Valentiny Contest Entry: A Valentine’s Day Cake for the Queen

Today’s post is a treat…my story for Susanna Leonard Hill’s 2nd Annual Valentiny Contest.

valentinywriting-contest2017

Before you read my entry,  it might be fun for you to see a bit of the process I used in writing it.

  1. I read Susanna’s guidelines. Whether you are entering a contest or submitting a story to an agent or editor, ALWAYS make sure you follow the guidelines.
  2. When my kids were young, I loved baking cakes for their special occasions…and they loved eating them. I figured that a story about a cake might be something kids could relate to.
  3. Since the guidelines called for confusion on the part of one of the characters, I thought that it would add a bit of humor and tension to have the pastry chef perplexed by the stacking of the layers of the cake.
  4. Children need to identify with a character in the story so I added a young kitchen boy who saves the day.
  5. I wanted to add some fun words, so I checked the thesaurus for alternative terms for confused…I found a LOT and chose two that made me smile: befuddled and discombobulated…I hope they make kids smile also. I also gave her a name that’s a play on the famous Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Kids may just laugh at the name, DOUGHLITTLE, but parents and teachers may enjoy the deeper joke.
  6. I wanted the reader to know that Eliza, the pastry chef, was a bit arrogant and full of herself…but in picture books, we are not supposed to TELL…we are supposed to SHOW. I didn’t say: Eliza was arrogant. Instead, I said: Eliza STRUTTED into the kitchen. If you close your eyes, you can just imagine how she entered the room. And before she began, she PUFFED UP HER CHEST. Yes, she’s quite vain about her baking abilities. When the young boy wants to help, Eliza PURSED HER LIPS AND RAISED HER EYEBROWS. Quite hoity-toity (hmmm…that’s another fun word…maybe next story).
  7. Keeping within the 214-word limit was a challenge…but I made it! I hope you enjoy my little story. If you want to read a whole bunch of wonderful Valentine’s Day tales or enter with your own story, please hop over to Susanna’s post.

 

A Valentine’s Day Cake for the Queen (210 words)

 

Pastry chef Eliza Doughlittle strutted into the castle kitchen. Valentine’s Day was tomorrow. The king had ordered a 7-layer cake for the queen.  Eliza snapped her fingers. She puffed up her chest—she could do it!

She pulled out pans. She lined up ingredients. She studied the recipe.

“Can I help,” said a small voice from behind the flour sacks.

“How can you help me?” Eliza told the kitchen boy. “You scour pots and pans!”

Eliza measured. She mixed. She poured. She baked. She frosted. Perfection!

Eliza stacked the layers.

The cake leaned to the left.

Befuddled, Eliza tried again.

It leaned to the right.

Discombobulated, Eliza rearranged the layers.

The tower teetered

                                    and

                    tottered.

“Please,” said the kitchen boy. “Let me help.”

Eliza pursed her lips. She raised her eyebrows. “What do you know about making cakes?”

“Not much,” said the boy. “But I stack stones by the riverbank.”

Eliza moved aside. The kitchen boy set the largest layer on the platter.

One

by

one,

he

stacked

each

layer.

Eliza peered at the cake from every side.

No teeter.

No totter.

Perfection!

“Thank you,” said Eliza. “Now I have a Valentine’s Day cake to present to the queen.”

“You’re welcome,” said the boy. “Now I have a job as assistant pastry chef.

##

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THE STORY.

If you’d like to read the other entries, please hop over to Susanna’s blog. The contest ends on February 14.

And on February 15th…HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS…we are going to unveil the 2nd Annual #50PreciousWords contest. You’ll have plenty of time to prepare your entry…the contest opens on March 2nd, the birthday of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THAT POST!

Picture Book Review and Activities for THE GREEN UMBRELLA

Hello friends!

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday…and I’ve got the PERFECT PICTURE BOOK for you! It’s another wonderful 2017 debut! We are part of the book blog tour…if you’d like to visit any of the other stops, please click here.

green-umbrella-cover

THE GREEN UMBRELLA

Written by Jackie Azua Kramer

Illustrated by Maral Sassouni

Publisher: NorthSouth Books (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Friendship, sharing, imagination

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

When Elephant takes a peaceful walk with his green umbrella, he’s interrupted by Hedgehog, Cat, Bear, and Rabbit—all claiming that they’ve had exciting adventures with his umbrella. After all, it is an umbrella, and it certainly hasn’t been on any adventures more exciting than a walk in the rain. Or has it?

Here is what the reviewers are saying:

Illustrated in spreads that alternate the rainy-day narrative in vignettes with full-bleed spreads that allow the flight-of-fancy retellings to render a deeper mood, the animals’ stories are delightfully descriptive…The lesson about sharing and generosity is elegantly wrapped around lovely language. (Kirkus Reviews)

 Debut author Kramer’s imagination-fueled encounter makes good use of fellow newcomer Sassouni’s gift for conjuring up fairy-tale landscapes…And Kramer’s storytelling passages sustain their lofty tone with no off notes—no easy task. (Publishers Weekly)

A sweet story of a blossoming friendship between five lovable and imaginative characters, united by one special green umbrella. I want to jump right in to the lush paintings and join in their fun!(Lauren Castillo, Author/ Illustrator of Caldecott Honor Book “Nana in the City”)

Whimsical and cartoonlike animals, depicted with a touch of vintage style, will delight readers as the story shows all the imaginative ways an umbrella can be used. The brightly colored acrylic illustrations complement the conversational text, which is suitable to read aloud to an audience.  (Mindy Hiatt, Salt Lake County Library Services School Library Journal)

Here is a story for those who love an object, be it a blanket, a toy, or in this case a green umbrella, so much so that it’s very being is imbued with memories that make it unmistakably yours. And a story for those who have lost one such object and wish more than anything to have it back. Azúa Kramer reminds us all that many memories can be shared over a single prized possession. And as Sassouni’s art plays in the worlds of joy and longing over a green umbrella, we see a group of characters come together to discover what they can offer another in need. There’s no mistaking how easy it is to share this book. (Matthew Winner, All the Wonders Podcast)

 Opening Lines:

“One rainy day an Elephant was taking a walk with his green umbrella. Along came a Hedgehog.

“Excuse me,” said the Hedgehog. “I believe you have my boat.”

Why I like this book:

  • I love books that encourage young children to use their imaginations!
  • Wonderful read-aloud!
  • The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and match the text perfectly!
  • Each page turn compels you to…turn the page.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Paper Plate Elephant

elephant-paper-plate-med-300x225Photo courtesy: http://www.activitybucket.com

Just like paper bags, paper plates are wonderful to use for crafting with kids.

You will need: 1 paper plate, construction paper, markers or crayons, scissors, glue.

  1. Color the paper plate with crayons or markets (or paint if you are adverturous)…what color does your child want the elephant to be…encouraging children to use their imagination is one of the most important things we can do. Maybe the elephant needs to be purple with green stripes…let your child be creative.
  2. Cut out ears, eyes, trunk, mouth and glue in place.
  3. Use markers or crayons to add detail to the features.
  4. For in depth instructions: http://www.activitybucket.com/creative-crafts/elephant-paper-plate

Other activities to do after reading the book:

  1. Take a walk in the rain, with and without an umbrella.
  2. Buy a small umbrella just for your child.
  3. Let your child chose a possession…mug, pillow, toy…who else could use this and how? For example, a mug might be a bathtub for a little mouse. This type of activity helps children start thinking out of the box.

 

 This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Tomorrow’s post will be my entry into Susanna Hill’s Valentiny Contest…I hope you are able to stop by and let me know what you think of it.

Cover Reveal…LUCY LOVES SHERMAN Plus Giveaway!

Wait a minute. Today is Monday. I don’t usually have blog posts on Mondays.

But today is a special Monday…it’s a COVER REVEAL!!!!

For a brand-new picture book.

TA-DA!!

cover

LUCY LOVES SHERMAN

Splashing out from Sky Pony Press in March 2017. Catch more details and learn about the evolution of the cover over at Tara Lazar’s.

And in March, LUCY LOVES SHERMAN will be one of our Perfect Picture Book Friday picks….plus author Catherine Bailey will be visiting for a Q&A and Giveaway on Will Write for Cookies that month.

A little about the author:

Catherine Bailey is a children’s author from sunny Florida. Her current books include MIND YOUR MONSTERS (Sterling Publishing, 2015), HYPNOSIS HARRY (Sky Pony Press, 2016), and LUCY LOVES SHERMAN (Sky Pony Press, 2017) – with more on the way! She has also written for popular children’s magazines such as Highlight’s Hello and Babybug. She is a frequent children’s speaker and has visited with hundreds (and hundreds, and hundreds!) of kids at schools, libraries, stores, and special events.

When Catherine is not writing, or editing, or swatting at mosquitoes, she looks after her husband and two children. All three of them are quite sticky, and none like bedtime, but she loves them anyway. Her prior job titles include Lawyer (interesting), Sailboat Deckhand (fun but occasionally sea-sicky), and Cartoon Network Intern (best job ever, besides writing). Her hobbies include reading, travel, and TJ MAXX. But mostly reading.

Learn more about Catherine and her work at www.catherinebaileybooks.com.

 

And a little about the illustrator:

Meg Walters is an Illustrator and Designer and she is excited to be illustrating her first picture book, Lucy Loves Sherman, written by Catherine Bailey published in March 2017. 

Meg attended Syracuse University where she received her BFA in Illustration. Meg lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children and her yellow dog who snores loudly while she works.

Meg is member of SCBWI and can be reached at meg@crazydogdesign.com.

These marvelous 2017 picture books are exploding with goodness. I’m so excited to be a part of all of this…and since this is a cover reveal…and since it’s all about the love…and since you all know how much I love chocolate…just leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a yummy bar of gourmet healthy chocolate.

 

 

 

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