Valentiny Short Story Contest 2022

It’s time again for a short story contest with author and blogger, Susanna Leonard Hill. The 7th annual Valentiny Contest is to write a Valentine’s story for children that is 214 words or less. This time the story needs to include someone who is proud. Here is my entry:


The Mural
214 words

Gwendolyn had a big idea. A huge idea. An idea so enormous that when complete, it would stretch 25 feet high and 200 feet long. Gwendolyn wanted to cover the side of her town’s abandoned candy factory with a painted mural. She had sketched out her plan and gotten approval from Town Council. Her “Bringing Hearts Together” mural idea was bursting with colorful dancing hearts. “What better day to unveil my completed mural than Valentine’s Day?” thought Gwendolyn. 

But with only a week before the holiday, she had exhausted her efforts to find a painter. When it came to the giant task of a 5000 square foot painting, nobody in town had time. 

Then Gwendolyn had bigger idea. A huger idea. An even more enormous idea that would bring the busy town together AND get her mural completed. She cut her sketch into tiny pieces and put them in separate envelopes. Gwendolyn mailed the pieces to each person in town along with instructions to meet in front of the old warehouse on February 14th with a paint brush. 

That Valentine’s Day, the mural was finished in record time with everyone adding a small portion to the gigantic puzzle. Admiring the finished product, Gwendolyn said, “Now THIS is something we can ALL be proud of.”


Storystorm 2022

Storystorm 2022 is underway! The challenge? 30 story ideas in the 31 days of January. I’ve been participating every year since 2013 and it never disappoints. The daily blog posts by authors, illustrators, and others in the book biz will inspire you to write down story ideas you didn’t even know were in that beautiful brain of yours. 

The challenge is run by picture book author and self-described “Funny Author Lady,” Tara Lazar. Check out her website to learn more about Storystorm (formally know as PiBoIdMo: Picture Book Idea Month) and her ever growing collection of picture books.

You still have until January 7th to register. Did I mention there are prizes??? If one of your New Year’s goals is to write more, participate in this challenge and get ready to get inspired!

Valentiny Contest 2021

It’s been a few years since I joined in the fun with children’s author and blogger, Susanna Leonard Hill and her Valentine’s Day story contest. This “Valentiny” story must be for children (hence the tiny part) and super short … only 214 words or less (for February 14th!). This year’s entries must include a character who feels brave. Below is my entry:


The Cupcake Who Dared to Be Different 
By Susanne Whitehouse
(212 words)

As long as Pidge could remember, which was about two hours now, she was destined to be a pink frosted cupcake in the display case of the local coffee shop.

Pidge was brand new to the baked goods world, but she was no dummy… she saw the white frosting and red food coloring nearby and knew the whole batch of them would soon be covered in sweet sticky grossness. So how did a freshly baked cupcake know she hated frosting? She just did. Down deep in all her ingredients, Pidge knew she did not want to be covered in anything.

As her insides cooled, she quickly formed a recipe for success. Once her batch was slathered in frosting, placed in a box, and headed towards the coffee shop, Pidge started to spin. Round and round she twirled until every last bit of frosting had flown off her top.

“There must be a mistake?” exclaimed the coffee shop owner opening the lid of the box. “I ordered a dozen Valentine’s cupcakes … but no worries, I have just the spot for this one.”

Pidge was placed in the glass case next to some other similar treats. She smiled and puffed out her top when she saw the sign next to her that read: MUFFINS.

“pink cupcakes” by chotda is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

My FIRST Publication in a Children’s Magazine!

I’ve known for several months, but didn’t want to make an announcement until I could actually hold the magazine in my hands. Well, guess what arrived in the mail?
The February 2021 issue of BABYBUG magazine … with a four page spread of my poem! AND it is illustrated by the talented Jaimie MacGibbon ( & @jaimieillustrates). I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have MY words paired with such beautiful pictures. A dream come true for sure.

BABYBUG is one of Cricket Media’s award winning magazines and is comprised of read aloud stories for babies and toddlers.

I don’t want to give away the finished product, but here’s a little sneak peak from the top of the first page:

Don’t you LOVE that dog illustration? I can’t stop smiling.

This week I popped into a local public library that has a subscription to BABYBUG in their children’s magazine section. Pretty cool to see the February issue on display with so many other awesome children’s magazines!

Storystorm 2021

31 days, 31 guest posts, 30 story ideas. And, of course, one wacky and wonderful hostess with the mostest, Tara Lazar! Tara is an author and the creator of Storystorm (formerly known as PiBoIdMo – Picture Book Idea Month). She has been running this gig since 2009 and always makes it worthwhile. This is my 9th year participating and I walk away from every challenge with a renewed excitement about my writing and often with way more than 30 ideas.

If you write for children and have never particpated in Storystorm, I highly recommmend it. Go ahead and put it on your calendar for next January!

2021 Newbery and Caldecott Medal Winners

This morning, I watched the American Library Youth Media Awards live from the comfort of home (where we are all spending most of our time these days!). Some of the prestigious awards given out each year by the ALA are the Coretta Scott King Awards, the Theodore Seuss Geisel Award, and of course, the Newbery and Caldecott awards. Here are the honor and award winners for the Newbery and Caldecott, which will soon be either joining my teetering bedside table stack or getting downloaded to my audiobook list.

John Newbery Medal
Awarded for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature.
This one’s for the authors!

WINNER: When You Trap a Tiger
by Tae Keller

Honor: All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team
by Christina Soontornvat

Honor: Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom
by Carole Boston Weatherford

Honor: Fighting Words
by Kimberly 
Brubaker BradleyHonor: We Dream of Space
by Erin 
Entrada Kelly

Honor: A Wish in the Dark
by Christina Soontornvat

Randolph Caldecott Medal
Awarded for the most distinguished American picture book for children.
This one’s for the illustrators!WINNER: We are Water Protectors
Illustrated by Michaela Goade
Honor: A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
Illustrated by Noa DenmonHonor: The Cat Man of Aleppo
Illustrated by Yoko Shimizu
Honor: Me & Mama
Illustrated and written by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Honor: Outside In
Illustrated by Cindy Derby

What an impressive group of authors and illustrators! Congratulations to all the winners!


#HomeHaiku Challenge Winners!

For NATIONAL HAIKU POETRY DAY last week, I challenged you to write #HomeHaiku poems about your time at home during this quarantine and you did not disappoint! Here are my two favorites made into fun graphics. Enjoy!

“Zoom” by Patty S. in MD:

“QuaranTine with T’s” by Scott R. in VA


National Haiku Day Challenge

Today is NATIONAL HAIKU DAY! A haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. Haikus do NOT rhyme and are made up of 3 lines with 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables. 

I’m celebrating NATIONAL HAIKU POETRY DAY with a challenge.  This is for kids, parents, teachers, or anyone that wants to try their hand at writing a haiku. Your challenge is to create a “Home Haiku” about anything relating to our time at home during this quarantine. 

Your haiku can be SERIOUS …

or FUNNY …

No rhyming! Just 3 lines with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5.

Leave your haiku in the comments and/or send it to @WhitehouseSus on twitter with #HomeHaiku. The best “Home Haikus” will be made into fun graphics like the ones above and featured here next week!

Happy Haiku Day!

I Heart Books

It’s been weeks (months???) of this quarantine and I’m sure everyone is struggling with their new routines, or lack thereof. I’m finding myself spending lots of time in front of a screen, between my grad school work, my elementary school library stuff, and helping my children with their schoolwork. Starting and ending my day with an actual paper book in my hand has been a much needed respite from technology and the stress of it all.

I came across this simple, but perfect print that I love on etsy by OrlyPea.
Technology is wonderful and I love that children can access books on-line. However, for me, nothing compares to holding an actual book in my hand and turning the pages. I think I need this print in poster size for my future library!

Stay safe and happy quarantine reading, everyone!