen loves to share stories that can empower children to understand the world and our connections. Born and raised in Hefei, China, Helen moved to the US in her 20s. Currently, she resides in San Diego, California, with her family and two kids. Learn more about Helen at helenhwu.com and follow her on Twitter at @HelenHWu and on Instagram at @HelenHWu.
Yeehoo Press is dedicated to publishing fun, enchanting, and socially responsible children’s books for audiences around the world. Yeehoo Press has offices in Los Angeles and San Diego, California, and Shanghai in China. Yeehoo books are currently being published and sold in English and Simplified Chinese editions. 

4. 20-minute Zoom Chat with James McGowan, agent at Bookends Literary

James McGowan is a book person. He works with books as an Associate Agent at BookEnds Literary Agency. He reads books for fun. And he writes picture books. Good Night, Oppy! is his debut. While he’s not an astronaut, James wears tons of NASA shirts, and has always been interested in outer space.

5. Picture Book Critique from Thalia Leaf, Associate Editor at Calkins Creek/Astra (Thalia is the editor for my newest book that we just sold!)


Calkins Creek Books
 introduces children to the many people, places, and events that shaped our country’s history. Our picture books, chapter books, and novels—nonfiction and historical fiction for ages seven and up—combine original and extensive research with creative, energetic writing. History is key at Calkins Creek—front and center. Our authors transport their readers back in time to recognizable places with living and breathing people.

6. A PB Manuscript Critique or Above the Slushpile Submission from Kaitlyn Sanchez, Literary Agent at Context Agency


Kaitlyn loves helping authors and illustrators bring their beautiful books into the world. She’s the proud creator and co-host of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest and also co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and Kidlit Zombie Week.
Kaitlyn’s Manuscript Wish List

7. Critique of PB or CB or 1st 50 pages of MG or YA (with detailed 3 page synopsis and query letter) from Heather Cashman – Associate Agent and Agent Mentor at Storm Literary

Surrounded by books from her earliest memories, Heather reads picture books, biographies and select nonfiction, poetry, and all genres of fiction. While she devours any book that tells a good story and introduces a new world, she especially loves the ones that make her want to be the heroine of her own life. She was a professional editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, helped authors by working as Managing Director of Pitch Wars, and interned for three years at The Bent Agency. She’s now an Associate Literary Agent and Agent Mentor with Storm Literary Agency. You can find her latest deal announcements on her website, but many more have yet to be announced.

Storm Literary Agency​520-850-5043  ​​heather.stormliteraryagency@gmail.comWay-Word Writer | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook

8. A Picture Book Critique with Lisa Amstutz – Associate Agent with Storm Literary

Lisa Amstutz fell in love with reading at an early age, devouring stacks of books from the library each week. While she never stopped reading, she earned degrees in Biology and Environmental Science and worked as a lab technician, outdoor educator, and small-scale farmer before returning to her first love: books.

With sixteen years of experience as an author and freelance editor, Lisa comes to Storm Literary Agency as an Associate Literary Agent. She has written more than 140 books for the educational and trade markets as well as numerous magazine and newspaper articles. As an editor and mentor, she worked with writers to shape and polish their manuscripts, many of which went on to land agents or book contracts. She also edited materials for several publishing companies.

9. Seat in Making Picture Book Writing Magic course from the founder of Perfect Picture Book Friday, NYTimes Best-selling author Susanna Leonard Hill. https://susannahill.com/for-writers/making-picture-book-magic/

What can I say about Susanna? Her class was the first picture book writing course I took – and it provided an amazing foundation for me. She is a mentor to all, providing challenges and contests to keep us motivated and inspired!

10. Your choice of one single 12×12 webinar from author, mentor, and fearless 12×12 leader Julie Hedlund.

Julie Hedlund is the founder of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge, which boasts more than 1,200 members. She is a co-founder of Picture Book Summit, an annual online conference celebrating its 6th anniversary in 2020, and the co-creator (with Emma Walton Hamilton) of The Complete Picture Book Submissions System.
Julie is a sought-after speaker at writing industry events, schools and libraries, bookstores, and book festivals.
When she is not writing, you can find Julie on the hiking trails in and around Boulder, enjoying a cup of English Breakfast on her patio, or working on her latest jigsaw puzzle, perhaps accompanied by one of her two teenage children and/or her high-maintenance hound dog, Rocky.
Julie is represented by Erzsi Deak of Hen & Ink Literary Studio.

11. A Set of Webinars on the Craft of Writing from Author, Critique Maven and Editor ALAYNE CHRISTIAN.

Alayne Kay Christian is an award-winning children’s book author, and the creator and teacher of a picture book writing course Art of Arc. In addition, she shares her knowledge with writers through free and affordable webinars at Writing for Children Webinars.
https://alaynekaychristianauthor.com/
Art of Arc http://www.alaynekaychristian.com/contact.html
Webinars https://alaynekaychristianauthor.com/webinars

12. Seat in Master Class in Picture Book Writing from author Karla Valenti

Karla was born and grew up in Mexico City. Since then, she has had the great privilege and opportunity to live in a number of places: the U.S., Japan, France, and most recently Germany. She currently lives in the Chicagoland area where she keeps herself busy with lots of words and big ideas (both in her job as a lawyer and author).
Her writerly self focuses on picture books and middle grade novels. She also offers a Master Course on Picture Book Writing and Editing and Picture Book critique services.
She is rep’ed by the inimitable Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency.
Find her on Facebook or Twitter

13. A 30-minute phone or video call to ask anything about publishing or editing with Independent YA & Children’s Book Editor Julie Scheina

Julie Scheina is a former senior editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers with over fifteen years of experience editing acclaimed and bestselling books for children and young adults. Julia has edited more than 200 titles across a variety of genres, from picture books and poetry collections to middle grade and young adult novels. Please visit www.juliescheina.com to learn more about Julie’s work. Julie also recently launched a free resource for writers, www.youreditorfriend.com, a series of weekly letters filled with writing guidance, revision advice, and encouragement.

14. Promotional opportunity – video interview with Mel Rosenberg, host of the Children’s Literature Channel of the New Books Network and co-creator of OurBoox.

Mel Rosenberg hosts the Children’s Literature Channel of the New Books Network. Following a career in science, Mel currently promotes writing worldwide via www.ourboox.com and www.itsyboox.com, free websites which he co-founded. The three animations which he recently wrote for TED-Ed have been viewed over nine million times (123). His own writing for children focuses on acceptance and the challenges of dealing with the unexpected.

15.  Author Career Consult via Zoom with author Susan Kusel and an autographed copy of THE PASSOVER GUEST, winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Susan Kusel is an author, synagogue library director, an independent bookstore buyer, and children’s book consultant. She has served on multiple book award committees including the Caldecott Medal and as the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Her debut picture book, The Passover Guest was illustrated by Sean Rubin, published by Neal Porter Books/Holiday House and won the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Want to know more about children’s book publishing? This mentor session with children’s book expert, librarian, bookseller, book buyer and consultant Susan Kusel will help guide you on your path to publication and figure out the next steps in your journey. 

16. Rhyming PB Critique from author Lori Degman

Lori Degman is the author of the award-winning picture books, 1 Zany Zoo (illus. by Colin Jack) – 2010 Winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest agbnd 2013 Illinois Reads featured title; Cock-a-Doodle Oops!(illus. by Deborah Zemke) – 2014 International Literacy Association Honor Book, and Just Read (illus. by Victoria Tentler-Krylov) – 2020/21 Illinois Reads featured title. Other titles include Norbert’s Big Dream  (illus. by Marco Bucci)Like a Girl  (illus. by Mara Penny, and Travel Guide For Monsters (illus. by Dave Szalay).  Lori enjoys helping fellow rhymers by doing critiques and mentoring. Visit her at www.Loridegman.com

17. PB Critique or Dummy Critique Plus Signed Copies of The Amazing True Stories of Pepito The Squirrel & More Amazing True Stories of Pepito The Squirrel from author/illustrator Federico Erebia.

Federico Erebia is an author-illustrator, artist and woodworker. His works have been featured in various magazines [including Boston Spirit Magazine, Boston Globe Magazine], newspapers [including The Boston Globe, Boston Home], television [Greater Boston] and radio [NPR-Boston]. The Pepito The Squirrel books have received critical recommendations from Kirkus, Booklife, and other editorial reviewers. His debut YA novel is schedule for publication in Spring 2023 by Levine Querido.Website: https://FJEbooks.comAmazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B08NLCYPM6https://twitter.com/FedericoErebia

18. PB Critique from award-winning author Lindsay Leslie.

A diary keeper, a journalism major, a public relations executive, now a children’s author—Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. She likes to bring her unique outlook on life, quirky humor, and play with words to the page in picture books. Lindsay is the award-winning author of THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, NOVA THE STAR EATER, DUSK EXPLORERS (an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner, Bank Street Best Book of 2021 with Outstanding Merit, and Amazon Editors’ Pick), and SO YOU WANT TO BUILD A LIBRARY. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two kiddos, two fur-beasts, and a guinea pig.

19. PB Critique from author Keila V. Dawson

Keila V. Dawson worked as a community organizer, teacher, school administrator, educational consultant, and advocate for children with special needs before becoming a children’s book author. She is coeditor of NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY (Charlesbridge, 2020), and the forthcoming NO WORLD TOO BIG: YOUNG PEOPLE FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE (Charlesbridge, 2023) with Lindsay Metcalf and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley. She is the author of THE KING CAKE BABY, illustrated by Vernon Smith (Pelican Pub, 2015), OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN and HIS GREEN BOOK, illustrated by Alleanna Harris (Beaming Books, 2021), and the forthcoming YUMBO GUMBO, illustrated by Katie Crumpton (Charlesbridge, 2023). A New Orleans native, Dawson has also lived and worked in states across the U.S., and in the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

When Dawson isn’t reading, writing, and visiting schools, she’s traveling, playing tennis, or digging in genealogical archives. Find more about her from her website and or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.a

20. Non-Rhyming Picture Book Critique from author Melissa Stoller

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 2020); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, 2018). Upcoming picture books include Return of the Magic Paintbrush and Sadie’s Shabbat Stories (Clear Fork, 2020). 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. In other chapters of her life, 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 Temple Shaaray Tefila, and a past trustee at The Hewitt School. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy.
www.MelissaSoller.com       http://www.facebook.com/MelissaStoller
http://www.twitter.com/melissastoller   http://www.instagram.com/Melissa_Stoller
https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissastoller/     http://www.pinterest.com/melissa_Stoller

21. A signed copy of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON from author Laura Roettiger

 Laura Roettiger is the author of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON and has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education, as a mentor for new teachers at a STEM school, and as a tutor in the adult literacy program Boulder Reads. She is a judge for Rate Your Story. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and her students, letting them know she believes in them.
She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @ljrwritenow 
Website LauraRoettigerBooks.com which includes a blog with author interviews, giveaways, and photography.

22. Picture Book Critique from author Maria Marshall (Maria is one of my long time critique partners – her thoughtful feedback has helped me take my manuscripts to the next level)

Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. She’s a Cybils Awards judge ( http://www.cybils.com/) and a contributing blogger for STEM Tuesday – From the Mixed-up Files of MG Authors ( https://fromthemixedupfiles.com/stem-tuesday/). She interviews authors & illustrators and reviews books on -The Picture Book Buzz ( www.mariacmarshall.com/blog). Her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2017-2018, 2016, & 2014-2015 anthologies. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes.

23. Picture Book Critique from author Carol Gordon Ekster.

  • Carol Gordon Ekster was a passionate elementary school teacher for thirty-five years. Now retired, Carol is grateful that her writing allows her to continue communicating with children. She is the author of Before I Sleep: I Say Thank You which won 3rd place in the children’s category of the Catholic Press Association Book Awards and was also a finalist for the ACP Excellence in Publishing Awards 2016. Her picture book, You Know What?, came out first in Dutch (Mama, Wist Je Dat?), December 2016 with Clavis Books. The English version released September 2017 and was a CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards Nominee for Talk (2018) and a finalist for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award in the New England region, 2018. The Korean language edition came out 2019 and Arabic and Chinese editions are in process. A new picture book, Some Daddies, with Beaming Books, comes out May 2022. Trucker Kid, illustrated by Russ Cox comes out spring 2023 with Capstone. When Carol is not in a critique group or at her computer she might be doing yoga or biking. She lives in Andover, Massachusetts with her husband Mark. Find out more at www.carolgordonekster.com
  • 24. Picture Book Critique (up to 500 words) OR 20-minute Zoom chat OR Signed book from author Debbie Zapata

Debbie Zapata is the author of UP AND ADAM, her debut picture book published by Kids Can Press and illustrated by Yong Ling Kang. As a child growing up in Austin, Debbie loved the places that brought people together—public parks, community rec centers and the local libraries. She loved writing letters to her international pen pals. Today she is passionate about writing books for children that have heart and humor. Her favorite stories are about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Through her work, Debbie hopes to make children smile, inspire kindness, and to create an inclusive world where all readers can see themselves.

Besides being an author, Debbie is a former international programs specialist. In 2005, she received her Master in Social Work from NYU. Debbie enjoys helping others as a counselor and spending time with her family. She is a member of SCBWI and represented by James McGowan of BookEnds Literary Agency. Visit her at debbiezapata.com.

25. A Copy of A Penny’s Worth from author Kimberly Wilson

  •  As a full-time writer, Kimberly is an active member of the SCBWI, 12×12, and several critique groups. She is a pun-lover and enjoys mixing humor, heart, and educational details into her writing. Her debut picture book, A PENNY’S WORTH, illustrated by Mark Hoffmann (Page Street Kids, April 5, 2022), is the story of a new penny searching for her place in the world while learning the importance of self-worth. The sequel, A DOLLAR’S GRAND DREAM (Spring 2023), follows a dollar bill as he discovers living large may not be as one-derful as it may seem.

When not writing, Kimberly shares her love for books by volunteering with local literacy nonprofits through their Title I outreach programs. She also enjoys yoga, tennis, and family ping pong parties. Kimberly lives in Charlotte, NC, with her husband and two daughters.

  • 26. 30-minute Zoom Chat with author Shannon Stocker

Shannon Stocker is an author and proud word nerd. She lives with her husband, Greg, and her children, Cassidy and Tye, in Louisville, KY, where she molds words into picture books and songs all day. Shannon currently serves as SCBWI social co-director for Louisville, a judge for Rate Your Story, and created the blog series, Pivotal Moments: inHERview, highlighting transitional life stories of female picture book authors. She is also the author of the picture book Can U Save the Day? and the 21st Century Junior Library: Together We Can: Pandemic early reader series.

27. 30-minute Zoom Chat with author Donna Cangelosi.

Donna Cangelosi enjoys writing stories that entertain, enlighten, and inspire kids of all ages. When she is not writing, she works as a child psychologist, helping children deal with feelings that are hard to express with words using play, art, and music. Her debut picture book, MISTER ROGERS’ GIFT OF MUSIC, illustrated by Amanda Moeckel, will be published by Page Street Kids, August, 2022. Donna lives with her family in northern NJ. www.donnacangelosi.com

28. Picture Book Critique with Zoom chat from author Ellen Leventhal. (Ellen is one of my long-time critique buddies – I love her feedback!)

Ellen Leventhal is an educator and writer in Houston, TX. Her writing usually contains universal themes to which children can relate–even if the thoughts occasionally come from talking cows or lambs.  She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing in some capacity. Ellen is the co-author of Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets and the author of Lola Can’t Leap. Her newest picture book based on the many flood disasters she and her family endured, launches this year, Flood of Kindness.  She has been published in magazines and newspapers as well as in short story and poetry anthologies. Ellen loves school visits! When visiting schools, she coordinates with and supports literacy programs as well as diversity and anti-bullying programs. Ellen’s best days are when she can interact directly with the students and spread her love of literacy and kindness. To find out more about Ellen’s books and writing projects, please go to www.Ellenleventhal.com

29. Picture Book Critique from award-winning author Tina Cho (Tina is one of my long-time critique partners – her insights are spot on!)

Tina Cho is the author of four picture books– Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books 2018), Korean Celebrations (Tuttle 2019), My Breakfast with Jesus: Worshipping God around the World (Harvest House 2020), and The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story (Kokila/Penguin Random House Aug. 2020). Her lyrical middle grade graphic novel, The Other Side of Tomorrow, debuts from Harper Alley in 2023. After living in South Korea for ten years, Tina, her husband, and two teenagers reside in Iowa where Tina also teaches kindergarten. 
Twitter: @TinaMCho
IG: @TinaMCho
website: http://www.tinamcho.com

30. Picture Book Critique or Signed Copies of her newest board books, Wildflowers Grow & Butterflies Soar (which were once entries in #50PreciousWords) 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 eleven, she was writing and binding her own “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 is the author of Sophie and Little StarExtraordinary Ordinary Ella, Superheroes Don’t Babysit, and the Little Nature Explorers board book series. She lives in Missouri with her husband and two children.

31.A Copy of a Calkins Creek Nonfiction Picture Book from author Beth Anderson

Beth Anderson, a former English as a Second Language teacher, has always marveled at the power of books. With linguistics and reading degrees, a fascination with language, and a penchant for untold tales, she strives for accidental learning in the midst of a great story. Beth lives in Loveland, Colorado where she laughs, ponders, and questions; and hopes to inspire kids to do the same. She’s the award-winning author of TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE (10/2021), “SMELLY” KELLY AND HIS SUPER SENSES, LIZZIE DEMANDS A SEAT, and AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET. Beth has more historical gems on the way.
@Bandersonwriter (Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram)
https://www.facebook.com/beth.anderson.3367174

32. A Signed Copy of DINO PAJAMA PARTY from award-winning author Laurie Wallmark

Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark writes picture book biographies of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as well as fiction. Her books have earned five starred trade reviews, been chosen as Junior Library Guild Selections, and received awards such as Outstanding Science Trade Book, Best STEM Book, Cook Prize Honor Book, Crystal Kite Award, Mathical Honor Book, and Parents’ Choice Gold Medal. Her titles include ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE, GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE, HEDY LAMARR’S DOUBLE LIFE, NUMBERS IN MOTIONCODE BREAKER, SPY HUNTER, and her debut fiction picture book, DINO PAJAMA PARTY. Laurie has an MFA in Writing from VCFA and is a former software engineer and computer science professor.
Website:              https://www.lauriewallmark.com/ 
Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/lauriewallmarkauthor/ 
Twitter:                @lauriewallmark  
Instagram            https://www.instagram.com/lauriewallmark/ 

33. Picture Book Critique or a signed copy of one of her books from award-winning author Nancy Churnin

A native New Yorker, Nancy is a graduate of Harvard University, with a master’s from Columbia University. She lives in North Texas with her husband, a dog named Dog and two cantankerous cats. Learn more about Nancy at www.nancychurnin.com

34. Picture Book Critique (fiction) from author Lisa Katzenberger.


Lisa Katzenberger is the author of IT WILL BE OK: A STORY OF EMPATHY, KINDNESS, AND FRIENDSHIP (Sourcebooks 2021) and NATIONAL REGULAR AVERAGE ORDINARY DAY (Penguin Workshop 2020). She is an instructor at The Writing Barn, a mom to eleven-year-old twins, and serves on the Board of Trustees of her public library in suburban Chicago. She is represented by Wendi Gu at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

35. A Signed Copy of Pigs Dancing Jigs from author Maxine Schur

Maxine Rose Schur is an award-winning children’s book author and travel journalist. She was the Baker-Nord Guest Lecturer on Writing for Children in the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University and teaches children’s book writing at the San Francisco Writing Salon.

Maxine has written children’s fiction and non-fiction for numerous trade publishers and for educational publishers including Houghton-Mifflin, Heinemann, Addison-Wesley, National Geographic Kids. She has also written imaginative children’s content for the BBC television program, Playschool and the Children’s Television Workshop. He upcoming book is Child of the Sea illustrated by Milanka Reardon (Child of the Sea)
Learn more about Maxine and her books at www.maxineroseschur.com.

36. Rhyming Picture Book Critique from author Gayle Krouse.

An SCBWI PAL member and Master Educationalist, Gayle writes PB, MG and YA novels. Her picture book, Rock Star Santa was performed as a play in Australia and presented at Storytime in Montserrat, West Indies with a real “Rock Star Santa” from The Climax Blues Band – Peter Filleul.  (www.gayleckrause.comDaddy, Can You See the Moon? (Clear Fork/SPORK) shares royalties with Our Military Kids, and her YA novel, RATGIRL: Song of the Viper, a retelling of the Pied Piper set in a dystopian future (Noble Young Adult) was nominated for the International Reading Award and the Horn Book/Boston Globe Award. Connect with Gayle on Facebook and Twitter.

37. Picture Book Critique from Rita Lorraine Hubbard

Award-winning author Rita Lorraine Hubbard is a retired special education teacher of 20 years who now writes for children and middle graders full time. Her books, THE OLDEST STUDENT: HOW MARY WALKER LEARNED TO READ; HAMMERING FOR FREEDOM: THE WILLIAM LEWIS STORY; and AFRICAN AMERICANS OF CHATTANOOGA: A HISTORY OF UNSUNG HEROES, have garnered awards that include the New Voices Award, the East Tennessee Historical Preservation Award, the 2021 Floyd’s Pick Honor Book Award, Amazon Editor’s Pick, and the 2021-2022 Texas Bluebonnet Master List Award. You can find Rita online at: www.ritahubbard.com

  • 38. A 20-minute phone consultation for an emerging/unpublished writer to map out a plan of action for their career or to answer writing/publishing business questions from author Rosie J. Pova

Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children’s author and kid lit Writing Coach. Her latest picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in spring 2022 in both China and the USA.
Rosie loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. 
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women’s and moms topics.

Join Rosie’s Facebook group community for supporting unpublished writers, The Unstoppable Writer, or find out more about her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Website Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Instagram

39. A Picture Book Critique from author Shirin Shamsi

Shirin was born and raised in the UK. Having lived on three continents, she views herself as a global citizen and now spends her time sharing stories with children of the world. She has raised six children- three human and three feline, and lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. 
Her books include the middle-grade novel, Laila and the Sands of Time (Clear Fork Publishing, 2019) 
Her upcoming books include:
ZAHRA’S BLESSING (Barefoot Books, Spring 2022) Illustrator, Manal Mirza
https://bit.ly/3sBMXbi
THE MOON FROM DEHRADUN (Atheneum, Fall 2022) Illustrator, Tarun Lak
https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Moon-from-Dehradun/Shirin-Shamsi/9781665906791
www.ShirinShamsi.com
http://www. ShirinsBooks.com
@ShirinsBooks

40. A 30-minute Zoom Chat with author Lynne Marie, owner of Rate Your Story.

Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019), Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019), The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press, 2022), American Pie (Dancing Flamingo Press Spring 2022), There Was a Blue Whale Who Tangled with Plastic (Dancing Flamingo Press Spring 2023) and more, forthcoming. She’s also the Owner and Administrator of RateYourStory.org and a Travel Agent. She currently lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin, where she can be found daydreaming and fracturing fairy tales. Visit her on her website www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland ofwww.theseymouragency.com Follow her on Facebook here and on twitter here.

41. A 30-minute Zoom Chat with author Lynne Marie, owner of Rate Your Story – attention: THERE IS are not seeing double – Lynne Marie has generously offered this prize to two lucky winners.

Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019), Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019), The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press, 2022), American Pie (Dancing Flamingo Press Spring 2022), There Was a Blue Whale Who Tangled with Plastic (Dancing Flamingo Press Spring 2023) and more, forthcoming. She’s also the Owner and Administrator of RateYourStory.org and a Travel Agent. She currently lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin, where she can be found daydreaming and fracturing fairy tales. Visit her on her website www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland ofwww.theseymouragency.com Follow her on Facebook here and on twitter here.

42. A PB Critique with award-winning author Carrie Finison (Carrie is one of my long-time critique buddies…her critiques are amazing!)

Carrie Finison writes picture books with humor and heart, including Dozens of Doughnuts (2020), Don’t Hug Doug (2021), and the forthcoming Lulu & Zoey: A Sister Story, and Hurry, Little Tortoise, Time for School! (2022). She lives in the Boston area with her family. For updates and giveaways, subscribe to her newsletter, check out her website, or follow on Twitter or Instagram.

43. A PB Critique from award-winning author Hannah Holt. (Hannah is also one of my long-time critique partners – her feedback helps me make my manuscripts sing)

Hannah Holt is a children’s author with an engineering degree. Her picture books weave together her love of literature and lifelong learning. They include, The Diamond and the Boy (HarperCollins), A Father’s Love (Penguin), and A History of Underwear with Professor Chicken (Macmillan). She lives in Oregon with her husband, four children, and a very patient cat.
Find out more about Hannah and her books here.

44. A Picture Book Critique with 20-minute phone chat with author Zeena Pliska.

Zeena M. Pliska spends her days immersed in the joy of 5-year-olds.  She is a kindergarten teacher by day and a children’s book author by night in Los Angeles, California.  A progressive public school educator, she believes that the most important aspect of teaching is listening to children.  A social justice activist and organizer for over 30 years, she brings race, class, and gender analysis to everything she does.  A lifetime storyteller, she has facilitated stories as a theater director, visual artist, photographer and journalist.   Her debut picture book, Hello Little One:  A Monarch Butterfly Story from Page Street Kids came out May 12, 2020.  Her second picture book Egyptian Lullaby from Roaring Brook Press is due out in 2023.  Find out more about Zeena at Teaching Authors – and connect with her at www.zeenamar.comInstagram @zeenamarTwitter @zeenamar1013Facebook zeenamarFacebook Zeena M. Pliska author

45. A PB Critique OR a 20-minute Zoom Chat OR a signed copy of Counting to Bananas from author Carrie Tillotson

Carrie Tillotson is a biostatistician turned children’s book author. Her creative works orbit the intersection of science, creativity, persistence, and play. Through her work, Carrie aims to inspire others to follow their dreams. Her debut picture book, Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book, arrives on a shelf near you in April 2022. To find out more about Carrie:  carrietillotson.com

46. A Fiction or Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique with author Robyn McGrath.

Robyn McGrath has spent her career working with children as a dance and yoga instructor, reading teacher, school counselor, and now…children’s author. Whether she’s writing fiction or nonfiction, Robyn believes that books help us navigate life experiences while fostering an understanding of self and others. When Robyn is not writing she works as a Play Therapist helping children and parents regulate BIG emotions. Robyn lives in Austin, TX with her husband, two children, a Labrador retriever, and a friendly cat they found camping. You can find her here at- https://www.robynmcgrathwrites.com/

47. A PB Critique (Rhyming or Prose) from author Melanie Ellsworth.

Melanie Ellsworth writes picture books, including HIP, HIP…BERET! (HMH, 2021), CLARINET AND TRUMPET (HMH, 2021), and BATTLE OF THE BOOKS (Little Bee, 2022). She and her family live in Maine, where Melanie writes in an old barn with an old dog as her muse. As a former ESOL teacher and literacy specialist with an M.Ed. in Language and Literacy, Melanie loves all parts of the writing process, from gathering ideas to revising to sharing books with readers! Visit Melanie at www.MelanieEllsworth.com, on Twitter @melanieells, and on Instagram @melaniebellsworth.

48. A Picture Book Manuscript (non-rhyming) Critique and a signed copy of Forever Home from author Cathy Stenquist.

Cathy Stenquist won second place in the 2020 Boston Author’s Club Picture Book Discovery Award for her MS “I Wish I Were” and had the chance to work with Peter H. Reynolds, who called her a “Magical wordsmith.”  Herdebut picture book “Forever Home,” a story about two orphaned kittens searching for a place to be loved was recently published. She was delighted to work with her talented daughter @ericaleighart who illustrated it.  Cathy is a longtime member of SCBWI, The Writer’s Loft in Hudson, Mass. and Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge. You can find her at: www.cathystenquist.com and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @cathystenquist.

49. A Picture Book Manuscript Critique and signed copy of The Penguin Lady from author Carol Cole.

Carol’s father taught her to read when she was only three and she started writing “TV Scripts” at ten.  As an adult, Carol had over 30 short stories for adults published in online e-zines and in four anthologies. A retired Physical Therapist in a Virginia School setting; a Special Education teacher told her – “You work with kids; write a book for kids.” So, after joining SCBWI in 2004 and her critique group in 2009; she did just that. “The Penguin Lady” was published by Arbordale Publishing in 2012. In pre-Covid days, Carol did multiple school visits along with a standing invitation for 5 years in a row at a private school.
You can learn more about her and reach out to Carol at:
Website: www.carolacole.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.cole.397
Twitter: www.twitter.com/CarolCole0413

50. A 20-minute Ask the Author Zoom Chat with author Melissa Coffey

Melissa Coffey is the author of FRIDGE-OPOLIS, her debut picture book published by Little Bee Books and illustrated by Josh Cleland. She grew up in Wisconsin toting around an overstuffed book bag and a dog-eared spiral notebook of poetry and stories. Unsurprisingly, her first job was at the public library. After earning a journalism degree from UW-Madison, she moved to Atlanta and called CNN Center home. Melissa was a freelance writer for Fortune 500 companies, CEOs and magazines before pursuing her passion as a children’s author. She now lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two sons—who thankfully inherited her book-loving genes. She is a member of SCBWI and represented by Charlotte Wenger at Prospect Agency. 
Fridge-opolis | Book by Melissa Coffey, Josh Cleland | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster (simonandschuster.com) 

I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of this kid-lit community. Thank you to all the prize donors. To all those who took the time to comment on the entries. To everyone who supported the literacy initiative by purchasing a book to be donated. And please remember that the best gift you can give an author or illustrator is to buy their books, review their books, tell friends about their books, and ask your local library to purchase the books for their collection.

Dear friends…thank you for the tremendous turnout! I’m definitely dancing! Contest winners, please email me right now: viviankirkfield@gmail.com.

50 thoughts on “#50PreciousWords 2022 WINNERS and HONORABLE MENTIONS

  1. So many awesome entries, and so many wonderful prizes! Congratulations to all the winners, and to all the other brave souls who put your work out there! Well done. And thank you to all the prize donors, and to Vivian and her fabulous judges!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved reading the entries. I can’t imagine the hard work that went into judging so many marvelous stories. Congratulations to the winners! Thank you Vivian, the judges and those who donated the amazing prizes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations to all winners and honorable mention – so many great stories! Thank you to Vivian, the judges, people who donated prizes, and “50 Precious Words” participants for making this contest so special. From the amazing stories created and shared by so many talented writers, to wonderful books donated to deserving schools, everyone is truly a winner!

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  4. Congratulations to all. And congratulations to you Vivian for taking this on and offering so much of you and so many prizes. Everyone’s a winner who entered and told a story in only fifty words! YAY!!!

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  5. Congratulations, winners! And congrats to all who whittled 50 words into wonderful entries. This is a huge undertaking for Vivian and team! A special thank you for encouraging us all and providing such a unique platform.

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  6. Thank you Vivian and team for providing this contest and the mammoth effort in reading all the entries! Congratulations to everyone who entered and to the winners!

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  7. Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions! Super job by Vivian and her judging and helper crew. Awesome prizes for the winners too, submitted by all caring contributors. Shout out to my critique partners Sharon for placing 8TH and to Callie for an HM!

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  8. Congratulations to everyone, we persevered with passion and patience❣️😊Heartfelt thanks to you Vivian, all the judges and prize donors❣️You’ve made the world a better and brighter place…again❣️

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  9. Thank you Vivian, judges and donors, and congratulations to everyone who wrote beautiful stories! What a lovely way to celebrate the first day of spring!🌸💗

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  10. Vivian:

    I gave it my best shot for the second time. I’ll focus on MG and adult novels. Joan ramirez

    On Sun, Mar 20, 2022 at 12:01 AM VIVIAN KIRKFIELD – Writer for Children wrote:

    > viviankirkfield posted: ” WELCOME EVERYONE!!! I’M SO VERY HAPPY YOU ARE > HERE!!! Art by Vicky Fang Thank you to all the brave writers who submitted > their entries and to the caring folks who read the stories and commented. > It wasn’t easy to leave comments after the fi” >

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  11. Thank you Vivian for a great experience and to all the volunteers who joined you in reading, judging and contributing wonderful rewards.

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  12. Thank you so much, Vivian for the wonderful opportunity to compete.
    Such talent and imagination! This was a real treat!

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  13. Congratulations winners, honorable mentions, and all who participated in 50Precious Words! Thank you Vivian and team for another opportunity to stretch our creative wings! Vivian, this brought me to tears because we need these words right now–“and that’s really important when the world feels inside out and upside down. We need to keep creating positivity – we need to keep sharing kindness – and no matter what, we cannot stop writing books that educate, entertain, and most importantly, inspire young readers to make the world a better place.”

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  14. Congratulations to everyone who took part. Submitting your work can be quite daunting. This has been great fun. I’ve been amazed at the talent on show and what great imaginations you guys have. Thank you Vivian for all your hard work, much appreciated.

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  15. Congrats, everyone! I was so impressed with all the entries! Vivian, this was my first experience with #50PreciousWords! Just want to say thank you for exercising the brain and supporting the local community! It was a joy and privilege to participate!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. CONGRATS to the winners! Congrats to the Honorable Mentions! And I’m overcome with joy to be in the Honorable Mention group :-))) Thank you, Vivian, for making this opportunity and community possible.

    Liked by 1 person

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  18. Thank you Vivian, the entire team, judges and generous donors who made this event possible. I am so thrilled to be in the honorable mention. Congratulations to all the winners! I can’t wait to participate in this fun event again next year ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  19. CONGRAT to ALL THE WINNERS–that would be EVERYBODY who EVER-SO BRAVELY shared their AMAZING stories and talent! THANK YOU! And THANK YOU, Vivian, for ALL the HARD WORK you do to make this SUCH A WONDERFUL EXPERIEINCE EVERY YEAR!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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  21. Congratulations to everyone who entered and to all the winners! Thank you so much for Vivian and all of the others involved in making #50preciouswords possible. It was such a pleasure to participate again this year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Congratulations to the winners, the honorable mentions, and every single writer who put their story out there! Everyone who wrote a story is a winner! I had a blast reading the stories! Thank you Vivian, and the judges. Thanks Vivian for all you are always doing for others! You are amazing!

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