09/23/10 — She's one of nation's best storytellers

View Archive

She's one of nation's best storytellers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 23, 2010 1:46 PM

Full Size


St. Mary School third-grader Landry Harrell, 8, reads through the short essay that she wrote for the Education Outfitters 2010 Scholarship Contest.

Landry Harrell began creating stories at 3 years old, before she could even write.

"She would tell me the story and I would write it down, about Catty the Caterpillar," her mom, Melissa Harrell, said.

Now 8 years old, Landry still has a vivid imagination.

"(Catty) still lives in our back yard in a tree," she said matter-of-factly this week.

The precocious third-grader at St. Mary School fashions herself a potential author.

"I'm an illustrator and a writer," she said proudly when asked about her future aspirations. "And I also want to be a veterinarian. I have a cat and a hermit crab and a fish named Torpedo and my little brother's fish named Meow-Meow."

For the most part, she has created private stories shared only with friends and family.

"I love to write about my friends at school," she said. "One of my main characters is Angus, but he's not my boyfriend. My boyfriend is Jack, but he moved away to Washington, D.C."

Angus is just a friend, she explains. And she chose him to write about "because he's, like, full of adventure and he has a lot of courage."

This past spring she entered her first essay contest, a nationwide competition with prize money for scholarships. Educational Outfitters sponsored the competition, offering eight awards -- four first-place winners of $1,000 each and four runners-up, each receiving $500.

Theme of the contest was Faith, Hope and Love.

Landry recently learned she was a runner-up and the only entrant from North Carolina to place.

She said the inspiration behind her entry came easily.

"I got my imagination and stuff like that from how much I knew about how faith, hope and love were so important and how our communities need them," she said.

Reading a portion of her essay, she said, "'Faith is the hope I have inside of me because of God, hope is to wish for and follow your dreams. Love is family and friends. I like hugs and kisses and celebrations together ... Faith, hope and love help people in our nation and world to get along. Without these three things, our world would be dark, miserable and unhappy."'

In actuality, Landry said she forgot all about the contest in the months that have passed since she wrote and illustrated her entry.

So when Principal Lynn Magoon made the announcement during "morning meeting," the student wasn't quite sure how to react.

"I have actually never been selected in all the years I have been here, I have never been (called) up there," she said.

As Mrs. Magoon read aloud about the essay contest, Landry was still not convinced it could be her moment.

Her initial thought, she admitted, was, "Oh, it's probably not going to be me. Then my heart started going like poomp-, poomp, poomp."

It was exciting to receive $500 toward her tuition at the school, she said.

But even more meaningful because it had come about because of her love of writing.

"I love books. I love Junie B. Jones books especially," she said.

And what kind of author does she aspire to be one day?

"One that writes about animals and you know, like animal characters, people characters, too," she said. "I want to be a chapter book writer."