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Girl wins second in writing contest
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Bethany Gilbert, 6, pets her dog Abby, the subject of her book “I’m Like Abby,” which placed second in the national PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

A 6-year-old girl from the Spencer area is one of 12 children selected as winners of the national PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest.

“I’m Like Abby,” a book by Bethany Gilbert, was the second-place winner at the kindergarten level, according to a PBS news release.

Bethany was 5 when she wrote and illustrated the book, said her mother, Jessica Paige Gilbert.

The winning entries in the contest were chosen from thousands of submissions from 62 participating PBS stations across the country, according to the PBS news release. The honorary panel of judges included award-winning children’s authors Jeff Kinney, Jarrett Krosoczka, R.L. Stine and others, the release stated.

Bethany’s entry (submitted by UNC-TV) advanced to national competition after being selected the winner for a region that includes all of North Carolina and parts of Virginia and South Carolina, according to an April 17 Bulletin article.

“We found out (about the national award) Monday,” Jessica Paige Gilbert said, adding she “was kind of shocked but excited.”

And Bethany’s reaction? “It took a minute for it to sink in,” her mother said. The first thing Bethany said was she wanted to call her grandmothers. “She was just excited, and that was the first thing she said.”

Bethany’s grandmothers are Jeannie Gilbert of Bassett, Loretta Dease of Greensboro, N.C., and Jan Craig of Martinsville, according to a Bulletin article.

“They were very proud of me,” Bethany said of her grandmothers.

Her father, Payton Gilbert, also was proud of her.

“I’m excited and thankful,” he said. “She tries hard in whatever she does. She’s almost like a perfectionist. ... If she doesn’t do a good job, she’s upset with herself.”

“I’m Like Abby” is about the Gilbert family. It explains that Abby, a Lab and the family’s biggest dog, is the leader for the family’s two smaller dogs, Trinity, a German shepherd, and Gracie, a beagle. At the same time, Bethany is bigger than and the leader for her little brother and sister, Levi, now 4, and Magdalene, now 11 months, so she should set good examples for her siblings.

Jessica Paige Gilbert estimates Bethany spent about 12 hours writing her story and doing seven illustrations.

“It takes a lot of work,” Bethany said. She said she learned, “If you pay attention and take your time, you will get rewarded.”

She also said she tries to set good examples for her little brother and sister. “I help mommy with Magdalene. I play with her and hold her sometimes.” Bethany also plays with Levi, she said.

Jessica Paige Gilbert has home-schooled Bethany, a rising first-grader, for a number of years. “She has all A’s.”

“She’s very inquisitive. She asks a million questions about everything. She wants to learn. She loves writing and drawing. She’s really smart. She started reading early,” her mother said.

Bethany likes going to the library and doing computer puzzles, and she learned to swim this summer, her mom said.

Bethany received an e-book reader at the national level and will receive prizes from UNC-TV, her mother said. Also, “I’m Like Abby” will be made into a hardback book, Jessica Paige Gilbert said. She added that Bethany will be recognized at an award ceremony in Raleigh, N.C., in late February.

To see Bethany’s book, go to


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