Pasadena Public Library Announce 2015 One City, One Story Contest Winners

As part of the 2015 One City, One Story program, Pasadena Public Library held an art and short story contest for Pasadena children and teens inspired by this year’s selection, The Book of Unknown Americans.

Pasadena Public Library received over 50 entries. Choosing among them was tough. The winners were announced and showcased during a reception at One City, One Story Day. Here are the winning art contest entries.

“My Family Story” Art Contest

Guidelines: Submit a single frame illustration depicting your family story or what it means to be an American. Entries were judged on creativity, technical skill and execution. First place winners received a free class at Art Center College of Design (either for a class with Art Center for Kids or Saturday High). Runner ups received gift cards to Blicks Art Store. Special thanks to Art Center College of Design for their generous donation of the grand prizes!

1st Place Winner – Grades 4–8
Caeden Becker, Grade 7
Medium: Pen
Title: “United Under One Nation, We Stand Together”

The image of the face directly matches the cover of The Book of Unknown Americans. The drawing uniquely encompasses the essence of the melting pot concept. The face represents all ethnicities. differentiating not with the color of skin, but with textures. There are different textures of hair, eye shapes, eye color and facial markings, such as moles, freckles and whiskers. Some may initially think the lines are distracting, but one could view it as puzzle pieces composing a true American face.

2nd Place Winner – Grades 4–8
Nicole Kwan, Grade 5
Medium: Paint & Glitter
Title: “Freedom”

This piece is striking in color. The juxtaposition of the shackles against the flag with the glittery waters of Earth represents both a dark and magical view of America. Not everyone’s story is the same. There is a dark history there that can’t be forgotten. This is a great piece for discussion. What does it mean to be an American? Is everyone free and equal?

3rd Place Winner- Grades 4–8
Kaylee Gunnoe, Grade 4
Medium: Water Color
Title: “Hands Across America”

This piece depicts the ideal American dream in lovely colors — soft and positive. It’s what America could be: a safe haven, land of opportunities and acceptance. This is what people (and the characters in The Book of Unknown Americans) hoped for when they came to America. It is also the subject of many of the stories from the Writing Contest. In contrast to Nicole Kwan’s “Freedom” and even Caeden Becker’s “United Under One Nation, We Stand Together,” the people in this image all look the same and are presumably free and happy.

1st Place Winner – Grades 9-12
Julia See, Grade 11
Medium: Colored pencils, acrylic
Title: “Yin and Yang”

Breathtaking. It’s a piece of See’s own dual heritage story. The colors of the American flag are represented in the flower; the golden baby asleep within it gives birth to a new life in a new land. Added to that are the iconic image of the Statue of Liberty along with the Chinese dragon, all cupped into a pair of hands shows a precious holding. They’re very strong images, yet fragile in how they’re held together, as if they could slip through the fingers.

2nd Place Winner – Grades 9-12
Angel Gomez, Grade 12
Medium: Ink & Pen
Title: “No Solid Soil”

Gomez put together an interesting and surreal concept. The umbrella, which serves as protection in lands of both rain and sun, is either suspended or traveling between two places, somewhere on the shores of Mexico and sunny California. The title indicates that she doesn’t belong or stand still in just one world, but two, or many.

“Tell Your Story” Writing Contest

Guidelines: Submit an original short story of how you or a family member came to America. Stories can depict a family tale (true or fictionalized) or explore the topic of what it means to be an American. Judges were asked to consider themes of family, being an American and immigration. First place winners received $100 Visa gift cards, second place winners received $50 Visa gift cards and third place winners received $25 Visa gift cards. First place winning short stories are listed on this link, along with excerpts of the second and third place winners. To read all the complete winning short stories visit

Winners for grades 3-5

1st place
Evelyn Chen, Grade 3
Title: “Where I Belong”
Summary: A young Japanese-American girl, whose been adopted by an American family, ponders her mixed heritage.

2nd place
Gwendolyn Lopez, Grade 4
Title: “The Letter”
Summary: In Mexico, a story about a grandfather and great-uncle dreamed of the American Dream and lay in suspense as they wait for an important letter that could make that dream come true.

3rd place
Andrew Smithwick, Grade 5
Title: “My Family’s American Story”
Summary: A glimpse into several of Smithwick’s ancestors while marking significant moments in history, starting from 1642, the moment one of his ancestors set sail to America.

Winners for grades 6-8

1st place
Kaitlyn Chiu, Grade 6
Title: “The Cost of Freedom”
Summary: The harsh adventures of a 14 year old boy as he encounters communist soldiers, pirates, and generous strangers during his flight to freedom.

2nd place
Uriah Foster, Grade 7
“Jaol Esgo”
Summary: In the 1840s, a story of a young man from Ghana named Jaol Esgo, who journeys to America, sold as a slave, and finally joins the Underground Railroad.

3rd place
Eva Lindholm, Grade 6
Title: “A Young Girl’s Journey: Mexico to America”
Summary: A young Latina girl moves to America, but even in a different country, she still struggles with the same injustices and emotions.

Winners for grades 9-12

1st place
Judah Foster, Grade 9
Title: “Land of the Free”
Summary: A thirteen year old African boy is kidnapped and subjected through the stages of being sold as a slave.

2nd place
Julia Nail, Grade 9
Title: “Anyone Can Be Successful”
Summary: After moving from Japan to America to seek help for her sister’s illness, Kira finds success in something she didn’t think of before.

3rd place
Elizabeth Nail, Grade 9
Title: “Coming to America”
Summary: A dual narrative of two immigrant girls, Eleanor from France and Patricia from Mexico, who are both afraid of being ostracized at the new school.

For more information, visit




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