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Letters About Literature National Winners 2011

National Honor Winner, Level 2: Audrey Wood, VA

Dear J.M. Barrie,

I believe that magic is important. It gets you through boring moments and helps you during sad times. Magic isn’t just superpowers or unnatural happenings; it’s happiness, wonder, love, and imagination. Every little petal, leaf, and pebble is like a little miracle exploding with magic. Children can see the magic better because we don’t have as many responsibilities and hard choices to make. Some people lose touch with the magic in their lives as they get older. Peter Pan reminds people of the magic in their lives.

Before I was born, my Mimi and JimJim read Peter Pan to my older sister, Gwynne. It quickly became her favorite; whenever she spent the night, they would read it and play games. Gwynne was always Wendy, Mimi was Peter, and JimJim would play Captain Hook. When I was teeny tiny, Mimi would carry me around, telling Gwynne I was Tinker Bell. These games continued even after my little brother Jack was a toddler. After we stopped playing these games, Gwynne and I would go to Sherando Lake (another Mimi and JimJim tradition) and make contests out of who could find the most magical spots. Under tree roots, the little island, and tree trunks chewed by beavers were among our favorites. We almost expected little fairy people to peep out at us. Every year our parents and Mimi and JimJim give us Christmas tree ornaments. Out of all the ornaments, half are Peter Pan related and about a third of my personal ones are fairies. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if Gwynne didn’t like Peter Pan. My actual life wouldn’t be much different and I wouldn’t look that different, but I wouldn’t view my life the same way. I would be a completely different person; I don’t think I’d really be myself. Reading Peter Pan when I was little is a part of what makes me, me. Peter Pan taught my family to find the magic and adventure in life. Sometimes seeing the magic in life is almost as easy as swallowing candy and sometimes it’s much more difficult.

Magic is hard to describe. When it happens you know right away though. It makes you wonder why people fight and hate. Sometimes it makes you feel like you can do anything but sometimes it’s like you’re frozen; when you hike in the woods and see a colony of ants walking along, each one carrying a leaf way bigger than the ant itself, you feel so big and empowered or when you look at the stars at night and it’s cold you get this magical humbling feeling. You just melt. It’s my favorite feeling. I have no doubt that out of all the books, poems, plays, and speeches I have ever read or listened to, yours made the biggest impact on me AND my family.

Audrey Wood