The charming Susanna Leonard Hill is holding a blog contest, and I’m giving it a go.
The rules, in Susanna’s own words: “Write a children’s story, in poetry or prose, maximum 400 words about the Fourth of July in which a secret is revealed or a mystery is solved!”
Fourth of July? Mystery? My first idea was The Mystery of the Missing Fingers.
But better judgment prevailed.
UPDATE: I am delighted to report that Harold’s Hat was the winner of the 2014 Highlights for Children Fiction Contest!
Please be aware, however, that the winning story is quite different from the one posted below. If you want to read the winning story, you’re gonna have to get a copy of Highlights. (You should do this, by the way. That mag is awesome.)
AN UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: It’s official: Harold’s Hat will appear in the July 2015 issue of Highlights for Children. Feel free to camp out next to your newsstand now!
By Mike Allegra
The day was here! Finally!
Oh, and there was also The Hat.
Harold could hardly think of The Hat without saying, “Mwah-ha-ha!”
He’ll show that Betsy Lominzer, that’s for sure.
Last year Betsy wore a special Fourth of July hat to the town parade – a nice one that had flashing lights and a cup holder for her lemonade.
Harold asked if he could try it on and she said no. Not even for one teeny, tiny little milisecond.
“Fine,” thought Harold. “I’ll show you next year.”
The Hat took Harold six months to build. He kept it out of harm’s way in his closet.
At least he thought he did.
It must be out of harm’s way in his toy box.
Out of harm’s way in his dresser?
Under the bed? Behind the hamper? In the closet again, just to make sure?
“Whaaaat?” Mom was trying to light the barbecue.
“Have you seen My Hat? The one with the red, white and blue glitter, and the flashing lights, and the siren, and the cup holder?”
“No,” she replied. “Where on earth did you get…? ”
“Too loud!” Dad was pouring chlorine in the pool.
“Have you seen My Hat? The one with the battery powered waving flag action and the cannons that shoot sparks?”
“You have a hat that shoots sparks?” Dad asked. “That could be a fire haz–”
“Ba!” Billy was sucking on his foot.
“Have you seen My Hat? The one with the megaphone and the solar powered jukebox that plays a medley of Sinatra songs when you push a red button on the brim?”
“Do-be-do-be-do,” Billy said.
Wait. That wasn’t Billy.
Harold followed the do-bes to Sparky’s doghouse and found him swooning to Sinatra’s crooning.
The hat was safe and sound.
Off to the parade! Off to find Betsy Lominzer! Mwah-ha-ha!
But…well…Betsy’s hat had improved a bit since last year.
It had improved quite a lot, actually.
“Wow! Can I try on your hat for just one teeny, tiny, little millisecond?” Harold asked.
“No,” Betsy Lominzer replied.
“Fine!” thought Harold. “I’ll show you next year.”
In an instant, Harold’s mind filled with new and exciting ideas. A bigger hat. A better hat. The Best Hat Ever.
His lips curled into a smile.
“Mwah-ha-ha!” he said.