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!

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!

It’s Time for a Comeback

So … this blog has been a little quiet lately. Well, actually A LOT quiet. My last post was June of 2018. Yikes. To say it’s been a rough few years is an understatement.

Flashback to 2016 when things were going really well for me as an aspiring children’s book author. In February, I received VERY encouraging feedback from a trusted friend in the children’s literature business who critiqued five of my picture book manuscripts. In March, I applied for and won an SCBWI six month mentorship with picture book author Ellen Jackson. From March to August, with Ellen’s guidance and feedback, I revised and polished six manuscripts. In October, I had an AMAZING critique by a picture book author at an SCBWI conference, who said my newest picture book manuscript was ready to submit. WOW! My writing journey was speeding along and it felt like I was really, really close.

(Cue the dark, foreboding music)

At the end of 2016, life was literally and figuratively turned upside down when I rolled over in the middle of the night and developed severe vertigo. Even moving my head a fraction of an inch would send me spinning. It was awful and scary. As time went on, my symptoms lessened but never went away and it had a daily impact on my quality of life. My neurologist put me on medication in 2017, which eased the dizziness and made life more manageable. I was able to get back to writing and was more determined than ever to complete some new manuscripts for feedback and possible submission.

Unfortunately, those wonderful pills I was taking for my vertigo caused some serious medical issues that continually got worse and worse over the two years I was taking them. Many things in my life had to be put on the back burner, including my writing … which was devastating. This past summer, I finally said enough was enough. With help from a team of specialists, I slowly weaned myself off the vertigo medication and have found other ways to control my symptoms.

One of the positives of the past couple years was the realization that it was time for a career change. Last year, I started taking classes to become a school librarian (I’d been a special education teacher for a total of 14 years) and when the librarian assistant job opened up at my school, I jumped at the chance to apply. I got the job and it has been wonderfully healing and inspiring for me. I spend my days in a library surrounded by children’s books, learning from a librarian who is top-notch and an absolute blast to work with. My author brain has been switched back on and I’m loving all the book ideas that are coming out of me again.

So now … it is time to put the past in the past and fully embrace my passion again: writing and reading children’s books and sharing tidbits here with you as I pursue my goal of becoming a published children’s book author!

It’s time for a comeback! Let’s do this!





What I’ve Been Reading (June 2018)

At the end of June, I always look forward to my week at The Children’s Literature Conference at Shenandoah University. As a teacher and children’s book writer, I am completely in my element and end up buying way more books than I think I will! Here are some of my favorite books by the authors and illustrators that presented at the conference.

Preschool (ages 3-5 years):Early Elementary (5-8 years):

What I’ve Been Reading (Feb. 2018)

I’m gearing up for Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo) in March and have started reading some great books. Here are some of my favorites so far:

Preschool (ages 3-5 years) & Early Elementary (5-8 years):Early Elementary (5-8 years):
Middle Grades (8-12 years):