Taco book wins contest

This past year’s been a blur for 15-year-old Leaside resident Christopher Smolej, who shared the first-place prize in the nation-wide 2014-15 Kids Write 4 Kids creative contest organized by Ripple Digital Publishing for public and private school students in grades 4 through 8.

A grade 7 student at St. Anselm at the time, Smolej won for his 18-page book Escape From the Taco Shop, about a taco who helps his friends escape from Tony, the human who runs the shop. The idea came from a class assignment.

The judging panel rated the books on creativity and originality, story structure and the quality of writing.

Both winners’ books were sold on Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore and Kobo. Net proceeds went to the winners’ schools.

St. Anselm is selling the book as a fundraiser for $5 each and has raised over $600.

And for the first time Ripple has asked the winners to come back as judges, making them the youngest judges in the contest’s four-year history.