Student’s drawing wins a national award

Posted on: Oct 30, 2023

A seventh-grade student at Delano Public Schools was able to blend her love for art and reading with her competitive spirit to win a national contest and help stock the bookshelves at the Delano Intermediate School (DIS) library.  To help celebrate National Library Week (April 23-29, 2023) the Junior Library Guild (JLG) hosted a contest that allowed students to submit drawings to be featured on JLG bookmarks. Created in 1929 as one of the enterprises of the Literary Guild, the JLG, formerly the Junior Literary Guild, is a commercial book club devoted to juvenile literature. I

DIS Media Center Paraprofessional Jen Trujillo, knew that Coder’s passion for reading and for creating unique illustrations made her a perfect candidate for the contest. With a bit of encouragement from Trujillo, Coder grabbed a book and a sketch pad and got to work. “I love to read, I am a good artist and I am very competitive,” admitted Coder. “As soon as I heard about the national contest, I knew I had to enter.” 

The theme of the JLG contest was “There’s More to the Story.” Individuals had to choose their favorite JLG book from a booklist and turn their interpretation into art! According to the contest rules, contestants could draw their favorite character, the background of an important scene, or how a story made them feel. Additionally, while artistic skill was considered, the judges were more interested in seeing what the readers had to say. 
Coder felt she had an advantage over other contestants because she had already read many of the books on the JLG booklist. “I am always, always reading and I already read many of the books on the list, not once, but several times, so I felt like I had an advantage,” said Coder. 
Coder, a fan of reading science fiction and who admitted to reading all of the “I Survived”  books, created a scene interpretation from the book “The Last Cuentista, by Donna Barba Higuera. The story is about a young girl and her family traveling to a new planet to carry on the human race. Coder took detailed passages from the book and created a one-of-a-kind bookmark. “If you read the book,” said Coder, “you will know that every element on my bookmark is mentioned somewhere in the book.”  
It wasn't all easy for Coder who thought the contest was a little nerve racking. The self-taught artist submitted her drawing only to have it returned to her because it had to be in color. Always looking for ways to challenge herself, Coder chose to bring intensity to her drawing by using markers. “Coloring with markers was really hard,” said Coder. “I never use markers for my artwork, but I wanted to challenge myself.” 
After five drafts and more than 48 hours of work, Coder finished her bookmark. 
The JLG chose four winners from each grade range - elementary school, middle school, and high school. Over the summer, Coder regularly checked the JGL website in hopes of seeing her bookmark as a winning entry. After weeks and months of not seeing anything on the website about her bookmark, she figured she didn't win; until the day in early August when Trujillo contacted her to let her know her bookmark was chosen as the winner for her grade level. 
You can see Coder’s award winning bookmark on a plaque hung inside the Delano High School Library where Coder now goes to school. 
Because of her submission, the DIS library received a $250 book credit and Coder’s winning design was professionally printed on bookmarks for the entire school! Coder and Trujillo will choose approximately 25 books that are appropriate for readers in grades 4 through 6. However, before putting the books on the shelves, Coder will affix a label to the inside cover of the books stating the book was selected by her using funds received from winning the 2023 JLG bookmark contest. 
As a seventh grader, Coder will continue taking community ed art technique classes but she will focus on her next personal goal; being selected for the honors choir for the third year in a row. “I want to be chosen for the honors choir every year until I graduate. I am competitive and I like to win. If there is ever another art contest in Delano, look out because I am coming for you!”