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The winner of McGrath Elementary School of Newhall, California's 2006 competition is photographed below. She wrote "Adventure Two" for Zee (her school's requirement was students must write a minimum of 50 words):

"I see Zee in this next adventure where Zee hears her parents talking that they're 'broke'. So Zee thinks they have broken a bone, so she goes to find a doctor. And when the doctor comes, he or she fixes Zee's parents and charges them, so now her parents have only $2.00."

Winner with Zee's author, Marcie Gilbert, her teacher, and her principal.

Below you can read the short speech Zee's author, Marcie Gilbert, made to the students at McGrath Elementary School, explaining how the winner was chosen, the day she presented the winner with her prizes: illustrated certificate, signed Zee book, Zee t-shirt (with "I won! 2006" printed on the back), and Zee bookbag.

To the winner's delight, her family attended the award presentation.

How We Chose the Winner
By Marcie Gilbert, Author of Zee… Adventure One: Borrowing China

As you can see, it took us a long time to decide the winner because there were so many funny and good ideas. We read about Zee confusing the country of Turkey for a turkey meal or panda bears with Panda Express, having a meatball mystery or flying pizzas in Italy, finding herself in Paris or Russia or Miami, traveling to Antarctica to show her mom penguins can’t fly, visiting a dragon, learning the difference between two meanings of the word “date”, falling into a chocolate lake, making new friends named “Bee” and “Cee”, spending the day with a monkey, turning into the size of a bug, figuring out who stole the china plates or how to get the people in Adventure One back to China, and one of my favorites – Zee learning the difference between United States “football” and what most of the rest of the world calls fútbol (
soccer). Well, if Zee ever becomes a TV show, it looks like we have our team of writers and enough adventures to last for years! That long list of ideas shows me that you all have incredible imaginations. I am excited to see the characters and inventions you make up one day. Also, so many of you are wonderful artists! Thank you for your pictures – we have them on the wall in our office.

So, how did we choose the winner? Well, since your teachers and librarian agreed with us that we should keep our original promise of only one winner, we eliminated the stories where more than one person wrote the same idea. In case you’re curious, story ideas that were duplicated were: Turkey/turkey, panda/Panda Express, football/fútbol, Zee going to Italy, Mexico, or some kind of candy land or candy factory. There were more things to consider, however. For example, your school has a writing contest rule that your story needs to be at least 50 words, and many of your story ideas were shorter than that. Also, taking Zee to interesting places, like Antarctica, is very cool, but we also wanted to see that you could show Zee’s personality in some way. Patricia Krebs said that she wanted the winner to show that Zee is “atropellada”, that Zee is so desperate to help that she doesn’t stop for a minute and that her adventures start from confusion.

So, now we will explain what we liked about our winner’s story. But, before we do so, we want you to hear it:

“I see Zee in this next adventure where Zee hears her parents talking that they’re ‘broke’. So, Zee thinks they have broken a bone, so she goes to find a doctor. And, when the doctor comes, he or she fixes Zee’s parents and charges them. So, now her parents have only $2.”

This is a very original idea. The writer explained her idea fully; according to the word count on my computer, her story is 52 words. She wrote short enough to express her idea in a clear way but long enough to explain Zee’s mistake, how it would happen, the twist, and how the story would end. The mistake Zee makes feels like it came from the confusion that a child like Zee might have while overhearing her parents talking. We even thought that perhaps the writer actually heard this once when she was small and had the same confusion as Zee. Also, the story is funny and uses a homonym, like China the country vs. china dishes, or, “broke” with no money vs. a broken bone. Finally, the story uses situational irony, which is when something turns out the opposite way you would expect. At the end of the story, Zee’s family ends up even more “broke”! Irony is a hard thing to create in a story, so we were impressed by our winner’s use of irony.

Thank you for participating in this contest. Wayne Gretzky, one of the world’s greatest hockey players, said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." You can’t win unless you try, so never give up trying. We want you to know that you students and McGrath Elementary forever hold a special place in our hearts. You make us remember why we ever decided to produce Zee in the first place. Thank you for your interest and respect, which makes the world feel young.