For the last 20 years, Austin Family magazine has hosted a Young Writers Contest for 4th and 5th graders. The magazine provides the topic and students write 50-300 words for their entries. Our judge then selects winners and runners-up in each grade and makes a surprise presentation to them at their respective schools. Winners this year were given a part at Dart ’em Up, engraved plaques, signed copies of the judge’s latest two books and their essays published in Austin Family magazine.


Congratulations to all four winners and thank you to all who participated.

Fourth Grade Winner – Sabra Williams, Valor Academy South

Mom looks horrified. Her face is as pale as a ghost. “Tsunami warning, get to the basement!” she studders.
“How could thi—-” I don’t finish my sentence.
It’s too late. Water is flooding the house. I try to come up for air, but the tsunami is already here.
Hours later I wake up and sand is in my eyes. “Where am I?”

I sit up and look around. I’m on a small island in the middle of the ocean. “Mom? Dad?” I shout. They’re nowhere in sight. I take a walk around the island. Over the hillside there is a bunch of plants and berries. I gather as much as I can carry. I start walking back to the shore, then I hear a SNAP of a twig and turn around. There behind me is a huge cat-like creature. But before I know it, it’s gone. I see its tracks and follow them to a cave. The sun is setting on the horizon. I lay down. As I close my eyes, I hear a roar off in the distance…I shudder at what may happen next. Then I feel a horrible pain in my leg. I look down there are rashes all over. Oh, no! The berries I ate were poisonous! I should have known. Then I go back to bed.

There is no one else on the island, so tomorrow I will start working on building a shelter. I’ll need to collect supplies and continue to search for food. For now I’ll dream of what tomorrow will be like. There are frightening things left and right, but I’m up to the challenge. And Mom would be so proud.

Fourth Grade Runner Up – Eve Thuot, St. Andrews Episcopal School

My ship is sinking. I grab my backpack of supplies and jump. It feels like I am falling forever. I hit the freezing water and my life jacket inflates. I’m alone. I don’t know how long I was at sea. All I know is I’m on an island. It is early in the morning when I realize I’m hungry, wet and miserable. I open my bag and inside are a tent, a flashlight, a fishing pole and a water filter. I was going to go camping with my dad but not now. When I first explore my island there is a lake with a lot of bushes and food. I was just exploring the lake when I couldn’t move my feet. It is quicksand. Just then I reach out and grab the nearest vine and pull. It feels like I am being pulled in two. I finally get out and I’m exhausted. Next I need to set up my tent. But first I need to find the perfect spot. Not in the quicksand and not in the jungle. I finally find the perfect place to put the tent. Waterfront property! Next I need to find food. I take out the fishing pole and put the bait on it. Then I wait. For a long time. And then I get the bite. I reel it in and it is a huge green bass. Dinner is served. I get back to camp and make myself a bed from some palm leaves from a coconut tree. I eat my roasted bass for dinner and lie down under the bright stars twinkling and shimmering. And close my eyes. I may be alone, it is only me, but I am going to make it. Just wait and see.

Fifth Grade Winner – Caroline Crisp, Oak Hill Elementary

My eyes flutter open still blurry from when I fell. “green” I mumble. I jolt straight up and look around. “WHERE AM I?!?” I climb to the top of a rock. “Whoa” In front of me there is a whole island of trees, and a giant building which seems to be an abandoned school. “Creepy” I think to myself. I jump off the rock and realize I’m in my pajamas. “Not important” I tell myself but I still feel slightly uncomfortable even though they were the softest things in the world. I start to try and find something or someone that might help me along my way. I’m waking through a path in the woods when I spot a rusty knife. I pick it up and use it to cut down the plants that are in my way. I peacefully walk as I examine the trees and see odd carvings. “Cool, it must’ve belonged to Native Americans or maybe cave people? But don’t they live in caves. I mean they got to live in caves that’s why they’re called cave people. But then aga-“ I hear a branch crack. “Who’s there?!” I scream holding the knife in front of me as if it were a mighty broadsword. A raven comes out of the mysterious forest of trees and starts nipping at the end of my pajama pants. “Hey stop that! Shoo!” I wave my hand at it but it eventually nips a piece off. “HEY!” I yell. I try to grab it but it just flys to the top of my head. “I guess this is fine” I say blowing a feather out of my face. I keep walking the path with my loyal raven who I had decided to name Martin. Finally, even though it was dark, I reached the doors of the abandoned school. I look at Martin. “This is gonna test your loyalty, dude” I mumble at him. I open the doors of the school and it creaks open. Martin flies off my head into the school and disappears. “DUDE WHAT THE HECK? THATS NOT FAIR!” I screech into the school. Moments later he returns with a flashlight in his beak. He drops it at my feet and fondly plops back on my head. “Awwww thanks Martin” I say trying to pet him in the best way possible, whatever that is. I turn on the flashlight which surprisingly works and look around the school. Banners are ripped down on the floor. I go into the teachers lounge and find some food that been kept in the refrigerator and start shoving it down, just noticing how hungry I am. I turn around going to go back outside. But I see glowing eyes in the darkness. A tiger steps out jumping to attack me and- “WAKEEEE UPPPPPPPP” my sister yells at me. I groan. “What time is it..?” I jolt up and bang my head on the wall. “WHERES MARTIN!!??” I scream, rubbing my head. “I dunno who that guy is but I do know that you should get dressed… or dad will get mad at you.” She says seriously. I nod and get out of my bed. I look down at my pajama pants and realize a piece ripped off. “Hm” I say smiling, knowing that it wasn’t a dream at all.

Fifth Grade Runner Up – Jungyoon Lee, Elsa England Elementary School

I shoot my eyes open. I blink a few times before I see my surroundings. I can feel the wet sand and salty water dripping from my clothes. Sadness grips my heart as I imagine my mom and dad looking for me from the boat, thinking I’m gone. I feel tears coming to my eyes and dripping onto the sand. I need my parents to help me. Then, I realized I had to survive first. My belly growled and my throat was itching from thirst. I needed shelter too.
I look at my shadow. It’s short. Phew! It’s still noon. I have some time before night. I see a nice, big, shady coconut tree. Coconuts! I find a long piece of wood. I go deep into the woods to find a sharp rock. That was when a loud “CACH!” scared me. I panicked. I ran, fast. I stood next to my “shelter tree”, breathing hard. Nothing follows me. “Phew!”

I grab the stone and connect it to the long wood with the strand of ivy I got tangled up in. I poked the coconuts. They’re, luckily, brown. I start cutting the parts connecting the coconuts to the tree. I do it for a few minutes and the coconut bundles come crashing down next to me. Yes! I pick up my pole and tear the stone from the ivy’s grip. Then, I crack the coconut shell with a few well-aimed hits. I drink the water. Perfect.

I run to a banana tree. I can eat from there. But, tomorrow and the day after, I will build something to get off this deserted island and find my parents. That is my goal as long as I’m here.

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