Grand Prize Winner, Middle School

Karen is the middle school student who earned the Grand Prize with her catchy essay. Click on the pic to enlarge. Good job, Karen!
My note to Karen: Here’s what I loved about your essay and why it stood out from among so many other well-written essays: You captured the elusive quality known as voice. What I mean by voice is while reading, I got a strong sense of the narrator’s personality. The way you expressed sadness, hopefulness, and even the mischievous desire for chocolate chip cookies was breezy and humorous. I liked that voice!

My favorite line in the whole essay was “I was even going to miss the sidewalk.” What an excellent line! You used an example that demonstrated just how sad you were, rather than merely saying, “I was really sad.” That’s called “showing, not telling,” and that’s an important concept in creative writing. Your essay contained many details, many examples, and I loved your use of hyperbolic statements, such as the one above and “filled to the brim with only old people,” and “awaiting my fate.” By over-exaggerating your feelings in this way, you created a thread of humor that ran all throughout your essay. I’m pretty sure you didn’t spend hours gazing at a framed photo of the sidewalk, but I got what you meant and it made me laugh. In fact, I spent a couple of days reading all the essays, and the next day, I kept thinking about that sidewalk line. It was so funny that I had to rifle through all the papers just so I could read it again.

The things you worried about and the observations you made struck me as true. As someone who moved around a lot as a young person, I know that you really do feel the loss of the physical home because of all the good times and friends it represents. I liked that you worried about being surrounded by old people and then—oh, no!—it seemed like it was true when all you observed in the lines of apartments was the occasional old man watering his yard. I’m laughing about that even as I type this!

I loved your descriptions: the pale green paint, being committed to finding the cookies, and lines of apartments. (That one word shows your initial displeasure with what you saw because it makes the apartments sound like barracks.) In addition to expressing your feelings, you also appealed to senses one doesn’t normally associate with a story about moving: smell, taste, and hearing.

Karen, I am pleased to give you the award for Grand Prize Winner. I’m certain you must be planning to be a writer because your talent already shows. Stay true to your voice, and your writing will always be authentic. It was a pleasure to read your essay.


Angela said...

Dear karen,
We are so proud of you! You have a wonderful gift of expressing your feelings and painting a picture with your words. We love you,
Mom, Dad, Ian, Alec, Grabndma and Grandpa.

Danette Haworth said...

What a beautiful thing to say! Karen has a good mom!