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> Letters About Literature

2005 Winner - New Hampshire, Level I

Dear Ms. Patricia,

I need to tell you thank you so very much for your story about Mr. Falker. I was having such a head time learning to read. I did not what to read. I felt not smart because I was having a hard time learning to read. Because I could not read vary well, I never got my schoolwork done on time and I had to stay in the work room at recess. I asked my mom and dad to please let me be home schooled. So they let me be home schooled, but I was still having a hard time reading.

One day, my mom read me Thank You Mr. Falker. I was so surprized to know you had a hard time reading too! My Mom and Dad are kind of like Mr. Falker, they tell me how smart I am. When Mom read me your book I thought ... maybe I am smart! So I decided I would learn how to read no matter what! My Mom asked me if I would like to go to a speciael teacher for reading better. I said, "I sure would!" So my Mom hooked me up with Ms. Lisa. I began to read batter and better.

Do you know what Ms. Patricia? Not only am I reading better, but I'm writing all the time too! I write in my diary and journal. Your stories make me think and laugh. I am so glad you have such a wonderful and great adventures because your stories make me laugh and think. Thank you so much for writing them.

Blessings and Hugs,
Love
Shauna

2005 Winner - New Hampshire, Level II

Dear Thornton Wilder,

Your play Our Town changed my view of the world and my view of life completely. It helped me realize that life isn't something to take for granted or rush through, because once you lose life, you'll never get it back. Our Town opened my eyes to how blind most people are to the beauty of everyday things and how much those everyday things mean to them. However, out of all the things I learned from Our Town the most important thing was how much family means, and how, like life, people take family for granted. Most people don't realize that families are like everything else, they don't last forever.

Life is nothing to take for granted. The plain idea of it is remarkable. To be able to inhale air, an invisible substance, and all of a sudden have thoughts and feelings is something all people do, but none of those people realize it's a truly amazing thing. "Mother Gibbs? Yes, Emily? They don't understand do they? No, dear. They don't understand." (p. 111) This is the quotation that pieced your whole play together for me; it told me that I didn't understand. This quotation helped teach me to take a breath, and a look around at the world every step I take. Now I keep my eyes open for every day beauty because, unlike Emily, I don't want to lose what I have before I know I have it. Everyone has always told me "You don't know what you have until you lose it." That has always been a saying that I've feared. Thanks to your play Our Town, I don't have to be one of the millions of people who learn that the hard way. Now that Our Town has taught me this idea, I'll never let it leave my mind or heart. I always hear people complaining about how old they are, but maybe if they had enjoyed being young, then they wouldn't be upset about being old. By complaining they're just wasting even more of their life, and that's something they don't want to waste. Life isn't a movie; you can't rewind it; there are no 'do overs.' Once you start life, you're forever stuck in an endless cycle, but unlike a normal cycle, life doesn't go around and around in a circle. It constantly moves forward, never meeting its starting point again. Once when my English teacher, Mr. Moore, was looking out the window at the little kids, he said, "I'd give any thing to have that again." This showed me that some people don't take life for granted, but just love it so much they never want it to end. The only problem with that is that it does end, and they can't do anything about it.

People are blind to more than life in general, they're blind to more specific things like the sun rising over the mountaintops, or the long grass swaying in the morning breeze. "I never realized. So all that goes on and we never noticed." (p. 108) Realizing you have lost everything you had must be a scary feeling. But realizing you lost everything you had before you knew you had it must be a million times worst. To realize that you'd never be able to smell your mothers cookies, or your fathers stew again, having it snatched away before your very eyes, that must bring an overwhelming feeling of sorrow to all that experience it. "That's all human beings are! Just blind people." (p. 109) People who can see perfectly are as blind as those who can't see, only they're blind to something else - they're blind to life. All that it takes to avoid being blind to life is to take one extra look around you every step your take, and someone to remind you to look. For me, you, Thornton Wilder, reminded me to look.

People may think that they love and give thanks for their families, but they most likely don't do this enough. "I can't bear it. They're all so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to get old?" (p. 105) Families are like every other living thing, they grow old, and then they disappear. I realized that family is a privilege, some people don't have families at all, or they're missing members of theirs. Our Town helps people who live in small, rural, New England towns like me come out of these isolated bubbles and step into reality. All people like me saw when we were in our bubbles was a perfect world, but really there are lots of disappointments out there. Once I popped my bubble I realized all these things like family are advantages many people don't have, and they are things that I should be grateful for.

In conclusion, I want to thank you for opening my eyes to everything I've been missing for so many years. I missed noticing each movement in my childhood, but instead of regretting that and missing even more of life, I'm going to start enjoying life for what it is - amazing!

Thank you,
Evelyn Bulkeley

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