Thanks so much to everyone who wrote in with a story for our Christmas 2017 writing competition (the best or worst present). This is the first of four winners that we picked. Look out for more over coming days.
All the entries were wonderful. It was SO hard to pick the winners, so if you did not succeed this time, don't give up - try next time !
And Many thanks to Wicked Uncle for sponsoring the competition.
Read by Richard
Picture by Bertie
by Tanemahuta Ralls Aged 8, from Raumati South, New Zealand
Hello, this is Richard, and I’m here with one of the winners from this our latest writing competition about the best or the worst present ever. You sent us loads of fantastic stories, and it’s been very hard to work them down to three winners, but we’ve finally reached a decision, and here is one.
It was nearly Christmas and it was very hot at the zoo. Jim the monkey lived with with his ten monkey friends in the monkey enclosure. It was OK. But more than anything, he wanted to live at the beach.
When the zookeeper came to feed them and left the gate open by accident, Jim saw his chance. He ran through the zookeeper’s legs, and without the zookeeper or anyone else noticing he made his wild escape.
Jim leapt over buildings and swung through the trees. Then he reached the forest. Finally, he reached the beach.
He looked at the sand and the sea. He’d planned to make a hut out of driftwood and old planks here. Then he looked back at the forest,
where he had just come from. He decided he was going to build his hut in the top of a particular tree where people couldn’t get him, among thin branches that couldn’t hold the weight of a human. When there was no fruit in the forest for food, Jim would come down to the beach to get people’s lunch leftovers and catch fish. He was about to pick up his first piece of driftwood and carry it into the forest when he thought it would be great for the other monkeys to see the beach and live in the forest in the tree hut with him.
Jim decided to go back to the zoo and free the other monkeys!
He swung through the trees again and leapt over the buildings. When he was nearly at the zoo, he decided he should wait until dark.
He hid in an alleyway by the monkeys’ cage. Then he thought to himself, “I
should really make sure the zookeeper doesn’t close the door properly.”
He stuck a stick in the door when the zookeeper had his back turned and was feeding the other monkeys. As the zookeeper left, he didn’t notice that the door to the cage wasn’t properly shut.
When it was nearly dark Jim opened the door to the cage and whispered to the other monkeys, “Come with me and you will see the beach.”
The other monkeys were astonished because they thought Jim had been
transferred to another zoo.
“How do we get to the beach?” the monkeys all said.
“We’ll jump over the rooftops!” said Jim. “And when we get to the forest we’ll swing through the trees to the coast, where there will be a particular tree that we’re going to build our treehut in.”
The eleven monkeys set off in the dark, leaping over buildings and swinging through trees.
When they got to the particular tree, Jim and the other monkeys started to build the treehut. They made walls and a roof, and made shelves to stick fruit on and other things to eat.
There was a freshwater lake by the tree for water, which they put in broken
coconut shells and took up to the tree hut to drink out of.
The monkeys had lots of fun living in the treehut and playing in the sand on the beach. They were so happy about what Jim had done for them that they decided to give him a present. But the only thing was that they didn’t know where to find the present.
Then one of them said they should make Jim a present and fill it with cherries, because they all knew that cherries were Jim’s favourite kind of fruit. So they split up into five teams and went to find some cherry trees. When they came back with loads of cherries, they put them all into a box they made out of manuka wood. They made a ribbon out of flax, and they made a lid out of flax too.
Then they tied the ribbon on the box to keep the lid on.
The monkeys gave the present to Jim and told him to wait until Christmas Day before opening it.
On Christmas morning the other monkeys came to Jim to see how he was. And he said, “I was so excited that I got up when it was still dark and waited until you came.”
The monkeys said, “You can open the present now because it is Christmas Day,”
They went over to the shelf where Jim had put the present and gave it to him. He opened it, and there were the dried cherries!
Jim said, “I haven’t had dried cherries since I was in the zoo. Did you make these especially for Christmas or especially for me?”
And they said, “Especially for you, for being so kind and letting us stay in the treehut. We’ve had fun ever since you set us free.”
And they all lived happily ever after – with regular trips to the beach.
And that was Jim’s Treehut by Tanemahuta Ralls Aged 8, from Raumati South, New Zealand.
And Bertie’s here with me. Bertie what did you like about this story?
Well we had about 75 stories, and each and every one of them had was fun to read, and it was very hard to choose winners. But in the end, I think the ones that were a bit different from the others rose to the top of the pile. There weren’t many where the hero was an animal - and that made this different right away - and also the setting in a place where it is hot at Christmas made it interesting. But I also liked the simple and direct plot - and just the sheer delight of swinging through trees, and building a tree hut, and spending Christmas by the beach. And also the fact that the present was a thank you for the gift of freedom was rather nice. So as always, picking the winners does come down to personal choice and luck and I want to say thank you to everyone who sent us their wonderful stories.