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Letters About Literature National Winners 2004

National Winner, Level 1: TJ Cienki

East Greenwich, RI
December 4, 2003

Dear Avi,

A body hanging limply from the gallows, his dead body swaying in the wind . . .

I was repulsed, but intrigued. I could not put down your book Crispin: The Cross of Lead. It caused my heart to beat rapidly in suspense. I was so inspired by your vivid, descriptive voice in this historical novel that I want to become a writer. I want the ability to accurately describe a scene for a reader so that they believe they are actually there.

A good writer, I believe, should want a reader to learn, wonder, and question. After reading your book, I became fascinated with the Middle Ages. What was it really like? I ran to the library and scoured for books about knights, and I continued reading about the subject. You opened my mind to a new area of interest. You also made me believe I was actually in the novel. I could picture the scenery. I became one of the characters. I fought with a sword and ate with the people. For a short moment in time, I became part of the book.

I want to be a writer that opens up doors for people. I want to set scenes and describe occupations that not everyone can become. People may not have the physical nor mental capabilities to be an astronaut, racecar driver, teacher, dancer or baseball player, but for a moment in time I want them to realize what each of the professions would be like.

I am a ten-year-old boy living in 2003. I have mild cerebral palsy, but for one cool fall afternoon, I became Crispin living in the Middle Ages. Thank you for that gift.


TJ Cienki