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Letters About Literature National Winners 2012

National Honor Winner, Level 1: Ella Frantzen -Lafayette, LA

Dear Mr. Gipson,

I am writing to you about your book, Old Yeller. I discovered the book in our school library before the holiday. I love dogs and wanted to read about Old Yeller, because the book's cover had a cool picture of a cute boy and a friendly dog.

I thought your book would make me laugh, but it made me cry. I really felt like I could relate to Travis, because I have a little sister who is always bugging me like Arliss, but I love her anyway. I also have a dog, Zoe, that I love very much, and I could not imagine having to kill Zoe.

Your book connected very much with my life because, when I was little, I lived in New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, we moved away to a new town, but I never really felt like I was at home here because I never really got to say goodbye to my old friends. It seemed like my closest friends were all dead because I couldn't speak to them and I couldn't see them – they moved away, too.

Your book made me feel like it is okay to start over and it is okay not to know where to turn next. And it is okay to lose something you love. It taught me that losing things and dying are a part of life. And, like the brown, speckled pup in Old Yeller that started a new adventure, life of all kinds starts over again but just a little bit different.

Mr. Gipson, I love to read because reading takes me away. When I read your book, though, it did not take me anywhere. It brought me home. Thank you very much.


Ella Frantzen