BRATTLEBORO >> On June 4, 11 young writers were recognized by Landmark Trust USA in the first Rudyard Kipling Award for Young Writers. The award was created to help celebrate The Landmark Trust USA's 25th Anniversary as an inspiration for young writers in the Kipling tradition.
The overall winner was Elsie Fleming, 12, a sixth-grader at Academy School, for her submission "The Room was Lit up." The top prose winner was Imani Namutebi, 10, a fourth-grader at Oak Grove School, for her submission "Why the Guinea Pig has No Tail." Honorable mentions in the prose category included: Katie Mae Tustin, 11, a fifth-grader at Guilford Elementary School, for "How Vermont Got its Green Mountains"; Carly Gallivan, 12, from Dover School, for "How Rudyard Kipling Got His Imagination"; Damian Markovic, 12, from Dover School, for "Stories of Naulakha"; Kaliyah Tomolonis, 9, a fourth-grader from Academy School, for "How the Cat Got its Whiskers"; and Sadie Mills, 10, a fourth-grader at Dummerston Elementary School, for "How the Beaver Got Her Long Teeth."
The top poetry winner was Alessia Tallini, 12, a sixth-grader from Dover School, for "The First Pair of Skis." Honorable mentions in the poetry category included: Genevieve Redmond, 9, a fourth-grader from Guilford Central School, for "Flower to Flower"; Isabelle Greenewalt, 10, a fourth-grader at The Grammar School, for "Questions to a River"; and Anna Sophie Cummings, 11, a fifth-grader at Academy School, for "Drip Plip Plop."
Prizes included a one night state at Naulakha, Kiplings home in Dummerston, for eight and a one-night stay at Kipling Carriage House and a tour of Naulakha.
The competition was open to all elementary school children in Windham County in fourth to sixth grade, whether in public or private schools or home-schooled.
"As owners of five historic homes that have been painstakingly restored and open for guests, including Rudyard Kipling's home, Naulakha, in Dummerston, where Kipling wrote "The Just So Stories," "The Jungle Book" and "Captains Courageous," we wanted to celebrate his legacy along with our own anniversary," said Tristam Johnson, interim executive director of Landmark Trust USA. "We believe this competition is an important opportunity to encourage imagination and creative writing skills in our young people."
A crowd of more than 70 people gathered at the Latchis Theatre on June 4 to celebrate the winners. In a little more than four weeks following the announcement of the competition, 90 responses including 14 poems, 67 prose pieces and eight non-fiction pieces were received.
"Learning how to write and being a good writer — you can use it for anything you do, whether you're a doctor or lawyer or police chief or a soldier," said Dede Cummings, a judge, who is a writer, book designer and publisher, a public radio commentator for Vermont Public Radio. "Writing is a wonderful thing. Storytelling is one of the few things that makes the human race special among the other creatures with whom we share this beautiful planet. It's something we can do to make the world a better place. So I urge all of you to keep going with it, don't give up, do it throughout your life."
All of the winning entries received a copy of the "Jungle Book," courtesy of Southern Vermont Arts &Living Magazine.
The panel of judges included Cummings, Karen Hesse, Verandah Porche, Jerry Carbone, and Tim Weed. The Landmark Trust also worked with several elementary school teachers who helped refine criteria including Sue Neuman, Molly Stoner and Erek Tumar.