Are you ready for a whole lot of fun?
As many of you know, I’m a BIG fan of writing contests and challenges. I love them because
- they encourage writers to write
- they push us to submit our work
- they engage us in the kid lit community and provide us with positive feedback and inspiration.
March 2nd is the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Last year I put together a little contest based on Random House founder Bennet Cerf’s 1960 challenge to Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.
My challenge is a bit different…yout MAX WORD COUNT for the entire story is 50.
If you are currently writing picture books…or just reading them, you’ll notice that the average word length for many is getting shorter and shorter. So I thought, wouldn’t that be a great challenge…to write a story for kids with only 50 words? With a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wondered if I could do it. I opened the challenge to everyone. Much to my surprise and amazement, there were 128 entries! And now it’s time to DO IT AGAIN.
Please put on your thinking caps and get busy writing. You have a couple of weeks until you need to post your story. Here are the guidelines:
#50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CONTEST
- Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count for the story is 50 or less.
- It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
- Title is not included in the word count.
- No illustration notes please.
- The contest officially opens on Thursday, March 2nd, in a special post on my blog.
- Between March 2nd and March 6th, post your story on your blog if you have one and put the link in the comments of my #50 Precious Words Challenge blog post OR post the entire story in the comments of my #50 Precious Words Challenge blog post. Last year, because the stories were so short, eventually, we had all of them in the comment thread. Please make sure you put your name in the post.
- Deadline for posting the story or the link in the comments is Monday, March 6, at 11:59pm.
- Winners will be announced Thursday, March 9.
- Winners? Of course, there will be winners…and prizes, too! The book prizes are limited to USA addresses, please.
- A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White (some of you may remember that the winner of last year’s contest chose Essie’s critique as her prize…and she subsequently signed with Storm Literary Agency!)
2. A seat in author Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing Making Picture Book Magic online writing class (the first writing class I ever took and it set me on the path of writing wonderful picture book manuscripts).
3. A seat in author Kristen Fulton’s incredible Nonfiction Archaeology online writing class (that was the class that opened the door for me to discover the joy of writing nonfiction picture books).
4. This next prize can be chosen by two people…there are TWO 50% off coupons for Alayne Kay Christian’s ART OF THE ARC online writing class (this is the next class I would love to take).
5. OR…if you have already taken Alayne’s awesome class, you can choose 50% off an in-depth critique from her (when Alayne says it is an in-depth critique, she isn’t kidding. I had one of those…it is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious).
6. A manuscript or query letter critique from author Rebecca Colby.
7. A picture book critique from author Lori Degman
8. A picture book critique from author Anna Forrester.
9. A fiction picture book critique from author Ariel Bernstein
10. A picture book critique from author Rosie Pova
11. A book on the craft of writing from author Rosie Pova
12. A copy of Bunny’s Book Club from author Annie Silvestro:
13. A book on the craft of writing from author Maria Marshall
14. A copy of Hello, My Name is Tiger from author/illustrator Jennifer P. Goldfinger.
15. A copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL plus an adorable SEAL NECKLACE from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.
16. A copy of CLAMS ALL YEAR by Maryann Cocca-Leffler.
17. A picture book critique from me and a copy of my parent-teacher book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.
I am exceedingly grateful to all of these kid lit pros who generously donated prizes…to find out more about these wonderful people, please click on each link above to visit their websites…follow them on social media..and buy their books!!!!
Please help spread the word and share this around your social media…the more the merrier… #50PreciousWords.
Are you excited?
And I just can’t wait to read all of your precious words.
P.S. Don’t forget…this is NOT the post you will be using for the contest entries…that post will go live on March 2nd.
Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources. Before I do the review, I have a few things I need to share with you.
My little poem, Fears of the Inner Child, took second place in Marylin Warner’s February Poetry Contest. You can see all of the awesome entries on her blog: Things I Want to Tell My Mother.
It’s also the beginning of a new month…so we will be choosing the February winner of the Positive Parental Participation Reading Challenge and sending a picture book out in the next few days. I know parents are so very busy…but I hope you are reading with your children every day, even if you are not able to post a comment.
Since February has come to an end, it’s also time to check-in with the 12 x 12 group…yes…my February picture book draft is completed.
Oh…sorry…one more thing! Don’t forget that March 7th is World Read Aloud Day…go to the LitWorld website to find out about planned events…or celebrate by reading aloud to kids. I just got back from reading Spaghetti Eddie to 15 Pre-K children…they LOVED it! Fifteen hands shot up when I asked “Who likes to eat spaghetti?” Next week, to join in celebrating World Read Aloud Day, I’ll be reading Julius – The Baby of the World, to 20 Pre-K kids at Keller School.
You can also visit Ella Johnson’s wonderful website to get more information about the NEA’s Read Across America program and to enter to win several books and hop from there to over 100 other blog sites that are hosting book giveaways.
And now…(drumroll please)…Perfect Picture Book Friday.
My picture book selection today is one of the hundred picture books I recommend in my book for parents and teachers, Show Me How. Julius: The Baby of the World is a veritable “baby” compared to some of the others I have picked…only twenty-two years old…but again, as relevant today as when it was published in 1990.
Julius: The Baby of the World
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Publishers: Greenwillow Press
Ages: 3 – 8
Sibling rivalry, bullying, celebrating an individual’s unique strengths and talents
“Before Julius was born, Lilly was the best big sister in the world. She gave him things. She told him secrets. And she sang lullabies to him every night.”
Lilly eagerly awaits the birth of her baby brother, but when Julius finally arrives, Lilly wishes that he would go away. Her jealousy causes her to resent the attention her mother and father shower on Julius, even though they continue to treat her with love and affection as well. She sings mean songs to him, tweaks his tail and draws a family portrait leaving Julius out of the picture. Her parents call Julius, the baby of the world, but Lilly wishes he would go away so that things would go back to the way they were before he was born. At a family party for the baby, her cousin begins insulting Julius. What will Lilly do…join her cousin in making fun of Julius…or defend her baby brother?
Why I like this book:
Sibling rivalry is a common occurrence. Many children resent the arrival of a new baby…and why shouldn’t they? Now they have to share the time and attention of their parents…and sharing is a difficult skill to learn. Reading this book to a young child who is in that situation would provide parents with a great opportunity to engage with their child and discuss how their child is feeling about the situation..allowing the child to express his or her feelings. The author/illustrator, Kevin Henkes, uses his amazing talent for knowing just what little ones are thinking and feeling. Lilly leans over and whispers to her baby brother, “If you were a number, you would be zero.” The book is funny and heartwarming. If I could change anything about the book, I would wish that Lilly was not such a bully as she insists that her cousin praise Julius. Perhaps this is Lilly’s persona…but I would rather end with her learning a “kinder, gentler” way to encourage others to see things her way.
When I read picture books to kindergarten and Pre-K classes, I always follow-up the story with a simple arts and crafts project. Not only does this extend the learning experience, it also gives the kids a chance to talk about the story and how it relates to their own situation.
For this story, I love to make Popsicle stick puppets. The kids love this activity…and then can do role-playing with the puppets they have made…another opportunity for them to express their feelings. Parents can encourage their children to put on a puppet show with the family of puppets they have made and then join in, perhaps taking the role of the child while the child becomes the mother or father.
Popsicle Stick Puppets
You will need: Several Popsicle sticks, construction paper, markers or crayons, scissors and glue.
1. Let your child decide how many puppets to make and who they will be.
2. Draw the people (you can also use people cut out from magazines).
3. Cut out the people and paste them onto the top half of each Popsicle stick.
4. Put on a play!
The above image is from the blog of Muffin Tin Mom.
Read/Write/Think has a lesson plan for Julius the Baby of the World.
You can find lots of quick and easy instructions for Popsicle stick puppets at ehow.com here
Education.com also has great puppet-making instructions here.
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.
- Seeing a new picture in picture books (mummumstheword.wordpress.com)