Friends of the Palisades Library Honor Winners in the Annual Summer Writing Contest

Brentwood High School student Alana Kamins, who took third place with her story “Eyes,” told the Friends of the Palisades Library: “Thank you for having this event. Especially with all the negativity right now, it’s nice to have a positive event.”

Kamins was referring to the Friends’ annual summer writing contest for local youth in first grade through high school, and its awards ceremony, which was held virtually on October 20. This year’s contest was open to all students in Los Angeles

Contest organizer Kathy Slattery welcomed the participating “authors” and their parents to the celebratory event held on Zoom. “I’m a member of the Friends of the Library and it’s wonderful to see you,” she said. “We wish we were together in the library.”

Traditionally, the ceremony is held in the Palisades Library community room, with refreshments and prizes awarded. This year’s grade-level winners still received $100 gift certificates to Diesel Bookstore in the Brentwood Country Mart. Second place received $50 certificates and third place $25 certificates.

Actor Bill Jones

“When we came up with the theme ‘Surprise Us,’ we didn’t have [Covid-19] in mind,” said Slattery, who introduced actors Bill Jones and Christine Kludjian, who for 12 years have brought the winners’ writing to life with interpretive readings.

Jones said, “On behalf of Christine and myself, to say these are trying times is an understatement. We have never been at this point before: it’s an historical moment.” He congratulated the students for dealing with the times, saying “You’ve met it and you’ve triumphed.”

Then, much to the delight of the young authors, the actors read the winning stories.


Canyon Elementary’s Leo Wolfberg captured first with “A Boy’s Wish,” a tale of a young boy living in Coronavirus times, who prays every night to have his life back. With the magic of a golden wand and a wish, he learns “Great news! Coronavirus is over and you can go back to school.” Second place went to Village School’s Quinn Everly Weingarten for her story “Bella Gets Surprised” and third was Ella Kervin of Palisades Elementary for “The Brave Fairy.”


Actress Christine Kludjian had fun reading “Monita and the Monkey Portal, with help from a little stuffed monkey.

“Monita and the Monkey Portal” Isabel Kromwyk, (UCLA Lab School) won with her tale of a young girl who rescues monkeys from an evil bear, who eventually goes to monkeyland jail.

“Super Chicken and Furball” by Rohan Mukhopadhyay (Canyon) was second. I laughed several times at the tale of two superheroes, who actually were not. I was instantly drawn in with the author’s observation that “Trouble always lurks in candy stores.” The two heroes use a feather phone and speak to people in trouble, assuring them “It’s your clucky day.” Third went to “Martin and the Amazing Boy Detectives” by Gabriel Kromwyk (UCLA Lab School), whose detective story would have made the “Hardy Boys” proud.


First place went to “Monarchs Are Amazing” by Marlena Van Zandt (Girls Academic Leadership Academy). The story was a detailed nonfiction report about how she started her own monarch sanctuary. She explained the importance of growing milkweed and the ups and downs of raising caterpillars/larvae and watching them grow into butterflies. “When my first butterfly hatched it was so exciting,” she wrote. “It takes four generations for butterflies to come back and everyone should plant milkweeds.”

Second place was “The Bird” by James Corman (Mirman School), who examined how a bird in a glass cage/zoo might feel—“The bird had a dream of stars shining down. He flew into the night and sky and felt freedom.”

Third was “The Switch” by James Marks (Paul Revere), an imaginative tale of how his brother had to go to a witchdoctor for earworms, but the charm that the doctor gives him ends up having the young hero switch places with his father—“I woke up in my dad’s body.”


Parker Keston, who attends Archer, wrote “Galette” because as she explained, “I love a good galette and my life needed a good pastry.” She explained that although the virus separated her from her friends, baking provided her with a standby. “Can you ever make too many macaroons?” she asks, noting that people had to spend more time with themselves and their family—and just like a galette, each part of the quarantine had its own layer. She also includes her recipe with her story.

Revere’s Audrey Yael wrote “A Year to Forget,” about a young athlete who suffers a concussion and when released from the hospital has no idea about the coronavirus, why he’s not attending school and why people are wearing masks. “I wouldn’t mind forgetting 2020,” the hero concludes.

Revere’s Hannah Benharash, who took third, wrote about the skies in “Supernova.” She asks, “What if I were the dark sky and you were a star? Beside me there was once a star, now only dark remains.”


Jacob Crosby Galuten (New West Charter) took first with “Folegandrosm,” a story about playing chess on a Greek Island, written in almost poetic language: “Midday sun puts light that drips through the cracks.”

The second-place story, “lovey dovey,” by Ellery Preven of Palisades Charter High School starts: “I’d rather be the crow. Not hated like pigeons: not loved like doves. My town is a town of crows. Palisades parrots are purposeful. . . all the things crows are not. The Palisades is a town of crows.”

Alana Kamins wrote a poignant story about a son who learns his father is not his biological father by noticing the color of his eyes.

NOTE: All stories can be found on the Friends of the Palisades Library website: Also, all the participants who didn’t receive certificates to Diesel Bookstore received a $5 Amazon card.

Said Kathy Slattery, “The judges felt that if we gave them a $5 certificate to Diesel, in some cases they would have to spend their own money to use the certificate to buy a book. Since the contest was citywide we didn’t want to presume that people could do that easily, plus pay for shipping. We thought at least on Amazon kids could buy something for $5.”





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2 Responses to Friends of the Palisades Library Honor Winners in the Annual Summer Writing Contest

  1. Daniel Wolfberg says:


    It is so wonderful to see such a terrific and positive competition. Thank you for making a powerful contest for children!

    I went to Canyon Elementary 45 years ago and the writing of the students used to be compiled in the Canyon Cricket. The good old days.

    I read Leo Wolfberg’s submission (I am his uncle), and the writing really moved me. All of these children have been moved beyond words due to the pandemic. Leo’s short essay told a story of hope and sadness. We all want the wish to come true. From your lips to G-d’s ears, Leo!

    Keep up the good work.

    Daniel Wolfberg

  2. Carole Free says:

    It was a wonderful event and I loved hearing the works read aloud. They were each brought to life for the listener.
    This was so well done in such trying times.
    Thank you.

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