KMOS contest allows young writers to show off imagination, creativity

Thursday, June 19, 2014 | 5:05 p.m. CDT; updated 9:00 a.m. CDT, Friday, June 20, 2014
Katherine Eckhoff, 8, of Stover reads her story, "Madame Marie's Mad Hat Mix Up." The story won first place in the pool of third-grade contestants.

COLUMBIA — Scribble, the gray and white "munchkin" cat, sneaks into an art museum to see the ancient Egyptian exhibit.

While admiring the art, the curious cat accidentally knocks over an ancient bowl and must put all the pieces back together, "good as new."

Because Amy Weston, 9, loves cats and art, she made sure to include both interests in her short story, "Scribble," which won third place in the third grade pool in the annual KMOS Young Writers Contest at Barnes & Noble.

"I also wrote a story about a cat that laid eggs," Amy said proudly.

"It was called 'Eggy Kitty,'" her mother, Veronica Weston, said, smiling. "She really likes cats."

Thirteen of the 16 winners gathered in the bookstore's children's section Thursday, where they received their awards: a certificate, medal and a goody bag.

The Young Writers Contest is held by local PBS stations across the country for children in kindergarten through third grade. Contestants submitted a short story and accompanying illustrations, and judges affiliated with the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, picked four winners from each age group. There were about 300 entries this year, said Mary Clevenger, the KMOS education coordinator. The television station is Central Missouri's PBS affiliate.

Winners who showed up Thursday also got a chance to read their stories on camera for PBS, and almost everyone did.

Veronica Weston knew she wanted to get Amy involved after seeing an ad at their local library in Chesterfield.

"PBS doesn't do this contest in St. Louis," she said. "So we just decided to enter here."

Amy has now won a medal every year since she entered the contest in kindergarten and was the only four-time winner at Thursday's event.

Katherine Eckhoff, 8, from Stover, was a close second, though, having won the contest three times.

Her story, "Madame Marie's Mad Hat Mix Up" won first place among the third-grade contestants.

Set in 1920s Paris, the delivery man at Marie's hat shop mixes up everyone's hat orders because he isn't wearing his glasses. However, all her customers end up using the wrong hat "for good."

Katherine said she mulled over the idea for a while before she actually wrote the story.

"I read the American Girl Doll series, and one of them was French," she said.  "This was my idea last year, only with something like shoes, but I wasn't very good at drawing shoes."

Her father, Tom Eckhoff, smiled as his daughter explained the concept behind her award-winning story. His son, Karsten, 6, also won first place, in the kindergarten division of the contest.

His arms weighed down with goody bags, Eckhoff captured the sentiments of many of the parents gathered to watch their children receive their awards.

"They're creative even if there's not a contest," he said. "Every day they drag out the printer paper. It's all over the floor. It's unbelievable what kind of things they create."

Supervising editor is Joe Guszkowski.

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