Westridge Students Hope to Become Authors

Four fifth graders at Westridge Elementary are hoping to become published authors through Scholastic’s annual nation-wide Kids Are Authors Contest.

Meredith Neal, Lauren, Gilbert, Chloe Edwards and Allie Melhorn were working in the computer lab and saw a poster for the contest and decided it would be a great project for their Extended Learning Program (ELP) class. The contest is open to students in grades K-8 and is designed to encourage students to use their reading, writing and artistic skills. With help from their ELP teacher, Nancy Foley, they began to come up with ideas for their book.

“We spent some time looking through picture books to find what made a good book,” explained Foley. “They came up with the idea of using idioms and researched idioms to decide which ones we wanted to use.”

One example of an idiom the girls gave in the book was “cat got your tongue.”

“The story is about a boy who goes to a new school and they’re using all this funny language,” said Neal. “It’s actually idioms and he doesn’t know that, so he’s taking it literally and thinking the literal meaning.”

At the end the boy understood the funny language and even helped his mom learn about the idioms.

It was a long project for the group, and involved sacrificing recess time and getting together on weekends. They even got some encouragement from a real author. The school PTA group had a guest author, Eric Rohmann, at Westridge for two days and the girls were able to share their book with him and he told them he liked it very much.

“They were hard workers,” added Foley. “They just got so into it. We learned a lot about writing and great word choice and editing.”

They were able to incorporate a little bit of themselves and their school into the book as well. The school name in the book is Glammence Elementary, a name they came up with by combining all of their initials. Their homeroom teacher, Kristi Bentz, is the music teacher in the book and Foley is the lunch lady. One of the kids in the book is named after the school’s art teacher, Deb Leventhal, who took extra time and effort to help the girls with the illustrations. They even illustrated themselves into one of the pages.

After four months of hard work, the book was finished and submitted to the contest. They continued the idiom theme in the dedication and even in their official submission to Scholastic. The book is dedicated to “teachers at Westridge who bend over backwards to help inspire and challenge us every day.” Their entry was wrapped in a purple satin ribbon with a note that said to “please judge this book by its cover.”

Winners will be announced May 31, with the grand prize winner receiving $5,000 for their school library and 100 copies of their published book.