2016 Youth Writing Contest Winners

The McAllen Public Library would like to congratulate the winners of our 2016 Youth Writing Contest!  The contest is part of our annual McAllen Book Festival, and you can congratulate the winners yourself, hear their entries, and receive a printed anthology at the Awards Ceremony at the festival, this Saturday at 10:00am in the Quiet Reading Room.  The theme of this year’s contest was “A time I have been challenged and how I overcame it.”  Enjoy the winning entries below!


Poetry – Age 14-18

First Place: Jesus Ayala, “A Young Mexican with Big Dreams”

I was young, a small Mexican.
Getting bullied and put down,
all because my skin was brown.
Things weren’t always easy for me.
I was the youngest of three,
part of an immigrant family.
So I learned the language and culture.
Always attended school and became a good student,
and I ignored all those who told me I couldn’t.
Now I’m working and helping others,
because life has taught me a lesson.
That everything that we get, good or bad, is all part of a blessing.

Second Place: Avery Arizola, Sharyland High School, “Catatonia”

My spine was made from the bones of you – staunch and unmoving.
Stuck in a stupor that caved out and ate in; cutting through the insecurity –
So deep I couldn’t lick the wounds clean.

I was the living dead scoured by maggots and attended by my own sorry spirit,
Looming over the death like
Some funeral
Turned pity party.

Bloody murder, bloody murder;
The words shout from heaven and hell,

But you are dead,
And I dissolve

Into paradise.

Third Place: Isabel Muriel, Sharyland High School, “Standing Tall”

You may see me stumble
But you won’t see me fall
I may sway with the wind
But I always stand tall
Even if I want to cry
I wear the biggest smile
Even if pain creeps in
I will fight to let joy show
Even if ground shakes
I stay planted down
Though I might stumble
I shall never fall

Prose – Age 14-18

First Place: Ismael Alejandro Adame, Sharyland Advanced Academic Academy, “The Challenge”

No matter how much I begged, cried, pleaded and whined, I needed braces and surgery. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do my hobby in a few years, but the band needed me. Everything spiraled out of control as I kept calm, like silence as I listen to the madness. I blame no other than my teeth that made me lose my playing on the trombone and its finesse.

The practice days were long, bloody and irritating to my poor shattered lips, begging me to have mercy. I couldn’t just practice you see. I had to get them adjusted every week, leading me to never get adapted. What a vile thing it was to not hear a note come out of my bell for 1 month after they cut into my jaw. Every second of drilling was a beautiful tone stripped away from my bare hands and I saw it all as I bled. Oh, I saw as the beauty was robbed from my eyes, tongue, mouth and my poor weak grasp. All of it, deceased in awe.

Never have I been so determined to recapture the moments of my pinnacle in musicality and beauty. I searched for help. I kept trying, falling and enduring the brutal path that led me to my renewal in the trombone. I’ve kept hold to my word and reached where I wanted to be. There is no going back now with my improvement.

Second Place: Sarah Flores, IDEA Academy Mission, “Glossophobia”

“Sarah, please speak next.” The teacher called.

No. Why did my name have to be so soon in the alphabet? I can’t stand this. Why can’t they just let me stay here?

“Sarah.” They jeer.

Slowly, I walk up to the front of the room visibly shaking. I see the teacher take notes over the fact I can’t seem to stand still.

“I..I am presenting on-” I begin.




No. I am stronger than this, right?

Laughter chimes, surrounding me. Wicked grins spread across my classmates faces as I stumble over my tongue, feeling foreign in my mouth.

“You really think people would be impressed?”

“Please you could not be more wrong, they loathe you.”

Her perfect hair, his shining eyes, their beautiful smiles. They are perfect.

I am not.

And that’s okay.

I began to take a deep breath and a smile spreads across my face. “My presentation is on my favorite book series, The School of Good and Evil.” I say while shaking. My hands fall into the position of a diamond, and calmness overtakes me. Just like magic, they disappear, and a class full of students waiting for me to continue.

Third Place: Triana Cavazos, Sharyland High School, “Saving Hershey”

This past summer I was challenged with one of the hardest obstacles I’ve faced in my life. My dog Hershey was diagnosed with a bacterial infection called HGE, if not treated in 24 hours it will cause the body to shut down. I’ve had Hershey for more than half my life and have created so many memories with her, so taking her to the vet not knowing if she was going to make it out was the hardest part of the situation. The veterinarian was already preparing my family and I for the worst, giving us all of our options if Hershey were to pass. From one day to the next, she miraculously recovered. I overcame this obstacle by making it my responsibility to administer her medicine three times a day, becoming more informed about HGE so I could be aware of what she was dealing with and what to do if the infection came back , and most importantly treating her with utmost love. After two weeks Hershey was back to her usual playful self, and the incident of her life being on the line was merely a thought. Overcoming this obstacle wasn’t simple and wouldn’t have been possible without determination and love.

Poetry – Age 10-13

First Place: Ruth Garcia, B.L. Gray Junior High, “The Hand of Light”

Forever thinking I was to be
Destined in
My corner of shadows
Thinking no one would stay beside me,
A beam of light filters through my window,
A hand reaches out
With the gentlest of touches,
My soft cries resonate throughout the room,
It helps and consoles me,
Making me feel welcome
In this world full of truth and deceit,
I finally realize my true purpose here.

Second Place: Carlos Sepulveda, B.L. Gray Junior High, “Time (Thrice)”

Nudiustertian, the clock assailed midnight
on this very bleary night.
Three figures stood in the dark
One, Two, Three, oh Hark to Parcae.
When dissension filled the mesonoxian air,
leaving everyone to cling to despair,
Time stood face to face
with the victims of this odd case.
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.
Oh how time is that of a great sorrow.
Of Past, Present, Future
what seemed an eternity, I have endured.

Prose – Age 10-13

First Place: Yaseen Tasnif, Horizon Montessori, “A Challenge…”

I had just begun fourth grade. Every day when I got home, I heard the loud sound of the oxygen machine. I dropped my backpack and went straight to my grandmother’s room. She was lying on a hospital bed, and my mom or dad sat nearby, comforting her. Sometimes her eyes lit up and she recognized me. sometimes, she didn’t.

I did homework, prepared dinner for myself and my little sister, keeping my sister away from my parents, who were busy. I felt their stress, and I understood why they didn’t have time. She slept with me and I would read to her, play games, and comfort her. There were thunderstorms, which scared her. That was our everyday.

On October 1st, after school, I learned the horrible news. I cried. I was angry and sad. Family came from everywhere. They were all sad, but no one knew how I felt.

My parents comforted me. Instead of crying, I started thinking of happy memories. Of things we did together, and her beautiful smile. I work hard in school, because she was my first teacher, and she taught me so much. I hope she would be proud.

Second Place: Alyssa Galvan, Edinburg South Middle School, “Mission Impossible: Babysitting”

My two baby sisters were calmly sitting on the couch watching TV and my mom’s parting words “Be good, have fun, and good luck.” echoed in my mind. I thought, “Why would she wish me luck? This is gonna be easy!”

Then it hit me – the worst smell I had ever smelled, an odor worse than rotten milk. Diandra, the littlest child had pooped her diaper. “Why?” I pleaded with her. “Why couldn’t you have waited for mommy to get back?” She laughed. “All right. I just gotta remember how mommy does this.”

First, I laid the contaminated child on my mother’s bed. I gathered the essentials, wipes and a diaper. Something was missing. Oh yeah, safety gear. Tongs, and an oven mitt. Something was still missing. What was it? Oh, yeah, my courage.

You see, I did not want to change my sister’s soiled diaper. But a big sister’s gotta do what a big sister’s gotta do.

Later that night when my mom got home she asked, “How’d it go?” “Great!” I said. I decided I’d spare her the gory details. But, I was so proud I had survived my first night babysitting.

Poetry – Age 6-9

First Place: Bella Vidaurre, Woodrow Wilson Elementary, “Moving On”

Poets need coffee
I don’t like coffee
We moved into our new house
Over the summer and said goodbye to my friends

I miss them, but
I’m dealing with it

I started a new school
It’s different,
I brought my 3rd grade lice,

And my over the summer skin rash with me
It’s hard to deal with all these changes at nine years old

I just want to make friends and be healthy.
I should start drinking coffee and move on.

Second Place: Mary Vallejo, Woodrow Wilson Elementary, “A Great Friend”

I took a step in the room.
Looking around with no clue,
I sat down on a rug.
I had no one to talk to,
and I was sad.
I decided to speak up
I told the girl next to me
“What’s your name?” Her name was Aaliyah.
We became the best of friends.
I’m glad I spoke up,
and now I have a great friend.

Prose – Age 6-9

First Place: Hellen Bello, IDEA Academy Edinburg, “Winter’s Fate”

I asked mom if Winter would be okay. She stayed silent. I turned to face Winter. Her leg was trembling in pain. The vet frowned and Winter honked. The doctor sighed and said, the only option was to make her fall asleep forever, so she wouldn’t be in pain anymore. A tear rolled down my cheek. Mom told me to say good bye, but it was hard “What would happen to Winter’s eggs?” The vet asked us to return in an hour. When we came back, the lights were dim; there was an awkward smell. A man came with a box in his arms and said, “I’m sorry for your loss.” When we returned home, mom ordered an incubator. It came with a flashlight to see the progress of the eggs. Thirty days later only one egg made it. The egg had cracked and a tiny wet baby gosling was sitting in one corner. Mom handed it to me as it quacked. I leaned closer to him and whispered, “you’ll be Spring.” Only by taking care of Spring, I have been able to overcome Winter’s fate.

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