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Cupid’s Heart Finds a Home

11 Feb

Thought I’d come back to life for a moment and enter Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny story competition. Rules: 1) story must contain a character who is confused, 2) be no more than 214 words, and 3) be written for kids to enjoy. Well, maybe I’m entertaining and distracting myself, too, in these troubling times. So here’s my 214-word story….

69079793 - pink heart box and chocolates with heart shape to give in valentine's day.

Cupid’s Heart Finds a Home


By Jilanne Hoffmann


Dear Stupid Cupid,

Last year, you gave me a green candy cane. I barfed. Please don’t do that again.

Disgustedly Yours,



Dear Hurty Gertie,

You hurt my feelings. It’s not nice to call someone stupid.

Sorry you’ve been sick. I know nothing about candy canes or the color green. I only know about chocolate, the color red, and hearts. Maybe you have me confused with someone else?




Dear Clueless and Confused Cupid,

Sorry to hurt your feelings, but I’m sure it was you. Speaking of red, you wear a red suit, don’t you?




Dear Gertie,

No, I wear my birthday suit.


Bare-bunned Cupid


Dear Birthday Suit Cupid,

Now I’m confused. My birthday’s in June, but I got the candy cane in December, along with a bunch of toys. Does your mom really let you go outside naked?




Dear Gertie,

I have no family, no home. I’m just a lonely cherub, spreading love and chocolate around the world, not toys.




Dear Sad and Homeless Cupid,

Please come live with me! You can sleep in my room, and I’ll give you clothes to wear. We’ll hide the chocolates under my bed.

Your friend,



Dearest Gertie,

On my way! Happy Valentine’s Day!

All my love,



Now, if I were a lit major, I’d read between the lines and realize that this story is really about becoming a little less selfish and welcoming those who need a little extra love and support into our homes. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Dragon Was Terrible – Perfect Picture Book Friday

23 Sep

It’s Fall!! It’s time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!



We all know those little dragons who just can’t behave. They’re busy coloring on the walls. Playing pranks. Throwing sand.

This story is about an incorrigible dragon, just like the ones you may have at home—only worse. The dragon terrorizes villagers, spitting on cupcakes, stomping on flowers, stealing candy from baby unicorns. Then the KING makes a proclamation that sounds quite authoritarian, rewarding any knight who can tame the dragon. Everyone has high hopes. But the knights fail miserably.


That pesky, tagging dragon…..Another proclamation, this time offering a reward to the villagers if they can tame the dragon.


That pesky, tagging dragon. But the villagers fail, too.

Enter a boy with a feathered cap who takes a different, mysterious approach to taming that terrible dragon. An approach that focuses on telling a story. Yes, folks. This book shows us how the power of story can tame the most terrible of dragons, our children. And it’s done without moralizing, pointing fingers, or otherwise hitting the reader on the head with anything resembling a plank. Well done!


TITLE: Dragon Was Terrible

Ages: preschool – first grade

Author: Kelly DiPucchio 

Illustrator: Greg Pizzoli

Publisher and pub date: FSG 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30049-4


Fernando’s Wish – Holiday Contest Entry

12 Dec

I’m participating in Susanna Leonard Hill’s holiday story contest. Here are the rules:

1) Must be appropriate for kids,

2) Must be no more than 350 words, and

3) Severe weather must play a role in the story.

I confess, my earlier attempt was a leaky sieve that I couldn’t bear to expose to the blogging elements. But when I heard that San Francisco (all of California) was going to be hit with a severe storm nicknamed “The Pineapple Express,” I was inspired to take another stab at writing something that would, ah, hold water. It’s 345 words. Oh, and I decided to use Maine, our home-away-from-home as the setting for the story.

So ho-ho-ho! Here we go:



Fernando’s Wish

By Jilanne Hoffmann


One Christmas Eve night on a tiny island in Maine, the wind howled. Waves frothed among the rocks, and foam frittered across the path leading to the lighthouse, where the keeper and his son, Fernando, waited out the storm.

“Papa,” said Fernando. “Will Santa still come?”

“If we survive the night,” said Papa. “That will be gift enough.”

The shutters rattled. Rain sprayed through the cracks around the door.

In his heart, Fernando knew Papa was right, but in his head, he wished for a bag of marbles.

“I must check the light,” said Papa. “Ships depend on us.”

He took a lantern and climbed a ladder through an opening in the ceiling to the lighthouse tower, leaving Fernando alone.

The wind eased, and the room fell silent except for the logs hissing in the wood stove.

“Papa!” yelled Fernando. “It’s over!”

“Don’t be fooled,” came Papa’s voice from above. “It’s the hurricane’s eye. We are only halfway safe.”

Papa’s footsteps grew faint as he trudged up the spiral stairs of the tower.

Fernando stuffed rags into cracks around the door.

One bag of glorious cat’s-eye marbles, he wished. One handful.

Fernando stoked the fire. The ceiling creaked.

“Papa?” called Fernando.

No answer.

The wind resumed its howling. The ceiling creaked again.



Shards from the light’s glass fell through the hole in the ceiling.

“Help!” cried Papa. “I’m trapped!”

Fernando climbed through the hole and pulled planks of wood from the broken stairs off of Papa’s legs until he was freed.

Exhausted, they climbed down and lay on their beds by the stove, then fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning they awoke to the sound of a hundred hammers.

“Who could that be?” yawned Papa.

A note and a wrapped present lay next to Fernando:

Sorry for crashing into the light. Will send elves to fix damage tomorrow.

Love, Santa

Fernando tore open the wrapping. Green cat’s-eye marbles clicked in Fernando’s hands.

“Merry Christmas, Papa!” said Fernando. “I’m going to thank the elves!”

“Bring tools,” said Papa. “Let’s help them, too!”



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