> Letters About Literature
2008 Winner - New Hampshire, Level I
Dear Beverly Cleary,
The book "Ramona the Pest" helped me communicate with my brother Chris better.
Chris and I used to get into a lot of arguments. For example when I was doing homework, Chris would be playing with his soldiers and saying "Boom! Boom!" very loud and I couldn't concentrate on my homework. So I would tell him to try to make noises quietly or to go to another room far away from the room I was doing homework in. He always wouldn't listen. I couldn't go upstairs because dad was having a meeting and I couldn't go in the kitchen either because grandpa was preparing dinner. I tried to concentrate on but now Chris was even louder than ever! Then we got into an argument.
After I read "Ramona the Pest", I could understand why Chris was making those noises because he wanted my attention. Now whenever Chris bothers me I know how to handle it. When Chris bothered me again I asked him why and he said that he was bored so I played with him a little and then he was busy doing something else and I could peacefully finish my homework. Chris doesn't seem that annoying anymore and we communicate better.
2008 Winner - New Hampshire, Level II
Dear Carolyn Mackler,
It's odd how people who think they're fat or judge themselves that they're fat never do anything about it. Then you see other people, heavier people, who don't five a care in the world what other people think about them. Your book The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, really helped me realize that I'm one of those girls who complains about being overweight, but I never do anything about it. I don't run and I don't walk, but that is for other medical reasons. I have a very painful knee disease called Patella Phamora, where my knee cap knocks against the cartilage in my knee and clicks when I walk causing a massive reduction of cartilage in my knees. I can barely sit through a class without having to move because it hurts so badly. It causes me to fall a lot and I have to wear a knee brace every so often so it doesn't get any worse. I can't do any exercise that stresses my knees or it will become even more inapt.
After reading this book, I really felt motivated to get up and do something that doesn't really work my knees. When I asked my mom about starting an exercise class or exercise schedule, she said that it was a great idea to get up and get active. The amusing thing is, we began kick-boxing, just like Virginia in your book. I love that it really helps with the core abs, it doesn’t work a lot on my knees, and it also helps with anger, which I seem to have a lot of after school, because just like your book, school drama can drive anyone crazy.
Your book really helped me get into shape, which is kind of weird to say about a book and to see myself as someone new. I saw myself as a fat girl who didn't want to see herself in a full length mirror, but now I see myself as someone who just needs to cut back on sweets and stop moaning and groaning about my weight, when I can actually do something about it. I can't believe that this time last year, I was a big lump on the couch, eating candy and other junk, not exercising, watching hours and hours of television, eating at fast-foods almost every night, and even worse, not realizing what it was doing to my health not to mention my body.
Now I'm active, happier, I barely eat fast foods, and I'm getting into shape, even in the winter when there isn't much to do outside, that's my favorite part. I feel so much happier with my new body than I ever have in my entire life, and it's all thanks to what Virginia decided to do in your book.
I hope every girl who reads this book has said to herself, "If Virginia canget the body she's happy with, and love herself more than she ever did before, why can't I?" All you need is motivation, and your book gave me just enough to change my whole life. Thank you!
2008 Winner - New Hampshire, Level III
Dear Jodi Picoult,
A theme from each of your books that resonates with me is how love between tow people is pushed to its limits. It is discovered, broken, and stretched in ways that the characters think are impossible. In My Sisters Keeper, Anna does everything she can for her sister, Kate; even after dying in a terrible car accident, she gives her kidney to Kate. When I read your book I imagined how hard it must have been for the family to deal with Kate's cancer and Anna's unexpected death. However, in these past few weeks I have begun to understand how happy Anna would have been to know she had given Kate the chance to live. When someone that you love is in that much pain, you do everything in your power to make that pain go away, no matter how herd it is for you. I know that Anna wouldn't regret the choice she made.
My own nightmare began the week before Thanksgiving when my friend Anne, the healthiest kid I knew, has a heart attack at breakfast. She was flown from our small town in southern New Hampshire to Mass General Hospital and put into a medically induced coma. I spent that entire day worrying about her and her family, hoping that everything was okay. I didn't know exactly what had happened, just that something wasn't right. How serious were things? Would the doctors know how to fix it?
Anne spent the next week in a coma. The doctors didn't know what was wrong with her and all we could do was pray that things would work out. Her friends sent cards and presents, while group of mothers went to keep Anne's parents company in the hospital. But then the unthinkable happened. Two days after Thanksgiving, near midnight on November 24th, Anne passed away. Her heart had simply become accustomed to and dependent on the medicine that she had been given after the heart attack. Her heart was no longer able to function effectively on its own and there was nothing else the doctors could do.
It is often said that losing a child is the worst pain imaginable. You hear about mothers, who upon hearing that their children have been trapped in a bus accident suddenly find the strength to move the bus and rescue their children. Live is a strange thing, the strongest tie. In your book, Anna and Kate were not just sisters, they were best friends. Kate had fought her hardest and deserved one last chance to live. I know now that if I could have given Anne one last chance to live, I would have made the same choice as Anna, even if I know the potential consequences. I would have done anything to give Anne the chance to play in one more soccer game or perform with the color guard a last time. No one's supposed to lose a friend at fourteen, especially someone as special as Anne.
School was hard for me that first week without Anne, and in all honesty, it still is. That week the auditorium became a refuge from class. Everyone who showed up had a nice story to share about Anne, added their thoughts to a book, and helped to decorate posters that were being given to the family. It seems like Anne's life affected the whole school in some way. People who didn't even know her cried and comforted those who did.
The wake and the funeral were by far the hardest part. Seeing the casket covered in flowers from Anne's friends and family was beautiful yet devastating. I felt so bad for her family. "In the English language there are words for orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child." (417) Parents aren't supposed to love their children, so why would there be a word? To be Anne's mother or brother, father or aunt; the pain and shock simply cannot be described. Although Kate and Anna are just characters in a book, Anna's loss affects the reader. But it is nothing compared to the loss of a real, live friend. With the help of each other, my friends and I got through those extremely hard days and still continue to support each other.
Your books are considered by many to be about family relations or, the "tough stuff", but I find your books to be about the sacrifices people are willing to make for the people they love. Even though Anne and I hadn't been friends for very long, it was long enough for me to love her. She was the kind of girl that could make anyone smile. Like your character Kate, I will adjust to life without my special friend and when I have to I will cry. I will always love and remember my dear friend Anne. "I take her with me, wherever I go" (423).