Two local elementary school students were national winners in PBS Kids' annual Go! Writers Contest.
Ella Black, a first-grader from North Huntingdon, won first place regionally and second place nationally in her age group for her book "Abby the Talking Giraffe." Daniel Trimble, a fourth-grader from Brookline, won first place regionally and second place nationally in his age group for "The Mystery of the Attic Intruder."
WQED, which has sponsored the contest locally for nearly two decades, received more than 1,000 entries. At a celebration at the WQED studios for local winners in June, Ella and Daniel saw their books reimagined as puppet shows.
Ella and Daniel won literacy materials related to PBS programs for their local win. For their second-place national wins, they won Kindles.
Ella said she got the idea for her book after visiting the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Giraffes are her favorite animal, she said, because they are tall and they have blue tongues. The other animals featured in the book, all of whom are trying to quiet the chatty giraffe, are Ella's "next favorite animals."
Ella, 6, goes to Sunset Valley Elementary in the Norwin School District. She said she prefers paper books over e-books and is currently reading "Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus" by Barbara Park.
Ella, who said she wants to be a teacher when she grows up, is writing a book about a cat named Maggie who is looking for a friend. Ella says she plans to enter the as-yet-untitled book about Maggie the cat in next year's contest.
Ella's mom, Melissa Black, said the contest has been "a really nice experience" and has inspired Ella's classmates.
"A lot of kids have said they can't wait to enter the contest next year," she said.
Daniel's mother, Linda Trimble, said he loves mysteries, but that wasn't the driving force behind "The Mystery of the Attic Intruder," which is about a gorilla breaking into an attic and ultimately absconding with a boy to be friends with her cub.
"He likes to read, and he likes to join contests, because he's kind of competitive," she said.
Daniel, 9, is home-schooled. This is the second time Daniel has entered the contest -- he won third place in the 2010 local contest as a first-grader for "The Mystery of the Golden Bug."
"It was the same as my first book," he said when asked how he got the idea for the story. "I just thought of random ideas."
Daniel said he wants to be either a paleontologist or a video game designer when he grows up, and the game "Mario Kart 64" is featured in "The Mystery of the Attic Intruder."
Ms. Trimble said Daniel is an avid reader, and Daniel said he likes his Kindle over paper books.
"Because I can get whatever book I want," he said.
Annie Siebert: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.