Rainbow colored men, ‘boom’ blankets, and interrobangs: These stories are worth a read

What do rainbow men, “boom” blankets, and interrobangs have in common?

The answer may not be clear, so I’ll give you a hint: They’re elements among the winning stories in the Sarah & Katy essay contests.

While the answer to that riddle may not have been clear, one thing is apparent from the results of the Sarah & Katy essay contests: McKinley School in Ottawa is a hive of young authors.

Of the eight stories honored in the essay, five came from McKinley School students. Other winning essays cam from Kimes Elementary, Centennial School, and Woodland School, all of Streator.

The range of stories is impressive, not to mention enjoyable. The young authors sprinkled a lot of personality into their writing, from using words like “flabbergasted” and punctuation like interrobangs (because who doesn’t love a good interrobang?!) to adding a dash of what I expect is personal experience. In “The Picture that Came to Life,” I laughed out loud at this exchange:

I walked down to the living room where she was watching TV and I told her that I drew on paper and … IT CAME TO LIFE! My mom kind of thought I was crazy, she said I watched too much TV, but I don’t think that’s true. So I was sent to my room to have “a little break.”

Why do I get the feeling the author has been sent to her room to have “a little break”? The authenticity of that phrase made my day. And the remainder of the story has a delightfully sassy humor.

There’s a lot to love about the stories. The first-place story in the fourth-grade contest, “The Rabble-Rouser,” gives a whole new “yikes” factor to the idea of an evil twin. Then there’s “The Man of My Imagination,” which begs the question: If you could dream up the perfect man, what would he be like? For the fourth-grade author, he’s rainbow colored, about two inches tall, and named Alberto.

There are action scenes — such as those in “Boom Blanket” and “The Book” — as well as a calmer, bedtime story style writing in “The Adventure to Blanket Town” and “The Snow Blanket.” And then there are tidbits that are just so authentically, wholly a childhood slice-of-life, such as that displayed in “The Snow Blanket” and “The Special Blanket.” (And let’s be honest: The closing line of “The Special Blanket” is the perfect childhood stream-of-thought tidbit: He had a bologna sandwich, his favorite. I love that closing line.)

All of the winning stories are published on this website. A complete list of winners and their stories is below.

Sarah & Katy and the Imagination Blankets Essay Contest Winners

  • 1st: Kaylee Monroe, “The Adventure to Blanket Town” McKinley Elementary, Ottawa, IL
  • 2nd: Allison Smith, “The Snow Blanket,” Kimes Elementary, Streator, IL
  • 3rd: Ty, “Boom Blanket,” McKinley Elementary, Ottawa, IL
  • Honorable Mention: Clayton Lehman, “The Special Blanket,” Centennial School, Streator, IL

Sarah & Katy and the Book of Blank Essay Contest Winners

  • 1st: Lilliana Samolitis, “The Rabble-Rouser,” McKinley Elementary, Ottawa, IL
  • 2nd: Daphne Uhl, “The Book,” Woodland School, Streator, IL
  • 3rd: Hailey, “The Man of My Imagination,” McKinley Elementary, Ottawa, IL
  • Honorable Mention: Sarah McGrath, “The Picture that Came to Life,” McKinley Elementary, Ottawa, IL


Book of Blank:

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