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March Winners


Nikki Grimes

Grades K-2 (Level I)

It's been cold and snowy here in Washington, DC, and we could use some jokes to makes us laugh. In the spirit of Nikki Grimes' Danitra Brown, Class Clown, we'd like you to make up an original joke, riddle, or short story and send it along. This is your chance to try some humor writing and make us giggle.

Grades 3-5 (Level II)

What's strangest pet name you've ever heard of? How about a cat named Gorilla! In Gorilla Goes Walking, this crazy cat with no tail and her human friend Cecelia boss each other around, make messes, and comfort each other. Just like Nikki Grimes does in the book, we want you to use poetry to tell us about your pet or a pet you wish you could have. If you'd like, draw us a picture of your pet doing something especially crazy.

  • Winner
    Bert & I
    by Frank B.
    Midlothian, VA

Grades 6-8 (Level III)

In Grimes' The Road to Paris, Paris and her older brother go to live with foster families when their parents cannot take care of them. Away from her family and in a new school, Paris feels lonely and different. Can you remember a time when you were lonesome and sad? Using the form of a letter, write to a friend or relative and tell them about how you feel.

  • Winner
    Untitled
    by Bayley F.
    Caledonia, MI

Grades 9-12 (Level IV)

Nikki Grimes counts the author James Baldwin as one her favorite authors and one of the most important influences on her literary life. Think about your favorite authors. What is it about their writing that you like? Now, write a review for a book by your favorite author. Remember, we're asking for a book review, which is your opinion of the work, not a book report or factual summary of the content.

  • Winner
    Review of My Sister's Keeper
    by Emily H.
    Yuma, AZ

Natalie Babbitt

Grades K-2 (Level I)

What happens when you and your parents or friends don't agree about something — do you throw a fit or try to compromise? When eight-year-old Phoebe gets tired of all the fancy clothes her mother makes her wear (Phoebe's Revolt), she puts up a fuss and refuses to get dressed for her party. She and her Mom eventually come to a compromise, but only after her Dad gets involved. Tell us about a time you had to make a compromise.

  • Winner
    Pink Compromise
    by Rebecca H.
    Leesburg, VA

Grades 3-5 (Level II)

In The Search for Delicious, the citizens of a magical kingdom can't agree on the definition of the word "delicious" for their official dictionary. Speaking of definitions… can you come up with a word that isn't in the dictionary but should be? Comedian Rich Hall called these sniglets, but another name for a newly coined word is neologism — "neo" means new in Greek and "logos" means word. Here's an example: the word "staycation," which means a vacation spent close to home, was added to Webster's Dictionary in 2009. Send us up to three new words or phrases, along with their definitions.

  • Co-Winner
    My Fake Dictionary
    by Katie C.
    Shortsville, NY
  • Co-Winner
    Four New Words
    by Alyssa G.
    Shortsville, NY

Grades 6-8 (Level III)

In Knee-Knock Rise, Egan sets off to discover the source of the noises coming from the mountaintop. He makes a surprising discovery about the noise, but for our purposes we're interested in his journey. The hero's journey, what Joseph Campbell called "monomyth," is a common pattern, or archetype, in stories. It includes three big stages — separation, initiation, and return, with several substages within each one. We'd like you to write a short story that involves one of the stages or substages of the hero's journey.

  • Winner
    Leaving Home
    by Molly F.
    Raleigh, NC

Grades 9-12 (Level IV)

If you had the choice, would you want to live forever? In Tuck Everlasting, perhaps Natalie Babbitt's most famous book, ten-year-old Winnie Foster faces that choice when she wanders into the woods and comes across the Tuck family who has discovered the fountain of youth. If you were Natalie, would you drink from the magic water of immortality or refuse it? Write a persuasive essay that takes a position for or against living forever and develop your argument using solid reasoning. Convince us that your position is the right one.

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"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943