The 2009 Letters About Literature competition recieved 54,000 entries nationwide and 802 letters from New Hampshire students. These letters went through 4 levels of judging and ultimately fifty-five New Hampshire semi-finalists were selected across the three competition levels. From those semi-finalists a panel of New Hampshire judges selected letters written by Peyton Plante of Pembroke, Merisa Dion of Derry, and Heather Coen of Contoocook as the New Hampshire winners in the 2009 Letters About Literature (LAL) writing competition.
Peyton Plante, a sixth grader at Three Rivers School, wrote a letter to Lois Lowry about her book Number the Stars, which was selected as the Granite State's first place winner in the level I competition for students in grades 4 through 6. Ms. Plante wrote that this book taught her "how important it is to stand up for people who appear to be different."
Merisa Dion, an eighth grader at West Running Brook Middle School in Derry, wrote to Allen Say about Allison. Ms.Dion's letter describes her experience of having been adopted and thanks Mr. Say for helping her, through his book, to "become more understanding about adoption." This letter was the Granite State's first place winner in the level II competition for students in grades 7 and 8.
Heather Coen, a ninth grader at Hopkinton High School, wrote her letter, which was selected as the Granite State's first place winner at level III, to Martha Tod Dudman. She begins: "Augusta Gone affected me in a way I never thought a book could. It was like a book about my life, although it was more severe and intense." Ms. Coen goes on to explain how this book, which she has read many times, helped her to recognize that she "needed to change something" so she "wouldn't become Augusta."
The New Hampshire LAL judges for 2009 were Ann Hoey, Youth Services Coordinator at the New Hampshire State Library; Matthew Crosson, an English teacher at Manchester High School Central; Kristie Morris, a teacher at Lin-Wood Public School in Lincoln, NH; the poet, balladeer, and attorney John Perrault; and children's authors Jennifer Ericsson and Muriel Dubois.