Pepper doesn’t have much musical skill. So when the prickly porcupine is invited to perform in the town’s parade, his hunt for an instrument to play only leads to disappointment. Feeling less talented than his peers, a dejected Pepper eventually finds his place as the band’s rhythmical leader.

That’s the plot of “Pepper the Porcupine and the Big Parade,” a children’s book written and illustrated by Montgomery County high school students Jourdan Lewanda and Andrew Latona for the annual Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge

Hosted this past spring by B’nai B’rith International, a Jewish humanitarian and advocacy group, and sponsored by Pepco Holdings, the scholarship competition asks participants to craft books that teach children about tolerance and equality.

“Diversity is one of our core values, so the partnership with B’nai B’rith on this project was perfect since the books tell stories of tolerance, diversity and inclusion,” a Pepco Holdings spokeswoman said via e-mail.

The winning author and illustrator each received $5,000 toward college expenses, and the winning book was published and distributed to schools and libraries in the Washington region. It’s also available to download as a free e-book.

“Pepper the Porcupine and the Big Parade,” written by Jourdan Lewanda and illustrated by Andrew Latona. (Illustrated by Andrew Latona/Illustrated by Andrew Latona)

Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), Pepco Holdings President and chief executive Joseph Rigby and Sybille Jagusch, chief of the Children’s Literature Center at the Library of Congress, served as judges for the 2013 contest.

Pepco Holdings shelled out $50,000 to sponsor the writing contest, the spokeswoman said, including $10,000 in additional scholarships for finalists and the cost of hosting a reception.

This was the first year Pepco Holdings sponsored the event, and the energy provider will provide additional funding for B’nai B’rith to host similar competitions in areas where its other business units, Delmarva Power and Atlantic City Electric, operate.