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The right words for the right authors

Union Leader Correspondent

May 07. 2012 10:27PM
Londonderry High School freshmen, from left, Andrew Jacobs, Kenneth Ayotte and Alex Hawk — all students in teacher Rusty Brand's English class — were recently named state finalists in the national Letters About Literature competition. (APRIL GUILMET PHOTO)
LONDONDERRY - Having read the books of Margaret Peterson Haddix so many times he's lost count, freshman Alex Hawk didn't think twice when asked to write a letter to his favorite writer.

'I wanted to tell her that she's inspired me and also got me thinking,' the Londonderry High School student said this week.

Alex and classmates Andrew Jacobs and Kenneth Ayotte are representing LHS as state finalists in the national Letters About Literature contest. All three teens are students in Rusty Brand's English class.

A national reading promotion program sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the national contest asks students in grades four through 12 to write letters to authors they admire, and explain how their work has changed their views of the world and themselves.

The letters were submitted the first week in January, and contest officials announced earlier this spring that about 40 finalists in New Hampshire had been selected. State and national winners will be revealed on May 15.

Last year, contest officials reportedly received more than 69,000 entries.

Alex said he was compelled to write to Haddix because the theme of his favorite book, 'Among The Hidden,' really got him thinking.

The book tells the story of a teenager named Luke who lives in a futuristic society where parents are forbidden by law to have more than two children.

As an illegal third child, Luke, known in the series as a 'shadow child,' is forbidden to socialize with other children, go to school or even go outside.

'The theme of this story really made me think,' said Alex. 'You hear about the population rising, about the problems it might cause. Could this really happen? Could it ever come down to the government placing limits on how many people are born? It makes you wonder.'

Andrew wrote a letter to Obert Skye, author of the popular 'Leven Thumps' series.

'He really inspired my imagination,' said Andrew. 'I've read all five books in the series, and I couldn't put them down. The way he explains everything in detail - you just can't stop reading.'

Kenneth said he decided to write to author Lemony Snicket since he was inspired by 'the hidden lessons inside each of his books,' such as 'A Series of Unfortunate Events.'

'Each kid in Snicket's books goes through different trials and tribulations,' said Kenneth. 'They learn to overcome hardships. It's really inspired me.'

For more information on Letters About Literature, visit

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