Global Story Club comp results!
It’s time to reveal the wonderful winners of our writing prize…
Earlier this year, we launched our writing comp, asking Nat Geo Kids readers to become writers and submit short stories on the theme of RISK.
It’s been quite a ride reading your exhilarating entries – we’ve been lost in enchanted forests, come face to face with shape-shifting eels and vengeful pirates, dealt with ruined dresses, devastating tsunamis and deadly bushfires, and encountered a whole menagerie of beasts – from cute koalas to terrible blue giants. And, thanks to your imaginations, we’ve time- travelled all the way to Norway, via deep space and historical London.
We received over 400 incredible entries, but only three stories could bag the top spots. So get comfy and enjoy the winning tales…
TOP AUTHOR & STAR JUDGE, SUE WHITING SAID…
“It was extremely difficult to pick my top three – they were all really strong! I loved the creative interpretations of the theme of ‘risk’, and enjoyed the variety of stories, from humour and word play to chilling heart-stopping adventure. So much talent!”
Global Story Club comp results…
Man v Wild By Molly Diepeveen, 13
The footprints were covered up. He looked behind him, only marginally startled by how quickly the relentless snow had concealed them. He turned back to face the setting sun and kept walking. It was getting dark. The elongated shadows caused by the enormous fir trees had started to make sinister patterns all along the icy corridor. The man was suddenly very aware of the ice beneath his feet. It crunched with every cautious step he took. He didn’t know that a starving, savage pack of wolves had picked up his scent and were closing in, knowing he was weak. He heard the faintest of howls. His body stiffened. He strained his ears, listening for any sound that might indicate danger. He was already in enough danger as it was, with the eternal snow and the hazardous trees always threatening to drop a new mound of snow. He tried not to think of such things. All he really wanted was to get home to his little log cabin, his wife and two young daughters. He felt a small, salty tear dash down his raw cheek. It stopped frozen to his skin. He started walking faster. Again, he heard a howl and a pattering of paws. Terrified he started running, aimlessly blundering through the trees. The pattering got louder, almost a thundering. He saw them. Big, shaggy and menacing. They kept pace, slowly surrounding him, until he had no choice but to stop. He slumped into a desperate, sad heap, knowing his time had come. He heard the low growls and said a silent prayer under his breath. He thought of his wife, wishing he could say goodbye. They attacked; the painful, bloodcurdling scream echoed throughout the sad woods. The relentless snow kept blowing. The footprints were covered up.
“This evocative and poignant story was confidently written. I particularly enjoyed the way Molly brought the snowy landscape and approaching night to life, using it to create tension and atmosphere. The man’s choice to risk everything to return home to his loved ones was compelling, and cleverly set up the ending, with the man paying the ultimate price for his decision and devotion. Molly’s word choice was particularly strong, as too was the way she built tension – my heart was thumping against my chest throughout. Congratulations, Molly, you are a very talented writer.”
Freedom by Zoe Noakes, 12
My heart raced as I sprinted along the sand. The wind howled and grabbed at my tangly black hair and the cold bit my skin. The waves smashed against the sharp rocks near the pier stretching out towards a tiny boat. ‘I have to get there, quick,’ I thought. I turned behind me to see my masters running after me. I pulled my torn coat tighter across my body as the clouds opened up and rain gushed down and blurred my vision.
“She went down there!” they yelled, and raced after me. The stairs ended and the pier began, the waves so high they headed over the pier, waiting, ready to snatch anyone who tried to cross it. My brain screamed ‘Turn back!’ but my heart knew that dying was better than being caught and brought back to the plant. There was no one left for me there. I sucked in my breath and waited for the waves to retreat. Now! I sprinted towards the small boat, so close! But my coat snagged on the old wood pole on the side and I screamed as I started sliding uncontrollably towards the angry ocean. Then suddenly, I stopped. Something had grabbed my coat. This was it. Everything went quiet. I started screaming. I wasn’t going back, not to harsh conditions with no food, no love. But instead of being whipped, I felt a blanket. Soft words and warm tea pushed into my hands. I opened my eyes to see I was on the small boat, with people helping me. Kind, understanding, free people. I looked behind me to see my masters roaring in rage and heading back up the cliffs. I was free. Free and heading to safety. It was the most amazing feeling ever.
“This emotive and heart-stopping story about risking everything for freedom was cleverly constructed. My heart was racing throughout and I could vividly picture the chase, the pier and the threatening sea. The ending was surprising, uplifting and full of hope for a better future. Great writing, Zoe!”
The Plum by Grace Webster, 10
I leant against the wall, panting. I must’ve lost the cops by now. The warm loaf of bread clutched in my hands was tempting me to gnaw on its soft, crispy crust. Thinking of my half-starved siblings helped me resist, somehow. I swiftly scurried towards home, imagining the praise I would receive. Passing by a ‘mix’n food’ store, I couldn’t resist sniffing the delicious delights. The ancient lady running the store smiled at me. I was taken aback! Usually owners took one look at me, a dirty ragamuffin, and shouted at me to scram! As the lady moved away, I spotted the most wonderful, most perfect fruit I had ever set eyes on. A beautiful plum, shining and sparkling in the light, a purple piece of gold. Her back was turned, no one would see me, it would be quick. . . thoughts rushed round my head in a whirlwind, but after a few seconds of careful consideration, I decided to take the risk. I snatched up my shining treasure and held it to my chest. The woman turned around. She pretended not to notice! I was completely bedazzled! But a rich gentleman had spotted me, and before I could run away, alerted the coppers. The men in black boots appeared and slickly reached out to grab my collar. I quickly unfroze and ducked but they grabbed my mangy dress. They dragged me over. From the snippets I could hear, the lady was telling the cops that she let me have that plum. And the loaf! The policemen spat at the ground and glared at me, but let go. They stormed away, their oppressive sooty boots clicking on the paving. Another day as a thief? I gazed gratefully at the woman, and with my bread and plum, headed home.
“I thoroughly enjoyed all the twists and turns in this emotive and well-structured story about taking risks to feed one’s family. Grace has created a caring and determined character with strong motivation to take risks and I was cheering for her at the end. Terrific writing, Grace.”
Runners up! (No particular order)
Hanging On by Sophia Torta, 12
Jemma was afraid of heights. Ever since she had broken her arm, she would refuse to play on any climbing frames taller than her head. She even didn’t like to swing on monkey bars!
Jemma was a small girl, with brown hair that was usually tied in a ponytail. Today it wasn’t. She had been dreading this day – Jemma was going zip-lining.
Three hours later, Jemma was strapped into a harness and guided up the sturdy ladder leading up the tree. At the top, Jemma couldn’t have felt more nauseous looking down. All the people looked like ants! Jemma breathed heavily. “Well, I’d better just get this over and done with,” she sighed. Jemma clipped on the carabiniers and walked herself a few teetering steps towards the edge of the platform. She stopped. Sure, the brink of the platform dropped away like a cliff face, but that wasn’t the problem. Jemma had been looking at the safety line her life actually depended on. It looked like it was about to snap.
Jemma quietly took hold in one hand of a short rope she had noticed on the floor of the platform and held it firmly. She closed her eyes as her feet left the platform.
She screamed. Jemma prayed the line would catch her. It did. But in doing so, more threads had snapped. With quick thinking, Jemma whipped out the rope, slung it over the wire and held onto it with both hands. The safety line snapped.
Jemma gripped the rope as tightly as she could and counted the metre’s left in her head, 20… 10… 5… The finishing platform rushed up to meet her feet. It was done. Jemma leapt off the lower landing platform and ran to her parents, laughing and crying. The only words she said were: “I want to do it again.”
Adventures of a Very Adventurous Tortoise by Daniel Lovewell, 11
Zion was a very adventurous tortoise. He wanted to travel. He wanted to see the sea, you see? He set off for the local beach as fast as he could, which, admittedly, was not very fast. So he stopped at the store to buy shoes. Not ordinary shoes… wheelshoes that went 35 kilometers per hour! Soon he was the world’s fastest tortoise, seeking adventure! It didn’t take him long (for once) to find it.
Zion spotted a submarine. He thought: “AH-HA! I know! I’ll become a stowaway, like in pirate stories!” Zion saw a pile of planks at the wharf’s end. With wheelshoes at full speed he shot towards the planks, ramped off them and, in all his incredible tortoise-ness, became the world’s first flying tortoise! Zion flew through the air, landing on the submarine. Just before the hatch was sealed, he slipped through like a bar of soap slipping from your hands.
He found himself in a very complex complex, but thankfully, there was a map. He followed the map to the storage area (He didn’t actually follow it – that would be impossible, because maps don’t have legs. He just followed the lines). There were lots of places to hide and be a stowaway. But as he looked around, Zion felt homesick. “Groan…” groaned Zion, with a groan. “I don’t like being homesick.”
Zion found a torpedo tube. He pushed the “auto fire” button then squished into his shell as he slid into the cylinder. Before he knew it he was flying through the sky again…
KERTHUNK! His landing shook the ground. (After medical attention, the ground recovered). Zion was home!
Zion decided to live happily ever after, in a nice cottage. But later that decade, he had another thirst for adventure. So he grabbed his drink bottle…
[Untitled] by Eva Mariske de Boer, 14
Echo trotted across the lawn and ducked under the wisteria-draped pergola. Hawk lowered himself down, belly fur brushing the grass, and crept to the other side of the garden, sniffing the breeze cautiously.
A group of brutes often made on raids of their quiet yard. They could be anywhere. They could already have stolen that nights’ prey. He nosed under a bush and scaled the fence, wood splintering as he accelerated upwards. Hawk sniffed the breeze again and sprang into the spreading cedar tree. Echo was already there.
“Nothing on my side,” Echo reported, licking a silver forepaw.
“Good,” he nodded. Then he stopped. Sniffed. He knew that smell.
They leapt out of the tree just as countless cats crashed through the branches, eyes glowing maniacally, claws glinting. They poured down the trunk, caterwauling.
Echo and Hawk dashed across the lawn. The mob was gaining on them, their rank breath on their heels. They rocketed through their flap and pressed themselves up against it to stop the mob from breaking through. Fangs and matted pelts jammed up against the glass.
“Get. The. Hoomun.”
“I can’t just leave you here!”
“Go!” Hawk snapped, shoving her away from the flap.
Echo scampered down the hall, yowling for their hoomun. Hawk stayed by the flap, muscles straining. Then he felt a paw reach through the flap. Hooked claws pierced his flesh. He roared in pain as the claws sliced downwards. Blood gushed from the wound.
He heard trudging steps in the hall. The light clicking on. A gasp from the hoomun. A clang of metal on glass – the frying pan? A screech and retreating pawsteps. Echo licking his wound. The hoomun leaning down, cooing tenderly. The click of the cat flap lock.
“It’s okay, Hawk,” Echo whispered. “They’re gone.”
Escape by Emma Bower, 12
Lion hoped he was riding a trustworthy horse; in this dark it could see better than him. Scratchy reins tore at Lion’s hands. He didn’t dare stop. Didn’t dare look behind him. He had no way of knowing where he was. No way of knowing where they were. All he could do was ride. If he kept riding, they wouldn’t catch up. He hoped. He had no way of knowing for sure.
Frost was behind him. Lion didn’t respond. There was no knowing who might hear him.
He turned. He could just make out Frost’s ragged plaits. “What?” Lion kept his voice a murmur. Lion saw her glance behind.
“I heard something.”
Bushes rustled. Lion’s hair prickled. The horse pawed the ground. “Go faster.”
And then it came. The horn. They had been followed.
“There they are!” came a cry. The horn again. Shadowy figures in every direction. Wind roared in Lion’s ears. His thoughts were a blur. He never knew a horse could be so fast. Its hooves were constantly drumming.
It could have been seconds, or it could have been hours. The horse slowed.
Lion’s horse panted. There seemed an eternity between each of its steps. In the distance, Lion could hear the captors. They grew closer with each moment.
A silence. With a shiver of dread, Lion turned to where she had been.
“Frost, are you there?”
Nothing. No… no!
From behind him came a shout, “Found one!” The voice was unfamiliar.
He heard Frost’s voice. Lion wasn’t sure where it came from. Cries filled the air. His horse ran and ran. He couldn’t let them catch up. He closed his eyes and clung to the reins harder than ever.
Safe by Hugo Carpay, 11
The silky harp seal pup lays on the crunchy snow, plump and relaxed. His wide black eyes the only give away, the only contrast, to his white fur and white surroundings. The only movement an icy wind over his fur that doesn’t bother him.
A small fluffy shape, led by a black nose, pokes out from a nearby snow rift. It is a young polar bear cub. She is only 50cm tall. Timidly, she approaches the seal pup. She is curious. The young seal is startled and scrambles towards the dinner plate sized hole in the ice sheet, through which he can slip into the dark but peaceful abyss of the ocean where his mum is waiting. Instinct tells him he can get there. He can take the risk.
Suddenly another large snow mound shifts. It is the mother polar bear, shaking off snow flakes, and she knows better than to play with her food. The baby harp seal is a good size – she can feed her cub today. The mother polar bear accelerates towards him.
But the baby seal is almost there, almost there. With the threat of the huge mother bear, he takes his chance and slips through the ice just in time, through the hole into worlds unknown to polar bears. Where his mother seal is waiting.
He took his chance and he is safe. Safe at last.
The Opal Tree by Penny Easton, 6
Once upon a time there were two twins. A girl called Peggy-Sue and a boy called Benjamin. They went on a holiday to Lightning Ridge.
“Ha ha ha. You’re wearing overalls. They’re so silly” Benjamin said to Peggy-Sue in the car on the way to the fossicking fields. Peggy-Sue said, “Stop laughing at me. I like my overalls. It’s not kind to laugh at people”.
At the fossicking fields they saw a fortune teller’s house with a sign out the front that said : “Fossick for opals on my land. If you find one, stick it to my opal tree and you may get a wish. If you find an opal and don’t stick it to my tree you will get a curse”.
Peggy-Sue and Benjamin went fossicking.
Peggy-Sue found a rainbow opal and went back to the fortune teller’s house and stuck it on the tree. Then she went into the house and said “I wish I could fly”. First she got bumps on her back, which turned into stumps then they turned into wings. Then she flew all around the world and collected lots of sad children and brought them back to the opal tree to make a wish.
Benjamin found a red opal and thought to himself “I’m going to take this home”. He didn’t care about putting it on the opal tree.
As the twins were leaving the fossicking fields the fortune teller flew over with her magic wand and said “Ziggity wiggity woo!” and out came a curse that flew into his heart. The curse was that people would always laugh at him wherever he went.
Sinking Nightmares by Aidan Torrington, 12
Memories played through Harry’s mind at the speed of light. His eyes were wide with shock. People rushed around him, their voices muffled seeming far away. He struggled to stay conscious, fighting a losing battle. Sleep devoured him. He slipped into the same old nightmare, becoming worse every time.
Harry stood leaning over the edge on the deck of a huge cruise ship. He clutched a brown bag in his trembling hands. His brown hair whipped around, like the leaves on a tree blowing helplessly in a hurricane. The rocking of the boat made his stomach churn. With a loud retch, he vomited into a bag. He breathed, trying not to vomit again.
A crunch as loud as thunder made the ship jolt and shudder. His hands bumped with the ship, causing him to drop the bag. Harry deserted the edge, and despite a lingering feeling of needing to hurl, he joined in with the panicked screaming and running around him.
People flooded from the lower decks all coming up to his level. At first Harry didn’t know what the problem was. But then he saw it. Water spilled from the lower decks. The boat tilted. His feet began to slide on the slippery floor.
The lower half of the boat was submerged in water. People whizzed by, grabbing the air, groping for a hold. With panicked eyes, he searched for his parents among the crowd but they were nowhere in sight.
The boat went vertical, and he fell, tumbling down and down, landing with a slap on the water. Objects fell on top of him, pushing him under even more. He kicked for the top, but light was fading fast. The world turned black as the faint sounds of a helicopter whizzing by echoed in his ears.