Spring Fling Kidlit Analysis 2021

Hi Spring Fling Kidlit and Math is Everywhere friends,

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been over a month since the 2021 Spring Fling Kidlit Contest Winners were announced! We officially connected everyone with their prize donors, and I can’t wait to see all the beautiful things that come from these connections and stories! (If for some reasons disconnect happens, just email.) Please remember if you have a success to let us know so we can share with everyone.

But now is the time you’ve all been patiently awaiting: the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest Winner Analysis! We got permission to post and analyze 19 AMAZING stories, and I’m so excited to dive in. As we’re about a week away from Kidlit Zombie Week, I hope you have fun analyzing these pieces to prepare yourself for analyzing and reviving your Zombie manuscripts!

Please remember a few things:

-Be constructive, not constructive (give ideas for improvement in an open and positive way)

-Be thoughtful (the beautiful thing about this business is its subjectivity, you may not think the same at first, but who knows what you’ll think after truly considering something)

-Read and respond to others (don’t just read the stories and post what you think; read what others write, and have fun connecting and learning)

How will this work you ask?

Great question!

I will post up to five stories at a time right here on the blog

Your goal is to…

-read all the stories

-find which aspects made each story a top choice

-search for a common thread in the stories posted (figurative gold star for finding this out!)

-share what could be improved or tips about how to make it into a PB

-post in the comments your thoughts while responding to others’ comments as well.

That’s it! So without further ado…

Here are the first stories to analyze from this year’s wonderful crop of Spring Fling Kidlit Contest Winners:


By Kelly Swemba (@Kswemba)


(Gif from Tenor)

Good morning and welcome to The Annual Spring Race. I’m your host, Mother Nature. Like bears waking from hibernation, our contestants are grumbling. And rumbling. And shifting in their beds. It’s time. Flowers, start your engines! Ready… Set… GROW! Who will make the first move? It looks like… Crocus! She may be small, but she is mighty! Can this tiny little flower pull it off? Not if Hyacinth has anything to say about it. Making his move, they’re stem and stem! But wait! Tulip breaks her bulb next. Followed by Daffodil. What a race! They’re nearing the top. Climbing. Reaching. Stretching. And it looks like it’s… CROCUS! This dainty flower proves she strong and beautiful. Followed by Hyacinth, Tulip, then Daffodil. The real winners though, are their admirers. Thanks again for tuning in. And make sure to stop and smell the flowers!

Outside Kind of Kids

By Hannah Lapehn (@HannahLapehn)


We yank our blinds and see the sun, slip on shoes and start to run, head out back for forest fun. We’re outside kind of kids.  We feed the ducks and pet the dogs, balance over fallen logs, crouch down low and leap like frogs. We’re outside kind of kids.  We waddle in the riverbed, spot the minnows up ahead, chase them ‘til our cheeks turn red. We’re outside kind of kids.  We build a fortress out of sticks, smack and smear a muddy mix, check each other’s hair for ticks. We’re outside kind of kids.  We spy a stick bug’s great disguise,  catch the flashing fireflies, release them into shifting skies, We’re outside kind of kids.  We pitch a tent and stake it tight,  watch the sun sink out of sight, sleep under the moon so bright. We’re outside kind of kids.

Best Buds

By Mary Catherine (@mc_amadu)


Dan DeLion sprouted beside a magnificent garden and was eager to meet the flowers living there.  How he wished for a best bud!    When he greeted Rose, however, she proved prickly.     “Aloe there!” Dan waved.   “Aloe there?” Rose scoffed. “How uncultured. The proper salutation is HELLO.”  Dan drooped.       “How’s it growing?” he asked Snapdragon.  Snapdragon was snippy.  “Badly.  Stop taking my space, weed!”  Dan wilted.    The other flowers treated Dan like dirt too.  He grew pale and bristly.    One day, he heard a cheerful “Aloe!” from above.    There, fluttering freely, was a tiny maple seed.       “I’m Samara! Come fly. BeLEAF me, it’s fun!” she joked.   Now THIS was a plant Dan could hang with.   Dan giggled.  Dan glided.  Dan GLEAMED!    Dan DeLion was no weed.  He was proof that wishes can come true.  Together, the new best buds flew off,  leaving the garden flowers behind in the dust.

The Wishing Tree

By Lisa Varchol Perron (@LisaVPerron)



On the first day of spring, Lila and her family visit the Wishing Tree. Crowds gather, year after year, to cast wishes on the tree’s magical buds.   “The tree looks sad today,” Lila says. “See its branches drooping?” No one answers. They are busy making wishes. Lila’s little sister requests a flutter of butterflies. Her brother, a bundle of balloons.  Mama asks for a break from worry, and Grandpa hopes for a spurt of good health.  Lila watches the Wishing Tree grant wish after wish, its boughs growing heavier.  “Can I give my wish to someone else this year?” “I don’t see why not,” Mama answers. Lila rests a cheek on the tree’s bark.  Pow!  Rain pours from above, then sunshine cuts through the clouds. The tree sprouts colorful blossoms, and rainbows shoot across the spring sky.  Lila throws her arms around the Wishing Tree. “Your wishes matter, too.”

The Art of the Park: An Insider’s View

By Erica Lyons (@EFLyons)



On Mondays Ari drew Josh playing soccer. On Tuesdays he painted Lilah feeding the ducks. On Wednesdays he sketched Zayde playing chess. On Thursdays he sculpted the carousel horses. On Fridays he collaged scenes from the boathouse. On weekends he folded origami zoo animals.  Then one day everything stopped.  Everyone had to stay inside.  There was a window between Ari and the park.  His world shrunk, colors faded, details vanished.   What was art without the sounds of wind, the smell of flowers blooming, and the feel of the grass on his toes?   He stared outside, counting things he missed,  Until in Zoom Art Class, Ari’s teacher said the word ‘perspective’.  It was there the whole time!  He could see the entire park – woven patches of bright colors, beams of sunlight, green treetops, clouds.   Avi’s inside art exploded. Pages filled with new ideas.  Outside is still better, but perspective changes things.

There you have it! The first 5 stories to analyze from our 2021 Spring Fling Kidlit Contest Winner pool. Go ahead and wade around a bit, then dive into the comments, and share what you think about these pieces and how you think they’re related to each other as well. Have fun and thanks for stopping by to learn and grow with us!


Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

PS. Please make sure to follow these wonderful creators on Twitter and subscribe to their blogs–you’ll be happy, big things are coming for them soon!

PPS. If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so. Then you won’t miss any analyses and you’ll get weekly updates on great interviews and giveaways.

PPPS. If you haven’t checked out Kidlit Zombie Week, check it out now! It all starts June 14th, except that we always have some surprises right beforehand, so get in on this now!

16 thoughts on “Spring Fling Kidlit Analysis 2021

  1. Thanks so much for this opportunity! I’m looking forward to learning from everyone here.

    Five wonderful stories involving plants and growth.

    In Ready, Set, Grow I loved the eager race tone set from the start. The hibernation simile is perfection! I loved the puns and word choices Kelly used. And including the real winners being the admirers … love that. The flowers have distinctive personalities so I can really see this as a picture book.

    In Outside Kind of Kids, the rhythm is wonderful. Hannah created such a fun read that takes us brilliantly through their adventures. Love the humour moment with the ticks. The refrain is playful and perfectly used to represent this wonderful concept. This feels to me like it’s an excerpt from a picture book.

    In Best Buds, I enjoyed Mary’s use of puns and how the voices were so established. I thought it was fun and original and I love how even the troubled Dan DeLion found a friend. I got a kick out of the “aloe” greeting and dirt humour. Really well done. It has a lovely arc — I can envision this as a picture book.

    In The Wishing Tree, Lisa created so much emotion and tension. I loved perceptive Lila and the connection with this wonderful tree. I’ve read and heard so many wonderful stories about trees and their magic and connection to us and each other is inspiring. Gorgeous gif to prompt a gorgeous story. With more plot (Lisa has already packed so much in this short space), it’d be an even richer story. I would love to own this picture book.

    The Art of the Park. Wow, the timing of this story … Erica communicated important themes of perspective (THAT is everything) and the impact of art and creativity. I loved how the days of the week were incorporated, and the essence of art was felt … so much is packed into this story. Love it.

    Congratulations to everyone. I’m always learning and I hope what I shared here was helpful. Thank you for the inspiration and I look forward to seeing what others have to say!

    Rosanna Montanaro

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes yes yes yes! I too, loved the intense action of Kelly’s piece, the refrain of Hannah’s, the puns of Mary’s, the emotion of Lisa’s, and the perspective of Erica’s. They all are so wonderfully thought out and so original. Thank you for sharing, Rosanna! What do you think connects all these stories?


    2. I agree, The Wishing Tree is one that touches on my kids emotional-learning and environmental interests and I would love to see the art that could accompany it.

      Thinking about the “aloe” greeting, that was very clever because at first I stopped and then went back to read it out loud and the humor pops even more that way. I love kids stories that shine when read out loud.


  2. To me the connection is the beauty and joy of nature. For some stories it’s the joy that the human character gets from being outdoors, and for some it’s the plant characters that exude that joy.

    Ready Set Grow
    This one bounces the reader right along with fun wordplay. One of the things that made me stop and take notice is that the race is done, the admirers have a beautiful display and technically the story could have ended there. But then we have the end lines with “stop and smell the flowers” which really was the cherry on top. It really shows the power of a strong ending.

    Outside Kind of Kids
    The meter and rhythm blows me away on this one. It’s fresh and vibrant with the three rhyming lines and then the refrain. The verbs are active and the imagery is evocative. I loved it as soon as I read it the first time, and I was happy to see it on the winner’s list. It feels like it’s ready to be a board book.

    Best Buds
    For this one, the wordplay is excellent. The description of Dan changing from the yellow to puff as an emotional journey was another part that impressed me. It’s a solid arc already but for it to be fleshed out to picture book length, I’d love to see more of Dan DeLion deciding who is he in relation to the other flowers because he’s such a sweet character.

    The Wishing Tree
    The magical realism is so well done. It paints a picture of their world in just a few words. Lila is also a type of character that I enjoy reading and rereading to my kids, caring and empathic without sounding didactic. It’s a beautiful story, and I feel that adding or fleshing out a few of the scenes like maybe Lila trying

    The Art of the Park
    Here, too, the setting shines and we really feel what is in Ari’s head. I could see this being the beginning of a picture book (or chapter book) series, each one exploring or celebrating a different aspect of the park or person in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a really good point about the ending line in “Ready, Set, Grow!, and I couldn’t agree more about the vibrancy of “Outside Kind of Kids.” Both of these just beg to be read aloud!

      And I love the idea of Ari’s story being a longer chapter book! Maybe at the end he could reunite with all of the folks he was drawing/interacting with at the beginning?


      1. Reunite or each one gives a clue or a piece of something for Ari to connect to the outdoors even when he’s not there. It’s complete as is but it’s such a lovely, full picture there’s opportunity to expand if that was an author desire.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I learned so much form the Fall Frenzy analysis! Looking forward to the Spring fling Analysis as well!

    The connection could be New perspectives and growth. However, I also agree with Katie’s idea “beauty and joy of nature”!
    Both Rosanna and Katie’s thoughts on the selections were perfectly stated!

    “Ready , Set, Grow” – Loved the “description’ of the growth of flowers “described” as a car race! The puns were great and Mother Nature as the “host” was brilliant. The tag line clinched it!

    “Outside Kind of Kids” – The rhythm and rhyming elements were well done. The refrain added so much to the story! I can imagine this as the perfect read aloud in the classroom.

    “Best Buds” – The play on words was skillfully done. “Dan DeLion”,…love this creative name for the MC. Story arc is well done as Rosanna has stated. Great potential for a PB!

    “The Wishing Tree” – After my initial reading of this story, I immediately thought of the “Giving Tree” with a twist.
    This story would prompt great discussions regarding thoughtfulness, kindness and numerous other things. as well.

    “The Art of the Park” – Timely topic woven in to this story. It was interesting to see how the one word “perspective” allowed Ari’s world to take on an entirely new “perspective”! This story has the potential to become a great PB!


    Liked by 2 people

    1. What beautiful analyses … I too, loved all the creative names and I agree on the discussion topics! Definitely, all the entries provide a springboard for important topics.


  4. These are all so wonderful! The main connection I see between all of these is the importance of stopping to notice the beauty of nature around us–even if it’s not typically ‘beautiful’ or the view we’d wish to see.

    Kelly used such a unique point of view in “Ready, Set, Grow!” Mother Nature’s voice was peppy and fun; it really made me feel like I was listening to the commentary of a horse race. I can definitely see this as a picture book — maybe with some good-natured rivalry between the flower characters or an extra special prize at the end: being part of the first spring bouquet for Mom? Or the first visit from the honey bees?

    “Outside Kinds of Kids” stands out as a flawless rhyming read-aloud. Kids would love to chime in with the refrain, and who wouldn’t relate to all those sensory details of making magic outside? Hannah took this from being merely a concept to a full story by bringing us through a full day and ending with going to sleep. I can see it as a picture book as-is. It could be funny to show the parents in the background, maybe trying to get the kids inside, and finally relenting and letting them stay the night under the moon!

    And oh, I love Dan DeLion so much! I’m definitely guilty of turning up my nose at weeds, but this is a perfect reminder that there is beauty everywhere in nature. I can just see the little helicopter and fluffy seed heading off into the breeze together. All of Mary’s wordplay really made me chuckle. I can see this as a graphic novel-style picture book!

    I recently read “Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate and Lisa’s “The Wishing Tree” is like a perfect picture book version of that! We as humans take so much from nature and are often too busy to notice the damage we’re causing. Lila’s compassion and awareness is a great reminder to us all! I can already see the stunning illustrations that will go with this; I love that the tree was instantly cured and flourishing. If only that were true in real life!

    Erica’s character Ari is so relatable. It’s been a tough year stuck inside, counting the things we missed. I wish publishing didn’t move so slowly so that this could be printed immediately! But there are always reasons kids could be stuck inside–a storm, just having the sniffles, etc., that could still make this timeless. The message of trying to look at a tough situation from a different perspective is something we all need.

    Thank you all for sharing your stories with us! Can’t wait to see your names accomplishing big things in the near future!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Really thoughtful, Allison. Love your theme idea as well! Wishtree is one of my favourites – read it with my older girls and now again with my youngest. Rosanna


  5. Loved all of these! My guess is that they are all connected by the theme of seeing something from another perspective. Here is what I loved about each entry.

    Ready, Set, Grow!
    I love all the clever word play comparing growing flowers to a race. It is fast paced, fun, and the twist ending with the real winners is awesome.

    Outside Kind of Kids
    I love the fun playful rhyme and rhythm! It radiates childhood, and creates great imagery with the red cheeks and muddy hands. It captures the joy found in the simple act of playing outside.

    Best Buds
    This one is jam packed with clever puns and word play! I think I notice something new each time I read it. Each character has such a distinct and unique voice, which adds to the humor.

    The Wishing Tree
    This one is so sweet. And also a little convicting, haha! I love the heart of the child that is willing to sacrifice their own wish for another.

    The Art of the Park
    This one is so timely and relatable. I love how perspective changes everything. And I love the ending- that creativity still flourishes!

    Liked by 2 people

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