2018 – 2019 Competitions

Competition No. 34: The Practically Perfect Pig Tale Competition

Competition No. 33: The Perfect Pet Poem Competition



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It has been an absolute pleasure judging the Practically Perfect Pig Tale Competition! The standard of work was high, and your stories were all very different and very original! And I especially appreciated all the fantastic research that so many entrants did into Chinese Imperial history – especially the younger entrants in the Grade One to Three category! You had me fact-checking and learning quite a lot of history I didn’t know before! Well done, all of you!

There were a total of 44 entries from 12 fabulous schools in Beijing, Chicago, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Shanghai and Sydney. A very warm welcome to the competition to students at St Clare’s Primary School in Hong Kong!

The stories clearly took a lot of time and effort to write, but there were quite a few issues with grammar! The best way to improve your writing is to read a lot in your spare time, so that correct English becomes quite automatic. And also make sure that you very carefully read through your work and revise it before submitting, getting help from an English teacher or fluent English speaker if necessary!

It was very hard indeed to choose the finalists, but winners there must be, and here they all are below. Wicked Words appear in bold type.

The First Place winners each receive a Boxed Set of my Chinese Calendar Tales, and Second and Third Place winners receive a signed copy of one of my Chinese Calendar Tales of their choice!




FIRST PLACE: Saskia McDonald, Year 2, Arden Anglican School, Sydney, Australia, 7 years old

Huge congratulations to Saskia, just 7 years old, whose wonderful Piggy Tale ticked all the boxes! I loved her detailed attention to setting and characters in this story of Peony Pig and her friends who travel from Chang’An to Guangzhou in search of stolen food. Saskia’s vocabulary is very impressive for her age, using wonderful words such as “rummaging”, “ventured,, “sceptical” and “scoff”. She correctly used five of my Wicked Words, and her grammar and punctuation were almost perfect! Well done, Saskia, you have a bright future as a writer and I look forward to seeing more of your work in my future competitions!

A Piggy Tale

Spring had sprung in the resplendent streets of Chang’an. Bright and colourful peonies were blooming and animals all over the city were giving birth. In a quiet field not far from the Emperor’s palace a piglet was born to practically perfect parents. They named her Peony after the beautiful flowers around them.

Peony grew up in a peaceful time ruled by the Tang dynasty. The Emperor was an erudite man who saw his people come up with many clever inventions. Peony’s parents were very illustrious because they made gunpowder for the erudite Emperor. The Emperor loved gunpowder the most out of the recent inventions because it could make fireworks as well as scare off the evil spirits.

Childhood in Chang’an was practically perfect for Peony. She was fastidious and perfect in every way except for one. Peony was a pig and had the table manners to match.

Each year the city of Chang’an held a festival for the Emperor’s birthday. Thousands of fireworks shot up into the sky. They were stunning.

As Peony’s mother buttoned up her periwinkle coat to attend the festival they heard screaming outside. It was pandemonium. Peony and her mother raced out and saw that all the fields that surrounded the city were on fire! Their food was sadly burning into the ground. It turned out that the Emperor wasn’t so erudite when it came to gunpowder after all.

Chang’an was in a great famine for the years that followed this festival. One day Peony was out rummaging for food when she stumbled upon a very sad looking mosquito and a very greedy looking rat. Mosquito told Peony that they were starving and that Rat’s parents had died from starvation. Peony felt helpless and overwhelmed, tears started dripping from her snout.

“Stop you can’t cry, that’s my job,” buzzed Mosquito.

“Perhaps it’s time we did something about this since the Emperor hasn’t,” added Rat. The Emperor lazily sits in his beautiful palace eating the last morsels of food while all of Chang’an starves.

Late that night, while Peony’s parents restlessly slept, Peony tiptoed out of her front door to meet her new friends and begin their gargantuan journey. The trio ventured for many days and many nights. They had not found any food and snowflakes started to fall, the ground was white and their feet were wet. As the snow fell faster, the friends became exhausted and felt like they could not go on.

“Did you hear that?” Mosquito buzzed excitedly. Peony’s ears picked up as she had never seen Mosquito excited before. She heard it, there was singing in the distance! Slowly and steadily the friends crept towards the singing, Rat was sceptical as he thought his friends were losing their minds.

Suddenly they saw it, a smaller city was ahead, the sign read “Guangzhou.”

The city was surrounded by guards. What were they guarding? wondered Peony. The friends decided to wait until night fell. Once the sun had set and they were in darkness, the trio snuck up towards the main square of the city and they saw it! Piles of fruit, vegetables and seeds were everywhere! Why had the people of Guangzhou hidden this from their friends from Chang’an?

Peony, Rat and Mosquito crawled in the shadows towards the seeds. They grabbed as many seeds as they could carry and started crawling back out of the city. Before Peony could stop him, Rat scrambled back to the food and started stuffing his face.

“Thief!” screamed one of the guards as he witnessed Rat scoff down an apple. All of the guards started running towards Rat, Peony was frozen with fear. Rat was being held by the biggest guard of all.

Mosquito knew he was Rat’s only hope, he took a deep breath and flew towards the guard, “Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch.”

The guard waved his arms around allowing Rat to scramble to safety. Peony and Rat ran out of Guangzhou as fast as their little legs could carry them, Mosquito fluttered quickly behind.

Once safely out of the city, Rat asked “how many times did you sting him?”

“Only fifty,” answered Mosquito, “but I had more to give.”

The friends carried the seeds they had stolen all the way home to Chang’an. When they arrived home, Peony planted the seeds. Soon they would have food for all those living in Chang’an.

Once the Emperor found out what they had done he organised a huge celebration for the brave Peony, Mosquito and Rat but this time there were no fireworks.


SECOND PLACE: Alisha Stokes, Year 2, Arden Anglican School, Sydney, 7 years old

Alisha’s story is another remarkable entry from a seven year old writer. I loved her story about a Pig princess, a silk-trading mosquito and the evil barbarian rat Atila! Again, there was excellent attention to setting and characters, with some beautiful descriptions of the palace, the emperor and the princess. She used six Wicked Words correctly, and there were only a few minor grammatical and punctuation errors. Fabulous work Alisha – and keep entering my competitions!

The Perfect Princess Pig

In ancient China, the first ever winter Solstice was happening. The Winter Solstice festival signals the shortest day of the year. Years ago, it was the golden age when people were very happy. Now the Yellow River flooded a lot and caused famines. The floods washed away all the rice crops. Things were slowly returning to normal.

Shing the mosquito was melancholy. He was a silk trader. Silk traders were not respected by the people. Shing got down from his cart and stood in front of the Emperor’s palace. He patted his horse and looked into his cart to make sure all his silk was still in there. Horses pulled silk trader carts along the roads, and Shing travelled frequently on the Silk road. It was very cold and Shing rubbed his hands together to keep warm. He could see some children on the streets begging for food. The last famine had been very hard.

He looked up to the palace and marveled at the iridescence of the paper lanterns. The palace was painted a beautiful shade of red as it was the colour of joy and happiness. Around the palace were eight lush, swaying, evergreen coniferous trees. Eight was considered the luckiest number in China because it sounded like the word prosper.

Shing suddenly saw a shadow under the lights. The shadow looked like a rat. It was moving very slowly with a sack. The sack looked empty and flat. Shing was very frightened. He rushed onto the palace grounds and bumped into the guards. He got pushed back. He tried again and explained about how he saw a rat shadow from the lights of the lanterns. Then out of the doors walked the most perfect and beautiful princess he had ever seen. He tried describing it all to the princess and she believed him.

Meii was thought to be a practically perfect pig princess by her people and father, Emperor Han. Her kindness was shown when she gave food to starving people during the famine. She was fair in treating wealthy and poor people with the same respect. She was clever as she gave good advice to her father and brave because she wanted to fight for her country. She had a good and true heart and was an honest pig. She was beloved by her people.

She looked resplendent in her flowing periwinkle and gold gown made of silk. A same colour scarf was around her neck. She had been training at Kung Fu for the last seven years because she wanted to fight for her father. Today might be that day.

Meii had never felt this scared in all her twenty years. What was the rat? Could it be a barbarian, wanting gold and treasure? What a greedy rat! Meii was practical, she thought the rat must be after her father so he could kidnap him. That would be terrible, what if he hurt her father? Meii rushed towards her father’s room to warn him of the rapacious rat.

Atila the rat crept quietly into the emperor’s room. He grinned evilly as he shut the door of the room and locked the emperor in. Atila knew what he did was atrocious, but he wanted all of Emperor Han’s money and gold. He had travelled on foot all the way from Mongolia. His clothes were scruffy and brown like the poor peasants wore.

Pig Emperor Han walked in from the balcony and snorted in shock when he saw the rat. He wore yellow silk robes and a belt with a golden buckle. The Emperor had long hair tied up under his hat. He wore a square hat with fancy strings hanging down the side. Yellow was considered to be the most beautiful colour and Emperor Han looked very splendiferous in his yellow robes, dressed for the festival. The emperor was erudite and knew this would not end well when he saw the rat.

Meii tried to open her father’s room door but she realized it was locked. She turned to Shing and asked, ‘Who could have locked the door?’

Shing said nothing but he looked worried and suspicious. They both knew it had to be the rat. They thought of a plan. They had to get to the Emperor’s balcony. They decided Meii would try to climb to the balcony while Shing would alert the guards and bring them to break the door to the Emperor’s room.

They rushed outside and looked around for a way to climb up. Meii climbed up a pole using her periwinkle coloured silk scarf to get to the balcony. It was very hard work, but she was young and fit and was successful in climbing the pole.

Emperor Han and Atila were shocked to see Meii through the open balcony doors. Meii and Atila rushed at each other and pandemonium broke out. Meii and Atila were both excellent at Kung Fu and the fight was fierce. Atila inadvertently slipped and fell down. Meii jumped on top of Atila and pinned him down. She used her scarf again to tie his hands up.

In the meantime, Shing had rushed to the guards at the main palace door. He ran to Emperor Han’s rooms with them and the guards used all their force to break down the door to the room. They saw Atila on the floor all tied up and their perfect princess standing over him. Emperor Han was standing besides her looking proud.

The guards took Atila down to the dungeons. Everyone cheered when Meii had saved her father from Atila, the rat barbarian! Shing, the silk trader gained the respect of the people of China. Emperor Han gave him a medal for bravery. Emperor Han also thanked his practical and quick-thinking daughter Meii. He wisely told her to always be kind, be true, be brave be you.


THIRD PLACE: Shiv Mohan, Grade 3, Glenealy School, Hong Kong, 7 years old

Shiv has entered all of my Clever Competitions for the last 18 months, and his writing is getting better and better! I loved this funny, fanciful and very original story about mud-wrestling games among the Zodiac animals in the Ming and Qing Dynasty Olympics! While there were some grammatical errors (remember to give capital letters to proper nouns Shiv) and some mistakes with hyphenation and speech marks, it was a very entertaining and well-paced read, using 6 Wicked Words correctly. Well done Shiv – I can’t wait to read your entry in my next competition!

Periwinkle Pig Saves the Dynasty

3! 2! 1! Ding, Ding, Ding! Periwinkle Pig had just won! She had made it!! She was one of the mud wrestling finalists and she was ecstatic, which showed on her iridescent smile from ear to ear. Her parents had named her Periwinkle, because that was the color of her eyes. Periwinkle was the most perfect pig and had always dreamed of becoming the most famous mud wrestler, like her dad.

She was competing in the mud wrestling games in the Ming Palace Olympics. The leaderboard showed the top five contestants: Roger Rat, Mosquito Melanie, Pong Panda, Sneaky Snake and Periwinkle Pig!

But then pandemonium struck, a resplendent emperor, Emperor Qianlong, travelled through time and he took the finalists to the Qing Dynasty. His coat was gold and red and his beard shone with wisdom. However, the Qing Dynasty was in the middle of war and famine! The contestants were quickly captured and put in an atrocious prison and tied up with chains.

Mosquito Melanie was melancholy after 2 days of being tied up.  Melanie was little, but after being teased as a child, she always wanted to prove to everyone that she was tough. Roger Rat was voracious and rapacious with the little food they received. Roger grew up in the gutters and fought his way to survive. Periwinkle Pig knew she had to come up with a perfect plan.

I have an idea! Snorted Periwinkle Pig! Let’s challenge the people of the Qing dynasty to a mud wrestling duel to win our freedom!

And so they called on the erudite emperor Qianlong for his help. ‘Interesting’ he said, ‘Our dynasty could do with some entertainment…I think it is a good idea! You kids will never beat our Qing warriors, if you win, not only can you leave this prison, I will take you to Ming Dynasty myself!’.

The very next day, the emperor called on his people and invited them to compete in the most exciting Mud wrestling challenge of the Ming & Qing Dynasties! People lined up outside the palace to compete.

Then the match started everyone was cheering for the Qing dynasty diamonds. The Ming dynasty was off to a great start with Pong Panda leading the pack, with his powerful punches, he easily defeated his opponent. Then mosquito Melanie managed to win her match by tickling the Outrageous Ox, till he fell over laughing. Roger rat did not do well against Heidi Hippo and spent his match running away. That left them at 2-1, a good start, with Periwinkle Pig and Sneaky Snake left to fight.  But soon Qing dynasty caught up with them. The matches were 2-2 and it was down to the last match, Periwinkle Pig vs. Horse warrior. All the Ming warriors held hands and prayed for Periwinkle Pig.

Then Periwinkle did a flip, then a super punch and then the horse warrior fell. Horse warrior forced himself up, but then Periwinkle punched him one more time and he was unable to battle!

All the warriors of Ming dynasty celebrated, and they all went back home. The time machine placed them back to the exact time they left. Top five contestants on the leaderboard!


FOURTH PLACE: Muyao Zhang, Year 1, Arden Anglican School, 6 years old

A huge Well Done to Muyao, the youngest entrant in the competition, whose farmer pig Dragonfruit brought the famine to an end with the help of a pelican called Mammoth! Her story was not only very imaginative, but was also chock-full of fascinating facts about Chinese history and culture! While there were some grammatical and punctuation errors, she used some very sophisticated vocabulary in addition to five Wicked Words. I’m sure that we’re going to see some fantastic work from Muyao in future competitions as she develops into an excellent writer!

Perfect thinking brings perfect twists!

Once upon a time, which could be traced back to about 2,800 B.C. E. when Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor of ancient China, was on the throne, there was a very poor farm along the bank of Yangtze River. I called it poor, because every morning, Dragonfruit, a farmer who was also a practically perfect pig and thought that people would have power if they made “dragon” as part of their names, jumped over the stile and checked the field to see if anything was growing, but there was always nothing!

Having no crop to harvest for four consecutive years brought about a severe famine. (The reason I chose “four” was because it was considered as the unluckiest number in China and it sounded like the Chinese word for “death”.) Consequently, in the winter of the fourth year when Yangtze River became frozen solid and the freezing winds battered the town, Dragonfruit went broke and could not afford any farm animals. He believed he could earn money, even in famine times from selling milk, eggs and calves.

What turned the tables was that on the next day, Confucius, and erudite Emperor, who coincidentally had the same name as a marvellous teacher in ancient China during 551-479 B.C.E., heard a non-stopping whirling with the howling wind. Therefore, he, wearing his Dragon Robe in the traditional golden yellow, went down to Dragonfruits’s farm riding on a melancholy mosquito and asked

“What happened, Dragonfruit? Your chimney always blurts out smoke in periwinkle when you cry.”

“O-o-oink, I need money so I can buy some farm animal,” stammered Dragonfruit, still sobbing.

“OK, I will lend you all of my “bucket’ coins,” said Confucius. (For your information, “bucket” coins are the money that I made up for people to use before “spade” coins firstly appeared in Zhou Dynasty.)

“No, I don’t need them ALL, cause farm animals don’t cost that much money.”

“But maybe they do as everything seems to be inordinately expensive in famine times,” said Confucius.

So Dragonfruit curled up his pig pail and bend down to pick up the bag of “bucket” coins air-dropped from the flying and melancholy Mosquito. He went straight to the farm store in town and walked on fours to the section of farm animals. But to his amazement, there were no more farm animals left in the barn. Dragonfruit tried to stay calm but he couldn’t help sobbing again, which made everyone in store run over to comfort him, even the cahier. Pandemonium broke out! But it didn’t work at all. Suddenly, the door flew open. Confucius, the erudite Emperor came to the rescue.

However, “Oink!” A plain voice said, “No. Thanks.”

The next day, Dragonfruit went back to the store where he found a squawking greyish pelican lying in the barn. He was very surprised, and he went to ask Confucius what had happened.

“How on earth did this creature get here?” Dragonfruit asked.

“As you may know, “Confucius replied, “The famine has lasted for four years so far, and I cannot see the end of it. Feeding farm animals is rarely possible because the pasture is dying out and not exuberant during famine.” Dragonfruit nodded and Confucius continued. “The pelicans are different in that they can scoop up seafood with their long beaks and bring them back on shore for us to eat….”

“But how can you afford it? You have lent me all your money,” Dragonfruit chimed in.

“Indeed, I ran a fund-raising last night and a rapacious Rat helped me. However, he was intransigent and he demanded a gargantuan share of the daily catch by this pelican,” Confucius sighed.

“Never mind,” Dragonfruit said gleefully. “I will call this beaky pelican “Mammoth” to make is sound big as well as its catch.” What perfect thinking!

Guess what? Mammoth was not the only pelican in this area, and year by year, its family kept expanding and expanding. They helped people in future dynasties, including Xia Dynasty (About 2200-1766 B.C.E.), the Shang Dynasty (about 1766-1040 B.C.E) and the Zhou Dynasty (about 1040-771 B.C.E.) to survive from most natural disasters.


FIFTH PLACE: Ysabelle Hu, Grade 2, Shanghai United International School, Hongqiao Campus, Shanghai, 8 years old

I loved Ysabelle’s story about a pig with a great sense of smell, and his dog friends who defeated a rapacious rat to defeat a terrible famine. Well done on your detailed research about the Eastern Han Dynasty, Ysabelle! It was a terrifc story, with some excellent vocabulary, including four Wicked Words used correctly, but do watch out for your English grammar! And make sure you enter my next competition!

Ping Pong Pig saved the people from the famine

The Late Eastern Han Dynasty of the ancient China was an era full of wars, disease and famine. The Eastern Han Dynasty was very weak. From 204 to 219 AD, unfortunately there was a great plague there, with a heavy famine in the same time, the country descended into chaos.

The Emperor was young. Although he was very erudite, he did not have any ideas about this. He decided to consult with his ministers.

One old minister, in his broad clothes with wide sleeves, on his knees, he advised, “Your majesty, there is little grains in the country because of the nature disaster. Several millions of people have died of famine. It is our critical moment.” His voice shocked with emotion. He continued, “I hear from the witch there is a place in The Lotus Mountain where grains can be planted there and grow fast. However we need to find the seeds in that mountain first. The seeds are buried deep in the soil.”

When all the people heard this, they were silent. A lugubrious mosquito on the wall could not help crying out, “It is impossible to get those seeds!”

The Emperor also shook his head, “You have completely bamboozled me.”

The old minister glared at the mosquito and elucidated, “Several colour periwinkles grow in the soil where the seeds are buried far beneath. According to the witch, we need to find a practically perfect pig called Ping Pong Pig in our country. She is well known for her excellent sense of smell. She is kind and giving. She works very hard and she likes to help people. By the way, she was born in a valley full of colour periwinkles, she can remember the smell very well.”

The Emperor whispered to the old minister, “She is our last chance. Do something!”

The Minister picked some clever guards to look for Ping Pong Pig. After many hardships, they found her finally in a valley. In the valley, they saw many colour periwinkles in full bloom.

Ping Pong Pig lived together with a pug and two spotted dogs. They all looked very thin and weak for lack of food. However she was dressed in smart casual. This was completely different from the Han Dynasty’s wide dressing style and made her look great. She promised the guards to help and set off on her adventure with her fellow pug and two spotted dogs.

Ping Pong Pig and the dogs all had a good sense of smell, but Ping Pong Pig was far superior to her fellow dogs. They searched day and night in The Lotus Mountain. After one month, Ping Pong Pig smelled the colour periwinkles. She and the dogs rushed at the flowers. They began to dig deep until they found the seeds. They were so excited, Ping Pong Pig was grunting and the dogs were barking. They wore colour periwinkle wreaths to celebrate this very moment.

Ping Pong Pig let the pug go back and tell the Emperor the good news. She and two spotted dogs stayed to sow. When the news reached the palace, the emperor and all the ministers were so happy. The emperor sent many guards to The Lotus Mountain to plant.

When the guards were on their way, Ping Pong Pig and two spotted dog were busy sowing and watering. This caught the attention of a rapacious rat in the mountain. He decided to lead the other rats to steal all the seeds so that they had no worries about being hungry any more. The rats began to sneak up on the seeds when Ping Pong Pig and the dogs were asleep in the midnight. Ping Pong Pig was awakened suddenly as she smelled the rats, so did dogs soon.

Ping Pong Pig and two spotted dogs rushed at the rats, fought fiercely. However they were overwhelmed soon because more and more rats were coming ubiquitous. At this critical moment, the pug and the guards arrived. In the melee, the rats were repelled.

The guards began to plant in The Lotus Mountain. The crops were growing well and soon they had their first harvest. From here, grains flowed across the country steadily. The famine was greatly relieved. Ping Pong Pig was honorable. She saved the people from the famine.

Pin Pong Pig, the pug and 2 spotted dogs returned to the valley with only a few seeds. The colour periwinkles all over the valley bloomed brightly to welcome them back. They lived in the valley together, quietly and happily forever.


SIXTH PLACE: Kristen Lee Xing, Grade 3, International School of Beijing, Beijing, 8 years old

Kristen’s story included lots of detail about the last Ming emperor, some fascinating historical facts, and also great attention to setting and the characters and their motivations. Well done – I learned a lot! There were a number of grammatical errors, especially in punctuation and the use of capital letters for proper nouns. But keep on practicing Kristen and enter my next competition – you have the makings of a great writer!

The Huge Fight for the Ming Throne

A few centuries and decades back in 1627, in the Ming dynasty the last Ming emperor was about to be crowned. In the Ming dynasty the Great Wall had already been built and Beijing was called Nanjing and Han art reached its highest point and lots of people were coming to trick to the government.

His name was Zhu You Jian His elder brother had just died. He was 16 years old. He was not even an adult just a young teenager. So, he was very bold.

He was a very erudite emperor and he always looked resplendent in his robes. He also had horrible enemy, two of his soldiers, a rapacious rat because he was always hungry mice and cheese. A melancholy mosquito the mosquito was melancholy because he had to leave his family to join the enemy. Zhu helped his army by paying for their everyday fees. The rat was very mean, impatient, impolite could bore someone out with his boring talk about HIMSELF and messy. But the mosquito was tidy, and didn’t really like to talk, patient, polite, was fierce, serious and clever. So, they were complete opposites.

But there is one more character, the perfect pig. She was the most kind, most lively and beautiful pig in the world, was illustrious, she had a mellifluous voice and she was a very good cook, did you know she could cook a sumptuous meal in any color even periwinkle in 3 minutes? When Perfect pig cooks, she can make people stare funny looks. She was not like the other pigs because of her famous cooking she was known all through China. Sometimes for fun she even dresses up or wears weird wigs.

She worked for Zhu as an adviser, an architect a cook and even as his doctor. Perfect pig was the best doctor for the emperor. Although the other doctors would not admit it.

They would not even think about it not even a bit.

But soon a huge war occurred disturbing the peace, making shivers go down to the core. Because, that because a famine person that was jealous of Zhu wanted to rule over Zhu’s throne. But nobody knew his name not even one except his own family and he was very poor so how did he make an army? Who knows?

In a few weeks they were bitter enemies. Whenever Zhu’s people thought about someone else ruling over Zhu made them feel like they needed to cry. More and more people were getting killed by the day that perfect pig the one and only perfect pig decided to help. So, she travelled miles and miles and finally she arrived at the enemy’s castles.

As fast as she could she went into the enemy’s castle ran in the corridors and the twist and turns it was like a maze. It turned Perfect pig into a daze.

At last she found the enemy in his private room took a deep breath and went into his private room, and you know what she did, she went straight to his face and…YELLED! The enemy’s advisers, the mosquito and rat heard her and ran to the enemy, and kicked and punched perfect pig. I hope that will never happen to me.

So poor, poor perfect pig got beaten up badly. But that didn’t stop perfect pig she went up to Zhu and told him to make a huge army. In a few hours, there were ten million soldiers were in the army.

So, Zhu was very well-prepared. They were soon ready to fight the enemy. Little did they know that the enemy had also prepared a huge army. As Zhu said and calculated while looking through his telescope there were a billion soldiers. It was waiting right outside the enemy’s palace doors.

When Zhu’s army arrived both armies fought until the sky and ground shook continually. It was so frightening that about 100 soldiers even said ‘I want my mommy!’

Sadly, for Zhu’s army the enemy had 1000 more men so every two soldiers had to battle about 20-30 enemy soldiers depending on how many soldiers in Zhu’s army were left after battling for a very long time. So, no matter what Zhu’s army did the army still lost, only 100 soldiers escaped, 50 were badly injured, 7 had lots scrapes and scratches, and only 1 had 51 cuts (the smallest one was 9 cm), 40 had 10-20 sprains and nearly their whole body was broken bones. 2 had badly hurt their brains.

After Zhu heard that only 100 soldiers survived. He soon lost a thousand times less hope he had about keeping the throne than he did before and keeping his people safe. He did not even think that he would be able to keep safe twenty villagers. He just thought he was nothing.

A few weeks he killed by hanging himself because he just felt so discouraged and frustrated. He hanged himself but before anyone could do anything, he was dead in minutes. But before he killed himself, he said a prayer ‘Please god or goddess or anyone please, please, PLEASE watch over my people. Thank you.’

After that he hanged himself, without an emperor to make armies, plan, pay for land fees, care and to protect and not everyone knew how to grow bamboo. With nobody to do the royal duties and plan the reinforce armies and make the armies, the people were soon over-powered by the enemy. So, as you can guess it was no longer called the Ming dynasty it became the… Qing dynasty! With the mosquito and rat behind the new emperor.

And what happened to Perfect Pig? She is now centuries of years old and still cooks her food for Zhu by where he hanged himself.


HONOURABLE MENTION: Sofia Amate and Siena Nilsson, Grade 3, Discovery Bay International School, Hong Kong, 9 and 8 years old respectively

Sofia’s and Siena’s jointly written story was well-developed and good fun! I really enjoyed reading it! But beware the rules of the competition, girls! You forgot to include the melancholy mosquito, the rapacious rat, the colour periwinkle and the famine, so unfortunately you lost quite a few points L. Also do watch out for your punctuation and revise when to use your capital letters!

The Story Of Oinker and Daisy 

Once upon a time, there was a nice and caring pig. She was the most well known and illustrious pig in the whole Chinese village. Her name was the Great Daisy. She also had a naughty little brother who always tantalized and told horrible lies about her. Even though Oinker told those tales she always focused on her and her friends’ matters. It seemed like the whole world was changing because of Oinker’s lies, although it was just the village they lived in.

One marvelous morning when the sun was rising the birds became excited for a brand new day and started singing. Daisy was even more excited than usual because it was her big 10th birthday today!

When she went for a walk she saw Oinker talking to her friends. What were they doing? And what does Oinker want from them she thought to herself.

“Guess what! you know my sister Daisy.” “Well, she called the police for no reason and asked him to come to our house. When the policeman got home, she took a big bowl of spaghetti and flushed it down his pants.” Oinker was loving that moment, it felt like nobody even remembered Daisy, he chuckled to himself with pride.

Daisy’s friends were surprised by her attitude and left in anger, they walked right past Daisy and didn’t say a word.

“Hello, how are you guys today s…” Daisy was about to invite them to her party until they passed her without a glance not even caring. Daisy was confused and went to Oinker for an explanation. As she arrived Oinker explained that he was just inviting them to the party he lied.

Daisy was sick of his lies and fumed with anger, “That’s it! I want my answer, so you better start explaining yourself.” Daisy shouted at her brother to scare him into telling the truth.

Oinker thought to himself I am so busted.

As she was pondering her next move in her head, she turned around and Oinker was gone…

Oinker was running to see the Emperor. This was his chance to ruin his sister’s life forever. In the Emperor’s castle, The Forbidden City. As Oinker approached The Forbidden City, Oinker finally reached the large doors and was about to knock when suddenly the Emperor came out

“Well hello how can I help you?” asked the Emperor

“ Hello it is so nice to finally meet you. Uh! my name is Oinker I live in the Chinese village and my sister has done something very very bad.”…

Oinker was nervous thinking. what if Daisy finds out about his plan to defeat him.

“Oh well come in and tell me about your sister.” The Emperor seemed very nice.

“ So my sister keeps robbing shops and never ever gets caught.” His plan was working as an elephant stomping on the grass every second.

The Emperor was thinking and digested what Oinker had said and finally spoke. “I am very disappointed in your sister; could you bring her to me please?”

“Yes, your Highness of course.” “Good boy, now run along.”

Oinker soon arrived at the village and went to fetch Daisy.

“Daisy!” Oinker shouted hoping she could hear him.

“Yes, how can I help you, your little liar.”

“You need to come with me to the Emperor.” Explained Oinker.

“ Why, did I do something wrong?” She asked.

Daisy’s mind started to wonder if maybe she could get a job at the Emperor’s castle?

“Sure why not!” said Daisy with excitement.

So off they went to see the Emperor. As they arrived at the gate of the castle, the Emperor was waiting to greet them at the door and immediately went up to Daisy and said

“Oh well you must be Oinkers sister Daisy. “Come on in and we will talk about the consequences for your actions.”

Daisy was confused but was still excited. When they sat in the dark and mysterious room, the Emperor started talking directly to Daisy.

“I’ve heard that you have been robbing shops and I would like an explanation please.”

Daisy was shocked, and nervously asked what was happening.

“Excuse me, your Highness, what do you mean?” “I haven’t been robbing any shops, who told you that?”

The Emperor looked puzzled at Oinker.

“So wanna get a froyo?” asked Oinker with fear in his voice.

“ Wait, did you lie to me Oinker?” Asked the Emperor in disgust. “You should leave now.” Said the Emperor in anger.”

Oh sir, I am so sorry about my brother, he is out of control with his lies trying to ruin my life!”

“Ruin your life! well, I certainly am confused!” The Emperor’s mind was moving around and up and down like a rollercoaster.

Oh, Daisy sighed. “It’s a long story that I don’t want to bore you with.”

“Well, my brother and I better start to get ready to leave for home. “Thank you so much for your time though.

Wait did your brother really lie to me the great Emperor.

“Yes I did and I am so so sorry.” “Please don’t get me in trouble.” Exclaimed Oinker from the window.

“I will speak to you later.” said the Emperor all red in his face with anger. “Daisy, I know this is out of the blue, but how would you like a job here at the castle?” “You have acted like a true lady pig with dignity and honesty and we could use some more of that here.”

“Yes, yes, of course, thank you so much, your highness,” Daisy shouted with joy.

5 years later… “I am just loving this job!” said Daisy to the Emperor with happiness in her voice. After all the trouble they had had, the Emperor had now become her best friend.“ “This is gonna be a happy ending after all hahahahahaha!”



There were 37 entries in this section, and the top six stories were all excellent, with very little to choose between some of them! This is where paying attention to setting and character descriptions and motivations really makes a difference to your marks! And of course, there is that hard-to-define, but instantly recognizable X factor to consider – including style, pace and wit. It can really set your work apart! If you scroll down to the bottom of this post, you can see the elements I was looking for when marking your stories – if you’re not in the top Six and want to improve your writing, why not compare your story against the checklist and see where you could have done a bit better!

Congratulations to the following students who made it to the Short List of 15 stories: Agnes Tang and Andrew Ma (Tsinghua High School International Chanyang Campus, Beijing); Grace Ng (St Clare’s Primary School, Hong Kong); Chloe Kim (International School of Beijing); Derwin Lee (Discovery Bay International School, Hong Kong) and Gary Zhang (Excelsior Public School, Sydney).

AND SPECIAL CONGRATULATIONS to the following fabulous finalists! Wicked words are again printed in bold.

FIRST PLACE: Daisy Palmer, Grade 6, Japanese International School, Hong Kong, 10 years old

Congratulations to Daisy, who has previously placed in my competitions, and this time really nailed it with this very stylish story about a perfect pain of a pig! I laughed out loud at Daisy’s wry sense of humour, and enjoyed her many elegant turns of phrase. With excellent vocabulary throughout, including four Wicked Words, and some hilarious dialogue (I thought that Patty’s nasty put-down of Melvin as a “miserable dot” was particularly inspired ), this story was full of that precious X Factor, and a joy to read. Keep up the writing in high school Daisy – you have real talent and a great future as a writer.

A Pig named Patty

There once was a time in the Tang Dynasty where a pig named Patty ruled the roost. She was perfect, or should I say almost perfect. For she was as arrogant and vain as she was beautiful. She was round and plump and wore her hair in elegant styles that flattered her immense beauty.

And her favourite person to torment? Her neighbour Melvin the melancholy mosquito.

Melvin. Oh poor, dear Melvin. Who had had to endure years of constant insults and humiliation. I wish that I could spend the rest of our story talking about Melvin and his many smarts (which he did have, despite what Patty may suggest). But I must get on.

But before I start I must inform you that there were a lot of famines in ancient China, and when this story took place, this, ladies and gentlemen, was one of those times where the rain had stopped, the crops had failed and famines had begun.

Now, on the particular day in which our story takes place Patty had decided to walk by the emperor’s palace on her way to the market. The emperor’s palace exhibited splendiferous architecture and was full of life.

What Patty didn’t realize, was that Emperor Chin, who was famed and respected for both his intelligence and his care towards his subjects, was watching from one of the palace windows. He had seen of her arrogance and heard of her evil.

And so he hatched a plan.

Meanwhile, in the market place, an old man was walking along the street, admiring the splendour of the curved roofs and inadvertently bumped into Patty. He, of course, said sorry, for he thought that someone as dazzling as her would be as lovely and illustrious as she was beautiful. But in true arrogant fashion, Patty called him a lazy blimp and that he should watch where he was going.

The emperor had seen all of this unfold from one of the palace windows and become more appalled at Patty’s actions.

A short while later, Patty was walking along the dry and dusty, deserted market streets when a small figure scurried in front of her.

“So” the figure said “this famine is really bad. Seems to be getting worse all the time, eh? Well, I can get you more food – for the right price of course.” He said greedily, rubbing his hands.

“Show yourself.” Patty demanded haughtily.

“Very well,” said the figure, smiling.

“Out of my way” Patty exclaimed, seeing he was a rat and not a person as she had expected. “I have no time for your stupid games.”

The rat was very offended by this and was tempted to do certain things that would not be very polite.

“She’s horrible isn’t she?” said a lugubrious sounding voice from behind him

“Ahh!” said the rat, seeing that it was old friend Melvin the melancholy mosquito, and no wonder he was so depressed living next door to Patty.

“What do you want here?” He said, raising an eyebrow.

“Hello Randal, we have to put an end to her.”

“Yes, indeed” he muttered, imagining her being gone and him finally being able to sell his wares. Provided the emperor didn’t catch him though.

In the palace, the emperor was pacing the room, occasionally glancing at his wife in her periwinkle robes, thinking about all the things he had seen Patty do.

“What are you doing darling?” His concubine asked.

“I’m thinking of Patty Pig’s demise, but you mustn’t worry about that,” he smiled, sitting down on the exquisitely carved brick bed next to her and reaching for a book to read.

“Oh darling, the famine is so bad,” said his wife, sadly.

“My dearest wife, you have inspired me! Now if you’ll excuse me I have a famine to end.”

“Guard,” summoned the emperor, “I must speak with you for it is a matter of great importance. Send for Patty Pig’s neighbour, Melvin, for he is vital to my plan,” knowing that Melvin would love to get back at his neighbour for all the strife she had caused him.

“What’s going on?” Melvin asked later, bowing deeply to his emperor.

The emperor whispered his plan to him. Melvin smiled, eager to do his part.

Melvin enlisted the help of Randall and they discovered Patty at the hairdressers.

“Go away Melvin,” Patty said when she saw him “I don’t want anything from you, miserable dot.”

“It’s the emperor who wants you. He wants to reward you for your immense beauty.”

“Really? Well tell him I’m coming, I’ll just put on my makeup.” She said, dashing off.

And so, Melvin the Mosquito and Randal the Rat went back to the palace to tell the emperor that Patty was coming and the plan was working.

“Well done” said the emperor just as Patty arrived, looking perfect as usual.

“Why is there a cooking pot?” questioned Patty, looking suspicious.

“Well, I wanted to have a feast to celebrate you and only you, and I want you to be the first to try our food”, the emperor said with a smile.

Patty, who was flattered by the emperor’s words, walked over to the cooking pot and leaned over it trying to get as much food as possible onto the spoon.

“So” said the emperor, “I hope our food is satisfactory.

“Mmm this tastes very good.”

The emperor smiled, “and now to add the final ingredient. Now we’ll make sure you’ll never be arrogant and rude ever again”, said the emperor shoving her into the pot.

“Now we can celebrate the end of the famine with a feast.”

And that, dear reader, is the story of how Patty Pig was cooked and eaten as a punishment for her narcissistic rudeness, therefore ending the famine. And everyone agreed she truly was the perfect tasting pig. And because Melvin was so very smart he was appointed the emperor’s royal adviser. Melvin’s first act as advisor was to make Randall the rapacious rat the emperor’s lawyer.


SECOND PLACE: Caitlyn Jones, Grade 5, Excelsior Public School, Sydney, Australia, 10 years old

Caitlyn’s story of a brave pig’s odyssey to find a periwinkle blanket, in order to placate an evil rat and end a famine, was full of originality! I especially loved the giant praying mantis Emperor En Lai! There were some wonderful descriptions of setting and characters, and an exciting story line. In particular I enjoyed Caitlyn’s fabulous vocabulary, including words like “myriad”, “foibles”, “yearns” and “sceptically”, and the very funny dialogue between Ping Pong and Tanlan! Well done on a magnificent effort Caitlyn. I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Ping-Pong Pig’s Quest

Ping-Pong Pig was an idiosyncratic pig. She simply was nothing like those other pigs ..those… mud-rolling rambunctious scamps… Ping-Pong was just.. not like them. She was practically perfect, fastidious, and was one of the most kind-hearted pigs you’ll ever meet. So, despite the foibles of the other pigs, she was somewhat friends with them. She was the kind of pig that received an ‘A’ on every test, the pig who had read every book in the library, and the kind who would win awards for having tidy gardens and great acting. But most importantly, Ping-Pong Pig was the sort of pig that would always help you. Like when she tried to cheer up that melancholy mosquito always hovering around. And when she helped clean the other pig’s houses for Chinese New Year. And, most of all, when she went on the quest for the periwinkle blanket…


It all started one foggy Sunday morning when En-lai, the wise and illustrious Emperor called an unexpected meeting in the town square. The large myriad of animals that lived near gathered around an old stone fountain shaped as a dragon to hear what the erudite emperor had to say.

“Greetings, fellow animals.” The oversized praying mantis waved a large, green, leafy hand at the animals. “I’m afraid that one of the most precious things in the land has been taken from us.”

Many guesses were called out from the crowd, but they were all incorrect.

“It’s… our food,” En-lai revealed. Gasps and muffled whispers echoed throughout the group.

“But…who would do such a thing?” spoke a large, colourful bird. “And how can we get our food back?”

“It’s Tanlan, the rapacious rat who lives somewhere in a secret location,” he explained. “He took our food with magic because he yearns for some sort of precious blue blanket. If someone finds this blue blanket for him, then he will give our food back. If not, he will eat all our food and the famine will never end.”

People started murmuring to their neighbour about the horrible situation. Then, out of no-where, a certain pig named Ping-Pong joined En-lai in front of the crowd and announced,

“I will go on the quest for the blue blanket!”


The next day, Ping-Pong came into her room to pack for the adventure ahead of her. Her room was quite small, but beautiful. Red and orange strips of cloth hung from the roof. On the strips of cloth were different assortments of Chinese writing, and pictures of animals and mountains. She also had a small table with ornate bowls. A plant sat neatly in the corner of the room and a white-laced rug was spread across the floor. A mahogany cabinet hosting lamps and candles was against the back wall and Ping-Pong admired how well she had cleaned her room yesterday. She scolded herself for dawdling and hastily started to pack.

When she had finished, she walked up to the dragon statue to bid farewell to her friends.

“I hope I have our food back by Chinese New Year,” Ping-Pong told the crowd, goodbye everybody.”

In return, everybody waved and said goodbye to their brave friend. Ping-Pong walked out of the village, took a map En-lai had given her out of her bag. A trail was marked in and a cross was placed on the far edge of the map. It was near a river. Or was it across a river? Ping-Pong hoped there was a bridge, as she didn’t like swimming. But she would do it for her friends.

During the journey, she marched determinedly up hills, and slid carefully down them. She struggled through bushes, trod through mud and tried to swat off a swarm of bees. Battered and bruised, she continued her journey.


After roughly four hours of tiring trekking, Ping-Pong came to the river on the map! Although, it was no ordinary river. It was filled with sizzling and hissing lava. Luckily, there were three different bridges that stretched across the lava. But which one to cross? Ping-Pong took a deep breath, crossed her fingers and stepped onto the bridge on the right. She walked for a bit… wobbled, walked more… wobbled… she had to make it to the end…


Ping-Pong was falling down until she landed in a dark cave, but on a surprisingly soft surface.

“I found it!” she yelled. She picked up the item that had broken her fall. It was the blue blanket! In fact, it was a beautiful periwinkle blanket.

“Oh thank goodness!” she cried “Now, to find Tanlan!”

The only source of light was the torch she had packed. Using the torch, she stumbled her way through the stone-walled cave. Ping-Pong felt something strange. Like… something wasn’t right… like someone was…watching her…then…a cackle…

“Hahaha! Why, hello, Ping-Pong. I’ve been waiting.”

Ping-Pong looked down to see a brown hairball talking to her.

“Tanlan?” she queried.

“Yes, it is I, the great, the powerful, the… small rat… Tanlan! Give me the blanket.” For a rodent so small, Ping-Pong didn’t expect his voice to boom out so much.

“Not until you give the food back.” Ping-Pong protested. “Wait, if you live in this cave, why didn’t you just take the blanket yourself?”

“Er, complicated reasons, like…I didn’t think of that, and…give me the blanket!”




“Ugh! Fine, here. Bippity Boppity Boo, a carrot,” he moaned unenthusiastically using his magic to create a carrot. “Now, Abracadabra, everyone has their food back. So, the blanket!”

Ping-Pong eyed the rodent sceptically. Hesitantly, she handed him the blanket. The greedy rat snatched the blanket and cackled once more.

“Yes! It is mine! Goodnight.”


And with that, the smug rat snuggled himself inside the blanket and fell into a peaceful slumber.

Feeling accomplished, Ping-Pong journeyed home, the village enjoyed a splendid Chinese New Year with their food and always remembered Ping-Pong Pig for her brave adventure that saved them all.


THIRD PLACE: Madeline Painter, Grade 6, South Middle School, Arlington Heights, Illinois, USA, 12 years old

Madeline has been entering my competitions since she was in Grade 2 and living in Singapore! She has won and placed in my competitions on many occasions, and it has been a privilege to watch her develop as a very original and interesting writer. Once again, her story was full of wit, with wonderful dialogue, some excellent vocabulary, and a great plot. But there were some minor grammatical errors, and the setting and characters could have been described in more detail. It was a terrific effort, and I will miss reading Madeline’s entries in my future competitions! Best of luck, my friend, with all your future writing, and do keep on entering writing competitions. And keep in touch to let me know how you are doing!

Trouble With the River

Children crying. People cluttering the streets, scavenging what they can. Merchants in fine clothes, charging eight times the normal price for fruits, vegetables, and rice. This was how everyday life had proceeded for the previous five years of atrocious famine, and things showed no sign of getting better.

That is, until the pig came along.

At first, everyone wanted to eat the newcomer. After all, food was food, and at this point ham was a precious commodity. The Shang dynasty was having a hard time at the moment, and in Xingtou Zhu, a city in the mountains, was farther from fresh produce than most villages. However, they quickly put down their forks when the pig spoke.

“You may not want to do that.” the pig said in a nasally voice. He was wearing a periwinkle silk shirt and sporting a smirk. The crowd shrunk back.

“I can bring you food again, but not if you eat me. I am Jai, practically perfect magic pig. I have been sent by our illustrious, erudite emperor Wu Ding, for the sole purpose of exonerating your little village from the horrors of this famine. Thankyou, thank you. No need to applaud.” Nobody was.

“How will you do it alone? Surely you will need someone to help you?” a little boy asked.

“Thank you for volunteering!” Jai exclaimed. The boy paled and backed away “Now that I have a faithful companion, all I need is supplies. What is your name, little one?”

“Wai,” the boy squeaked.

“Welcome to my quest. Do you know where we can get weapons?”

“You are not taking my son!” a voice cried out. A woman had spoken, and she put a protective hand on Wai’s shoulder.

“Might I remind you Madame, I have been sent by the emperor,” Jai said, his tone suddenly cold. “It is not your business what I do or do not do. Now,” he turned, speaking to the whole of the crowd. “Where can I get weapons and provisions?”

The woman spoke again. “I can provide the weapons and armor. My husband is the town blacksmith, and, if my son must go, I want him safe.”

“I shall provide food and clothing,” said the merchant who traded with Xingtou Zhu every so often. “Provided it gets me in the emperor’s good graces.

“That can be arranged,” said Jai. “Give us these things, and off we go!”

Three hours later, Jai and Wai were loaded down with packs full of food and tools.

“Farewell son. Come home safe, and make me proud,” sniffled Wai’s mother, tears streaming down her face. All that came out of Wai was a dry croak, and the two embraced.

And so, Jai and Wai set out on their journey, heading up a mountain, following a path that had once been a river that provided water for Wai’s village. They trekked along in silence, except for the panting that went with climbing a mountain.

After about two hours, they stopped for a snack. Pulling out some jerky, they began to talk.

“Do you know where we’re headed?” asked Wai.

“Of course. The better question is, do you?” countered Jai.

“So you don’t. We’re lost.”

“I may be able to help with that,” a new voice spoke from out of the shadows. “For a price.” It was a rapacious rat.

“We aren’t lost,” snapped Jai. “We’re following this dried up riverbed. Since there’s something wrong with the water, we’re checking the source.”

“No help then? Rations, advice, wares? If you’ll step into my den…”

“Don’t be so farcical, rat,” said Jai. “Now leave us.”

The rat shrugged, “Suit yourself,” and melted into the shadows.

Jai and Wai continued on their way. It wasn’t long before they came to a cave. A strange, squeaky, sniffling drifted out of the cave’s mouth.

“Who-who’s there?” hesitated Jai, not wanting to barge in.

“I’m-hic!-coming,” hiccuped a high-pitched voice. Out of the mouth of the cave, into which the dry river led, came a very melancholy mosquito, tears actively welling in his eyes and trickling down his face.

“Why are you crying?” Wai asked.

“I’m just so lonely!” sobbed lachrymose the mosquito.

“I am Moe, the keeper of this river, and I make sure it runs, but I stopped it so that people like you would come and visit me.”

“Why don’t you just leave then? You can live in my village!” exclaimed Wai.

“If I do, rocks and dirt will clog the river and it won’t run,” Moe wailed, tears dripping harder and faster than ever before.

“It won’t if you’re lonely either, because you will become sad and block it,” reasoned Jai. “Unblock it and live in Wai’s village, down the mountain, and whenever the river doesn’t run, the people can go on a quest like this to fix it.”

“I suppose that would work… Here! Help me move this rock and clear the river!” Moe gestured at a boulder- the size of a house.

“But how are we to move something so big?” asked Wai.

“It’s a little wobbly on this side because the soil has worn down. If we had something to pry it up with…” Jai pondered.

“But we do!” shouted Wai. “We have swords from my mother! If I slide it under here…” He wedged the sword under the stone.

“Perfect!” Jai took a flying leap, and jumped on the hilt of the sword. It acted like a lever, pushing the rock up and perching it on a pile of dirt, allowing the river to flow again.

“And that’s how we did it!” said the new villager, Moe the mosquito, ecstatically. He was now welcome in Xingtou Zhu, and the resplendent river was flowing strongly again. It still is now, though it goes by a different name, the Huang He, or Yellow River.


FOURTH PLACE: Hannah Thompson, Grade 4, Methodist Ladies College, Melbourne, Australia, 9 years old

Hannah was a frequent place-winner in the Grade 1 to 3 Category of my Clever Competitions. She has made a very successful transition to the Grade 4 to 6 Category with this exciting story of a Pig and a Mosquito team who encounter the mighty Emperor Qin Shi Huang-di in their travels! I particularly appreciated Hannah’s use of some excellent adverbs, and there was other great vocabulary including 6 Wicked Words and that wonderful archaic noun “varmint” which I haven’t seen for some time! The only thing that let Hannah’s story down was the unusual plot structure, which I feel made the story a tale of two parts rather than a smoothly constructed narrative arc. And you do need to revise your rules about capital letters after speech marks Hannah! Otherwise a splendid entry into this category – well done and keep on entering!

Yu Yan’s Adventure

Running out of breath, Yu Yan bravely fled from the Yuezhi, attempting to bring food to the place of the famine, Xianyang. Yu Yan, being the kind hearted pig that she was, didn’t understand why anyone would try to stop her and her companion, Xinyi, the mosquito in the act of a good deed. But she did know that if people were trying to hurt her, the best thing to do was run.

“Oh you filthy varmints! Give up the food or we’ll squash the mosquito!”

“Yu Yan we’re surrounded. Do something!” exclaimed Xinyi in panic.

Yu Yan quickly seized a watermelon and two cantaloupes and flung them over her shoulder. One cantaloupe hit a Yuezhi squarely in the chest, knocking him off his horse. The other cantaloupe dealt with the second easily, hitting him on the head and knocking him out. The watermelon hit the third on the nose, making him collapse in agony.

“Come on! Let’s get away before they recover” said Yu Yan breathlessly.

They walked for days and weeks until they came across a humongous wall.

“Hey! Wait a second! What is this doing here? I don’t remember a huge wall ever being here.” Said Yu Yan in confusion.

“Oh it must be Qin Shi Huang. I heard he was joining up all the walls.”

“Now we are never going to get there!” Moaned Xinyi.

“Well we’ll just have to go around.” Said Yu Yan bravely.

As they journeyed further, Yu Yan heard Xinyi let out a scream of terror.

“Xinyi! Xinyi! What is it?” Yu Yan saw the little figure of Xinyi in front of an army of terracotta soldiers.

“It’s OK” said Yu Yan. “They’re just statues.”

“Oh! Yeah, right. I totally knew that!”

Yu Yan smiled and sighed. “Of course you did” she said reassuringly.

After that, things went pretty smoothly until they finally came to the Emperor’s Palace to offer him food.

Yu Yan knocked on the door, once, twice, three times. Then stepped back and waited. She heard Xinyi’s nervous buzzing as the sound of footsteps appeared on the other side of the door, followed by the clicking of a key in a lock. Then the grand red and gold door swung open to reveal a slick black rat standing in the doorway. Its eyes glinted greedily as it saw the food.

“What is your business here?” said the rat in a sharp, high pitched voice.

“We’ve come to offer food for your people,” said Yu Yan rather taken aback.

“Right this way please”. The rat led them down a luxurious corridor that was lavishly furnished. But before Yu Yan could get a closer look at one of the statues, the rat had led them to a room that contained nothing but an enormous red throne. Then without any warning, the little rat scampered away.

“Please excuse my servant.” The pair jumped around to see a tall young man resplendent in a red robe with short black hair sitting on the throne.

“Your Majesty” said Yu Yan awkwardly, bowing low. “We have come to offer food for your people.”

“How magnanimous of you! Since you are here and you seem to be keen to help with the famine, would you mind helping to investigate a problem?” requested the Emperor hopefully.

“Of course we will. Right Xinyi?” “I guess” squeaked Xinyi reluctantly.

“Oh thank you” said the Emperor. “ In that case you can stay for as long as you need to solve the mystery of who is causing the famine.”

“Thank you, your Majesty.”

Yu Yan woke the next morning with a smile on her face. She breathed deeply and sighed, adventure was in the air that morning. By the time she was out of bed, she saw Xinyi was already up and waiting.

“Yu Yan I miss home”, said Xinyi shyly.

“Oh Xinyi, it’s OK, but we are here now so we may as well have some fun and be detectives” said Yu Yan comfortingly.

“You’re right” said Xinyi.

So they set off to explore the palace and find any possible clues or suspects. They went down corridor after corridor, inspecting every nook, cranny or possible hiding place.

After searching all day, Yu Yan spied a small trail of crumbs. She bent down and licked one of them up, ‘sorghum!’ she exclaimed. “Hey, Xinyi, come see what I found, I think it’s a clue!”

Xinyi came over to inspect the sorghum. “It’s just some crumbs.”

“Don’t be so negative, let’s see where it leads to.”

So they followed it all the way to a ferocious looking jade dragon statue. Yu Yan leaned closer to examine it. The dragon’s tooth seemed to be dripping with honey! She leaned closer and flipped the jade dragon’s tooth back, revealing a secret room behind the neighboring mirror.   Yu Yan peered in, and what a sight met her eyes. Mountains of food were crammed into the room, herbs and spices, meat and rice, and at the very top was the sleeping black rat.   Yu Yan decided she would show this to the Emperor in the morning.

The Emperor was ready and waiting by the time light broke over Xianyang.   Yu Yan pulled back the dragon’s tooth to reveal the gargantuan piles of food with the rapacious rat and his atrocious rat army.

“Seize them!” yelled the rat. That was when the Emperor, who was the rat’s boss, jumped out and cried “No, seize them!”

With that, the Emperor’s army stormed the room and started to catch the rats, until all were safely in cages, including the naughty black rat that had greeted them at the door when they first arrived.

The next morning, the food was distributed to the grateful people of Xianyang. The Emperor bestowed periwinkle sashes on Yu Yan and Xinyi as awards of honour. That night, Yu Yan and Xinyi started the long journey home, proudly wearing their periwinkle sashes, gleaming iridescent in the moonlight.


FIFTH PLACE: Mia Wang, Grade 5, Shanghai United International School, Hongqiao Campus, Shanghai, China, 10 years old

I loved Mia’s wonderful story of a perfect pig who tried to take revenge on the rat who insulted her, but discovered that forgiveness is more important. I thought that the beginning and ending were stunning; there were also some lovely descriptions of setting and sophisticated vocabulary, including 6 Wicked Words. However there were some grammatical and punctuation errors. Remember Mia that you need to proof-read carefully before you write your final drafts! And you were slightly over the 1,000 word count which did lose you some points. Overall, though, a very skilful story. Keep up the good work Mia, and keep entering my competitions!

Cuimei, the Imperfectly Perfect Pig

Pit. Pat. Pit. Pat.

It was an estival day back in the Tang dynasties, where the skies were as blue as seawater, even when it rained. The drizzle had just been ushered away by the resplendent sun, but the people had rushed out of their cottages to stare at the sky in awe. A rainbow had appeared – This was a rather rare thing that happened, though the weather was usually always marvelous, judging by both visuals and quality. More adults and children poured out on the streets to admire the scene, the blue gleaming with iridescence. 

Only Cuimei the pig remained in her dwelling, smoothing out the periwinkle cheongsam that she had just put on. Cuimei loved being perfect. Actually, her name originated from the fact that she had the habit of simply being perfect. She had been in the last place in the Zodiac run that happened some time ago and had a grudge especially with Jingming the rat, who was in the first. They were granted immortality after. Cuimei wanted to stand up for her kind by proving they could actually be perfect.

She then wiped away the nonexistent dirt on her furniture, making the room look sumptuous, though it all wasn’t that luxurious. Finally, putting the cloth in its spot, she went out the door to join the people admiring the rainbow.

The moment she stepped out the door, a sour face greeted her. “Look who it is! Ms. Loser-Piggy!” Jingming the rat sneered maliciously. “You will never be perfect, living under MY shadow, you fastidious creature!”

“How dare you?!” Retorted Cuimei, but Jingming had vanished before she could finish her sentence.

* * *

“My Lord!” Cuimei gasped the moment she was escorted into Emperor Tang’s gigantic room.

“Li, can you please get a cushion for Cuimei please?” he smiled at Cuimei.

“Of course, my Lord,” one of the girls fanning the emperor rushed away, and soon, she was back with a scintillating cushion. Cuimei collapsed on it.

“My Lord,” began Cuimei, her voice trembling. “Jingming the rat has committed a terrible, terrible crime!”

Several people gasped. The champion, high honored in the race of the zodiacs! A criminal?!

“He called me a loser, a fastidious, vain creature! He knew I had the habit of trying to be perfect and took advantage of it! ” Cuimei wailed in dismay.

“Cuimei… Albeit Jingming had attempted to crush your… ambition, perhaps you both understood the word ‘perfection’ wrong. Do you understand?”

Cuimei didn’t understand, no, but she could not lose face in front of the Emperor. “Yes, my lord,” she whispered.

Cuimei bade farewell and left. Little did she know, trouble was to come…

* * *

“Gangjian!” called Cuimei from the side of his hut. Gangjian the horse was working diligently in his fields. He put down his work and went over.

“Ye-Oh!” Heshan the sheep, Jiyue the monkey, Qinkuai the rooster, and Qinfen the dog were all standing behind Cuimei.

“I hope you can… Be a good ally. We plan to sabotage Jingming for… You know?” Cuimei gulped, recalling the memory.

Gangjian’s face broke into a smile. “Absolutely! He has become too proud!” He neighed and joined the line of animals.

Cuimei, of course, asked the other animals the same question. Not only did was she rejected, but the beans were also spilled…

* * *

Every day, both sides came up with horrible ideas, but the Jade Emperor did not approve of this at all.

“Of all the stupid things! Punishment is to be served…”

The next day, the people who were born in the year of either the rat or the pig’s fields withered. The people immediately reported the issue to their zodiac animals, but the two were both convinced that the Jade Emperor wanted to see drama. They fought on.

The animals pranked one another. The rabbit, Hexie, sneaked banana peels into the monkey, Jiyue’s house. The horse, Gangjian, tramped on all of the ox, Renci’s crops.

Without demur, the Jade Emperor waved his hands, and every single household’s fields dried away.

People started fighting. They dueled and shouted mean things at each other. This gave Emperor Tang, scholarly as he is, terrible headaches, so he sent a prayer to above. The Jade Emperor soon received the message and racked his brains. He could not bring more cruelty to his land, or it would collapse. He made his decision.

That night, Cuimei had a peculiar dream.

There was a melancholy mosquito. His ambition was to be perfect, like Cuimei. He lived in a very clean meadow, cleaner than every other mosquito. But he was extremely callous – He had high expectations for everyone around him, wanting them to be perfect like him. But soon, he discovered that nearly everyone was badmouthing him. It left him heartbroken, and he passed away unremembered.

Waking up in cold sweat, Cuimei saw her grave mistake. The sun was only rising, but she had to stop the chaos as soon as possible. Putting on her periwinkle cheongsam, not caring about whether it looked good or not, she ran out the door.

* * *

“Hi! What brings- YOU!” Jingming bellowed at Cuimei in his nightclothes.

“Yes me,” Cuimei replied serenely. “I call an end to the battle.”

Jingming was shocked. ”Sit.”

They sat below Jingming’s tree.

“I now understand the meaning of perfection. I’m apologise if I was unpleasant to you before… Nobody can be perfect, but only can they near perfection. Perfection is not keeping everything… Wrinkle-free, or having high expectations for everyone. It’s… Being kind and accepting your mistakes.”

Jingming stared at her in disbelief. He stared, and stared, and stared.

* * *

All of the zodiac animals were gathered in Cuimei’s house having tea. They laughed at their past actions, at how immature they were. At how careless they were to their own people, and at how easy actually was to end the battle.

The rain outside the window seemed to know the beat listening to their conversation.

Pit. Pat. Pit. Pat.


SIXTH: Tommy Gao, Grade 5, Tsinghua High School International (Chanyang Campus, Beijing, China, 11 years old

Well done Tommy on this terrific story of a royal pig who neatly evaded being eaten by the Emperor by using a rather ratty substitute! I thought that the beginning of your story was very intriguing and clever, and you also used some fantastic vocabulary, including 4 Wicked Words. I have to admit that I marked you down for that word “puked” which is a little too colloquial for my taste – always aim for more elegant language please!! Despite some errors in tense, grammar, expression and punctuation, this was great work Tommy, especially as English is not your first language and you are a first time entrant! Make sure to keep entering my competitions!

Afu the Royal Pig

More than a thousand years ago, there lived a mosquito in Russia. She bit a pig who had swine fever and got very sick. The doctor said she was going to die in a week. The mosquito wanted to break a world record before she died, so she flew all the way to China, Russia’s neighboring country, to be the mosquito who flew the farthest.

It was Tang Dynasty in China, a splendid period in which China was a prosperous country. The mosquito was amazed to see that in China, buildings were bigger, roads were broader, even pigs were fatter than in her hometown. Knowing she didn’t have much time to live, she bit the fattiest pig and drank the most tasty blood she’d ever had. Then the mosquito died. She didn’t know she caused a disaster because she accidentally spread the swine fever in China…

All the pigs in China died except a royal pig named Afu, which meant blessed in Chinese. Afu was a pet of Tang Gaozong’s, a very erudite emperor who lived in a resplendent palace. Afu had small black eyes, big nose, pointy ears and a big fat belly, and covered with snow-white fur all over her body, a perfect look according to Tang Dynasty’s standard. Gaozong chose Afu as a pet because she’d won a pig beauty contest. Gaozong, who thought of himself as omniscient, invented a medicine to cure swine fever and tried it on Afu. The medicine worked. In fact, the medicine not only kept Afu alive, but also made her practically perfect. She became very strong and smart. However, she suffered from one side effect — she turned to the color periwinkle, which was considered very ugly.

One day, one of China’s allies’ ambassador was coming to visit. Gaozong wanted to welcome him with a sumptuous feast including pork, beef, mutton, chicken and seafood. The emperor realized that every pig in the country died except Afu. Gaozong knew his country was more important than a pet pig, and since he didn’t like the periwinkle pig anymore, he decided to cook Afu.

The emperor’s pets were all Afu’s sidekicks. Gaozong’s parrot heard the news and passed it to his cat. His cat passed it to his monkey. His monkey passed it to his dog. And his dog passed it to Afu.

When she heard the news she panicked. “What can I do!”

Then she calmed down and thought, “I’m so strong now that I must be a perfect escape artist. I’ve got to run away!”

So Afu jumped over the fence, kicked off the door, Kung Fu chopped the palace guards, and ran towards freedom. As she reached the courtyard wall, the last barrier of the palace, she saw a 30-meter-high wall made of diamond blocking her.

“OH! NO!” Yelled the pig. Afu tried to climb the wall, punch the wall, pry the wall, kick the wall, bite the wall, but nothing worked. She got exhausted. She could practically hear the wall laughing at her. She got so furious that she gathered her every bit of strength to punch the wall one last time.

“BANG!” the diamond wall shattered into pieces. Afu got injured badly and couldn’t move. Just then, the palace guards caught up and tied her up.

“Is this the end?” thought Afu. Then she fainted away…

When Afu woke up, she found she was tied to a stick, and there was a pot boiling with hot water. “PLEASE! Don’t kill me!”Afu begged.

“Sorry, poor pig!” said the cook. “I don’t want to kill you. The emperor forced me to do this. He always makes me kill innocent animals!”

Then smart Afu had an idea.

“You are a man with a good heart! ”said Afu. “You don’t have to do this awful job and kill so many innocent animals. You can help me run away and become a vegetarian cook ever after. And before we escape, let’s pull a prank on the atrocious emperor.”

“Great idea! But what kind of prank?” asked the cook.

“Maybe you could cook something that tastes awful and pretend it’s pork.”Afu said.

“I know what I’m going to cook. There’s a big fat rat in the palace who steals tons of food from my kitchen. He steals and eats so much that he is as big as a cat. He’s not so innocent and I’d be happy to cook him” said the cook clapping his hands.

So the cook caught the rapacious rat and cooked him instead of Afu.

At the feast, the pot of ‘pork’ was served. It looked very delicious. Gaozong asked the ambassador to take the first bite as a courtesy to the guest.

“Ahhhhhhhh…Um, Chinese food is … very … delicious!” the ambassador said while swallowing so hard that he almost choked.

Then, Gaozong’s minister ate, “Yewwww…Um, it’s so delicious that I couldn’t help crying.” The minister said in tears.

The emperor gulped a big piece of ‘pork’ with pride and puked hard. “WHAT’S WRONG … WITH THE … PORK? IT’S … DISGUSTING!”   “Who did this? Call the detective!”

The legendary detective Di Renjie was summoned to investigate the case. He soon discovered the truth and arrested Afu and the cook even though they’d escaped from the palace. Gaozong was outrageous and sentenced them to death.

“Hold on, Your Majesty!” the ambassador took a look at Afu in surprise and said. “Periwinkle pig is the sacred animal in our country. We’ve been searching all over the world and today we are so lucky to find Afu! May I make a proposal? We’re willing to trade 100,000 pigs for Afu.”

“Deal!” Gaozong replied happily.

Afu persuaded the ambassador to save the cook too. Thus, China got many pigs, and Afu enjoyed her heavenly life with the cook serving her vegetarian meal everyday in the foreign country. Everyone was happy in the end, everyone except the rat.



The following three entries only just missed making the Top Six! Thank you for your wonderful efforts, Monica and Sunshine, Andrew, and Angelina and keep up the good work! In no particular order:

 Monica Wu and Sunshine Li, Grade 5, International School of Beijing, China, 11 years old


It was Qin Dynasty, the time when an omniscient Emperor with the name of Qin Shi ruled China, and an idiosyncratic pig called Ping Pong was humming a cheerful tune as she served Emperor. The sky was clear, the color of periwinkle blue, marking the start of estival with good weather. She pranced and danced and fluttered her eyelashes, charming the Emperor and his guests with her enthusiastic manner.

Meanwhile, Lili the old mosquito was moaning and groaning and swaying around. “Oh, dear husband, I miss you so much, I’ll make the Emperor and his men sorry for what they did to you!”

On the other side of the city, there was a dark and dirty alley where the rats had a famine. Rang was the wicked, wretched, and foul rat who started it, attacking other street rats and stealing all their food. They all feared him and made him the king of Rang Gang, the street rat government, but that wasn’t enough. Rang wanted more. He made the risky attempt to cross the main street, weaving around people’s feet and stopping at his secret hideout – The Planning Palace. His nose twitched as he sniffed the air. There was the scent of a mosquito and Rang wanted it OUT. He snarled all lionlike,” This is my territory, no one is allowed in, especially lousy bugs!”

Out of the gloomy shadows, Lili came, crying, “Oh, I don’t mean any harm, I will do anything for you, just don’t kill me, please!” A sly smile crept up his face as he heard this, and the wheels in his rotten brain turned. In no time, Rang thought of a truly perfect plan.

“So, here’s what you’re going to do, Lady. The Rang Gang will assist you on kidnapping Emperor’s pet pig and you can torture her wherever you like. Meanwhile, I’ll do my part…”

On the very next day, the plan was put into action. With a jab, Ping Pong was gagged. With a pull, the sack was on Ping Pong’s head. And with a final swoosh, the net held Ping Pong in place.

Click, Lili locked the door. Ping Pong shivered, despite the heat. The Queen of Blood got her needle-like straw ready, aiming for Ping Pong’s snout. Ping Pong knew full well that she could die from the stings of this mosquito.

Lili saw Ping Pong’s face, and there came memories. Ping Pong had the exact same look of fear her husband had right before the hands took him. Oh, he was so helpless. Understanding washed over her, and as she took down the net, Lili whispered, “I’m sorry.”

Rang’s long nails skittered on the tiled floor as he scurried to the throne room. Peeking at the Emperor from behind a wall, Rang smirked, thinking, I’m going to be the one wearing that resplendent crown, soon.

The Emperor’s enraged face was red, and he warned the soldiers kneeling before him in a quiet voice, “This is your last chance. I give you until sunset to bring Ping Pong back, and if you don’t, I shall bury you and your whole family alive!”

The soldiers mumbled nervously and left, leaving Rang and the Emperor in the same room, alone.

Rang sneakily climbed onto the throne, lift his gleaming dagger, and prepared for the kill.

Just then, Ping Pong Pig burst into the room with Lili right behind her, breathless. The Emperor gasped in surprise and greeted her warmly. Rang stared, probably even more shocked than the Emperor. His first thought was that Lili betrayed him, but he has failed too. Lili will see him soon enough. Feeling defeated, Rang plopped down on the rim of the throne, his shoulders slumped. He took a deep breath and let it out, preparing for punishment. But then, unexpectedly, his bottom left the throne, and with a thump, Rang was on the Emperor’s head.

“Ahh!” The Emperor screamed.

“Ahh!” Rang screamed too. He jumped down like an acrobat and attempted to run away, but Lili stopped him with those simple but powerful words. “I know you have some good in there, Rang. The only thing you have to do now is to find it.”

Rang pondered on this for a while, turned back, and apologized. “I am sorry, I have realized my mistakes. What can I do to pay back for what I have done?”

Ping Pong replied, “If you can show that you are loyal, we will exonerate you, and you can be the Royal Problem Solver.

So that’s exactly what he did.

“I need to stop thinking about my husband and get useful in the years I have left,” Lili decided.

“Try being a doctor- draw in blood in the hospital- I’m sure that’s your liking,” suggested Ping Pong.

So that’s exactly what she did.

“Ah, there are no more troubles,” Ping Pong sighed happily, “I should get back to my own job now.

And that’s exactly what she did.

Everything went back to normal. Rang soon became the Royal Problem Solver, working at the palace, and Lili had a good time being a doctor. Ping Pong Pig was back to serving tea. And Emperor Qin, well, he went back to being the King of China.


Andrew Ma, Grade 5, International School of Beijing, China, 10 years old

The Wonderful Story of Marco Shortail Hairpolo

Once upon a time during Qin Dynasty in China, there lived a cunning and illustrious emperor. He had nine palaces of pure gold bars, two vaults with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, scepters, and crowns. Most importantly, he was working on a project– building the Great Wall.

His father once told him when he was still a fat, plump boy. “Build a wall to protect our kingdom, son!”

But his father also told him travelers shall always be welcomed.

To build the wall, the emperor wanted all of the food in China. He told his most loyal minister, “I want ALL of those puny little villager’s food. Every crumb of it until there is no more.”

“My highness, divulge a sumptuous feast in the palace for a foreign traveler and say our fabulous palace has everything except for lacking food, villagers are asked for donating all their food to kingdom.”, said the omniscient minister.

The emperor did exactly as advised and it caused a famine.

The emperor finally got his food and went back to build the wall. He forced many men to be workers and paid them nothing. Their food was moldy bread and some weird beans. Many workers even doubted that the beans were actually hard rocks.

One day, the workers’ lives changed! A caravan came here, driven by three beasts that looked like long-necked deer with periwinkle spots on them. This caused pandemonium.

“Look! Look! A splendiferous traveller and three magnificent beasts!” One worker called Ming noticed them, all of the workers rushed from their spots to meet the traveler.

The sight of a pig wearing weird Italian clothes surprised the workers. They were even more surprised when the pig said, “Hello fellow friends, I am Marco Shortail Hairpolo. I am an explorer as you see, and I bring many wonders from other lands that you have never heard of.”

“Who are you and what do you want?”

“I am Marco Shortail Hairpolo as I said, and I want nothing.”

Marco joined the workers and told them many stories about a mystical place called Italy and how his rich, powerful king sent him here to investigate the mysterious land of China.

Marco had a wondrous time with the workers and he also shared many things for instance three magnificent beasts that the workers saw before and they were called “Giraffes”. He also brought toys with brilliant mechanisms and books that looked liked curvy lines but in a more complex form.

The next day, Marco watched the workers build the vast wall. Meanwhile, a tricky rat known as greedy Lee crept in the shadow and he thought I see that there is a new explorer here the emperor will be interested haha!

It was a feverish day, the emperor stepped triumphantly out of his sedan chair. He was going to find the visitor that the rat had described to him. He ordered his soldiers follow him and investigate. He walked into the busiest area of the stoneworker’s camp and hollered “Whoever has seen a ridiculous pig in foreign clothes and does not tell me, well their heads are going to say goodbye.”

No one answered. The emperor was fumed. He saw a toy in the corner of a worker’s bed, he picked the toy up and shouted,

“No one gave you pigs any toys, who gave you these!”

“Nobody!”, every worker said at the same time, except for one.

“My majesty, the one that gave us the toys was a pig, a pig!”

“I KNOW THAT”, shouted the furious emperor, “I WANT TO KNOW HIS NAME”

“I am profoundly sorry your majesty, eh, um, aha! His name was Marco Shortail Hairpolo.”

The king ordered his burly goons armed with dagger-axes, “Search this area until you find a nasty pig!” The goons set out at once, eyes filled with hatred. But as you see, goons are dimwits.

In the meantime, a mosquito of called Phil’ Bloodsucker was depressed because of an ‘accident’ a couple of months ago. An old man had pulled Phil’s prized stinger with a pair of chopsticks when Phil’ tried to suck blood from his belly.

When Phil’ heard of his enemy, the rat Lee had told the emperor about the new traveler, Phil thought I shall tell the foreigner at once!

“I am Phil. I am here to inform you that you must flee at once or else you might end up dead and roasted on the emperor’s lavish dinner table!”

To his surprise, Marco found no one speaking.

“I am in your ear my friend, I will help you so I will stay in your snug ear until all is fine.”

Marco rushed to the worker’s dormitories for help.

“We will help you, in return, you shall help us get our food back from the nasty emperor!” The workers said.

Marco agreed and they formed an army that night. They packed their belongings and snuck away into the misty, gloomy vegetation.

Later on that night the emperor led his burly goons to the dormitories, where all EMPTY! The emperor was furious and led his goons into the woods for further inspection.

Marco spotted the goons at once with their toothy grins when they approached Marco but didn’t see him.

“How do we get your food back?” Marco quickly whispered to a worker,

“We must sneak into the food storage in the palace! We must sneak in without any guards getting us and find the room.” They carefully crept out of the forest.

The emperor was still searching the vast woods while Marco and his fellow workers sneaking in. The food returned back to its rightful owners!

The next morning…

A mosquito got bought an artificial stinger!

A rat was locked up!

An angry emperor was shouting at his advisors, and at the same time a caravan disappeared into the forest.

The only proof Marco ever came was the thing he left behind.


Angelina Shek Yan Qi, Grade 6, St Clare’s Primary School, Hong Kong, 11 years old

The Tale of the Missing Feast


Pia was a perfect pig living in the Hog Dynasty. She was young to be working, but she had a splendid job, working in the bustling kitchens of the King’s gargantuan, sumptuous palace in the Forbidden City. Every day, she would rise early to help prepare a lip-smacking breakfast for their illustrious Emperor. In Pia’s mind, there was none more admired than him. She worked tirelessly, hoping to serve their wise king by giving him great service.

“This is a very important week, pigirls!” shouted the head cook, walking into the dorms and waking the young cooks up.

“One week!” hollered the head, banging on a pot with chopsticks. “One week till our Emperor’s birthday! We need to start preparing his special feast today! Get up!”

Pia woke groggily. She hurriedly dressed in her periwinkle robes, which was stained in many places from long years of cooking. As she and the others formed a line to the kitchen, she imagined all the scrumptious dishes she would help prepare for the Emperor. Her stomach rumbled and Pia quickly sneaked a white bun from a nearby platter. Oh well, she thought, no one would miss one! She stuffed it in her piggy snout as she listened to the head cook’s instructions.

“ Lan and Ming, you prepare the king’s breakfast. An, Chen and Pia, you girls roast the chicken. Now, Zhen and Ying…” Pia tuned out the rest of the cook’s instructions as she hurried to help An with the heavy chicken.


In the afternoon, Pia and the others trotted out of the kitchen, worn out from their busy jobs to prepare the Emperor’s feast. They all sat on stone benches and began to chat, for it was their break. Pia was usually quite gossipy herself, but today she was too tired to talk. As she stared up at the blazing sun, she closed her eyes and made a wish silently. “I wish for our Emperor’s feast to go perfectly.” she murmured.

“Talking to yourself, first sign of delusion,” a voice jeered from her feet. Pia’s eyes snapped open and looked down at her shabby shoes. Lying across her feet was a disgusting rat!

“Aieee!” Pia screamed. The others looked at her curiously, and Pia smothered her scream into a cough. The rat hid behind her legs and sniggered at her attempts. “Oh, I just coughed,” Pia stammered. She stood abruptly. “Bathroom,” she muttered, and took off with the rat pocketed.

Once she was safely hidden in a stall, she uncovered the rat and stared at it.

“Who are you?” she questioned.

“I am the Rich Rat!” it bragged. “But call me Ratty. Anyway, what were you doing? Cursing someone? Are you a pig-witch?”

“What?” Pia exclaimed hurriedly. “No way! I was–well, I was making a wish. For the Emperor’s feast to go perfectly.” As she said it, she blushed bright red for a second. Ratty glared. “Emperor Schmemperor,” he jeered. “I was half hoping for you to be a witch so you could give me gold, a palace – you know, luxury stuff.”

“No way – ” Pia shouted, but was interrupted by banging on the door. It was her fellow pigirls. “Break’s over! Come on!” they yelled. Pia unceremoniously stuffed Ratty in her robes and rushed to the kitchen.



There were only 2 more days till the Feast, and all of the Forbidden City was chaotic.

The kitchen was pandemonium. The head cook was scolding some pigirls, An and Chen had been instructed to buy a goose, Lan was cooking gigantic pots of rice, and Pia had been asked to inspect the food stores.

Pia pushed the storeroom door open. Two guards had been placed inside, and as soon as Pia opened the door, the guards gave a grim bow. “We are – are very sorry, ma’am.” they stammered. She looked round the room. All the food stores were gone! “What happened?” Pia demanded. One of the guards stuttered, “They were stolen!”


An and Chen were racing to the market, in a hurry to buy a goose.

“Let’s split up!” Chen suggested. “We could find one faster.”

An agreed, and when they arrived at their destination, they split up immediately.


Chen rushed back to the market centre empty-handed and found An waiting for her, panicked.

Chen wailed, “Nothing! Absolutely nothing!”

An stamped her hind legs. “Same!” she replied. “No shops were open! I managed to find a shopkeeper, and he told me…”

“Their food stores were stolen,” they said in unison.


Pia raced to the kitchen to report the robbery, and bumped into An and Chen. They discussed quickly, and realization dawned.

“There’s a food thief on the loose,” Pia sighed. Just as she said it, a shocking thing happened…


Emperor Hog Hei was standing behind them, listening to their intense conversation! He smiled at them as Pia noticed him and gasped. The pigirls knelt reverently at his feet and apologized for gossiping. Emperor Hog Hei motioned for them to rise and enquired further. So they told him what they knew. He went silent for a moment. Then the king told them an astounding fact.

“Actually, the day after isn’t really my birthday. I wanted to put on a birthday feast and invite the neighbouring country leaders for a peace gathering, in order to stop the war that’s happening nearby.” he explained, in his mellifluous voice.

The pigirls all gaped, unsure how to respond. The Emperor chuckled at their expressions. He continued, “But, as you say, a food thief is on the loose. So do not worry about the feast. I will spread word throughout the palace that I have postponed it. Until then, carry on with your jobs and act normal – Hey, Quito!”

“Quito?” An frowned. Hog Hei smirked.

“Quito’s my pet mosquito. Not many know about him!”Pia finally noticed a tiny mosquito flying dizzily around his head! “Very nice!” lied Pia. The Emperor smiled.


By the end of the month, Pia, Chen and An heard from ‘palace gossip’ that the Emperor had found the thieves! It was a gang of Monkgolians and they were sent to steal food for their country!

“Well,” smiled Pia, “at least a mystery happened!”


Thank you, everyone, for your hard work and wonderful entries! Please make sure to keep entering my competitions! And if you want to revise what I was looking for in your stories, to make your future writing even better, here again is the list upon which I based my marking:


Please read the next list carefully, as these are all the ingredients you need to include in your story:

  • it must be set in China in Imperial times – so I’ll need lots of detail about the setting, the dynasty, and some interesting period details! (This means doing a bit of fascinating research!)
  • your main character must be a practically perfect Pig
  • it must also include an erudite Emperor, a melacholy Mosquito and a rapacious Rat (look it up in the dictionary if you don’t know what erudite, melancholy or rapacious mean!)
  • it must include the colour periwinkle
  • it must include a famine
  • and it must include at least 4 of my Wicked Words used correctly (just click here to find them!)
  • it must be no longer than 1,000 words please! So remember to edit your story! Stories above 1,000 words will be marked down.


Here is the list of things I’ll be looking for when I judge your story, so try as much as you can to include the following:

(i) Story structure

  • I’m looking for a really attention-grabbing beginning, including some description of the setting
  • A very interesting problem or challenge
  • I want to see that problem developed in at least 2 further stages
  • I want a spine-tingling climax
  • And a satisfying resolution to the problem or challenge
  • And I want you to pay attention to your ending – make sure it’s one that leaves me impressed!

(ii) Setting

Now you all know that I LOVE lots of details about the setting, not just in the beginning, but right through the story! Remember to include details of:

  • the time, or era
  • the season and the weather
  • you might even include some information about other things going on at the time of your story which influence the plot!
  • and please use some really gorgeous adjectives in your descriptions – the more unusual and precise, the better your scores!

(iii) Characters

Please tell me a bit about them as you tell your story! What do they look like and how old are they? Where do they come from? Are they different or special in any way? Is there something about their past which has made them do the things they do? Do they have a job? Do they hold any special positions? These sorts of details will really help me to picture your characters and understand them – and it will increase your scores!

(iv) Style

This is where you can really set your story apart from the rest! I’m looking for:

  • wonderful vocabulary used correctly, including of course those 4 Wicked Words!
  • original style – something about your writing that is a little different
  • great grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • a story line that’s a bit different or unusual – I’m looking for a very original plot with original characters!
  • and of course, your story must be all your own work!





Desmond saving catThank you all so much for your wonderful entries into my latest Clever Competition! And what a lovely time I’ve had reading about your Perfect Pets! There were 48 fabulous entries this time, from 15 different schools in 7 cities on 4 different continents! There were entries from Melbourne in Australia, from Shanghai and Zhuhai in mainland China; from Hong Kong; from Chicago and San Diego in the United States of America, and, for the first time, from Colombo in Sri Lanka! There were real pets, like cats, hamsters, pigs and a red panda! There were fantastical pets, like dragons, seahorns and snickerdoodles! Most were cute and cuddly, some were downright scary! But most of all, there were DOGS – and being a dog-lover myself, all I can say is of course!

As ever, it was very hard to judge your entries. They were all so entertaining, and you clearly put such a lot of effort into them. But winners there must be, and here they are! Congratulations to everyone for your entries, and especially to the winners below!


This time there were only three entries in the Grade 1 to 3 Category, but I’m very pleased to say that every single one was of an excellent, place-winning standard! Well done to all of you, and I look forward to you entering again in my next competition!

FIRST PLACE: Hannah Thompson, Grade 3, Methodist Ladies College, Melbourne, 9 years old

Readers will remember that Hannah has been a previous winner in my competitions. I loved this terrific haiku about her dog Holly. Not only was the poem a great acrostic, but also Hannah managed to incorporate rhyming couplets in the first four lines, and also some great alliteration! I especially enjoyed Hannah’s sophisticated vocabulary, which created some wonderful imagery eg “harasses magpies wholeheartedly”, “lonesomely looks … lizard”. Congratulations Hannah – and make sure you keep on writing and entering my competitions in Grade 4!


Harasses magpies wholeheartedly, in fact she’s super keen,

Observes family feasts like she is the proud country’s Queen,

Lonesomely looks at my sister’s pet lizard,

Leaps at anyone wearing a cap like a wizard,

Yippee for my Harassing, Observant, Lonesome, Leaping, Yellow dog Holly!


SECOND PLACE: Shiv Mohan, Grade 3, Glenealy School, 7 years old

It was wonderful to receive another entry from young Shiv, who has also been a previous place-getter. His rhyming verse about his hamster Chewey was such a loving depiction of his little pet. And at just seven years of age, he already demonstrates a wonderful poetic sensibility, in similes such as “ivory and supple as a cloud in the air” and “like laser tag beams”. Please keep entering my competitions Shiv – I’m very excited to watch you develop into a fine writer.

Chewey the Hamster

My Chewey, my cute, cuddly, snuggly hamster

I feed him and give him water

He is ivory and supple as a cloud in the air

With fur as soft as my chocolate brown teddy bear

I hug him every day

After school we play

Ecstatic when I come home his eyes light up like laser tag beams

We are a great team.

Running around the wheel like an acrobat

Then exhausted lying around like a fat cat

On special days, he nibbles Sugus with me

My Chewey.


THIRD PLACE: Isabelle Ng, Grade 2, SUIS Hongqiao, Shanghai, 7 years old

Isabelle is another regular entrant into my competitions. Only in Grade 2, she has written a fantastic free verse about the dog she’d love to have, with some skillful internal rhymes in every line! This made her poem very entertaining to read. Isabelle confided to me in her email that she’d love a dog when she goes into 3rd grade – it would certainly have to be a clever pup to resemble this particular dog! Mum, please take note!

 The Dog I want

 I want a dog that doesn’t write a blog and doesn’t sit on a log like a frog,

A dog I want is a dog that doesn’t spit and doesn’t hit.

I don’t want a dog as silly as can be that kick like a horse or click like a dolphin,

I want a dog as cute as can be but doesn’t wear a funny suit.

So a dog I want is one that’s not fat as a cat nor as mad.

 I will train my dog to do tricks with his licks;

So, my dog can draw a triangle with the right angle;

So, my dog can wet the cat on the mat;

So, my dog can turn the page of the book in his cage.

 My dog can smell a spell with his nose.

My dog can smell ice cream from the shop by the nice stream.                                                                           

My dog can smell trouble when someone steals my bubble.                                                                                       

My dog can smell happiness when I dance of joy, careless. 



This was such a hard competition to judge, especially when it came down to the first five places! Well done everybody who entered on your excellent writing efforts, and make sure to keep on writing and reading poetry, whenever you can – the only way to get better and better!

 FIRST PLACE: Madeline Painter, Grade 6, South Middle School, Arlington Heights, Illinois, USA, 11 years old

Congratulations to Madeline on a wonderful poem that made me laugh out loud! I loved so much about her poem: her spare but very funny Dr Seuss-ian style; her invention of the “Snickerdoodle” – such a clever take on the fashionable poodle-mix dogs that have deluged the modern dog market; the wry invitation to explain all the fuss! I also loved Madeline’s rhyming couplets, especially the pale blue, yellow-spotted dog nesting in a pot! My only concern was the third line in the second stanza which let down the otherwise immaculate rhyming couplet pattern. A fabulous result Madeline, and keep on writing – you have a great future my friend!

 My Snickerpoodle

A snickerpoodle is fantastic

And oftentimes sarcastic


He’ll snicker at your doodles

Because fancy, prancy poodles

Are as snotty as can be!


Pale blue with golden-yellow spots

Snickerpoodles will only nest in pots.


 Why all the fuss?

Well, let us discuss.


They don’t shed

Will eat stale bread


Help with homework, housework, chores

Once a fellow told me that they make amazing s’mores


So now clearly you can see

A snickerpoodle is the perfect pet for me.


SECOND PLACE: Eleanor Meyer, Grade 5, San Diego French American School, San Diego, California, USA, 9 years old

A warm welcome to my Clever Competitions to Eleanor, a very talented young writer whose poem about a baby emerald dragon was outstanding! I loved Eleanor’s dragon who crates havoc in the house – the poem was very visual and great fun and the vocabulary was great! I loved the words “supreme apocalypse”, “reek” and its clever rhyme “Belgique” (which is the country ‘Belgium’ in French!) Her rhyming pattern was crisp and accurate, and her style very sophisticated. But I wasn’t quite sure from the poem whether the name of the pet was ‘Wyvern’ or ‘Emy’!

 My Perfect Pet is an Emerald Dragon!

This scaly beast soars through the house, oh no!

There goes my mother’s flowery antique!

Next come the flames, I think you have to go …

I’m sorry baby dragon, but you reek,

Maybe you were better off in Belgique!


 I hear the door shut with a snick, mom’s home!

Please don’t see this supreme apocalypse!

Come on Wyvern, go hide by the glass gnome.

Now let me cover you in tan woodchips.

Shrieks, followed by screams!  Did she find it crisped?


A shout comes from the living room, ”Emy?”

She skims my hair and swoops down through the roof.

Roar, crackle, followed by pure ecstasy!

Mom’s antique vase re-fired with a poof!

Emy’s my perfect pet, observe, there’s PROOF!


THIRD PLACE: Sofia Kerr, Grade 6, QSI International School of Zhuhai

Close on the tail of Eleanor’s entry came Sofia’s beautiful, heart-rending tribute to Squidgy, her pet hamster. Her love for her old pet resonates in this free verse poem, and brought a tear to me eye when I read it – the mark of a great poem! I also enjoyed Sofia’s wonderful description of Squidgy’s appearance, especially his fur with its “grumpy grey hue”. Well done Sofia – I look forward to reading more of your poetry!

My One and Only

(In memory of Squidgy, the smartest hamster I know)

On that last day

His eyes seemed to speak

“When I was extra ordinary as a pup,

You took me home and made me extraordinary!

But what can I give in return?

For I am a hamster

All I have is my fur

A grumpy grey hue with black, decorative lines

Wrapped around a boring white underbelly.

All I have is my beady black eyes and pale pink paws

All I do is chew on my cage in hopes of gaining attention

All I do is eat, sleep, and run”.

I pick him up and smile, “Oh Squidgy, you have given me so much.

You learned what few hamsters have ever learned

And none of that was me; it was pure you.

I am sure that you would’ve shone no matter who adopted you.”


EQUAL FOURTH PLACE: Emily Umansky, Grade 4, CDNIS Hong Kong, 9 years old

I loved Emily’s wonderful and very original invention of a Seahorn! And her beautiful vocabulary was the best in the competition! I’m quite sure that Emily must be a huge reader in her spare time. She also used rhyming couplets very accurately, and with great imagination. A super effort, Emily!

 Annabelle, the Seahorn

I have a pet seahorn,

An aquatic animal that is half seahorse and half unicorn.

Her glossy hair has the colours of the sea:

Turquoise, cerulean and emerald green are pretty nice, don’t you agree?


My seahorn, Annabelle, swims around with alacrity.

She can also sing many songs with clarity.

Sparkling dust flows from her curly tail,

So wherever Annabelle goes she temporarily leaves a tail trail.


The way she eats candy corn,

Makes me happy she was born.

Annabelle sleeps in her luminescent canopy bed with her cute ducky.

I hope you enjoyed my poem about my special pet. Merci!


Sarah Littlewood, Grade 6, Home-schooled, Zhuhai, 11 years old

Sarah’s short acrostic poem proves that sometimes less can be more! I loved Sarah’s vocabulary and her description of her pet. Cleverly done, Sarah!


Beautiful species

Ingenious mind for learning tricks

Stunning white coat like the snow in Siberia

Cunning eyes the size of sunflower seeds

Ultimate pet, hands down

Incredibly speedy on her hamster wheel 

Treat crazy.



Nicolette Ng, Grade 5, SUIS Hongqiao, Shanghai 9 years old

Nicolette introduced some very clever internal rhymes here in her poem based on rhyming couplets – excellent work Nicolette!

 I Want a Pet as Great as Can Be

I want a dog as cute as a frog that sits on a log croaking;

As neat as a cat that sits on a mat and licks its body soaking;

As fluffy as a bunny that is happy and sunny that sits on my knee;

As gentle as a deer that is drinking near with the water so clear under a tree.

 I want a cat that’s not black as a bat nor small as a rat nibbling;

Not as fierce as a bull nor as cruel as a Tasmanian devil charging;

Not as scary as a tiger walking through the thunder like a monster purring;

Not as noisy as a cricket that comes close in secret and hops in my pocket chirping.

 I may want a half Pegasus and a half unicorn cause it is my perfect pet.

It would take me anywhere I want to go and I bet it can fly as high as a jet.

I want a pet as great as can be, I don’t know how but maybe I will see.

Maybe my pet will not be as fancy, but I guarantee it will fill me with glee.


Chloé Dieudonne, Grade 6, Methodist Ladies College, Melbourne, 12 years old

I loved this cute free verse poem about Chloe’s two favourite pets – nicely done Chloe!

 Brioche and Milo

My dog’s name is Brioche        

I know just like the bun

Every time we go to the bakery

We think of him with love


My dog is excited

Energetic all the time

And when I chase him round the house

He sometimes just goes flying


My other pet is Milo

A gorgeous little bunny

He lives at my friend’s house

And sometimes he gets chubby


All my pets are named

All like different foods

We make sure we are careful

When my dad’s in a hungry mood!


Bella Dowd, QSI Zhuhai, China, 9 years old

Bella’s poem had some fantastic vocabulary and imagery – but I had to mark it down because it was more of a Halloween poem than a Perfect Pet Poem! Do keep on writing Bella, as you clearly have talent!

 My Werewolf

On Halloween night, the moon comes out bright.

My dog lifts his head to the call.

Bright excitement is clear, not an ounce of his fear,

As he whimpers sneaky and sly.


He slips from his bed, inside the dark shed,

As we gather our things and depart.

He prowls the town, careful, the dark shadows lurking,

Frightful and strong–he transforms.


He takes to the foothills, on the far edge of town,

A deep red glare in his eyes.

They run as a pack, up hills and back,

A werewolf’s delight to be sure.


Many children have heard sounds on Halloween night,

That even give parents a terrible fright. 

Nobody knows these sounds actually come-

From the howling of hounds!

The hairy dark souls of the night.


 Brady Choy, Grade 4, International Christian School Hong Kong, 9 years old

A warm welcome to Brad to my Clever Competitions! Your rhyming couplets were great, but be careful to maintain the pattern, which went a bit out of kilter in the middle!

The Dog

A companion, a friend

A subject who knows no end

Whose trust, whose loyalty

Has no boundary

And whose love for me and you is infinite

The chihuahua, the rottweiler

The beagle, the terrier

Big or small,

Short or tall

Dumb or clever

Will be in our hearts FOREVER


Elisha Abeysingha, Grade 6, Gateway College, Dehiwala, Colombo, Sri Lanka , 9 years old

Another warm welcome to Elisha, who together with class mate Yevan are my very first entrants from Sri Lanka! Another great poem in rhyming couplets, but again with a little flaw in the second verse where there was an unnecessary fifth line. Keep up the great work Elisha, and I look forward to seeing more of your work in future!


I have a pet dog named Monnie,

And her mother’s name is Lonnie.

How crazy is she

To dip her bone in my tea?

She always hangs upside down on the stairs

When nobody is looking and nobody cares.

She is a very good tale teller

And a very good loud speaker.

She is also a very good hide and seeker.

 She loves fashion shows

And putting nail polish on her toes.

Monnie loves bones

And high music tones.

 She hates phones

And loves ice cream cones.


Thank you once again everybody who entered! I’ve really enjoyed reading your work, and can’t wait to see your next entry in my Clever Competitions!


 A final thank you once again, to everyone who took part in this competition – I can’t wait to see you entries in my next competition, to be announced shortly!

 Lastly, a reminder that if you’d like an automatic reminder of my upcoming competitions, you can either:

  • click the Subscribe button on my blog homepage
  • OR email me at sarah@auspicioustimes.com and ask me to add your name and email address to my Funny and Fabulous Mailing List.

– but make sure that you first ask Mum or Dad or your guardian for permission!

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