My granddaughter, Nadia, who is in 2nd grade, recently won Second Place in a Creative Writing Contest sponsored by her school. It is called the Matt Hessel-Mial Creative Writing Award.
The award was created in memory of Matt Hessel-Mial. Following is what the booklet tells us of his short but beautiful life:
“Matt Hessel-Mial began writing even before he could read and write. He would dictate his adventures to his parents, often faster than he could write them down. Later, he wrote them in longhand, illustrating them himself. There would be a line or two of writing and the rest pictures. Matt seriously began writing as a Second Grader at Emerson School. He taught himself to write on a computer using four fingers. It tripled his speed and output. His parents, Richard and Susan Hessel, decided to print a collection of his stories about that the time that they learned he needed a bone marrow transplant. The first printing of THE GREAT PLANET SWAP and OTHER STORIES arrived while he was in the transplant unit of the University of Minnesota Hospital. He was 8 years old when he died on September 14, 1986. Matt may have had leukemia, but his stories were about life. He was too busy having fun writing his adventure stories to dwell on his disease. Writing was the joy of Matt’s life. It is his family’s hope that other kids will experience the same enjoyment in writing.”
From the booklet: “… It is an annual contest sponsored by the Hessel-Mial Family to encourage elementary children to write. The contest has four categories–one each for second through fifth grade. The work must be that of the students. There are no limitations to length. Spelling, handwriting and grammar are not judged; however, judges must be able to read and understand what has been written. Stories may be illustrated if students wish. The program has been accepted as part of the elementary school curriculum by the School District of La Crosse. The project is a joint effort between the Literacy and Assessment Program, the Elementary Library Media Specialists, and the High Performance Learning Program in the School District of La Crosse. Thanks to all classroom teachers who encouraged and supported participation. Special thanks to Susan Hessel and Richard Mial for their continued support and creative ideas throughout the project. We also greatly appreciated the personal contact with the winning schools and students when Dick presented the awards.”
Nadia earned Second place for her story: “The Leprechaun and the Surprise Party.” She was given a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble that she promptly used to purchase a book! How proud our family is of her!
Here is Nadia’s story:
the Surprise Party!
Once there was a leprechaun named Tiny and it was his special day…It was his birthday! He was hoping his friends were going to throw him a birthday party and he would get tons of presents. So he got up early to get ready for a huge party. He was thinking maybe it would be at Lucky’s place so he headed there right away. He arrived at Lucky’s and knocked on the door, expecting the door to swing open with everyone chanting, “Happy Birthday!” This was just not the case. Lucky answered the door still wearing his pajamas! He had quite a talk with Lucky and headed on his way thinking, “maybe at Starlight’s place!”
Tiny got back on the bus and headed towards his favorite seat all the way in the back. He started wondering about all the different gifts he might receive. He could see the cake in his mind; it would have a big rainbow on it. He was hoping there would be ice cream too. He loved parties that had both. Balloons were all his mind was thinking about when the bus came to a stop. He was finally at Starlight’s house. He went to the door all excited! Tiny knocked and knocked but no one answered. Tiny was very sad. So Tiny sat on the step and wondered where could it be–srely, they would remember his birthday!
Tiny started walking down the sidewalk towards his friend Sweet’s house. She only lived five blocks away. Now Tiny was in no rush. He was walking with his head down and a sad look on his face. He kept thinking, “what if everyone forgot his special day!” He was about two blocks away and he could see something in the distance. He couldn’t make it out but it looked like balloons up ahead. He started to walk faster and faster. He could finally tell they were balloons! So he started to run! When he got to the house, it wasn’t Sweet’s home! It was the neighbor’s and they were having a garage sale! He was so sad he almost cried. Sweet had seen him running and came out to see what the problem was. Tiny told her, “It’s my special day and everyone has forgotten.” Sweet said, “There’s no way! I’m sure someone will do something for your birthday.” Sweet knew there was a party in the works.
Sweet suggested they go to the mall to see if they could find more of Tiny’s friends, so on the bus they went. They wandered the mall, going to every store in hopes to find more of their friends. They had stopped at a party store and the surprise was almost blown because Tiny’s uncle was there getting last minute party supplies. He had forgotten to get party plates! Tiny’s uncle noticed them coming in and hid the plates behind his back so Tiny couldn’t see them. Tiny talked to his uncle for a couple of minutes and was wondering why his uncle didn’t wish him a happy birthday? Tiny’s uncle winked at Sweet and went on his way.
It was lunch time now, so Tiny and Sweet stopped for lunch in the mall. They ate their lunch slowly and talked for an hour. Sweet was buying time and hoping that Tiny wouldn’t catch on to what they were doing. They finished up and headed towards the bus. On the ride, Tiny started to cry a little and kept talking about how he wished he would have a party. The ride to Tiny’s house was about 45 minutes and Sweet almost started to cry herself because Tiny was so depressed! Sweet didn’t like that Tiny was so upset so she tried making funny faces to cheer him up.
They made it to the bus stop a block away from Tiny’s house and Sweet asked if it would be okay if she stayed and played video games. Tiny said it was okay and they headed towards Tiny’s house. When they were really close, Sweet started to chuckle. Tiny went to open the door and out of nowhere there was a huge scream, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Tiny jumped back and was totally excited. His whole family and friends were all there at his place. There were balloons everywhere and cake and ice cream. There were presents all over the place. They all gathered around Tiny and sang Happy Birthday to him. He blew out all the candles in one big breath and wished his wish. He had so much cake he almost couldn’t finish his ice cream. He opened all the presents and couldn’t imagine a better day. Tiny looked at everyone and said, “This is the best surprise party a leprechaun could ever ask for!”…and with that he just sighed…