Letters about Literature contest winners announced

May 28, 2009

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book announces the Pennsylvania winners of the 2009 Letters About Literature contest, a nationwide event sponsored by the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress and Target Stores. This contest invites students in three grade categories to write letters to authors — living or dead — explaining how the author's words affected them or their worldview.

Aidan Giles of Wyomissing won the Level I prize, grades four through six, writing to Alfred, Lord Tennyson about "The Charge of the Light Brigade." Gregory Miller of Enola won the Level II award, grades seven and eight, writing to Gary Paulsen about "Hatchet." Xio Torres of Reading won the Level III award, grades nine through 12, writing to Randa Abdel-Fattah about "Does My Head Look Big in This?" Winners received a $150 cash prize and a $50 Target gift card, and, with their families, were lunch guests of the director and assistant director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book in State College.

In addition to winning the Level III state award, Torres also won an honorable mention in the national Letters About Literature contest. For this, she will receive a $100 Target gift card and a $1,000 Target grant for the library of her choice, Holy Name High School Library, described by Xio as "a great place to go to school and learn every day."

Target Stores sponsors the Letters About Literature contest. Target Stores, along with its parent company Target Corporation, give back more than $2 million a week to local communities through grants and special programs. Since opening its first store in 1962, Target has partnered with nonprofit organizations, guests and team members to help meet community needs.

Level I honor of high distinction, which includes a cash award of $50, went to Jordan Emely of Pleasant Gap, writing to Jack Gantos about "Joey Pigza Loses Control." Level I honorable-mention winners are: Lennon Mullen of Yardley writing to Kate DiCamillo about "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane"; Rachel Aluise of Natrona Heights writing to Douglas Wood about "Old Turtle and the Broken Truth"; Aislinn Slaugenhaupt of Summerville writing to Walt Whitman about his poem "I Sing the Body Electric"; Amarra Rosania from Philadelphia writing to Kate DiCamillo about "Because of Winn-Dixie"; and Abigail Opher of Malvern writing to Judy Blume about "Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret."

Level II honorable-mention winners are: Brielle Brown of Rosemont writing to Debbie Allen about "Dancing in the Wings"; Allyson Miller of Volant writing to John Grogan about "Marley: A Dog Like No Other"; Jeanne Shi of Souderton writing to Andrew Clements about "Things Not Seen"; Philip Barboza of Harrisburg writing to Gordon Korman about "Schooled"; Elisa Trucco of Harrisburg writing to Meg Cabot about "How to be Popular"; Timothy McAuliffe of Wyncote writing to David McKee about "Elmer"; Samantha Bristow of Rosemont writing to Melvin Burgess about "Billy Elliot"; and Megan Walton of Warren responding to a poem about grieving.

Level III honorable-mention winners are: Alison Isaacs of Wallingford writing to Susanna Kaysen about "Girl, Interrupted"; Ebtesam Al-Thowaini of State College writing to Harper Lee about "To Kill a Mockingbird"; Mawunyo Akabua of Pittsburgh writing to Loung Ung about "First They Killed My Father"; Genevieve DiSpirito of Richboro writing to Elizabeth Cady Stanton about "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions"; Emmalee Hagarman of Pittsburgh writing to Sue Monk Kidd about "The Secret Life of Bees"; Joshua Wortzel of Washington Crossing writing to John Steinbeck about "The Grapes of Wrath"; Derek Lichtner of Richboro for his letter to T.S. Eliot about "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

Letters About Literature contest judges were Nancy Leuschner, retired English and humanities teacher from Harrisburg; Kara Robertson, internet librarian at Vivisimo Inc. in Pittsburgh; David Rockower, sixth grade teacher at Mount Nittany Middle School (State College Area School District) in Boalsburg; Maggie Herb, graduate student in composition and TESOL and assistant director of the Writing Center at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana; Anna Eichner, student at Grove City College, Grove City; and Cindy Pimental, fourth grade teacher at G.B. Luhrs University Elementary School, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg.

For more information about the contest and awards, please contact Caroline Wermuth, outreach coordinator, at (814) 863-5472 or Karla M. Schmit, assistant director, at (814) 863-5521. Visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book Web site at www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu.

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Last Updated June 03, 2009