McSweeney’s received nearly one thousand responses to its call for submissions to its first “Five Under Five” contest, showcasing the written work of five promising young American writers under the age of five. McSweeney’s specified that submissions must be submitted by writers born in the United States, Puerto Rico, or other territories on or after October 1, 1993, and must run at no longer than 5,000 words. The judging took place in New York City in October 1998, resulting in one Grand Prize, one First Prize, and three Honorable Mention awards.

The editors of McSweeney’s are pleased to publish five original young voices of prose and poetry, the winners of “Five Under Five.”

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GRAND PRIZE
Sean Oberdorfer

Sean Oberdorfer was born in 1994 in Washington, D.C. He attends Wilson Lane Montessori School in Bethesda, Maryland, where he studies ceramics, gymnastics, and modern dance. He plans to attend The Norwood School in Potomac, Maryland, next fall.

The Big Truck
by Sean Oberdorfer

Once there was a man and he had a truck that was very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very big. It was bigger than the world and the moon and Mars and the universe put together. He drove all day and all night for a long time until he got to the store. Then he said wow, you have a very big store and I have a big truck! So he bought all the food in the store and then he went home.

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FIRST PRIZE
Michelle Nguyen

Michelle Nguyen, born in late 1993 in Phoenix, Arizona, has won numerous awards for musicianship and improvement at regional piano recitals. This essay originally appeared in “Carnival,” a zine written, illustrated, and published by the students of El Saguaro Elementary School in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and published in a limited edition of 300 handmade copies.

Grandmother
by Michelle Nguyen

I love my grandmother and my grandmother loves me. Sometimes my older brother and I fight a lot over who gets to hug her first. She is very old. She knows a lot of things. Her house smells funny! She gives us candy when we come over to play. I like to play with her shoes. She has about one thousand million gazillion shoes. She has the most shoes in the world.

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HONORABLE MENTION
Anastasia Rastapopolous

Anastasia Rastapopolous, 4, works mostly in the oral tradition of poetry, concerning herself with the inner lives of young girls. A native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, she recently moved with her family to Durham, North Carolina.

I Have A Stomach Ache!
by Anastasia Rastapopolous

I have a stomach ache,
I have a stomach ache,
I have a stomach ache,
Yes,
I,
Do!
I have a tummy ache,
I have a tummy ache,
I have a tummy ache,
Why,
Don’t,
You?

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HONORABLE MENTION
LaShauna Mitchell

LaShauna Mitchell was born in 1994. A lifelong Chicagoan, she recently received the Gold Star award for her essay work from Mrs. Hawkins, an instructor at DuSable Elementary School in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.

My Horse
by Shakalesa LaShauna Mitchell

If I had a horse, I would ride it all day. My horse’s name is Dreamboat. My horse would be blue with white spots and a yellow tail and purple feet. My horse would be very pretty and would eat carrots and Chips Ahoys with me. I would like to ride a horse in front of my house so my friends could see us there. My mom says I’m not old enough for a horse yet! But I know I would like to ride Dreamboat some day.

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HONORABLE MENTION
Daniel Eric Popkin

Born in 1994 and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Daniel Eric Popkin has shown mastery of satirical fiction in his studies at Cedar Crest Nursery School. A writer and actor, Daniel played the role of Vitamin B in Cedar Crest’s 1998 production of “The Four Food Groups.”

The Giant
by Daniel Eric Popkin

The giant said it’s time to go to bed. But we can’t go to bed until we kiss your head! So we kissed the giant’s head and we all went to bed. Tick! Tock! Tick! Tock! said the giant’s clock. The giant has funny socks and a lock and a rock. Why doesn’t he lock up his sock? Because he already locked the clock! Ding, dong, ding, dong, everybody GO TO BED!

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McSweeney’s thanks all those who submitted their work to “Five Under Five,” and would like to extend thanks to The Learning Company and to Phillip Morris, Inc. for their generous support.