Dandelion

A world where anything is possible … and everything is magical

Overbooked Micro Fiction Contest

Welcome to Dandelion’s third Micro-Fiction contest!  Open to writers of all ages and inclinations!  This one’s inspired by Overbooked, see illustration below.  Where does a busload, no, a veritable magical mystery tour of overflowing books take you?   Such a magnificent volume of volumes to be considered, one small girl must have help!  Or must she?   Is there an adventure in the offing?  Ah, the places you’ll go….  We look forward to reading your micro-tales—contest guidelines are posted below and the deadline is September 30th.  Let the journey begin!

Please be sure to read our contest guidelines. And sign up here to receive notices about each new contest!

Overbooked - shop here

Overbooked - shop here

One Thousand Stories High - Micro Fiction Contest Winners

One Thousand Stories High elicited so much inspired, creative expression we were hard-pressed to select the winner!  So in fact, we decided to announce a tie for first place.  Plus two honorable mentions!   We hope you will enjoy reading these micro-fiction tales as much as we did.  Our gratitude to all of you, young writers and adult, who penned such well-written, heart-full stories.  Please, please, please continue to send us your entries, whether you’ve been selected this month or not!   Who knows where your good practice will lead (and has already led) you?   

 Our two winners this month (both in the Adult Writers category) each reached into an imagined past to set their stories.  In Lisa Marguerite Mora’s tale, “The Oculus,” our young heroine Darla finds herself in an ancient, musty library that inspires Hope, rewarded.   Marion Canning’s “One Thousand Stories High” transports us to Scotland and a sweetly-haunted old mansion’s library whose ghost is put to rest by young not-to-be-deterred Olivia.   

Our two Honorable Mention selections were also highly contested.  Clara M. O’Leary, age 14, wrote “Charlotte and the Forbidden Books,” an irresistible story about a young girl whose love for books simply will NOT be thwarted!  And last but certainly not least, Holly Pharoah, age 17, wrote for us “Jungle of Flowers,” one of the most poignant stories we have read to date.  Her heroine, whose name and circumstances we do not learn until the very end, acts on a bravery that is inspirational to us all.

Again, our deepest thanks to each of you who took the time and creative courage to write your stories for us, and we look forward to the results of your imaginative talents when you set your pens to work around our next illustration.  To be announced here shortly! 

One Thousand Stories High

One Thousand Stories High

Winning Story (tie)

The Oculus

by Lisa Marguerite Mora - Los Angeles

It happened like this. Visiting my Aunt Vi's home that winter I found the book in the library. Well, there were a million books in her library. Aunt Vi had inherited the house and the garden and the library came with it, along with all the books. I think the house was like 150 years old. It creaked. The books different widths, sizes, colors lined the circular walls. And they were endless. Smell of mildew, of old book smell, like dry water or its memory was the first thing I noticed when I stepped in. Maybe it reminded me of hope. I don't know, but when I walked in that day I craned my neck, my head dipping all the way back to see the oculus ceiling – the round window through which light from the milky sky poured. At night, sometimes I sat on the floor and looked up to see if through that same window the stars would fall...I like to dream. 

That winter my parents needed to go on vacation by themselves in an attempt to save their marriage. I still got to spend Christmas with them, but now it was January and I had to miss school. Okay by me. I'd rather read all day anyway, which they won't let you do in school. They make you study different subjects, always stopping and starting history or math or phys ed. So, when I found the library, you can imagine, I was pleased.

The book I mentioned, it fell on my head from the top most shelf, ten shelves up! judging on how quick it came down and how hard. “Ow!” I saw pinpoints of light and got knocked off kilter. Picking the book up from where it was flung open to a page, I read the few words there. “Darla.” And that creeped me out because that's my name. “Make a wish.” It was the only thing on the creamy thick paper. I thumbed through all the other pages and the hairs on the back of my neck rose, because all the other pages were blank. I slammed the book shut so fast and stared at its cover which was leather, all its corners were bent. Maybe it fell off the shelf a lot. Gingerly I placed it on the desk nearby and kind of backed away, turned to leave. A thunk made me whirl around. The book was on the floor again. A slant of light across the open page. I hesitated, walked over, and squinted down at the words which were in a different curly font now. “Darla, make a wish!”

The exclamation point was new too.

Okay. My heart was thumping. And, I don't know why I said this. It's the kind of thing I got in trouble for at school all the time. I said, “Don't I get three?” There was no breeze, no open window but the pages riffled by themselves, it almost sounded like someone chuckled. Now a new page presented itself. “Yes.” 

So I screwed up my eyes and said the first thing I thought of. “I wish never to be bored.” And before I could think I had made a mistake I said, “I wish that my parents still loved each other.” And then because I felt silly and like these are not the kind of things you're supposed to wish for if you were ever so lucky to get the chance. But also because I wondered if maybe I was half unconscious because of the lump I could feel rising on the top of my skull, like maybe the falling book had done me some damage, I said really fast because I didn't think it mattered, “And I wish for a giraffe to help me reach the top shelves of this library.” (So that I could put the book back from where it fell and also so I could read everything, if I wanted to.)

Before I opened my eyes I was aware the air had changed, like there was another presence in the room. I started back when I saw the long limbed, sweet faced giraffe who had reached down from its long, long neck to greet me with big brown and long lashed eyes. “Oh, hel-hello.” Well, I had to admit I was definitely not bored now. 

As if the giraffe had heard my thoughts, she said — it was more like words in my mind. “These books are so well made and so sturdy you can make a ladder from them up to the oculus. Would you like to see?” 

That actually, did not seem like a good idea to me, to make a ladder of books. “Couldn’t I just climb up your neck?” 

The giraffe blinked at me slowly as if I were some young thing she had to be patient with. She demurred, “No.” 

Her idea WAS a much better one. She helped me like she said and we managed to pile one tome on top of the other. She pulled them off the shelves with her gentle teeth leaving bite marks on the leather, but oh well, that couldn’t be helped. Did you know giraffes have 32 teeth just like us? I relayed this fact to her and again she blinked at me before responding politely, “That’s interesting” and resumed constructing the book ladder. It was more like a book tower. 

When we were done, and I was teetering at the very top, I quickly caught a glimpse out the round shining oculus and saw the sky, the highest feathery tree branches. I looked down to the distant verdant garden and the driveway before the whole construct swayed and toppled beneath me. The giraffe caught me on her back. I clung to her and leaned my cheek against her warm neck, my heart beating hard with happiness. Out that window, under the sky and trees, I saw my parents walking toward the house. They’d arrived early. And they were holding hands.

 

Winning Story (tie)

One Thousand Stories High

by Marion Canning - Springfield, Massachusetts

"I'm here," Olivia announced, matter of factly to an empty space, high up in the rotunda of Leith Hall.  Midmorning light shone softly into a sparsely furnished loft.  Old leaded windows rippled the sunlight like wind through spring leaves.  Its golden rays shone upon Olivia and a beautiful giraffe that stood beside her.  "It is hot and stuffy up here," she thought.  She was a little sweaty from her climb and a strand of her dark hair had come loose.  A pungent odor of herbs was pleasant after the smell of the heavy leather bound books she had stacked up to reach the top of the rotunda's slightly shabby library.  Dust motes floated lazily in the sun beams.  She had three large ledgers with her and was balancing on "Ancient Maps of the World", the last, of at least a thousand stories, she had used to reach the loft.  Olivia waited a bit anxiously.

Across the room she saw an alcove draped with the McCullough tartan. On the floor was a faded rag rug. Piles of old yellowed papers were stacked in a dusty corner.  A squat kettle and a pair of felt slippers sat on a low bench near the alcove's entrance.  A wooden chair and table were set snugly under the large rotunda windows.  

 A movement caught Olivia's eye as a little old woman, wrapped in a woolen shawl, shuffled out from behind the curtain.  She had long gray braids, warm blue eyes and a pleasant looking wrinkled face.  "Lassie, you brought them to me," she said revealing a toothless smile.  She beckoned to Olivia to follow her as she moved over to the table and chair.  

But a gap between Olivia's great stack of teetering books and the edge of the loft was quite wide. Too wide for her to cross without falling. If she tried to leap over, the books would tumble to the floor below.  Olivia didn't know how she was going to cross this fearsome space.  Just then, the giraffe, she hadn't noticed before, moved a little closer to Olivia and gave her a gentle nudge.  It stretched out its long neck across the space, creating a perfect bridge, so she could cross over safely to the loft.  When her feet touched ground, she grinned and hugged the giraffe. She stroked its soft nose and saw that it had big dreamy eyes and velvet horns and it smelled just like, Florinda, her Welch pony.

Olivia brought the ledgers over to the woman who took them carefully from her.  She said softly, "Thank you, I have missed these so!"  She laid them gently, on the table, one by one.  Each book was engraved with the McCullough beehive crest.  She took the first book onto her lap and opened the thick cover.  She seemed to have forgotten that Olivia was standing beside her.  The pages were of heavy crumbling vellum.  Faded drawings of wild flowers, clover, heather, and thyme filled each page.  Each was labeled meticulously in crude childlike print.  Olivia could smell a rich, sachet-like, scent as the old woman turned to each entry.  After what seemed, to Olivia, like a long time, the old woman opened another ledger.  This one contained sketches ofthe fields onGrandfather McCullough's once vastestate.  The old woman nodded to herself, knowingly, as she traced the stone walls, hedges, and cart paths with her old worn fingers.  She mused, " The pony and I could find the hives even, on the moor, in the fog."  Olivia noticed that the honey gathered from each field had been recorded in a small McCullough beehive symbol at the bottom of each page.

With a sigh, Olivia could barely hear, the old woman brought herself back from visions of fresh air, summer fields, fogs, and moors and opened the last of the tomes.  Here was listedhamlets, crossroads, and villages that sold McCullough honey on market day.  The last page held an envelope of daguerreotypes tied with a faded ribbon. Sifting through them she came to a picture of a smiling young lass holding the reins of a shaggy pony with a cart filled with honey pots.  Olivia caught a quick glimpse of a pretty, rosy cheeked, girl just as the luncheon gong rang out.  It startled her. She said, "I must to go right now!  Bess gets fuming if I am late". The old woman was still in a far away reverie.  Olivia made a small, polite curtsey and left quietly.  She walked quickly to the edge of the loft.  The giraffe was waiting for her.  It stretched out its silky neck again, and she slid safely onto the ancient book of maps, which she obediently put back, on the shelf, where it belonged.  She did the same with every last book she had used to climb to the loft.  As she bent down to put the last book away, she saw the word "Giraffes" on the cover. Her mother, standing, in the rotunda doorway, to collect her for lunch, said, "I see you are using your time well this morning and reading about giraffes."  Olivia looked up. She rolled her eyes.  She had not been reading about giraffes at all!  But she knew better than to argue.  Instead she said, " You know, Mother, a giraffe is so tall it can reach all the way up to that loft."  She continued, "There is an old woman who lives up there." "No one lives up there Olivia.  Nothing is up there but old ledgers and documents about bees."   Olivia looked thoughtful, then asked, "Will we be having clover honey from the high meadow or thyme from Harrow's Crossing with lunch today?"  "You will have to ask Bess.  She says the honey cellar is all a jumble since, Hannah, the old beekeeper, died."  Then, her mother frowned, and said, "Olivia! what have you got all over your dress?"  "Oh! Just giraffe dust from the book. I guess."

Honorable Mention

Charlotte and the Forbidden Books

by Clara M. O'Leary - Connecticut  14 years old

 

Charlotte looked up at the everlasting wall of shelves. It was so very, very tall. 

            Book after book after book lived on that wall, all of which were just waiting to be read. 

            “Stefan,” said the little girl, turning and seeing her friend, a giraffe, standing next to her, right where she had left him. “Won’t you lift me up and take me to those book up at the top?”

            Stefan shook his head. “I’m sorry Charlotte. You know as well as I do that I cannot lift you anywhere. But if I could, I would bring you to the books, I swear it.”

            Charlotte nodded, disappointed. You see, Stefan truly did want to do what ever his friend asked of him, but being a figment of the girl’s imagination he found it quite hard. 

            “What do you suppose those books are about?” She asked, dropping down onto the wooden floor. “An adventure of a wonderful pirate? Or a garden of elves, maybe?”        

            “Ah, I have no way to tell,” the giraffe sighed. “But I have a feeling one day you will find out.”

            Again, Charlotte nodded. Stefan was right. She would find out, because she truly wanted to. 

            With a newfound conviction, she marched her little self up to the bookseller across the room and stopped directly in front of him. 

            “Sir?” She asked. “May you please bring down one of those books for me?”

            She pointed her finger in the direction of the books up at the ceiling. 

            The man, scratchy with unshaved hair and arrogant of eyes, chuckled down at Charlotte and turned his head back to his work. 

            Without looking up he said, “That section is reserved for men and boys, little girl. You should not have even been over there and I must now ask you to leave.”

            Charlotte was quiet with embarrassment.

            The man looked at her and pointed behind him. “We do have a lovely selection of picture books over there that would interest someone like you.”

            Charlotte had read picture books and didn’t like them. They were far below her reading standard. 

            “I’m sorry, sir, but I’m not a fan of picture books. I would like to buy a story from the top shelf of the men’s section, please. I have money to pay.”   

            With a sigh, the bookseller scowled at her. “As I said, I will not assist you in reaching those items as they are not for your purchasing. Good day.”

            The man rose from his chair, letting her see he was tall and thin, like a praying mantis. 

            “I’m sorry, sir,” she said before walked away. Angrily, he turned around. 

            “Yes?”

            “I have thought about it and picture books are exactly what I need.”

            “I’m glad to hear it.”

            “Could you help me reach those, instead?”

            With a deep breath, the man took her to the women’s section and handed her a book about farms.             

            “Could I have another, sir?”

            He handed her a second book about shoes and dresses.         

            “Could you get me a handful of them? Maybe five or six?”

            “As you wish,” he said, sarcastically. 

            When the little girl had her arms full of books, she continued to ask for more, until she had to take all the books to a table, put them down and come back for more. 

            Back and forth she ran, until half of the picture books section was empty, and finally she let the man get back to his work. 

            “Thank you, sir,” she said. He didn’t respond, just walked back to his desk and forgot about her. 

            The bookseller had gotten so wrapped up in his logging and dating that he did not hear the shuffling and banging and whisperings to Stefan that the girl made. 

            So, when he put his papers away and looked up, he nearly fell over himself. 

            A stack of books, ceiling high, had been built and was swaying under the weight of a little girl who had climbed to the top and was now sitting, reading The Adventures of Robin Hood out loud, to a friend he could not see. 

            “What on earth are you doing?” Said the man, rushing over to the tower of picture books. 

            “I’m reading to Stefan,” she said, busily, peering around the corner of the book. 

            “Come down from here this instant, you bad little nuisance.”

            “But I’ve just finished building this tower. And there are so many wonderful books I’d like to read up here! Have you read any of them?”

            “You must come down at once and mark my words, you're going to be punished when you do!”      

            “Well, in that case,” Charlotte said, pulling out a handful of more books to read, “I think I shall just stay up here and read forever.”

 

Honorable Mention

Jungle of Flowers

by Holly Pharaoh - Indiana  17 years old

“That’s it, just another step,” Herman murmured as he helped his granddaughter up the next step of the book mountain he’d made. She was now much taller than he was, and he had a hard time holding her hand. The two books tied together at her side knocked against her legs, and she stumbled just slightly trying to stay on her mountain. “Careful now.”

     Slowly, Herman let go of the child’s hand, making sure she was steady before taking a few steps back to look her over. “You got your map?” He asked, crossing his arms over his chest. The little girl gently shook the book in her other hand-not the one carrying her makeshift suitcase. “Good, good.” He paused a moment just to watch her stand there on the mountain of books he’d given her, her red dress standing out in the drab library. “You remember where you are?”

    The little girl nodded, then shook her head. Herman smiled and sat down in a chair slowly, his knees protesting. “You’re in the jungle, and you just finished climbing the biggest mountain you could find.” He paused a moment for dramatic effect, and also to watch the girl on the stack. “It’s a hot day, and you’re very tired. Luckily, though, you know you’re almost to your campsite. In fact, if you look to your right, you can see the tents of the others already there.” The little girl turned her head to the right, a tiny smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.

     “Yes, your camp is right over there, but that’s not what’s important to you, is it?” Herman asked, his voice light and teasing. The girl on the stack of books shook her head quickly, and he chuckled. “No, it isn’t. What’s really important is right above you.” The girl tilted her head up to the ceiling of the library. “It’s bigger and clearer out here in the jungle. There’s nothing hiding the sky except the green of the leaves. And luckily, today is a very clear day-the sky is so blue, and there isn’t a single cloud in the ocean of blue. Blue, like the angry crashing of waves, pounding the surface as lightning strikes. Blue, like the sadness in having a best friend leave after a fun sleepover-sad, but reassuring that you had a good time. Can you see it?”

      Again, the girl nodded, and the tiny smile grew just a little more. “Alright, good. Now are the trees blocking your sight with their big leaves. They’re green, like the feeling when you hear your friend talking to someone else instead of you. They’re green, like when you put something gross in your mouth and it makes you want to throw up.” That drew a bigger smile from the child, and Herman leaned back in his chair and watched her, holding her pretend map and pretend suitcase, both made out of books.

     “And, oh!” He exclaimed, leaning forward in his seat and running a hand over his moustache. “How could we have forgotten what’s right below you?” He shook his head as if disappointed. “Why, we almost forgot the flowers right there beneath your feet.” He waited just long enough for her to turn her head down to the book she was standing on. “Yes, there’s thousands of them there on that hill of yours. And they’re all sorts of colors, bright and beautiful.”

    He took another pause, taking off his glasses to clean with his shirt. The little girl was smiling too widely for her face, and it made Herman’s heart swell with joy. How rare it was for her to smile, and for him to be the reason. It reminded him of the first time he’d held her in his arms while she was just a small baby. There wasn’t a thing in the world he wouldn’t do for her.

    “In front of you are thousands of flowers,” he repeated, putting his glasses back onto his face. “There’s splashes of red, like the fury you feel when you put your hand in the cookie jar and it’s empty. Or when someone moves the coffee table and you find it with your shin.” He chuckled at that one, and the girl’s face flashed to a scowl before smoothing out again. “There’s yellow, like when you help mother make cakes in the kitchen, and she gives you a big hug as thank you. And there’s more of that sad blue colors, in all different lights and darks. And look! There’s a few orange colors, like when you put your hand on a pan and it’s still hot.” They both wince at that.

     “Ah, yes, so many flowers.” He cleared his throat and stood up, smoothing out his wrinkle free shirt. “Anyway, perhaps it’s time to get off that hill of yours and go to your camp. I’m sure they’re waiting for you, and you don’t want to travel in the dark. Come, and let’s get you down from there.” Herman approached the girl on the top of the stack of books and held his hand out.

     Clutching her books tighter, the little blind girl shook her head and spoke up for the first time in several weeks. “But papa, how tall am I?”

    Herman took a step back, his face a mask of shock and joy at hearing her voice. He was so stunned, that he took a moment to respond. He took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, his voice bellowing out and filling the library, “Eveline, my dear, you’re as tall as giraffes!”

 

DELIVERING DREAMS LITERARY AWARDS

Since releasing Delivering Dreams in late 2016, Lori has been awarded 17 national and international children’s book prizes, including the prestigious ILA Best Children’s Book of 2017 (Primary category).  The complete list follows. 

INTERNATIONAL LITERACY ASSOCIATION-Best Children's Book of 2017 (primary fiction)
2017 INTERNATIONAL RUBERY AWARDS- Shortlisted for Best Children’s Book
2016 NAUTILUS BOOK AWARDS-Gold
2016 MOONBEAM CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARDS-Best First Picture Book-Gold
2017 LOS ANGELES BOOK FESTIVAL-Best Children's Book
2017 NEXT GENERATION BOOK AWARDS-Best Picture Book
2017 NATIONAL INDI EXCELLENCE AWARD-Picture Book (all ages)-Winner
2016 NEW APPLE ANNUAL BOOK AWARDS-Best Children's Picture Book
2016 NEW APPLE ANNUAL BOOK AWARD-Best Cover Design
ERIC HOFFER AWARD-Children's Picture Book- First Runner Up
ERIC HOFFER AWARD-Grand Prize-Finalist
ERIC HOFFER AWARD FIRST HORIZON AWARD-Finalist
2016 FORWARD INDIES BOOK OF THE YEAR- Bronze
IPPY-INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARD-Silver
LONDON BOOK FESTIVAL-Honorable Mention
PURPLE DRAGONFLY BOOK AWARDS-Picture Book -First Place (tie)
CIPA-EVVY AWARD-Children's Picture Book Finalist

One Thousand Stories High Micro Fiction Contest

Writers of Magic and Whimsy, it’s that time again!   Turn your imagination loose and tell us your story of this illustration, One Thousand Stories High.  How rare is that air, of volumes stacked to your imagination’s height, or at least as high as a bibliophilic giraffe’s nose?   Email your own tall tale of these unlikely library-occupants in 1,000 words or less, by midnight August 18th, 2017.  The winner’s story will be published on our website blog and on our FaceBook site!   He or she will also receive a bouquet of Dandelion products and be placed on the short-list of possible authors for Dandelion’s next book publication (no date set!).

Please be sure to read our contest guidelines. And sign up here to receive notices about each new contest! 

One Thousand Stories High - shop here

One Thousand Stories High - shop here

The Long Way - Micro Fiction Winners

Dandelion Press is excited to announce the winner of last month’s Micro Fiction Contest, The Long Way.   Marion Canning’s evocative setting, finely expressed details and imaginative characters all came together in the space of one summer’s day to beautifully tell the tale of The Long Way.  We hope you will enjoy her winning story as much as we did!   

We had so many fine entries, especially from the 18 and under age group, that we simply had to create an “Honorable Mention” category, where you will find the three more wonderful stories—one adult and two young people’s.  Mindy Garza’s sixty-one word story is a masterful sketch—like the breath of a dream—no names, no place—just the perfectly balanced inhale and exhale of mutual recognition.

Among the many fine submissions from young people all over the country, we selected two for publication on this blog.  Twelve-year old Lauren Brown penned a heart-felt coming of age story called “Isa’s Painting” that we loved for the way it captured Dandelion Press’s magical way with paint!  Actually, she created an entire family’s coming-of-age, through Isa’s adventurous creativity.  

Finally, ten-year old Sathvik Appana not only wrote a fast-paced adventure story, but he managed to create a convincing ten-year old girl as the heroine of his tale!   Many of the young writers themed their stories around loss and grief.  Though “Journey to Fortune” is also built around the now-orphaned girl Ivory, she discovers her own special means of resolving her loss.  

Many thanks to all the fine writers who submitted their stories for The Long Way!   Please don’t hesitate to enter again and again as you’re inspired by our illustrations. 

The Long Way - shop now

Winning Story

THE LONG WAY

by Marion Canning - Springfield, Massachusetts

 

    Caroline Elizabeth Weston climbed onto the back of the Earl of Wye as he began moving slowly away from the kitchen garden at Aston Place.  Sweet peas and hollyhocks shielded them from Cook's sight.  Only the top of Caroline's hat would have been visible to Cook's beady eyes if she happened to be standing in the dooryard.

It felt good to be perched atop of the ancient tortoise.  He had waited patiently as she packed.  It took a long time. There were so many things to sort out.  Granny's deck of cards, a soft blanket for sitting, skeins of yarn and crochet hooks and the magnifier went into the hatbox.  Mummy's jumper, two handkerchiefs, and Caroline's extra sweater fit snugly in the traveling bag. She squashed her mac and gum boots, Cook's horsehair broom and dear Iris's shawl, drawing pad, pencils and water colors in the portmanteau.  The carry-all she held on her lap came from the spring house. It smelled like Mr. Mac's gardening gloves. The cheese, biscuits and lettuces, the pears she snatched when Cook was not in the kitchen and a packet of flakes just fit. The clasp was rusty from resting besides the milk cans stored in the stream trickling under the flag stones and it was very hard to close.  Her grip was filled with Alice, Beatrix Potter and Black Beauty and fastened with a belt to keep them from tumbling out. Her father's camera balanced next to the Prince in his fish bowl. 

Aston Place lay in a soft valley on the River Wye.  The river chiseled out hidden pools and eddies along the shore bordering the property.  These provided Mr. Mac with big fat trout for the dinner table when the family was in residence.  Sheep grazed on the grounds that bordered the woods. Walking paths meandered all through the estate where Caroline and Iris, her tutor, sketched and read together. Now Iris was on summer holiday and Caroline had discovered in the post, among the letters, one with numerous stamps smudged from travel and with pictures of India on them.  She did not have to be told that Granny and her parents were not coming back before the end of summer. Left without companionship she roamed long solitary hours by herself. She only appeared in the kitchen for tea with Cook and Mr. Mac at the end of the day.

Now the Earl, the Prince and Caroline edged along the high garden wall until they reached the backside of the stables.  There the paddocks opened out to a rolling landscape towards the woods and river. It took quite some time to reach the trees. The sun was strong overhead and Caroline's face was hot and flushed. She was still cross about the letter that came with the mail and she missed Iris not sharing in today's most important venture. The Prince's small watery home had warmed considerably and he was flustered with all the jouncing on top of the wobbly pile of suitcases. He wished he had been left on the library reading table away from the sun. 

At last they came to a place where the path became two.  "Left please", Caroline commanded loudly since the Earl was so ancient he was mostly deaf.  The new path took them into the wood along a wide, worn stretch and the sudden shade felt cool and refreshing. Up ahead Caroline could see the shape of her best discovery yet: an old mossy pavilion tucked away under an ancient beech tree that stood guarding a clear spring fed pool. Caroline imagined the ladies of Aston Place once spending lazy afternoons there reading and gossiping while the men were busy with estate business. 

Upon arriving at the pavilion Caroline set to work unpacking the tortoise and sweeping away dust from the past.  Paints, sketch books, cards and yarn all fit along the marble benches surrounding the walls. The suitcases she found long forgotten in the attic slipped underneath.  A rickety table held her favorite books. "Now" she said,  "we shall have our lunch." She spread out the cheese and biscuits on the soft blanket and shared the pears and lettuces with the Earl. It was very quiet under the tree and Caroline was weary from all her activity. She curled up next to the tortoise and set the Prince next to her and soon she slept.  

When the afternoon sun peeked between the leaves of the beech tree, she awoke and remembered her most important mission.  She knelt down and put her face close to the fish bowl and saw the Prince swimming listlessly around in the water. She said softly, "I have brought you to this secret pool where you will be able to grow big and shiny".  She murmured almost to herself, "It is too lonely living all alone in the library". She then lowered the Prince gently into the pool and watched as he swam out of his cramped bowl into the deep cool water.  She sprinkled the packet of flakes over the surface and magically, beautiful gold fish from lazy afternoons gone by, appeared at the surface to greet him.  "There!”, she smiled with hands on her hips as she watched all the fish released from too small fish bowls left in nurseries and libraries receive the Prince.  

"Cook will be looking for me", remembered Caroline. Turning away from the pool she went into the pavilion to fetch her hat and retrieve her umbrella and the violin she hadn't practiced at all!  When they finally reached the vegetable garden the sun was low. She slid off the tortoise and as he he disappeared under the cabbages she set off for the kitchen.  Cook and Mr. Mac were waiting for her. "Where have you been Caroline Elizabeth?" said Cook. "We took the long way round, and the Earl was so terribly slow", said Caroline.

Honorable Mention

 

THE LONG WAY

by Mindy Garza - Southern California

     She sensed their dreams at all times, but they felt strongest when the stars shone in the darkness. Navigating with a strong steady pace, she found the little one alone with her tears. The girl took one look at her and understood. She packed her belongings, ready for the journey. They traveled in silent understanding to the place where dreams grow.

 

Honorable Mention

 

ISA'S PAINTING

by Lauren Brown - Firestone, Colorado  12 years old

   A little four year old Isa was walking along the edge of the small clearing that was her backyard when she, for no reason, decided to wander into the forest just a little. She found an injured baby tortoise with no mommy or family in sight.

   “You have a boo boo. I will make you all better!” Isa picked up the baby tortoise and took him back into her cottage where she lived with her dad. “I will call you Baxter and you will be my bestest friend forwever!”

   Isa opened her eyes, smiling. That was her favorite memory. Meeting Baxter had forever changed her life. She was leaning against him right then. Baxter had grown huge over the last twelve years, and was now big enough to carry Isa when she pleased.

Isa had big hopes and dreams, but she remained confined to her small town. Isa wanted to become an artist who painted landscapes, and got to travel the world. Her kind heart was hungry for some excitement. But her dad would never let her go.

   Isa’s mom had disappeared shortly after the twins had been born. One of those twins was Isa herself. Her twin sister, Maria, was nothing like her. She and dad were always getting into fights. Raising two girls without a mother hadn’t been her dad’s plan. Isa was the one who did the cooking, washing, cleaning, and shopping in the market.

   Her dad worked hard as a blacksmith to bring home money. And Maria was hardly ever around. Her dad thought he couldn’t keep their family together without her. But Isa wanted to see the world and discover who she really was outside of this town. Baxter could feel her eagerness to leave and spread her wings. She had only stayed this long because she felt as though she would be leaving just as her mother had. Leaving behind a broken family.

   Yet she knew it wouldn’t be like that at all. The inside walls of their cottage were covered in landscapes Isa had painted. When she ran out of canvas, she’d replaced the wallpaper with her own. The walls were covered with rolling hills, setting suns, sparkling lakes. She’d even done the ceiling. Looking up in their home meant looking into the treetops where exotic birds were soaring and the occasional chipmunk leaping. It was truly remarkable to walk in the halls. A huge piece of Isa would always be in this house.

   That night at dinner, Isa decided to ask flat out. “Dad, am I allowed to leave?”

   Startled, he looked up and swallowed his mouthful. Maria continued on as though no one had spoken. “Sure, you go into town all the time.”

   “No Dad. I think I’m ready to have my own adventure.” Now Maria looked up. “Sis? Why would you want to leave? Aren’t you happy here?”

   “I love it here, but,” Isa gestured to the walls and ceiling. “It’s time for me to have my own adventure to do the things I love. I want to travel and paint the world.” Isa’s father looked into his daughter’s big brown eyes that sparkled. He sighed.

   “I’d always known you’d leave. Your spirit is too big to be kept in our small town.

   Your dreams too bright and your tortoise too large.” This made Isa smile. It was true, Baxter was getting too big to fit in the house. But the rest of what her dad said was also true. And Maria knew it too.

   “I’ll help you pack tomorrow. You can take my trunk with the daisy for a clasp.” Maria and Isa stood and hugged. Tears fell from Isa’s eyes. “Thank you.” was all she could whisper.

   Two days later everything Isa needed was strapped to the willing Baxter, who she would ride. He was smarter and speedier than he appeared. Isa had many bags other than the trunk her sister had provided. They each held something, like her brushes, the paint, or what she needed to make more. Plus canvases.

   Isa stared at her reflection in the mirror. She’d chosen a sleeveless pink dress and navy blue shoes for day one. Putting a navy blue hat on her head, she twirled her short blond hair. Today was the start of something she’d only ever dreamed of. And with that, she turned and walked out the door of her room.

   Hugs were exchanged before Isa climbed onto Baxter. Isa promised to visit for Christmas and would send gifts for birthdays. Maria and Isa decided that they would become pen pals. Her dad gave her a ring with a stone in the center. “As long as you wear this, I’ll be with you.” She’d hugged him tight. “Let’s go boy.” And they rode off.

Two Weeks Later…

   Isa stood on a hilltop, paintbrush in hand. The first stars were starting to sparkle in the sky. Nothing had ever felt more right to Isa in that moment. Baxter was resting behind Isa, next to the tent she’d set up. Putting her brush down, she went and picked up the first painting she’d done on her adventure. In it, a small town could been seen at sunset. In the upper left corner, a cottage with a clearing in the back had a pink heart around it. Isa would always return to that clearing, no matter where her mind took her. Because her heart would hold that location close. Home is where the ones you love are. And her family would be there, waiting.

 

Honorable Mention

 

JOURNEY TO FORTUNE

by Sathvik Appana - Lexington, Massachusetts  10 years old

 

“Ivory, Wake up! It’s your 10th birthday.”

I threw off the covers, and leaped out of bed.

“Happy Birthday Ivory.” Said my mother.

“I made you your favorite treat.”

And she handed me a platter filled with sweet cream cookies.

“Thank You.”

“ Ivory, on this birthday, your 10th, I think that it’s fair that I should tell you what happened to your father.”

The temperature in the room seemed to have suddenly dropped, and so did my mother’s mood. She soon regained her happy face.

“Eight years ago when you were a baby, your father dreamed of finding a place called Fortune falls. It was said that Fortune had the greatest treasure man could ever dream of, flowing through it’s streams. Your father went to the elders of the village to seek their blessings to go find the falls. When he went to them, they gave him a ceramic turtle charm and told him that it would guide him to what he wanted the most. He used all of our money and bought a ship. We set sail along with some crew that he hired. On the first night, the ship hit a big storm. There were waves like mountains, and jagged white lines coming from the clouds. The ship was severely damaged. Your father sent us off in the one remaining lifeboat. As I rowed away, I saw your father’s ship sink.”

By now tears were forming in both of our eyes.

“Well, that was the past. Lets focus on the future. I’m going to give you your gifts. The first gift was from your father. It is his ceramic turtle charm. Your second gift is from me. I’m giving you 100 crescents. Spend it wisely. Now, go play with your friends.”

My mother’s story had shocked me, but she was right, the past is the past. For the rest of the day I played with my friends in the woods and around town. I was actually feeling good until my neighbor ran up to me, and said

“Ivory, It’s your mother, she was hit by a stampeding bull. Go quick.”

I dropped everything and ran home. When got to my house, I burst through the door into my mother’s room. She had a huge gash on her side and there were medics hunched over tending to her wounds.

“Mother.”

“Ivory, go find Fortune falls. That was mine and your father’s wish; The turtle charm will help you.”

Then she gasped, and closed her eyes. The medics were shaking their heads.

“We’re sorry Ivory.”

At that moment lots of feelings surged through me, but I was determined to find Fortune falls and fulfill my mother’s wish. After my mother’s funeral service the next day, I went to the stream behind my house to wash my face. As I dipped my hand into the water my turtle charm fell off, and grew into a giant turtle.

“I am Aegis, your guide to fortune falls. Collect your belongings and get on my back.”

Speechless, I ran into my house, packed my clothes, the cookies my mom made for me, the money I got for my birthday, and a jar with my pet goldfish.

“Are you ready Ivory?”

“Yes.”

“In that case, let us begin our journey to fortune falls”. 

Over the next few days Aegis carried my belongings and me through forests, hamlets, and across streams.

On the fifth day, while Aegis and I were traveling through a forest, I suddenly felt a sharp pain on the side of my arm and Aegis collapsed. Then everything was black. When I woke up, I found myself surrounded by three burly men.

“She’s awake,” said one of the men.

“Who are you and where are you going with this giant turtle?”

“My name is Ivory and Aegis here is my turtle guide. He will take me to Fortune falls.”

The men looked at each other with suspicious grins. “How do you know about fortune falls?’

“When I was little, my father lost his life trying to find Fortune falls. Now I am going to find them.”

“ We’ve been searching for the falls as well. Can we join you and this giant turtle in your journey?”

“Sure, you can join,” I said

For the next few days, the men and me followed Aegis through many more jungles until we finally came to a huge sparkling water fall.

“We are at Fortune falls”, Aegis announced.

The three men’s faces changed. They were no longer excited. They seemed angry.

“Where is the fortune?” “I don’t know.” I said.

“Its all that blasted turtles fault.” They started hitting Aegis.

“No, please stop hitting him!”

As I put up my hand to block a blow from the stick that they were hitting Aegis with, I got a huge gash on my hand. My head was swimming from the pain.

“We don’t have any use for these two. Let’s dump them in the water.” Said the men.

The three men pushed us into the water. Something strange started to happen under water. The cut on my hand was starting to heal, and I could breath normally under the water. After we had been swept down stream by the current, Aegis got himself and me out of the water. Where we had gotten out, I saw a tattered old and rusty sign that said Fortune Falls ahead. We had found Fortune falls! It did contain the greatest treasure of all. It was not gold, but it was the ability to heal.  I opened one of caskets that was tied to my waist and filled it up with water from Fortune falls. We started our journey back home. After we got back, I used the water to heal people so that they didn’t have to go through the despair that I did when I lost my mom.

 

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* Yes, it’s a real word for just what it sounds like—fabulously fantastical, stupendously stunning, magically magnificent! 

Make your next card a magically magnificent moment for someone special!  The first image in our new line is “Bound for Dreams,”  11.5” x 5”, packaged in its own protective sleeve and including a custom envelope:  $7.95 each. Buy Now

Bound for Dreams

Bound for Dreams

Dandelion Micro Fiction Contest

Writers of Magic and Whimsy!  Turn your imagination loose and tell us your story of this painting, The Long Way.  Then email us your tall tale in 1,000 words or less by June 30th, 2017 for publication in our July blog and FaceBook site!   The winner will also receive a bouquet of Dandelion products and be placed on the short-list of possible authors for Dandelion’s next book publication (no date set!).

Be sure to read our contest guidelines here.

The Long Way cards and prints available in the shop

The Long Way cards and prints available in the shop

Recipe for reverie

Two parts reality, one part whimsyTwo parts reality, one part whimsy
Ideas take on a life of their own
Detaching themselves from the source


As they begin to take shape
Anticipation pushes my muse to the edge
Where I discover forms, shadows, and meaning


I don't question the process
The textured layers of
Decisions and Revisions


The paradox of light and shadow
Unveiled illusions
The brush marks of dreams
 

 

 

The Perfect Card

    My love affair with greeting cards began as a child. I experienced the joy of receiving mail on birthdays, Christmas, and assorted milestones from my grandmother in France. The envelope, exotic by virtue of the foreign stamp, stirred anticipation. In the beginning, my mother read them to me, my imagination taking hold of the chain of words that linked me to my grandmother’s part of the world, her stories taking on color, shape, and texture.

Afterward, I’d store these timeless treasures in a hat box for future readings.

    In time I was reading on my own, admiring the artwork that graced each card my grandmother selected just for me, a profound gesture that carried an endearing quality in its simplicity. Frequently, the letter started on the card, then continued onto a sheet of paper folded neatly inside. I took note and responded in kind.

    The perfect card took on a significant meaning in our home. Sometimes making the card myself was the perfect idea, providing a welcome outlet for creativity: an original drawing, a photograph adhered to the front, a collage - - oh the possibilities! Other times, buying the perfect card was the thing to do. I would linger before the displays, hoping for that one card to catch my eye, providing the perfect backdrop to encapsulate my world - - the card the link in this loving ritual between grandmother and granddaughter.

    Little time capsules of childish whimsy, pressed flowers, a smudge of chocolate, ink splashed by a tear when my mother died… the perfect card extended across the ocean that separated us, a bridge between two worlds and two hearts.

MLG

Stepping into the New Year

The energy and spirit that keeps us growing is continually inspired by the passion, delight and expectant wonder which is you. The possibilities are endless and we have treasured sharing this journey with you. As the year comes to a close, please accept our heartfelt thanks for the impact you have had on our lives.  We wish you all a happy holiday and joy as the new year awakens cherished memories,unfolding stories and tall tales to delight in every step along the way. 

TALL TALES

Tall Tales and more ... coming in 2016

 

All Images © 1983-2017 Lori Preusch