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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Taste (07/15/10)

TITLE: A Taste of Prejudice
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom


Camden laughed at his little sister as Wrigley wrinkled her nose and pushed the plate of tomatoes away. Wrigley folded her arms and shook her head, “I hate tomatoes; please don’t make me eat them.”

“You’re such a goober, you like pizza, spaghetti, and lasagna. They all have tomatoes in them.” Camden pushed the plate back to Wrigley. “So quit being a baby and just eat them like Mom told you to do in the first place.”

Wrigley paled as her blue eyes looked for the truth in her mother’s eyes. She gulped when Mom nodded her head. “Fine then, I’m never going to eat pizza, lasagna or spaghetti again.” She shoved the vile tomato plate back to her brother.

He just laughed harder at her. “That’s called cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

Finally Mom interrupted, “You two need to stop this silly argument. You’ve been bickering all week. Those tomatoes are fresh from the garden, Wrigley, and you need to eat one slice. You know the rules. And Camden quit picking on your little sister. You two need to be friends not enemies.”

The next day after school Wrigley went into her brother’s room. “You’re in trouble. Mom was on the phone with your teacher. What did you do?” Camden jumped off his bed and slammed the door in his sister’s face.

Just before dinner, Mom called the kids into the living room. Camden could feel the tension in the air. His mother had a frown on her face, and his father’s eyebrow was lifted up, Mom sighed, “Your teacher called me today, Camden. We need to talk about what happened in school.”

Camden glanced at his sister, “Does she have to be here for this?”

Dad looked his two children in the eyes before responding, “Yes what we need to say is important and you both need to hear it.” He turned his gaze to Camden. “Would you like to tell me why you called the new boy names and wouldn’t let him play ball with you today?”

Camden shifted his weight in his chair; his leg was trembling, he took a deep breath, “He should go back to his own country. We don’t want any terrorist living around here. He’s Muslim. Those people do unthinkable things. Look at 911. So we decided if we didn’t let him play it would show him who’s boss around here.”

Mom shook her head,tears filled her eyes, “I thought I raised you two to judge for yourself. I didn’t teach you to be prejudiced.”

Wrigley looked at Mom and Dad, “I’m not prejudiced. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Mom shook her head, “Maybe not yet, but you’re working on it.” Wrigley’s mouth dropped open. Before she could say a word Mom continued, “Look at what happened at dinner last night. You don’t ever want to eat your favorite foods anymore because they have tomatoes in them. It may seem like a silly comparison, but prejudice starts little and grows big. Just because you don’t like the taste of raw tomatoes, you were willing to stop eating anything with tomatoes in it. Instead what you should do is try each dish and then decide if you like it or not.”

Dad turned to Camden, “It’s the same way with people. We don’t lump them all together, but we judge each one individually for what that person has to offer. It sounds silly, but just like we tell you to taste everything on your plate to see if you like it, you should spend time with each new person and judge him on what he does.”

“You two wouldn’t what to be judged just because you’re Christians do you?” Mom leaned over and put an arm around her children. “We want you to be the best you can be.”

Both kids shook their heads. Tears started to fill Camden’s eyes. “I guess I broke the Golden Rule today. 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' I’m sorry and I’ll tell the new kid I’m sorry, too. Can I go call my friends and tell them we were wrong and see if they will let him play ball tomorrow?”

Mom and Dad both smiled, “After dinner, tonight we are having goulash. And Wrigley, even though it has tomatoes in it, you will try it won’t you?”

Wrigley nodded; they went to the table, said Grace, and ate the goulash together.

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This article has been read 795 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sarah Heywood07/24/10
This teaches an important lesson and I can see it especially helpful as children's literature. Good writing!
Phee Paradise 07/26/10
This was a very nicely told story. The dialogue was realistic and the lesson came naturally. But I did have a bit of trouble pinning down Camden's age.
AnneRene' Capp07/26/10
Shann, this is so very cute and the dialog so real. I could picture even the unspoken body gestures of the entire family throughout this along with Wrigley's adorable blue eyes as she searched her mother's face.
What a great message to adults and children alike. It was a very unique and gentle approach on such a needed topic.
Virgil Youngblood 07/26/10
A fun read with a great lesson.
Carol Penhorwood 07/27/10
What a great analogy to use. You should pursue publishing this one-- in a children's magazine perhaps.
Lollie Hofer07/27/10
This was a well-written story with strong, believable dialogue. You did a good job of capturing the mannerisms of the children. Great message too. Well done!
Joan Campbell07/27/10
What an important topic to tackle - you did it in your usual gentle, wise style. I agree with the others that the dialogue came across in an authentic, unforced way. And boy, can I relate to the sibling bickering!!
Colin Swann07/28/10
Enjoyed the story - oh, dear I've been very prejudiced against onions and garlic for most of my life! Thanks for the fun read. Colin
Beth LaBuff 07/28/10
I enjoyed the tomato trauma in the beginning. :) You've incorporated some great life-lessons in this. Nice work!
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/28/10
This is a really outstanding story. The family life is so real,I felt like I was right there in the living room...or was it sounding just like my own living room a loooonnnngggg time ago?
Sarah Elisabeth 07/28/10
I didn't know Wrigley had a big brother! :-D
I think the analogy was a very good one, cleverly put.

A little critique: I wasn't sure whose point of view we were in. I think it was Wrigley's for the first part, then switched to Camden's. Also, when Wrigley "went into her brother’s room" he slammed the door in her face a few seconds later. He couldn't do that if she were IN the room. But I'm nit-picking and those are easily corrected :-)

I agree, the dialogue seemed very natural and welll paced. Good job!
Kate Oliver Webb 07/28/10
Great story, and I agree with Carol: polish it up (Sarah Elisabeth had good ideas) an consider publishing it in a children's magazine. It's message is too important not to share more widely, and it is well-told.
Shellie Bailey07/30/10
I agree, with some polishing it would work wonderful for a submission to a childrens magazine. Even a script for a radio show like Adventures in Odyssey, that is really where it took me. Great job!
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/02/10
Awesome story! You gave a good message without being too preachy, and it was entertaining. You could even turn this into a skit for church easily.