Tag Archives: Illumine

2014 Forrest Preece Young Author’s Award

13 Nov

Each year, local arts patron and all-around fantastic guy, Forrest Preece, and his wife Linda Ball, honor two of the young writers in our Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp. This honor, the Forrest Preece Young Authors Award, recognizes the literary accomplishments and creative talents young people in our community.

We are pleased to celebrate this year’s winners, third-grader Brandee Benson, and ninth-grader Jenna Hoover. Last Friday, November 7, Forrest formally presented the awards to Brandee and Jenna at our annual Illumine gala.


We’re so grateful to Forrest and Linda for supporting celebrating the artistic achievements of Austin’s youth. In addition, we must thank our teaching instructors who share their talents with young creative writers.

Congratulations to Brandee and Jenna, whose winning pieces are published below.


Journey of a Baby Tooth

I am a tooth, a baby tooth. I wonder why I am called that, since, I mean, I am eight-years-old! When I was born, I found out I was attached to the pink stuff above me, and then I saw my brothers and sisters growing  around me, and we had to work really hard, pounding this icky, chewy   stuff. I also realized each of us were connected to one giant piece of the pink stuff, and I do have to admit, I grew pretty attached to mine. We were best buddies, and we loved each other dearly.

Each night, we would see this really scary razor thingie, and my pink thing and I avoided it as much as possible. Then I turned yellow for some reason. So, anyway, when the razor thingie came, it also had this gooey stuff that made us blue, and then we got rinsed. The worst part was when they stuck a hard rope between my brothers and sisters and me. Worst of all, it hurt my pink thing, so he was sad.

One day, I found that my older sister downstairs was wiggling free from her pink thing, and we talked a lot together about it. Then one day, she fell completely off her pink thing! We were so shocked! The last words she said before she was taken out of the house were “I will miss my pink thing!” Then she was gone. We were silent for a moment, and then someone else screamed, “I’m loose, too!” After that, it was chaos. My brothers and sisters became loose and fell, one after another.

We noticed a new baby tooth growing in an old baby tooth’s place. He was rather shy, so we each said hello to him. We welcomed him into the family. I didn’t startle anyone because I did not tell them that I was loose. Soon, I fell out, and everyone gasped. The last words I said were, “I love you all!”

I was put in a dark box and was delighted to find my lost brothers and sisters. We rejoiced, and I had a great, fun life in that box, where we were free. But I hope the new baby teeth will take care of our pink things and be happy.

Brandee Benson
3rd grade


Watches, Waltzes and Other Weightless Things

She carries a splint.
Not so much carries but wears,
a thing forced upon her wrist to
help a healing bone,
though it hasn’t done much
by way of healing.

She carries a bracelet.
Woven by a friend, it
rests on her right wrist always,
leaving red marks on her
pale, freckled skin when she writes.
It’s come slightly unraveled a
few times, one end poking through
in an attempt to escape,
though it hasn’t done much
by way of escaping.

She carries a jacket,
a red and white affair with
the number 13 on it in white
thread, a reversed zipper that
confused her at first but no
longer does. It’s a shield, in her
mind, a neon sign that reads, No, I’m
not different. Yes, I play soccer, or
used to,
though it hasn’t done much
by way of shielding.

She carries a fob watch,
the chain long enough to
nearly reach her waist, but
it’s of no consequence to her.
It’s newer than her other things,
with only a few days
separating now and when her
best friend gave it to her as an
almost-two-months-late present, but
timing doesn’t matter, the gift is
the important thing, a
reminder of their friendship,
as though she would
ever forget,
so it hasn’t done much
by way of reminding.

Above all, she carries
the words in her head,
a dance of letters unique to
herself, and the waltz seems
never to end, so she snatches up
a pencil and scribbles, the
scrawlings her way of explaining
the world to herself and
herself to the world,
though they never seem to do much
by way of explaining.

Jenna Hoover
9th grade


Forrest Preece Young Authors Award Winners

12 Nov

Friday evening, the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation honored some of the finest writers in Austin at its annual Illumine gala. This year’s honorees included fiction writer Stephen Harrigan, Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Steven Weinberg (for nonfiction), and young adult fiction writer Cynthia Lietich-Smith. This year’s Luminary Award went to Carmel Borders, founder of the Tapestry Foundation, which supports education and literacy initiatives in Central Texas.

For the first time this year, the Library Foundation honored two young writers, both participants in Badgerdog’s Creative Writing Summer Camp. The Forrest Preece Young Authors Award, sponsored of course by local arts patron and all-around fantastic guy, Forrest Preece, and his wife Linda Ball, recognizes the accomplishments and talents of young people in our community. This year’s winners are Katie Jackson, a sixth-grader at the Meridian School, and Emma Baumgardner, an eighth-grader at Kealing Middle School. As it happens, both writers attended Badgerdog’s summer camp session at The Griffin School, working with teaching artists Bradley Harrison and Nina McConigley, respectively. We’re so grateful to Forrest and Linda for supporting the creative endeavors of Austin’s young people. We must also thank Bradley, Nina, and all of our teaching artists for sharing their talents and passions with young writers.

Congratulations to Katie and Emma, whose winning pieces are featured here!


Katie Jackson, Forrest Preece, and Emma Baumgardner

Uprooting Trees

The Pixies of the Wind and the Spirits of the Clouds have been enemies for centuries. Pixies of the Wind have never revealed themselves to the human eye and can only travel with the power of air under their wings. They drag their air behind them and blow it around.

Wind Pixies live above the middle of the ocean in invisible, flying cities, but sometimes they must migrate to the land. As soon as they start flying, they are visible only to the Spirits of the Clouds, which are the only creatures that can ever see them. Then the Cloud Spirits’ faces turn purple with rage, and they start growling and screaming at the Pixies.

The Wind Pixies know they must speed up to get to the land before the Spirits start attacking. When they start to fly much faster, they push the water from the ocean with them as they travel towards land. Since the creatures aren’t believed to be much larger than bumblebees, it takes thousands to push one wave of the ocean. But if the Pixies aren’t fast enough, the Cloud Spirits will start to rain torrents of water upon them, each drop half the size of the Pixies themselves, and hurl their spears of fire.

The enraged Spirits chase the Wind Pixies all the way to the land, where their epic duel continues, the Pixies blowing their wind wildly, uprooting trees and carrying everything away, with the Cloud Spirits screaming at them with their purple faces and pouring their terrible fury onto the land. The Pixies of the Wind and the Spirits of the Clouds continue like this in their battle until both are too exhausted to fight any longer. The Pixies slowly return to their homes and the Spirits’ rage cools down and they float away. But be warned: their duel will never be over.

Katie Jackson

Breath Notes

I shape my way with movement
emerging in my throat
and slowly thread the needle
of song.
Bursting to breathe
open my lungs
sound takes moments. Standing
I move to the will of the way
my tongue clicks.
Lips hum,
body sways,
head resonates, bubbling.
And voices cling together,
linking arms,
thumbs pressed against index fingers.
Melody paints piano keys,
never grounded.
Lights pinch our eyes
Laced with sweat,
we burn
with the moment
of performing.
Teeth engulfing our sorrows
like we have wings.
Fourteen of us
living on the stage.
With our passion for music
curling around our chins
and stretching to our ears,
we smile.
We’re not going to be finished
as long as we carry
the note.

Emma Baumgardner