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Letters About Literature National Winners 2006

National Winner, Level 2: Lacie Craven

Dear Mrs. Rawlings,

I live near the ocean, under a mountain, on a farm. We raise a lot of different animals, but mostly sheep. We also hunt for our food. These things made me feel very close to the characters in The Yearling. If you have sheep, you have orphaned lambs. If you have orphaned lambs, you have true friends. They get into a lot of trouble (a lot like Flag!) but it's all worth it to have a little lamb that follows you and is dependent on you.

I remember Mattie, a lamb whose mother had refused to take her. I had heated up her bottle and fed her every two to three hours every day of her life. She would kick up her heels and run with me down the road, then push her plush little head into my hand. We would lie in the grass, and I talked with her about everything, and she listened as I felt her fragile little hoof and followed her tiny, warm curls. One day she got sick. I kept watch over her the whole day, praying hard and making her as comfortable as possible. I picked her up and held her tight, tracing the little swirl on the side of her face. I hoped to feel her lean her head against me. She didn't. She was dead. I reluctantly put her down and looked at her for the last time, covered her with a towel, stepped back, and said goodbye through tears to my lifeless friend. Afterwards, I ran to the barn in secret and cried into my sister's lamb until it was time to feed him.

After each death it feels like you lost a child. It is so devastating. I cry and feel like I did something wrong, like I could have prevented their deaths. I felt like I had trusted in God and he let me down, like He had forgotten about me. Why did He give me something only to take it away? Why didn't He heal her when I asked?

The answer came in your book. When I read about Jody and his fawn at first I asked the same question. Why does this happen? Then I saw what Flag taught him. All my lambs had been working unintentionally to help me who I am today, and who I will be. They taught me how to deal with challenges in my life, how to overcome them. When it seems like I'm all alone, I'm really not.

If I could change the past and bring Mattie back to life, I wouldn't. I look back now and I only smile. I continue to raise sheep, and always happiness prevails over death. In every way when it seems like there is no good left in the world, you see it displayed in indirect ways. For every sad thing, there's a happy reason behind it and it makes us stronger people. We can find rest in this. Thank you for writing this book.

Lacie Craven
Bucks Harbor, Maine