Holiday Story Contest: The No Snow Dilemma

Holiday Story Contest: The No Snow Dilemma

It’s that time again The Children’s Holiday Story sponsored by Susanna Leonard Hill. The rules are here. You have to write about a child’s holiday treat — anything goes … sort of. You have to include a treat, write for a child under 12, and write the story in 250 words or less.

In this story, an opportunity to go sledding is the holiday treat.

The stories are always delightful. I decided this afternoon to participate. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful Holiday Season.

The No Snow Dilemma

By Stacy S. Jensen

Suzie doesn’t like this Christmas weather. 

She glares at the sun and blue skies. 

“I’ll never go sledding,” she cries.  “It doesn’t look like snow.”

Her mother doesn’t care about the weather. “No chores,” Mom says. “No sledding.”

“There’s no snow,” Suzie wails. 

“There are chores,” Mom points to the chart. 

Suzie points to the window. 

Mom is a statue. 

Suzie stomps off to her room. 

Mom has a different plan.  Minutes later … Suzie empties the dishwasher. 

“There’s no hope for snow.”

Mom says, “There’s no hope for sledding, if you don’t do your chores.”

Suzie digs in. 

She refuses to gather the trash. 

She watches as her sister sets the dinner table. 

She fails to pick up her clothes. 

Suzie gets sent to bed early to “think” about her choices. 

“I can’t ‘think’ about anything with this nice weather,” Suzie mumbles. 

When Suzie wakes up to gray skies, she’s hopeful and checks off some chores. 

She feeds the dog. 

She helps her sister with Christmas crafts. 

She gets the mail without her mother asking twice. 

Then, she sees rain. 

Suzie KNOWS snow will arrive soon. 

But, her dad says, “No. Just flurries.” 

Suzie goes to bed to “think” about this news. 

The weather isn’t better the next day, but Suzie remembers one chore left undone. 

She rakes the leaves into a pile in the sunshine and discovers she doesn’t need snow for her sledding treat. She just needs to do her chores.

Penguin’s Quest for Answers

Penguin’s Quest for Answers

This is a last-minute effort to join in the holiday fun. Enzo and I brainstormed ideas for this story. He did not like my execution, but it was wrapped up among a day filled with a 5k, church pageant practice, a day of treat making, and a Christmas party.  Thanks Susanna Leonard Hill for hosting this contest. I can only hope that all my word count tools were correct at 250 words. LOL 

Penguin’s Quest for Answers: Saves Christmas

By Stacy S. Jensen 

Penguin knew he was on Santa’s Naughty list. 

He counted on his flippers and feet all the incidents. 

He ate his sister’s snack after school. Penguin protested, “But, it was on my plate.” 

He knocked down a line of friends ready to fish. “I slipped.”

He fell into a mongoose on the beach causing chaos. “I didn’t mean to do it.” 

Penguin tried to be nice. 

He helped Grandma down the beach, made lunch for Mom, and sheltered eggs for Uncle. 

But, nothing Penguin did removed him from the naughty list. 

So, he left Boulder Beach, South Africa headed to the North Pole. 

When he arrived, Penguin found Santa and made his case. 

“I’ve been good.”

“Ah,” Santa said. 

“I’m not sure how to get off the naughty list,” Penguin said. 

“ACHOO!” Santa sneezed. 

“Are you sick Santa?” Penguin asked. 

“Maybe, just a … ACHOO,” Santa said. 

“I can help,” Penguin offered. 

Santa was too tired to protest. 

Penguin checked the flight map, Santa’s sack, and the list. 

Santa gave Penguin his special hat and off he flew to deliver presents. 

When he returned to the North Pole, Santa said, “You saved Christmas.”

“Am I off the naughty list?” Penguin asked. 

Santa snored. 

The elves helped Penguin return home. 

“Where have you been?” Mom asked. 

“Just helping a friend,” Penguin said. 

“Santa left you a present,” she said. 

Penguin found his very own hat with the words “TRAINEE” across the front and a book “How to be Nice All Year.”

Halloweensie 2018: Piper’s New Potion

Halloweensie 2018: Piper’s New Potion

Piper’s New Potion

By Stacy S. Jensen

Piper wanted a new cauldron.
The Shiver Store had a Howling Halloween sale.
But, she was short on cash.
Piper fed the dragon, cleaned her room, and sprinkled dust.
Her allowance wasn’t enough.
She searched for change. No luck.
Piper made a sign: Potions for $1.
Her Toil and Trouble Potion sat untouched.
She returned to her lab.
Her Pet Potion turned unicorns into gargoyles.
“No more rainbow toots!” she said.
Parents gobbled them up.
Her “Do What I Say” Potion sold best.
Piper’s math finally added up.
With a new cauldron, Piper created a “Stop Falling Houses” potion.
Halloweensie is an event not to be missed.
There is still time today, Oct. 31 at 11:59 p.m. EST to enter. Visit Author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website for the details.
For the contest, you write a 100-word story for children. The story must include shiver, cauldron, and howl. I’m at 99 words. It’s always a challenge to write a full story at this word count.  Visit Susanna’s blog post with links to all the entries. The contest always brings out a ton of spooky and funny stories.
I hope you have a Happy Halloween. We woke up to snow and a school delay this morning. The sun is out now. So, all the children will hopefully have a fun and chilly Halloween.

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Title: A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting
Author: Michelle Robinson
Illustrator: David Roberts
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2016
Suitable for ages: 3-6

Theme/Topic:  Bears, Survival Tips, Humor

Opening Spread: Going for a walk in BEAR Country? You’d better make sure you know your bears.

Brief Synopsis: (from Amazon)
Do you dream of seeing some real, live bears? Then this essential guide to bear spotting, filled with offbeat humor and quirky illustrations, is for you!
In this perfect read-aloud, sure to delight kids and parents alike, a young aspiring bear spotter ventures into bear country . . . But coming face-to-face with the furry creatures themselves, whether black or brown, can be dangerous, and our protagonist–accompanied by a trusty teddy bear–might need to use some unconventional means to stay out of trouble and avoid being (gulp!) eaten.

Resources: The National Park Service has tons of information available on bears. Stuffed bears could also be used to act out scenes from the book.

Why I Like This Book: This books is funny from the first page! While the child is ready for an outdoor adventure, the narrator keeps warning the child about bears. As a person, who always hopes to avoid bears, I laughed out loud while reading this book. Michelle Robinson’s pacing is excellent and the second the narrator says “Don’t worry. Chances are you won’t even SEE a bear.” You KNOW when you turn the pages things will get more interesting. This book has been one of my favorites from 2016.

For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes

Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Title: Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes
Author: Tim Wynne-Jones
Illustrator: Brian Won
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2016
Suitable for ages: 4-8

Theme/Topic:  Action, Adventure, Humor, Imagination, How to Tie Your Shoes

Opening Spread: S.A.M. is digging for the Lost City of Raisins … He is tracking down the treacherous green spitting bug, balancing on high places, and stealing home.

Brief Synopsis: (from Candlewick)
Secret Agent Man (S.A.M.) needs new shoes. His mom — er, sidekick, “K” (short for Kay) — takes him shopping. But the operation will be dangerous: to start with, Shoe Store Man looks shifty. “Frisk him,” says S.A.M. With the help of a Team of Expert Spies and keen observation skills, will Sam find that his brand-new tiger-striped shoes convey a new superpower . . . and that he can now tie his own shoelaces? Imaginative play is the mission in this witty picture book with retro illustrations that cleverly merge S.A.M.’s escapades with the ordinary world. Roar!

Resources: Here’s a whole website on Top Spy Secrets. We may need to go around and rename parts of our house based on the spread I mention below.

Why I Like This Book: The first spread sets up agent Secret Agent Man or S.A.M.’s imagination as he plays and the second spread immediately lets us know the reality of his world. It’s a fun story from the first page to the last. My favorite spread is near the end as S.A.M. tries to find K (his mom). He looks int he Secret Chamber of Silence, the Holding Cell of Despair, Torture Chamber, Rocket Silo, and the Darkest Valley of Doom. Most parents will laugh at this. I was going to be secretive about what each item represents, but Illustrator Brian Won has this spread on his website. Take a look. I hope it makes you smile like I did. I discovered this one while searching the library’s online collection for shoe tying books.

For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

Halloweensie Contest 2016

Halloweensie Contest 2016

Happy Halloweensie! It’s that time of year again when children’s writers gather ’round the cauldron to craft a story in 100 words or less. Author Susanna Hill is the gracious founder of the contest. She and her assistants deserve tons of treats for reading all the contest entries.
This year, each 100-word or less entry must contain the words spider, ghost and moon. Variations of the words are allowed. Stories should be kid-friendly and contain no illustration notes. Here are the rules, if you want to participate. You have until the strike of 11:59 p.m. EDT.
Here’s my 2016 entry:

Halloween Tracks 

By Stacy S. Jensen

Oliver saw the tracks every Halloween.
They were colorful with a sweet aroma and looked like scat. Oliver never ate it, but other owls did.
“Who?” he wondered made them. He flew over the streets in the moonlight searching
And, in circles for the critter.
He saw bunnies, coyotes, and spiders and almost gave up.
Until, he heard …
Oliver followed the noises to a little ghost.
“Your tracks!” Oliver screeched.
“My candy,” Ghost cried.
Oliver helped Ghost collect his spilled loot.
“Here’s a treat!” Ghost tossed a candy to Oliver. “Happy Halloween!”

Word tells me I’m at 98 words!

There will be plenty of entries at Susanna’s blog. I am always impressed by the very talented work created in this contest and also how similar our thought process can be. I’ve been a happy Halloweensie participant since 2011 — 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.
I hope you all have a spooky, fun-filled Halloween!

P.S. I’ve been re-working my website in recent weeks between other projects. It’s not “done,” but decided Halloweensie is more important than “done.”