An Evening with Author Natalie Dias Lorenzi
Meet Natalie Dias Lorenzi, author of this year’s Young Readers League selection, A Long Pitch Home. Have your book signed, and join in activities and games. Enjoy photo opportunities and snacks. Win prizes. Winners of the art and writing contests will also be announced.
Sponsored by The Friends of the Pasadena Public Library and Vroman's Bookstore
Create a Family Scrapbook
Celebrate your family by making a special scrapbook, inspired by the 2018 Young Readers League selection.
YOUNG READERS LEAGUE WRITING CONTEST
In the spirit of this year’s Young Readers League selection, A Long Pitch Home by Natalie Dias Lorenzi, kids ages 8-14 years old were invited to enter this writing contest, telling us a story about a new journey In 300 words or less.
Honorable Mention Category 1 (ages 8-11)
Lucca Sandino Age 11 (Grade 6), Blair Middle School
"Once upon a time, a young boy named Henry was born in a big city named Tanker City. When Henry turned eight, he and his parents moved to a different town named Timblyworth. Timblyworth was a small and friendly town with both new people and people who had lived there a while. It was a cold day in January when Henry and his parents moved into their new house. From the very beginning, Henry thought there was something strange about the town. Once they unpacked their stuff, Henry's mom told him to go out and make some new friends. Henry really didn't want to make friends, but his mom made him. So Henry went out and the first thing he found a mouse tap dancing. He thought that was very strange and kept walking until he fell down a steep slope. That was strange too because the town was very flat. When he got to the bottom of the slope he couldn't see the town anymore. Henry climbed back up to the top of the slope but when he got there the town was gone. There was only a dog rolling around in the grass with a silly expression. He wondered why the dog was smiling and suddenly the dog jumped on Henry and he fell back down to the bottom of the slope onto something soft and realized it was his bed. Henry looked up and he saw the town again. He realized he had fallen asleep and was dreaming. The best part was Henry’s parents had surprised him with a new dog who became his first best friend in his new town. The End"
Ella Lesnever Age 11 (Grade 6), Blair Middle School
My Journey Around the United States
"My family is doing a challenge where my brother and I will try to go to all fifty states before we graduate from high school. I’m in sixth grade and my brother is in fifth grade. So far we have been to 41 states and only have nine to go. We have been doing this journey ever since we were young. My parents are also participating in the challenge except that they are way out of high school already. My dad has been to 49 states and my mom has been to 48 states. The states my brother and I have not been to are, Colorado, Kansas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alaska. Our family is looking forward to a few more trips to complete this challenge. Our family is also doing a journey inside of our fifty states journey by trying to go to all of the national park sites. There are about 58 national parks and over 417 national park sites. I have been to about 16 national parks and 110 national park sites in total. At each site I try to complete the Junior Ranger program. The Junior Ranger program allows children and adults to learn a lot about each site. When you arrive at a national park you can ask a Ranger to give you a Junior Ranger book. After you complete the activities, you go back to a Ranger and turn-in your book. They will make you raise your right hand and make a pledge before giving you your own badge or patch. I have a big vest with all my junior-ranger badges from the national parks I’ve visited. This is our family journey. Visiting all of the fifty states before we graduate from high school."
Emily Downs Age 8 (Grade 3), San Rafael Elementary School
"Once upon a classroom, there was a pencil named Dixon. Now Dixon was stuck in a classroom he didn't like. Dixon had one friend: Papermate. Papermate was a plastic pencil actually called a led pencil. There were also other pencils in the classroom, too. Like China, who was proud of coming from Beijing, China, and also spoke Chinese. Another pencil in the classroom was Lovett who was always kind hearted and liked being a pencil. There were other writing and drawing materials like crayons, colored pencils, paints, markers, and erasers. (Erasers aren’t really drawing materials, but they help drawing materials.) There was one particular bossy crayon named Crayola who always thought she was queen over all the other crayons. Crayola also thought she was the most beautiful in the classroom. Now we must get back to Dixon. Dixon was the unluckiest in the class. The teacher seemed to like Dixon’s owner, but Dixon did not like his owner because she drew Dixon almost to death and him lots of painful hair cuts. So one day, Dixon and Papermate decided to escape the school. They prepared all their supplies and just before the students arrived, Dixon and Papermate hopped out of the classroom. (Pencils can’t walk; they have to hop because of their erasers.) Papermate got longer and longer whenever he hopped. Just as they reached the front gate, Papermate could not jump anymore. All of his lead was at the top of his head. Dixon fixed Papermate and they wandered off to a house and laid there. Suddenly, a girl came out and took Dixon and Papermate inside. She was nice to them because the girl didn’t use Dixon and Papermate as much as their owners before did. She also set them in a nice cozy bag that Dixon and Papermate had never been before. They always heard her tell her friends it was a pencil case. Anyway, the “pencil case” had cute cats on it. Dixon and Papermate had a happier life."
3rd Place Category 1 (ages 8-11)
Becca Andelin Age 11 (Grade 6), Eliot Arts Magnet
Facing the World
"Marco finds inspiration to face the world. Marco sat in his den, next to a blazing fire. It was snowing outside, frosting the windows and rattling the shutters. It had been snowing for hours, trapping Marco inside his small cottage. But he knew that when the sun came out, he would not step outside. He knew the dangers of the woods he lived in, and didn't dare to leave his home. Long ago, he had lived with his wife, a lady named Amelia. She seeked adventure, and one night, told Marco she would go to the new town to meet settlers there. She never returned. Since then, Marco stayed in his house, ever afraid of danger. Always remaining inside, even on the nicest days. Which, to think about it, today certainly was. The sun glimmered outside, and the snow melted in its heat. Marco sighed, and headed to his kitchen to make a snack. As he passed the window, he peeked outside. There, lying in a pile of wet snow, was a little blue jay. A chick that had fallen from its nest. Reluctantly, Marco opened the door and stepped out into the crisp air for the first time in years. He cupped the little bird in his hands and raised it towards its home. The bird took a leap, and flew high into the sky. Marco watched it go, and thought. If the bird could leave its home, surely so could he? As he looked around, the woods didn't seem so dark. Buds bloomed on the trees and grass peeked up through the melting snow. Without even thinking, Marco walked into his house, packed some food, water, and his dagger. He was tired of living alone. He would go to the village, and live there. Marco stared out into the woods. It was time to face the world."
2nd Place Category 1 (ages 8-11)
Maya Bailey Age 11 (Grade 6), Eliot Arts Magnet
"A natural disaster forces the Matteson family to take a new journey. It was 9:00 a.m. when the lights started to flicker in the Mattesons’ house. Eleven year old twins Alex and Athena are in their room. Athena was a second older than Alex and she was sure that made her the smart one. The flickering lights and steady rain outside gave Alex the shivers. “I’m scared.” “Don’t worry,” Athena blurted. “I’m going downstairs,” Alex says waiting for his sister to say, I’ll go with you. Athena ignored him. “Oh come on, I’m not going alone,” he cried. Athena got up to look out the window. People were piling suitcases in the back of their cars and stacking up sandbags in front of their homes. Athena was becoming afraid. The wind was blowing the tall trees sideways and the rain was coming down in waves. “Alex look,” Athena said scared, while pointing out of the window at the frantic scene. “What’s going on?” he screamed out. Just then their parents came running in. “Pack your stuff quick!” Suitcases packed, Athena, Alex, and their parents raced out of the house with the dog into the unknown. The rain was pounding, cars and appliances were floating by. A passing boat took in the whole family. Alex tucked their dog in his jacket to keep him dry. Their parents cried softly. They would have to start over. All over. Three months later, the twins were seated on the bus for their first day of school, thankful to be alive. They are at the new school in a new state, but they are dry and safe. They had escaped the flood, moved to a shelter, and now new housing. Life can be scary, but life is good. The Mattesons made it."
1st Place Category 1 (ages 8-11)
Breck Sequeira Age 11 (Grade 6), Blair Middle School
"David Manuel follows his dream of becoming a professional soccer player. Tic-tac-tic-tac-tic-tac. Bouncing back and forth between his feet, keeping it up in the air as if it is defying gravity. David Manuel has been trying to forget about his hometown of Masaya, Nicaragua. He has been in the city of Houston, Texas out in the sun for days now trying to forget. He hasn’t talked to anyone partially because he can’t speak English. He feels like he has been pushed away by his family but he knows that it was important for him to escape the revolution that was happening in his home country. He started losing the rhythm of the touch of the ball that his family gave him just before he fled the country to escape danger. He kept on thinking to himself, “I’m going to make my family proud.” By saying that, he felt he was bringing himself closer to his goal of becoming a professional soccer player. A goal he had had for as long as he could remember. He believed he could do it, but only with a lot of work, and so he worked harder and harder for years. He ended up impressing several coaches from all over Texas and the rest of the country. He thought to himself every time he walked onto the field, “Make me proud, make my coach proud, make the sport proud, and especially make my family proud from wherever they are.” He knows his family would be proud of him anyway. After many coaches, many hours of training and dedication, he got a letter inviting him to try out for the Houston Dynamos from the MLS. He just knew this was the first step of many for his career and life. David Manuel went with confidence never looking back from where he started and where he will go."
Honorable Mention Category 2 (ages 12-14)
Hannah Cahalan Age 12 (Grade 7), Blair Middle School
Who Reads The Waterfall On The Other Side
"The mage stared at the waterfall as it glinted in the sun The water rushing down as it filled up the lake bellow He drew his wand and began to write onto the waterfall as if it were paper, And in it, he wrote a message to whoever could see. “I am a powerful mage “I have so much to desire, “But I am very lonely “I need someone to help me” Several days later, the mage returned to the waterfall The glare of the light blinded his eyes He saw someone had replied To his cry of loneliness “Hello, great mage” the water read “I’m here to answer your plea “For whenever you feel sadness, “Come back here and write to me” The mage pondered as to who The other person could be But now, at least, he had someone Who cared about his feelings He wrote along the water Another tale of sorrow His sadness being poured Into the words that he scrawled “I had a beautiful wife “I loved her more than anything “But one day she vanished into thin air “And I can’t find her anywhere” Immediately something on the other end Began to compose a reply “Maybe instead of searching for her and worrying “You should find out why” “You should find out why she left “Or what could have taken her “It’s ok to worry, everyone does, “But you can’t stretch yourself thin with it” “You sound just like my wife” the mage wrote And then he began to cry “It’s ok” the other wrote “It’s ok to cry” it replied."
Amber Elias Age 12 (Grade 7), Blair Middle School
I had always thought that there was no other way. That I would stay in this dull, repetitive loop until I died. But something happened that changed it all. I made a choice that changed my path to something greater. I live in the City of Angels, the best City in the North. We were a City that everyone looked up to, a City everyone was scared of. We held promise, fortune, and secrets to running a successful City. But don’t be too quick to judge. Living in a perfect city comes with high standards. Because of the outline we were given, we needed to go to new heights to fill in the space. It can become overwhelming at times, but most of us have been able to stand it. The few who couldn’t died. The others ran away. They didn’t run away to a different City, no. When you leave your born City, you can’t join another one. The luckiest ones find way to survive in the Outside. The less fortunate find the Entrance. Every City has an Entrance, the place where all newcomers come through and the place where newborns are sworn into the City. Once you’re sworn in, you can’t leave. That is, unless you find the Exit. See, I was taught from a very young age that what goes up must come down. So it’s only reasonable that what goes in must come out. Eventually. So that is where the Exit comes in. It’s the only way out unless you’re granted permission by the Council, which you never are. Very few have ever found the Exit and those who have never came back. The Council got involved and hid it again, never to be found. You’d be a fool if you think I didn’t find it.
3rd Place Category 2 (ages 12-14)
Olivia Barrios Age 12 (Grade 7), Blair Middle School
No Looking Back
"The narrator and her Mami escape to California. I take one last look inside the house, take a deep breath, then close the door behind me. I set off and don't look back. I'm not going back in that house. Not now, Not ever. I take my mother's hand. It's trembling, and I know that she's scared. We both are. Mami says we aren't running away from Mexico; we are going to America. But I know that neither are the truth. We are running away from Papi. Papi is a drunk. He gets home from his job and grabs a beer and watches TV. Papi isn't a nice drunk. He’s an Angry drunk. We tiptoe around Papi, like he is a hunter and Mami and I are deers. And when he spots us, he pulls the trigger. When Papi is mad, he throws whatever he has in his hands. Beer bottles, tv remotes, forks, plates. Mami and I always have cuts and bruises down our arms and legs, which we cover up by wearing long sleeves and pants. We are going to California, and staying with my Tia Carmela, who owns a shop where Mami can work. She and her husband, my Tio Gabriel, are already citizens. Mami and I are going on a immigrant visa. Tio Gabriel had driven out to durango, where I live, and was going to drive us across the border, since plane tickets were to expensive We walk to where Tio Gabriel told us to meet him and get into his car. “Gracias Mami” I whisper to her. She just nods her head, but I can see that she knows how grateful I am. As we drive away, I say goodbye to the only life I've ever known. Goodbye house. Goodbye bedroom. Goodbye Abuela. Goodbye Durango. Good Riddance Papi. From now on, the deer can run free."
2nd Place Category 2 (ages 12-14)
Anni Guo Age 12 (Grade 7), Blair Middle School
Syria to Europe
"Two young refugees seek a safe haven. “I’m scared. Where’s Mommy?” Nasir asked. “Shh! She’ll be right back.” Fatima, an eleven year old was near Damascus in an abandoned building with her little brother Nasir. Their mother Asrin had left them two days ago and she was still not back, which meant that she was most likely dead. Fatima allowed herself a sigh. Now she was the most responsible one, though where could they go? Europe was said to be a safe haven for refugees right now, but how would they get there? Nasir wouldn’t be able to take it. It’s like being trapped between bad and worse. But they had to go. “Okay, let’s move.” She stood up and gestured for Nasir to do the same. “What about Mommy?” “She, uhh,” oh no, how do I say this? “She found another place. Come on, she’s waiting!” Fatima didn’t say how long their mom would be waiting. Several days later, close to the border of Lebanon, Nasir collapsed again. “Fati, I can’t.” He rolled over on his stomach and closed his eyes. Fatima sat down next to him, her breath ragged and legs burned. They were so close. A little more, and it’d be over. As she was about to close her eyes, she heard a weird sound. When Fatima opened her eyes, she saw it. A rescuer. The red helicopter flew low, and on it was the symbol of a red cross. This new land was Germany. A family had volunteered to adopt Fatima and Nasir, and they were starting school. The only words Fatima knew was ‘guten tag’ which means ‘good day’ and ‘danke’ for ‘thanks’. Even so, she’d definitely choose this instead of going back. She knew her mother would like it this way, too."
1st Place Category 2 (ages 12-14)
Isaac Rishwain Age 12 (Grade 7), Blair Middle School
A New Beginning
"Gabriel reminiscences about his hometown as he leaves for a new life in the U.S. In a land, promised to bring something magnificent, beyond what an average normal immigrant family could imagine, there was a journey. The United States of America promised the pursuit of happiness. It also promised the American Dream, an education, and the rest of Gabriel’s life. Gabriel and his family were going to move to the United States as illegal immigrants along with other families. As they packed their stuff, Gabriel looked at “mama” as if it was the last time he would ever see her again. In a sincere voice she said “ya es tiempo mijo” (it is time). Gabriel looked around; he was leaving the 50 cent mangos that he would buy and eat by Senor Rodriguez’s shady tree. No more futbol bare feet in the muddy terrain. It was as if Gabriel was leaving his life for a better one, but was it really a better life than before? Gabriel overheard stories. Men said that they would cage kids and take them away from their families. This scared Gabriel and other children. With every step Gabriel put in front of him he did not know whether he was stepping toward cages, or paradise. Gabriel climbed on to the back of a small blue pickup truck. As they drove, Gabriel inhaled the last scents of his home country. The smells of fumes of cars that drove by, burning trash, the night jasmine that bloomed near the little man’s house, and the pollo (chicken) coming from Senora Guadalupe’s kitchen. It wasn’t perfect, but it was home. As he got off the truck and joined the other people, he noticed the beauty of the people’s determination, and their love for each other. People brought food for the hungry, carried the shoeless children, and guided the elderly. They were stronger together.