Deadline approaches for student letter contest

Local students' success in contest last year may encourage others to enter

Posted: Friday, November 28, 2003

Thomas Sorensen and Daniel Stoops are proof that local students can do well in the Letters about Literature contest. They won honorable mentions in the 2003 contest and may enter again for 2004, they said.

Their success may encourage other students to enter, said Barbara Brown, contest coordinator for Alaska. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 6.

Students in grades four through 12 are invited to enter Letters About Literature 2004, a national writing contest sponsored by Alaska Center for the Book and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in partnership with Target Stores.

The contest invites students to write a letter to an author - living or dead - describing how that author's work influenced a student's thinking.

Alaska state winners receive $100 plus a $50 Target gift card also good at

Six national winners each receive an expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C., to read their letters during the National Book Festival in the fall of 2004. They receive a $500 Target gift card redeemable at any Target or

Stoops, a seventh grader at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, won with a letter he wrote to Jerry Spinelli, author of "Wringer." The book is a fictitious account of boys who wring the necks of wounded pigeons and how one deals with peer pressure from his friends. Stoops was in sixth grade when he won.

"It was such a different book than I'd ever read. ... I thought this was the perfect idea to share my feelings," Stoops said.

Stoops is now reading "Eragon," a fantasy book by 17-year-old author Christopher Paolini. He may enter the 2004 contest with a letter to Paolini, he said.

Sorensen, an eighth grader at Thunder Mountain Learning Center, wrote his letter to Richard Ellis, author of "Deep Atlantic" and "In Search of the Giant Squid," mainstream nonfiction science books. He was in the seventh grade when he won.

"His books educate the masses about the things you'd find in (more specialized publications) Nature and Scientific American," Sorensen said.

Each letter must be accompanied by an official entry coupon or copy of one. Entry coupons are available at participating libraries or online at the Alaska Center for the Book Web site at

• Tara Sidor can be reached at

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