Young Readers League 2019 “Hidden History” Writing Contest

1st place

(Category 2: ages 12-14)


“A Surprising School Trip”

by Leah Bacigalupi

Age 12


Summary:  Harper discovers a startling detail about her family.


Harper Rakosi was sitting on the bus begrudgingly. She hated field trips, especially this one. Today her class was going to the Norton Simon Museum. She would rather count grains of sand than spend the day learning about art or poetry.

The bus came to a halt. Harper waited for her name to be called, and as usual, she was one of the last students off.

Once in the museum, Harper heard her friend Nate. “Hey, Harper,” he said. “That painting is cool, right?”

It was an abstract picture, but not exactly “cool.” Next to the painting was a six page letter. Harper thought to herself, “Someone would have to pay me to write that much. I hate writing.”

Harper heard Nate’s voice again.

“Harper, come here! It’s your name.” Harper walked over to Nate who pointed to a diary written by Harper Rakosi. The display read:


I watched the river run slowly past me as I sat on my stool and felt the rhythm of my pen dance across the paper.


Harper finished reading, confused. She rushed over to the docent.

“Excuse me, where did you find that diary?”

“That is Ms. Rakosi’s most famous diary,” said the woman.

“What do you mean famous?” said Harper.

“Oh I’m sorry, I just assumed you knew. Harper Rakosi is a famous poet.”

Harper asked one more question.

“Do you know if she had any children?”

The woman thought.

“I believe she had one daughter by the name of Julieta Rakosi.”

Harper felt faint. “That’s my grandma,” she thought.

Harper walked back to the diary and re-read the words over and over again. Then she thought about her famous great grandma and smiled. She pulled out a pen and paper from her backpack and started to write and the words didn’t stop.


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