Monthly Archives: December 2013

Fun writing contest. Hurry!

Susanna Leonard Hill is at it again – sponsoring her third annual holiday contest. She asks writers interested in entering the competition to write a children’s story of no more than 350 words that’s about a holiday mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster.

It’s free to enter. Interested? Find out more by clicking on the link above. You can read my entry here, inspired by a true event. And links to other entries are on Susanna’s site.

Spread the word. Enter something yourself (entries accepted through 12/19). It’s all good holiday fun!

The Unexpected Holiday Guest
by Carol Munro (349 words)

“Mom! I’m so glad you’re home. Something’s in the chimney. I hear scratching.”

“Let me put my Christmas shopping in my bedroom before I look. Where’s your grandpa?”

“Looking for his flashlight.”

Mom rushed to her bedroom. Buddy heard her sliding bags of Christmas gifts under the bed. He heard her stashing them in the closet. He heard FWOP!

“Hurry, Mom! It’s a squirrel! It fell out of the chimney!”

“I’m hurrying.”

“It’s in the living room!” Buddy shouted.

Mom ran from her bedroom with the Christmas tree skirt she bought for under the tree. Buddy was as far from the fireplace as he could be, his back pressed against the wall. She searched the room. No squirrel.

“There!” Buddy pointed to the Christmas tree. It swayed. Ornaments clinked. The squirrel was perched near the decoration Buddy made last year in first grade.

“What should we do?” asked Buddy.

“I’ll throw the skirt over it if it comes down on the floor.”

“Then what?” Buddy asked.

Mom shrugged. She took a step. The squirrel dashed up the tree. It clung to the stuffed polar bear that sat at the tip-top.

“Look . He’s hugging Angel Bear, Mom. He’s afraid.”

“I think you’re right.”

“Maybe if I open the front door, he’ll run outside,” Buddy suggested. When he reached for the door, the squirrel chattered. Buddy jumped back against the wall.

“It’s okay, Buddy. Try again. I have the skirt just in case.”

Once again, Buddy reached for the doorknob. He turned it and pulled. Cold air blew into the house. The squirrel sniffed the air and in one great move, it leaped onto the couch. One more long leap and it was outside. Buddy slammed the door shut.

“Yay! Good work, Buddy!”

Buddy began to giggle.

“What’s so funny?” Grandpa asked, flashlight beaming.

“It was a squirrel, Grandpa.” Buddy laughed harder. “Do you think his friends will believe we have a tree inside the house?”

Grandpa reached up the chimney and shut the flue. “I hope not,” he said. “With a tree this pretty, they’ll all want to move in.”


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My reign ends soon.

It’s almost time to disrobe (hey, watch where your mind travels) and turn in my gavel. My duties as a Cybils judge are coming to a close. It’s been a revealing and satisfying experience. If you write for children (and blog about kidlit), I recommend you consider volunteering for this task next year.

Along with other books in various categories, 224 fiction picture books were in the competition. The next step will be to join the other six judges in deciding which books will go on to be finalists. As a group, we need to select fewer than ten. Ten! From more than 200. There are a few books I think we’ll all agree on, but others — well, I’m looking forward to the discussion as each of us champions our favorites.

Speaking of favorites, here are mine from the 86 picture books I read in November:

  • DIGBY DIFFERS by Miriam Koch, 2013, Peter Pauper Press
  • THE GIRL WITH THE BRAVE HEART, A TALE FROM TEHRAN by Rita Jahanforuz, illustrated by Vali Mintzi, 2013, Barefoot Books
  • GOBBLE YOU UP! by Gita Wolf, illustrated by Sunita, 2013, Tara Books Pvt. Ltd.
  • IT’S USEFUL TO HAVE A DUCK / IT’S USEFUL TO HAVE A BOY by Isol, 2009, Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press)
  • THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS by Bil Lepp, ill Davit T. Wenzel, 2013, Peachtree Publishers
  • MY BLUE IS HAPPY by Jessica Young, illustrated by Catia Chien, 2013, Candlewick Press
  • ONE FROZEN LAKE by Deborah Jo Larson, illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher, 2012, Minnesota Historical Society Press
  • SNOWFLAKES FALL by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated byl Steven Kellogg, 2013, Random House CB (Random House)
  • TAP THE MAGIC TREE by Christie Matheson, 2013, Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins Children’s Books (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • THE TORTOISE & THE HARE by Jerry Pinkney, 2013, Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Books)
  • THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS FOLLOWS HER HEART by Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton, illustrated by Christine Davenier, 2013, Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Books)

Check them out, picture book lovers.


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