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Congratulations to all the schools which responded to our Story Competition, and to the many talented students in them who submitted stories.

The judging panel once again had a difficult time discriminating between so many good entries. They carefully addressed the four criteria we have used this year:

  1. Fluency, facility with language … 20 points
  2. Development of character … 10 points
  3. Creation of setting and atmosphere … 10 points
  4. Development of plot, creation of suspense … 20 points

TOTAL 60 points

This meant that sometimes a child might be good at character or setting but less accomplished at plot development, or the other way around. The scores were averaged between judges, in order to maintain objectivity.

Most children showed a fine grasp of how stories work, of how to bring out character and setting, and how to give the narrative a satisfactory shape, with a strong beginning, a section devoted to development, and a robust ending.

The winners showed outstanding ability across all criteria. We congratulate them on their achievement.

YEARS 5 & 6


BFFS: Best frenemies forever! (Our friendship would never be the same)

Mia McKinley

Trinity Lutheran College, Queensland

This story shows an excellent grasp of psychology, in which the two central characters (Ava and Ellie) jostle with one another for supremacy at a school talent quest. The author has a wonderful ear for dialogue and for the subversive inner monologue of the narrator. The story could have been just a ‘fight to the death’ struggle, but it is made more nuanced by the introduction of a subplot involving Ava’s estrangement from her father. The surprise revelation at the school assembly (the appearance of the father) and of who won, allow the story to end with a great deal of power. As well as being believable and structurally clever, it was also well developed emotionally, with the two girls - sometime rivals - brought together by the kindness of the central character. A pleasure to read.


Sheepdog Training (This is going to be a great day)

Amelia Harris
Mid Canterbury Centre for Gifted Education, New Zealand

This story, about the training of a young pup, who proves a handful, is utterly charming. The author makes the little dog irresistible as a character, and brings the farm setting to life very convincingly. What could have been just a cute yarn turns into something more interesting when the pup runs away, plunging the narrator into a ‘catastrophe’. The writer has grasped that conflict is all important. The ending is left up in the air, to maintain tension. A most satisfactory entry.


Airport Trouble (The Worst Holiday Trip Ever)

Jochebed Citro
Bellbridge Primary School, Victoria

This story has a slightly crazy family, including dotty old Grandma Elsie, at the airport - a scene visualised extremely well in all its noise and chaos. Then there is the matter of the (shock, horror) missing ticket and the impending disaster, which allows the author to play wicked games with the reader, building up wonderful suspense. The resolution is believable and satisfying - and the author is even able to turn the topic on its head in a very amusing way.


A New Friend (Our friendship would never be the same)

Rebecca Kidd
Mid Canterbury Centre for Gifted Education, New Zealand

This was a very entertaining tale about the shifting friendship patterns of girls, one minute best friends and the next mortal enemies. It is set against the backdrop of a holiday camp in which everything seems intent on paining the narrator. The story is told by way of dated diary entries, a nice touch. The story ends where it began, in a deliberate joke about children facing the same challenges in a cyclical way.


It was the worst family holiday ever!

Tui Bonda
Waitakere Primary School, New Zealand

This entry has a wonderful structure, in which the horrors of a holiday gone wrong are totally overturned by the mother’s discovery of a winning lottery ticket! The writer shows excellent control and the surprise ending is inspired.

YEARS 3 & 4


It was the worst family holiday ever!

Shayla Dennis
Peregian Springs State School, Queensland

This story shows a remarkable grasp of description - the airline flight to America, the sights of New York and so on - demonstrating excellent fluency and control of language. But the story really moves into a higher level with its shock reversal and tragic ending. It may be a controversial device, but it is devastating in its power. This is the work of very talented writer, skilled beyond her years.


It was the worst family holiday ever!

Charlotte Chung
Mercedes College, South Australia

This story shows a writer with great skill. It records the ‘horrors’ of how holidays can be anything but fun, with one grim development after another. Whatever can go wrong - does. This is the work of writer whose English is excellent.


The Different Wars (This is going to be a great day)

Stella Scudamore
Peregian Springs State School, Queensland

This entry takes a most unusual angle on the topic, transferring the action to wartime Europe, and the coming of the Nazis. Its setting is well evoked, and the tone of tragedy and suffering quite extraordinary for a young writer. The ending is even more striking. It is a story with fine atmosphere and a great deal of power.


The Magic Mountain

Zara Mesley
Dalgety Primary School, NSW

This story is built on a terrible tension between the ordinary goings on of a family holiday at a theme park - and the terrible plight of the hospitalised father. The writer has taken on board the need for dramatic tension - and delivers in full. A powerful piece.


Prizes will be in three categories for each of the two levels (Years 3-4, Years 5-6): First prize: an iPad mini; Second: $100 voucher; Third: $50 voucher.


Due to a number of privacy and equity issues expressed by schools, we have decided not to publish all entries to the Story Competition online, but only the winners with their school's permission. Parents are not able to participate. The competition entries must come from a school. However, the school sending in entries does not need to be a Ziptales subscriber. Ziptales provides a Writing Tips for Fantasy Guide as a free download.


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