Niagara Gazette

May 23, 2013

Falls second-grader's "Six Sick Chicks" part of PBS Kids Go! writers contest

By Timothy Chipp timothy.chipp@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Last year, Jewell Battle was learning the basics of writing. Putting sentences together, crafting paragraphs and figuring out how to complete a whole story weren’t natural to the then-first grade student at Hyde Park Elementary.

Today, the second grade student’s story, “Six Sick Chicks,” will be competing in the first round of a national competition run by the Public Broadcasting Service.

“In the first grade, I learned I love to write,” Jewell said. “I started with smaller pieces, then I got into bigger ones.”

Detailing the life of six little birds trying to avoid going to school, “Six Sick Chicks” uses plenty of playful language to create a scene many adult children’s book authors struggle with. Her characters complain of white feet, black beaks and orange feathers.

They can’t possibly go to school because they have the flu. That is, until their friends all want to go outside and play because, surprise, it’s not a school day. It’s Saturday, and their mother scolds them.

With her teacher, Deanna Cudahy, by her side, she opened up about the story. She said it’s based off a thought she had about her family and uses some literary devices she’s learned about in school to tell the story in a way which rivals some writers who call themselves professional.

“Sometimes my whole family can act like that,” she said.

“It uses some alliteration,” she added. “I like that I can share it with other people. I think it’s very cute.”

Her story isn’t just writing, though. There’s an artwork element to it as well, as Jewell actually used watercolor to illustrate all eight pages of her first masterpiece.

The whole product inspired Cudahy to submit the story to the local competition of the PBS Kids Go! Writers Contest, which she won. She’ll find out how her work compares to those around the country today. The contest is judged in Washington, D.C.

Of course, the competition doesn’t stop there. If she is chosen as a winner in her grade level at the national round, a second round of judging is scheduled for May 30, pitting the best of the best against each other.

Getting started writing any of her stories began as school work, but it has since progressed well beyond. She even has a built-in fan in her 6-year-old younger sister who has asked Jewell to read her bedtime stories.

The interest from her siblings, Jewell said, aided in her goal to become a writer. Now, her principal, Sheila Smith, said there’s an investigation into getting “Six Sick Chicks” published.

Smith said the story should be the first of many opportunities for her student.

“Jewell is an exceptional young lady,” Smith said. “She’s a good writer who loves to read, too. And she takes the initiative to write both in and out of the classroom. She’s even writing at home.”

For those interested in viewing Jewell’s story, a digital copy of it is available to download at the Thinkbright website, www.thinkbright.org/teachers.

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.

CHECK IT OUT n Download a copy of Jewell Battle's story at the Thinkbright website, www.thinkbright.org/teachers

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.