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Press Release
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The Center for the Book at New Hampshire State Library

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mary Russell, 603-271-2866
April 25, 2011

2011 Letters About Literature N.H. winners announced

The Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library has announced the state’s winners in the 2011 Letters About Literature competition.

The winners—Drew Stetson of Stratham, Erin Choate of Lisbon and Jake Tinkham of Gilford—will each receive a cash prize and a gift card to Target Stores. Additionally, their letters were sent on as entries in the national Letters About Literature competition.

Letters About Literature is a reading and writing promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, presented in partnership with Target Stores and coordinated in New Hampshire by the Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library. To enter, young readers wrote personal letters to authors explaining how his or her work changed their view of the world or themselves.

This year, there were 69,200 Letters About Literature entries nationwide; 624 were from New Hampshire students. Judges selected 55 New Hampshire semi-finalists across three competition levels: upper elementary, middle school and high school. State winners were selected from this group of outstanding letters.

Drew L. Stetson, a fifth grader at Stratham Memorial School, wrote a letter to Robert Frost about his nature poems. Lesley Kimball, one of the New Hampshire judges said, “Drew’s letter to Robert Frost about his poetry and natural sensibility is a wonderful reminder of the connections that poetry can create.Drew’s own descriptions of his experiences in nature and his deep feelings are told in poetic language, reminiscent of Frost’s evocative imagery.This letter is energetic, honest and a tribute to the long reach of Frost’s work.”

Erin Angel Choate, a seventh grader at Lisbon Regional School, wrote to David Pelzer about A Child Called It. In her letter, she described a traumatic period in her own life and explained how the book helped her see her experience differently. “Thank you, David for telling your story and making me not feel embarrassed about what has happened to me. Thank you for making me feel thankful. Lastly thank you for changing me.” One of the New Hampshire judges, the author Marty Kelley said, “I was personally drawn to this letter, out of a field of exceptional entries, because of the powerful connection the letter writer made to the author. The student obviously underwent a terrible and traumatic event in her life. The fact that a book was able to help her heal is a strong statement about the power of language.”

Jake Tinkham, a twelfth grader at Gilford High School, wrote his letter to Brian Jacques. “The Redwall Series inspired me to think imaginatively and also to express my creative side to others,” wrote Tinkham, who expressed a strong desire to follow in Jacques’s footsteps. “Some day I hope to write fantasy novels capable of capturing the reader in the same way that your work once captivated me.” Maureen Brown, a teacher and state Letters About Literature judge said, “I was charmed by the comfort he takes from this young adult series in his near-adult years. Jake’s connection to literature is a testament to the impact of art on one young life.”

The New Hampshire Letters About Literature judges for 2011 were Ann Hoey, youth services coordinator at the New Hampshire State Library; Marty Kelley, author; Betsy Snider, poet and Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library Advisory Board member; Maureen Brown, English teacher at Goffstown High School; Andrew L. Fersch, eighth-grade language arts teacher at Epping Middle School; and Lesley Kimball,library director at Wiggin Memorial Library.

The mission of the Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library is to celebrate and promote reading, books, literacy and the literary heritage of New Hampshire and to highlight the role that reading and libraries play in enriching the lives of the people of the Granite State. Participating in the national Letters About Literature program gives the Center for the Book an opportunity to celebrate the role of reading, and writing, in the lives of the hundreds of New Hampshire students who submitted letters across all three competition levels.

For the full text of the winning Letters About Literature entries, please visit our website at http://lal.nhbookcenter.org.

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