350 for 50

350 fo 50_2017Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I announce the winners of our annual 350 for 50 writing contest! Each writer was challenged to compose a short, 350-word story that included the sentence, “The taste was strange, but not unexpected.” Winners from each of our 3 age categories enjoyed a $50 shopping spree at Labyrinth, our local bookstore. Congratulations to this year’s authors!


A BOWL FULL OF WORDS
By Maia Ionescu, age 9

a bowl full of words artwork by aliisa lee

Penelope always bought lunch at school. She was unhappy about it and wished that her mom made food for her instead. Sometimes she saw that kids who brought lunch from home had a sandwich or a piece of cucumber cut into heart shapes, and then she felt jealous. Her parents were always too much in a hurry to make lunch for her. So Penelope would always go to the cafeteria with a sad face.

But on the last day of school, things changed. At lunchtime, instead of the usual white trays, everyone got a silver bowl. From inside each bowl came a faint noise as if a lot of people were whispering at the same time. Penelope peeked inside her bowl and saw a small heap of words. They were: probably, splendid, licorice, freckles, memory, pharaoh, brave, loneliness, merry-go-round, and admiration. They all came in different sizes and colors. Loneliness was small and grey, brave – big and vermillion, and merry-go-round – multicolored. The words smelled good too, especially licorice and admiration.

Penelope saw that other kids had already started eating, so she picked a word from the top of the pile – memory. She paused to look and listen. There was a faraway voice repeating the word memory. The first m was vivid teal, and rest of the letters were getting lighter and paler so that the y was soft blue and almost invisible. She took a bite. The taste was strange, but not unexpected. Just like its colors, lively at first, memory burst into a strong flavor (it tasted like the strawberry shortcake that her mom made one weekend), and then it started to fade until Penelope could hardly taste anything. It felt like chewing a Juicy Fruit or forgetting a memory from a long time ago. The word probably tasted uncertain, and Penelope almost choked on pharaoh (she missed that word in the Spelling Bee). After finishing up the words, there was an announcement that a new cook, the famous Lexi Plume, had been hired. Penelope couldn’t wait to find out what she would eat for lunch in fifth grade!


the legend of sir raleigh artwork by aliisa lee

THE LEGEND OF SIR RALEIGH
By Kevin Feinstein, age 11

He heard a vulture screech and watched the leaves as they blew through the forest all around him. Raleigh Christopher pulled his rapier from his sheath, eyes trained on the opponent standing before him. They circled each other. He cried out and the duel commenced. The vulture screeched again but not as loudly as the blades clashing. They fought viciously but eventually one man fell. The fallen man weakly raised his head and watched Raleigh vanish.

The man Raleigh had beaten was the “Right Hand Man” of Lord Clarke who Raleigh had sought for months. Three nights earlier he had spotted the villain at a tavern on the way to Gedwell Castle. After a long hike through green meadows and damp swamps, Raleigh finally arrived outside Gedwell. A trumpeter accompanied him to set the dramatic tone.

“Cue the dramatic music, George II!” Raleigh commanded his trumpeter.  Raleigh jumped upon his horse, and George II onto his donkey. Approaching the gates of the castle, a guard shouted “HALT!” with a haughty sense of authority.

“I am Sir Raleigh Christopher the Eighty Fifth!” announced Raleigh, proud of his heritage. The guard sneered, but was about to regret it, THUMP!! Raleigh charged, kicking down the door and dispatched the guard with his sword! Suddenly he spied Lord Clarke.

“IT IS I! RALEIGH CHRISTOPHER!”

“Hey! I’m not the sword type, how about we settle this with a classic ruse – the poisoned drink!?”

“Alright! I brought my own.” announced Raleigh, producing his own bottle.

“But who shall drink first?”

“We shall play tic-tac-toe to decide!” Raleigh cried! Clarke was very bad at tic-tac-toe, not knowing the rules. Raleigh won but his chivalrous nature compelled him to let Clarke pick first. Clarke agonized and finally chose. Raleigh picked up his glass and they drank.

“The taste was strange, but not unexpected!” blurted Clarke, “I have won!” Raleigh laughed. “Whats so funny?” he asked.

“This is just normal water!” Raleigh laughed. Clarke looked confused. “I poisoned your drink three nights ago!” said Raleigh.

“That’s why it…” Clarke thumped onto the ground.

Raleigh left, his mission over.


the kite flyers artwork by aliisa lee

THE KITE FLYERS
By Annie Wei, age 14

Miraculously, my cardboard and tinfoil kite had stayed in the air longer than Binh’s, whose kite was quite a work of art, strung with silk ribbons. It looked gorgeous on the wooden display table in front of our school, but out of place, sitting with the background of our shabby middle school.  It had all the wonderful shades of greens and blues, and shone so brightly when the sun lit on it. Mine resembled a flying shoe.

But of course, everything about Binh’s family was out of place in our rural neighborhood, for they were the only Vietnamese family for miles around.
When I walked up to him after the competition, he was sitting on the battered up tire swing hanging in front of the school. I was holding the sorry looking kite I had fashioned, its tinfoil wings flapping in the slight breeze.

“Your kite is amazing.” I stood in front of him while he stared at his shoes. “It stayed in the air for such a long time.”“

Binh looked up at me, his dark eyes wide and questioning.

“Sorry?” His accent distorted the word, and I realized he didn’t understand me.

I raised my kite above my head, and waited until a sudden gust of wind swept it from my hands. As it rose, I smiled at him and said, “Your kite,” gesturing at his which was laying on the ground. Binh stood there for a brief moment, hesitating, watching my kite flutter like a butterfly, then threw his up in a woosh of blue and green.

I laughed as his kite did a couple somersaults as it was released in the air; then it seemed to dance, curving and floating gracefully. The sight was so strange. A cardboard and tinfoil kite flying next to a blue-green silk one.  Binh laughed too, and when the kites came down, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small neatly wrapped package.

“Banh Gio,” he said, offering it to me. “Eat.”  I unwrapped it. The taste was strange but not unexpected.


Artwork by Aliisa Lee

The BiblioFiles Presents: Christina Diaz Gonzalez

christina diaz gonzalezJust posted! A webcast with author Christina Diaz Gonzalez, author of Moving Target and its recent sequel, Return Fire.

When we first meet Cassandra Arroyo, she is living in Rome, Italy, with her father, a nomadic art history professor. Cassie’s biggest problems are raising her grade in World History and not-quite-daring to skip class. However, her world is turned upside down when her normally placid father drags her to the car, and, during the ensuing high speed chase through the city, confesses that Cassie is the target of a secret organization called the Hastati. Her father is wounded before he can explain any more, and Cassie must continue on her own.

She soon discovers that she is connected to the Spear of Destiny, an ancient object that can shape destiny when wielded by a marked descendant such as herself. What’s more, very powerful and ruthless people want to make sure she never finds it. Cassie and her friends are quickly caught in a relentless, high stakes game of hide and seek as they try to unravel riddles and clues – some of which are hidden in ancient books and paintings – to find the spear and save Cassie’s father.

Moving Target and Return Fire are fast-paced, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you eagerly turning pages. Diaz Gonzalez keeps the action so realistic, it’s like you’re on the run with Cassie and her friends, narrowly making escapes and wondering whom you can really trust. They’re also a whirlwind trip through the art, architecture, and culture of Italy – from the beautiful mountains to hushed underground chapels.

In addition to the Moving Target books, Diaz Gonzalez has written A Thunderous Whisper, a book set in Guernica during the Spanish Civil War and WWII, and The Red Umbrella, a story of a family being torn apart during the Cuban Communist regime. The latter was named an American Library Association’s Best Book for Young Adults.

Follow this link to the BiblioFiles interview

Accio Wand Contest Winners!

three wands, gray magic woodworkingI am delighted to present the winners of our blog contest! We received a lot of fantastic entries, and it was very hard to choose. Below are the three winning spells, carefully matched to their three unique wands.


wand 291, gray magic woodworkingCUPIDUM LIBER

Awnali Mills, Virginia

My spell is for finding your next good read in a library full of books. The words are Cupidum Liber! To do the spell, you must draw the left side of a heart in the air in front of you with your wand, from top to bottom while saying “Cupidum.”  When you reach the bottom of the heart, do a quick bounce with the wand to the left as though flipping open a book with it while saying “Liber” (Lee-burr).  A book you love will present itself.


 

wand 292, gray magic woodworking


CONTRALETHELOGOS

Marina Schnell, Pennsylvania

Do you ever try to think of a word, and you just can’t remember it? It feels like it’s on the tip of your tongue, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t remember it. I have created a spell to banish that annoying and potentially embarrassing sensation from your life. The incantation is Contralethelogos (con-truh-leth-uh-LOW-goess). When you fail to retrieve a word from your memory, simply point your wand at your throat and speak the incantation aloud, and the word will come to mind. However, you’re on your own if you forget this spell as well as the word you’re trying to remember. The spell has both Latin and Greek origins (Contra is from Latin, meaning against; leth(e) is from Greek, meaning forget; and logo is from Greek, meaning word. The s just makes it sound good).


wand 293, gray magic woodworking

EXCORIO SIMI ALIMENTUM
Matthew Hettena, New Jersey

Translated from Latin: peel (the) monkey food. This spell peels all the bananas you could want for you, and all your banana loving friends and animals.  

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks once again to Lane O’Neil from Gray Magic Woodworking for the donation of the beautiful wands!