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2014 Short Story Winners (Children’s 11 & Under)

Short-Story-Children's-Judge-Beth-WebbCroppedWe were thrilled and honoured that Somerset based Beth Webb, author of the teen books Star Dancer Quartet and numerous other children’s books agreed to be our judge.

http://www.bethwebb.co.uk/books/teen-adult-books

We had a great response again this year and there were some really first class entries, all written from different angles, with clever endings and great ideas.  Generally the detail was good and it was interesting to see that, as with the older age entries, how the authors had the ability to maintain tenses/narrative.  We thank everyone who entered and are sorry if your story wasn’t shortlisted but that doesn’t mean that you scored badly. The marks were just extremely close, sometimes with only one point between them.

The winning stories are attached below, together with Beth’s encouragements. She wrote to say “I’ve now completed judging the writing competition, what a terrific set of stories! Superb quality! Thank you so much for involving me in the Curry Mallet competition this year, it has been a joy.”

FIRST PLACE

Fire Welder” by Tia McLellan aged 8 pupil from Rockwell Green Primary School, Wellington, Somerset (the entry was beautifully handwritten but has been typed for inclusion here)

Encouragement

Congratulations on winning first prize. I chose your story because:

1) Your story had a strong beginning, middle, and an end.

2) Your hero had a clear goal (of needing a friend when he was hurt), which he achieved.

3) You used description

4) You ended with the reader wanting more.

5) You wrote in the first person (the dragon tells the story), which makes me feel as if I know him.

6) You let us get to know Hannah as a person, not just what she looked like.

‘Her voice was so soothing it made me come out of the dark,’ was a superb line.

If I were you, I’d re-write this story and put in more details, like how Fire Welder almost sets the house on fire, etc. This could make a short book.

Well done.

PS, you might like the courses we run at Kilve Court:http://www.kilvecourt.co.uk/enrichment/

SECOND PLACE

Bob the Chinese Dragon” by Alexander Cleak aged 10 of Wallingford, Oxfordshire

Encouragement

Congratulations, I really enjoyed this story.

It was funny, clever, original and different.

I particularly liked the way your character had a clear goal at the outside, and he achieved that goal at the end.

You thought through how the characters would communicate (or not), and how humans view dragons. Took thought about dragon mythology and had fun changing it around and making it new. You developed Bob and Fen’s characters, and you left me wanting more.

Tip: try and get a little conversation into a story.

I really think you should try and expand this into something much longer. It’s a great idea – now see what you can do with it.

Ps, you might enjoy the writing courses at Kilve Court:

http://www.kilvecourt.co.uk/enrichment/

THIRD PLACE

The Winter Dragon” by Chloe Cornick aged 10 pupil from St Michael’s Academy, Yeovil (the entry was beautifully handwritten but has been typed for inclusion here)

Congratulations. I really enjoyed your story.

You used conversation beautifully, but don’t be afraid of just using ‘said’ or ‘asked’ when people speak, unless they need to scream or shout. For example, I wasn’t sure why Katie’s dad ‘screamed’ at her when they were just talking.

Your descriptions were beautiful, and I loved the way the children took a photo to prove what they’d seen.

Tip: when you’re writing a story, think about what the main character wants or needs at the end, and make that clearer earlier on. It’ll help make your story stronger.

Have a go at writing a play – why not? I think you’d do it well.

Ps, you might enjoy the writing courses at Kilve Court.

http://www.kilvecourt.co.uk/enrichment/

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Lewie Learns To Fly” by Keir Huish aged 9 pupil from St James Church School, Taunton, Somerset

Encouragement

Congratulations, I really enjoyed reading your story.

I liked the idea of a bullied dragon who tackles his problems and defeats the bully, but is strong enough not to want vengeance. That was well thought out!

It’s important that you know what your main character wants or needs at the beginning of a story, then s/he follows that goal to the end, and you did that beautifully.

Tip: Try putting a bit more description into your work, and maybe something about how Lewie felt when he managed to get off the ground at last (imagine flying and see how it makes you feel?)

Very well done.

PS, you might enjoy the writing courses at Kilve Court: http://www.kilvecourt.co.uk/enrichment/

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Fire and Ice” by Ben Murphy aged 9 pupil from St James Church School, Taunton, Somerset

Encouragement

Well done for reaching the finals of the Curry Mallet writing competition.

I very much enjoyed reading your story. It was a great idea and full of action and excitement. I like the battle between the two wizards, you knew what they characters wanted to do, and you told the story well.

Tip: Most authors, but not all, write in the past tense, (they went there, they did that…) rather than the present tense (Storm shoots, Justin shouts). You might find it easier to make your sentences flow together. Also, check out how to use paragraphs. Read lots of books, that’ll help too!

I hope you keep writing, you certainly know how to make action work!

PS, you might enjoy the writing courses at Kilve Court.

http://www.kilvecourt.co.uk/enrichment/

SPECIAL UNDER AGE CATEGORY WINNER

“There are Dragons Everywhere” by Reggie Robertson aged 4 of Curry Mallet

Knight Reggie came to Curry Mallet with his sword and shield, wearing both his helmet and his knight suit. He had heard that orange and blue, really scary dragons, were living in Curry Mallet so Knight Reggie came to search for them.

Knight Reggie thinks there could be more dragons even than the orange and blue ones hiding, so he had a long look and found an orange dragon in Curry Mallet forest. He liked the colour of the dragon, but it was frightening and had fire coming out of its mouth, so one chop from Knight Reggie killed him and he fell down dead.

All other knights out there don’t have to worry now as the big dragon is dead but Knight Reggie thinks he will have to come back after Christmas and slay the blue dragon of Curry Mallet which is another story for another time ……

Created and narrated by Reggie Robertson, aged 4, Jasmine Cottage, Curry Mallet

Encouragement

Very well done for your entry. I have awarded you a special prize, even though you are under age for the competition because:

1) Your story had a strong beginning, middle, and an end.

2) Your hero had a clear goal, which he achieved.

3) You used description.

4) At the end, the reader wants to read on!

5) You were very brave entering our competition.

I wish some of my adult students could understand how to write stories this well.

I hope when you’re a bit older you’ll come on a writing course at Kilve Court. http://www.kilvecourt.co.uk/enrichment/

2013 Short Story Winners (Children’s 11 & Under)

1st Prize – “Hamster on Repeat! by Nate Reason aged 8 from York.

Angie Sage’s comments were – “Wow! It is hard to believe that someone aged only 8 wrote this.  It is very skilful and shows a lovely sense of rhythm.  The pace is great, the story structure really clever.  Very good characters – all different, all real.  I like the dry humour, and the way the hamster is so …….. Rambo.  The ending is perfect:  all the hamster wanted was something to eat!  In one short story we have all that we need.  This is a perfect picture book story, congratulations!”

Hamster on Repeat

My hamster is stuck in the piano. ‘So what should I do?’ says Nate. ‘Should I leave him there or take him out or feed him to the hyenas?’

‘I think you should take him out from the piano,’ said Aidan.

‘I think we should feed him to the hyenas,’ said Daddy.

So they went to get a pair of pillars and some screwdrivers and a mole-wrench to try and get the hamster out of the piano.

When they got back they got the hamster out of the piano, put it in its cage, forgot to close the door AND … ‘Dad! The hamster is stuck in the cupboard!’

(Repeat.)

My hamster is stuck in the cupboard. ‘So what should I do?’ says Nate. ‘Should I leave him to the exterminators or get him out or feed him to the jaguars?

‘I think you should get him out from the cupboard,’ said Aidan.

‘I think we should feed him to the jaguars,’ said Daddy.

So they went to get some firelighters and a candlestick and a blowtorch to try and get the hamster out of the cupboard.

When they got back they got the hamster out of the cupboard, put it in its cage and CLOSED the door. BUT they left the blowtorch in the cage and the hamster used it to escape. ‘Dad! The hamster is stuck in the radiator!’

(Repeat.)

My hamster is stuck in the radiator. ‘So what should I do?’ says Nate. ‘Should I leave him to the mice or get him out or feed him to the cannibals?’

‘I think you should take him out from radiator,’ said Aidan.

‘I think we should feed him to the cannibals,’ said Daddy.

So they went to get a spanner and a watering can and a clothes dryer to try and get the hamster out of the radiator.

When they got back they got the hamster out of the radiator put it in its cage, CLOSED the door, took EVERYTHING out. BUT the hamster ate through the

bars and ran for freedom. ‘Dad! The hamster is stuck in the drainpipe!’

(Repeat)

My hamster is stuck in the drainpipe. ‘So what should I do? Says Nate. ‘Should I leave him to the germs or get him out or feed him to the hawk?’

‘I think you should take him out from drainpipe,’ said Aidan.

‘I think we should feed him to the hawk,’ said Daddy.

So they went to get a carving knife and a wooden sword and a butterfly collecting net to try and get the hamster out of the drainpipe.

When they got back they got the hamster out of the drainpipe put it in its cage, CLOSED the door, took EVERYTHING out AND gave it some sunflower seeds.

He sat and ate them.

THE END.

2nd Prize – Anthony Fox aged 9 from Oxford. 

Angie Sage’s comments were  “Nice twist to using the first line.  And unusual, thoughtful and very atmospheric descriptions.  Confidently written, quite poetic!  I really liked: aroma of salty crisps and sweet chocolate, misty elephant grey clouds, the sound of rain drops: like a lady’s high heels click-clacking down a never-ending street.”

“My hamster is stuck in the piano,” I whispered. Out of nowhere, a boy appeared. He replied softly, “Rodendiculous.” I followed him into a liquorice coloured, but rather worn tent where I was accompanied by six other boys; an aroma of salty crisps and sweet chocolate wafted in the air.

A piece of paper with OPERATION GIRL’S SLEEPOVER written on the front in scrawled letters was thrust into my hand. One of the boys stood up to speak with an authoritative air:

“Five girls are having a sleepover at my house tonight at 6.00pm. They are having crisps, chocolate, burgers, and hotdogs – food of the gods. Boys are excluded which is not only discriminatory but downright unacceptable.” He explained. A loud chuckle followed. “I have decided that we should meet at the tent at 5.00pm, and get the gang together. Do not have dinner yet. Then we should sneak up, grab the food and be gone without anyone noticing…

Peeking outside, I could see the sky stretched out like a navy flecked marble table. Misty, elephant grey clouds were beginning to gather, glowering at the world below. Signs of a storm were becoming ever more apparent – maybe a signal of the war about to take place. For the next two hours, we made plans. We could hear the splatter of rain drops, as they marched inexorably south like a lady’s high heels click-clacking down a never-ending street onto the tent canvas. How would we distract the girls, and then grab the food? Ideas came pouring into my head but none seemed practical. Finally one of the boys, Jimmy decided that he would distract the girls whilst the others grabbed all the food they could carry and raced back to the camp. Jimmy was going to act like a demented hamster stuck inside a piano, dancing, yowling and shrieking.  He would appear like an encaged beast, mad, bad and very distracting

An hour later five screaming and wailing girls were huddled in a corner wanting their mothers and we were sitting in our tent devouring the most delicious food we had had for days. Success!

The next day, the storm was over. It was time for further mischief. I approached the tent and uttered the unforgettable passwords once more, “My hamster is stuck in the piano”.

3rd Prize – Olivia Winnfrith aged 11 from London.  Angie Sage’s comments were “Very well written, a confident style.  Nice depiction of family relationships.  And a macabre twist at the end, which is also very clever.”

The Flight of Tibbes

My hamster is stuck in the piano!  Mum walks into the room.

“Lucy, why is Tibbles not in his cage and why is he sitting in the piano nibbling the C major string?” she says, in the polite tone which means she is about to do something scary.

“Jane did it,” I say automatically. Then I remember with a sinking feeling that my sister is on a two week trip to France.  I wrack my brains trying to think of a good excuse.  “Tibbles and I are practising…” – Mum is looking sceptical – “…for Britain’s Got Talent.”  I was slowly building up confidence – well if a dog could win it why not a hamster? “We are going to do a duet.” This was turning out to be more complicated than I had thought.  I could play fairly well but Tibbles possessed no musical talent whatsoever.

“Well I’ll leave you to it.”

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to extract Tibbles from the piano by his whiskers using a pair of tweezers.

When I got back from school the next day my mother informed me that she had signed Tibbles and me up for Britain’s Got Talent.  I blanched; this was obviously my punishment for putting Tibbles in the piano.  I looked at the piano piece I had been playing – ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’.  Well, I suppose Tibbles could step on a note here and there; perhaps he could do those quavers.  I suddenly began to get very excited.  I dragged Tibbles out of his cage and stuffed some hamster chews in my pocket.  I placed the hamster chews on the notes I wanted him to play and when it came to his part, gave him a shove.  He scurried along the keys munching on his chews as he went. I thought it sounded very nice.

On the night of the auditions Tibbles and I were seated in the waiting room. We both looked very stupid, I in a frilly dress that looked like it had been made out of Granny’s curtains and Tibbles with a pink ribbon tied around his neck.  I had protested against this but Jane, who had returned from Toulouse, had insisted, saying that Tibbles was her hamster after all.

As we went onto the stage I prepared the piano, placing the hamster chews on exactly the right keys.  We then started playing.  It all went fine until I played the last chord.  Tibbles flew into the air, still eating a hamster chew and landed with a dramatic twang on the piano strings. I peered over into the piano and saw Tibbles’ head rolling around.  I walked over to the wings and shouted “Jane, I’ve beheaded your hamster”.

Simon Cowell coughed and spoke: “The decapitation of your hamster was a dramatic touch but you really haven’t thought this through.  I mean you obviously cannot continue to the next round without Tibbles so I think it’s a no from me.” 

HIGHLY COMMENDED 3RD PRIZE – Aoife Moore aged 11 from Guildford.

Angie Sage sad “This is a beautifully written and has some lovely descriptions in it.  A great ending”.

My hamster is stuck in the piano!

I guess I shouldn’t have put Marmite (my little sister named him, not me) on the top of the cupboard when I was practising the piano, but how was I to know that Mum had been dusting inside the piano earlier and had left the lid off? You see, the cupboard is right next to the piano, and Marmite must have been getting quite bored because she managed to squeeze through the bars of her cage and leap dramatically into the piano!

I was in the middle of the C major contrary-motion scale, and was rather surprised to see a brown ball of fluff fly through the air and into the piano. Marmite must have hit some of the strings in the piano, because a series of odd twanging sounds erupted, utterly ruining my scales.

“Marmite!” I exclaimed, leaping off my stool and trying to peer into the piano. Perched up on my tippy-toes, I just managed to peek in and see an excitable blur of colour muddling around on the rows of strings. More odd sounds came bouncing out of the piano, so I pulled the piano stool up close and jumped up onto it.

“Come here, you little minx,” I muttered, reaching in and making a grab for my pet. With an indignant squeak, Marmite dodged nimbly around my fingers and leapt onto another set of strings, producing more weird yet striking notes. Her notes were, completely by accident, making a beautiful tune that could easily be a piece of music.

All of a sudden, I heard my Mum’s voice calling from the kitchen. “Charlotte, dear? Is that a new piece? It sounds very good!”

“Thank you!” I called back, stifling a giggle. If only she knew what was really going on!

It was then I realised what danger my precious Marmite was in. What if she fell off one of the strings and hurt herself? What if she got tangled up and couldn’t breathe?

Worried, I reached back into the piano and tried to feel for Marmite’s soft body.

“Marmite?” I whispered. “Please come out now, Marmite.” I paused. “I’ll give you extra treats?”

I heard a hurried scuffling sound, before a quivering pink nose emerged from behind a string.

“Good girl…” I murmured, quickly diving in and retrieving my hamster. I nuzzled my nose into her velvety tummy, before popping her back into her cage and shutting the door firmly.

As I carried her back into the living room, my mum smiled at me and said “That was the best playing I’ve heard you do in a while! What was that new piece called?”

“Umm…” I glanced at Marmite, who was burrowing into a pile of sawdust, the past few minutes obviously forgotten. “It was called… Jumping…yes…it’s by…um, Mozart.”“Oh, really?” Mum looked pleased. “I do like Mozart! Why don’t you give your old Mum a treat and play it again, eh?”