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2011 Write Your Own Opera Contest winning story

Animals star in student-penned opera

Monday, July 11, 2011
By Jennifer Atkins Brown
Staff Writer, News & Record

Spencer Williams, 10, adores his pets—four cats, a dog and an iguana—so when he sat down to write a story for Greensboro Opera's 2011 Write Your Own Opera! contest, those much-loved animals immediately came to mind.

He based his characters on them, creating an imaginative story about five pets who argue over who is the favorite while their owner, Cody, is at work.

Click here to read more.

The Fight to be Favorite, by Spencer Williams

Spencer Williams will be a rising fifth grader at General Greene Elementary School next fall. He was one of 102 students to enter Greensboro Opera's 2011 Write Your Own Opera! contest. Congratulations, Spencer!

The Fight to be Favorite
By Spencer Williams
Fourth Grader at General Greene Elementary
Beth Adams, Music Teacher
Rachel Harrison, Fourth Grade Teacher

Character list:
Astro the hamster is a black hamster with an orange tuft of hair on his head
Oscar the cat is an orange tabby
Thunder the dog is a German shepherd
Sissy the parrot is an African gray
Drake the iguana is a green iguana
Cody is the pet owner

In an ordinary house on an ordinary street, there lived a man named Cody. Cody loved animals. He loved them so much that he had five pets. There was Oscar the cat, Astro the hamster, Thunder the dog, Sissy the parrot, and Drake the iguana. They all got along very well until one day . . .

It all started one summer day while Cody was at work. Oscar wondered which of the pets was Cody's favorite, so he asked the others who they thought that it was. Astro rolled into the room in his hamster ball yelling, "ME! ME!" Oscar, of course, argued that he was the best. Suddenly, in a booming voice, Thunder shouted, "You're both wrong. I'm the best!" When Sissy flew in, she proclaimed that she was favored by Cody. Finally, very slowly, Drake lumbered in and loudly grumbled that he was the best pet. Since they all thought they were Cody's favorite, Oscar decided they should each list the reasons that they were the best and then they all could vote.

Astro volunteered to go first. He began to sing,

"I'm Astro the hamster, I'm the cutest of you all!
Cody loves to watch me roll around in my ball.
I sit in Cody's hand and I run up his arm
And he knows no matter what, that I'll never do him harm.
I'm easy to care for and I don't eat too much
And I never, ever, ever make a fuss!
Cody always smiles when he watches me play,
I bet he could sit and watch me play all day!"

Oscar stepped forward and he began to sing,

"I'm Oscar the cat, so cute and so sweet.
Cody loves it when I walk around his feet.
I'm soft and I'm fluffy; Cody loves to pet my fur.
He knows how much I love him by how much I purr.
He loves to watch when I play with my mouse,
I scamper and I scurry and he laughs when I pounce!
At night when he sleeps, I curl up by his feet.
I know you think I'm lazy, but Cody thinks it's sweet."

The others were impressed with what Oscar had to say. Then Thunder decided he had waited long enough. It would be his turn to let them all know why he's the one. With a bark and a growl, Thunder started to sing,

"Haven't you heard of man's best friend?
I'm a faithful and loyal friend to the end.
I'm a German shepherd, so I'm a great guard dog.
Like some of you (look at Oscar) I don't lay around like a log.
I'm smart, so it's easy to teach me lots of tricks,
When Cody wants to play, I go and fetch the stick.
I love to play games and to go on long walks.
When Cody needs an ear, I will listen while he talks."

Since no one wanted to make Thunder mad, they all told him how great he was. But Sissy wasn't ready to let Thunder be the winner without having her say. Sissy sat on her perch and she began to squawk,

"I'm Sissy the parrot and I'm the smartest of you all,
You squeak and purr and howl, but I can actually talk.
I know over a thousand words and learn more all the time,
If you could talk (ha ha!) and ask him, I know Cody would say I'm right.
I'm a lovely sight you see because I've got grey feathers and grey eyes,
And at my rear I've got a bright red tail that's mighty fine.
So while you all play and do your silly tricks,
I can sit and talk with Cody so I know I'm the one he'd pick."

Everyone thought Sissy was just a little bit stuck up, but they all told her that her reasoning was good. Last, but not least, Drake made his way to the front, ready to have his say.

Drake lay on his log and began to sing,

"I'm Drake the iguana and I'm not what I seem,
I may look like Godzilla but I'm really not mean.
I have pretty colors, many shades of green and blue.
I eat veggies and fruit and when I bask on my rock, Cody thinks that I'm cute.
I'm relaxing to watch, just try it you'll see.
There's really no other pet quite like me.
I'm laid back and calm; I don't make much noise
And best of all, you don't have to buy me toys."

Everyone agreed that Drake had great reasons to be favorite pet.

They got ready to vote, but before they got a chance, Cody drove up in his sports car. When he walked in, Sissy couldn't wait, so she asked him, "Who's your favorite pet?" With a surprised look on his face, Cody began to sing,

"Astro's so cute, and Oscar's so fluffy.
Wow! I know that I sure am lucky!
Thunder's a loyal friend, Sissy's so smart,
And Drake's so relaxing,
I can't believe that you're asking.
I love you all so, there's no way to choose.
If I had to pick, I'd pick all of you!"

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