April Winners

Timothy Basil Ering

Grades K-2 (Level I)

"Finn likes peaches. Usually. But today, Finn doesn't like peaches. Today Finn doesn't like anything…" In the delightfully illustrated picture book Finn Throws a Fit!, Ering describes Finn's temper tantrum and the family chaos his bad mood creates by comparing Finn's fit to a raging storm. What happens when you are in a bad mood? Write about a time you were feeling cranky at home. Compare the results of your bad mood to a weather event or natural disaster. Include a self-portrait if you like.

  • Winner
    by Lucy M. and Marin P.
    Portland ME

Grades 3-5 (Level II)

Write a cinquain about a natural place you have visited: the ocean, water, the forest, your backyard, a neighborhood park, your school playground — even the flowering tree at the end of your block can be inspiring. If your place is nearby, revisit and immerse yourself in the space to help you gather up some good descriptive words.

Grades 6-8 (Level III)

"Necks out to eat and necks in to hide." In his children's book Necks Out for Adventure, Ering introduces us to a courageous clam named Edwin, who must leave his protective shell and venture out into a dangerous world to save his wiggleskin clan. Write an adventure story that features a plucky hero (animal or human), with a 'there and back' circular story structure. You can use a circular diagram or storyboard graphic organizer to help with sequencing the story.

  • Winner
    Hero for a Day
    by Jill V.
    Union, ME

Grades 9-12 (Level IV)

Ering traveled the world as a boatswainsmate — what's that, anyway? Select and research an 18th or 19th century profession that you would like to know more about. Imagine you are this person and you have decided to use Twitter to communicate what's going on. You'll need to do your research to know your facts and develop an authentic voice! Write a series of 15-20 tweets (<140 characters each) that reveal your character, your times, professional challenges, interactions with other townspeople, and what you do for fun.

  • Winner
    The Twitter Account of Peter Tunnall
    by Shaun M.
    Vineland, NJ
  • Honorable Mention
    The Twitter Account of Erik Falkner
    by Sarah M.
    Durham, NC

Megan McDonald

Grades K-2 (Level I)

Megan McDonald's spunky and all-too-real protagonist, Judy Moody, once played a great practical joke on her younger brother Stink when she puts a fake hand in the toilet (something McDonald actually did to her one of her own sisters). When Stink discovers the stray hand… "he burst out of the bathroom, [Uncle Sam] hat crashing to the floor, stars flying…" Have you ever played a practical joke on someone? Tell us about it, or make up a new one that you would love to try on a family member.

Grades 3-5 (Level II)

In McDonald's first book, Is This a House for a Hermit Crab?, readers are introduced to Hermit Crab who has outgrown his home. He crawls along the sand "scritch-scatch, scritch-scratch" searching for a new place to live. A tin can is too noisy, a plastic bucket is too big. Nothing feels just right until he takes shelter inside an empty sea snail's shell. Select an animal that fascinates you and find out about its habitat, life cycle, behavior, social structure — and its home. Is it a cave, hive, nest, burrow, or tree hollow? Take the point of view of the animal and write a one-page descriptive essay using specific details and rich language to describe your home and why it's perfect for you. Include a drawing if you wish.

  • Winner
    Leopard Me
    by Ethan T.
    Arlington, VA

Grades 6-8 (Level III)

McDonald has lots of fun with idioms in Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker, featuring Judy Moody's pesky 7-year-old brother. Select and research the history of one English idiom. Write a one-page piece that includes a colorful anecdote or short story with your own explanation of the origin of the idiom and a brief, true history of the idiom and what it means. Make sure to cite your source.

  • Winner
    Put a Sock in It
    by McKenna D.
    Caledonia, MI

Grades 9-12 (Level IV)

McDonald's fiction and nonfiction books reveal a deep interest in insects, reptiles, crustaceans, and other living creatures. In this writing challenge, you'll be creating a page spread from "The Insect Guidebook" or "The Reptile Guidebook." Select and research an insect or reptile you would like to know more about. Components of the page spread include: 1-2 images with captions and labeling; map (optional); subheads; expository text that describes where this critter lives, what it eats, social structure, what kind of home it has and how it behaves; scientific name; and a 'fun facts' callout box. Think about the layout of your page and how you help the reader scan and absorb different 'levels' of information.

We Are Storytellers promo


Space Rangers

Start with a Book: Read. Talk. Explore.

Sign up for our free newsletters about reading

Our Literacy Blogs

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl