2015 – 2016 Competitions

Competition No.28: A Sunny Summer Poetry Competition

Competition No. 27: A Mischievous Monkey Story Competition

Competition No. 26: A Hair-Raising Halloween Poem Competition



Sun yawning

Phew! I’ve just finished the judging of my Sunny Summer Poem Competition! It was tremendous fun, but exhausting… I think I need a good long drink of lemonade with ice!

There were a total of 79 fabulous entries this time, from 21 schools in 8 cities around the world: Calcutta, Chicago, Hong Kong, Perth, Seattle, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney! A big thank you to all of you for your very hard work and wonderful creations.

Free verse was definitely the favourite genre, but there were also some wonderful rhyming poems, a few excellent acrostics, and even one clever double-limerick! But no haikus this time…perhaps you were all haiku-ed out in my Hair-Raising Halloween competition last year!

Judging was very difficult indeed this time, as you will see, and I had to strictly follow the criteria set out in the Rules to make sure that I was fair to everyone. I thought it might be helpful if I set out here the criteria I used. If you weren’t among the top ten in your category this time, make sure you enter my next poetry competition, and see if you can apply the following pointers:

  1. The genre – did your poem follow the rules of the genre; was it a good example of the genre?
  2. Line count – I had to be very strict about this – no more than 16 lines were allowed;
  3. Great vocabulary – I was looking for really interesting and unusual words, used appropriately;
  4. Originality – I was looking for ideas that were different from the others;
  5. Style – overall, was your poem written well? Did it show a lightness of touch? Was the meaning clear? Did it ‘sing’? Style was the most important criterion, carrying the most points. Some of you wrote long poems with excellent vocabulary, but the overall effect was too heavy. Beware especially of the overuse of adjectives and adverbs!
  6. Summery and happy – yes, I did ask for this, and unfortunately there were some rather good poems that were really rather depressing, so they didn’t make the final cut!
  7. That all important X-factor – hard to define, but what I was looking for was something that made me go “Wow! This writer is a POET.” So I was looking for what I call a ‘poetic sensibility’ which marked your poem out; something a little bit magical and ‘other-wordly’.

The other essential tip to boost your poetry writing is – you guessed it – to read lots and lots of poetry! Ask your librarian or English teacher to point you to some great poets, and fall in love with their extraordinary words and ideas!

Just a quick further note: for schools in the Northern Hemisphere, this competition started just before the end of the school year in June, and ended after the beginning of the school year in August/September. So I allowed students still in Grade 6 in June to enter the competition, even if they are now in Grade 7! So you may find that someone in Grade 6 in the competition is no longer at your primary school; you might also find that the grades mentioned for contestants in other years are now one year higher.

First place winners will each receive a free signed copy of one of my books!

Here are the Top Ten in each category:


In this category there were 17 entries from 9 schools in 5 cities: in Chicago (Dryden School); Hong Kong (German Swiss International School, Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School); Shanghai (Shanghai United International School); Singapore (Canadian International School Tanjong Katong, United World College SEA Dover, United World College SEA East) and Sydney (Arden Anglican School).

Well done to everyone who entered, especially the younger contestants who were entering a writing competition for the first time! Keep practicing, and entering more competitions, and you’ll get better and better at your poetry writing!


FIRST PLACE: Madeline Painter, Grade 3, Dryden School, Arlington Heights, Chicago, United States, 9 years old

Readers will remember that Madeline won the Hair-Raising Halloween Poetry Competition last year. And this time she’s done it again! Congratulations Madeleine on a very sophisticated free verse poem, which conjures up summer vividly with its gorgeous vocabulary. Madeleine’s entry is very clever: take note of her skillful use of imagery (painting pictures), sound and sensation to evoke all the excitement of a water-gun fight, and the way that she has captured summer in such an original way – not by making summer itself the subject, but by writing about a quintessentially summer activity. And what a great ending! Singapore’s loss is Chicago’s gain, and Madeline is well on her way to becoming an accomplished poet.


The radiant sun shining on my face,

The swift breeze rushing though my hair,

The iridescent stream of liquid whizzing towards my belly,

Wait, what?

Ahhhhh, now I hear it,

Gleeful cries of “Water gun fight!”

More cries, this time “Cold!” And “That feels gooood!”

The sound of my victims’ guns clattering to the ground as the Warriors surrender,

Yes, it feels good to be victorious in a water gun fight.





SECOND PLACE: Anya Lin Husain, Grade 2, UWC Dover, Singapore, 7 years old

A well-deserved Second Place to one of the youngest poets to enter the competition! It was Anya’s beautiful imagery that impressed me most. I loved especially the opening line, and her description of sunset as it “spreads its colours and throws them into the air”. These original and lyrical lines bear promise of great poetry in the future from this young writer! Keep up the good work Anya!


Summer skies are purple and sweet like lavender 

Shining like crystal

A cool wind and a cool scent

Making a girl or a boy say

“Mommy I want some mangoes”

“Daddy where is my towel to dry myself”

Then Daddy says: “Let’s go upstairs” but too late

Girls and boys jump quickly back into the pool

Summer evenings are when the sunset

Spreads its colors and throws them into the air

And little kids count and sing the colors:

Golden red, yellow, pink, brown, silver, purple and 

Then finally black.

THIRD PLACE: Abby Heathcote, Year 3, The Kellett School, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, 7 years old

Abby was the only entrant in this category to attempt an acrostic poem, and she did so with excellent results! Her brief poem paints a vivid picture of an English summer, and I love the way she has chosen her small snapshots: the sandcastles, the fish and chips, and especially the bare feet in the sand. Great job Abby!

Summer Fun

S un

U nforgettable fun

M aking sandcastles

M y family and me, shout “Whoopee!”

E nglish fish and chips

R unning barefoot in the sand.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Nicolette Ng, Grade 2, Shanghai United International School, Shanghai, 7 years old

A big well done to Nicolette, who at 7 years of age has written a very competent rhyming poem about summer! Her rhyming pattern was spot-on, and I did enjoy her “big beautiful shining sun” and her punchline at the end! Keep up the good work Nicolette and make sure you enter my next competition!

Summer Is Fun

Summer is fun,

We can play in the sun.

Summer is great,

I can’t wait.

We can go to lots of places,

We can see lots of faces.

We eat ice cream every day,

Then I go and run to play.

The sun shines very bright,

I like it in the sunlight.

I love it in summertime,

I lost my tooth and got a dime.

Every time and every day,

I run outside to go play.

The big beautiful shining sun,

I don’t need to get homework done.


SPECIAL MENTION: Lucinda Dudgeon, Year 2, The Kellett School, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, 6 years old

A very special mention for the youngest entrant in this competition, Lucinda Dudgeon. I thought  her poem was adorable, especially her heartfelt plea that we keep our seas clean!

The Beach

The beach has lots of sand,

When I go there it always makes me glad.

The beach has lots of sea,

It says: “I am not a dustbin, don’t throw rubbish in me”.

There are fish living in the sea,

They say: “Don’t throw rubbish near me”.

I love to go to the sea,

I wish it would always be clean.


RUNNERS-UP: a big WELL DONE to the five runners-up! I look forward very much to seeing more of your work in future competitions!

 Megan To, Grade 3, German Swiss International School, Hong Kong, 8 years old

Sizzling in the sun with my friends

and family.

Umbrella held up to prevent my

peachy skin from turning brown.

My mom buys me chocolate ice-cream

because I feel very hot in Summer!

Mosquitos buzzing around looking

for my skin.

Enjoying the summer with my family.

Running around in Summer is so

much fun!

Shreya Gudi, Grade 3, Canadian International School Tanjong Katong campus, Singapore, 8 years old

Summer Time

On a summer day,

I would go to the bay,

Watch the waves crash by the shore,

Yes, school is a bore.

Summer seems too good to last

It will soon become my past

For when summer ends,

It will go around the bend,

For now, get in the pool,

Stay cool,

Build a treehouse with my tools,

And have lots of fun,

In the very hot sun!

Thomas Gordon, Year 2 at Arden Anglican School, Beecroft, Sydney, 7 years old

Beach Balls

I like to kick around,

Rolling on the ground.

If I throw it high,

It might touch the sky.

Then it won’t be found.

Max Chen, Grade 2, Shanghai United International School, Shanghai, 7 years old

Summer Day

It’s summer, 

Go out and play!

It’s the best day,

And beautiful trees!

See honey bees,

And play in the woods,

Or read a fascinating book!

Aerin Lau, Grade 3, Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau, Hong Kong, 8 years old

Summer is the best

The children play in the beach

Swimming with their mama’s reach

They go back to the shore for a rest.

If you didn’t have any assignments

We could have a vacation!

We could go to different locations

And you would have a flood of excitement!

Summer is extremely hot

And we would sweat a lot

This is what I hate

And washing is too late!

It is really boring in summer

I wish school would start sooner

With no friend or classmates

Why school always starts so late?



In this category there were 62 entrants from 21 schools in 7 cities: in Calcutta (DPS Newtown); Hong Kong (Australian International School, Beacon Hill School, Chinese International School, Discovery Bay International School, French International School), German Swiss International School, Kowloon Junior School and Shatin Junior School); Perth (Good Shepherd Catholic School Lockridge); Seattle (Hamilton International School); Shanghai (Shanghai United International School); Singapore (Canadian International School Lakeside, Canadian International School Tanjong Katong, United World College SEA Dover, United World College SEA East) and Sydney (Homeschool).

Congratulations to every one who entered; please do enter my next Clever Competition as I would love to see more of your work, and practice truly does make perfect!

 A special word for short-listed entrants Elisha Xu, Emily Cameron, Mia Santangelo, Rene Xin, Neil Vijayan, Bastien Buwalda, Aisha Zobrist and Kenton To for their fantastic poems. While you didn’t quite make the final cut, you made the top 20 in a very competitive field!

 FIRST PLACE: Aria Fafat, Grade 6, UWCSEA Dover, Singapore, 11 years old

Aria’s free verse poem was a knockout! Her wonderfully original idea of a summer pencil drawing pictures on her Canvas of Life, her superb vocabulary, her summery images and wonderful style ticked every box for me. Aria placed first in the Hair-Raising Halloween Poem competition last year, and this time has won another well-deserved First Place – congratulations Aria on an excellent poem!

The Artist

My canvas stands blank, eager and anticipating.

A shade of grey lead skitters across the corner;

Meandering purposefully through the void of white

Possessing my eyes in a hypnotic trance

Sketching and shading shapes of colors.

A cool splash of foaming surf of blue;

Golden crabs on glowing grains;

Books lounging on a lazy hammock;

A bed of vibrant flowers amidst fragrant breeze.

Charcoal figures come to light.

Smiling faces of family and friends!

With sticky cones of cream and ice

A pause…

Oh! The line hops on me and shades me a lemonade

A hat on head… sunglasses tinting the skies…

Ah! the Canvas of Life, painted by the line of Summer…


EQUAL SECOND PLACE; Isha Jain, Canadian International School, Lakeside; Jemma Julian, Homeschooled, Sydney; Sonia Mei Husain, UWCSEA Dover, Singapore 

This time, for the first time, there are multiple entries in Second Place. These are three very different poems, with different strengths and weaknesses, and, try as I might, I found it impossible to choose between them! I’ve explained my reasons below. Taken overall, these poems were outstanding!

Isha Jain, Grade 6 Canadian International School, Lakeside, Singapore, 11 years old

Isha’s rhyming poem scored high for great vocabulary, originality and X-factor – I loved the home setting, with cosily familiar ingredients, the squabble with her brother and the crickets’ duel! I especially loved the penultimate line with its description of nights ‘sheathed in silver’ and days ‘woven gold’ showing a lovely poetic sensibility. There was however a small mistake with tense (past in second line, present in the last lines) and her use of the word ‘berserk’ wasn’t quite right; berserk means hysterical and demented, a negative connotation which doesn’t really fit this happy poem!

Summer paradise


I felt my heart aflutter!

Long, blissful days with no end in sight,

Late, lazy mornings, left to my own plight!

Curled in bed, cradling a much awaited story,

Elated to find Albus Potter in Hogwarts dormitory.

Munching Doritos and gorging on luscious ice-cream,

Guffawing uncontrollably at the ludicrous antics of Mr Bean.

Lounging by the cerulean swimming pool,

Observing the progress of two crickets, engrossed in a duel.

Squabbling with my brother and stealing his treasured pen,

(You best an older sibling only now and then).

No assessments and no homework,

Purposeless and idle! I am going berserk!

Nights sheathed in silver and days woven gold,

Oh! How I wish the summer would last tenfold.

Jemma Julian, Year 6, Homeschooled, Sydney, 11 years old

I loved Jemma’s poem about a friend who escapes the tyranny of technology for the joys of summer for many reasons: the great title; the very original ideas; the internal rhyming pattern in every line which was both clever and original; her trademark advanced vocabulary. But I felt that her choice of words was sometimes strained in order to fit the internal rhyming pattern (wildlife, milestone, glummer) and this did take away from the total effect. Jemma is no stranger to the finalists list and has placed in three previous competitions. Well done again, Jemma!

Finding Summer

You were a newcomer to that scorching-hot summer,

Until now had spent your life in a cold place with no wildlife.

Lived inside your precious phone and that’s all you’d ever known,

Until I smashed that thing, told you to believe again in the faerie ring.

Why waste, on technology, a whole lovely day, when you can go and play?

Trapped in virtual reality, when you could be free!

But now we share our imagination to make fun with creation,

Pass long hot hours making daisy chains out of flowers.

Climb up trees with the greatest of ease,

Go to the beach, swim and buy an ice cream each.

Eclipse the boiling sun with incessant fun,

Jump around then roll along the grassy ground.

Defy the heat by sleeping under one sheet…

Before you came here, I bet you were glummer, but now you can enjoy the summer.

Lived inside your precious phone… I’m so glad you overcame that milestone!


Sonia Mei Husain, Grade 4, UWCSEA Dover, Singapore, 9 years old 

Sonia’s poem is an exercise in simplicity, clarity and charm. I loved the ‘burning sand under pink feet’, the ‘tan lines’ and the disarming honesty – ‘spying on your neighbors’ and ‘boredom’! Her poem demonstrates that it is not necessary to write a lot of words to create a vivid and effective poem. As is often said, sometimes less is more! However I felt that the last 3 lines did lose a bit of steam. Overall, a fantastic effort, placing 9 year old Sonia right up there with the ‘big kids’ in Grade 6! Well done!


Summer is crystal clear waves

Under blue skies

Burning sand

Under pink feet

Late breakfasts

Tan lines

Midnight feasts

Visit from grandma

Summer is spying on your neighbors

And boredom 

A surprise visit to Thailand

And finally “start of new school year” shopping

And so when all these things are used

Summer can start again.


THIRD PLACE: Filip Janousek, Grade 6, Canadian International School, Lakeside, Singapore, 12 years old

Filip’s poem was all about X-factor, or that ‘poetic sensibility’ I mentioned before. Bells which ‘shout like crows’; long shadows like ‘creatures’ with ‘big long hands and legs waltzing’; the sun ‘wrinkling up your whiskers and fur’, the kids ‘rumbling around’ – wow, wow, wow! And I loved the final prayer. With the use of more sophisticated vocabulary, and more summery description, this poem would have ticked every box! Keep on writing Filip – you have real promise as a poet and a writer.

Summer time

Summer, the awesome time,

When the school bells shout like crows,

And kids rush out of the school doors

To pools and houses to enjoy this wonderful time.

In the mornings, the sun wakes up early,

To wrinkle up your whiskers and fur,

It leaves long shadows looking like creatures

With their big long hands and legs,

Waltzing in the early summer breeze.

Kids shout all around cities and villages

As they enjoy this beautiful time.

They rumble around, playing tug o’ war

And hide n’ seek around the giant peak of a hill.

At the end of the last day,

All the kids pray:

“Summer, oh summer, please come back tomorrow.”


HONOURABLE MENTION: Uma Kewlani, Grade 6, Canadian International School, Lakeside, Singapore, 12 years old

Uma’s poem was another beautiful example of poetic feeling. While for me, lines 3 to 5 were unnecessary and let the poem down, I loved the rest of the poem, with its images of movement – running, prowling, flying into the sun – and the close of the poem with the writer’s heart beating to the rhythm of the hummingbird’s wings. Beautiful work Uma; please do keep writing!

The Feeling of Summer

I move through the rustling, lush green grass

My fingers skim across the blades as I race through the plain

I sprint through the maze of grass and fall upon a rock

The rock blazes with heat

I get back up without a second glance

I run to the beat of the birds chirping, the leaves rustling, the wind howling,

I am prowling across the ground

I jump and hit the sky

I fly, fly across the plains, fly across acres of land, fly straight into the sun

My hair blows out behind me like a halo

As I land right onto a tree

I lay down and slowly fall asleep

I hear the crows cawing and the hummingbird’s tiny wings beating

My heart beats along to the wings

And I slowly realize I am finally at home



 Quinten Buwalda, Year 4, Australian International School Hong Kong, 9 years old

I thought that Quinten’s acrostic poem was clever and contained some great vocabulary for a 9 year old!

Summer Madness

Shinning sun warming my bronzed skin

Umbrella slowly drowning in my melting ice cream

Mermaids swimming in the glittering pool of my imagination

Milkshakes quenching my everlasting thirst

Endless excitement on the balcony of my cosy house

Relaxing on the golden beach with my feet on the warm sand

Majestic mangos adorning the branches of the towering tree in front of my window

Adoring my newfound freedom that was painfully taken at school

Dancing in the cool summer breeze with my dazzling friend

Nothing stopping me enjoying lazy afternoon naps in my comfortable hammock

Extraordinary patterns emerging from the beautiful pink sky treating my squinted eyes

Seagulls harmonically squawking in my sensitive ears

Summer Madness, it couldn’t be further from my reality


Ady Lam, Year 6, Beacon Hill School, 11 years old

Ady’s list poem was soooo summery, with some great vocabulary (including four of my Wicked Words J)!

Summer is…

Summer is June,

July, August.

Summer is beaches,

Disneyland, your bed.

Summer is playing,

Watching movies, having fun.

Summer is crystal-clear ice,

Holidays, sunglasses.

Summer is enjoyable,

Exciting, groovy.

Summer makes you effervescent,

Ecstatic, Happy

Do tell, where do you plan to spend your

estival vacation?

Hong Kong, Brazil, Thailand?

Summer is pleasant,

Now THAT’S indubitable!


Adya Agarwal Gupta, Grade 4, Canadian International School Tanjong Katong, Singapore, 9 years old

Adya’s lyrical poem contained some gorgeous language and images, especially her bees pollinating and the Buisson (a sort of flowering bush) blooming!

 A Sunny Summers Day

My eyes flutter open

Sunlight streams in

Was this really happening?

Or was I just imagining?

Have the bees started to pollinate?

The flowers can’t wait!

It’s definitely not in my mind,

Winter’s far behind!

Hurrah! Hurray!

A trip to the beach today

Water roars in delight

Covered in shimmering sunlight

The fan spinning on

Playing with my blouse made out of chiffon

A Buisson blooms in glory

For summer is a whole new story.


Lillian Lee, Grade 6, Hamilton International Middle School, Seattle USA, 12 years old

Lillian’s double-limerick was perfectly executed, great fun and made me smile! It’s a sad goodbye to Lillian, who has entered every competition of mine for the last three years! Good luck with high school Lillian, and make sure you keep up the wonderful writing!

Billy’s Summer

There once was a boy named Billy

During summer he laughed himself silly

Estival vacations

75 days of PlayStations

He loved every bit of it, really.

But he started to miss his good friends

So he went out and bought some school pens

School’s not so bad

When it starts he’ll be glad

Besides, there’s always the weekends


SPECIAL MENTION: Sylvia Chan, Year 6, Shatin Junior School, 10 years old

Finally, a very special mention for Sylvia, who was brave enough to write a Shakespearean sonnet! It’s not quite perfect, but it’s a fantastic attempt, and I thought that the last four lines were inspired! Great job Sylvia, and best of luck with your move up to Shatin College!

Shakespeare Sylvia’s Summer

The school year is ov’r and done,

I despise the heat from the sun.

I hadst no choice than to turn on AC,

Or taking covereth of shadow beneath a tree.

Thy house doth hadst been destroyed,

As thy enemy leaps ov’r thy imaginary void.

The lightsabers flash through the air,

Though madeth out of plastic, causes adults despair.

I enjoy ice-cream fresh from the freezer,

And fresh fruit juice from the squeezer.

Mosquitoes and bugs are my biggest foes,

Biting any bits of skin that hadst been exposed.

Inside the house, to be hot or not to be hot,

The fan, the cooler, the fridge or not?

Shall I compare summer to a summer’s day?

Full of joy and full of play.





MK and vine lo res

Helloooo again all you wonderful writers out there! It’s been a tough job judging this competition, but great fun too: your Mischievous Monkey Stories were so entertaining and varied! I do love the way that you all took my list of ingredients and mixed them up in so many different and original ways! I asked you to write a story including a mischievous monkey, a Chinese Emperor, a magic teapot, a big flood, a Chinese setting and the colour verditer; I also asked you to use at least three of my Wicked Words correctly! Well, I’m delighted to say that not one of your stories was the same, despite using all the set ingredients, and some of you went absolutely wild using lots of my Wicked Words, which of course earned you extra points!

Now the best writers are always looking for ways to write even better, and so this time I’ve decided to share with you a little more about what I’m looking for when I judge my competitions, and what common problems seem to be occurring in many of the entries I have read. Even the winners (announced below) will get a little bit of positive criticism, which I hope inspires them to polish their fabulous writing even more! So please don’t mind if I’ve said something a bit critical; it’s all in the vital cause of creating the great writers of the future!

I really enjoyed reading your stories! You did extremely well including the special characters and events which I asked for, although a few of you forgot to include my Wicked Words. But I’d like to make just a few general comments to help you with your writing next time:

Judging a competition is hard work, and the only way to do it properly, so that the very best writers win, in the correct order, is to make a list of everything I expect to see in good writing, put it on a spreadsheet, weight it for importance, and mark every story accordingly! This means that while the special ingredients I give you, as well as things like length and originality are very important, I do mark more “boring” things which are fundamental to good writing!

  •  There were quite a few grammatical errors; in fact nobody’s story was grammatically perfect. The very best way to improve your grammar is to read good books, every single day, for leisure and pleasure. This will give you an innate sense of what looks and sounds right when you are drafting and editing your story;
  • The most common grammatical problem was TENSE. Please be very careful when you are editing to ensure that your tense remains consistent throughout the story;
  • Speech marks were missing in many stories! Do make sure you revise these, and understand how to use them!
  • Commas were either used in the wrong place, or in the place of semi-colons or colons, or sometimes were not used where they should have been! Again, please revise the rules, and make sure when you edit your story that you pay careful attention to your punctuation;
  • One great tip to avoid grammar and punctuation errors is to look at your screen when you type up your story! You will find that your computer software will often underline wrong grammar or punctuation in red, and if you click on that, it will suggest the correct version! This is no substitute for knowing the rules of grammar and punctuation for yourself (which you will acquire if you are a constant reader), but nonetheless it will help you to edit your script before handing it in.

 When readers read a story, they start automatically painting pictures in their heads, drawn from the information given to them by the writer. That’s why the more information about setting and character, the richer and more satisfying the story, and the higher you will score in writing competitions. From this arises two points:

  • Anyone who knows me knows that I am a setting-fiend! I need much more information from all of you about the SETTING! I need to read descriptions of landscape, weather and season and I also need to know when/in what era the story is set. I love it when a writer uses the weather, or the season, throughout the story to add atmosphere or to drive the plot. I love it when a writer gives me a detailed picture of a place, (in this case, China), which convinces me that they’ve done a bit of research and really understand the place they are writing about!
  • I also need to know more about the CHARACTERS! What did they look like, what sort of personality did they have, what motivated them? The more you can tell me, the richer and more interesting the picture I can paint in my mind as I read your story! And don’t forget that details about characters, such as their background, or any special qualities they may have, can become important ingredients in your plot!

 Finally, while most of you made a fabulous effort with the beginning of your stories, I did find that some stories tended to meander in the middle, with no clear build-up to a climax, or with multiple small climaxes and no clear structure. I found even more often that the resolution of the story problem and the ending came in a bit of a rush and was not very satisfying! Please remember that the end of the story is JUST as important as the beginning, and no matter how good the start is, if the ending isn’t strong, the reader will be left with a negative impression.

The solution to all issues of plot structure, setting and characters is, of course, TO WRITE A STORY PLAN BEFORE YOU WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT! I can always tell if someone has used a story plan, because their story starts well, ends well, and ticks all the right boxes!

Enough of my little lecture, and on with the announcement of the 12 fantastic winners of the competition (6 in each Category), and the publication of their stories below! And at the end, there’s a little treat from a Singaporean kindergarten! First place winners also receive a free signed copy of one of my books!


In this section there was a total of twelve entries from seven different schools in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia! There was some fabulous creativity among the writers in this section, including two very well-attempted poems in rhyme! Well done to all the entrants in this category as follows:


Discovery Bay International School Hong Kong: Year 3 – Tabitha Peters

ISF Academy, Hong Kong: Year 3 – Amanda Ning Fook Li


Arden Anglican School , Beecroft, NSW: Year 3 – Emily Davis

Dominic College, Hobart, Tasmania: Year 3 – Lucas Atkinson; Bree Bester; Xander Roberts; Jasmin Bailey; Jayden Buckley


Canadian International School, Tanjong Katong Campus, Singapore: Grade 3 – Leela Strathern, Manas Agrawal

Stamford American International School, Singapore: Year 3 – Madeline Painter

UWCSEA East, Singapore: Year 3 – Aisha Zobrist


FIRST PLACE: Emily Davis, Year 3 Arden Anglican School, Sydney, 9 years old

Readers will recall that Emily came first in the Three Chinese Characters Story Competition last year – and now she has done it again! Emily’s story was complex, very original and contained several clever twists as the plot developed. She managed to incorporate a grand total of no less than eight of my Wicked Words in a story that oozed style and great vocabulary. I loved her use of adjectives, the terrific beginning and the rather wry end. Do be careful Emily with your punctuation: there were a few hyphens and commas missing, and a couple of errors in tense. But overall the story was wonderful! Well done, Emily, on another fantastic result!

Tea 4 Two

 “Fruit, fruit, glorious, sweet fruit” The monkey squealed with delight from his perch high above the grand palace courtyard.  A tantalising smell of ripe mango wafted up to him. Just a few more minutes to wait.  The cook would be out of his way and then it would be all his.

“Quiet, quiet must not draw attention “the monkey thought.

He swung down from the roof dropping onto the kitchen windowsill.  Peering into the room saliva dripped from his verditer stained mouth.

 A glint of gold flashed in the sunlight.  Was it a shiny mango?  He eyed each piece of fruit intensely looking for the glint once more. There.. there it was…. But in the hands of the cook!  Her cheeks were red, her open mouth was huge. His orange fur stuck straight up as her high pitched scream hit him.  Just before the shiny thing followed smashing into his chest.

 “ Hiii Yaaaaaaaahhhh. Take that you pesky monkey!!” screamed the cook.

The monkey fell backwards, wrapping his tiny paws around the gold teapot.  He did a backwards flip, sprung up the drain pipe, across the roof and away. Back to his jungle home.

 The monkey stared intently at his reflection in the gold surface of the teapot.  How elegant he looked, how bold and brave. He stroked it loving, over and over until the surface shone like the Emperor’s golden pendant.

 A blue bird flitted down, its verditer wings glowing in the afternoon sun. Intrigued by the monkey’s precious pot, she cocked her head watching as the monkey muttered to himself in a trancelike state. “Fruit, fruit, gold, fruit,”  “Poor monkey,” thought the bird. “He must be famished.” It was already late in the season and the trees had hardly produced any fruit this year.  She glanced up at the trees and gasped: – they were no longer bare instead they were covered in white blossoms.  To her amazement they started transforming into fruits, hundreds of them.  The bird eyed the scene with increasing suspicion.

“ ..So grand, so amazing, I should be the Emperor,” murmured the monkey.  The blue bird stretched out her beak to nudge the monkey but instead she nudged thin air.  Only the pot remained still glowing like the embers of a fire…

The Emperor’s bed was embroidered with gold thread covering layers and layers of silk bedsheets. No one in the whole of China had a bed so sumptuous. The Emperor opened one eye and screamed.  He jumped up and down on the bed on his hands and knees, ripping the silk bedsheets, his eyes bulging, wild.  Where were his trees? Where was his precious teapot?  He screamed a high, cold scream. Who had dared to part him from his glorious life in the Jungle? Where was he now!?

 Suddenly a servant burst in. ”Sire, sire I heard you scream and and…. “

The Emperor scrambled up the hand engraved wooden bed post.  The post creaked under his weight, the bed canopy sagged down. The servant stifled a screech and ran out.

“Help, help.  The Emperor is unwell, someone help him. Where is the Empress? Find her she will calm him down.”

The Empress swept into the room carrying his favourite tea. “My dear Emperor what troubles you?  Did the servant upset you?  Or was it the bedsheets again?” The Empress glanced at the Emperor and then hastily looked away.  “ Errr.. how about some tea?” She kept her eyes firmly on the ground and placed the filled teacup on the bed.  The Emperor dangled an arm down snatched the tea cup, gulped down some of the tea and then spat it out all over the Empresses face.

“ Aaaaghhgh” cried the Emperor “ as his wife rushed out of the room.

“Ergh that stuff had been atrocious and who had been that ugly woman?” He had to get out of this horrible place. 

Frantically he looked around, spotted the open door of the bathroom and bounded in. Heaving himself up onto the basin to reach the open window above, his foot slipped on a tap.  A torrent of water gushed out into the basin.  The Emperor lurched forward hoisting himself onto the windowsill with a grunt and inadvertently lost his sleeping cap which fell into the basin blocking it.  The water continued to cascade down overfilling the basin and flooding the floor.

The Emperor’s nightrobe caught on the catch of the window tearing a hole revealing his bottom. A drainpipe snaked to the ground. The Emperor clambered out and wrapped his body around the pipe. The drainpipe tore away from the wall under his weight. Landing on the stone courtyard, he stared in disbelief at his hairless paws. He brought his hands up to his face – hairless. The Emperor was completely bamboozled. Just then a pandemonium of servants raced out from every door of the palace to seize him…

The bluebird flew off with the teapot clasped tightly in her beak, watching as the Emperor was chased round and round the courtyard by his servants. Her beak unclasped, the teapot fell. Spinning round and round she prayed she had thought right. Oh please let it be!  The Emperor snatched up the pot with great exuberance. This is how it had started and it was how it would end.   He shut his eyes tightly, grasped the teapot and he thought of being back home in the jungle, back with all his monkey friends.

 When he opened his eyes there were his trees, there were the other monkeys whooping.   He had never been happier in his whole life.

 The Emperor collapsed into the waiting arms of his servant. He was ushered inside and laid down in his bed. He lay fitful and clammy with the Empress by his side.  As she watched, the colour returned to his face.  He appeared peaceful, his eyes not so wild and desperate.

“It must indubitably have all been a dream “said the Emperor and he laughed. The Empress smiled with relief that her husband was once again himself.  The story of the flood and of the Emperor’s chase around the courtyard could wait.

SECOND PLACE: Leela Strathern, Grade 3, Canadian International School, Tanjong Katong Campus, Singapore, 9 years old

I loved Leela’s exciting story set in the future, where a Chinese emperor rules the world with the help of a magic teapot. It was action-packed and good fun to read, although there were a few errors in spelling and especially some missing commas. Overall a terrific story though, which won Leela a very creditable second place!

The Owner of the Teapot

This is a story set in the future. It is not a future you would expect with robots, lasers and drones. This future is ruled by a mystical, magical royalty. A Chinese Emperor rules the world from America to Australia from the north pole to the south. China’s Ang dynasty controls everything, but little do people know that the key to the power of the dynasty was not money, not factories and not armies, but a humble, vertider teapot.

“Oi, get off me!” shouted the mischievous monkey called Lun Kee to his older brother. Lun Kee looked ordinary but was actually sly and sneaky. His older brother gripped him by the tail trying to stop him running off. Life was hard in the monkey kingdom ever since the Emperor took over the world. The Emperor had put all the monkeys to work. All the monkeys had protested but the Emperor had thrown his head back and shouted: “Nonsense!” The monkeys knew that the Emperor was not in power because people wanted him to be, but rather because of the teapot.    

Lun Kee, with a determined look on his face, said “I’ve got to get that teapot.”

“No,” said the older brother whose name was Arn Kay. Arn Kay was fastidious and did not like chaos.

“Huh,” said Lun Kee defiantly. “Arn Kay, you’re not going to stop me”.

But even Lun Kee gasped as he stepped out of the monkey kingdom. Little did Lun Kee know that the monkey kingdom was guarded by soldiers, with guns! Even if Lun Kee was mischievous, he was not evil so when he stepped out of the monkey kingdom he didn’t attack. Instead, he tried to talk his way out of it.

“Um , hi guys!” he said trying to look as casual as possible. “Just erm …popping out… um… fooooor … a well… you know… erm morning walk, he ha ,” he giggled nervously.

But unluckily for Lun Kee the guards looked furious. “GET HIM!” they shouted. Lun Kee had to run for his life!

“Just nearly there,” he muttered. As soon as he took his first step into the Emperor’s kingdom, he gasped. It was not the leafy jungle he was used to in the monkey kingdom. It seemed more like a town square with teashops and a bakery with ladies sitting outside and chatting. Children were playing, weaving round the adults’ legs and robot guards with heads like parakeets were walking everywhere.

Despite Lun Kee’s gulp, he boldly quickened his pace. “Ooof, Ow,” Lun Kee said as he bumped into something tall. Lun Kee looked up. The thing looked down. Lun Kee gasped. It was a robot parakeet!
“Oi, whatcha doin ‘ere?” it said pulling him.

“Nothing,” said Lun Kee before changing his mind. “Oh uh, didn’t the Emperor tell you he, erm, sent for me?” he said, lying.

“Well he must have forgot,” added Lun Kee and believe it or not the guard actually believed him!

“Yesssss” Lun Kee cheered to himself as he ran inside the palace ignoring the pandemonium he caused as he knocked over statues and pottery. Children screamed, running everywhere. Suddenly he ran into what looked like a grove. And it was: the sacred grove of the vertider magic teapot.

“Careful,” said a bossy voice.

Lun Kee looked around and there he saw a young girl – the Emperor’s daughter. Lun Kee looked at his feet like a schoolboy being told off.

“Well I just wanted to have the teapot.”

And the princess answered, in the most unexpected way possible: “Hi. My name is Li Wu, which means beautiful. You can take the teapot. I don’t see why it is so important to Daddy. But only for a joke you understand. You have to put it back.”

You see, young Li Wu didn’t know about the charm the teapot carried. Lun Kee nodded his head, but Lun Kee being Lun Kee, would never return it. It would be his. All his. Lun Kee was excited. The teapot was a brilliant blue, with a glimmer all around it. Lun Kee stumbled and drips of water spilled from it. But even when he stood upright, water came trickling out.

Lun Kee thought: “How could such a tiny teapot carry so much water?”
Lun Kee got worried. Suddenly he screamed and jumped up as water gushed out. There was a flood up to his waist. Panic was everywhere. People screamed and ran and covered their faces with handkerchiefs and were hanging onto the rafters of the ceiling. Children were crying as buildings crashed onto each other.

As soon as all the monkeys (including Arn Kay) heard about the flood they rushed to the Emperor’s land. When Arn Kay saw the teapot he pressed his hand to his heart. His untrustworthy brother. What else would he do?

Li Wu, seeing Arn Kay’s worried expression laughed and said: “Come here monkey man”.

Arn Kay scuttled over nervously. Li Wu whispered and said: “First we rob the teapot from your pest of a brother.

“But I can’t…” he began. But just at that very moment a clap of thunder came. The Emperor rose out of the palace.

“WHO HAS MY TEAPOT!!!!??” he screamed and then he lowered his voice, his face red with sweat trickling from his forehead. “And whoever has it, they will give it back”, he said through clenched teeth.

Li Wu had a brainwave. “Lun Kee, if you give up the teapot all the monkeys will be free of slavery”.

Lun Kee didn’t know what to do. Li Wu ran to the emperor.

“Dad. Come! You can get the teapot if you free the monkeys from slavery.”

Suddenly a change swept over the Emperor. He almost looked kind.

“Alright,” he said.

Lun Kee didn’t have a choice but to hand it over. And from then on the monkeys and the people lived happily and had a party to celebrate. Oh, and they shared that sumptuous teapot.

THIRD PLACE: Aisha Zobrist , Grade 3, UWCSEA East, Singapore, 8 years old

Aisha Zobrist, a first-time entrant in my Clever Competition, has won a well-deserved third place with a magnificent story in rhyming verse! The rhyming couplets were almost perfect; all the necessary ingredients including Wicked Words were correct and present, and the rhythm was not bad too! There were a few very small errors in grammar and punctuation; remember Aisha that the rules apply in poetry too! Overall, it was a remarkable achievement for an eight year old! Well done Aisha!

A Monkey Tale

A monkey so brown, as mischievous as could be

Was sitting up high, on a branch of a big Banyan tree.

In the forest of China with trees so tall,

The monkey climbed high looking over the wall.

Over the wall, in a land so fair,

Lived an Emperor named ‘Puyi’ with very dark hair.

Puyi was liked by almost all of his people;

He entertained in the Forbidden City playing games under the steeple!

None of them knew of Puyi’s teapot, that was magic,

Letting this get into the wrong hands could end up being tragic!

A man named Chan with a mellifluous tone,

He was kind, he was caring and enjoyed walking around all alone.

On his walk one day, in the forest so bright,

He spotted a monkey swinging around at great height.

He watched and he watched as the monkey swung by,

He is up to something, thought Chan, I will find out, I will try!

Now Puyi had the magic teapot hidden away from sight,

It was a very nice colour of verditer and white.  

The teapot was handed down years and years ago,

By Puyi’s great grandfather; his name was Pow.

Chan watched the monkey and followed the sounds;

They were heading through the forest towards the Emperor’s huge grounds.

He watched and he waited and wondered what was going on,

Then he saw something interesting and thought ‘hang on’.

The monkey was trying to stop a young man,

Who was dressed in dark clothes and was hiding his face behind a fan.

He climbed up the walls to enter inside,

But the monkey disturbed him and the man ran off to hide.

Chan asked to speak to the Chinese Emperor right away,

He told him of the monkey and the man that got away.

The Emperor laughed loud and sounded quite ecstatic

Of the thought of a monkey being so erratic.

The Emperor ordered Chan to leave his grounds at once,

He thought what he heard was complete nonsense,

All would be good if he listened to this man,

But instead Puyi carried on and Chan needed a plan.

The next day the rain poured and poured to the ground,

It was heavy and fast and made a very loud sound.

The man thought it would be good to steal the teapot today,

As everyone would be keeping out of the rain hiding away.

The rain did not stop and a big flood began to appear,

The man decided he would hide in the palace and wait until it cleared.

The monkey saw the man and decided to wait,

And see what the man did and would do something before it was too late.

As soon as the man was hiding inside,

The monkey swung off in the trees so high,

The monkey found Chan who decided to follow him,

Running through the rain felt quite tiring and grim.

They arrived at the palace, rang the bell and stood aside,

And as soon as the door opened the monkey went wild.

Everyone followed to see what was going on,

The Emperor appeared and banged on the gong.

Chan told the Emperor of the man hiding away,

Puyi called for security to catch the man right away.

They opened the door and guess who they found,

Yes, the man – hiding with his fan and sitting on the ground.

Security took him off to the dungeons right away with his fan

And Puyi ordered to speak to the monkey and Chan.

Puyi was happy, as happy as could be,

He thanked Chan and the Monkey who smiled with glee.

He asked them to choose something for being so caring

And explained what they did was very daring.

Chan asked for a suit to make him handsome and smart,

The monkey found a banana and held it close to his heart.

The suit was made and Chan looked resplendent and fair,

He helped save the magic teapot because he cared.

The rain had stopped and all was well,

Over the Forbidden City you could hear a loud bell.

Puyi, the emperor had ordered everyone to meet at noon if they can,

He stood and he told them all about the monkey and Chan.

Do you know who would be happiest of all right now,

I know, of course it would be Great Grandpa Pow.


FOURTH PLACE: Madeline Painter, Grade 3, Stamford American International School, Singapore, 9 years old

Readers will recall Madeline’s wonderful entries in my last three competitions, in which she gained a Special Mention in the Shaggy Sheep Poem competition, a Sixth Place in the Three Chinese Characters Story Competition, and finally First Place in the Hair-Raising Halloween Poetry competition! Combining her terrific skills in both poetry and story-writing, Madeline has, like Aisha, written her story in verse! Her story was great fun, using six Wicked Words correctly, and displayed a dry sense of humour, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Do be careful though, when writing in rhyme, to make sure that your rhyming pattern is consistent. Here Madeline’s rhyming pattern chopped and changed a little, which lost her some points.

Emperor Shingdai and the Land of the Monkeys

 Once upon a time, before the land was too fertile in China,

There was an illustrious emperor.  He had a verditer colored gown,

And he loved it very much cos’ it fit with his verditer colored crown.

Now this specific emperor ruled the land of monkeys.

But they were kind of crazy and most of all pretty funky.

 This fastidious emperor loved his gown a lot,

But his monkeys were tantalized,

Which made the emperor demoralized,

For he still didn’t know what the monkeys would plot.

 To defend the mighty gown,

He would gather up his men with their donkeys, kids and wives,

Then take them all to war and risk their lives.

 But he did not fear for he had a special teapot,

It had an extra special plaque,

And inside the teapot lived a genie with the gown just on his back.

 The magic teapot was like a good alarm,

For it always started to flood.


Oh no no. Not water but blood.

 The monkeys didn’t know this so one day they tried to nick,

The gown from that special teapot of brick,

Although it really makes the tea taste thick.

 They snuck into his safe

And tried to open up the hatch,

Just to find it was locked!

And all while they chattered lots and talked.

 The lightning flashed outside.

The thunder rumbled too.

But the monkeys still thought their confidence would make do.

 The waters were pouring everywhere!

At least that’s what the monkeys thought,

There was really blood in the air!

 The emperor saw that blood in the air,

And it made his hair stand on end,

For he knew he would have to defend,

That special, special gown.

 So the emperor marched all the way to town,

He gathered everyone all around,

And told to people of the coming flood.

 He really made ’em pusillanimous,

Like petrified ostriches with their heads in the mud,

When he told them it would be blood.

 As soon as he said that, the blood gushed mellifluously.

It went everywhere in town.

Blood traveled through the bushes, trees, and roads, up and down.

Even on the luscious gown!

 Then the monkeys with the gown came into view.

The men cried charge,

And the babies, well they just cried,

While the women grabbed all the egregious monkeys on cue.

 A while later, the resplendent gown was returned to the pot.

The blood flood had just about dried up.

The monkeys found they were banned from the palace.

Unfortunately for them, they could no longer cause any malice.

 The gown is now safe and all is copacetic.

But the monkeys have never been apologetic.      

The pot, the genie inside and the emperor all rest in peace,

Under the very place where the first drop of blood was ever released.


 FIFTH PLACE: Amanda Ning Fook Li, Grade 3, ISF Academy Hong Kong

Amanda’s story was action-packed, with an excellent beginning and a philosophical ending. It was a fun read, and I really enjoyed her description of the terrible flood. But watch out though for those backward speech marks Amanda, and be careful with your spacing!

The Monkey and the Teapot

Slash! Coco’s tail whipped again at the metal bar. The cheeky monkey was in a “special room” with strong walls (no furniture to break). The emperor stared at her from on his throne, fascinated, wondering when she would be calm enough to simply stick her tail straight and hoist herself out of the room.

Suddenly, a servant rushed into the room, dropping to his knees. “FLOOD!” The servant cried. “Your Majesty! The windows and doors are all locked, but we are now floating on the wave-”

The emperor jumped up high. “WHAT!” He roared.’’- and a wall is cracked-’’

Coco had been listening, obviously, but now she started screeching,”Out! Out! OUT!” Again and again, like she wanted to get out of the floating house.”Throw anything you can find OUT! NOW!”

The frantic servants started hurling pictures, pots, papers, and a whole ton of other stuff through the window. A guard made the mistake of ripping a bar from the window of the room Coco was in, and the naughty monkey leaped out. A maid quickly closed the window, but not before Coco swung out, yelling to be back in a “minute”.

The little monkey grabbed a chunk of wood and held on tightly (like her life depended on it. Actually, it did.). It carried her through the storm, past wreckages, over a wave, and finally, stopped in front of a twig. Suddenly, Coco launched herself onto the bobbing stick, staring at the marks on it. She paddled through the waters, until she came to a floating house.

Back in the floating emperor’s now damaged palace, the emperor was YELLING


The guard fell to his knees.”Your Majesty, forgive me! I beg you! Sorry…”

Coco hoisted herself onto the plank, which seemed to fall apart every second. She stumbled across the broken door. As she stepped on a trapdoor, the monkey fell through the ground to a dark chamber.

 “Hmph! I pity you. But no more chances after this!” The emperor summed up.

”What great kindness his majesty has!”the servants murmured.

When the monkey noticed a load of golden pots, she squealed. Now, Coco was an absolutely fastidious ape, so she picked the shiniest pot, which was hidden among the other rusty ones. When she walked outside, the whole ocean seemed

to bow before her, saying: ”I am now under your command, mistress.”

Coco looked, in wonder, at the shining pot. Especially its glowing verditer rim, which she wondered what it did. She dipped the pot into the sea, making a scooping gesture, hoping she could scoop the flood up, bit by bit. As she bent down, her pinkie touched the verditer rim, making the already glowing pot shine with glory.

 After a blinding flash, the whole flood was sucked up into Coco’s hands. It was absolute pandemonium!

Houses floating on tides suddenly crashed down onto the now dry land. The same happened to the emperor’s completely wrecked one. Coco stared in amazement, then turn to run as the now-not-so-sumptuous ruler of Shanghai turned to grab her.

“DARE NOT ESCAPE!” He roared, and made a wild lunge at her. The monkey

swung from house to house, bar to bar. The emperor could not catch up, so gave up.

 After the monkey escaped, she caused chaos all over China with the flooding pot. A saying was always passed around: ”When there’s the monkey, there’s no peace.”


SIXTH PLACE: Tabitha Elizabeth Peters, Year 3, Discovery Bay International School Hong Kong, 8 years old

Tabitha’s story of a hungry monkey who learns how to share was a lot of fun; I especially liked her inclusion of other jungle animals, including the peacock that collected lollipops! There were a few errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling (especially with words that needed to be joined up, or hyphenated; watch out for these when you are editing Tabitha!) But overall, a fantastic effort for an eight year old!

Mike – the Mischievous Monkey

Many years ago, in the deepest, darkest forest in China, there lived a nosey, greedy, bossy, impish and jumpy Monkey called Mike. He was a lot of trouble to the other

Animals and didn’t really care that Winter was coming. Even though some of the Animals did not hibernate, they all hated Winter and going out in the Winter for hours looking for food, would certainly make their feet freeze! All that Mike did every day was cause pandemonium for the other Animals!

One bitter day Mike woke up and was colder then ever. He did not have enough food for the day and did not dare to go out in that horribly horrible day – but he was a little hungry!

So he swung on the vines to Tiger’s house. Suddenly, the vines broke, so he had to walk. When he got to Tiger’s house, Tiger was snoring away peacefully next to a mountain of food. The door was locked, so Mike could not get in. He tried and tried, but just looking at those nuts and berries and a lot more glorious things was making him more and more hungry! He finally gave up trying to get in.

So he walked to Peacock’s house. Peacock was opening a big wooden box, while brushing her verditer coloured feathers. Inside the box were lolly pops, caramel, chocolate, nuts, sugar plums and berries. As you know, Mike can cause a lot of trouble to the Animals. But the Animal he liked to disturb and cause trouble to the most to is Peacock. Peacock never forgot the last time Mike interrupted her. She was resting in the sun and suddenly Mike appeared. He was trying pull of one of her delicate feathers! Mike managed to grab hold of one and pulled it out while Peacock

ran around the wood screaming with pain while blood dripped from her bottom. From that day on, Peacock didn’t like Mike not one bit…

Suddenly Peacock saw Mike and grabbed her hair brush and tried to smack Mike with it! Mike got away easily (Peacock’s a slow runner). Mike was really cold now. Mike suddenly stopped, he was standing in front of a giant tree and at the top was a magnificently ripe mango! He tried to jump but he was far too short. So he went back to his house and got some books. Then he stacked them up next to the big tree. But he did not have enough books to reach the mango! He hungrily walked home.

A few days later the Emperor’s magical teapot said “floods are coming, floods are coming”. The Emperor loves animals and would cry for hours if they were all swept away into the deep dark blue sea! So he stepped up and said “bring me all the

animals you can find and do it fast!” In the morning all the men in the land went

searching for all the animals and gave them shelter when they entered the Emperor’s village.

Mike was lucky enough to share a house with the Emperor, but he was still hungry! He suddenly had a wicked idea. He would sneak into a room of the huge house which had gold, rubies, emeralds and pearls in it.

Now, the Emperor had shown them (the animals) all the rooms in the house; there was the coat room (it was splendiferous), the swimming room (with an EPIC waterslide), the Dino room (with real Dinosaur bones in it) and last of all the jewel room. The jewel room had a pass code and the Emperor told them it, so Mike decided to steal some jewels so he could buy fruit.

When everyone was telling jokes, he tip toed quietly up the marble staircase to the jewel room. He accidentally forgot the way and bumped into the coat room where THE EMPEROR WAS CHANGING FOR DINNER! Mike had to think quickly. But the Emperor saw him! Mike only had time to say “I’m lost, I was trying to go to my room but I got lost! And I forgot where the jewel room is.”

The Emperor was picking up a red and golden coat and put it on while he said “for the jewel room it is down the hall and to the right and for the Monkey room, go down to the sitting room and turn left.”

Mike ran to the jewel room and when he arrived he was amazed. The pearls were iridescent and the crystals sparkled like nobodies business. But he had to act quickly.

So he grabbed some pearls and gold and a crown, but then the Emperor hurried into the room and saw Mike… Mike ran for the window but the Emperor caught the Monkeys tail, “I thought I could trust you, but you’re nothing but a Mischievous Monkey”.

Mike would have loved to say “so what?” But he kept his mouth shut. The Emperor carried Mike like a baby which made him very tired and soon he was fast asleep. Soon they entered the prison where there were murderers and robbers. Mike had a room all to him self which he liked very much. But he would prefer to be in the jungle.

Suddenly he saw a window and next door was the key to open the door! He was too big to fit through the window to get out but his tail was the right size. So he slid his tail into the window and got the key and unlocked the door. Then he went to the market and bought fifty-two bananas and twenty packets of nuts! When he arrived at the jungle, there was no food! So when Mike came along every body was surprised, do you know why? Well because Mike was sharing!

Everybody tucked in and Mike rather liked being good and never did a bad thing again!


In this section there was a total of 31 entries from 17 schools in 5 different countries!


Arden Anglican School , Beecroft, NSW: Year 4 – Mayah Natarajan; Kiran Viranna

Good Shepherd Primary School, Lockridge Western Australia: Year 6 – Aniela Matkowski

Homeschool: Year 6 – Jemma Julian

Hutchins: Grade 4 – Tama Connelly


Australian International School Hong Kong: Year 6 – Bas Buwalda

Beacon Hill School: Year 6 – Ady Lam

French International School: Year 4 – Antonia Yeo, Aryan Kalliat, Kristan Tse, August Joly; Year 5 – Athene Fox

Japanese International School: Year 6 – Ciara Wan

The Kellett School: Year 4 – Lidiya Chernyavskaya

Kingston International School: Year 5 – Karis Leung

Kowloon Junior School: Grade 6 – Marissa Chow

Shatin Junior School: Grade 4 – Jocelyn Chung, Stefanie Learng, Jannie Kung; Ruby Lee; Sze Long Cheung; Joey Zheng; Grade 5 – Benedict Pang; Scarlett Tse; Grade 6 – Maryanne Ko


Delhi Public School Newtown, Kolkata: Grade 4 – Arjya Kanjilal


Canadian International School, Tanjong Katong, Singapore: Year 6 – Abigail Bilsland

UWCSEA East, Singapore: Year 3 – Aisha Zobrist; Year 5 – Suryansh Shetty


Shanghai United International School, Shanghai: Grade 4 – Nicholas Ng

FIRST PLACE: Abigail Bilsland, Grade 6, Canadian international School Tanjong Katong Campus Singapore, 12 years old

Congratulations to Abigail on her well-deserved first place in the Years 4 to 6 Category! Her very original story of an Emperor’s court comprised entirely of Chinese animals made me smile and her detailed description of the distinctively Chinese setting painted a beautiful picture for the reader. Her choice of vocabulary was also excellent, and I loved the way she managed to incorporate not just three, but eight wicked words into the text! My only comment is to be careful with your punctuation, Abigail, especially remembering when to use hypens and, in appropriate places, replacing commas with semi-colons! Overall a fantastic story – well done! I look forward to seeing more of your work in future!

The Story of Princess Malala Monkey

Princess Malala Monkey stopped for a moment to smooth down her chocolate brown fur then she stepped into the clearing.  She glanced around, taking in the Chinese style curved roofs and colourful walls of the buildings. All the buildings were beautiful, but it was the biggest one, in the middle that really drew Malala’s attention. It was resplendent, with two curved roofs and a flagpole! In front of the building stood an excited and noisy crowd of animals.

A regal looking panda cloaked in sumptuous Chinese style robes emerged from the crowd of animals, and they all fell silent.  “Announcing the illustrious Grand High Emperor Panda-monium, and his wife, the Grand High Empress Pandora Panda-monium” introduced an eagle.  The Emperor fell into a deep bow. “Welcome Princess Malala, pray, allow me and my darling wife to show you around”.

The Emperor and Empress led Malala over to the building in the middle. “Welcome

to Zhú ting ( ), or Bamboo Hall.  This is where we eat, cook, play, and do almost everything except sleep. We sleep in the huts in a circle around .” The Emperor explained. The hall was amazing.  It was wide and tall, with half of the floor covered in rugs.  He led Malala over to a gargantuan circular counter, with about fifteen animals busily working on hundreds of platters of food and gallons of drinks.  “Here is our kitchen, where our chefs prepare food for the entire troop.”

“Now, please humour one of my little idiosyncrasies and allow me to show you our magical teapot.”  The Emperor and Empress sat on the floor and gestured for Malala to do the same. A red panda set a case down at the feet of the Emperor, gave a bow, then scurried away.   The Emperor opened the case, inside was a big teapot and five cups, all ornately decorated with different symbols.  “This is a quilin, it has the head of a dragon, the scales of a fish, the hooves of an ox and tail of a lion.  It symbolises peace and happiness, the dragon symbolises heroism and nobility.  The teapot holds an ancient charm and protects our village from destruction. Oh, it would seem it is time for lunch, I hope you like bamboo rice Princess Malala?”

As Malala lay in her hammock, listening to the rumbling of thunder in the distance, which was quite atrocious for Spring weather, all she could think about was the teapot. The symbols were so delicate, so intricate, she needed to see them again.  She rose from the hammock, and entered .   She found the case and opened it, picking up the teapot, she felt the teapot begin to slip through her lush brown fur, she tried to put it back, but it was too late. The precious teapot lay, in six pieces, upon the floor.

Malala panicked, and hastily stuffed the pieces of the teapot back into the case.  She felt a drop of rain, and then another, sliding down her face, intertwining with her salty tears.  She ran back to her room, and took out her own verditer teapot from her belongings and swapped her teapot with the broken pieces.  She quickly returned the case to , and went to bed.  Malala had a terrible night, listening to the sound of the lashing rain outside.  In the morning, she stepped out of her hut to find out just how much the teapot really had protected the village.  The constant rain had flooded it!  

As Malala stood there, gaping, the Emperor and Empress exited their cabin.  The Empress gasped  “the teapot!”.  The Emperor yelled “Get the teapot quickly!”  All the animals rushed towards .  Malala just stood there, watching as the Emperor started lifting the latch. Suddenly he stopped, and turned his head towards a loud swooshing noise.  All of a sudden, a gargantuan wave appeared, towering over the small village, they all watched in horror as it fell.

It was chaos, the wave thrashed them around.  Out of nowhere Princess Malala felt sharp claws pierce her shirt and she was plucked into the air.  She looked up and saw a stork had saved her.  From her vantage point, she could see the other animals shouting, yelling, drowning below.  Suddenly a hawk swooped down and retrieved the Emperor another saved The Empress.  Malala looked around, and saw hawks, eagles, storks and even albatrosses saving all the endangered animals.  

As the water receded, the birds set them all back down on the ground.  The Emperor opened the case, quickly this time, to reveal the verditer teapot.  Malala slunk off while everyone else gazed, with lugubrious faces, at the verditer teapot.  She miraculously found her own box where she had placed the broken teapot and thought the least she could do was to return the broken pieces.  She slowly ventured back and quietly explained what she had done.  The Emperor looked very grave.  “There is a way to redeem yourself.  The legend of the teapot says if it is ever broken, all the pieces must be put back together with the utmost apologies of whoever broke it”.

The animals sprang into action.  The albatrosses held the top bits in place, the little animals held the bottom pieces.  Princess Malala apologized to the teapot. Cries of “It didn’t work!” rang out across the village.  As Malala broke down in tears, apologizing not only to the teapot, but every animal in the village, something amazing started to happen.  Her tears started levitating.  They floated towards the teapot, gluing it back together, it had worked!  All the animals started cheering.  But Malala knew they were still sad about their beautiful village being completely destroyed.  “I know it’s my fault, I want to put it right.” she whispered to the teapot.  The teapot would have smiled if teapots could smile, instead it repaired the village even bigger and better than before. 

Now the real celebrations could begin! 


SECOND PLACE: Arjya Kanjilal, Grade 4, Delhi Public School Newtown, Kolkata, India, 9 years old

A warm welcome to my Clever Competition to Arjya Kanjilal from Kolkata in India. I was so impressed with Arjya’s story about a mischievous monkey with a watergun; her lyrical writing style, descriptive imagery and almost perfect grammar was exceptional, particularly given her age of just nine years. Arjya is, I predict, a great writer-in-the-making! I very much look forward to reading more of her work in future competitions.

 The Great Flood

Once, in China, there lived an emperor whose name was Tai-Wong. He was very rich and kind. His palace was the most beautiful one in the world. It was made of white marble and had gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires embedded in it. It had carvings and sculptures in the carved-out niches. He had a lovely garden, with the rarest flowers. His most favourite flower was the moonflower, a rare flower that bloomed every full moon night. It was pearly silver, the colour of moonlight. He often visited his garden and listened to his little nightingale sing, as he was very fond of nature.

One afternoon in spring, he was sitting in his garden, when he suddenly heard a distant call. “Beautiful teapots at only 50 Yuan!” It was a trader who came to sell foreign teapots at cheap prices. The emperor said, “I’d like one, please!” The trader said, “Which one would you like, sir?

“That one, with the beautiful verditer spoon and intricate carving and designs”, replied the emperor.

The trader smiled and said,” I’ll tell you a secret about that teapot. It’s magic!!! If you take that spoon and dip it into the teapot, when it is filled with tea and wish something, then your wish will come true.”

“Is that so? I would love to take it!” was the emperor’s reply.

He waited till it was dark and the full moon shone bright in the night sky. “Let me test it” he thought.

He went and filled it with tea and then dipped the spoon into it.

“I wish the moonflowers grow twice as big as they are now”, he said.

And the moonflowers grew considerably bigger. He excitedly called his minister who came immediately.

“Yes your majesty?” he said. “I would like all the villagers to get a chance to make their wishes come true.” he said and then related the whole story to the minister.

“Your desire is our command”, said the minister bowing before hurrying off to tell the news to the people of China.

The first villager had a talking pet monkey named George. He was very mischievous always troubling the villagers in their work. He was always up to mischief, stealing valuable things from the villagers.

The villager made his wish. “I want it to rain. My crops aren’t growing very well due to the drought”, he said.

It slowly started raining. The farmer started rejoicing and George made the best use of the moment. He sneaked the teapot away from the table. Following what his owner had done, he dipped the spoon into the tea and wished for a water gun which immediately appeared in his hand. He giggled with glee thinking of the pranks he could play. He sprayed water at the villagers and said, ‘Don’t you want some cooling showers in this hot estival season?”

Now the rain that had started did not stop. The rain poured on and on for days flooding the streets of China. George got onto a tree to avoid the flood with the water gun in one hand and the teapot in the other.

Suddenly, the teapot slipped from his hand falling into the water. He swung from tree to tree trying get the pot but barely missing it each time. Finally he got a grasp on it. However, a voice said, “You can only have one gift – the water gun or the teapot.” The voice came from the teapot itself. George thought for a while then said, “The water gun.” The teapot drifted gradually away from him. He played around for a while with his new toy but soon got bored.

He spotted the emperor sitting in his garden. He seemed to be depressed. The flood was causing danger and havoc in China. It was causing loss of property, and if it continued, people might drown. George understood this and suddenly felt guilty. If he hadn’t taken the teapot, Tai-Wong could have wished the flood away. He badly wanted to help, so he said, ‘I don’t want this water gun anymore. I want the teapot.’

But the voice, which had come from the teapot, said ‘You wished for the water gun and got it. The wish cannot be reversed.’

“What? No! I just want to help!” George said in horror.

“Sorry, it cannot be reversed.” The voice said again.

“Silly water gun! I don’t want you anymore! I’ll throw you into the water and I don’t care if the mellifluous water takes you away!” said George, and threw the water gun into the water.

As soon as it touched the water, it turned into the magic teapot!

“You have well passed my test.” said the voice. It was a little fairy. “I have lived in the teapot all the time. When you wished something, I made the wish come true. You were the first person to wish something to help others rather than satisfy your own selfish desires. Take the teapot and give it to your emperor.” She then flew back into the teapot and disappeared.

The teapot floated into his hand. George swung from the tree and over the flood, and went to Tai-Wong’s garden. “Your majesty? I believe this is yours. Use it to stop the flood, please.” said George.

The emperor wished the flood to go and said,” Thank you. You have saved my kingdom!”

The fairy flew out of the teapot just then. She had a pretty golden crown on her head and wore a long, flowing gown.

She said, “I am Angelina, the fairy queen. Now that the flood is over, I can see that you’re all very happy. After all, “All’s well that ends well”.

She waved her wand and lo! There appeared a sumptuous feast with delicious food to celebrate the occasion.

George realized his mistake, and chose to help others rather than create chaos among them. And thus the citizens lived on peacefully, commemorating George’s brave act every Chinese Year of the Monkey!!


THIRD PLACE: Bas Buwalda, Year 6, Australian International School Hong Kong, 11 years old

The beginning of Bas’s story was one of the most impressive in the competition; I also loved his detailed character descriptions of the Emperor and his son, and the mythical quality of the story, not to mention his great vocabulary! But I felt that the action in the story was a little delayed by the long background section at the beginning, so that the story felt unevenly weighted. Careful also, Bas, to make your endings as powerful as your beginnings! Nonetheless, an impressive effort and I can’t wait to read more of your work.

 The Dragon’s Gift

The wind howled through the iron bars and the heavy stomping of boots echoed as guards in flashing, red armour paraded in front of the iron-plated room. A lone figure sat silently in a corner. The prisoner finally stood up and shuffled out of the shadows into the light.

It was a rather peculiar boy. He was a metre and a half tall with his hair a distinguished white colour. He stared at the angry storm flashing outside his miniature window. One of the guards walked past and noticed the boy, “Come here!” he shouted in a hoarse voice and the boy slowly twisted his body so that he was facing the guard. The guard screamed in horror; the boy had no eyes, just empty sockets. Back into the dark confounds of his cell, this time with a bandage around his head, the boy crouched down, the horrible memories swimming around in his mind.

Emperor Quin of China was an honourable emperor who ruled China with a fair and gentle hand. He had everything he ever wanted: a wife, beautiful concubines, food, and a grand palace. A sumptuous life all in all. An intricate network of loyal advisers ensured he was aware of almost everything that was occurring in his empire. However, he didn’t realise that most soldiers serving him were arrogant and cruel. Thinking themselves superior to all the hardworking farmers. These so-called warriors wrecked the farmer’s lands and pillaged their houses.

One evening, a weary messenger ran into the palace garden where Emperor Quin sat quietly praying to the elders.

“Your newborn son has arrived”, “He is with your favourite concubine your majesty” the messenger whispered.

“I shall be there” and with that the emperor dismissed the messenger while he finished his prayer.

Downstairs the Emperor spoke with a mysterious woman in hushed tones, “Are you sure he’s cursed?”

“Either that or he has had to pay a punishing price, losing his eyes for a blessing”,

“Fine, I must be on my way now, for no one must know he is the son of the emperor”

The woman hurried away carrying a basket, a cooing basket. “What’s his name?” the Emperor called out after the women, “Hung” the woman stated blankly, “His name is Hung and one day he will be the greatest man in China” then she left without another word.

Hung was 12 when the warriors ambushed his farm and killed his mum. It was a pandemonium of cries of anguish and fear, bloodcurdling screams and an eerie silence that followed. He had hidden under a nearby Camellia bush and waited there till the night passed.

The next morning, Hung woke up to the sound of heavy breathing, realising he was no longer alone. Hung heard someone softly reciting an ancient chant featuring a magic teapot and recognised him as a member of the Dragon clan: the Emperor’s finest advisors that could wield spells and possessed great wisdom.

Hung took some rice cakes out of a leather sack he had found in the forest and offered it slowly to the man. The man feared him at first but realised Hung meant no harm to him and they ate together and started to chat. The chat became a talk, which became a friendship, which became a bond.

After having spent two solar terms in the woods together, the man blessed the boy with a special gift, a monkey. “Your new eyes” he whispered and walked off into the woods. Hung and the monkey lived in the forest, depending on each other and surviving as to their unbreakable bond.

Two years later during the wet season, Hung and his mischievous monkey friend Chai, were caught in a flood. “Come on Chai” Hung shouted as the water kept rising steadily, “We have to get to the higher ground”.

Suddenly, a piercing scream echoed around the forest clearing and Hung spun around, just in time to feel a body brushing against him in the rushing water. With seconds to spare Hung reached out for it and dragged a man out of the current. The man started to splutter and coughed up water.

“Yuck!” he exclaimed as verditer blue coloured water gushed out of his mouth. The man slowly opened his eyes and stared at the boy in front of him. “How dare you miserable farmer touch a warrior, I will make you pay”, he shrieked. The next minutes were a blur, the warrior swished his sword out of its scabbard and the metal narrowly missed Hung’s head. Then the warrior feinted a dash and leapt at Hung trapping him so that he could not escape. Blackness surrounded Hung as he heard the warrior laughing,

“Wake up!” shouted the guard while he unlocked the heavy reinforced door, “Wake up you lazy bag o’ bones!”, “You’re going to have your trial today”, “Should’ve known better than to touch an emperor’s warrior”.

“I’m sure I will be exonerated from this false accusation” Hung softly replied, “The emperor is a good man”. Hung fought back the tears as the soldiers dragged him to the palace, where he awaited his fate. The emperor looked at the frail boy in front of him, he resembled someone but he couldn’t exactly remember whom. Finally, he asked the boy’s name, “Hung” the boy replied, “My name is Hung”. The emperor’s heart skipped a beat as he calmly asked where the boy’s mother was. This was too much for poor Hung and he collapsed in front of the emperor, his eyes welling up with tears.

“She’s dead!” he cried, “They killed her”. For a moment, Emperor Quin was silent, then he stood, marched up to the boy and hugged him. “Welcome home my son”. The look on Hung’s face was priceless, but he felt strangely at home. Finally, he would be safe with his monkey friend Chai and his dad, the emperor of China.

FOURTH PLACE: Suryansh Shetty, Grade 5, UWCSEA East Campus, Singapore, 11 years old

Suryansh’s story also started beautifully, with a breathtaking description of sunset over the Emperor’s kingdom. I also got really excited by the plot, involving the machinations of a devious counselor, as well as the antics of a cheeky monkey. But again, Suryansh, do be careful to put as much time into your story ending as it’s beginning! Here I felt your ending was a little weak, which let the story down a little. Nonetheless, a very well-deserved fifth place!

Emperor Yang and the Mischievous Monkey

Emperor Yang sat on the silver armchair in his large balcony. He watched across his wide kingdom in fascination. He always loved looking at the busy streets of his kingdom. And sometimes he just liked watching the slow swaying of the lush green trees in the giant mountains across the valley or listening to the birds sing in his garden.

But today he was looking at the bright glow descending into the hills. The Emperor smiled as he looked at the estival sun kissing the mountains in the horizon. It was not like the paintings of sunsets that his royal artists would sketch. It was much more real and it brought a smile to his face. He wished that the sun always shone brightly on his kingdom.

The Emperor rose from his armchair and walked through the silk curtains into his royal bedroom. He lay on the golden sheets of his resplendent bed curling his moustache and thinking about his people and his country. In his happiness and joy at watching his empire prosper, he could not shake off his constant fear about what harm could befall his beloved country.

The next day Emperor Yang was sitting on his throne in the royal court. His courtiers and advisors sat on chairs lining the emperor’s throne on both sides. The Emperor smiled and waved as they rose up to bow in respect.

“I would like to start the proceedings today with the news of the kingdom,” boomed the king. “Minister Huang, give me your report”.

Minister Huang looked at the emperor and nodded.

“The rice farms are growing well, my lord,” said the minister. “The production of silk cloth is rising as well”.

“Excellent! Now let’s proceed on to…”

“WAIT your Highness!”, a voice called. The emperor was furious that some one had interrupted him. He searched around for the courtier who dared to interrupt him.

“It was Kai who spoke, my Lord,” said Huang. The courtiers were secretly happy to see Kai being pulled up, as they were quite jealous of him. Kai was the emperor’s favorite minister. Old but short, Kai was sitting on a small chair looking at the emperor.

“How dare you interrupt me?” Emperor Yang screamed at Kai.

“I’m sorry my Lord, but I met a divination lady today and she told me the future of our kingdom”, he explained in a low voice. Emperor Yang could see the fear in Kai’s eyes and smiled. He liked having power and command over his court.

“She said our kingdom would be washed by a flood!” Kai said fearfully. The Emperor’s smile faded. The courtiers gasped. There was a long silence.

“Although.., my Lord, I believe there is some hope,” said Kai. Kai pulled out a large teapot from under his seat. It was decorated with painted flowers and vines covering it. It had a magical verditer glow to it, which made the emperor curious.

“What is it?” asked the Emperor.

“A magic teapot. If filled with tea leaves and placed at the foot of your throne it will prevent the flood,” explained Kai.

“Do you have proof that this teapot will save us?” asked Emperor Yang.

“Just wait and watch, my Lord,” Kai smiled gently.

 “You shall be rewarded greatly if there is no flood”, the Emperor said to him magnanimously.

“Oh my Lord! Thank you!” Kai replied ecstatically.

“You deserve it Kai, if you are right,” said the Emperor. Kai gave another smile.

Soon the courtiers were talking about the flood and the fate of the kingdom. The Emperor was very worried. If Kai were to be right about the flood and wrong about the magic teapot, his kingdom would perish. But the Emperor trusted Kai.

In the evening after a busy day at the court, the Emperor placed the silver teapot on the footsteps of his golden throne. It was filled with tea leaves. He smiled and was about to walk back to his bedroom when he heard a loud crash. The Emperor panicked. Was there a thief in his palace? He walked slowly towards the throne.

“Who’s there?”, he screamed. To his shock, the teapot was broken. Tea leaves were spread across the floor and the precious teapot was shattered to pieces. He heard a loud screech next to him. Emperor Yang turned around to see a small furry monkey jumping up and down furiously. The Emperor burst into rage.

GUARDS GET THAT MONKEY!!!” he screamed. Three large men armed with sharp spears charged towards the small ape. The mischievous monkey scampered away as it saw the guards approaching. All night the guards tried to catch the monkey. That night, the Emperor couldn’t sleep properly thinking about the pandemonium that would ensue in his kingdom if there were a flood. His people would drown and his kingdom would be submerged. He tossed and turned on his bed hoping Kai was wrong.

The next morning, the Emperor was very glum. All the courtiers had heard about the monkey incident, including Kai, who looked very scared.

“We all know what happened last night and the blasted monkey is to be blamed,” said the Emperor angrily. “I am also very sorry Kai, for your magic teapot”.

“It’s okay my lord”, said Kai fearfully.

“I am also sad to say, we must make plans to evacuate the kingdom,” said Emperor Yang. “There’s a flood coming and we are cannot stay here for long”.

Hundreds of sweat beads had formed on Kai’s face. He knew his game was up. His plan to seek unjust recognition and reward was now unraveling.

“Actually my Lord, the divination lady said that it was a mistake and the flood was going to happen in another kingdom,” stuttered Kai as he lied to cover up his failed scheme. The Emperor was exuberant when he heard it.

Splendiferous! God Bless Our Kingdom”, he said. And the kingdom didn’t have any troubles in a long time. Kai secretly vowed to never lie again.

FIFTH PLACE: Jemma Julian, Year 6, home-schooled, Sydney, 11 years old

A warm welcome again to previous prize-winner Jemma Julian from Sydney in Australia, with a clever, witty and very original story about an ageing Emperor and his entry into a Bonsai Competition! Jemma used a remarkable total of no less than fifteen of my Wicked Words correctly, among a large range of other fabulous vocabulary! But I did want to see more description of the Chinese setting and, while there was a teapot mentioned briefly, there was no magic teapot, and this I’m afraid meant that the entry had to be marked down.

Please, everybody, when you enter my competitions do make sure that you take heed of every single ingredient that I’m asking for, as otherwise points will have to be deducted!

But Jemma’s writing is fantastic! Please keep it up Jemma; you have real talent and a very original mind, and I very much enjoyed reading your entry!

 The Monkey House Bonsai

The locals called the palace of their Emperor ‘The Monkey House’. All with good reason, for their Emperor kept monkeys. They also scorned their Emperor’s senility. And his old age. Yes, his subjects had stopped being in awe of his age long ago and couldn’t even remember his birthday! So when the Emperor started collecting monkeys, news came that Emperor Penjing was finally losing his marbles. All the surrounding kingdoms of China thought that the Emperor was mad too…

Emperor Penjing sighed happily. He sat on a splendiferous sofa drinking tea from a verditer teapot with his monkeys. Suddenly one of his monkeys- Mei- rushed in, carrying a golden scroll.

‘Penjing, here is the invitation we have been anticipating! The Bonsai Contest! In two months bring your finest bonsai! The winner gets to take one loser’s land! Ah… a tantalising prize. Shall we participate?’

‘My name’s the Chinese name for bonsai! I think…’ said Penjing gallantly. ‘We must participate! I’ll design the bonsai!’

Penjing was most fastidious about bonsai designs. He created the most resplendent bonsai. Now only the tree and the Spell were needed…

 In eastern China there was a Dragon Tree. Dragon Trees are the most superb trees created. This one’s scaly bark was its namesake, and it had most sumptuous leaves of green.

Penjing sent a quorum of monkeys to retrieve it. When they brought it back the Imperial Being threw off his robes, put some gardening clothes on and pruned the tree to a miniscule size himself! Twenty monkeys then planted and watered the Dragon Bonsai. After the bonsai recovered its pruning Penjing used the Spell.

At midnight, Penjing took five leaves from the bonsai and mixed them with ground dragons’ bones, carried the mixture out of the palace and tottered up the Imperial Mountain, clutching his walking stick. When he finally reached the jagged summit peak, he blew the powder and leaves into the night.

Suddenly the bonsai, which Penjing had took with him, glowed with iridescence! The green leaves of the bonsai changed. The leaves shined bright with not only green, but red, yellow, black and white!

 Penjing wasn’t the only one who’d entered the contest. Neighbouring Emperor’s had entered too, and they all had their eyes on Penjing’s widespread land. They all knew Penjing craziness. They would have little competition with the doddering old fool!

How wrong they were…


‘WOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!’ The monkeys screeched. The Bonsai Competition was tomorrow, and they were travelling by bus to Tibet, where the contest was to be held!

The journey took a day and a night. By midday the monkeys were causing pandemonium! Penjing tried to subdue them, but his efforts didn’t work. Finally the use of long words caught their attention.

‘Monkeys, stop this atrocious tomfoolery right now! It’s annoying the pink elephant!’

The monkeys spent the next two hours looking for the pink elephant.

They were just about to drive down into a valley when a monk came running up to them.

‘Don’t go down there! That river,’ he pointed to a fast-flowing river. ‘There have been many rains recently, and the river could flash-flood at any moment!’

‘Oh my!’ Penjing cried, ‘We must go into the valley! Beyond the next mountaintop the contest is held!’

‘No! You must go around the valley!’ The monk stamped his foot. ‘Maybe a week ago I could’ve let you go. The river was mellifluous then, but NOT NOW!’

The monkeys started guffawing. What entertainment! Then Mei did a very mischievous thing.

‘Monk-ee monk-ee, you’re as bad as a monk-ee!’ She sang. The other monkeys and Penjing roared with ineffable laughter as they drove onwards. The monk shouted insults after them.

But the monk was right.

At dusk the flood hit. The bus was swept under a torrent of muddy water. The voracious water pulled the monkeys and Penjing out of their seats and spun them through the surge of water and threw the bonsai off the bus.

Suddenly the water seamed to tire of its game, and washed the unconscious Penjing, monkeys, and conscious bonsai onto the bank.

‘Well, I don’t think that Emperor will be much competition!’ Said the Emperor of Japan, and picked up the bonsai.

Mei woke first. ‘Oh no! The bonsai! How…?’ And promptly woke everyone else up.

Penjing and the monkeys were distraught. They spent all night wandering through muddy flood wreckage before Ming, the oldest monkey, had an idea.

‘Perhaps another Emperor took the bonsai while we were unconscious! We’re halfway up this mountain anyway, so let’s see! The contest is held in an hour!’

So Penjing and the monkeys trudged slowly to the next valley…


When they reached the valley they realised that they were not nearly the first. Six vibrantly coloured tents were set up, and loud snores were coming from them. So Mei went in searching for the bonsai.

‘Found it!’ She said.

‘Good job!’ Penjing whispered ecstatically.

‘How dare you steal my bonsai!’ The Emperor of Japan cried, emerging from his tent.

‘Your bonsai? You don’t even have a bonsai, you pusillanimous worm!’ Mei cried.

The Emperor of Japan swelled in anger, but everyone could see guilt in his eyes and the way one eyebrow twitched. The Emperor of Japan was known for his eyebrow twitching. It always twitched when he lied.

Several other Emperors had arrived by now and had realised the situation. They were appalled!

‘This is against the Bonsai Contest law!’ An Emperor cried.

‘Penjing is the real winner! You stole!’ Another shouted.

‘You’re the batty one, not Penjing!’

‘Give him your land!’

The Emperor of Japan gulped, and ran away.

The Emperors and monkeys cheered. Penjing won the Bonsai Competition.


After Penjing won, his subjects, and other Emperors respected him. This he was happy about, but the thing he was most exuberant about was that people finally had remembered his birthday.


SIXTH PLACE: Mayah Natarajan, Year 4, Arden Anglican School, Beecroft, New South Wales, Australia, 9 years old

Well done to Mayah, another talented 9 year old, whose well-structured story of a spangled, magic teapot with a conscience was very entertaining, and contained some wonderful imagery. I especially loved the wind whistling like a hummingbird! There were a couple of errors in punctuation and spelling, and a little more research was needed (Chinese Emperors had no contact at all with individual peasants J!) but it was well-written and the surprise ending was terrific!

 The Spangled Teapot

On a humid summer’s night a gentle breeze rustled the bushes and the wind started to whistle like a hummingbird. As a limp, slim figure appeared at the doorway and a steady, booming voice rang through the moonlight room.

‘Come in, peasant, ‘cried the rotund emperor. ‘Begin’ he boomed.

The peasant stuttered and began. ‘Sir, your father is dead, however you have inherited a teapot that grants wishes for the greater good, a dam leading to the Yangtze River and a palace,’ trembled the peasant .

‘I will keep them all. They sound sumptuous,’ beamed the emperor, ‘Finally something wonderful to have!” The emperor galloped around the room singing.

The peasant called another trembling peasant with the gold sparkling teapot. The emperor placed his rough hands on the teapot and snatched it away. He gave them Yuan notes for their service.

‘You may go now’cried the emperor. He stared at the spangled teapot and grinned. He was amazed, his father was dead and he out of all his father’s sons was the one to inherit all these amazing things. Super, fantastic!

He ran his chubby fingers down the gold teapot. “I have heard of this teapot. It grants your greatest dreams!’ he boomed. He immersed himself in his wonderful thoughts. The emperor envisaged of all the wonderful things he could ask for. A wife, all the money in the world; endless ideas popped into his mind, he would be too tired before he could ask the teapot for everything he wanted.

He placed the teapot on his desk, he asked for All the Riches in the World.

Astonishingly, nothing appeared! He cried in anguish and demanded many impossible things which did not appear and his frustration grew. Day after day the emperor tried again and again but still the teapot failed him and he grew even more impatient. He would yell at his servants and slam doors unnecessarily and started to knock on the teapot ’s sides and yell ,”Are you in there! ” Little did he know that the resplendent teapot was listening, and was in agony.

The teapot really wanted to be left alone but sadly it couldn’t move without the emperor ‘s help who it thoroughly disliked. Then the teapot had an idea. It was genius, maybe his dreams could be granted! He would grant himself a wish for the greater good. These humans wouldn’t go crazy over me anymore when I for fill these plans. It’s really only going to be a few people who will be affected. The teapot praised itself for being such a genius. It was a dream come true : – the teapot’s wildest dreams. It would go on an adventure!

The teapot called upon all nature’s forces and asked them conduct the unimaginable for it. The teapot explained that the emperor didn’t deserve what he had and to teach him a lesson. At first they all disagreed. Then the teapot told them how the emperor treated it. Finally, they all came round.

A few weeks later there were rumours that the Yangtze River would flood. The rumours never reached the emperor who was always bargaining with the teapot. Anyway he wouldn’t listen to those low down peasants. They weren’t to be trusted. The emperor always thought he was too good for them. He decided that he would try one more time and try to get all the Riches in the World..

Later that day the illustrious emperor heard even more bad news, his beloved mother was dead from a heart attack. He got even more frustrated and would shout and shout until he had a sore throat. He was in agony much like the teapot.

He yelled at the teapot for the hundredth time and then the teapot started to shake and the room rumbled. The emperor yelled in anger once more. He lost his balance and fell over planting his face on the Persian rug. He heard gushing water and his ears started to buzz. He couldn’t work out were the noises were coming from. Bad luck, he thought I’m back to square ‘yi’. The emperor was out of ideas. He couldn’t tell the public and ask for ideas, they were bound to steal the teapot once he told them. He was dumbstruck. He pulled himself up and trudged to bed.

Late one night through the open back door came a gurgling sound that filled the night air and a stream of verditer water flowed through the door. The Yangtze River was flooding. There was no sound that night but only gushing from the flood.   No one knew that the agonised teapot was behind it all. How could such a little teapot be capable of this? The teapot was jumping for joy (inside), it had got its revenge.

In the meantime, the Emperor was sleeping soundly in his bedroom shrinking and becoming hairier and hairier by the minute. He was turning into a monkey. As the transformed Emperor glanced around with his sparkling wicked eyes, he noticed that he was being carried down the Yangtze River. The raft swayed from side to side. The Emperor was not angry but happy, for he was fulfilling his childhood dream. Now what mischief could he do?


When the competition was first posted on my blog, I was thrilled to hear from teacher Gail Zobrist at Raintrees International Kindergarten in Singapore, who asked if her class of little ones could enter the competition. Of course I said “Yes!”. Mrs Zobrist explained as follows when she sent this terrific entry:

Dear Sarah.

We have now completed our story, please find attached. The children have written the story together with guidance.  They have learned lots of new words and meanings and have started using these words in their daily conversations, both at home and at school.

Ms. Angie and I are both very proud of our 13 kindergarten children who have all individually had an input to the story. They chose the names, the settings and the main idea of the story. 

Our lunch time teacher Ms. Mel read the story to the children today and kept stopping and waiting for the children say what happened next, she couldn’t believe how well they knew the story and was able to change their voices between characters. 

We hope you enjoy the story. Many thanks for letting us enter your competition.”

Raintrees International Kindergarten. Singapore. Busy Bee class (Matilda, Masanari, Bennett, Martha, Daisy, Rocco, Linnea, Angus, Robert, Manya, Leo, Ettore and Daniel), ages 4 – 6 years old.

Teachers Ms. Gail Zobrist & Ms. Angie Than

I am delighted to reprint their wonderful story below. I loved the greedy Emperor and mysterious but caring Monkey, and the kids were very clever to use three Wicked Words correctly! Well done, Busy Bees, and make sure you keep entering my competitions! For their special effort, I’ll be sending the class a signed copy of The Tale of Ming Kee Monkey!

The Mysterious Monkey in Fujian Province

A long, long time ago in ancient China, in Fujian province, there lived an Emperor. It was summer time, also known as the wet season, but on this particular day, the sky was blue and the sun shone bright.   The Emperor was called Tang Qian and he lived in a large palace made from gold.   Tang Qian lived alone with only a few servants to cook, clean and tend the garden for him. He was a very greedy Emperor and had plans to make his palace even bigger. He was very lackadaisical, and he ordered the gardener to cut down some trees outside of the palace walls so he could make his garden bigger.

Hiding in a tree near the palace was a mysterious monkey. He was mysterious but very caring. He watched the Emperor’s gardener cutting down trees and seemed angry at what the Emperor had ordered the gardener to do!

The mysterious monkey was called Wan Hou. When the Emperor wasn’t looking, Wan Hou entered the palace, climbed through the kitchen window and found himself inside a room called the secret chamber…. Inside this room was a magic teapot. The magic teapot was gold and red. Wan Hou grabbed it and, to his astonishment, the teapot squealed, “Let me go, I belong to the Emperor”.

Wan Hou took the magic teapot and put it inside a big red bag that was left beside a large chair. Wan Hou left the secret chamber with the bag under his arm and sneaked out of the palace and back into the trees.

The Emperor did not know that his magic teapot had disappeared. Nobody saw the mysterious monkey enter or leave the palace. Once Wan Hou was high up a tree he opened the bag, took out the magic teapot and told it to make the Emperor’s gardener stop digging up trees. The teapot told the monkey that if he would not take him back to the secret chamber, he would start pouring water from his spout. There would be lots of water which would fill the rivers running next to the palace and would cause a big flood. That night, Wan Hou made himself comfortable in a tree, not too high, looking over the palace.   He went to sleep with the red bag next to him. He was feeling a little bit worried about what the teapot might do.

During the night, while Wan Hou was sleeping, the teapot started to pour water. The water made a big puddle which got bigger and bigger and bigger. Wan Hou woke up with his tail dangling in the water. He saw the river was filling quickly and was worried there would be a big flood so he grabbed the magic teapot and climbed higher into the tree ordering the teapot to stop pouring water. But, the teapot did not listen. Wan Hou shouted “This is atrocious, stop pouring water right away!”

As the flood got bigger and bigger, the monkey could see the water was heading towards the palace. In the morning, Wan Hou could see the Emperor, in his palace garden, starting to panic as the big flood started to run down towards the palace walls.

Only the Emperor knew the magic word to stop the magic teapot from pouring water. The magic word was ‘verditer’. This was because the Emperor’s favourite colour was greeny blue. The Emperor’s special robe was the colour verditer, so this made it easy for the Emperor to remember.

The Emperor, feeling worried, ran back into his palace and straight to the secret chamber to find the magic teapot to ask for help with stopping the flood. He was shocked and annoyed to see that the magic teapot had disappeared!

He was very disappointed, sad and angry. He summoned his servants to look for the teapot. But, no one wanted to help. They told Tang Qian “You are a very greedy person and you don’t pay us very well… we are leaving to go back to our village to rescue our belongings from this big flood!”

At this point in time, Tang Qian burst into tears as Wan Hou was watching high up in the trees. He saw how upset Tang Qian was. He returned to the palace and told the Emperor that he would return the magic teapot on one condition, “You must not be greedy anymore and be kind and caring.” The Emperor said, “I am sorry… I am terribly sad… we need to stop the teapot from pouring water.” The Emperor told Wan Hou the magic word. Wan Hou went back to the forest, climbed up the tall tree, found the magic teapot and said the magic word. “Verditer!” Instantly, the magic teapot stopped pouring water.

Wan Hou took the magic teapot back to the palace and handed it to Tang Qian who was very happy to see it. Tang Qian kept his promise and was not greedy anymore. He decided to be kind and caring and he opened up his large palace for all of the village people to come and live.

Tang Qian held a splendiferous party in his palace and three cheers were given.

Hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray. The Emperor kept his promise and everyone lived happily ever after.


Large_Haunted_ House_and_Moon_PNG_Clipart

Aaaaagh! Eeeeek! Brrrrr! ! That’s how I’ve been feeling while judging all the entries in my Hair-Raising Halloween Poem Competition! It’s been absolutely terrifying – and not just because of the large number of entries! All the poets had great fun with this one, making their poems as gory and horrifying as possible, and I for one have been properly spooked! There were dozens of death-defying zombies, great armies of ghoulish ghosts, fearsome packs of slavering werewolves and countless covens of waspish witches! Graveyards and haunted houses and macabre cellars abounded! Skeletons skulked, vampires vanished into thin air, and evil lurked behind every shadow! Not to mention pools of blood dripping just about everywhere! But in all this gruesomeness there was a lot of fun too, with clever twists and surprises in many poems!

And if you’re wondering why the judging has taken some time…there were a huge 127 entries this time, from 27 schools in Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney, Western Australia, Seattle and the UK! There were even entries from some whole classes! And the entries were all so great, making my job even harder! But at last I’ve come to my decision and the top ten entries in each Category are posted below.

Remember I was looking for poems of no more than 16 lines; a strong Halloween theme; interesting vocabulary; original ideas; lots of gory details; poetic style, be that for a rhyming verse, an acrostic, free verse or other form; and that special chill factor to make the hairs rise on the back of my neck!

It was great to receive entries from so many new schools this time! Welcome, and I hope to see your students enter more of my Clever Competitions in future.

Congratulations to everyone who entered on a fabulous effort, and very special congratulations to the following:


There were a fabulous 52 entries from 11 schools in this section! Well done to all of you, and especially to the place-getters below, and the five further writers who made it to the shortlist: Craig McSheaffrey and Philippa Large from The Kellett School in Hong Kong, Elqui Johnston from Windmills Junior School in West Sussex in the UK, and Keshana Nathaniel and Andrea Overton from Methodist Ladies College in Melbourne. Here are the ten winning entries!

FIRST PLACE: Madeline Painter Grade 3, Stamford American International School, Singapore, 8 years old

Congratulations to Madeline on her very macabre but highly effective free verse poem about a werewolf! Her use of sophisticated vocabulary, strong imagery and economic style made this poem a standout in the competition and is remarkable work for an eight year old. As First Place winner, Madeline receives a free, signed copy of one of my books!


The horrifying sight of a werewolf

Standing proudly at the zenith of the mountain 

The fetid smell of bodies 

Half devoured, left to rot 

The salty taste of raw meat 

The yowling and howling 

The predator tantalized by the prey

Then the sight of limbs

And agonizing pain as they are


Ripped off





SECOND PLACE: William Cheong, Class Y02C, German Swiss International School, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong, 7 years old

William’s excellent acrostic poem was another outstanding entry from a young poet. I loved the way William managed to rhyme his acrostic poem so accurately, whilst keeping the rhythm flowing smoothly! For a 7 year old that is a truly impressive feat, and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future!


Haunted houses and spooky trees,

Alone I tremble at my knees.

Lanterns glow in the dark, dark night,

Loud, scary sounds give me a fright.

Owls hooting and black bats flying,

Witches cackle, cauldrons frying.

Excited children trick-or-treat,

Eager for lots of sweets to eat,

Nocturnal life is so much fun;

Halloween, please hurry and come!

THIRD PLACE: Eloise Roberts, Class 3AW, The Kellett School, Hong Kong, 7 years old

Another terrific effort from a 7 year old here, with a wonderful surprise twist at the end! I loved her idea of a child hiding under her pillow in bed, squeezing her bear and frightened out of her wits, but regretting her fears in the morning. Great work Eloise!


Scariness of doom

They send you away

As the shadows creep through

Creeping, creeping, creeping

Into your bedroom window

Pillows there to hide your head.

Slowly the door rattles.

It makes you sleep under your blanket

As you tightly squeeze your bear

And as the shadow goes away

Waking you up all night long…

People asking me (in the morning)

Did you like Halloween?

I didn’t answer because I couldn’t

Get rid of that nasty thought

I was really jealous that I didn’t go trick-or-treating.


RUNNER-UP: DeriAnne Mak, Year 2, Oberthur Primary School, Bull Creek, Western Australia, 8 years old

Congratulations to DeriAnne, our very first Western Australian place-getter! I thought this poem was extremely evocative, with its nasty little goblins playing havoc on a housing estate with their screaming and hopping and knocking! I also loved the strong use of simile in the opening lines. Well done DeriAnne – and make sure to enter my next competition!


The night is as dark as a charcoal

The air is still and as cold as an ice

The clock ticks and tocks at twelve

You see all the little ugly goblins running around everywhere

The goblins’ humongous eyes, balding heads and their sharp pointy claws

Climbing, squatting, screeching and hopping like a humpty dumpty

And the whole of the goblins’ band rock the estate

By knocking on doors and screaming for “Trick or Treat”….

It’s Halloween.



Stephan Roh, Class 3AW, Kellett School, Hong Kong, 8 years old

I thought that Stephan’s rewrite of John Lennon’s classic “Let It Be” was very clever! The timing was perfect and he managed to incorporate the Halloween theme very effectively. Nice work Stephan!

HALLOWEEN IS COMING (In the tune of ‘Let it be’)

Halloween will soon be here,

Feel the air of creepiness

Halloween is coming Halloween,

And when it’s going to come there will be trick-or-treating

Halloween is coming Halloween

Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Halloween

Whisper scary songs, Halloween.

And when those empty hearted spirits walking outside your door

Taking their friends with them


I went outside to get some treats until I saw a man with scars

Halloween is coming, Halloween.

Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Halloween

Whisper scary stories, Halloween.


Jordan Jao, Year 2, Our Lady of Good Counsel Public School, Deepdene, Melbourne, 8 years old

I loved the vivid descriptions in Jordan’s ghoulish poem. It definitely sums up the hair-raising side of Halloween!


Mysterious, ghostly, disgusting.

Scratches with ugly blood dripping from a frightening vampire.

Greedy wolves howling at a crescent moon.

Sweat dripping on your forehead like red blood.

Trick or Treating with mysterious incredible houses.


Eve Williams, Class 3AW, The Kellett School, 7 years old

Great work from Eve, with not one but two Halloween words in this clever acrostic!


Pumpkins gleaming

Utterly scary witches

Moonlight shining

People dressed up

Kind of spooky decorations

Icky costumes

Naughty children eating sweets

Scary faces

Glittery gleaming pumpkins

Haunted houses

Obvious monsters

Spiders crawling up my leg

Trick-or-treating children

Surprising scares


Ruby Podmore, Year 3S, Methodist Ladies’ College, Melbourne, 9 years old

Another great acrostic based on Halloween, this time by Ruby from MLC in Melbourne.


Haunted, dangerous and destroyed castle.

Adventurous and heartless.

Lonely and terrifying.

Lifeless and about to die.

Only you know what to do.

Witches, ghosts and spiders around every corner.

Eating heads off people and leaving their bodies behind.

Exciting potions and cauldrons.

Sam Blackburn, Class 3AW, The Kellett School, 8 years old

Sam’s neat little free verse about Halloween proves that you don’t have to write a long poem to make a big impression!


Trick or treating

through the spooky

darkness with my

friends kicking

pumpkins everywhere

witches whooshing past

me stealing candies

from everywhere.


Evangeline Fam, Year 3, St Joseph Primary School Rockdale, Sydney, 8 years old

Here is another great effort, this time in rhyming verse. Well done Evangeline!


Put on your costume walk in the street

It’s time for trick or treat

Witches, Zombies and scary things roam

Will they end up in your home?

Lollies to children everywhere

Let’s see who will get them in their hair.


In this section there were 74 entries from a massive 20 schools around the world! Congratulations to the ten winners below, as well as the following fabulous writers who made the shortlist: Lillian Lee of Hamilton International School, Seattle; Emily Bemi of Kowloon Junior School, Hong Kong; Ennika Mak of Oberthur Primary School, Bull Creek, Western Australia; Ngoc Truong of Deer Park West Primary School, Melbourne; Hugo Foster, Gabi Brown, Annabelle Slocombe, Laura Ward and Sachin Ng of Holy Family Catholic School, Lindfield NSW; Jemma Julian, homeschooling in Sydney and Neve Trainor, Santa Sabina College, Strathfield NSW.

FIRST PLACE: Aria Fafat, Grade 5, Canadian International School Lakeside Campus, Singapore, 10 years old

Huge congratulations to Aria, whose exceptional free verse poem, full of fabulous vocabulary, vivid imagery, poetic style and a horrifying ending earned full marks! For her First Place, Aria receives a free, signed copy of one of my books!


It’s a blood-curdling night, necromancy threaded into the thin air

Bloody hags drift about, aimlessly, pointlessly

Pale and lifeless, I walk to a tenebrous house, its cracked windows beguiling

Dragging me in, a powerful aura; I step inside…

In a maze, I am, trapped, nowhere to go

A never-ending rollercoaster, chilling my heart with despair and anguish

My hands find a bag, opulent with blood-red sweets,

I open one; it’s even more enticing… my mouth’s afire…

A skeletal hand snakes through looming corridors,

Holding a pumpkin, mush dripping from its mouth and eyes, like a waterfall of guilt

Watching my heart quicken and sweat in agony.

Take me… Help me, it pleads; unwillingly, I reach out for it…

A black silence engulfs me, whispering secrets of the unknown.

The wind whips me with answers…to swirling questions never asked

I know now why I am here, how I am here.

It’s Halloween, I have been Summoned; it is now the time to Scare…Them.


SECOND PLACE: Sophia Witting, Year 5, Santa Sabina College, Del Monte Campus, Strathfield NSW, 10 years old

I laughed out loud at the ending of Sophia’s clever and very original poem about a strange face in the window at Halloween. She had me completely on edge right to the final line, and then delivered a very witty, unexpected punch-line! Well done Sophia and keep up the great work!


There is a strange face in my window

on this eerie Halloween night.

It has glowing eyes of fire

and razor sharp crooked teeth.

A full moon lights up the sky.

Guiding my cat on her prowl

Slinking slowly and silently across the window ledge.

Screech! Bang! Smash!

The glowing beast has vanished.

My knees knock and my palms sweat.

The cat door flaps violently,

Floorboards creak,

Hot breath hits my neck.

My Dad?

I slowly turn to see ……

My cat with a pumpkin stuck on her head!


THIRD PLACE: Matilda Hardy, Class 6W, Holy Family Catholic Primary School, Lindfield, New South Wales, 12 years old

Congratulations to Matilda, who wins Third Place with this excellent poem in alternate rhyme. I loved the way her story lures us into complacency with its cheerful opening, then leads us to a truly terrifying conclusion. Great work!


With all our whimsical costumes and colours,

My merry group ventures out.

With my friends and I and all my brothers,

We’ll have fun without a doubt.

Gaily we knock on the apartments room doors,

Collecting mountainous numbers of sweets.

We jump into the elevator and go to “Ground Floor”

Then finally we emerge onto the car free streets

Suddenly, the dreaded house appears.

Its minions surprising us in troupes

My eyes are brimming with tears,

As we all merge into one horrified group.

They’re swarming around us in numbers,

They have too much power!

With their big black thumpers,

He whispers to us, “This is your last hour”.

RUNNER-UP: Lidiya Chernyavskaya, Class 4, Kellett School, Kowloon Bay Campus, 8 years old

I was hugely impressed with Lidiya’s funny and fast-moving poem in rhyming couplets. Not only was the rhyme great, but the rhythm was perfect! An excellent effort from one of the youngest competitors in this category – I look forward to see more of her work in the future!


Halloween’s an eerie sight,

When you wake, your face goes white.

Werewolves, bats are everywhere,

Hairy spiders – up the stair.

Zombies, goblins lurk about,

Try to bite you when you’re out.

You can never find your shoe,

Evil witches pounce on you.

There’s no point in bawling: “Mum!”

Vampires spot you and growl: “Yum!”


HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Isabel Duggan, Grade 5, Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak, 11 years old

I loved Isabel’s poem, with well-executed rhyming couplets, clever story, and witty punchline. Isabel has placed before in my Competition, and her writing is getting better and better!


It’s a mystery how just one sharp knife

Can transform a pumpkin into a pumpkin with life

You’ll walk out the door of your hair-raising shack

Unaware of the eyes stabbing you in the back

You don’t make it far, only a meter or two

When you suddenly realize that you’ll soon be stew

You turn around slowly and see what you dread

An evil pumpkin, that does want you dead.

Ignoring your Goosebumps, and the dark of the night

You build up your courage and blow out his light.


Emily L’Estrange, Orange Public School, Orange, New South Wales, Year 6, 12 years old

I loved Emily’s stylish free verse poem, which proves that sometimes simplicity is the most effective way of conveying an idea. Great work Emily!


Creak, creak the old door squeaks 

The sound of an old woman laughing 

Crunch, crunch big footsteps sound

A wailing meow of a black cat

Trick or treat, children call off the street

Knock, knock a banging sound

The wind howls

The thunder laughs

The trees moan

The rickety shack creaks and groans

The storm is alive

It’s Halloween.


Sophie Malek, Class 6W, Holy Family Catholic Primary School, Lindfield, New South Wales, 11 years old

Fabulous free verse from Sophie Malek, who uses some excellent vocabulary and detailed description to scare the reader very effectively! I especially liked the rhetorical question at the end, which begs the question as to exactly who the narrator is and why they are safe!


Can you hear the angry ghosts whispering in your ear?

Or see the cackling witch eyes as dark as coal,

Creeping nearer and nearer.

On Halloween night, the heinous goblins won’t put up without a fight,

Foul wicked vile intruders dangerously roam the night,

Malevolent vicious vampires pouncing and scaring you half to death,

And hoping that it’s your very last breath.

Shrieking pumpkins eyeing your every move,

Can you feel the moaning rotting zombies grabbing you?

“Shoo,” says the atrocious mummies with evil glinting eyes,

There are death-defying pirates, who are full of meanness and lies,

The evil witches stirring up their brew,

I am safe, but are you?


Olivia Berry, Class 6W, Holy Family Catholic Primary School, Lindfield, New South Wales, 12 years old

Olivia had me properly spooked with this very original Halloween poem written from the perspective of a blood-thirsty child-eating monster! Well done Olivia!

I hear the laughter of children walking down my driveway,

Is this my next victim?

I run to the front door and wait for my prey.

“Ok you knock,” says one little kid,

One little juicy kid.

Knock, knock, knock goes my door.

I open it and put on a fake smile

“Trick or treat,” the little children say

I grab one of them and all of the others run away.

She screams a high-pitched screech just like running your fingernails down a blackboard

I take her into my kitchen where a pile of innocent delicious children are lying.

I grab my target and pierce my needle like teeth into her neck.

Her thick metallic blood trickles down her neck as she breathes her last breath.

I leave her in the kitchen and go to my front door

I’m hungry for my next prize…


Marissa Chow, Class 6A, Kowloon Junior School, 10 years old

Fabulous work again from Marissa Chow, a regular entrant in my competitions. She scared me silly with this action-packed free verse!


My fingers tremble and twitch;

My body shivers and shakes;

As I approach the lurid haunted house.

Creak! The rusty door swings on its hinges.

Oh why, oh why, did I agree to this dare?

Clickety-clack clickety-clack

I whirl around so fast,

That my head nearly falls off.

Every single hair on me

Is rising on its very end.

I want to screech, I want to shriek;

This is absolutely sheer terror!

A dark shape scuttles towards me,

Looming; towering; blocking my view.

Goosebumps crawl all over my skin…

Help! It’s a cadaverous, macabre walking zombie!


Ennika Mak, Year 5, Oberthur Primary School, Bull Creek, Western Australia, 11 years old

Finally, a very impressive effort from Ennika Mak for the only attempt in the competition to cast a Halloween spell! I thought that this one was terrific!


Smoky spooky air is floating everywhere

Eye of zombie and toe of frog

Wing of bat and tongue of snake

Buzzing wasp and blind ant sting

Goblins eyes and nose of witch

For a charm of powerful spell and trouble

Like a haunted hell, broth bubbles in a creepy town

Double, triple tons of spell and trouble

Creepy crawlies, goblins jumping, talking pumpkins

Skeleton marching and flying broom sticks every where

Smoky spooky foggy air

Is a charm of powerful spell everywhere

Double, triple tons of trouble

Creepy crawlies, goblins jumping, talking pumpkins

Skeleton marching and flying broom sticks dreaming of “trick or treat”

On this freaky spooky Halloween.




RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. cool i am writing it

  2. Sarah,
    I am going to enter but I am not sure what email. I presume it would be the same as last time but is it?

  3. wow hey i know Madeline she is in the same school as me!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: