Local youth catches award with story

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 11, 2002

They say, write what you know.

Braun Oldenkamp, 8, knows all about dreamcatchers.

Dreamcatchers were the subject of a short story he wrote and illustrated for the Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators contest.

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After Braun won the Austin contest, sponsored by KSMQ, in the third grader category, his story earned an honorable mention at the national competition. His story and illustrations are now published on the Reading Rainbow Web site.

His short story "Maxine and his Dreams" was based partly on his own experience. It's about a boy named Maxine who lives in Italy. Maxine has bad dreams, but thinks they will go away if he has a dreamcatcher. A dream in which a white wolf bites him on the ankle comes true so Maxine goes to his grandmother for help. She gives him the dreamcatcher she had as a child.

"It just popped into my head," Braun said of his story idea.

But not without some life-experience.

Braun said he had bad dreams when he was 5 years old and in one of them, a wolf bit his ankle. His grandparents gave a him a dreamcatcher, which hangs on his bedroom window.

"I haven't had any (bad dreams) since," Braun said.

Braun said he likes to write and draw, but said math is his favorite subject.

Jerol Oldenkamp, his mother, said he has always been interested in writing and art.

"He's good at English," Jerol said in the kitchen of their home, where two of Braun's crayon drawings hang on the cupboards. "He's pretty bright."

Braun had never written a short story before this contest, but had written assignments in school and sometimes for fun. Jerol thinks this contest will encourage him to write more often.

"It's a good incentive for him," she said.

This is eighth annual Young Writers and Illustrators contest, but this is the first year it has been held in Austin, said Jennifer Habana, coordinator at KSMQ. About 20 children in grades Kindergarten through third entered the contest this spring. Local winners won a Reading Rainbow book and video tape.

"I thought it was an interesting opportunity," Habana said. "I thought it would be fun for the kids."

About 420 children entered the national competition. Braun was one of two honorable mentions of the third graders who entered. All who entered received a certificate signed by Lavar Burton, the host of Reading Rainbow, a PBS show that features children's books.

To read Braun's story visit http://gpn.unl.edu/rainbow and click on the "Young Writers and Illustrator's Contest" icon.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at :mailto:cari.quam@austindailyherald.com