The Grumpy Valentine

by Marilyn Wolpin (For Susannah Hill’s Valentiny Contest February 2021)

Hearts. Roses.
Glitter. Glue.
Bah! Phooey!
Not me. Ewww!

Teacher says,
“Make a valentine for everyone.”
I won’t do it. No, I won’t.
I don’t like anyone.
And no one likes me.

I cross my arms.
I scowl. I pout.
“Cut out hearts. Color them in.”
Nope. I won’t.
No one gets a heart from me.
You’ll see.

Wait! What’s this?
An envelope?
“Will you be my valentine?”
Signed Emily?

Someone likes me?
Emily? I like her.
She sings out loud.
She swings a wicked baseball bat.
I play baseball. I sing. Sorta.

Where’s my crayon?
Where’s my heart?
“Will you …
be my …
valentine?”

Glitter, glue.
Now I’m through.
I sit and stare at the scribbly-scrabble.
Will she like it?
A little bit?

I stare. I sit.
I think. I blink.
Can I give it?
Do I dare?

Finally …
I inch up
to her chair.
There.

Successes in Crazy 2020

Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged her followers to post successes in crazy 2020 on our blogs this year instead of resolutions. Since I never saddle myself with resolutions because they are generally impossible to achieve, I decided to participate in Julie’s Anti-Resolution Revolution! Successes in 2020, what with COVID and all the changes it wrought, should be especially celebrated, no matter how big or how small. So here is my list of picture book writing successes for 2020:

  • Attended many events including, SCBWI’s Summer Spectacular, Rutger’s University’s Council on Children’s Literature, one of Julie Hedlund’s courses, Children’s Book Academy’s PBPalooza.
  • Wrote a non-fiction manuscript and had it read and critiqued by an agent. She generally did not like it. Rewrote same non-fiction picture book another 25 times and read it to an editor, who loved it, revised it, sent it to two other editors and an agent. The agent responded positively, but an editor was even more positive and after two more revisions it is on her desk once more.
  • Participated in two Twitter pitch parties.
  • Wrote four or five new books, some good, some bad.
  • Attended a webinar on writing in rhyme
  • Read many, many picture books in many genres: especially non fiction, rhyme, fiction, humor, Jewish themed.
  • Met and even had a telephone conversation with one of my favorite non-fiction kids’ books authors.
  • Wrote a children’s poem and entered it into a contest.
  • Wrote a dozen COVID-related haikus and just entered one into a contest.
  • Met a new critique partner.
  • Joined several children’s-writers Facebook groups.
  • Participate in a weekly critique partner group.
  • Made it through 2020 without getting sick.

I know this is supposed to be an anti-resolution post, but I do have one goal for 2021: to find and sign on with THE agent.

I can’t wait to kiss 2020 goodbye and wish us all a much, much better 2021.

Ollie’s Christmas Visits

by Marilyn Wolpin (for Susannah Hill’s Christmas contest December 2020)

Christmas day at break of dawn
Ollie barks, “Please let me out.”
Down the steps, across the lawn
He’s starting on his route.

Ollie has a job today:
Help bring on a smile,
In his very special way:
His friendship for a while.

Almost there – around the bend,
She’s waiting at the door.
Gray-haired Mrs. Townsend,
He’ll make her smile – and more!

With outstretched arms
She hugs her friend –
A dog with charms
That never end.

Ollie’s visit here is done.
He knows it’s time to go.
He hates to wag and hug then run,
But one more friend is lonely, so –

Off he goes,
Around the block.
Ollie knows
He’s on the clock.

Mr. Tom waits home alone,
Sometimes his days are sad.
It’s tough when you are on your own —
But Ollie makes him glad.

Tom shares a delicious treat
and throws a bouncing ball.
He says, “Ollie, you’re so sweet
to make this special call.”

But Ollie has more work to do,
Another lonesome friend to greet.
A green backyard to cut through
And just across the street.

Mr. Green lives all alone.
No children or a mate.
He never chatters on the phone.
Ollie bustles through the gate.

Mr. Green wheels to the door,
And ushers his guest in.
Ollie helps him with a chore,
And watches his friend grin.

Christmas day is fading fast.
His neighbors now are cheered up.
Helping’s fun. He’s had a blast!
But Ollie’s now a hungry pup.

Ollie’s finished spreading joy.
But he needs mom’s help now.
Hugs, rubs, and “Who’s a good boy?”
And a bowl of puppy chow.

Author’s Note: This story was inspired by a real-life 14-year old blind and deaf golden retriever named Oliver who spends his days visiting his neighbors. The people in the poem are pure fiction.