New Stories For Newtown Contest Still Open For Submissions Through October

Entries for the “New Stories for Newtown: Words and Images” contest are due by October 31, and, according C.H. Booth Library staff and committee members, more entries are being sought.

New Stories for Newtown began last year when Ross MacDonald, a Newtown resident and children’s author and illustrator, suggested the idea to C.H. Booth Library Children’s Librarian Lana Bennison.

For the second year, authors and illustrators visited Newtown and local schools for the New Stories for Newtown program this June. Activities and presentations were offered on Saturday, June 7, at Reed Intermediate School, and authors and illustrators also visited schools for individual presentations on Friday, June 6.

The two-day experience was possible thanks to funding from the Books Heal Hearts program at Booth Library. Ms Bennison and event committee members Ross MacDonald, Janice Bernard, Yvonne Cech, Kim Weber, Pia Ledina, and Georgia Monaghan coordinated the programs.

The New Stories for Newtown: Words and Images contest was introduced this year with the theme, “What Inspires Me.” The original deadline for the contest was at the end of August, but it was extended to October 31. All Newtown students under the age of 19 are eligible for the contest. Newtown High School Class of 2014 graduates are also welcome to submit entries, according to Ms Bennison.

“In an effort to inspire students to explore and develop their own creativity, we are adding a new element this year,” read a release about the program. “We are inviting students to submit an original work of art, illustration, poetry or short fiction. All of the work will be published in two books.”

“Everything is very unique,” said Ms Bennison about the student submissions so far.

The student submissions will be printed along with the works submitted by professional authors and illustrators, according to Ms Bennison.

Awards will also be given out for the student submissions, according to the release, for pieces that volunteer judges deem deserving of gold and silver awards.

A box, lovingly called the “fancy box,” is being used in the Children’s Department at Booth Library to collect entries for the contest. According to Ms Bennison 20 student entries were submitted by Thursday, August 28, and a number of professionals have also sent in their work for the eventual publications.

“We just want to encourage the creative writing process,” said Ms Bennison, before explaining a number of programs and options that are available at the library to help inspire submission hopefuls.

Young Adult Librarian Kim Weber has a Creative Writing: The Fantastic at the Library program scheduled for Thursday evenings — October 2, October 9, October 16, October 23, and October 30 — to be led by Aimee Pokwatka. The group will be limited to ten students in sixth through eighth grade, and all participants will be expected to attend all five of the scheduled sessions. There is no fee for the program. The Young Adult Creative Writing program is funded by the Friends of C.H. Booth Library. For more information about the writing program, contact Ms Weber at the library, or sign up  for the program online at CHBoothLibrary.org.

Ms Weber said the fantasy theme is “perfect for the month of October.”

A shelf in the Children’s Department at the library has also be stocked with books to inspire students on writing and drawing, according to Ms Bennison.

Mr MacDonald shared a list of professional authors and illustrators who have already submitted works for the publications or who have promised to send in one: Gale Carson Levine, R.L. Stine, Jennifer Thermes, Antoine Revoy and his wife Kelly, Mo Willems, Jane Yolen, Kate DiCamillo, Judy Schachner, Tony DiTerlizzi, Tom Angleberger, Daniel Handler, Lisa Brown, Bethanie Murguia, David Shannon, Brian Selznick, Jarrett Krosoczka, Bruce Degen, Paul Meisel, and Nathan Fox.

Submitting entries into the New Stories for Newtown: Words and Images, Ms Weber pointed out, is a chance for local students to have their works published alongside well-known authors and illustrators.

Jennifer Thermes, a Newtown author and illustrator, is one of the many  professionals contributing to the publications. She said writing and illustrating is a “wonderful way to express yourself.”

With all of the contributions already, Ms Bennison said, “We’ve got a great book.”

Mr MacDonald is hopeful that by Christmas the publication will be available. He also said he wanted to remind submitters that shorter excerpts from larger written works can be submitted into the contest.

Hoping to inspire local students, Ms Bennison shared Kate DiCamillo’s contribution to the project. In part, Ms DiCamillo’s poem is introduced with, “I’ve been thinking a lot about stories and why they matter to me; and so I sat down to write a poem that would explain it all to you, and what I ended up with was this — which is not really a poem. But anyway, what I wanted to say is that I think stories are compasses, blueprints, telescopes, microscopes. Stories are stray dogs that follow you home. They are screen doors that let in summer air. They are open windows on rainy, spring nights. Stories are somebody waiting for you at the train station. Stories are streetlights, porch lights, nightlights, flashlights, fireflies, moons…”

Ms Bennison expressed gratitude for the library’s ability offer such “special connections” with authors and illustrators for Newtown’s students and the community.

More information and an entry form for the New Stories For Newtown: Words and Images contest is available online at Facebook.com/NewStoriesforNewtown or at CHBoothLibrary.org. Original works of art, illustration, poetry, fiction, graphic novels, digital art, paintings, collages, prints, fabric art, and photography will be accepted through October 31. Mixed media or three-dimensional pieces can be submitted via a clear photograph of the piece. Each piece must relate to the theme “What inspires me.”

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