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January Winners


Gregory Maguire

Grades K-2 (Level I)

Have you ever lost a tooth? Not just lost it from your mouth, but really lost it and didn't have it to leave under your pillow for the tooth fairy? Imagine that you have lost your tooth, can't find it anywhere, and don't have it to put under your pillow. Write a letter to the tooth fairy explaining your situation and how your tooth got lost. See if you can persuade the tooth fairy to leave something under your pillow even though you have no tooth to place there. Include descriptive details about your tooth and where your tooth went missing — just in case the tooth fairy decides to look for it!

Grades 3-5 (Level II)

Whether he's writing for adults or for children, a lot of Gregory Maguire's books have a fairy tale back-story. In his imaginative retellings, certain elements remain that help remind the reader of the original fairy tale. It's almost as if he has a catalog of fabulous fairy tale objects. What would you include in such a catalog? Write descriptive copy about a fairy tale object that you'd like to see in The Fairy Tale Catalog, such as glass slippers, ruby slippers, an enchanted mirror, a golden ball, magic harp, flying carpets, or seven-league boots. Describe your fairy tale object in great detail — what it is made from, its origin, how it works and what it does. You're not telling a story about your object, but you can include information about the story or stories where your object has played a role.

Grades 6-8 (Level III)

What the Dickens? The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy actually started from a writing prompt that Gregory Maguire gave to some middle-school students. The assignment was to "write about the meeting between an impossible creature and an ordinary citizen." Maguire did the assignment, too, and came up with a tooth fairy that is mistaken for the Angel of Death by a very old lady who is confined to her bed. Eventually this sketch turned into a longer story and then finally What the Dickens? Explore for yourself what happens when an average person meets an improbable being and write a story about their encounter.

Grades 8-12 (Level IV)

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, little information is offered about why the Wicked Witch of the West is so wicked. Gregory Maguire gives us her story in Wicked, along with a new perspective on her relationship with the Wizard and Dorothy. For this Exquisite Prompt, repurpose a well-known story to tell a new one. Take the point of view of someone who isn't in the story, but who must have been there — for example, a maid, serving boy, or footman — and share how that person's life was affected by or had an effect on the events of the original story.

Patricia and Frederick McKissack

Grades K-2 (Level I)

In Goin' Someplace Special, Patricia McKissack writes about a young girl, Tricia Ann, who is on her way to a special place— the library. For Tricia Ann, the library is a friendly place that she looks forward to visiting. Is there a special place that you like to visit? Why do you like it? It doesn't have to be far away, it could be in your own backyard, or down the street, or wherever. The important thing is that this place, and maybe the people there, are special to you. Tell us all about it and/or draw a picture if you like.

Grades 3-5 (Level II)

Good stories connect with readers and make them feel something. In their award-winning folktale collection, The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural, McKissack's have written creepy ghost stories and legends to give you a chill. Dark-Thirty is that time just before dark, when it's neither day nor night and mystery lurks in the shadows. Write a story set at dark-thirty that will give us all a good scare. Include some creepy sounds or invent an eerie new creature. Here's your big chance to make us too afraid to look under the bed.

  • Co-winner
    Creepture
    by Grace H.
    Portland, ME
  • Co-winner
    The Dark-Thirty Monster
    by Myles R.
    Kent, WA

Grades 9-12 (Level IV)

An interior monologue reflects a person's thoughts and feelings, and these thoughts can be very different from what a person is saying or doing. Think about it. When you're in class, is your mind always on what your teacher is saying, or have you got other things on your mind? The pictures above are from Civil Rights sit-ins and other protests against racial segregation in the 1960s. During the protests, participants endured taunts and sometimes even violence. Choose any person — protester, heckler, or bystander — in one of the photos below and write an interior monologue. Explain what is going on inside that person while so much is going on around them. Please note on your submission which picture/ person you wrote about.

Sit in
March to Selma
Little Rock

Click thumbnails to view larger images

  • Winner
    Untitled
    by Nataly C.
    Lakewood, CO
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Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
August 1, 2014
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"You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." — Paul Sweeney