Tag Archives: Susanna Leonard Hill

Celebrating the First Moon Walk

15 Jul

*Note: No, you are not seeing double! This post was intended to be a page under my newest heading, 5 Star Picture Books. Because I had trouble converting it to a page, I have rewritten it. It is now entitled 50 Years Later. you can find it under 5 Star Picture Books. And now there are two! (And, PS thanks for reading my posts!)

July 20, 2019 is the 50th Anniversary of the First Moon Walk. Learn more and see actual footage of the first steps and raising of the flag on the NASA site. Let’s celebrate this historic event with a pair of picture books published this year.

The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon
written by Dean Robbins
illustrated by Sean Rubin
Orchard Books, May 2019

First let’s look at a traditional non-fiction book. This is the story of a NASA astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth person to walk on the moon. Alan was so inspired by this event that he wanted to paint his impressions of the moon so that others could feel the magnitude of his feelings rather than the just the gray rock and dust associated with the moon. His paintings are bright, bold, and breathtaking. He experimented with them, creating even more authenticity. He sprinkled them with moon dust, scratched them with tools he’d used on the moon, and stamped them with astronaut boots. Below is a copy of his painting The Spirit of Apollo.

It is my dream that on the wings of my paintbrush many people will see what I say and feel what I felt, walking on another world some 240,000 miles from my studio here on planet Earth.” -Alan Bean


Moon’s First Friends
written by Susanna Leonard Hill
illustrated by Elisa Paganelli
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, May 2019

Our second book is a non-traditional non-fiction. This is the story of an anthropomorphic moon who talks to the reader about being lonely and wishing for a friend to visit her. Although she is the queen of the night sky, no one came to see her. She first asks the dinosaurs to visit but they stayed on earth. Then she asks other animals and then humans. Finally, she sees people making attempts to visit her. She is excited at the prospect but still has to wait for many years until man is able to send a rocket ship into space and land on her surface. She shares in the men’s wonder giving them rocks and dust to take home and they leave her a plaque, a flag, and many many footprints to remember them by.

Although this story is told by the moon it includes historic and scientific information. There is also back matter giving factual details about the first moon landing, the phases of the moon, facts about the moon, photos of the first astronauts, and a timeline beginning 4.6 billion years ago with the Hadean Era to the present Cenozoic Era, and detailed information about each stage of rocket ship which took the first men to the moon. And, if that wasn’t enough… you can download a scanner reader to your phone and listen to the Apollo 11 liftoff and the first words spoken on the moon!

Apollo 11 Plaque Left on the Moon

Closeup view of the plaque which the Apollo 11 astronauts left behind on the moon. The plaque is made of stainless steel measuring nine by seven and five-eighths inches, and one-sixteenth inch thick. The plaque was attached to the ladder on the landing gear strut on the descent stage of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module. During flight , the plaque was covered with a thin sheet of stainless steel that was removed on the lunar surface. -NASA


JULY 1969, A. D.


Jackie and the Beanstalk

20 Mar

Three Cheers for Spring!

Hip-hip-hurray!  Hip-hip-hurray!  Hip-hip-hurray!

Today is the First Day of Spring! And Susanna Leonard Hill is having a spring writing contest on her site, details below.


Basically, The March Madness Writing Contest is a challenge to write a fractured fairy tale in 400 words or less.  Having a spring theme is optional, and I decided to give it a try since today is the official first day of spring… at least on the calendar!  My story is based on an old favorite, Jack and the Beanstalk.  Now, before you get all outraged at using a familiar folk tale, remember that fairy tale is the umbrella for fables, folk tales, myths, and legends.  Besides, on her own website, Susanna uses a picture of The Three Little Pigs, and her sample story (which is great, by the way) is based on The Gingerbread Boy, both folk tales under the fairy tale umbrella.  

So without further ado, I present to you a 400 word fractured fairy tale….

Jackie and the Beanstalk

(A fractured fairy tale formally known as Jackie and the Three Beans)


Jackie’s mother sent her to buy milk, eggs, and bread for the umpteenth polar vortex of the year.  Obviously, she was preparing French toast for breakfast.  Along the snow-covered path to the market, Jackie met a kindly old man; I think his name was Winter.  He offered to sell Jackie three magic beans, which he assured her, would trumpet the arrival of spring.  Removing her gloves, Jackie traded the man the coins her mother had given her for his mysterious magic beans.

Jackie raced home; okay, maybe she slipped and slid and skated home.  Either way; she kicked the snow off her boots, unwrapped the scarf from her neck, flung her overcoat on the table and announced, “Good News: Spring is on the Way!”

Upon hearing her freezing child’s tale, Jackie’s mother raged.  “How could you fall for that old geezer’s trick?”  She opened the door, letting in another cold blast of artic air, and flung the beans into the snow.

Well, you know where this is going, right?  Overnight, a giant beanstalk grew outside Jackie’s door.  In the morning she saw that it reached up, up, up, over fresh-fallen snow, above frosted trees, and past crystal clouds.  Jackie donned her gay apparel, which wasn’t a gay as it had been three months earlier, and climbed the sturdy beanstalk.

When she arrived at the top, breathless and a little dizzy, Jackie saw a radiant glass castle shimmering under the sun.  A lively elf with green thumbs greeted her.  “Come in,” he welcomed her.  “We were just preparing breakfast.”

Jackie, tired and extremely hungry from her long ascent, accepted.  She filled her belly with the most delicious French toast she had ever eaten and then immediately laid down for a quick morning nap.  She dreamt of lush green lawns, fragrant flowers, and warm sunshine on her face.  Waking up, she noticed that she was in a greenhouse.  Why she didn’t realize that earlier, we’ll never understand.  Regardless, Jackie tracked down the elf and pleaded her case.  Joyfully he explained that this was Mother Nature’s greenhouse.  He sprinkled a little magical soil over her and sent her home.

As Jackie descended, she could feel the sunshine on her back and a warm breeze in her hair.   She noticed the buds on the trees and the robin’s return.  She jumped into a puddle and ran into the house.

“Spring has sprung!” she proclaimed.

Winter Lights

11 Dec

This week, Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting a holiday writing contest on her blog. The rules dictate that the story be about a holiday (Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanaza) mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster not to exceed 350 words.

You can read more details about the contest at


I’ve already read some really amazing stories submitted this week, but I’m going to see what my little holiday gem brings.  I’m taking a chance by not mentioning the holidays in my 346 word story, thereby allowing the reader to make inferences through the text.  That being said, I’m having trouble giving my little story a title.  After you read it, I would love to get some title suggestions from my astute readers.


Winter Lights

by Juliana Lee

Nico brushed the snowflakes off his shoulders.

Picking up his bundle, he hurried toward the barn.

Meow, Meow, Meow

The sound came through the icy air.

Meow, Meow, Meow

Nico’s whiskers trembled.

Meow, Meow

There near the holly bushes, Nico saw a large ball of fur shivering.

A tail twitched.  A head poked up.  Then two.  Then three.

How many were there? Nico wondered.

Meow, Meow, Meow

Nico stepped forward.

Meow, Meow, Meow

“Follow me,” he said.  “You can stay in the barn tonight.

Meow, Meow

Nico started off.

Eight kittens tumbled after him ears over tails.

Cow gave them fresh milk.

Meow, Meow, Meow

Donkey gave them dry straw.

Meow, Meow, Meow

Sheep gave them soft wool.

Meow, Meow

Nico searched the starless sky.

He saw only one light, shining in a window.

In the morning, the world was painted white.

Meow, Meow, Meow

The snow continued to fall.

Meow, Meow, Meow

Nico strung berries and leaves together.

Meow, Meow

The second night Nico searched the cloudy sky again.

He saw two lights shining in the window.

The snow continued to fall.

Meow, Meow, Meow

The world outside looked like a snow globe.

Meow, Meow, Meow

The barn was warm and smelled of evergreen.

Meow, Meow

Every evening Nico searched the dark sky.

Every evening Nico saw one more light shining in the window.

The snow drifted against the barn.

Meow, Meow, Meow

Nico mixed seeds and nuts.

Meow, Meow, Meow

The kittens played with thistle ornaments.

Meow, Meow

On the eighth night the snow stopped.

The moonlight reflected the snowy world.

Nico led the kittens out of the barn.

Meow, Meow, Meow

A ribbon of kittens trailed through the snow.

Meow, Meow, Meow

Tiny paw prints marked their path.

Meow, Meow

Nico counted eight candles in the window.

The light glistened on the frosted pane.

“What have we here?”

Meow, Meow, Meow

“A gift for a lonely old woman!”

Meow, Meow, Meow

“Come in, Come in.  You must be freezing!”

Meow, Meow

Nico saw the star in the sky.

It was a good night.

Halloweensie Challenge

28 Oct

TRICK OR TREAT!  Susanna Leonard Hill is having a contest to write a short (less than 100 word) children’s story, poem, or prose for Halloween which must include the words spooky, black cat, and cackle.   There are great prizes involved.  So even though I have never tried my hand at this before, I decided to give it a go!  After all it’s not really Halloween if you’re not scared.  If you’re not scared (or even if you are) and you want to join in the fun, here’s her link.



Before I started, I looked through a great facebook page called Once Upon for inspiration.  This is a site devoted to artistic illustrations.  This is the painting that spoke to me.  (Notice the little black cat walking on the rooftop.)  It’s called Witch’s Moon by  Hazel Billingsley, I have included it for your enjoyment and the added dimension it gives my prose.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment (tab on the left).


Sleepless Hallow’s Eve

by Juliana Lee


Full moon shining in the grey-black night

Ghostly shadows slip silently overhead

Barren tree branches scratch the sky

Spooky noises fill the air


Rattle Clatter Cackle


Bats on velvet wings swoop low

Black Cat pads soundlessly on the roof

Deep sighs inhale then release

Spooky noises fill the air


Rattle Clatter Cackle


Midnight hour tolls warning

Footsteps fall outside your door

Heavy hinges creak unknowing

Spooky noises fill the air


Goodnight dear

Sleep tight





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