Scroll Down for Full Written Reviews for ALL stories entered in our 2021 competition.
Click PLAY below for a Video Review of all entries with Gareth Craddock, English Teacher, Great Oaks:
Wow, Great Oaks!!! I received so many entries for this year’s Christmas Story competition that I needed some help from Lisa to display them properly for a photo!
What an amazing response! There was no word limit this year (pupils could write as little or as much as they wanted); the only requirement was that the themes of Christmas and Winter were included.
This year’s top prize is a hardback copy of J.K. Rowling’s new book ‘The Christmas Pig’, followed by two copies of Dr Seuss’ ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’.
OK, now for the students’ entries and our reviews!
The first entry I read was Aimee‘s ‘The Ice Dragon’. Now, this was a really, really interesting adaptation of an old Arthurian legend. In Aimee‘s story, the dragon lives in the arctic, among polar bears and ice caps. It occasionally molts parts of its body, such as its scales, horns and claws. Local humans compete to find these and use them as a form of magic protection against predators and evil forces. In the tale, a young hero called Jack must join other snow-travellers from the chilly town of Everwinter, as they complete their annual quest to the dragon’s ice-cavern. In short, I loved this story! It combined a real heart for storytelling with an adventurous writing style. Well done, Aimee!
Without question, my favourite story title was ‘The Girl Who Shrunk at Christmas Eve’ by Florence. In her tale, a little girl named Sophie goes to bed on Christmas Eve and dreams that she is shrinking. When she wakes up, she finds out that she has actually shrunk. Eventually, she is only the size of a pea and has to take cover under her own crib, where she falls asleep again. There, she experiences several dreams within dreams, finally waking up on Christmas morning in an alternate reality- where she is her normal size again! What a story! Well done, Florence! This story had some very deep ideas and I loved the ending.
One of my favourite first lines was from Logan, who wrote: “Once upon a time there lived a Logan and a Jinglepup.” Excellent! This charmed us and it was impossible not to like his story of Jingelpup- “the legendary Christmas animal” and his amazing powers! In the end, good triumphs over evil, as Jinglepup expels ‘Bad Santa’ and the ‘Grinch’ to another dimension. What a great effort- thanks, Logan!
Now for Lilley‘s entry! loved her dramatic starting sentence: “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!” Lilley really is an excellent storyteller. She hooked me immediately with her snappy dialogue and realistic characters. Her back-story was really involved and topical. Lilley starts her narrative with the tale of a boy coming of age; he is experiencing his first romance and everything is going fine until a serious accident in the kitchen. Let’s just say that it’s very painful! The story ended with a killer on the loose, which left me questioning several prior events in the story; was the killer somehow involved? I loved the fact that this story mixed a realistic, emotional experience with a shocking, scary series of events. I would like to read more! Thanks, Lilley!
I also really liked the title of Bella‘s story: ‘Santa’s Horror’ and its subtitle: ‘5 of us remain’. Very cleverly, Bella structured her story into five chapters. The first was ‘5 of us remain’ and the story ends with ‘1 of us remains’. In each section, somebody disappears in a way that you wouldn’t expect. You have to keep reading to find who’s left; it’s very good writing in that it ‘shows us’, rather than tells us every last detail. This really keeps us in suspense. This story contained the cleverest use of structure, overall; it was clearly very well planned. Well done, Bella!
Alicia terrified me (again, just like last year!) with her eerie story about the town of Darkwell and its haunted forest. I’ve made a mental note not to go there, after dark! One night during a silvery full moon, Alicia’s main characters, Kate, Sam and Jack all head to the woods in search of answers. The trees are not behaving themselves tonight, though, and things begin to go wrong when a shadowy figure develops among the branches and leaves.
Luke‘s entry ‘Jingle Was Ruined’ was excellent. It involved a series of interdimensional beacons that look like candy cane. All is not as it seems; there are giant swords in the sky and some kind of astral Christmas Tree that takes off, enters a vortex and causes snow to fall on Christmas Day. This was a super-imaginative entry that gives a whole new meaning to the idea of a ‘White Christmas’! Well done, Luke!
Mason delighted us with his short story ‘A Christmas Day’, which describes the perfect Christmas morning. Some of our entries were really scary this year, so Mason’s entry was just what I needed. In Mason’s story, even the dog gets a present! This was a very relaxing, heartwarming read and I really enjoyed it. Well done, Mason! Why don’t you write some more stories like this? You have a real talent for describing everyday events and people.
Special mention should also go to Bowdy, who wrote a real spine-tingler, entitled ‘The Krampus’. In his story, Bowdy has created a fascinating central character… Himself! In his story, he must fight the interdimensional monster ‘The Krampus’. Wow! This was brilliant. I really liked how Bowdy created a series of false starts. I kept thinking that he was going to be safe, but then the Krampus appears and all hell breaks loose! Real nightmare stuff- but also very evocative of Christmas. Congratulations, Bowdy!
Marie‘s story is slower-paced and very dreamy. I loved it! Like Mason, she takes us through the build-up to Christmas. When we finally arrive at the day itself, it feels like we’re really there. I was particularly impressed by Marie‘s sensory writing; I could practically taste the Starbuck’s ‘White Chocolate Mocha’! What a lovely story and I’d like to see Marie do some more creative writing; she has a real talent for vivid, intense description.
Louise‘s story was really inventive. She described a wrestling ‘grudge’ match that would eventually take place outdoors in the snow, in a steel cage. In the story, the two teams of wrestlers sustain various injuries (including a vicious broken leg) as they prepare for their big fight. Meanwhile, in the outside world, snow is falling and the rest of the world is getting ready for Christmas.
Question: Can anybody guess who wrote the following paragraph of dialogue?
“Twas the night before Christmas”
“These humans have such weird tongues.”
“That’s enough Alendrina! As planetary governor you need to know this.”
It was Alfie, of course! Now, this was an excellent entry. Alfie submitted a page and a half to me; it wasn’t his whole story, but rather an extract from a science fiction novel he is creating. In his story, set in Christmas 2058, a new species called the ‘angels’ remember Christmas differently to us. In their lore, the 25th December was when ‘the dragon from the stars crashed in an inferno of blue flames’. The ‘angels’ now remember this day for ‘the murder of Crown Princess Arielle III’.
Amidst an interplanetary war, humanity is waiting for another attack, most likely to be carried out on Christmas Day, but rather than bombs coming down from the sky, food, clothes and money rain down instead.
Alfie‘s extract left me wanting to read more, more, more! He has a brilliant creative mind and I really hope he keeps writing.
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for: PRIZE-GIVING!
Here are the first, second and third entries!
Drum Roll, please!
Well, first I’d like to say that EVERYONE was a winner this year. That’s why we’ve taken the time to review your work and write this blog. You really ALL were amazing.
It’s been SO close but here are the winning THREE writers:
In first place was… LILLEY! Her dangerous Christmas love story left us wanting more. She takes away our first prize: A hardback copy of J.K.Rowling’s ‘The Christmas Pig’.
In joint second and third place come ALFIE! And BELLA! Alfie‘s science fiction story is clearly part of a wider epic and I’d love to see more. Bella‘s ‘Santa’s Horror’ with its amazing structure (‘5 of us remain/4/3/2/1’) was just the kind of fast-paced, well-plotted story I was hoping for. Alfie and Bella each receive a copy of Dr Seuss’ ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas’.
I can’t say how much I enjoyed ALL the entries this year.
PLEASE do not be disappointed if you didn’t make the top three!
You will have another chance in our EASTER competition in April.
The entry sheet will be released in January, when we come back from the Christmas Holiday.
In the meantime, can I remind all lower house students that the farmhouse library is up and running again, following Evie‘s refit. Please borrow, borrow, borrow!!!
And remember! You WIN a PRIZE for every THREE books you READ and REVIEW!
Have a Happy Christmas and see you all soon, Gareth!