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> Letters About Literature

2011 Winner - New Hampshire, Level I

Dear Robert Frost,

I notice that you have a very unique sense of nature. You right about how the most subtle outdoor things can change your mood. Whether it is the breeze of summer to just a mere patch of powdery snow, sometimes, it will change my mood. My family sais that I am very observant and visual. I think they are right, because at the right moment of silence and independence, I can notice obscure details in the environment around me.

Also, the weather plays a big roll in my mood. When sunshine glistens through green leaves of trees and white fluffy clouds hang in the sky, I feel upbeat. When the sky is a sheet of gray and it is cold, bleak, and desolate, I feel down and lazy. This must happen to you too, because your poems describe this feeling quite well. You are also very good with pointing out details that mostly go forgotten or unnoticed.

I think I am different this way. Most other children are off playing sports or games and don’t take just one quiet alone-time moment to notice such things. So I am mostly responsible for sharing these details to others in poems and discussions rather than they noticing these details themselves. I am proud of it though. They share a little bit of what they’re good at with me. And I share a bit of what I’m good at with them. The Earth sometimes is in need of someone like me – and you.

It makes me more comfortable that you notice much of the same things I do. Nonetheless, you probably notice these details even better than I.

Sometimes I just love to stand under a tall white pine just to soak in its majesty, as strong and breathtaking as a lion’s. Or letting a light, but strong breeze supercool the stress in my body as it lifts off my shoulders.

This is the connection I have with your delightful poems – and well written ones too.

Drew Stetson

2011 Winner - New Hampshire, Level II

Dear David Pelzer,

Something happened to me that I believe will hold a memory, or even a nightmare, trapped in my mind for the rest of my life. Your book A Child Called It has changed my visioning on my life. It has made me thankful. You are probably thinking that I am being bizarre. What I went through was bad, but it wasn’t as severe as what you had to deal with.

About six years ago I was abused. It went on for about two or three years. I was afraid that if I told anyone, he would hurt me more than he already had. I can only imagine how you felt. You must have felt as if you could die. It wasn’t like that for me. I just wanted to tell someone, so that they could get him out of my life forever. My mom had no clue. If she knew, he would have been gone a lot sooner. She never found out. Not until I found the courage to say something two years later.

When I revealed what he was doing to my mom, she was so shocked. She told me to go back to bed and she would take care of everything. I was so relieved and slept really well that night.

The next morning, I woke up but didn’t go to school. I went to the doctor’s instead. He woke up and went to work, and my mom made him lunch, like usual. She didn’t want to put me in harm, so she acted as if she knew nothing. As soon as he left, she went to the police and he was forced to move out of our home. My mom didn’t care about losing the house, or not having money, she wanted me at safety.

I got a lot of support from my family, and I’ve been going to therapy for help. My therapist has helped me a lot in my life. When I first went to therapy, I had low self-esteem. Now it is high, but not stuck-up high. Just a lot better.

I went to court against him. It was petrifying. I knew he couldn’t hurt me, but I didn’t want to see his face again. He didn’t get locked away or punished, like he should have. For some reason, the jury didn’t believe me.

Your book has made me look at life and be thankful. Thankful for the support I have. Blessed for the family I have, and just how lucky I really am. You couldn’t ask your mother to help you, she was the one abusing you, making you feel useless. Making you feel like an “It”, even though you were somebody important and special. My mom made me thankful, and she supported me all the way. Your book made me realize that I wasn’t the only one that felt all alone, scared, but didn’t want to reveal it because I was afraid of being hurt more. Reading A Child Called It helped me to not be embarassed about what has happened. By writing this letter, I am chancing the public realizing that I have been abused, even though most people probably already know. I don’t care. Your book has made that possible.

Thank you, David for telling your story and making me not feel embarassed about what has happened to me. Thank you for making me feel thankful. Lastly thank you for changing me. You might think that you never did, but by writing your book, you did change me.

Thank you. I can never say it enough.

Erin Angel Choate – Grade 7

2011 Winner - New Hampshire, Level III

Dear Mr. Brian Jacques,

I am eighteen years old, soon to be entering college and starting work on a history major. Someday I hope to write novels and share my creative thought with the rest of the world. The Redwall Series inspired me to think imaginatively and also to express my creative side to others. When I picked up Redwall for the first time, the creatures, mice and moles, ferrets and foxes that lived in the child’s paradise of Redwall Abbey and the accompanying world immediately captivated me. The human characteristics each animal possesses that are used to determine the species, thrilled me, and I didn’t put the series down until I had read the first eighteen books. The exciting good vs. evil plots, set against the background of a medieval society of rodents both sparked my interest in history and in the natural world. I became extremely interested in medieval history, so much so that I now plan to study it in college. I also developed a love of animals that was nurtured by Redwall Abbey’s vivid assortment of animals. The fact that the animals in the Abbey never consume meat or eggs-which only the armies of evil rats ate- prompted me to ask my parents about the morality of eating meat. Years later, I am now a vegan, and I would definitely note the Redwall books as a chief reason for my initial fascination with the concepts of vegetarianism.

Apart from the moral ideals that are conveyed by the book, I also simply loved reading them. This helped encourage me to read more and more until, long after I had finished the whole series, I was reading books like The Da Vinci Code in middle school. My love of books continues to this day, and every once in awhile when I am reading a book on some loosely related topic, my mind jumps back to my childhood adventures in the land of Redwall. Memories of the endless hours I spent collecting, reading, and retelling the stories to my parents and sister come flooding back, and I smile. Multiple times when I was in the midst of Salamandastron, Mattimeo, or Marlfox I would painfully put the compelling tale down on the sofa, pick up a notebook and pencil, and try to write my own version of a Redwall story. Although I never succeeded in these particular endeavors, some day I hope to write fantasy novels capable of capturing the reader in the same way that your work once captivated me.

The harmonious society living behind the giant red walls, almost indefinitely under siege by some evil stoat or sea rat, got me thinking early on about why the real world couldn’t be more like the paradise you created inside those walls. Although it is fair to say our world is a bit more complex, I realized it wouldn’t do anyone a disfavor to try to exemplify the grand characteristics of Martin the Warrior. I hope that you had as much fun writing the Redwall series as I had reading it. Thanks.

Jake Tinkham

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