Winners of annual Bookworm Children’s Writing Contest announced |

Winners of annual Bookworm Children’s Writing Contest announced

Krista Driscoll
Young authors gather for a photo at The Bookworm of Edwards on Friday after the winners were named in the store's annual Children's Writing Contest. Submissions ranged from science fiction and fantasy to mystery, adventure and even hints of memoir, and the stories were critiqued based on voice, creativity and strength of writing.
Lauren Emenaker | Special to the Daily |

And the winner is …

Lindsay Eland, Suzanne Foster, Jessica Lawson, Franny Gustafson, Rebecca Cohen, Heather Sappenfield and Margaret Sutherland Brown chose the winning stories and honorable-mention entries for this year’s Bookworm Children’s Writing Contest.

Excerpts of winning stories

• “The Adventures of the Ice Dragon,” by Porter Murray, grade 3, Vail Mountain School — On Sunday, Jack looked up Alaskan words that start with I. He came up with ice, icicles and igloo, but he still couldn’t figure out what “I.D.” meant. Next, he looked up popular Alaskan words. Ice came up, so he wrote ice down in his journal. Jack whispered to himself, “But we still don’t know what ‘I.D.’ means.

• “Man of Mystery,” by Juan Pablo Landeros, grade 4, Edwards Elementary School — I ran away from the man and into my mom’s arms. Later that day, I went to get the mail at the post office and got a gray note. I felt excited. It said, “Kid, I meant to tell you. I’m you from the future.” Confused, I fell to the ground and landed on the soft grass. When I woke up, the man was standing over me.

• “The Final Hope,” by Blu Fernandez, grade 5, homeschooled — When I signed up to go into space, the International Journey Center, or IJC, gave me this journal to write about my adventures in space so that future generations could know my story. So I guess I’ll write. My name is John Mong. I signed up to find a new planet since ours is dying. I’m going into space tomorrow, but I’m not so sure I’m ready.

• “Salvation,” by Warner Cohen, grade 6, Vail Mountain School — We were peaceful, and yet that didn’t stop “it” from coming. By “it,” I mean the darkness. The darkness that engulfed us and strove to take us over, but the Paladins kept that from happening. This is the story of the darkness.

• “The Captain’s Curse,” by Saphira Klearman, grade 7, Eagle Valley Middle School — In the dying sunlight, Nyx carefully opened the book. She looked down and all she saw were two sentences: “And that’s how I became known as ‘Captain.’ The End,” she read out loud. Nyx looked at Helios in confusion. Then the world tilted. Her vision blurred, her knees buckled, and her head hit the beach, sending a puff of sand into the air. Nyx’s eyes closed and she slipped into a breathless sleep.

• “Metamorphosis,” by Megan Collom, grade 9, Vail Christian High School — With all of his might, he swam through the darkness, growling with pain at every stroke of his arms. His redemption had finally come. His chance to acquire the power he had lost. His chance to hold another soul in his hands. Once he reached the center of the tunnel, Bartholomew heard the cry of a young boy.

Honorable mention

• “When I Found My Best Friend,” by Leyah Foley, grade 3, Vail Mountain School

• “Changed,” by Vivian May, grade 4, Edwards Elementary School

• “Hope,” by Kate Faddick, grade 5, Brush Creek Elementary School

• “Hurricane Katrina,” by Sara Hawkins, grade 5, Red Sandstone Elementary School

• “Extraordinary,” by Julia Shay, grade 6, Vail Mountain School

• “Life for Me as It Is,” by Lauren Rumley, grade 6, homeschooled

• “Poems to Change the World,” by Oly Holguin, grade 7, Vail Mountain School

• “The Favorite Classmate,” by Andrea Grewe, grade 8, Eagle Valley Middle School

The Bookworm of Edwards was abuzz with chattering voices on Friday, as students from across the valley filtered in with friends and family, taking their seats to await the announcement of the winners of this year’s Children’s Writing Contest.

Contest submissions ranged from science fiction and fantasy to mystery, adventure and even hints of memoir, and the stories were critiqued based on voice, creativity and strength of writing. Entries were judged by local authors and teachers, and the winning stories were published in an anthology titled “Ungoverned Children.”

Suzanne Foster, a former educator for Eagle County Schools who has been a judge for the Children’s Writing Contest since its inception, said she found something attention-catching in each of the winning stories she chose.

“One of the things I enjoy so much about reading is that in this world where everything is ‘R U there,’ texting and things like that, we’ve lost some of the magic of language,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful way to share and communicate.”

Third and fourth grades

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Rebecca Cohen, author of “15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids” and the “PJ’s Backyard Adventures” children’s book series, introduced the winners in the third- and fourth-grade categories.

“I encourage you to keep writing,” Cohen said prior to announcing the winners. “There was so much imagination and worlds you created that you invited me into as writers. It’s so much work to write a story, and I could tell from the entries that you put a lot of heart and soul and editing into the stories you were writing.”

In the fourth-grade category, “Man of Mystery,” by Juan Pablo Landeros, of Edwards Elementary School, took home top honors. The winning story for third-graders was “The Adventures of the Ice Dragon,” by Porter Murray, of Vail Mountain School.

“I really wanted to do the contest because I knew I was really good at writing stories and stuff, so I entered the contest and I feel really happy that I won,” Porter said.

He said his story was inspired by things he likes and the snow in Colorado, and his favorite part of the story was how the characters made friends with the dragon at the end. He said he’s excited to be published in “Ungoverned Children,” and is looking forward to sharing the book with his family.

“I’m moving to Santa Barbara in a week, so I’m going to tell all my other grandparents, cousins and other family, and I’m excited,” he said.

Fifth and sixth grades

Jessica Lawson, author of “The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher,” “Nooks & Crannies” and her most recent novel, “Waiting for Augusta,” said one of the highlights of her year was getting the email from Bookworm owner Nicole Magistro asking if Lawson would once again judge the Children’s Writing Contest.

“I was completely struck by the talent in the Vail Valley, and I cannot wait to see what happens with you guys, to claim that I knew you once and read one of your first stories,” Lawson said before announcing the winners in the fifth- and sixth-grade categories.

Homeschooled student Blu Fernandez won the fifth-grade group with a composition titled “The Final Hope,” and Warner Cohen, of Vail Mountain School, took the prize for sixth-graders with his story “Salvation,” a crazy sci-fi tale of aliens in space.

“I feel like the biggest challenge for me was staying within the page limit and having to cut down on the parts and not putting as much detail as I wanted,” Warner said. “My teacher bribed me with a good grade to do this, and now I’m so happy that I had the chance to do it.”

Warner also said it was kind of weird and he couldn’t quite believe it when his name was called during the award ceremony because though he likes writing, he just does it for fun and never saw himself as someone who could win a writing contest. He said he really likes the good versus evil aspect of his story.

“I love stories where there are underdogs,” he said. “There isn’t necessarily an underdog in my story, but I love how the good always prevails.”

Seventh, eighth and ninth grades

“The Captain’s Curse,” by Saphira Klearman, a seventh-grader at Eagle Valley Middle School, was the winner in the seventh- and eighth-grade category. “Metamorphosis,” an adaptation of Kafka’s novella of the same title by Vail Christian High School ninth-grader Megan Collom, was the final winner.

“I did an adaptation of it because I felt like there were a lot of questions from it that were unanswered, so I wanted to answer the questions from that book with original characters,” Collom said. “I think it’s really neat because you can see the different dynamics from older writing and newer writing. You can put a more modern twist on it, which makes it easier for this generation to enjoy and understand.”

Collom almost started crying when she found out she had won the contest. Writing is a vocation she’d like to pursue for the rest of her life, so knowing that someone enjoyed her story was really gratifying, she said.

“I want to be able to bring people hope because I think that once I started reading a lot larger books, I really was inspired just to become a better person, and I took so many different things from that and I really want to be that inspiration for somebody else,” she said.

Copies of “Ungoverned Children” are available for $15.99 at the Bookworm of Edwards in the Riverwalk at Edwards or online at

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