Category Archives: Susanna Hill’s Contests

The Sleeping Grump: A Valentiny Tale

When I read the rules for the First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest hosted by the lovely Susanna Hill (kid-friendly, 214 words max, with a grumpy character), I thought immediately of an old family favorite – The Sleeping Grump: A Cooperative Game (Family Pastimes, 1981). While the Grump in this Valentiny story may or may not be a giant ogre and while the goal may not be to steal his treasure (while leaving some for him in the spirit of true cooperation and sharing), I hope I’ve captured his sleepy, grumpy character and the essence of the game.

Note: some of you may recognize the characters. Margaret tried to arrange the perfect picture for Mama in Perfect Christmouse Pic’, as brothers Mick and Tim thwarted her every move. Can the trio work together on Valentine’s Day to out-manoeuvre the Sleeping Grump?

The Sleeping Grump: A Valentiny Tale

Outside, snowflakes swirl. Wind roars; Grump snores. Inside, red glitter scatters, red candies crunch underpaw.  Red tempers flare.

“Give it back!”

“That’s mine!”


“One more to make. Then we’ll put on our red shoes! Dance! Party,” Margaret shimmies.

“Party-schmarty,” Mick teases. “You’re just making a Valentine for Wondermouse!”

Mick and Tim prance, grab Valentine, chant, “Margaret has a boyfriend!”

Margaret snatches Valentine, scampers outside. Screech! She freezes. Tiptoes around snow-covered

“Grump,” she whispers, “Asleep!” Grump stirs. Margaret scurries inside.

“No need to fear, Mighty Mouse is here,” Mick cries, swipes crumpled Valentine. “Grump can’t seize me! I’ve got a cloak for invisibility.” Mick twirls outside. Cloak swirls across Grump’s eyes. They open, shut. Mick disappears inside.

“I’m an Alien! This is Major Mouse, dropping through!” Tim flies, nabs Valentine, catapults

Flop! Ker-plop! Nosedives!


“Eew! Goo! Smarmy Alien, coming through.”

Grump snivels, sobs, pokes goopy nose inside.

“There’s gotta be a better way,” Margaret reasons. “If together, we…and then…until finally…”

Margaret tiptoes towards Grump. Mick carries cloak-covered bundle. Tim catapults with

“Valentine? For me,” Grump asks.

“Cookies,” Mick reveals. “For you,” Margaret smiles, “Please let us pass.”

“Valentine! For me,” Grump grins.

The trio trudge past…into drifts. “Too much snow! No party, no-how,” Margaret sighs.

Grump grins.”Snow-schmo! On my back! Let’s go!”

Perfect Christmouse Pic

It’s that time of year again: that time when we all can use a bit of a break from the holiday hustle, a bit of diversion for the impatient kids in all of us, a bit of a reminder of why we celebrate. Thankfully, Susanna Hill has just the solution! Below are the rules – followed by my 341-word entry. Check out all of the fabulous entries on her blog. Put your feet up, gather the young (and old) ones around, and enjoy!
The 5th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
WA-HOOO!!!! 🙂
The Contest:  Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) beginning with any version of “Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing [any preposition you choose] the [any item you choose] [any preposition you choose] the [venue of your choice].”  …. Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words….
Following, without further ado:

mouse01Perfect Christmouse Pic’

Sneaking out from the burrow at night, in search of Santa Claus.
Not a creature was stirring, except Margaret Mouse,
Who had visions of the perfect pic to gift to dear Mama.
As the chiming clock struck one, up Margaret did run;
Her furry brothers, Mick and Tim, in hot pursuit. 

Creeping into the Mall at night, on their way to Santa Claus.
Just like the three blind mice, stealthy, silent as could be.
Trying locked windows and doors, checking cracks in walls and floors.
As the clock struck two, Margaret knew just what to do;
Determined brothers, Mick and Tim, did follow suit.

Scurrying through the Mall at night, as they searched for Santa Claus.
Quiet as a mouse, the trio seeking Santa’s house;
Until ahead they did see: huge, horrid, hissing Miss Kitty.
As the clock struck three, Margaret’s frightened as could be;
Her fearful brothers, Mick and Tim, quaked timidly.

Scrambling away from Kitty Cat, and her dagger-like, sharp claws.
Visions of mouse mince pies flashed in front of Kitty’s eyes;
But eagle-eyed Margaret spied Santa’s photo booth instead.
As the clock struck four, Margaret headed under door,
Zigzagging brothers, Mick and Tim, in hot pursuit.

Posing inside the photo booth, at the Mall with Santa Claus.
Margaret with perfect smile, dressed in holiday style.
Brothers’ fur a whirling mess, with smudged faces and sloppy dress.
As the clock struck five, Margaret wearied of their jive;
Those goofy brothers, Mick and Tim, such silly mice.

Grabbing the photo in gilded frame, with tiny, grimy paws.
Margaret screeched, reached and wrangled to snatch that pic back
From those conniving, striving, oh-so-annoying, bitty Bro’s.
As the clock struck six, Margaret hoped for no more tricks,
From pesky brothers, Mick and Tim, those nasty lads.
Sneaking into the burrow this morn, held pic with Santa Claus.
One busy creature was stirring, beloved Mama Mouse.
“You all look perfect,” she exclaimed; “And it’s beautifully framed.”
As the clock struck seven, Margaret was in heaven;
Imperfect brothers, Mick and Tim, flashed Christmouse grins.

Leila’s First Halloween

As the days shorten and goblins fill the night skies, it’s time once again for the incredible Susanna Hill’s



The Contest:  write a 100-word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words costume, dark, and haunt.  Check out the many other wonderful entries linked to or posted on Susanna’s blog. Without further ado:

Leila’s First Halloween (99 words)

Tears puddle in Leila’s dark eyes. Tomorrow is the Halloween costume parade at her new school.

“Costumes cost money,” Mama sighs. “I can’t buy something you wear once for this strange holiday. Any extra money must be sent to our sisters and brothers in Aleppo.”

Halloween haunts Leila’s thoughts. A stomach ache? Mama never lets her miss school. A costume from Teacher’s bin? Her classmates will laugh.

“I know!” she cries, grabbing a navy pullover and red leggings.

As her classmates don costumes, Leila asks Teacher for 50 stars and white tape.

“I’m an American now, an American flag!”


Spot the Angel

                           The 3rd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

The Contest:  Write a children’s story about a Holiday Mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster….  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words.  
The Entry:  At just under 350 words…

SPOT the Angel


Spot flopped, tongue dragging.  Bella and Nella chewed their cud, as they swayed stage right.  No easy task to corral those shaggy cows in the Highland field, but Spot had yipped and nipped until furry heads raised, big brown eyes blinking, they followed Ben down the mucky path.  “You’re an angel, Spot,” said Ben, as he ruffled the fluffy dog’s ears.

Billy and Lilly cavorted stage left.  Spot had spied them atop the crag, horns glistening in afternoon sun.  Leaping through thistle, Spot yipped and nipped until they fell in line behind Ben, Bella and Nella.  “A true angel, Spot! They were no match for you!”

Lester and Hester gnawed the flimsy stable.  Spot had waded through rubbish to reach them scrounging behind the shed.  When he yipped and nipped, they lifted one hoof then another, joining boy and beasts.  “My angel, Spot!  Nothing stops you,” Ben exclaimed.

Shellie and Nellie snuggled in soft hay down stage.  Cornering the skittish sheep was difficult, but Spot had yipped and nipped until they followed along.

“What an angel you are,” cried Ben, as they reached the village green.  The stage was lit, scene set: all it lacked were the animals.  Spot yipped and nipped until each was in her place.  Now he could relax.

 But wait!  Ben had said he’s an angel.  But how?  With muddy paws, burrs in fur, tangled tail, what kind of angel was he?

Spot nipped and clipped, but he still looked nothing like an angel – just a fluffy mutt, with SPOTS!  Glimpsing Paddy’s Pudding Shop, he slipped through the gathering crowd.

Paws outstretched, fur shimmering white, Spot felt a true angel, balancing on stable’s peak.  Until,

Bella and Nella sneezed!  Billy and Lilly wheezed!

Lester and Hester sniffed the air; Shellie and Nellie cringed in despair.

“Spot! Get down from there! You’ll ruin the Christmas pageant,” cried Ben.

“But I thought I was an angel,” whimpered Spot, crouching at Ben’s feet.

“You’re an angel, Spot, but better not a floury one,” chuckled Ben.  “A spotted angel you are, and that’s a fine thing to be!”

Two Orange Pups & the Spooky Stew

Thrilled to be throwing my (witch’s) hat into the ring for
(direct from the awesome & amazing Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog,
courtesy google images

The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words spookyblack cat, and cackle.   Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words (you can count black cat as one word) and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  [Note: of you choose to use cackle as a verb, any form is acceptable – cackles, cackled, cackling…].

Without further ado, I present my humble entry, weighing in at a hefty 99 words…

Two Orange Pups and the Spooky Stew

Two Orange Pups
Tails tipped White;
Spy Black Cat-
Cackle delight.
“Tiger Eye,
Snout of Shrew;
Kitty we need-
Holiday Brew!”
“Silly Pups!
Won’t catch me,”
Nero screeched
From Sycamore Tree.
“Python Fang,
Gristly Goo;
Where’s Black Cat
For Spooky Stew?”
Nero crept,
Slender branch;
Crackling, crumbling-
Kitty no chance.
“Red Newt Claw,
Horned Owl Poo;
Brew is set-
Except for YOU!”
Paws hit Grass,
Arch full height;
Hiss at Pups-
Tremble! Fright!
“Black! Cat! What
Troubles YOU?
Come! Share!
Bubbling brew!”
“Share! Brew! With
Skinny me?”
Nero purred
Round Sycamore Tree.
Two Orange Pups
Tails tipped White;
Stuffed Black Cat-
Halloween Night!

Drummer Boy (1872)

It’s CONTEST TIME over at Susanna Leonard Hill’s wonderful blog, – this time a 4th of July mystery, in 400 words or LESS!  I chose the Less option, three whole words Less!  And now, without further ado (drum roll please), may I present

Drummer Boy (1872)

Eddie rushed out the door as the shrill whistle blew. “A holiday,” he shouted, “and I’m drummin’ in the parade!” RAT-A-TAT-TAT! RAT-A-TAT-TAT!

He scurried up steep Pine Street; past the courthouse, with red, white and blue bunting like skirts on washday billowing in the breeze.

The scent of strawberry shortcake made Eddie’s mouth water as he skipped by Aunt Peg’s cottage. Uncle Mick waved a greeting from the ivy-clad porch.

With a quick “hi” to Ma, Eddie entered the steam-filled kitchen and grabbed cast-iron pot and wooden spoon. RAT-A-TAT-TAT!

“Stop! Shuck peas first, ” Ma commanded.

“Can’t,” answered Eddie, heading toward the door. “Mr. Lear says we gotta practice. And ya know it’s my first parade.” RAT-A-TAT-TAT!

“Not with my favorite spoon you don’t,” replied Ma, grabbing it to stir lima beans bobbing in rich brisket broth.

Now where are those drumsticks? Eddie wondered. He searched parlor, over mantel and around Gran’s rocker, and pantry, between jars of jam, pickles and last summer’s tomatoes. RAT-A-TAT-TAT!

Rhythmic beats echoed through the house. “My drum sticks!”

Eddie bounded up the stairs, two at a time. “LouLou, gimme those sticks!” LouLou crouched in her crib, stroking the rails with the featherless tail of Goose, her favorite wooden duck. RAT-A-TAT-TAT!

Eddie closed the door as LouLou continued her song. He glanced through lacy curtains and spied Uncle Mick, with knife and…

“My drum sticks!” Eddie leapt down the stairs and crossed the street in three strides. RAT-A-TAT-TAT!

Uncle Mick chuckled. “Your drum sticks? Guess I’m gettin’ good at whittlin’ if this knobby ole branch looks that smooth!”

Eddie collapsed on the cool stone steps and mopped his sweaty brow. He swatted the wet nose nudging his arm. Smoke yipped and dropped…

“My drum stick!” Eddie exclaimed! RAT-A-TAT-TAT!

Smoke chomped on the stick and streaked through the garden like a storm cloud raging across a steamy summer sky. Over Mrs. Asher’s white-picket fence, past Mr. Smith’s prize-winning roses, between steeples that towered like blue-coated sentries, Smoke charged. RAT-A-TAT-TAT!

Eddie finally cornered the mutt as the pair reached bustling Market Street. Smoke clenched the stick between bared teeth, smiling as he darted behind Mr. Lear.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Lear,” Eddie panted. His head hung low; his shoulders slumped.

“Sorry? For what? Practice’s just startin’,” Mr. Lear replied. “Here’s your drum sticks; now let’s get ready for that 4th of July parade!” RAT-A-TAT-TAT! RAT-A-TAT-TAT!


Best Buds – The “In Just Spring” Contest

I’m joining in the Fun at Susanna Hill’s blog this week.

The Contest:  Write a children’s story, in poetry or prosemaximum 350 words. The story must be about something that really says “SPRING” to you and the only other requirement is that the last line must be “[Character Name] knew Spring was really here!” or “[Character Name] knew Spring was here at last!”

Check out the other amazing entries at

Daffodils,18March13Best Buds

Sam skipped across the kitchen. “Squitch! Squitch!” Froggy feet tracked muck across gleaming white tiles. “Mum! Look what I found,” she exclaimed, thrusting out her fist.

Her mother grimaced. “Samantha Ann Davis,” she screeched through gritted teeth, “see what I found, after I spent my entire morning spring cleaning.” “Boots, off! Outside with your mess!”

Cheeks flushed, shoulders slumped, Sam turned towards the door. Even the blossoms in her sweaty palm seemed to droop.

“Woah! Watch where you’re walking, kiddo,” Dad cautioned. “Don’t wanta bop you with this bat.” “Dad! Look what I found,” Sam exclaimed, thrusting out her fist.

“Cool, Sam,” Dad replied, as he rummaged for a water bottle. “See ya later. Gotta run! First team practice. Tim! Hurry up! I’ll be in the car!”

Tim sprinted past, bumping Sam’s arm. Daffodils dropped, crocuses careened, and grape hyacinths tumbled across the floor. “Sorry, sis,” he mumbled through a mouthful of Lucky Charms. “Team’s waiting!”

Sam scrambled to reassemble the bedraggled bouquet. CLOMP! CHOMP! A daffodil dangled between clenched teeth. Pumpkin quivered; her tail thumped; she eyed Sam.

“Pumpkin! No!” Sam hopped towards the hound. Off she bounded. The chase was on!

“One fewer won’t matter,” Sam sighed, tossing daffodil remains into the compost bucket. “The rest won’t last anyway, unless I set them in water.”

Sam stared at the high shelf where vases shimmered in the sunlight. She spied the stepstool on the far side of the kitchen. Could she drag it over, climb up and grab just one tiny vase?

But she could imagine glittering glass blanketing tiles, Pumpkin shrieking in pain, and Mum screaming, “Samantha Ann Davis…”

Sam collapsed on the back stoop. Sun-warmed bricks eased the chill seeping through her worn jeans and torn hoodie. Robins wrestled worms from steaming soil as chick-a-dees chattered.

Sam heard a “tap, tap, tap.” Glancing around, she spotted Mrs. Young waving from her curtained window. She was pointing a gnarled finger towards a plate of steaming cookies.

With a broad grin, Sam raced towards her neighbor. “I picked these for you!”

Sam knew, Spring was really here!