Level 1 FIRST PLACE
New Jersey
Hannah Castiglione
Far Hills Country Day School, Far Hills
Author: Liz Kessler of Emily Windsnap Series

Dear Miss Kessler,

I have always wanted to swim so gracefully through the salty seas like a mermaid. I’ve wanted to explore every part of the ocean from calm and tranquil Caribbean waters to huge waves and trenches far out in the sea. While reading the Emily Windsnap series, it really did make me feel as if I were a mermaid. It has made me think that things that seem hard are not always impossible. The series has taken me on so many adventures–not just in the book, but in many other ways as well.

Two of the life lessons in Emily Windsnap that really connected to me are: 1) How anything is possible if you really try and want to do it; and 2) Take chances and try new challenges–have a growth mindset. I noticed that in the books that Emily thought, when she first became a mermaid, that she could never go near the water again and that she was a freak. When she really learned how to control her new ability she found her new best friend, Shona, and they went on so many adventures that Emily would have never even dreamt of doing. That tail that she hated earlier was now the biggest help when she got to rescue her dad, which was one of the most important things in the world.

In my life I’ve learned to do these things as well. I have now done so many new things like Emily. I’ve gone on so many adventures and many more await to come. I will take chances because the worst thing that can happen is failure, and failure just means that you really tried and that you learned something. If you don’t try, you’ll never learn which means that you’re basically afraid to live your life.

Not too long ago I climbed The Beehive Trail at Acadia National Park. At first I thought I could never do it. I thought I would look down and let go of the rocks and rails. I started panicking. Then I paused, took some deep breaths, and thought about Emily. I knew I had to go for it. Even though I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes I went for it any way. “I did it!” I shouted once I had reached the top. The view was breathtaking. Being there made me feel like I had won the world. Without thinking about Emily I could never have had that incredible experience. Climbing The Beehive Trail turned out to be outstanding. It was one of the best times I have ever had in my life. Emily taught me how you just have to go for things and try your best no matter what happens in the end.

One other thing that I have learned is that you have to follow your heart and listen to what your body is really telling you. There were so many dangerous things that Emily had to go through. Some of her choices were not the smartest but others helped her save people that she could not imagine losing. In the sixth book, Emily went on the ship of lost souls to reach Atlantis. When she went through the portal to Atlantis she didn’t know whether she would make it through. When she did, she had a time limit to come out and if she didn’t she would be stuck in Atlantis forever! When she succeeded it was because she followed her heart.

So far in my life, I’ve never had a situation where I had to make such difficult decisions, but when I do have to make a choice, I will remember what Emily did and stay true to myself. Thank you for making me feel this way. This book changed the way I thought about challenges and how I should follow my instincts. Many other people have probably written to you as well, but I really wanted you to know my feelings about this amazing series.

Sincerely,
Hannah Castiglione Fifth Grader