My daughter Rebecca entered a Dallas Morning News writing contest, and didn’t win, but did get her story published (est. circulation 200,000)  🙂

There were three winners, and she was in the top five runners-up (i.e. coming in in the top eight overall), out of 2300 entries! Rebecca was 8 when she wrote the story, and was the youngest of the eight stories the paper printed. Other authors that were printed ranged from ages 9 to 11.

Here’s her story online at (may require you to register). It’s also in todays paper.

I also reprinted the story below.

Kids Day Story Contest: ‘There’s a tarantula in my hair!’

03:44 PM CDT on Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The beginning of the story the newspaper gave us:

Joey Freeman sat on the side of the bed dressed, stalling, staring blankly at the inching caterpillar on the windowsill. After yesterday’s incident in Ms. May’s science class, he wondered how he could ever face his friends again, especially Jamal and Brianna.

"Talk about lousy timing," he muttered to himself and headed out the door for school. Thanks to his wacky presentation, Cherry Street Elementary will never be the same.

Rebecca’s submission for the ending:

It all started yesterday when Joey and his friends Jamal and Brianna presented their group science project to their class. It was Jamal’s idea to showcase a bug collection. Jamal always had a critter collection, and Brianna and Joey helped assemble the creepy crawly insects into one aquarium.

They each wanted to do a good job presenting their insect collection to their class, so they could do an even better job presenting at the National Science Fair the next week.

"If we win the Nationals we each get a free laptop!" Brianna said excitedly.

Finally the moment came for the big presentation. Jamal and Brianna explained about all the insects inside while Joey held the aquarium.

Joey’s arms ached. Then his nose started to tickle.

Brianna explained, "Look how this praying mantis holds its claws up."

Joey couldn’t keep from sneezing. He dropped the cage!

No one was hurt by the shattered glass, but the bugs scampered out of the cage.

Amelia Jones shrieked as seven crickets jumped into her dress. John Pendleton was brave on the playground, but screamed like a 2-year-old when a centipede crawled over his foot.

But worst of all was when a tarantula landed in Elizabeth Perkin’s hair.

Jamal shouted, "Don’t worry; it’s not the poisonous kind!" The way Elizabeth went screaming down the hallway, Jamal didn’t think she believed him.

Joey did manage to save a caterpillar, but most of the other insects escaped. For the rest of the day, terror filled the school as students nervously looked around wondering when the next creature would appear!

What a disaster!

His teacher asked Joey to stay in from recess. She told him the bad news – he and his friends couldn’t enter insects into the National Science Fair!

"Oh no!" moaned Joey.

All because Joey broke the cage.

That was yesterday. Now, as Joey walked to the bus stop, he wished he could crawl under a rock. The teacher had left it up to him to break the bad news. He hung his head until Jamal showed up.

"So how’s Mr. Slippery Fingers?" asked Jamal.

"Jamal," Joey started to say.

"Hi, guys!" interrupted Brianna as she appeared behind Jamal.

Joey told them the news.

"No insects!" shouted Brianna. They hung their heads in disappointment.

Jamal started to giggle. Something was moving underneath his coat. Brianna wrinkled up her nose. Probably something else from his critter collection, she thought.

"But they didn’t say anything about reptiles!" said Jamal with a humongous grin on his face, as he pulled a lizard from his coat.

More about the contest:

One starter, thousands of endings
The Blue Team
The Fiasco
The Explosion
There’s a tarantula in my hair!
A tiny bit of trouble
Sauce etiquette
Painful discovery
More short stories
Meet the winners who wrote the tales
Meet the Judges
More Texas Living: Family/Kids