Students in grades 4-12 are invited to enter a short story in “Oz: The Writing Contest,” running in conjunction with the “Oz: The Books” conference May 14-16 at California State University, Fresno.

The contest – open to any California student, including those who are home-schooled – challenges young writers to create original fiction based on “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and the 13 other Oz books written by L. Frank Baum.

There are two divisions: Grade 4-7 students will submit stories of 500 words or less; Grade 8-12 students can submit stories up to a maximum of 1,500 words. Category winners will receive $150. There are awards of $100 for second place and $50 for third.

The deadline to enter is Jan. 29, and winners will be notified by Feb. 26.

The six winning entries will be illustrated by Fresno State students and the student-writers will receive 10 copies of their embellished story. The six writers and their illustrators will be honored May 16 during Oz conference at the Satellite Student Union at Fresno State.

“Oz: The Books” is a national conference that will feature presentations by Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked”; Michael Patrick Hearn, author of “The Annotated Wizard of Oz”; John Fricke, author of many books on Judy Garland and the MGM movie “The Wizard of Oz”; and many other Oz experts.

The writing contest is co-sponsored by the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Fresno State, the International Wizard of Oz Club and The Fresno Bee.

Contest entry forms and more conference information are available by calling the Arne Nixon Center at 559.278.8116 or visiting the Web site at

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