It’s a contest–read about it here for spring-inspired stories under 150 words! The organizers are author Ciara O’Neal and agent Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez. There are prizes to be won and a short window to submit: April 1st thru 3rd. And it’s free to enter.
This year I thought it might be fun to participate. It’s one way to get my writing out there. So the image above is a gif* that is required to go with the story.
I’m not comfortable pasting my whole story here, but will paste the opening:
A Squirrel Did It
“Noah, did you leave the bamboo gate open?” Mama asked. “I think a squirrel did it.” “Noah, did you dig a hole in the gravel path?” Mama asked. “No, a squirrel did it.” “Noah, did you put leaves in the fountain?” Mama asked. “I bet a squirrel did it.”
The story in total is 107 words. (For the contest entry, the judges will get to see the whole story.)
Why do we want to write short? There’s always room for shorter stories, whether in magazines or in picture books. I like what the Arapahoe Library says on their “Children’s Books with Few Words” page: “Your child can feel successful when reading these books that have very few words.” The page has links to staff chosen books.
But it’s not just for those learning to read. Parents often like a few short choices. Some kids have short attention spans. But also sometimes “less is more”–fewer words can have a stronger and lasting impact.
I’m Not Scared, YOU’RE Scared! (Flamingo Books, 2022) by Seth Meyers and illustrated by Rob Sayegh is funny, absurd, and sweet. I think kids will find it very relatable.
Bear is easily scared. He’s even scared of his own reflection, which is why he won’t brush his teeth. Fortunately, his friend Rabbit challenges him with an adventure. When Rabbit asks, “Bear, are you scared?” He replies with “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and steps forward into whatever frightens him. But when Rabbit is in trouble Bear’s fear for Rabbit is stronger than his fears of everything else and he acts to save his friend.
Seth Meyers is an Emmy Award-winning writer and comedian known for his work on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Often, celebrity books only work because of who wrote them. So nice to find an exception.
Rob Sayegh is an author and illustrator. On Rob’s website, you can read about him, see his books, and see samples of his varied styles of art.
Counting to Bananas (Flamingo Books, a Penguin Random House imprint, 2022) by Carrie Tillotson and illustrated by Estrela Lourenço is a delight. This is not your typical counting book, that honestly can be boring. There’s humor and surprise. And even the main character talking to the book itself. I just love the twists and turns in this book.
Banana is so excited because he just knows that “A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book” will get to bananas. After all, he’s the star of the book. But things go wrong quickly. After, “1 plum, 2 figs, 3 oranges” comes “4 pigs.” “Wait a minute. Pigs aren’t fruit!” Banana says. And the book answers back…
This is Carrie’s debut picture book and already a sequel is in the works, B Is for Bananas, a story about bedtime, comes out next spring. Read about Carrie here. Counting to Bananas was nominated for the 2023 Red Bud Read-Aloud Award! Check out more news here. And finally resources for the book are here.
Estrela has darling illustrations. Who knew a banana could have so many expressions? You can read about her other books here and see sample illustrations here. Read more about the author/illustrator here.
Often celebrity books irritate me. Many are published because of WHO the author is–not the quality of the writing. Some break basic rules that would normally get a picture book rejected. But celebrity names sell, so editors often don’t get much editorial control. That said, I recently enjoyed a book published by a celebrity. Probably helps she’s a writer. *smiles*
Escape Goat (Harper, 2020) by Ann Patchett and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser is definitely more than a book with a punny title.
A little goat decide to escape to the see the great world. He samples a cabbage from the garden, and then starts getting blamed for all kinds of mishaps on the farm. Mr. Farmer raises the fence on the goat pen. Goat still escapes and is blamed again. Mr. Farmer raises the fence more so goat can’t jump over. But he can scoot under. Again, he’s blamed. Until the farmer’s daughter speaks up.
At first, I was taken aback by all the lying in this book, but then I realized how it could create such great discussions between adults and children reading the book. Probably most of us have at one point tried to blame our actions on someone else–this story takes it to the ridiculous. That makes it easy to talk about the subject.
Ann Patchett is a well-published author of many adult books. This is her second children’s book. Read more about her here.
Robin Glasser may be a familiar name as she illustrated the Fancy Nancy books. Before she was an illustrator she was a ballet dancer and you can see influence from dance in some of the illustrations in this story. Read more about her here.
I love a story that turns a concept upside down. And that’s what People Are Wild (Alfred A. Knopf, 2022) by Margaux Meganck does. Instead of the story being told from a child looking at animals, the animals are looking at people.
Words and art are a great match. It’s hard to choose a favorite spread because I loved them so much. I also like the variety of animals and how there is more information about them after the story ends. It’s nice to see diversity in the human characters too.
This is Margaux’s first picture book she has illustrated and written. Previously, she illustrated Kathy Wolff’s All We Need.