Easter 2010 Writing Competition

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gold cup We announce the winners of the Storynory Easter 2010 Writing Competition.

Which two young story-writers will win a Sweetpea3 MP3 player? We shall find out, but first we will listen to a range of stories from the 80 + entries.

Many thanks to Sweetpea3 for providing the prizes!

We will be publishing the text of every story entered into our competition in due course. (As soon as our site re-organisation is ready).

Stories are read by Elizabeth with comments from our producer, Hugh, who has been helping Bertie pick the prizes.

E: This is Elizabeth, and I’m here with the results of the Storynory Easter 2010 Story Writing Competition. I’m going to be reading some stories and extracts from several of the contestants, and at the end, we’ll see which two lucky winners will be receiving a Sweatpea3 MP3 player! And we would like to say a big thank you to Sweetpea3, for sponsoring our competition. They make a really cute and well thought out MP3 player for kids and it’s perfect for playing our stories.

And now I’m joined by our producer, Hugh, who has been helping Bertie to pick the winners. Hugh what has response been like?

H: Well it’s been fantastic. We received over 80 entries written by listeners of all ages, from all over the world. And it’s been extremely hard to pick out the winners. I have to say that in a competition like this there is a huge element of luck, because there were so many stories that were so good, that the results comes down to Bertie’s personal taste and his whim. Unfortunately, only two stories can win the Sweetpea3 MP3 players, but we are going to read out as many as we can.

E: So Hugh, which story would you like to highlight first?

H: Let’s start with a few from some from the younger contestants. This is a very imaginative one by Ali Ziad Lone aged 6 , and it’s all about a box of crayons.

 - Once upon a time there was a land of blue crayons. The sky was blue, everything was blue. All crayons lived happily, having blue fun, except for one who was orange, very very orange. His hair was red. He name was Orangy-red blue but sometimes he was called Blue red-orangy. -

H: Thank you Elizabeth. that’s a lot of fun. And of course the stories by younger writers are often very concise. Let’s hear an entire story in three lines by Alexis MacKie, aged 6.

“Snowmen were at work when an earthquake shook snowwomen awake. Fires burned in Snowville. Snowwomen were running and helping snowmen. I like snowmen and snowwomen. I also like sliding on snow. I like snow.”

H: And I must ask you to read another really, really short story by a contestant who is just a little bit older, and that ‘s Emma Matheson, aged 7, and it’s called: ‘The Story of Water.’

 - My story started in a shower, when a drop of water landed on the glass wall of the shower my eyes followed it. It ran to the tile floor”

“I like you,” I whisper to the drop of water.

“noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” I said. The drop of water went into the drain. I started to cry. A drop of water landed on my hand.

“Oh,” I said. “I like you,” I said. -

H: Isn’t that just a perfect little story?

E: It’s lovely, but presumably not all the stories were so short?

H: No indeed we had some real epics, but the next one Bertie and I picked out is just a bit longer, and I think we should hear it in its entirety because it’s a really sweet tale. It’s called: ‘The Flower’ by Alainna Wigginton, aged 8.

 - Once upon a time there was a young girl. Her name was Jessie. She lived in a big cottage with her mom and dad. She was an only child, but she wasn’t lonely because she had the biggest, most beautiful garden in the world. It was full of fruit trees that she loved to climb in. One of the trees she had her own tree house. She loved to play in it, read in it, and watch birds. She was a very happy girl. It was there in the garden that she planted all the fruit and vegetables the garden could hold.

The garden was not just hers. It belonged to her whole family. They worked together to make it the biggest garden anyone had ever seen. Jessie enjoyed planting carrots, snap peas and cucumber. But her favorite thing to plant was the flowers. She loved all of the flowers in the garden, but there was only one flower in the garden she liked best. It was a beautiful blue flower with pink and yellow in the middle. Jessie knew that she would never want to let it die. She watered it every day and gave it flower food.

She had seen a lot of this kind of flower before, but there was something different about this one. It could talk! Jessie could not believe it when it said, “Hi there!” after it grew. She loved to talk with her new friend.

She did not tell her mom and dad that she had a flower friend. When they asked: “Where have you been, Jessie?” she would answer: “In the garden watering the plants.” And then she would go back outside.

One morning she asked: “May I go out to the garden and water the plants, Mom?”
“Yes, after you feed the dog,” Mom replied.

“O.K.” said Jessie. She put on her boots and went to the barn to feed Barker, their dog. He was just a little puppy. But Jessie loved him as much as the flower. She named him Barker because he liked to bark. Then Jessie came out of the barn and skipped to the garden.

“Flower!” she called.

 And the flower answered: “I’m here!” They loved to play cards, board games, and lots of other things.

On the last day of May, Jessie came out to the garden to see the flower all closed up in a ball. She kissed it goodnight and tip-toed back inside. -

H: I love that one because it’s so simple, and it seems to conjure up a little girl’s imaginative world so perfectly.

E: Yes it was lovely, But would you say that there were more boys or girls who sent stories in?

H: Oh definitely more girls. But there were some very exciting stories by boys too. This one has an unlikely hero in the form of a Funnel Web Spider, which is one of the most deadly spiders in the world, and to make it even more unusual, it’s set in the time of the dinosaurs. It’s a bit like Jurassic Park from a spider’s perspective, and it’s by Eden Smith aged 8. It’s pretty much all action. Let’s hear an extract from the middle of the story.

 - The raptor launched itself of the tree and grabbed Rhino and took him away.

“Rhino!” I shouted. “You’re goooooooooone!” I said to myself. I was very upset.

I jumped into the bushes and ran as fast as I could to catch up with the raptor. I was pushing through all of the weeds.

Suddenly, I bumped into a foot. I looked up and saw it was another Tyrannosaurus rex. I really hoped it was nice and would help me, not chase me and eat me.

I said: “Hello.”

He said it back to me.

“Could you help me find my friend?” I said.

“Sure,” he said. “Hop on my back and tell me how he got lost.”

“Well,” I said. “There was a raptor in a tree that jumped out of the tree and grabbed my friend and ran away with him. I don’t know where the raptor took him.”

“Okay, where did the raptor first grab your friend?” he asked.

“Over at that tree,” I said.

“Anyway, what are your friend’s name and your name,” he said.

My name is Freak the Funnel Web and my friend’s name is Rhino the Red back.

When I told him my name and my friend’s name we went over to the tree that the raptor took Rhino the Red back away from me.

We followed the footprints of the raptor and we finally found the raptor.
I noticed that I couldn’t see Rhino.

I said to the Tyrannosaurus rex: “Can you see Rhino the Red back?”

“No,” he said to me. “I can’t.”

We looked around and we couldn’t see him. A few seconds later the raptor tried to attack us but the Tyrannosaurus rex tackled the raptor and it died. We walked past where the raptor was standing and we found Rhino laying on a rock.

“RHINO!” I yelled. “Are you okay?”

“Yep, I’m okay,” he said. - 

E: That’s a real boy’s story.

H: It certainly is. 

E: Anymore in that action packed vein?

H: Well the next one isn’t quite so fast paced, but we liked it, particularly for the ending which I must warn you is rather scary! Particularly if you are a small fish. It’s by Tyler-jay McIntosh, aged 10.

 - There was a little boy called Bill and he wanted a pet fish. So he begged and he begged and he begged until his mum could not take it anymore. The next day Bill and his mum went to the pet shop to buy a fish. While they were there Bill could not find a single fish that was right for him. So he asked the lady at the desk if there was anymore fish he could take a look at. “I have one more fish that I think you might like,” the lady answered with a smile.

“Wow, cool that fish is amazing!” “I’ll take it,” said Bill with no objections at all, but the fish lept up and danced around the whole store while humming a little tune. “I am getting my very own fish my very own fish, my very own fish I am getting my very own fish and I can’t wait to take it!” By the look on Bill’s face you could tell that he was excited.

The sun was setting and the stars were forming as Bill and his mum set off through the night to get back home. Bill and his mum lived by the sea on top of a big hill so it took them 30-40mins. Bill was sitting at the edge of the window while he was also holding his fish in his hand the slightest bump, crack or slippery oil on the road would send his fish into the air and land in the sea. It was a really hot day so it must be a really hot night there for Bill’s mum wound down the windows in the car. At the side of the road there was speed limit saying “30mph.” Bill’s mum didn’t worry about that because she was going 25mph. Bill’s mum did not see this coming there was a speed bump right in front of her and as soon as she realized, she pressed on the brake “hard” but it was not enough, soon the fish was flung into the air and landed into the sea with a big splash!

Meanwhile in the car, Bill and his mum were so sad about, you know who, a name that I can’t even repeat in the story anymore only Bill and his mum can. “I want my fish back!” cried Bill as loud as he could. “Don’t worry I’ll get you a new one and even better too.” “No I want my fish back!”

Meanwhile under the sea Bill’s fish wasn’t finding it easy as well. “Bill, Bill where are you?” Bill’s fish was scared as another fish said: “Hello young fish you look very plump and tasty” licking his lips at him “who are you and what do you want?” Bill’s fish replied with a shaky voice. “I want some dinner and you look so tasty!” -

OOOOH… That’s scary..

E: And what would you say the competition tells us about Storynory listeners?

H: It’s hard to say if the competition entrants exactly represent our listeners, but I can say that up until about the age of eight, there seems to be a fairly even split between boys and girls .

The biggest group of entrants by far was made up of girls aged about nine or ten, and they come from all over the world, but particularly the English speaking countries and South East Asia. We have a lot of listeners in Vietnam, China and South Korea by the way. The contestants are very international in their outlook, they often write about travel, or living abroad. We had an interesting story about visiting Cambodia by Maisie Caldwell aged 8, and another one about Afghanistan. And Maya E. Knierim, for example, has a story about a sea dragon set in the South China Sea.

Another international young lady, Michelle Lee who was born in South Korea, and currently lives in Europe, writes about being at a boarding school overseas.

E: And what do the stories tell us about our listeners interests?

H: We can see a great deal of concern for animals with stories about ponies and stray dogs and cats, and quite a lot set in natural surroundings featuring something like a magic wind or a magic peach tree. And here’s a very nice example of that genre. It’s a story about being turned into a Butterfly by Grace Noonan aged 10 years old. Can you read us an Extract Elizabeth?

 - Have you ever wanted to fly? Well, my friend, Molly Micawits, had this experience. But no, not in a plane, but as a butterfly. Yes, a butterfly! Would you like me to tell you the story? Well, I am sure it will be great, because I’m Molly Micawits!

One day in mid June, I was wondering what I could do. My Mom was getting annoyed that I kept asking her silly questions like: “Mom, why does everyone HAVE to stay on the ground? Why can’t we float?” All of a sudden she told me to go take a walk in the meadow. I decided that that was a pretty good idea so I went to the coat room to get my jacket. I was just starting my walk when I started to get dozy. All of a sudden, I fell into the meadow. Luckily, the meadow was nice and soft. I slept for a while until I felt this tingling feeling. I woke up not to find the meadow, but a whole new world. I then realized that I had been transformed into a butterfly. -

H: And there were lots of very good stories in this age range, and unfortunately there isn’t time to mention them all,

E: So we are getting more grown up now. Are the stories getting more sophisticated?

H: Yes, the age range of Storynory listeners is quite wide and that’s reflected in the competition entries. The stories by older writers have similar themes, but a bit more form and shape to the plot and structure.

We’d like to hear one, by Katie Giffin aged 12, and she tells me that it’s based on a conversation with her dad who is a scuba diver. In fact, she’s turned the story around, and told it from the point of view of a clam, and it’s a story within a story, which is quite a sophisticated structure. It’s called USO and if you want to know what U.S.0 stands for, you’ll have to listen on.

 - Once upon a time in the reefs around the island of St. Thomas, a clam was coming home to his beloved family.

“Honey, I’m home!” Mr Clam called out as he slid into his sand home. Mrs Clam, his wife, came out from the kitchen with a green-stained apron on and his six children ran after her from the living room.

“Hi, honey! How did work go?” Mrs Clam asked.

“Yeah, Daddy, yeah! How did work go?!” His kids surrounded him excitedly.

Mr Clam, feeling a little claustrophobic, said: “Whoa, whoa! Please, move!” he chuckled.

“Sor-ry.” all the little clams chimed in unison, making the word two-syllables.

“Well I had an . . . interesting day . . . I’ll tell you about it at dinner.” Mr Clam asked: “Is dinner done yet?”

“Yes, it is. I made plankton soup,” replied his wife.

“Yum! My favorite.” He nodded, seeming to agree with himself. “Let’s sit down and I’ll tell you all about my day while we eat.” The little clams jumped to sit down. Mr and Mrs Clam sat down after them.

As Mrs Clam ladled out the thick, green plankton soup Mr Clam began his tale. “Today there was a strong current. It was a bit harder for me to cling to the rock while I worked. One especially mean, hungry fish came and with one flawless sweep of his tail, he knocked me right out of my protected spot on the rock.”

At hearing this, all the kids gasped and shouted: “Oh no, Daddy!”

“Yes, he did! Well, as I was saying, the fish knocked me right off the rock! I tumbled, over and over, down to the sandy bottom. I promptly opened my shell to move, when the vicious fish swooped in to eat me! Worse yet, more fish came! There were what seemed to be hundreds of fish swimming all around me. They were flashing their teeth, trying to get at me. I shut my mouth very quickly! The fish continued to swarm all around me, when off in the distance a very strange creature swam up. It was a U.S.O!”

“An unidentified swimming object!” gasped his family in unison.

“The U.S.O’s face was barely visible. It was hidden by a strange plastic . . . thing. That’s the only way to describe it! It had two funny sections each in an oval shape. Then there was a nose shaped section too, under the ovals. That covered the upper part of his face. The lower part was covered by a hose attached to the metal cylinder on his back. The hose was actually stuck in his mouth!” All the clams snickered.

Instead of the usual tail fin that fish have, he had two long, rectangular fins. He swam up to me, shooing away the hungry fish. He gently picked me up and cradled me in his hand. Then he set me back on my work ledge. Amazing how he knew exactly where I was meant to go, isn’t it?”

“Yes, yes.” agreed all the little clams.

“I am very thankful to that U.S.O. Your husband and Daddy wouldn’t be here today without him.” There was a moment of silence to think about the story Mr Clam had told, and to silently thank that special U.S.O.

At almost that very time, in the hills of St. Thomas, a scuba diver was sitting down to dinner with his family.
“Anything interesting happen at work today, Dad?” asked his expectant children.

“Well, I saved a clam.” -

That was USO by Katie Giffin.

E: It was very amusing. And does the age range go older still?

H: Yes, we also invited grown ups to enter, though we said they wouldn’t be able to win a Sweetpea3, so it’s just for the honour, so to speak ..

E: And any stories you liked from the grown ups?

H: Lots, but there was a character I found particularly endearing. His name is Percival the Dragon, and he’s the creation of Andrew Mitchell who is 35 years old, and he wrote it with Sharon Mitchell who says that she is Andrew’s mother, and so perhaps a bit older. So let’s hear a little bit of Percival of the Dragon.

 - When he reached a ledge overlooking a flickering mountain valley, Percival stopped. Peering over the rim, the dragon stared down the slope at the slowly bubbling lava. Smiling, Percival scrambled over rippling rocks that looked like weird frozen waves on a hard black ocean. Crouched beside a small runoff pool, he lapped lava like a happy cat with a bowl of cream. Percival sighed blissfully as the warmth spread through his body. He stretched his neck and blew some very satisfactory smoke rings.

 The dragon turned away from the volcano. He was feeling better, and the day seemed less depressing, but he was very hungry. Percival thought about Sir Maldwyn’s fields, and his mouth began to water as he thought about the cabbages and other tasty food growing there. He really liked vegetables. -

H: Thanks Elizabeth. That was an extract from the rather lengthy but very charming Percival The Dragon. Also from the grown up tales, I wanted to mention Tangleweed the Goblin with some very detailed, slightly old world illustrations by Steven Corps. And a special mention goes to the Magic Paisleys by Carolyn Fay. It has a really nice beginning that makes you want to read on.

 - Hello, my name is Arden Paisley. Yesterday, my mum and I made a special secret discovery.

Do you want to know what it was?

I’ll tell you, but you must not tell anyone, especially not Spoony Anna Gray. She would be so jealous and she’d never speak to me again. -

H: I love the bit about don’t tell anyone, especially not Spoony Anna Gray. But we are running out of time, so if you want to find out what the secret is, you’ll have to read The Magic Paisleys by Carolyn Fay on the site.

E: So we’ve heard that our audience has some very talented writers, but what about the artists among them? Did any send us their own illustrations?

H: A few did, and they were really very nice indeed. I have to mention the very charming Wave Monkey by Morgan Ross, A very beautifully illustrated and hand written story about squirrels by Shutri Parthasarthy and a story by Cindy Chen with her pencil drawings of an ingenious rat called Ron who uses a needle to fight his enemy, a cat called Anya. And this is the very last extract for today.

 - Ron raised his needle and pointed it at Anya.

“So, you wanna fight, huh?” Anya let go of his tail.

“Well, of course, if we did, I would win, because, after all, a three year-old rat couldn’t beat an eighteen-year-old cat, could it?” Ron threw the needle at Anya, but she was too fast and dodged it quickly. Anya picked him up, put him in the sink, stuck cotton in the plug, and turned on the water. She put a rotten banana inside, so that it stank. Then she walked away. “GET ME OUT OF HEEEEERRRRREEEEE!” Ron screamed. Finally, his sister, Felicia heard him and came to his rescue. -

E: So Hugh, you and Bertie have had a hard job choosing the winners.

H: Yes we have. And in fact there were so many more stories that I would have liked you to read out for us, but the programme would go on and on forever and ever. We find it just so hard to decide.

E: Ok, but you’ve got to choose. Which two writers are going to win the Sweetpea3 MP3 Players? 

H: Well this is really, really hard, but what do you think Bertie? Ok, we very much liked the story about the drop of water by Emma Matheson, aged 7. It’s so short. but it’s just so perfect.

E: Well done Emma! And one more Hugh…

H: Errr Bertie…. help me here…

E: come on boys…

H: Well I do find I keep coming back to The Flower by Alainna Wigginton, aged 8. And of course we heard both those stories earlier on in the programme.

E: Fantastic. A lovely choice. Emma and Alainna we’ll need your addresses so the Sweetpea3 Toy company can send you the MP3 players.

Yes we’ll be in touch. And I just want to say another big Thank You to Sweetpea3 for helping us encourage young writing. Sweetpea3 is a Canadian company and they’ve won awards for their children’s mp3 player. If you weren’t one of the two lucky winners, you can buy a player via the links on Storynory.com.

So that wraps up the Easter 2010 Story Writing Competition.

Except to say that you can read all the entries on the site – if you go to Storynory.com look for the You section.

H: (And it may be a couple of weeks before all the texts go up on the site. I’m sorry about that, but it’s got mixed up with a rather big technical update that we are doing, but they will be appearing in due course.)

So from me Elizabeth,

And from me Hugh