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Young author wins award in Reading Rainbow contest

Some aspiring writers start young, but Mamie Martin Elementarysecond-grader Emma Siler is already an award winner.

Siler’s teacher Jeannie Wilson encouraged her to enter the 14thannual Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators NationalContest earlier this year. Siler’s book, “Oliver Finds the PerfectSport,” was awarded third place in the state competition that wassponsored by Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

In the story, Oliver, a young duck, finally comes of age to playsports, which was one of his lifelong dreams. Siler said the maincharacter is based on one of her favorite stuffed animals.

“When I was little, Dad got me a stuffed duck, and I reallyliked the name Oliver,” she said.

And the story is loosely based on some of Siler’s personalexperiences with sports, she said.

“I always wanted to be good at sports, but every time I tried Imessed up, and I wouldn’t always get things right,” she said. “Butyou have to keep trying.”

Wilson said Siler’s story and award are a reflection not only ofthe caliber of student she is, but also the kind of person sheis.

“It’s a good story about hope,” she said. “That’s how Emma is,she’s always encouraging her classmates and telling them not togive up. Plus she’s an excellent student.”

Siler will attend a two-day celebration for winners in Jacksonon May 29-30, where she will record her story for radio broadcaston Reading Rainbow and for bookstore Barnes and Noble’s Storytime.She said she’s looking forward to the recording.

“I’m excited, but I’m really nervous,” she said. “I think I’mmost excited about the reading part.”

Wilson said this is her last year teaching at Mamie Martin, andthat Siler’s achievement has been a real high point for her aswell.

“This is the highlight of my career that Emma did this,” shesaid. “It really makes it all come on home. I’m so proud of mystudents, but especially the ones that tried.”

Other second-graders Anna Mabile, Jacy Miller and TobiasWilliams also wrote and illustrated books for the contest.

Wilson said Siler deserves all the credit for her award, as shenot only did a good job on her story, but she did something everygood writer has to learn to do: Get the story in on time.

“She has a lot of self-initiative,” said Wilson. “There’s noteacher credit on this one. Plus, she got it in by the deadline,and that was a big deal.”