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Public Information and Communication

April 1, 2001


Mary Jo Ryan

Nebraska Young People Write to Influential Authors

On March 28, Governor Mike Johanns signed a proclamation declaring April 1-7 as National Library Week in Nebraska. National Library Week is celebrated this year with recognition of the "Letters About Literature" State Award Winners. Four young writers were honored for their letters to authors, living or dead, describing how the authors' books or stories changed their way of viewing the world. Travis Johnson, grade 7, of Milford Public Schools, who wrote to Jerry Spinelli about the book Maniac Magee, won $100, first place in Level I for Grades 4 to 7. Jonas Azzam, grade 9, of Leffler Middle School in Lincoln wrote to Philip Gourevitch about the book, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, and won $100, first place in Level II for Grades 8 to 12. The two second-place winners were, in Level I, Emily Zimmerman, grade 7, of Fairbury Jr. High, for her letter to Janet Taylor Lisle about the book, Afternoon of the Elves, and in Level II, Kathryn Gutschenritter, grade 11, of St. Patrick High School in North Platte, for her letter to Lois Lowry about the book, The Giver. Following the meeting with the governor, they were invited to lunch with a guest. They also toured the Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at the Bennett Martin Public Library branch of Lincoln City Libraries.

The Nebraska Center for the Book, as an affiliate of the National Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, and the Weekly Reader Corporation sponsored the statewide contest last fall. The judges were Mel Krutz and Evelyn Haller (Level II) and Fran Reinehr and Mary Ann Satterfield (Level I). The winners' cash prizes of $100 came from the Weekly Reader Corporation while the alternates received $50 contributed by Nebraska's Houchen Bindery. All winners also received gift certificates from Lee Booksellers.


The Nebraska Center for the Book brings together the state's readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission. As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information. The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission home page.

For more information, contact Tessa Terry.