Summer Writing Contest Honors Youth Writers, Sponsored by the Friends of the Palisades Library


Winners in the Jotter’s category (third and fourth grade) were (left to right) Gabe Smith, Noah Benharash, Alexis Levine, Riley Keston and Olive Boog. Actors Bill Jones and Christine Kludjian, who performed interpretive readings are behind the students.

Every summer, local youth in first grade through high school are invited to participate in a writing contest that was started in the early 1990s by the Friends of the Palisades Library.

On October 2, contest organizer Kathy Slattery welcomed the participating “authors” and their parents to a celebratory event in the Library’s community room, which included free ice cream cones with sprinkles from McConnell’s.

Slattery said, “We did not have as many entries this year, but the ones we had were great.”

She also spoke about a former contestant, Patric Verrone, who had entered when he was young and lived in Pacific Palisades. He’s now a recent Harvard University graduate and his debut novel, “Ride into the Sun,” was published in March. On his website, he writes: “My ‘career’ as a writer began by submitting short stories to creative writing contests at my local public library when I was seven.”

Slattery encouraged this year’s youth to keep writing and then introduced actors Bill Jones and Christine Kludjian, who brought the winners’ writing to life with interpretive readings.

Jones said they wanted to dedicate this year’s readings in memory of Alice Inglis, a long-time member and past president of the Friends.

Hudson Marks won first place and is seen with actors Bill Jones and Christine Kludjian.


Marquez student Hudson Marks won first place honors in the Scribbler’s category (first and second grade), with his story “Finding His Way Home.” Buddy, the family dog, was lost. Little did the family know that Buddy had found a new friend, a mountain lion, and the two played together. When Buddy was taken to the pound, the mountain lion followed, hid in the rafters and managed to release Buddy from his cage using his nails.


In the Jotter’s category (third and fourth grade), honorable mention was a tie between Canyon School’s Gabe Smith for “The Great Treasure Hunt” and Marquez’s Olive Boog for “Behind the Scenes of Inceville.”

Third place was Noah Benharash, who attends Palisades Elementary. “The Great Big Science Project” could have been a disaster when the two boys forgot to bring measuring cups for their volcano science project. When the explosion happened and covered the ceiling and the floor, the principal had the proper response . . .

Second place was Brentwood School’s Alexis Levine, who penned “The New Girl in the Palisades.” Although she wasn’t entirely happy that the family had moved from Connecticut, by the end of a day in the Palisades that included Matthew’s Garden Café, going to the Palisades Library and having dinner at Blue Ribbon Sushi, the heroine decided it might be okay.

First place was “Red, What and Blue,” an ode to the Fourth of July in Pacific Palisades, by Marquez student Riley Keston, who described the day perfectly. “I’m going to be in the parade three times,” the author said, first by marching with Gerry Blanck, then with Fancy Feet and then with her dog in Patriotic Pups.

Just one small problem – as she prepared to march, she found out it was July 3. Why and what to do? Let’s just say “The dog ate my calendar.”

James Marks and Audrey Smith were the winners in the fifth and sixth grade division. Behind them are actors Bill Jones and Christine Kludjian. To the left, a McConnells’ representative gave away free ice cream cones to participants and audience members.

In the Scrawler’s category (fifth and sixth grade), James Marks (Marquez) was second with “What Lurks Beneath . . . Palisades Village.” This was a fantastical, imaginative tale about a chimera and a treasure with a spell on it.

First place went to Paul Revere’s Audrey Smith for “From the Mountains to the Sea, a Swallow’s story.”

“It was a lovely spring mountain air, filled with the chirps of birds,” Smith wrote and then detailed the world from a swallow’s point of view. “A snake slithered under the bushes. The sky turned to a smoky lavender and Pacific Palisades lay before her like a blanket.”

The swallow had only lived in one place and wanted to fly beyond the ocean. “Tonight, she would follow her heart.” Smith concluded that the swallow’s newly found confidence “would carry her to places she had only dreamt of going.”

Ellery Preven was applauded for her creative and intelligent piece. Actors Jones and Kludjian stand next to her.

For Scribes (seven and eighth grade), Revere student Ellery Preven took second with “Truesky,” a stream of consciousness. “I love the shadowy shapes of tree branches in the sky,” but then Preven took it to “infinite space,” proclaiming that the universe is a mathematical structure and that galaxy clusters spiral the Milky Way.

Archer student Parker Keston took first with “The Adventures of Pearl Dragon.”

While eating at that local restaurant, she wandered outside a door, but something didn’t look right – there were no Teslas in the parking lot, just Datsuns. Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors was there, and Norris Hardware was open, so were Bentons and Mort’s.

She couldn’t find a way to get back to the present—until she remembered watching “Wizard of Oz” and clicked her heals three times. . . . .

In the high school category, Authors, there was a tie for first place between Maya Doyle (Harvard-Westlake) and Syndey Forrester (Windward).

Doyle’s story, “Taking Steps on Sunset,” tells about growing up in the Huntington. It was cleverly done with the juxtaposition of celebrating independence first with a bicycle and then through driving lessons.

Forrester penned an historical fiction piece, “Palisades 1542”, about a Chumash girl who saves her tribe from slaughter by the conquistadors.

The theme for this year’s writing contest was “Palisades Tales: From the Mountains to the Sea.”

Winners received $100 gift certificates to Diesel Bookstore in the Brentwood Country Mart; second place received $50 from the bookstore; and third was a $25 gift certificate.

Friends of the Library creative writing contest organizer Kathy Slattery, tried out the library book bike before the awards ceremony that was held in the Palisades Library community room.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *