Susanna Hill’s 8th Annual Holiday Contest Entry

I often mention how important it is to be writing and be submitting. Writing hones our craft and submitting…well…without submitting, your work will sit in a drawer or folder or computer file and never help a child deal with a problem or make someone smile.

One of the least stressful ways of submitting is to enter a writing challenge or contest. That’s why I host #50PreciousWords every March. If you win, that’s great! If you don’t, no worries. You exercised your writing muscle and connected with the kidlit community. A win-win situation!

I’ve been participating in Susanna Hill’s writing contests for EIGHT years. That’s right, folks…EIGHT! She is a fabulous mentor to all writers and the Holiday Contest is only one of the many ways she reaches out. This year I’m honored to be one of the prizes.

super-santa

The contest rules: A story, 250 words or less, appropriate for children ages 12 and under about a Holiday Hero.

And here is my entry. Continue reading

The Twelve Surprises for Santa and a Review of Nooks and Crannies

Hurray…we’ve had our first real snowfall…our little New England village is a fairytale wonderland. I really do enjoy the look of the snow…I just don’t like to drive in it.

Today is Friday. But before our book review, I want to tell you something else VERY IMPORTANT!

12-days-1

 Yesterday was the first day of Susanna Hill’s Mostly-World-Famous Holiday Writing Contest. Click here for the guidelines…there is still time for you to enter and join in the fun! When you finish reading my book review, you can scroll down and read my entry to the contest.

And now, since Susanna won’t have her Perfect Picture Book Friday link up, I’m reviewing a middle grade mystery I would have LOVED to read when I was a kid. The author is Jessica Lawson. You will meet her tomorrow on Will Write for Cookies. How special is that? I hope you will come back tomorrow…there will be a giveaway of a copy of the book.

cranberries-cover

NOOKS & CRANNIES

Written by Jessica Lawson

Illustrated by Natalie Andrewson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2016)

Ages: 8-12

Themes:

Courage, teamwork, investigative skills

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Clue when six children navigate a mansion full of secrets—and maybe money—in this “delightful gem” (School Library Journal, starred review) with heart.

Sweet, shy Tabitha Crum, the neglected only child of two parents straight out of a Roald Dahl book, doesn’t have a friend in the world—except for her pet mouse, Pemberley, whom she loves dearly. But on the day she receives one of six invitations to the country estate of wealthy Countess Camilla DeMoss, her life changes forever.

Upon the children’s arrival at the sprawling, possibly haunted mansion, it turns out the countess has a very big secret—one that will change their lives forever.

Then the children beginning disappearing, one by one. So Tabitha takes a cue from her favorite detective novels and, with Pemberley by her side, attempts to solve the case and rescue the other children…who just might be her first real friends.

Opening Lines:

 “Just past three o’clock in the afternoon, when schools across London were releasing much-adored children by the bucketful, Tabitha Crum was ushered into the cold as well.”

Why I like this book:

  • As I said earlier, I loved books like this when I was a kid…the girl who no one thinks much of is the one who perseveres and solves the mystery…a modern-day Nancy Drew.
  • Don’t you just love the names: Tabitha Crum, Camilla Lenore DeMoss: Countess of Windermere, Barnaby Trundle, Edward Herringbone.
  • I plan to send a copy of this book to my 10-year old granddaughter for Christmas…I think it is the perfect book for a delicious afternoon of reading.

PLEASE DON’T MISS TOMORROW’S WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

SPOTLIGHTING

JESSICA LAWSON AND A GIVEAWAY

But wait!!!!!! Don’t go yet!!!!!! Please stay and read my entry to Susanna Hill’s Mostly World Famous Holiday Writing Contest. Here’s a quick run-through of the guidelines: Write a children’s holiday story of 300 words or less, based on The Twelve Days of Christmas. To read the other entries, please visit Susanna’s blog.

 

TWELVE DAYS OF SURPRISES FOR SANTA (293 words)

by Vivian Kirkfield

 

On the first day of Christmas, Santa grumbled, groaned, and gritted his teeth. “Last night was too cold,” he told Mrs. Claus. “No more Christmas Eve deliveries for me.”

Just then, a package arrived.

Before Santa could open it, Mrs. Claus snatched it away. “Just some treats for the reindeer.”

On the second day of Christmas, another package arrived. Santa had already peeled off the tape when Mrs. Claus grabbed it. “Just some vitamins for the elves.”

On the third day of Christmas, Santa waited by the front door. He’d be ready this time. But Mrs. Claus had told the mailman to come around to the back.

For nine more days, boxes arrived at the North Pole. Santa always seemed to be doing something else when the package was delivered. Talking on the phone. Feeding the reindeer. Going to the bathroom. Eating a snack. Taking a nap. Reading a book. Ironing his shirt. Trimming his beard. Polishing his boots.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Santa came down for breakfast. He stopped. He stared. He sputtered. “W-w-what’s all this?” Instead of eggs and oatmeal and juice, the table was filled with presents. Twelve of them.

Mrs. Claus smiled. “You give gifts to all the children,” she said. “These are for you.”

Santa could hardly believe it. It felt like…Christmas. He opened the boxes.

Twelve woolen mittens.

Eleven quilted blankets.

Ten fleecy jackets.

Nine velvet earmuffs.

Eight hats with pompoms.

Seven red suspenders.

Six flannel nightshirts.

Five underpants.

Four knitted scarves.

Three long johns.

Two balaclavas.

And a super-duper heated seat cushion.

Santa tried on all the clothes. He tested the seat-warmer.

He looked at the calendar. “We’d better start making new toys,” he told Mrs. Claus. “I can’t wait for next Christmas Eve.”

                                                  The End

 

HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND, EVERYONE…AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT. AND DON’T FORGET TO BE BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR WWFC AND A GIVEAWAY!

Connecticut School Tragedy…Helping Young Children Cope With Trauma

1993...The Year of the Graduations (Junior High, High School and College)

1993…The Year of the Graduations (Junior High, High School and College)

We raised our three children in a small Connecticut town less than thirty minutes from yesterday’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  When I heard about it, my first thought was to call my kids (who are now 30-somethings with families of their own) and gather them close.

For twenty-five years we lived happily and…for the most part…peacefully.  Our children went from elementary schools to middle schools to high schools and finally to college.  We held onto their bike handles as they learned to ride a two-wheeler and we held onto our hearts as they learned to drive a car.  They kept us up at night when they were babies…and we stayed up late when they got older, waiting for them to come home from a date or event.  We shared their joys and sorrows…helped them with their homework and tried to guide them along the difficult path of growing up.

They didn’t always agree with our rules…and we didn’t always agree with their behavior.  But I would do it all over again in the blink of an eye.

There are twenty sets of parents in Sandy Hook tonight who have been robbed of this.  There are twenty sets of parents in Sandy Hook tonight who will never help their children ride two-wheelers, or watch them perform in school plays or walk them down the aisle when they get married.

My heart goes out to everyone involved…the residents of Sandy Hook/Newtown, the school staff, the family and friends of the shooter and those directly impacted…parents, friends and families of the children and adults who were murdered.

I know that every parent who heard about this is praying for the families.   If you have young children, you may be wondering how to handle this situation.  Those directly impacted will be receiving professional counseling…but what should you do if your family was not part of this horrific event?

  • If your children have heard about the tragedy, encourage them to talk about it. 
  • Be honest with them…but age-appropriately…if your children see you are upset, tell them you are sad about what happened because these are real people, not video game or movie characters.
  • Reassure them that this was a bad thing that happened, but that you will keep them safe and that there will always be someone to take care of them.
  • Tell them you are happy that they are fine and that you love them.
  • Young children may not verbalize what they are feeling, so watch your child’s behavior. 
  • If you see a sudden change in your child’s behavior, consult your pediatrician. 
  • With all the news on the media, even children who have not been directly involved may experience trauma and need counseling.
  • Speak calmly about the situation and try to carry on with planned events and regular routines.

The holiday season should continue…because keeping to routines is one of the best ways to reassure children that all is well.  So I will  continue with my post as planned.

There is a holiday writing contest over at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

dashing through the snow

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story beginning with any version of “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing through the [any substance you choose] in a [conveyance of any kind].”  For example, “Dashing through the sand in a two-wheeled donkey cart” or “Sloshing through the swamp in a green and white canoe” or “Flying through the air in a striped hot air balloon…”  You get the idea, I’m sure 🙂  But “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh” is completely acceptable too – whatever works for you 🙂  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (because I have to read them all in the week before Christmas! :))

I love Susanna’s contests…they encourage me to think ‘outside the box’ when it comes to writing children’s stories.

Because I’ve been so busy, I had left the writing of the story until the last-minute.  With the tragedy in the news, I was tempted to write a somber tribute…but decided instead to submit something light and silly…something that might bring a smile to the faces of the children who were in the school, but survived.  Based on the nursery rhymes that all children know and love, I give you, “Mother Goose, Apple Juice, Chocolate Mousse and More!”

Mother Goose, Apple Juice, Chocolate Mousse and More

by Vivian Kirkfield (228 words)

Hiking through the snow

In brand-new Christmas boots.

Tripping as we go

On gnarly old tree roots.

Humpty-Dumpty rolls,

Then Jack and Jill fall down.

Muffet drops her bowls

As we pass through the town.

 

Mother Goose

Apple juice

Chocolate mousse and more

We’re on our way to The House Jack Built

For a holiday galore!

 

We can’t find the sheep

Bo Peep has lost them all.

Wee Willie wants to sleep

He leans against the wall.

We’ll have lots to eat

Jack Horner brought his pie

Hot Cross Buns are sweet

And Jack Sprat made stir-fry.

 

Mother Goose

Apple juice

Chocolate mousse and more

We’re on our way to The House Jack Built

For a holiday galore!

 

Everyone is dressed

In special party clothes

Peter Piper’s vest

Has pickle juice and bows.

Mother Hubbard’s kids

Each wears a new chemise.

Bobby Shaftoe skids

On silver buckled knees

 

Mother Goose

Apple juice

Chocolate mousse and more

We’re on our way to The House Jack Built

For a holiday galore!

 

Here we are at last

Sweet music fills the air

Horn gives out a blast

Boy Blue blows with great flair.

Mary and her lambs

Hip-hop the whole night long.

Lucy Locket jams

With King Cole’s fiddlers’ song.

 

Mother Goose

Apple juice

Chocolate mousse and more

We’re on our way to The House Jack Built

For a holiday galore!

 

I hope you all enjoy this silly little children’s holiday rhyming story.  In the next few days, many others will be linking up on Susanna’s contest page.  Go and check them out…you won’t be disappointed!

And please come back on Sunday…I have a wonderful guest poster, author and amazing personality speaker, Sheila Glazov…you definitely won’t want to miss it!!!