Birthday! Birthday! Winners! Winners!

Woohoo! What a celebration! Thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes, the gifs, the emojis, the tweets, the comments, and of course, THE STORIES! Gennie and I loved reading them—and rereading them so many times! We met over Zoom to finalize our prize winners and gush over great elements in EVERY story, and every few minutes, one of us would burst out a “This is so much fun!” Thank you for the gift of your creativity, story, wordplay, heart, humor, and so much more!

So today’s the day!!!! We get to share our prize winners and their stories!!!!! What a treat!!!!! This post deserves ALL the exclamation points, and I’m not even going to apologize!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please remember, writing contests (like publishing) are subjective. We’ve chosen our top ten, for prizes, but we loved elements of SO many more. This wasn’t an easy decision at all!

But without further ado, it’s time for WINNERS! WINNERS!
[Update 12/10/21: Winners list updated with “What we love” about each.]


TINA TURTLE AND PEPPI RABBIT: PIZZA PARTNERS

by Barbara Kimmel (@PicBookBarb)

Tina’s prize-winning pepperoni, pesto, and pineapple pizzas are works of art. But today, “CLOSED FOREVER” is plastered across her pizzeria.
As Tina crawls home, her competitor hops by.
“My restaurant closed!” Peppi said. “I’m the fastest pizza spinner around! With super speedy delivery! But I can’t cook! I RUSH and make sloppy, stringy, doughy pies!
“My restaurant closed too,” said Tina.
“YOU?! WHY?! Your pizzas are legendary!”
“Busy families want delivery, but turtles are sooo slow. Pizzas arrive cold and soggy.”
“HEY!” said Peppi. “YOUR delicious pizzas –”
Tina perks up, “YOUR speedy delivery –”
“Makes US perfect pizza partners!”

We loved the teamwork! We loved the clever twist on the tortoise and the hare. And we loved the alliteration. While we read many turtle-MC stories and even a handful of turtle-rabbit stories, the unique premise helped it stand out.


SHUT THE DOOR, ELEANOR!

by Kalee Gwarjanski (@kaleegwar)

SHUT THE DOOR, ELEANOR!
Why?
THE COLD WILL COME IN.
THE HEAT WILL GO OUT.
THE BUGS WILL COME IN.
THE BABY WILL GO OUT!
What if something NEEDS to go out? Like…
That baseball finally remembers where is lives and decides to roll back home.
Fluffy needs to go chase squirrels. Now!
SHUT THE DOOR, ELEANOR!
What if someone NEEDS to come in? Like…
Mr. Johnson is hungry and needs one of my famous cookies.
A travelling unicorn needs a nap, and my bed is the coziest in the neighborhood.
SHUT THE DOOR, ELEANOR!
Fine.
I’ll sit outside.

We loved the title. We loved both the beginning AND the ending. We love the characterization. What a fun voice. The structure was unique, and it gave way to imaginative lines and playful repetition.


PIRATE SHIP PARK

by Katie Brandyberry (@KTBrandyberry)

Ahoy from Pirate Ship Park!
Binoculars in hand, I scale the rope to the lookout.
Yo ho ho!
Booty ahead! X marks the spot.
Blimey.
I’ll have to cross shark-infested waters to claim it.
With a daring whoosh, I whiz down the slide and leap to the seesaw plank.
Shiver me timbers.
The sharks look hungry.
I bravely balance across and vault onto the monkey bars.
Heave ho!
I will not become shark bait!
I swing to the picnic table, where my treasure awaits.
A brown bag with a note:
“XOXO
Love, Mom”
Even a swashbuckler needs a snack!

We loved the voice! We felt like we were inside the head of a child. We loved the word choices, like “blimey.” The ending was sweet! And we loved how easy it was to visualize the scene.


TALL BEDTIME TALES

by Stephanie Maksymiw (@StoriesByStephM)

“The orchard bustles with families filling their baskets. One lone golden delicious escapes the hands of a picker, rolls down the hill, and lands under a pine tree.

A northern wind then whooshes by and knocks a pinecone loose, it falls beside the apple.

The two lay side by side, gaze up through the pine tree’s branches and count the shooting stars.

And when a pinecone and an apple fall in love, that’s how pineapples are made.”

“That doesn’t sound right Dad.”

“Shhhh. Go to sleep and tomorrow I’ll tell you what happens when a fly eats butter.”

We loved the unexpected shift from lyrical to humorous. What an ending. We laughed out loud! We loved the risks you took and the payoff. Even our husbands laughed out loud!


MOUSE PARTY

by Steena Hernandez (@HernandezSteena)

Cool breeze, summer’s gone…
a year has passed now leaves fall.
Friends arrive with plans.

Adorn great outdoors,
and hang festive lights on trees.
Helping makes light work.

Baked frosted layers;
sweet delight in every bite.
Waxed wicks standing tall.

Balloons float above,
as green and pink streamers dance.
Decorations set.

Mouse will be here soon.
Coned hats hide behind big trees.
Shhh—it’s almost time!

Tiny steps approach.
Whoosh! Confetti rain sprinkles.
Mouse blushes and grins.

Monkey yells, “Surprise!”
Moose, Mule, Mole jump out and cheer—
Happy Birthday Mouse!

Joyful whiskers twitch;
yummy, frosted paws and claws
celebrate today.

We loved the structure of using haiku! We loved the lyricism within each haiku. It was easy to feel like we were in the scene of a surprise party for Mouse. We loved the sweetness and quiet of this story.


PINEAPPLE FLOATS

by Cindy Greene (@cindygreene314)

On Pineapple’s birthday, her friends held a fete –
A swimming-pool party where all could get wet.
The apples were bobbing, the grapes swam a race,
The lemons did dives at a leisurely pace.
But Pineapple trembled and watched from the side.
“I’m enormous, I‘ll sink down,” scared Pineapple cried.
“Size doesn’t dictate if something will float,
You can do it,” said Lime, “Just pretend you’re a boat.”
So Pineapple got in, while taking her time,
She floated and cheered, “How completely subLIME!”
Thank you my friends, for my best birthday yet.
You buoyed my soul – which I’ll never forget.”

This one made us immediately smile. It was quite clever. We loved the puns but also the depth of the body-empowering message.


SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE MILKSHAKE-DRINKING CONTEST

by Vanessa Konoval (@vanessakaybooks)

“Ready?”
Rabbit squinted at Turtle.
Turtle blinked at Rabbit.
“Aaaaaaand….GO!”
Both animals picked up their milkshakes, stuck in their straws, and started to drink.
SLUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRP! went Rabbit.
But Turtle just gave a little sip. A little smack of the lips. A satisfied “Ahh.”
The crowd cheered. “Rabbit’s in the lead! Turtle, catch up!”
SLUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRP!
Sip. Smack. Ahh.
“Turtle!!! Rabbit’s almost halfway done!”
“Rab-bit! Rab-bit! Rab-bit!”
SLUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRP!
Sip. Smack. Ahh.
“Rabbit’s almost done! There’s no way–”
Clunk!
“Ohhhhhhhh,” Rabbit groaned from the floor, head in paws. “Brain…freeze!”
The crowd roared.
Twenty minutes and eighty sip-smack-ahhs later…
“And the winner is…TURTLE!”

We loved the clever take on the tortoise and the hare. We loved the use of “slurp.” We felt like we could “hear” the crowd’s reactions. Fun use of language and great story.


CLIVE’S CONUNDRUM

by Molly Ippolito (@MollyIppolito)
You can also read CLIVE’S CONUNDRUM on Molly’s blog.

Clive had a problem, a veryyyyy PIG problem.
He just joined INSTAHAM, but had not a single follower.

Perhaps a food post will do the trick?
He photographed his tasty trough where he munched each day…
But, still no followers.

Clive hated to swine, but he NEEDED followers.

Maybe if I show the world my beautiful home?
He took a perfect picture of his hay hole where he snoozed every night…
But, still no followers.

Clive was in quite the conundrum…

Suddenly he squealed, “FRIENDS! It’s friends I need!”
“I have plenty that love me just the way I HAM!”

We loved the puns. We loved the message. We loved the unique yet relatable premise. We loved Clive’s attempts and ultimate realization.


THE CORAL REEF RESCUE PROJECT

by Kaitlin Sikes (@sikes_kaitlin)
You can also read THE CORAL REEF RESCUE PROJECT at Kaitlin’s blog.

Out where stars carpet the sky,
where the only sounds are lapping waves,
another kind of star reaches from the seafloor.

One,
two,
a tapestry of star coral, building a reef, protecting the coast.

Until one day…
A white wound appeared…
an infection spread.

Tap! Tap!
Scientists gently pried away pieces of coral to study.

But scores of star, maze, and pineapple coral became sick.

Fish swam away,
turtles paddled elsewhere.

The disease was overwhelming.

Universities, zoos, and corporations teamed up and flew
thousands of coral to tanks all around the USA,
where they silently wait
for a cure.

We loved the lyricism. We loved the emotional resonance. We loved that even though it didn’t have a happy ending, it had a hopeful ending. The unique setting and premise made this stand out, and the writing served it well.


PIPER’S PUMPKIN PARTY

by Sarah Meade (@SarahJWMeade)
You can also read PIPER’S PUMPKIN PARTY at Sarah’s blog.

Piper’s having a party! A PUMPKIN party!
She picks up her pen to plan.
She’ll pour pumpkin punch,
serve pumpkin cookies and pumpkin pie,
and create pumpkin pyramids!
She’ll procure plenty of pumpkins for crafts, too.
Now all Piper needs is . . . pumpkins.
When she reaches the pumpkin patch– the sign says SOLD OUT.
Piper frowns.
She tries the farm down the road– NO PUMPKINS.
Piper pouts.
Finally at the supermarket– not a pumpkin to be purchased.
Piper PANICS!
No pumpkins?!
She ponders.
She peruses the produce section.
Then . . .
Piper spies a sale . . . Aha!
Piper’s having a party.
A PINEAPPLE party!

We loved the alliteration and repetition. So many “p” words! We loved Piper’s problem solving. We loved the creative replacement and the funny premise.


A big congratulations to all these prize winners! We’ll email each of you about your prize!

And stay tuned… we have a little bit of a bonus coming! More soon!

8 thoughts on “Birthday! Birthday! Winners! Winners!

  1. Congratulations to the winners and all who participated in this fun contest! Thank you, Amy and Gennie for the generous gift of your time and talent! (Extra exclamation points for you!!!!!!)

  2. Great contest, ladies. I love how you made it so easy to see the winners and their prizes.

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