"The Writer"

Monmouth Elementary student wins statewide "Reading Rainbow" contest

MONMOUTH -- As soon as 7-year-old Grace Peets gets home from school, she starts writing stories and drawing pictures.

She is always coming up with new stories.

Take the one about the little boy who wants to get inside a picture.

"I don't know where she comes up with all these ideas," said her mother, C.J.

The idea was original enough to make Grace a winner in the annual writing and illustrating contest sponsored by the PBS television show "Reading Rainbow."

The contest is broken down into grade levels. Grace, who attends Monmouth Elementary School, is the first-grade winner for the entire state.

Her story, "The Boy in the Picture," will now go on to compete nationally. The story will be posted June 11 along with all the other state winners on the show's website at gpn.unl.edu/rainbow/.

Grace found out about the contest by watching the show. She dictated the story to her mother, who typed it up on the computer.

Like her mother, Grace is not quite sure where she gets her ideas either. "I just thought about it and told my mom," she said.

Grace won out of some 600 first-grade entries in Oregon. Her teacher Mary Gabaldon was excited for Grace. To say the least. "I was jumping up and down, I was so happy."

Gabaldon is one of Grace's biggest fans.

"I really love what she writes. She resolves her stories in such interesting ways."

Gabaldon particularly likes "The Girl and the Ghost," the story Grace wrote for a class project. Like other student writings, it was laminated, bound and presented to the school library.

In the story, a ghostly girl is looking for her parents. Everything turns out OK when she is directed to look for them in Heaven.

Grace has always been ahead of her time, C.J. said. At 4 months old, she was watching -- and comprehending -- shows like "Barney."

Her parents started reading books to her while she was still an infant. Experts say that's one of the best ways to develop children's reading skills.

Even as an infant, books riveted her attention. "That's just kind of her personality," C.J. said.

For her winning literary efforts, Grace got a backpack, pens and glitter glue. Her first payment as a writer. If Grace has her way, more will come.

She wants to be a professional writer when she grows up.

Grace loves writing so much that C.J. has a bit of a guilty confession to make.

"I know this sounds terrible, but if I need to punish her, I tell her she can't write or draw for awhile."


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