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Letters About Literature National Winners 2003

National Winner, Level 1: Harry Maddox

Dear Natalie Babbitt,

If given three wishes, I always thought that my last one would be to live forever. That way I would have enough time to everything I wanted to do and see everything I wanted to see. Living forever seemed like such a good idea, especially when death seems so scary. Reading your book Tuck Everlasting changed the way I think about living forever versus death.

While reading the book, I started wondering. At what point in my life would I want to drink from the spring when would I want to freeze myself? If I drank the water now, at ten years old, I would never get to drive, never vote, and never become a father. All my friends and family would grow old and die and leave me here all alone. If I waited to drink from the spring at twenty-five years old, I would never have wrinkles or bad hips, but I would also never get to go fishing with my grandchildren.

No matter at what age I drank from the spring, eventually I would have to move away or hide so that no on would discover my secret. That would be pretty much like dying. I wouldn't want to leave but I would have to leave.

I'm think that maybe living forever wouldn't be such a good idea after all. God's plan includes a time for everything and an end to life at the right time. I guess I'll rethink the last of my three wishes.

Harry Maddox, Grade 5

What the Judges Had to Say About Harry's Letter

I love Harry Maddox's piece simple, well-reasoned, eloquent, with a strong ending.
(John Mickos, Editor, Reading Today, the International Reading Association)

This letter has a strong lead, a compelling style. No words are wasted. The author of the letter demonstrates the profound impact of the book succinctly, yet shows the reader enough of the story that we want to know more."
(Suzanne Barchers, Managing Editor, Read magazine, Weekly Reader Corporation)

The opening and concluding paragraphs mirror the essay very well and provides unity, coherence. His second paragraph has impressive supportive details and even got me thinking. I had not considered at what age I'd want to be frozen. That's a sign of a good writer getting your audiences, including contest judges, thinking about their own lives. Harry makes a good argument for living life fully.
(Catherine Gourley, National Director, LAL Reading Promotion Program)