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Letters About Literature National Winners 2011

National Honor Winner, Level 2: Janet Snow, NC

Dear Susan Cooper,

My parents thought that I was in my room reading. They were wrong. I was inside your book. By reading the words on the page, I lived them. I never realized how your book, Over Sea, Under Stone, had changed my life until recently. I read the book a few years ago, and it changed me from someone who didn't care about reading to someone who can't put a book down.

I had read a bit before I discovered your book, but, as soon as I had read the first few lines, I left my world behind and entered a new one. I could see the sun-baked village of Tressiwick, and the stench of the fish at the harbor made my nose wrinkle. I shared the fear that the characters had when they were in danger. It was thrilling, more exciting than anything that I had ever read before. I loved the excitement and suspense the story created. When Barney reached up and grabbed the grail, my heart leaped, and I felt the triumph even though I had only been reading. Even now, I can still see parts of the book in my head, and I don't think that I will ever forget them.

When I finished the last word of the last line on the last page, I couldn't believe that the story was already over. The story that I had been living was still playing through my mind like a movie. I was in awe of the book. I'd never read anything like it. I'd never read something that I was pulled into, and I had never read a book that had been written on a subject that I enjoyed so much. I refused to quit talking about the book, I expounded about standing stones, the tides, and holy grails until my friends were quite fed up. But it didn't dampen my sheer pleasure that I got from the book. After that, I began to read anything that looked interesting to me. I learned interesting facts from every book I read, and I got ideas that could be useful in almost any situation. My grades went up, and I was never bored when I could read. I learned that you can find anything in a book. Books made my life a great deal better, and I can trace my love of reading back to your book. When we learned about the tides in science, I immediately thought of the exceptionally low tide that the characters had encountered when they went to find the cave where the grail was.

After I read your book I began to think about life in a different way. I took more notice of things that were interesting, and I asked questions about anything that I was curious about. I began to think deeply about the way time works in your book, and I finally came to my conclusion a few months ago at a Greek restaurant. I decided that time was the ultimate mystery. But the most life changing aspect of the book was the magic that was in the words, words that pulled me into a different life. Most people say that magic is fictional, but for me it isn't. To me, magic is very real. It is the times in life where you feel like the universe is perfect, no matter what is really happening. I would never have felt magic if it hadn't been for your book.

Janet Snow