For immediate release | March 29, 2011

Figment, YALSA choose O'Neil, Sjoden winners of 2011 Teen Tech Week contest

CHICAGO — and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) awarded two Nook e-readers to the winners of the 2011 Teen Tech Week contest. Becky O’Neil, a librarian at the Westerville (Ohio) Public Library, won the librarian category for her creative writing prompt, and teen Anande Sjoden won the teen portion, with an essay on steampunk apparatus, judged by National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine. Teen Fiona Plunkett won a $50 gift card for creating the steampunk apparatus for the teen portion of the contest.

O’Neil entered the contest by tweeting her most creative writing prompt with the hashtag #yalsaprompt. Her winning prompt was: “First sentence: I'd spent my entire life up to now trying to get that crown back.”

“Winning the #yalsaprompt contest from Figment and YALSA is so exciting because it encapsulates one of my favorite ways to connect with teen patrons: writing,” O’Neil said. “My new Nook will be a library Nook and will come in handy for teens to try out an e-reader.”

In the teen contest, teens were asked to create a piece of steampunk apparatus, and Plunkett created the “Narrika: dark colored belt made of iron that was twirled into many loops and has pockets of air that can be tapped open. It has raised ridges that have spiky spheres on the end and gears inside that are always at work, constantly whirring.”

Teens could then write an essay about how to use the Narrika. From 15 finalists, Erskine selected Sjodeen’s entry, "Never Take It Off," noting that “the clarity of writing, the voice, the use of the Narrika device itself, and the keep ‘em guessing ending all made this a beautiful short story — particularly impressive in so few words!”

Erskine also selected a runner-up entry: "The Coast" by Johnny Riley. Erskine said: “I loved the action and adventure in this short story — yet there was palpable emotion and good characterization, too. A great sense of place and urgency, with the Narrika integrally incorporated into the story. Well done!”

“All of the contenders were amazingly well written and compelling. Any one of them could have won and had another person judged the contest the outcome may well have been different. As with all stories, it’s a subjective process,” Erskine said. “The bottom line is, always, keep writing.” is a 2011 Teen Tech Week Promotional Partner. Teen Tech Week is a national initiative aimed at teens, librarians, educators, parents, and other concerned adults that highlights non print resources at the library. The 2011 theme — Mix and Mash @ your library — focused on encouraging teens to use library resources to express their creativity by developing their own unique online content and safely sharing it by using online collaborative tools. For more information on Teen Tech Week, please visit

For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos and audiobooks for teens. For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to