There is no better evidence of a hopeful future than young folks flexing their creative muscles. Writers’ Block on a recent Tuesday featured winners of a Tome on the Range writing contest. In the studio were Melinda Garcia and Emilia Lovato, both 9th graders from Mora High School, and Julienne Risimaah, a 3rd grader from North Star in Las Vegas. Also taking turns at the microphone were Nancy Colalillo from the bookstore and Paul Bunker from Mora High School.
The contest was based on illustrations from The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg, a book strung together with oddly titled drawings that are haunting and ever-so-slightly dark. The challenge was to write something in less than 250 words that told the story of one of the illustrations.
Thirty-nine students took up the challenge, the bulk of them from Mora High School, largely because English teacher Paul Bunker made the contest a class assignment. He was gratified but not surprised by the quality of work that ended up on his desk.
The stories are wonderful and quite imaginative, each taking an entirely different direction based on the illustration selected. The stories were judged largely on creativity and attention to theme.
Melinda Garcia showed a remarkable understanding of pacing as a means of building drama. Her clever take on The Seven Chairs keeps the reader’s attention and climaxes with a surprise ending. In Oscar and Alphonse Emilia Lovato demonstrates a grasp of how dialogue can move a story forward and make the reader want more. By writing about healing and renewal, Julienne Rirsimaah reflects the hopeful nature of childhood in her tale of The Seven Chairs.
The fourth winner, Camille Sammeth, a 9th grader from Santa Fe High School, was unable to be in the studio. Her story, Mr. Linden’s Library will be read on the air, Tuesday, Jan. 17. This story is an arresting tale about allowing willfulness to get in the way of sound judgment (and good manners!). Wonderfully written and cleverly executed.