November Winners

Kate DiCamillo

Grades K-2 (Level I)

Despereaux is a mouse, Mercy Watson is a pig, and Winn-Dixie is a dog. Kate DiCamillo often features animals as central characters in her books. Think of an animal that you would like to be and write a funny story about your animal. What is the animal? How big is it? What does it do all day? Where does it live? Is it a wild animal or a pet? Because you are writing a make-believe story, your animal can talk if you want it to. Or your animal can do things that humans can do, like drive a car or read a book.

  • Winner
    The Titanic Home
    by Kobe L.
    Seneca Falls, NY
  • Honorable Mention
    Ruffy the Bear
    by Harley R.
    Rotonda West, FL
  • Honorable Mention
    The Little Chick's Whistling Day
    by Syeda R.
    Jackson Heights, NY

Grades 3-5 (Level II)

For the queen in The Tale of Despereaux, it was soup. Soup was her very favorite food and after her death, the king outlawed it and any cooking utensils needed to make it. In the Kingdom of Dor, when you thought of soup, you thought of the queen. But soup was also remembered for the warm comfort it gives. Describe your own favorite food in sumptuous detail. Try to make people reading about your favorite food feel like they are about to sit down and eat it with you. Use all your senses to describe it and write about your food's color, shape, size, flavor, texture, smell, and how it sounds when you eat it. Include how your favorite food makes you feel. Does your favorite food remind you of someone or of a special memory?

  • Winner
    by Emily K.
    Sherwood, OR

Grades 6-8 (Level III)

Kate DiCamillo was prompted to write The Tale of Despereaux by an eight-year-old friend who asked for "the story of an unlikely hero" who's got "exceptionally large ears." That was all the information he offered. It was up to her to define the hero and tell his story. How would you define "hero?" Write an essay about what makes a person a hero. Provide your ideas about the characteristics of a real life hero and include at least one example of an historical or contemporary figure who you consider to be a hero.

  • Winner
    My Hero
    by Jackie P.
    Chicago, IL

Grades 9-12 Level IV)

You know from reading fairy tales that they are not necessarily about fairies. You may also know that they are part of folklore, often set in the very distant past. While they are hard to define, fairy tales are often short, easy stories to remember with characters clearly identified as "good" or "evil." The Tale of Despereaux is very much like a fairy tale, with animals that can speak and a great quest for its hero. But the "happily ever after" in The Tale of Despereaux is more realistic than perfect. Write your own fairy tale where an impossible wish isn't granted but everything comes out all right in the end-but just all right, not happily ever after.

  • Winner
    by Elizabeth B.
    Geneseo, IL

Katherine Paterson

Grades 3-5 (Level II)

When you write a letter to a friend or to someone in your family, it's called a friendly letter. If you had left home at the time of the Industrial Revolution to find work in a factory, you would have written letters in order to stay in touch with your family. Imagine that you are a young person working in a textile mill (a factory where cotton cloth is made) and write a friendly letter to a family member about your new job. Include all the parts of a friendly letter — the heading, the date (the year should be sometime between 1820 and 1890), the salutation, the body, the closing, and signature — and describe what your new job is, what your working conditions are like, who your co-workers are and how you feel about working in a factory.

  • Winner
    by Bridget M.
    Sherwood, OR

Grades 9-12 (Level IV)

The factual reporting and the editorial comments found in newspapers have an impact on public life and help to make social changes. Without an independent press, many historic reforms — such as limits on working hours — may have failed. Katherine Paterson's Bread and Roses, Too is a fictionalized account of the 1912 labor strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In it she includes details of newspaper reports about the brutal tactics police used to prevent strikers from sending their children out of town to the safety of sympathetic families. These articles fueled public sympathy and outrage and ultimately resulted in a Congressional investigation and the meeting of the mill workers' demands. Take a look at your own community and choose an event or issue that deserves public attention and write an original news article about it. You'll need to give facts that help persuade readers to take action, have a good lead sentence, and include an interesting quote in your story. As you are writing, keep in mind that your article may be read by an author in the future who is using it as a resource.

  • Winner
    Examining the Environmental Impact of a Coal-Crazed City
    by Arlene W.
    Lexington, KY

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