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Linnea's letter to Ms. Whelan about Hannah
By Linnea Johansen
Genre: Non-fiction Level: Elementary 4-6
Year: 1999 Category: Letters About Literature

Dear Ms. Whelan,

My name is Linnea. I'm 12 years old and in 6th grade. I am writing to you about your book Hannah. I loved your book because it had a lot to do with my cousin, Cara. Cara is in 6th grade and is also 12 years old. She is different though, she is mentally delayed. Before I read Hannah, I thought Cara was too hard to play with. She is slower than me, so I decided to play with my other cousins instead. After I read Hannah, I saw how much Cara and Hannah are alike.

Cara has some friends, but not many. Most people are afraid. What if she falls? What if she has a seizure? What'll I do?

Some people understand about people like Cara, but most people think, "Oh, the poor thing." The people who understand think, "She is who she is, and we love her for who she is and where she is." That's what I learned.

Since Cara has slow speech, some people don't bother to listen to her. Sometimes Cara has to say things three times before someone will listen to her. Cara is not always treated like a normal person. That's because she isn't like other kids, though she would love to be. She would love to get up and run, but she can't. She would love to play the cello really well, but she can't. She would love to talk clearly, but she can't. She would love to be like other kids, but she can't.

After I read Hannah, it made me understand what it would be like to be Cara. Since then, Cara and I have become GREAT friends. We're even pen-pals! Thank you for helping me understand.


Linnea Johansen

Linnea Johansen
6th grade
Pearl Creek Elementary School, Fairbanks
Teacher: Mrs. Fish

Additional comment by Linnea

My name is Linnea. I was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and that's where I live now. I'm twelve years old and I am in the 6th grade at Pearl Creek Elementary school. This year, one of my teachers gave us a choice about doing the Letters About Literature contest for the state of Alaska. I wrote a letter to Ms. Whelan, the author of Hannah, and won! My other interests are playing the violin, which I have done since I was 3 years old. My whole family plays stringed instruments, so we have a quintet. My dad is the "manager" and our best fan. I also love to sing and act, especially in musicals. I was in the Fairbanks Light Opera Theater production of Music Man and Oliver over the past two years, which was lots of fun. My favorite hobby is slalom water skiing, but I also enjoy diving and swimming, dancing and figure skating. I think the reason I like to write is that I have always done a lot of reading. Each year since third grade I've participated in the Battle of the Books, a reading competition that asks teams to answer detailed questions about a long book list. At this point, when I grow up, I either want to be the 1st woman President of the United States, a famous clothes designer, or the owner of a big department store like Macy's.

About the Author: 6th grade
Pearl Creek Elementary School, Fairbanks
Teacher: Mrs. Fish

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