Winners of the Quarry Farm Fireplace Writing Contest

The Center for Mark Twain Studies encourages local elementary school teachers to discuss Mark Twain’s legacy in Elmira and the Southern Tier region of New York State.  Every year 2nd grade to 6th grade students from local schools are encouraged to submit their creative writing stories.  Quarry Farm is the home where Mark Twain lived for over twenty consecutive summers and is the place where Twain penned The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and many other important texts. 

Students are asked to create an original story based on the Fables of Aesop-inspired fireplace tiles in the Quarry Farm parlor. Mark Twain would often create his own original stories for his daughters using these same tiles while writing and living in Elmira. Winners have the opportunity to read their original story in the same exact place as Mark Twain.

The CMTS staff looks forward to next year’s submissions! Congratulations to all the winners!

Charlotte Anderson

Mr. Nichols’s Third Grade Classroom, Carder Elementary School

“The Lazy Sister”

Once upon a time, there was a poor family of tigers. There dad every morning went out to cut tress. At home, the daughters did the housework, so while the girls did the work. The not lazy one, Lily, always said, “Why don’t you help.”

“I got to do my makeup” said Trisha.

“Why don’t you help!” said Lily. “Fine! I will do it myself.” And that is what she did. After a few days of doing this, their dad came home and said, “You two girls are old enough to have a job.”

“Yes, father,” said Lily.

Mark Twain on the Quarry Farm Porch (1903)

“No,” said Trisha. I’d rather do the housework, but she new inside that she would rather do nothing.

The next morning the Dad went off to chop the trees. Lily was out looking for wok and Trisha was doing nothing. Dad though she was doing house work. When Lily was walking, she spotted a lamb and she was really dirty. The lamb said, “Can you help me? I’m really dirty.”

“Yes, ” said Lily and she washed the lamb like it was her own daughter. When she was all done cleaning, the lamb was so shiny and clean it looked she had a bath in glitter. “How can I repay you?” said the lamb.

“Don’t worry about it,” said Lily. Then she started walking to find a job. A couple miles later she saw a cat with an umbrella stuck in a tree.

“Can you help me?” said the cat.

“Yes, of course, said Lily, and then Lily shook the tree and got the umbrella and gave it to the cat.

“How can I repay you?” said the cat.

“Don’t worry about that,” said Lily and she kept on walking a few miles ahead and she saw a cabin. She knocked on the door and there standing was an old lady.

“I am looking for work,” said Lily, “can I help you with anything?”

“Oh yes,” said the old lady.

“What can I do?” said Lily.

“You can clean five rooms for six months but never go in the sixth room,” said the old lady.

“Ok,” said Lily and for five months she did what the old lady said. She cleaned the five room for six months. The last day came and when she was done the old lady said, “go in the sixth door.” When Lily did she saw piles of gold and money everywhere.

“Roll in it,” said the old lady.

“Ok,” said Lily. And she rolled in it, and she had a new dress and gold chains around her neck. “Thank you,” said Lily.

“Thank you!” said the old lady, “My house is clean.” Lily started walking home a few miles and she saw the cat that she helped. The cat was holding fresh warm bread.

“Why are you holding that?” said Lily.

“For you,” said the cat, “thank you for helping me.”

“Your welcome and thank you!!” said Lily. She kept on walking and then she came across the lamb that she had helped. She was wearing pearl necklaces.

“What are those for?” said Lily.

“For you! Thank you for helping me!” said the lamb.

“Thank you and you are welcome!” said Lily and she kept on walking until she got home.

“Dad! Sis! We are rich!” she yelled.

“We are?” Dad said.

“Yes! Yes! We really are. See, I have gold, jewels, and more!” said Lily. Trisha was really jealous and wanted the same thing.

The next day Trisha said to Dad, “I am going off to find a job.”

“That’s great!” said Dad and off Trisha went. When she was walking she saw a lamb that was very dirty.

“Can you help me?” said the lamb.

“No. Ew! I would get myself dirty,” said Trisha and kept on walking. A few miles later Trisha saw a rabbit and her umbrella was stuck in a tree.

“Can you help me? My umbrella is stuck in a tree,” the rabbit said.

“Ugg! No. I would get splinters and stuff, said Trisha and she kept on walking to find work. A few miles later she saw a cabin. She headed straight to it. When she was there she knocked on the door and there standing was an old lady.

“I am looking for work. Can I help you with anything?” said Trisha in her best voice.

“Oh yes,” said the old lady.

“What is it?” said Trisha.

“Well, you can clean five doors but do not clean the sixth door and yo can do that for five months,” said the old lady. Starting off was a little hard for Trisha because she never did the house work. But one day she got curious and went into the sixth door and there she saw bats and spiders and she got scratched and bruised.

“Aaaaaahhhh!” she screamed and ran home as fast as she could. When she was home her dress was ripped.

“What happened to you?” said Dad.

“I was attacked by bats and spiders,” said Trisha.


Moral: Help people when they ask.

Arabella Clarke

Mrs. Powers’s Third Grade Classroom, Carder Elementary School

“The Fox and The Stray Dog”

It was a good day. It was a shiny, flowery, green grass, blue sky day in the forest and the birds were chirping and singing their tunes. A fox was hungry and was looking for something to eat because he was awfully hungry. A dog was looking for something to eat as well and he was awful hungry to. They were both looking for food. They searched everywhere. They searched high and low.

As they were looking for food, they found a fresh juicy steak. Then they got into a fight and the dog said, “This is mine.” Then the fox said, “No, this is mine.” They said this over and over becuase they both wanted the steak. The fox and the dog were batting at each other.

As they were fighting the fox had an idea. And then said, “Stray dog, I have a plan. We can both pull the steak and then soon it will break. Then we both have a piece of steak.” Then the dog said, ” I like the idea. Let’s do it.” They were pulling the steak, it broke, and they were equal. They ate the steak there and the dog said, “I liked your idea, do you want t walk together?” And then the fox said, “I like your idea.” Then they walked happily together.

Moral: Sharing is caring.

“The Fox and the Stray Dog” by Arabella Clarke (Carder Elementary School)

Katie Grover

Mrs. Tolbert’s Third Grade Classroom, Carder Elementary School

“Bunny Big Brother and Little Sister”

Congratulations to all the winners!
Fireplace in the parlor of Quarry Farm, featuring tiles depicting twelve of Aesop’s fables.

Once upon a time there was a burrow and in that burrow were two little bunnies. There was a big brother bunny that was very rough with his sister. His sister always wondered if she could beat her brother at something.

Maybe eating carrots faster. So they both got ten carrots and they had one minute to eat them.

Then the time went off. Sister ate five carrots. Brother ate seven. Sister said, “I can run around the woods faster.”

Brother said, “No you can’t.” I’m bigger and have longer legs.”

So they started. Their Mom told them to be careful. Brother said, “Yeah, yeah, ok.”

Sister was in the lead. All of the sudden, Brother took another path. Sister ran all the way home. Mom asked, “Where’s your brother?” Sister said, “He took another path.”

“Oh no!” Mom replied. “There’s Hunter’s traps out there!”

Sister ran down the path Brother ran. She found him. He was in some ropes. “Brother!” Sister yelled.

“Shhhh!” Brother said. Sister gnawed through the ropes. They ran back home. Sister said, “I know one thing I’m better than you at.”

Brother said, “What is it?”

“Saving you!” Sister said.

Moral: Because your bigger doesn’t mean you are better.