The Peep

Source: GIPHY

     “When will the first frog peep?” Pinkletink asked Grady.

     “When you peep,” Grady answered. “Whoever asks is the first peeper.”

     “I withdraw my question,” Pinkletink said.

     “Impossible,” said Grady. 

     The frogs chanted, “You can do it!”  

     Pinkletink took a deep breath and …nothing.

     “You can do it!” said Grady

     “You can do it!” the frogs chanted.

     He took a deep breath and………….nothing….not a peep.

      “I can do it!” Pinkletink thought.

      Inhaling deeply, Pinkletink bottled up the air inside him until the great sac beneath his chin ballooned and…………he released the first high trilling thrilling peep of spring.

     Grady and all the frogs cheered and then joined Pinkletink in a chorus of peeping that rang out across the forest.

     “You did it,” peeped Grady.

     “You did it,” peeped all the frogs in the forest

     “I did it,” peeped Pinkletink.  “But you helped me believe that I could.”


THE PEEP is my entry for the #SpringFlingKidlit contest, hosted by Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez and Ciara O’Neal. Thank you so much to Kaitlyn and Ciara for creating this amazing opportunity for writers to craft a spring-themed story for kids 12 and under.

The story should include a spring-themed GIF and be 150 words or less. Read more about the contest, enter your own story, or get links to all the entries here.

THE PEEP was inspired by a childhood experience that I call, The Jump, where I was afraid to make the jump that was a rite of passage on my Bronx street.


“Empower children and show them their voices matter.”

Patricia Newman

“…ignite a sense of wonder about things we don’t understand and convey it’s okay not to know. It would show that we all have a role to play that, we are a functional, important part of the vastness.”

Seth Fishman

Perhaps we don’t choose to write a story, including a nonfiction story, perhaps the story chooses us. I recently participated in a book club for adult writers where we read and discussed this wonderful book over the course of many weeks. It was particularly striking how passionate each author was about their subject matter and the extensive research each did to make their story come alive. Nonfiction is not just the facts, although the facts matter, but the story. In essay after essay, authors stressed how their personal connections informed the writing. Whether they were writing the book so they could finally see someone who looked like them in a book, heal, share pain or wonder, right wrongs and/or make the world a better place, it was personal connections that made each of their picture books book so memorable.

As a practical guide for the student or adult nonfiction writer, NONFICTION WRITERS DIG DEEP offers advice from authors, gorgeous mentor texts and exercises to prompt ideas (including theme), revision and connection. I especially love the four questions Melissa Stewart has students ask after the research has been completed:

  1. This idea gives me….
  2. I was surprised to learn….
  3. This makes me think….
  4. This is important….

I also learned from this book how important it is to pause after research and ask, “How do I personally connect to these facts? What am I still wondering? What is emotionally wowing me?” Michelle Markel reminds the writer to seek out the “expressive, artistic, poetic” in the writing.

One comment from a fellow book club member really captured the heart of the book for me: “Art comes from the collection of stories that we carry.” When those stories meet facts, authors craft books that move readers.

This is a book that I will return to again and again for its warmth and wisdom.

Here is the launch video:

Melissa Stewart’s blog: Celebrate Science:

and website


#50 Precious Words Contest

Art by Vicki Fang

The writer, Vivian Kirkfield’s #50PreciousWords contest, asks adults (a children’s #50PreciousWords is coming later in the year) to create a story using just 50 words! Such a fun and creative exercise. Here’s my entry:

Nicky and the Night Terrors
By Mona Voelkel

Nicky wanted a good night’s sleep but…

Monday: Blobs chased him.
Tuesday: Robbers cornered him.
Wednesday: Quicksand caught him.
Thursday: Sharks circled him.
Friday: Wolves surrounded him.
Saturday: Nicky turned to the spiders and yelled, “You go away!”
Sunday: Nicky woke up and never had night terrors again.

I think this exercise is, similar to the one page plays we used to write for playwriting class, a wonderful way to get practice story writing. It is also an incredibly enjoyable learning experience to see how other writers rose to this challenge! The contest is open until March 7th! Contest information and entries here.