Winning story by 10-year-old Harry Mayou inspired by Thai football team cave rescue
Penguin Random House Children's has announced the winner of the 2018 Jacqueline Wilson Creative Writing Prize, supported by First News, the National Literacy Trust and WHSmith.
Ten-year-old Harry Mayou from Ulverston in Cumbria has won this year's prize, with his story, A Fantastic Tail. For this year's challenge, children were asked to write a short story about an unlikely friendship, of no more than 1000 words. Harry's story, was 'a highly original, imaginative and extremely well-written story, inspired by the recent news story about the stranded football team in Thailand.'
Mayou will win the prize of being published in an exclusive WHSmith edition of the paperback of My Mum Tracy Beaker, which will publish on 21 February 2019. He also wins the opportunity to meet Jacqueline Wilson, receive £100 worth of WHSmith vouchers, a year's subscription to First News and a bundle of Jacqueline Wilson books for his school (Lindal & Marton Primary School).
For the first time ever, the name of the first 500 entrants to the prize will appear in the WHSmith special edition of My Mum Tracy Beaker along with two highly commended stories: House Full Of Butterflies by Iona Mandal, age 12, King Edward VI Camp Hill School For Girls, Birmingham and Cahya And Agung by Rosie Harris, age 9, St Dunstans CofE School, Surrey.
The panel of judges included: Jacqueline Wilson; Kelly Hurst, Wilson's editor at Penguin Random House; Fiona Evans, head of schools programmes at the National Literacy Trust; Nicky Cox, editor in chief for First News; and Rachel Airey, senior buyer for Children's Fiction at WHSmith.
On winning the prize, Mayou said: "I am delighted to have won this competition as I would like to be an author when I grow up so this is a fantastic start. The inspiration behind my story comes from the football team of boys getting stuck in the cave. I can only imagine what they must have been feeling but I thought that they managed to get out because they had friends to get them through. This got me thinking of other times when people needed friends, so I went back to the 1800s and created my story with a really unusual friend!"
Wilson said: "I was delighted by the high standard of the entries for the 2018 creative writing competition. It's heart-warming to know there are such talented young writers out there! It was very hard to pick from the runners-up - but we all agreed that A Fantastic Tail was a brilliant winner. It was well-written, immediately involving, full of tension, and very touching. I'm very pleased and proud that it will be published in my next book."
Evans said: "The next generation of authors is here! It was a privilege to read such a wealth of creative writing in so many different styles demonstrating such sophisticated and skillful command of language, plot and character."
Cox said: "When reading the entries, I am always blown away by the imagination young people show and startled by the quality of their writing. Harry is a worthy winner this year, drawing on a news event that captured the world as the inspiration for his story."
Mayou's story, A Fantastic Tail, is available to read: https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/children/2018/dec/creative-writing-winner-2018.html