Clever Competitions



Cockadoodle doo! I’m just about roostered out!!

I’ve had enormous fun judging all the fantastic entries in my Really Riveting Rooster Tale writing competition, but I’ll be quite happy not to see another rooster for a while! Rickshaw Rooster had better watch out – I might just put him in a cooking pot!! Once again, the competition was truly international, with entries coming from 6 major cities around the world: Calcutta, Chicago, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney! This time there were just 24 entries, but what they lacked in quantity they more than made up for in quality! I was thrilled to see some of our previous competitors return, with even better writing, and to see entries from some new competitors who are clearly ESL learners just starting on their English writing journey. It was a great privilege to read all of your stories, and I only regret that I could not give places to you all! Many thanks to all the teachers, librarians, mums and dads who encouraged their students/children to enter – it’s only with repeated practice that truly great writing can be achieved. I strongly encourage anyone who didn’t manage a place this time to make sure they enter my future competitions and see how their writing improves!

And if you didn’t place, or didn’t enter this time, and you want to improve your writing skills, I highly recommend that you read and really take on board my Story Writing Hints at – then see how you get on next time!

It’s hard to judge competitions, so like all judges I use judging criteria on a spreadsheet to find out who scores what – and the criteria are exactly what I put in my instructions for the competition. This is why, when you enter a competition, it is essential to ensure that you put every single ingredient you are asked for in your story!

In this case I asked for the following:

 You had to write a story of no more than 1000 words;

 The main character had to be a Rooster;

 Your Rooster had to display the characteristics of people born in the Year of the Rooster;

 Your story HAD TO be set in China somewhere – with a really detailed description of the setting, not forgetting the season and the weather;

 You had to include an inquisitive bulbul, a ball of string, the colour coquelicot and a fire;

 I asked for lots of detail about your characters – not just what they looked like, but a bit about their personality, their history and why they were like they were.

 I wanted a great story structure: a great beginning, an interesting problem or conflict or challenge, the development of that problem or conflict or challenge, a thrilling cliff-hanger or climax, a great resolution which made sense, and a  memorable ending;

 You had to use at least 5 of my Wicked Words;

 Lastly, you had to have a TITLE.

Needless to say, I was also looking for great vocabulary, great style and good grammar and punctuation.

If you didn’t place this time, and you really want to do better next time, then it would be a great exercise to go through the criteria listed above to see how your story measures up!

Congratulations to ALL the contestants on their hard work and wonderful entries, and special congratulations to our finalists, whose stories are printed below. And at the end, there’s a special story treat for you all, from past winner Hillary Lo and her friend Winter Lau from Shatin College, who decided to write a fabulous story for the competition just for fun, even though they were too old to enter! Now that’s what I call dedication, and the mark of two future authors! I encourage you all to read their story – it’s very funny, very well-written, and an example of how great your writing can be if you keep on practicing!


This was a difficult writing competition, with lots of tricky ingredients to include, so I was delighted that some brave younger writers took up the challenge! In this category there were just 5 entries, all from Shanghai United International School, Hongqiao Campus, Shanghai. None of the entrants speak English as a first language, so their entries were truly impressive, and I can only encourage them to keep up the good work! Understandably, there were problems with verb tense and other grammar in all of the stories, but these are very new writers, and there is no doubt that their story-telling skills, imagination and vocabulary are outstanding. My big hint for these writers: read, and read, and read, lots and lots of English language fiction books, in your spare time. English is fiendishly difficult, and reading constantly, and omnivorously, is the only way to absorb its tricky rules and nuances. But at the same time, try to keep your authentic Chinese voice – which makes your writing unique and special. Wicked words are all in bold italics.

FIRST PLACE:         Daniel Song, Grade 3, SUIS Hongqiao, Shanghai

Daniel’s adventure story about a brave warrior rooster, his inquisitive bulbul friend and a spider, who lead a rebel band against an evil Chinese emperor, is packed with action and exciting detail. Daniel included all my special ingredients, used four of my Wicked Words correctly, and some impressive further vocabulary – I sense that Daniel is a bit of a military specialist with words like “deployed” and “morale problems” being used so effectively! I especially liked the way he used the spider as a device to include constant references to that ball of string, as well as the satisfying ending. Well done Daniel, and keep on reading and writing a lot – you’re on your way to being a great writer!

The True Emperor

Once upon a time in China there was a brave, omniscient rooster warrior and a bulbul that flew from U.S.A. and knew nothing about China. One day, while the rooster was stopping thieves from stealing gold, he met that bulbul, which has no food and was fainting. He baked a rabbit for the bulbul to eat and cooked many other delicious meals for the bulbul. When the bulbul woke up, he asked 10 questions about the rooster, 5 about China, 7 about the food after he ate it, and the rooster answered them one by one.

This rooster was once a general of the rooster anti-thief army of China. The thieves have defeated all of the army, but he still bravely battled and won respect all over China. He was currently an independent anti-thief unit, and often was invited to parties.

When he saw the bulbul and heard he was from the U.S.A. he decided to care for him and train him to fight thieves. They gradually became friends. The bulbul has a white belly, black head and feathers, and a little yellow at his tail. The rooster has a red head, dark brown feathers, and black feet. They soon met a new challenge.

One day in China, there was an illustrious evil emperor that got all the gold and silver in the world, only cared about being richer and created rebellious areas all over China.

The rebels were led by the rooster, a spider, and the bulbul. One day, the rooster thought of how to get away all the gold and silver from the emperor. As the other rebels (humans) gathered with knives and axes and swords, the invasion was ready. The emperor had 20 million troops, but they all hate the emperor, so they often have morale problems. All the rebels, as the emperor was deploying troops, were charging to the emperor’s palace walls. Inside the capital came a burst of Chinese troops. The spider immediately launched some balls of string and captured them. The force’s remnants exonerated and joined the attack on the palace. Rebels continued the invasion and fire burned the richly-colored coquelicot walls to nothing and started to kill.

By that time, the leaders said, “Stop killing! Take the gold and run!” So they, together, pulled away a house of gold.

The invasion gave total pandemonium to the palace. By that time, he can finally see from the palace to the outside world. He saw whole cities of broken buildings (the money that originally could be used on fixing them became taxes!). He, under more pain that he had ever glimpsing at this broken country, decided to surrender to the rooster.

As he walked to the rebels’ camp, the rooster ordered not to attack him. Soon, they personally met. The rooster said, “As long as you make China a better place, you can join us, which represents justice in China.” The emperor said, “OK, I will be a magnanimous person towards everyone and everything.”

To fix China, the spider, under the roosters’ command, fixed all of China with the balls of string. Since then, China became peaceful and everyone was rich, not just the emperor.

SECOND PLACE: Abigail Cai, Grade 3, SUIS Hongqiao, Shanghai

Abigail’s story is an endearing tale of friendship, and was very well-written, containing  few grammatical errors, with just a couple of issues with tense and spelling. I loved the idea of the ball of string being used to deconstruct the evil queen! She used her 5 Wicked Words well, and her story was well-constructed. But one BIG issue was that her rooster was a girl…and roosters are, by definition, male birds! Be careful Abigail, and make sure you do your research if you are at all in doubt about your subject! And I did want more description of your characters and especially the setting so I could paint a picture in my head of the backdrop to the action! Overall, though, it was a fantastic effort and a well-deserved second place!

Only Because of A Ball of String

On one estival day of 2017, a rooster was born. The idiosyncratic thing was, the rooster was borne inside a ball of string. And the ball of string was inside a magical cave so it has a lot of magical power. And the magical cave was in Shanghai.

The rooster grew very fast. Within 3 years, she was as tall as a mailbox! But I have some bad news. This rooster called Katrina was cruel, selfish, rude and mean.

She was Queen of all roosters in Shanghai. No rooster in Shanghai ever dared to look at Katrina right in the eye. There were a million rooster soldiers and they were all Katrina’s slaves. Needless to say, the slaves hated their Queen.

The only way to fight their Queen was to pull string away from the ball of string that gave birth to her, because it was the center of her power.

If the ball of string was gone forever, then Katrina would be gone forever and turned into dust. Even if one string was pulled, one piece of Katrina would turn into dust.

They tried. But no one could ever take away all of the strings at once, because Katrina was so strong and never left the ball alone for more than an hour.

One day, Katrina rushed into Shanghai for some quick shopping of sumptuous rooster jewelry.

Crash! She accidentally tripped over a thing; it turned out it’s a bulbul bird.

Usually Katrina would give the thing an evil eye and put up a fight. But as the bulbul called Lily said sorry, like magic, a force forced Katrina to smile and say “it’s Okay”. And so she did.

Lily stood up and said, “Are you Okay? I am truly sorry. Hey, I am going to the bubble tea store. You can come too and I can buy you one tea as my sorry gift. I mean, if it was okay with you.”

Again the magical force forced Katrina again to say: Sure. So Katrina did what the force told her to do.

After that, they became best friends and Katrina forgot about the magical cave and stayed in Lily’s house in Shanghai.

One day, Katrina saw a piece on her tantalizing dress turned into dust. Then another.

That’s when she realized that she had forgotten the ball of string. She dashed back into the cave. When she finally got there, she saw a soldier standing in front of the ball of string and pulling.

“Hey, what do you think you are doing?” shouted Katrina. The soldier ran away. Katrina ran towards the ball of string. It was smaller. Katrina felt like crying.

Then, Katrina’s phone rang. “Katrina, where are you?” Asked Lily.

“ Lily, I need to tell you something. You know the magical cave? Go in and follow the coquelicot dust. You’ll find me. OK?”

Because Lily is a very clever Bulbul, she knew right away where it is.

It was a foggy day. The wind was howling like a crazy wolf in Shanghai. Lily knew something was wrong. She dashed into the cave in what felt like mere seconds.

She saw Katrina at the cave’s gate. Lily was grateful to see Katrina again. Inside, she felt more worrying than happy.

“Is it okay if I tell you something you didn’t know about me?” Asked Katrina.

“I was borne here in this cave and they called me Queen Katrina and lived here all the time before you met me.”

“So you were the mean Queen everybody hated? Why didn’t you tell me?” Lily burst into tears.

Before Katrina could say a word, Lily ran away. Then, Katrina felt some pain on the shoulders. She turned around and could not believe her eyes. There were a million of her soldiers shooting arrows at her.

She still had the ball of string but she didn’t want to hurt the soldiers any more! The only way she could think of is calling for Lily’s help. But after their misunderstanding, she didn’t think it was a good choice. She knew there was no more time for her to think.

She touched the ball of string and used the function that could only be used twice: the magic friendship function. She held on tight to the ball and yelled: “I wish I might the first wish I made tonight; I wish my friend was by my side. “

Then Lily felt the magical force forced her to walk back and help Katrina. So she did.

When she was almost there, some other Katrina’s soldiers came attacking Lily. Just then Lily saw a stone like a secret passage just by her side.

Lily jumped into the hole underneath the stone. “Ah!” It was indeed a secret passage!

Within mere seconds, Lily was right beside Katrina!

Katrina said to Lily: “My dearest friend, I don’t want to be the mean Queen any more. I realize that the force that made me befriend you came from the ball of string that was the center of my powers. Please forgive me. Let us be friends forever.”

Surely Lily exonerated her.

Together, they used the last chance of the magic friendship function.

“I wish I might, the first star I see tonight; to make the ball of string whole again and bring us in front of the soldiers!” They shouted together. Within one second, they were above in the air in front of all soldiers.

And Katrina shouted: “Soldiers and friends, I want to be a good Queen from now on. Please forgive what I did in the past. Feel free to call me Katrina if you like and exonerate me from my wrongdoings.”

From then on, the soldiers started calling her Katrina the Queen We Love. All of them lived happily ever after.

THIRD PLACE: Siyuan (Mia) Wang, Grade 3, SUIS Hongqiao, Shanghai, 9 Years Old

I really enjoyed reading Siyuan’s mythical tale of a rooster with the magical power to spin gold, who is sent by the gods to alleviate the suffering of the poor. His perilous mission, from serving a greedy peasant family, to training as a soldier, to learning about the beauty of the world, with its wonderful conclusion as he is granted immortality in Chinese folklore, had a truly Chinese character, while meeting the definition of a Really Riveting Rooster Tale very handsomely. The beginning was alluring, and this story contained the best character and setting descriptions in this category! But…the story was way above the maximum word count, and did not include many of the compulsory ingredients (string/bulbul/coquelicot/fire/5 Wicked Words). Please be more careful next time Siyuan to read the directions! And you can work on that English grammar by reading lots and lots of English language fiction books – while never losing your authentic Chinese voice, which is truly captivating!

 The Golden Rooster

Prologue: Long time ago, the gods ruled the ancient China, they were looking for poor ones those deserved better. They gave the poorest family an unknown gift, also took away something from the proudest, richest families. They discussed during travels high up in the sky. It dawned on gods when they saw the poorest family ever, they were on the lawn in rags, rooftops with holes, scarcely food in kitchen and their only treasure-a hen. At once, they knew what would be gave to the family to make their wishes come true and have better life.

A golden flash,

It hits the hen.

The hen faints,

Sudden quietness.

Once upon a time, at the central ancient China there was a poor farmer family lived by the Yellow River. Most of harvest was collected by army to support war against intruder. They had scarcely food, the only treasure was a hen.

One day, something rather peculiar happened with coincidence. All food’s gone, in the meanwhile the hen laid seven eggs! Even more amazing one of them was a giant golden egg!

Right on that day, the golden egg hatched! A little creature came out the eggshell. It looked very much like a hen, but it had a red dangly thing at chin and a red crown on head. The family thought it’s a male hen, so the oldest sister – Qiaoqiao Li, gave a name to the new life: Rooster.

Rooster had an incredible ability, he could spin gold! Every day Rooster spun some gold that made the family rich very soon, like other fortunate families. They even bought a new house in a month! But they became very ungrateful little by little. The Li family made him spin gold as much as he could every day, but they were not thankful of it. Among with more and more gold rolling into the ‘pocket’, the family went to be more greedy and selfish.

Finally, at a Friday night, Rooster could not bear it anymore. When the family was sleeping, he escaped and leaped out from a window.

Rooster landed on threshold of the house. He stopped and started sobbing, gold tears slid into the house, broken into fist-sized pieces. After a while, he felt angry and sad, sang and shrieked at the top of his lungs. Not long after, the house’s bedroom window lit up by red candles, and innocent poor Rooster knew what they were up to. The rooster took one last look at Li family’s new plush house, and ran down the wide, golden stairs.

As he ran, all his decrepit feelings flowed out of mind. After all, he knew something new was going to happen, he knew it.

Rooster ran through the little town, fields and sand hills to a plain where he spent last ounce of strength, lied down and instantly fell into sleep …

Rooster woke up from chock, chattering and talking all around. He found it was in a red valley with countless tens, it obviously wasn’t the same place he slept under the starry sky.

“Well, well, well,” a red face general spoke, scooping up curious, nervous Rooster. He showed it to soldiers in front of him. “Our golden baby has woken up.”

“Serve it some food! It deserves when we take its gold.” Rooster struggled to free himself, but it was helplessness, the general was holding him on the neck tightly.

“Is this food okay, General?” A soldier ran close by, with little grains in a cup.

“Fine. It shall be okay for it.” Couldn’t wait the general finished off his sentence, Rooster began pecking tiny grains in the cup. Delicious! He ate every single grain, until nothing left in the cup with few golden saliva.

“Well, it seems to like that.” The general couldn’t help laughing.

“It is pretty easy, we have plenty provisions. em… I do think this rooster may fight with us and talk human language if we train it… do you agree with me?”

“Yes!” A chorus of soldiers’ voice echoed through the empty clearing.

“Very well, then. We shall decide how in 3 days and start to train it right away. Let’s get to work.” As so, some soldier chimed in with the general.

Just in a few days, a tribe had completed their mission. They had thought of ways to teach Rooster Chinese characters, how to fight and things a soldier was supposed to know. And pardon you, they even had plan to teach fortunetelling and cooking.

Rooster studied very hard and quickly, became a smart brave soldier to join many battles after couple weeks. He was not only a rooster, he grew up a ‘roodier’.

Rooster never got injured magically, and not got older, the gods granted him an immortal soul. He led a tribe and his soldiers respected him very much, as they thought Rooster had very much courage and power.

One night, a battle was nearly over. The tribe and Rooster were sleeping in their tents, snoring loudly. It has been a hard day, some wagons broken pieces in the battlefield, nearly all the soldiers were wounded. Some even got killed! Nothing could wake even just one of them up. Nothing.

Another tribe of tired soldiers passed their tents and got an evil idea to grab Rooster. A soldier took a dagger out and sliced down a square from each tent. They saw the exhausted sleeping soundly soldiers, and Rooster was in his private tent. They recognized him immediately.

As soon as they were done with this, one of the soldiers scooped Rooster up like a doll, others pressed dagger into each of the poor asleep soldiers’ chest. Instantly, every Rooster’s soldier was as dead as a piece of torn up paper.

After a few days, the soldier who discovered Rooster was going to quit the army. Nobody wanted him to go, as he was such a good fighter. They all pleaded him to tell all of them his reasons to leave, but he refused.

He left every belonging to the tribe, but only took the golden egg rooster with him. Why? Other soldiers wondered. Why did he want to leave but only take Rooster with him? Has he turned greedy throughout the days? Well, that soldier had his own reasons.

The soldier Tianying had no choice to be a soldier before, he was forced by his Dad. Last month, he got news that both his father and mother had died, his father lung disease, and his mother from influenza.

Tianying’s Dad was a formal leader of the tribe that the soldier was in, but as soon as he got lung disease, he had to discharge and try to let his son to replace him, however Tianying wasn’t a very good warrior back then, therefore he chose someone else to take the leader position.

Although Tianying never wanted to be a soldier, but he also didn’t want to leave his father heartbroken, because the old man already got serious disease.

Tianying knew he couldn’t mess this up and let his father down, but he couldn’t bear these anymore, fighting and killing, too bloody for him. His father kept on telling him this quote: “Someday it will stop, this is how life comes to be. Now my Tianying goes back to work.” But Tianying never understood. He had a own plan.

This plan wasn’t really Tianying’s. The gods had given it to his wife – Lingmei who was a young old-style private school teacher.

Just the night Tianying had decided to quit the tribe, Lingmei was sent a dream from the gods. The gods told her that Tianying would quit the tribe with Rooster. The god gave her the heads-up because of her faith and belief in gods, so the gods wanted Lingmei to change Rooster. To teach him the beauties of this world, to teach him about nature and music, being a good living being. And let him forget all about the bloody fighting time.

Every day, after Tianying went to work at his new soup shop, the couple spent half day time with Rooster, on teaching him new things.

After a year, Rooster was back to its real self again. Lingmei told Rooster to share his experience with the livings of this world – human, animals, plants… And she let Rooster leave to accomplish the mission.

Rooster did what he’s supposed to do very well, he shared his stores to people calling for peace, gave gold to help poor families. He became a famous icon and everybody loved him.

God granted Lingmei and Tianying a wish to thank them for what they did for Rooster. They made a wish to have a child who looks just like Rooster. And so, after 9 months, Lingmei gave birth to a pretty little girl with curly hair. They named her Jier, a similar name named of Rooster.

People believed that Rooster always bring good fortune, happiness and good sign and to the world, as time passes Rooster became one of mascot animals in Chinese folk.

FOURTH PLACE: Ivy Wang, Grade 1, SUIS Hongqiao, Shanghai 8 years old

At just 8 years old, and in Grade 1 with English as her second language, Ivy’s entry was truly impressive! I very much enjoyed her exciting tale of the rescue of a bulbul from a greedy woman by a brave rooster and his animal team – but remember Ivy to describe your setting in detail, and give a bit more information about your characters! As a beginner writer, I was hugely impressed that Ivy was able to use 3 of the 5 Wicked Words she chose correctly! Well done Ivy and keep on writing and reading lots and lots of books!

Rooster, the Hero

One sunny day, a very very fat woman caught a bulbul in Jing An Park because the bulbul could sing mellifluous songs and it could make any unhappy people happy in the world. The woman did not have a baby and her husband was very lazy. The man did not catch fishes. Then she gave bulbul a name that is “Barbie”.

Barbie had many friends in the Ivy forest. There was a very proud brave rooster and he volunteered to be the leader. Then he gave every animal a codename because they all wanted to save the bulbul. The rooster named himself number 1 and he said to the other animals “you the rabbit you are number 2, you, the squirrel, you are number 3, you, the sheep, you are number 4 and the cat is number 5.” The rooster thought the codename would be more secret. They spent all day to plan how to save Barbie.

They set out to save Barbie the next day. The first time the rooster brought a huge candle to the woman’s house. The woman’s house was beside Jing An Park and the rooster thought he would put the candle down by a fishing pool inside the house. The rooster insisted the window behind the woman’s chair was a good start. But the woman carelessly dropped the ball of string and she stood up to pick it up and knocked down the candle. Then the woman sat back to her seat and kicked the candle by her ankle. The candle flew out of the window. The woman’s house was not on fire so that they did not save Barbie.

Everyone was sad that the plan did not succeed. In fact, the rooster was a little fastidious and thought that his idea was the best. So the rooster did not take other animals’ ideas the first time. The rooster apologized to others and he thought that the group was sure to do it next time.

They all thought the woman was very voracious about foods and money. They wanted to make huge pandemonium so they brought some watermelons and a fake copacetic egg-like diamond and a bag of boiled potatoes. The rooster asked number 3 (the squirrel) to put the diamond at the steps outside the front door then the squirrel rapidly hid himself in the backyard. The woman picked the diamond out of expectation and quickly got back into her chair. The rooster said: “all of you go and take the potatoes and threw to the woman.” They all said ok. The rooster shouted: “One Two Three! Go!” The fight began. The boiled potatoes got on the woman’s face like heavy raindrops. The woman just wiped it. They also used the watermelons and the woman felt hurt so that she went to the bathroom hurriedly. Number 2 (the rabbit) and the rooster slid into the room and the rabbit jumped on the table and opened the cage. The rooster asked: “are you okay?”

The bulbul nodded her head and flew outside. Finally, they met together.

The woman realized people should not catch the living things. So they have an ecstatic party! And the woman said sorry to Barbie. Everyone thought the rooster was very kind and was proud of him.

FIFTH PLACE: Sandra Zhao, Grade 3, SUIS Hongqiao, Shanghai

Sandra made a great attempt with her fun story about a talkative Rooster and his bulbul friend who battle a wicked witch. She correctly included not just 5 but 6 Wicked Words which was excellent! But as the title of her story makes clear, she has based it on the Broadway musical Wicked, with the same green witch called Elpha who dissolves in water! Sandra please remember – in story competitions, the judges are looking for original ideas, characters and storyline! You also need to work on your setting,  your tenses and your grammar (see my comments above about reading lots and lots of books) and your story ending – NEVER end a story “to be continued”! But a big well done for entering, and make sure you enter the next competition so you can get lots of story writing practice!

Wicked and Rooster

Once upon a time in Shanghai , a estival summer, 2 friends were on a road to see their new school . A illustrious talkative selfish ROOSTER! He was illustrious for throwing the wildest party in his old school or being on CCTV in school. And his friend (only because his friend for acting like a slave) But how rude of me my name is Sandra Zhao. And his friend the splendiferous bulbul, “Tita” (which is a girl).They met when they were in kindergarten, but they also had problems. Once Tita’s favorite comb got lost and Andy stole one of its large diamonds. But that was just a tiny problem…

So where were we? Ohh, yes! They were on their trip to their school. Something peculiar happened, very idiosyncratic … There was a witch at their school. A wicked witch, she is GREEN. She is called “Elpha”. She had a wand that can curse animals. She wanted to trick everyone.

She was the one who tantelise the coquelicot flowers. Why did Andy want to come here…YOU KNOW WHY? So, as they went on…they saw a thick forest on their way there. But Elpha was making a fire on it, so Tita said “What should we do?” “Let’s use our irridescent coquelicot flowers to unlock the spell!” Andy said.

“Ohh why didn’t I think of it?” They said the magic word and the fire was gone.

They were in Shanghai chasing Elpha, but just then Tita asked “We will never catch her!”“Ohh, there she is!” Andy shouted. They use the biggest power and made all the animals come here and FIGHT!

All the animals were running toward her and chasing her. She wasn’t scared at all. She said “BUDAMMATLALA!” All the animals were thrown away. She started running away, She crossed over the pond. Andy said “She crossed over the pond, she’s afraid of WATER!” Elephant used water to spray her! They went chasing her, all the animals pour water on her and she slowly disappear. “HOORAY! HOORAY!” Everyone shouted.

A ball of string appeared…

To be continued…


 In this Category there were 19 contestants, including a large number of excellent writers. Congratulations to everyone who entered this challenging competition – I very much enjoyed reading all your stories! The top six stories were all very well-written, with close attention to all the requirements of the competition. They also all scored very highly for that mysterious X-Factor – a combination of style, easy flow and that certain something which marks a story out as special. So you can imagine how difficult it was to work out the placings; in the end I had to be extremely picky! I’ve given an indication in each case of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the 6 finalists, which I hope will help them in future competitions, and I’ve also added on two well-deserved Special Mentions for reasons I’ll explain later! Wicked Words in bold italics as before.


FIRST PLACE: Arjya Kanjilal, Grade 6, DPS Newtown, Kolkata, India, 10 years old

Readers will remember Arjya’s wonderful 3rd place-winning entry last year in my Mischievous Monkey Story Competition; this time, she has come a well-deserved First Place! I loved Arjya’s exciting adventure story about the adventures of a garrulous rooster and cheerful bulbul who get caught in the clutches of an evil fox-magician. What especially made Arjya’s story stand apart for me were her lyrical descriptions of setting – not just at the beginning, to set the scene, but throughout her story. Anyone who knows me will know that I am a Setting Fiend! Writing is all about painting pictures for the reader, and the more detail you paint about the story setting, the deeper the reader’s engagement in the story. Just look at Arjya’s opening paragraph to see what I mean! Other strengths were her alluring title, her use of exceptional vocabulary throughout, her well-drawn characters, her fast-paced plot with a great cliff-hanger, and the strong resolution and ending. Congratulations Aria – your writing just keeps getting better and better, and I look forward to seeing more of it!

 The Fire of Memories

The sky turned a beautiful coquelicot as the fluorescent red spring sun peeked out of its billowing cloak of clouds, spreading its golden hue over Bird Island in Qiandao Lake in China. Over the lush green meadows, lilies and violets nodded their heads in the gentle breeze as their tightly closed petals slowly unfolded and the hills came alive with the music of the birds. The iridescent feathers of a rooster shimmered in the soft light of the glowing red orb.

“Cock-a-doodle-doo!” A loud sound broke the roaring silence.

“Oh, Hi Ronnie! Are you awake already?” a sweet chirping voice came from behind him. It was a cheerful-looking red whiskered bulbul.

“You know that I wake along with the sun, Billie! You needn’t say that every morning”, replied Ronnie in his usual garrulous tone.

Billie suddenly shot off towards the sky shouting “Catch me if you can!” Ronnie started off after her, cursing under his breath for the millionth time about how he couldn’t fly.

Billie flew towards the Zhejiang waterfall darting behind a tree now and then. A ball of thread tangled in the branches got caught on her feet. It kept unravelling as she flew further and further but she failed to notice. Soon, she was in a different part of the island, completely uninhabited. Willows, alders and rhododendrons sprang up here and there and poppies dotted the green meadows. Behind the meadows and trees, there was a steep mountain. The rocks jutted out dangerously at right angles from its surface. And halfway up, there was a cave entrance, almost entirely concealed by some hanging ivy.

The dim glow emanating from the cave attracted Billie. Naturally curious about everything, she completely forgot about the game she had started playing and flew into the cave at lightning speed. The thread trailing all the way behind her snapped off when it got caught in the ivy, but she remained blissfully ignorant about it. Little did she realize that her inquisitiveness had led her straight into a trap. Her eyes fell on the magnificent coquelicot fire at the centre of the cave. Her eyes were transfixed on it but she missed the figure lurking in the shadows. The fire was showing her past, the memories dancing in the flames – her parents, herself as a baby, the first time she met Ronnie, all the years passing in minutes.

Suddenly, she heard a cackle from the shadows. Xi-Wang, the illustrious fox-magician said “The fire is connected to my life force. When the fire is fed, so am I, and my powers get enhanced. Now, you will cease to exist as anything but a memory trapped inside the fire whilst I take over the world. Ha!”

* * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, Ronnie was trudging up to the Zhejiang waterfall, but had completely lost sight of Billie. The mountain loomed in front of him. The strange light of the cave drew him near. Then suddenly, he saw a bright pink thread leading up the slope towards the cave. His instincts told him that Billie might be in trouble and the thread had something to do with it. After all, this wasn’t the first time her curiosity had got her into trouble.

“Billie? Are you here?” he shouted into the silence. He didn’t get any reply but he was positive that he was on the right track. “It is just serendipitous that Billie decided to leave this yarn!” he exclaimed.

He then looked up and saw the cave entrance, and how it was glowing with red light. He started to climb up the cliff. It wasn’t easy, but he egged himself on with a “just a little further!” Finally, he reached the cave entrance.

He saw Xi-Wang, the fox grinning from ear to ear, and Billie, helpless in one corner, standing centimetres away from the fire, her face frozen with fear. Xi-Wang pushed Billie forward and her wing seemed to be drawn to the strange fire. Ronnie flew in and let out the most piercing “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” He attacked Xi-Wang with a blind rage that momentarily threw Xi-Wang off balance. He lost control over the fire and Billie suddenly found herself free. Before he could regain his footing, Ronnie pushed him towards the enchanted fire and the magician got caught in his own trap. The fire did not burn him down but rather danced around him as if trapping him and turning him into a memory.

Meanwhile Billie flew back to Bird Island and informed the police about Xi-Wang’s atrocious behaviour. The bird police wasted no time and flew to the Zhejiang waterfall. They wrenched Xi-Wang out of the clutches of the fire and carried him off to the jail on Lock Island.

“Where havw you been all this time, Billie? I have been waiting for ages! Now, enough of adventure in one day, let’s get back”, rattled off Ronnie.

“Thanks so much for saving me my friend, I’ll try not to get into trouble any more”, replied Billie.

Ronnie & Billie went back to Bird Village, their home, where they were greeted by all the others. Ronnie chattered nineteen to dozen with all the other birds. It didn’t take long for the reporters to come too. He was ecstatic that he would be on television. He spoke about his ineffable joy at having saved Billie, and repeated his story at least thrice to every little bird.

Billie flew towards Ronnie and gave him a splendiferous trophy. “It’s a bravery award of the highest honour from the police.” Ronnie’s chest swelled with pride and he hopped off to brag about it to everyone, his coxcomb swaying as he marched.

Suddenly, Billie came up with a great idea.

“Let’s celebrate the victory of Ronnie the Rooster by celebrating the Year of the Rooster every twelve years, starting this year, 1921. Three cheers for Ronnie, Hip Hip Hurray!”

SECOND PLACE: Vedang Deshpande, Grade 6, Canadian International School, Tanjong Katong Campus, Singapore, 12 years old

Congratulations to competition newcomer Vedang on his superb entry. His story of a proud and cocky Rooster King who learns humility, wisdom and the true meaning of heroism with the help of a Himalayan bulbul was highly imaginative and witty! I especially loved the reference to the Maharaja, and the explanation about that colour, coquelicot! His story was a strong contender for first place, but was let down by a somewhat weak climax and a slightly abrupt ending. Overall it was a fantastic effort and I can’t wait to see more of Vedang’s writing!

Yong – The Proud Rooster

In the serene, peaceful village of Tuvas in southern China, “Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!” the King of the birds screeched as soon as the sun broke, interrupting the beautiful silence. Everyone came groggily out of their houses to hear what the King had to say.

Kuai the sparrow squeaked, “Why did you wake us up so early your majesty?”

“I called you here to tell you about how amazing I am!” Yong, the rooster King of the village boasted.

“During the war of ‘Niao’ (birds), I was crowned ‘The Best Warrior’!”

Yong truly was brave but nowadays he had stopped caring about the residents of his village. Yong wasn’t a modest ruler – he was a noisy, conceited, self-centered King.

As the loud rooster ranted on about his ‘real’ adventures, the other birds stealthily crept back into their nests trying not to get noticed by Yong. The only creature left listening to Yong’s far-fetched tales was Xiaoxue, the young myna who was in awe of Yong’s bravery.

As Yong continued to boast, a large silhouette appeared over the village. The birds chirped in panic and gathered their chicks into their nests. There was pandemonium everywhere. A massive human hand reached down and grabbed Xiaoxue. Yong watched helplessly as the human put Xiaoxue into a cage and briskly walked away.

All the birds angrily came from their nests and glared at the King. “This is entirely your fault, instead of just telling your stories of bravery you should have protected the kingdom and my baby would still be here!” Mama Xue sobbed.

“You go get Xiaoxue or you’ll be exiled from the village!!” Kuai shouted.

“But you.. You c-c-can’t do this.. I’m your leader!!” Yong protested as a group of birds dragged him out of the village. “Bring Xiaoxue home or never come back!” Mama Xue hollered.

As the rooster trudged away from the village he heard a squeaky, chirping sound. As he turned around he was hit with a blur of grey and black! Yong had never seen this bird in the village before. “Who are you?” Yong asked the bulbul.

“I-I-I’m Aragon, messenger of the Himalayan maharaja. I’ve come to inform you that some birds from our tribe have also been captured by the people, who keep them in a cage as their pets. My maharaja sent me to alert the bird villages about the same but I guess I was too late in Tuvas,” Aragon sighed.

“Birds should be free!” Yong bellowed, “Do you know where the humans live?”

“Sir, my investigation concludes that they live in the north-eastern parts of this land,” Aragon said, “Maharaja Aditya told me to help anybody who wants to free the birds.”

“COCKA-DOODLE DOOO!!” the rooster crowed, “Sorry Aragon, I always crow when I get too excited, crowing also helps me think!”

“Hehe.. That’s a peculiar idiosyncrasy sir!” Aragon chuckled.

In the pleasant weather Yong and Aragon made their way to the north, the cherry blossom trees with their bright pink flowers made the otherwise dull forest colorful. Yong noticed that there were fewer birds in the trees.

“Hmm, how odd eh Aragon, there are hardly any birds in this forest!” Yong said. “I’m certain that humans captured some of the birds here, and the rest of them moved south to be safe” Aragon squawked.

After a treacherous and tiring ten-days walk, Yong found an appetizing meal. “L-L-look Aragon!! A bucket of worms! I’ve never seen such mouthwatering worms in my life,” Yong drooled.


“How silly of me,” The King realized, “Aragon, look there’s a string tied to the handle of the bucket, it is reddish in color!”

“Actually it’s more of the shade of coquelicot,” Aragon pointed out.

“What’s coquelicot?” The King asked.

“Coquelicot is a unique shade of red – your comb is also coquelicot, I know this because I have read about every kind of bird species that there is, I used to borrow books from the library!” Aragon told Yong about his learnings as they followed the string.

All of a sudden, the atrocious smell of waste filled the air which made the King nauseous. He heard the shouts of the market and the unmistakable call of a myna nearby!

Yong noticed a ball of the same coquelicot string left outside a hut. Yong craned his neck up and saw some drawings which looked unfamiliar.

“Aragon, what does that say?” Yong asked, pointing towards the drawing.

“If I’m not mistaken that says ‘“Live Birds – For Sale’!” Aragon said excitedly.

They saw a man who was sitting by the birds.

“Do you know how to set a fire?” Yong asked.

“Yes, I know! I’ll start a fire as a distraction and meanwhile you can free the birds!” Aragon squeaked excitedly.

Aragon gathered materials to start a fire.

“Chnk-Chnk-Chnk” Aragon hurriedly struck the stones against each other to start a fire. Finally, he was able to light a fire which quickly spread out.

The man sitting by the birds rushed out to see what was happening and Yong swiftly entered the hut, unlocked all the cages and the birds, thanking him, happily flew back to their own villages!

Yong scooped Xiaoxue, who was scared and couldn’t fly and bolted into the forest. Aragon followed him and they went back to Tuvas.

“Yes! We did it! Thank you Aragon! If we hadn’t saved Xiaoxue then I would’ve broken my promise and I would’ve failed Mama Xue,” Yong said.

After Yong returned the bird village had a sumptuous celebratory feast with Aragon as the guest of honor. Now the King listened to the residents more often and instead of telling preposterous tales, ruled Tuvas very wisely which made him popular and well respected.

THIRD PLACE: Emily Davis, Year 4, Arden Anglican School Beecroft, Sydney, Australia, 10 years old

Emily has become a regular entrant in my competitions, and readers may recall that she placed first in the Grade 1 to 3 Category of my Mischievous Monkey Story Competition last year! Now, in just Year 4, she is becoming a strong competitor among the Big Guys! I loved Emily’s highly original story of an annoying rooster who finally found respect in his village when he outwitted the Red Guards of Chairman Mao’s army! I especially enjoyed her descriptions of setting, her strongly-drawn characters, her use of vocabulary, the fast-moving plot and her use of historical fact to add drama to her story. But the slightly abrupt ending and some mistakes with punctuation were weak points – sometimes a semi-colon should replace a comma, Emily! In conclusion, though, watch out other contestants! Emily is a young writer to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see more of her writing!

 The Rooster who saw Red

The morning light stuck its shining head up over the rooftops of Zengchong village. It roused the birds who began their morning chatter among the trees. On hearing their song the sun spilled over into the streets searching all through the village for its one recruit, Hong-Hi. After covering every nook and cranny of Zengchong the sun finally found Hong-Hi curled up under a bench.

Like every rooster Hong-Hi was extremely annoying to anyone but himself. His job, as is true for all roosters, was to rise each morning at dawn to awaken all in earshot of his screeching cry. Hong-Hi was fed up; he felt unappreciated and disrespected. He was the rooster of Zengchong and yet all people did was batter him with their brooms. It was atrocious. Hong-Hi rolled over and let out a loud and lazy yawn. He decided not to wake those ungrateful humans today but instead have a well-deserved sleep in. Hong-Hi yawned again, this time even louder causing his coquelicot wattle to wobble.

Hong-Hi slept for several hours before stirring to find the village deadly silent. No carts squeaked along the narrow streets filled with hay and market goods. No sellers called out to hungry travellers or town’s folk. There was no busy chatter from the workmen as they lugged heavy loads of wood and stone. No horse’s hooves clattered down the cobbled winding streets of Zengchong. All was covered in a hazy fog of impenetrable silence, there was not a rustle or twitch from anything in Zengchong village.

Hong-Hi felt extremely unsettled. He fluffed out his feathers and cowered behind the leg of the bench. Guilt crept over Hong-Hi’s heart, maybe sleeping in hadn’t been such a good idea.

Hong-Hi let out a piercing cry and waited … nothing. He tried again, the village remained stubbornly quiet. Hong-Hi stamped his foot with impatience, what was wrong with this village? Why did no one listen to him? Sulking, he plonked his bottom firmly down on the dusty cobblestones.

Hong-Hi stared mournfully up at the wooden drum tower, its triangular turrets stacked one on top of the other reaching up to the sky. The old tower was splendiferously decorated with swaying straw knots to welcome in the New Year. Tomorrow there would be fireworks and music.

“Chakolee, chakolee” a bulbul bird called down from his perch on a pile of multi-coloured fireworks.

Hong-Hi leapt up, his beating wings causing clouds of dust to swirl like a tornado around him. Scuttling towards the tower Hong-Hi gathered wingfuls of fireworks and hopped up onto the first roof tier. He looked down, all was still. Hong-Hi continued to climb, haphazardly throwing his body up to each new tier, gasping for breath at this unaccustomed exercise. Flopping onto the final tier, Hong-Hi scratched ferociously at the wooden roof panels willing a spark to appear. Placing his claw onto the firework, waiting…nothing. Hong-Hi slumped, his comb drooping across his eye.

“Chakolee, chakolee,” the bulbul bird swept down, a ball of string held in its beak. Spreading his wings Hong-Hi crowed with delight. The bulbul inadvertently dropped the string, diving for the ground to escape the harsh call. Quickly Hong-Hi snatched up the string, tied it to a firework, and scratching with his claw he achieved another spark! As he had expected, the string caught alight!

The firework exploded with a deafening boom, a million fiery stars shot up into the sky.   Hong-Hi peered out from behind a pillar. A crowd of villagers were gathering in the town square, all eyes were fixed on Hong-Hi. Hong-Hi lifted a wing and wiggled it in the air.

A man shouted out from the crowd “Catch the rooster! Get a catapult, he will burn our village down!”

Hong-Hi slowly dropped his wing down to his side. He stared out at the crowd in horror. Some of the crowd had already left to collect their weapons, a boy threw a stick. This was not the recognition he deserved, this was dishonour. Shame flooded through him.

Hong-Hi stared sadly away from the pandemonium of the crowd towards the rolling hills, his attention drawn to a moving patch of red. He squinted, shading his eyes with his wing. The patch broke into smaller patches of red becoming flags as they got closer. These people weren’t villagers or travellers, they wore red armbands and came with sticks of burning wood. The Red Guards!

Hong-Hi cried out and dashed inside the drum tower. He threw himself down the inner stairs. He had to warn the villagers and bang the drum. He had to make them listen. Racing towards the drum Hong-Hi heaved the wooden drum stick up and thwacked himself against the skin of the drum.


Hong-Hi shook up and down as the sound reverberated around the room.

Again he threw himself forward.

‘ Goooooooooonnngggg”

His head throbbed, he kept going until all six beats had been sounded. Hong-Hi collapsed onto his back, his legs in the air.

“Intruders! The gong has sounded six times.” The crowd outside began to panic.

A woman screamed “Red guards! Circle the drum tower, we must protect it”. Racing over to the tower the villagers formed a circle around it, their weapons held aloft.

The Red Guards’ faces were filled with shock, they had not expected that the crowd would be armed and waiting for them.

“Step aside, the tower must go. You must honour Chairman Mao. Move away from the old traditions and embrace the new. Step aside!”

The villagers held fast.

“We will never surrender our tower to you” they cried. Outnumbered, the Red Guards turned and fled.

The villagers cheered and dashed into the tower to praise the person who had beat the warning drum but instead found only Hong-Hi unconscious, his claw clasped around the stick.

From that day on an exonerated Hong-Hi was treated as an illustrious god. He was noticed everywhere he went and never again felt unappreciated.

FOURTH PLACE: Madeline Painter, Grade 4, Dryden Elementary School, Arlington Heights, Chicago, USA, 10 years old

Madeleine first burst onto the scene of my Clever Competitions two years ago, when she won 1st place in the Grade 1 to 3 Category of my Hair-Raising Halloween Poem competition, then followed that up with a 4th place in my Mischievous Monkey Story Competition and another 1st place in my Sunny Summer Poem, all in the younger age category! Now she’s in Grade 4, and her writing continues apace! Madeline has a distinctive, clear and witty writing style, and I smiled a lot as I read her fun story of a proud and clever Rooster who outwits an evil white cat at the Harbin Ice Festival in far north China. I loved the title, and I thought the story started brilliantly and flowed extremely well until the somewhat weak climax, and a resolution and ending which felt hurried. And a bit of a problem with that fire which burned the statue of the gargantuan rooster! Ice does not burn, my friend!! Madeleine used a grand total of 16 Wicked Words in her entry correctly! Well done Madeleine, and keep those entries coming in!

Treading on Thin Ice

Randy Rooster was having a perfectly splendiferous, wintry night in his hometown of Harbin, China.  Why shouldn’t the night be happy?  He was in the best city in the world, and the best place in the city; the illustrious Harbin ice festival.

It was a brisk, dark night, perfect for the bright, colorful light reflecting off his favorite sculpture. The gargantuan rooster was lit up in a bright coquelicot color.  The whole thing was tantalisingly iridescent. Randy was yearning to touch it, run his feathery wing across its cold surface.

Suddenly, he saw an egregious cat sneaking around from the corner of his eye.  He suspected the cat wanted to cause pandemonium, but he knew that wouldn’t happen.

Watch out.

Randy was confused.  He could have sworn he heard someone talking to him, but when he glanced around, no one was paying any attention. They were too busy marveling at the resplendent statue.  Abruptly, a gasp arose from the crowd.

“What’s going on?” an inquisitive bulbul shouted. “I demand someone fix this!”

“Wait what?” Randy cried out. “What’s wrong? Tell me and I promise I’ll fix it!”

Nobody answered poor Randy.  Instead, his mother tried to cover Randy’s eyes and hurry him through a nearby ice tunnel, but it was too late.  Randy watched as the intricately carved ice rooster in all its glory, was engulfed in flames.

“Mom, I know it’s ridiculous, but I saw the arsonist, and I promised, if I knew what was going on I’d fix it.  Like it or not, a promise is a promise.  A true rooster never breaks his promise,” a loquacious Randy pouted.  “I have very good eyesight you know.  I saw the arsonist.  And get this Mom, it was a cat!”

Randy’s mother sighed, “There is something you must know sweetie.  Your great, great grandfather, your grandfather’s grandfather, was the rooster.  The original rooster who raced for our place in the zodiac.  Ever since the race, the descendants of the cat have been wanting revenge on the other racers.  My guess is, who you saw, was an atrocious descendent of the cat.”

“Then I must find the cat and defend our honor!  I promised Mom!  Does this look like a face that would break a promise?”


“Exactly my point!  This face is too innocent-and stunningly handsome-to break a promise!”

“I guess you can find the cat.  You do have a point.  I may not like it, but you did promise.  And a true rooster never breaks his promise.  Although do promise me one thing.  Randy Raleigh Rooster, you will come home safely.”

“I promise Mom.”

“Okay then, run along now.  Good luck and stay safe.”

“Cats. Hmmm.  They live in airports, right?  Or was it rock-climbing places?  I’d better ask around,” Randy muttered to himself.  He walked up to a rhino and asked him where cats live, but the rhino just turned away, spraying slobber on Randy.  Randy repeated this questioning process (slobber included) until he came to his best friend Jacob, who was, surprisingly, a cat. Jacob was fastidiously playing with a ball of string and didn’t look up when Randy asked his question.

“Well, I live here, but most cats live in the technology area.  You know, the computer stores, i-pad stores, those places,” Jacob explained, not looking up.

“Got it. Thanks!” Randy said over his shoulder as he rushed off.  “That cat I saw.  He was… white!  I remember now!  Bright white all over!” Randy stopped talking when he saw the back of what looked like a white cat.  He approached the figure.  “Hey you!” he shouted.

The figure turned around revealing pale white, floppy ears in front of his face. “Huh?”

The white figure was a bunny.  “Oh, I uhh… I thought you were someone else. I…. actually, do you know of any cat who is entirely white?”

“Well there is one who lives on 1210 Kitty Lane, if that helps any.”

“It does!  Thanks a lot!  Bye!” Randy clucked over his shoulder as he ran off. “1210… found it!” Randy exclaimed as he ran up the front steps and rang the doorbell.

“Hello?” a hazel cat asked in a lackadaisical tone.  “May I help you?”

“I was told a pure white cat lives at this house.  May I, uhh… see this cat?”

“Patrick!” the cat called over her shoulder.

“Coming!” a new voice squeaked.

What came out the door bamboozled Randy greatly. “He’s-he’s,”  Randy stuttered. “He’s a kitten!”

“Are you surprised?” the hazel cat questioned.

“I um… wait, have you seen another pure white cat that is not a kitten?”

“Oh, well there’s one who lives across the street.  It’s a dangerous cat though.  A real sourpuss.  I wouldn’t approach it head on if I were you. Good luck,” she said as she promptly closed the door in his face.

Randy was standing outside the door of the house pondering how to confront the cat when he thought of Jacob’s ball of string.  He could use string to lure the cat out!  He ecstatically rushed back across the street and explained his dilemma.  The hazel cat readily agreed to lend Randy a ball of string and call the police.

Once the police arrived, Randy set his sagacious plan into action.  He carefully tucked most of the ball of string underneath the door crack, leaving only a small portion of string to clasp in his wings.  Randy then rang the doorbell and stepped aside.

Before opening the door, the cat saw the string and tugged, but Randy kept a secure hold.  The cat didn’t see the rooster through the closed door and peeked outside to see what the string was caught on.  As soon as paws came into view, handcuffs were slapped around them.  The figure of a white cat in a dress was screaming and confessing her crimes as she was dragged into the police car.

FIFTH PLACE: Kairavi Sivasankar, Grade 6, UWCSEA Dover, Singapore, 12 years old

A warm welcome back to my Clever Competition to Kairavi, a past 1st and 2nd place getter in the Grade 1 to 3 Category some years ago when she lived in Hong Kong! Karaivi now lives in Singapore, and continues to excel with her writing. I loved the way her story of an obnoxiously cocky rooster who falls foul of the farmer’s cooking pot started – the dialogue was enormous fun and I loved her detailed description of Peking the Rooster! But there was scant description of the setting, and I felt that the ending was a little bit predictable. But remember, I’m being picky! It was a great story, Kairavi, in a very strong field, and I look forward hugely to seeing more of your writing in the future!

Cocky Chicken

It was an idyllic start to a warm summer morning on a farm near the outskirts of Beijing. The clouds drifted lazily across the sky and all was peaceful. Until…


“Wake up, everyone! It’s a neeewww day!” Peking the rooster crowed.

Ugay the cow grunted. “I’ve been here for ages and never seen a rooster as obnoxious as Peking!”

Bowai the sheep sighed. “Peking is not his ancestors. They could keep the worms away.”

“Look at you animals, ugly and shaggy,” Peking continued. “Look at me, with my resplendent coquelicot feathers and canary beak!”

The farmer came to get the animals ready for work. They worked, except one… Peking. He fluttered and boasted, taking long naps and eating whenever he wanted. He teased the animals while staying out of the farmer’s view. When the farmer saw that work was unfinished, she punished the bullocks, the cows, and the sheep. Everyone was tired of Peking, but only the farmer could do anything.

That night, the animals overheard the farmer and her husband talking in the house.

“The emperor is coming to the village, and we have nothing to offer him.”

Her husband calmed her. “Should we give him the cow?”

Ugay gulped.

The farmer scowled. “No! Ugay is very special to me.”

Ugay sighed in relief.

Her husband asked, “What about the lamb?”

Bowai gasped.

The farmer disagreed. “Bowai would be devastated!”

Bowai nuzzled her lamb thankfully.

Her husband sighed. “What, then?”

In the distance, a rooster crowed. The farmer smiled. “How about… Peking?”

The next day, Ugay and the other animals voted not to tell Peking, but kind Bowai pitied him and told him. Peking was shocked and horrified. He rushed to the stables where the animals were resting and implored them to help.

Ugay harrumphed. “And why should we do that?”

Peking looked around desperately. “Please… please?”

All the animals murmured and shook their heads shiftily. Peking was devastated. Without a word, he fluttered out of the stables and started to hop out of the farm. He lamented how atrocious the other animals were. Peking refused to accept the fault was his.

As nightfall came, however, he grew anxious and longed for a friend. Then he heard a cheep and a small brown bulbul landed in front of him.

“Hello!” he chirped. “What’s your name? What are you doing here? Where are you going?”

Peking drew himself up and fluffed his feathers. “I am Peking with the coquelicot feathers and canary beak, I am on a journey, and… well, I’m heading somewhere safe. Same questions to you.”

“Well, I don’t have a name. I don’t have a home, either, so I’m just wandering around here.”

“Well, everyone has to have a name, so how about Bulbul?”

Bulbul the bulbul nodded happily. “Very imaginative! I like it! Can I accompany you on your journey?”

“It is imaginative, isn’t it?” Peking said, preening himself. “Sure. Come along.”

As they were walking, Peking told Bulbul about his plight. Then they searched for a sleeping place. As they were, Peking heard the farmer’s voice. “Peking! Where are you? I need you!”

Peking gasped. “Uh oh. That’s the farmer.”

Unfortunately, roosters are not fast animals. Bulbul flew away. Peking tried to follow but couldn’t. He was too heavy. Bulbul watched helplessly as the farmer lifted Peking into a pot. Peking locked eyes with Bulbul. “Get me out of here.” Bulbul nodded.

The farmer heaved the metal pot over the sizzling fire. Bulbul flew in from the window. The farmer told her husband to fetch the herbs and spices because the dish was for the emperor. He told her not to be so fastidious.

Meanwhile, Peking was slowly roasting in the pot. He saw Bulbul and looked pleadingly at him. Bulbul nodded and while the farmer was arguing, soared in and pecked her hard on the ear. She yelled and dropped the pot into the flames. Peking squawked and leaped out of the pot.

“Bulbul!” he hollered, avoiding the farmer’s stick. “Follow me!” He ran for the next room, where an open window awaited.

Bulbul tore for the window… to see a gargantuan cat! She yowled and scratched at Bulbul, who panicked and flew away, but the cat scratched at him again. Peking grabbed a ball of wool, tantalizing the cat. Her attention shifted and Peking flung the wool out of the room, just as the farmer and her husband bounded in. They were distracted by the missile of their cat and had to scatter. Peking and Bulbul shot through the window, just in time, and landed on a bullock cart.

“Phew!” Peking puffed. “Thanks, Bulbul. You saved my life.”

Bulbul frowned thoughtfully. “You know, that’s the first time I’ve heard you use manners,” he said. “That’s why the other animals didn’t help you. You kept boasting about your coquelicot feathers and canary beak. No one likes a cocky chicken. But you have hope yet.”

Peking scratched his chin. “I suppose I did act a bit stuck up… I’m glad my temperament is better now. Thanks.”

Bulbul laughed and shook his head at Peking’s newfound manners.

Eventually, the cart stopped at a little orange orchard, where oranges, tangerines, and clementines were in full bloom. The birds looked at each other, nodded, and hopped out of the cart.

“This is splendiferous!” Peking exclaimed. “Come, Bulbul. Let’s find a nice tree.”

As they walked in, another bulbul fluttered out of the trees. “Hello,” she said. “I’m Bulbette. What are your names?”

Bulbul smiled. “I’m Bulbul, and this is Peking. May I share your home?”

“Of course,” Bulbette chirped. “This is Peka.” A pretty hen came out of the trees. Peka smiled at Peking. “You can share my home if you like.” Peking nodded eagerly.

So that was how it ended. Peking and Peka raised their own little family, as did Bulbul and Bulbette. They lived in the orange orchard for the rest of their lives in peace –


Oh, yes… except for that.


SIXTH PLACE: Nayonika Biswas, Grade 6, Delhi Public School Newtown, Kolkata, India, 11 years old

Nayonika’s story was beautifully written, with a very original story line about a Rooster who learns to love his croaky voice, and some great vocabulary. But it needed more detail about the setting, a stronger climax and a more developed ending! Overall it was a fantastic effort, and I look forward to watching Nayonika’s writing go from strength to strength this year!

 Mǔjī’s Voice

Once upon a time in China, before the invention of clocks, there lived a rooster called Mǔjī. He was very proud of himself and he loved to be the centre of attraction. He was both good-looking and smart with huge coquelicot manes and a draping wattle. The blood-red comb also added to his good looks. But only one thing bothered him – his voice. He was really ashamed of his croaky voice. Whenever he tried to speak, he would always end up making a laugh out of himself.

He longed for the mellifluous voice of Niǎo the bulbul. Niǎo was extremely inquisitive. She would never take ‘no’ for an answer to any of her questions. She was always hopping around, annoying everyone but she did have a melodious voice.

Every morning she would sing a beautiful tune while Mǔjī would only crow and wake the villagers up.

Niǎo was always teasing Mǔjī about his voice; “I am truly serendipitous to have got a voice like this rather than such an egregious voice like yours!” she would say.

What could Mǔjī do? he would try his best to ignore her tantalising voice. “What was God thinking when he made me? Was he in a really bad mood to have made my voice so croaky?” he thought.

One day, unable to bear the constant teasing of Niǎo, Mǔjī prayed to God, “Please make my voice melodic like Niǎo’s; I want to sing in the morning like her”. That night he slept peacefully thinking about his new voice.

Next morning Mǔjī was surprised to find his voice not like its usual croaking self but melodic like Niǎo’s! He was effervescent and was extremely happy. He decided not to crow that day as his voice may get ruined. So he did not crow, nor did anyone wake up. He waited and waited for Niǎo to come and then he would brag about his new voice, but she never came. He walked to her nest and saw that she was asleep and it was already afternoon! The entire town was pin-drop silent and no one made the slightest of noise except perhaps Mǔjī. He pranced and skipped about singing with his new voice.

As soon as it was evening he suddenly began to wonder, why was the entire town sleeping till now? Was it because of him? Was it because he did not crow like usual in the morning? The animals, the villagers, the king and the courtiers were all asleep; nobody had woken up except him.

Then it struck him; he crowed every morning and that was when the entire town woke up. It was only he who woke up without hearing the crowing. So because of his new voice he could not crow and the town could not wake up.

Realizing this he begged God, “God, please make my voice like it was before, I promise I would not be ashamed of it”.

Suddenly a thundering voice spoke up from the sky, a huge ball of fire with gleaming fiery eyes. “A wish graanted by the greeat fire God of the roosters cannot beee reveeersed!” it said atrociously.

“Oh Lord, please do something, I cannot forgive myself for this,” Mǔjī said but as soon as he said this, the ball of fire disappeared. Mǔjī began crying. He did not want to live alone in a town that would never wake up.

He began walking towards his house when suddenly he saw a ball of string. He looked closely at it and nudged it with his wings. It did not move. Then he mistook it for an edible thing and swallowed it whole. Little did he know what was going to happen after this? It was soon stuck in his throat unable to go in or come out.

Mǔjī began gasping for breath and was croaking loudly. He then fell on the ground and the ball of string flew out. Mǔjī breathed heavily as a sign of relief and kicked the ball away. He then opened his mouth to check his voice which instead of coming out as a melodious tune, came out as a loud croak! Mǔjī could not believe his ears! He croaked and croaked to verify this voice. Soon he was jumping with delight realizing his old voice had come back.

Next morning he crowed out loud as usual to wake the town up. Everyone woke up and carried on with their daily lives. Mǔjī was not ashamed of his voice anymore and began crowing loudly. Niǎo came and looked at him suspiciously, “Weren’t you ashamed of your voice Mǔjī?” she asked. “Not anymore,” was the reply from Mǔjī.

From then onwards, every morning the rooster used to crow and the bulbul used to sing in the little town of China.


Two further entries deserved a very special mention in this Category.

Ashling Walshe, grade 5, Shanghai United International School, Shanghai, 11 years old

Huge congratulations to Ashling, a regular entrant in my Clever Competitions who has placed in previous years! Ashling was the only contestant who bravely attempted the enormous challenge of writing her story entirely in rhyming couplets. And the result was fantastic, coming within a pip and a squeak of the first six places! She even managed to include four Wicked Words! Here is what Ashling wrote in her covering email: “In the slip attached to this e-mail, I have written a little story about the rooster’s curse. In the rooster’s curse, I have tried to use your style of writing – having the words rhyme like a song. I hope you find this story as ridiculously funny and splendiferously interesting as I find your books!”And here is Ashling’s fabulous poem!

 The Rooster’s Curse

In the wetlands of Chongming,

Lived a wily farmer called Ling.

Ling and his wife had plenty of rice

And a secret really quite nice …

The secret no one knew,

Not even Ling’s brother Lew.

Now this secret was good,

Good as good would.

There was nothing Ling was lacking,

He really was cracking,

To boast his luck

And kick up the muck.

“You mustn’t!” cried Ling’s wife,

Waving a knife,

“Arrogance never mends!”

Really, she wanted also to tell her friends.

Oh, what glory,

To tell a good story.

But, she shouldn’t,

She couldn’t …

One night in the wetlands of Chongming,

Sat on a rock was Ling.

The tall reeds swayed in the breeze,

Ling let out a little sneeze.

The coquelicot autumn sun was setting,

Ling’s wife was fretting.

Get some sticks,

Give me no tricks!

We must make a fire,

Or the consequences will be dire!”

Ling’s wife cried.

Ling got up and sighed.

The fire soon was lit,

Everything was fit.

Ling’s wife sprinkled the fire with an unknown thing,

The air seemed to ring.

Then, as if on a booster,

Out leaped a full-grown rooster.

It started to sing a song,

“I am a being to admire,

I leapt out of a fire!

I bring the Lings’ gold,

As much as they can hold,

Every 10th night!

Yes, this is right!

That’s why I say in this rhyme,

I am so fine!”

The rooster struck a pose,

The astonished Lings rose,

Gold! Gold! Give us gold!”

The Lings pleaded.

The rooster gave them much more than they needed…


Bring this gold to me!”

The rooster sang.

In the Lings’ ears, gold rang.

Ka-bam, Ka-bling, Ka-poof!

Gold came tumbling from the roof.

The Lings cackled in ecstatic glee,

Gold, gold for me!”

The rooster bowed,

Then he crowed.

He swished his splendiferous feathers,

The air exploded with heathers.

The night was still,

A creak came from the mill.

In the wetlands of Chongming,

The chink of gold came as a ring.

In the wetlands of Chongming,

There was a rumour about the Lings.

They had been suddenly covered in gold,

Much more than they could hold.

They were wealthy at the least.

Everyday they had a king’s scrumptious feast.

Ling’s wife dressed in illustrious gowns made of gold silk.

They drank fat white cow’s mellifluous milk.

Ling wore velvet suits

And gold-lined leather boots.

The townsfolk watched the Lings’ good health,

And wondered what was the source of their wealth.

But soon among the townsfolk, a sick lie bubbled up.

While the Lings were eating sup,

In the townsfolk came crashing.

Sticks they were lashing,

Bloodthirsty and ready,

The townspeople’s rage was steady.

Thief! Your riches aren’t earned by you!

Not even your homemade stew!

Give us back our riches,

Give us back your wife’s gown’s golden stitches!”

Ling’s wife screamed,

The townsfolk’s eyes gleamed,

They wanted gold,

As much as they could hold …

Blip! Ca-petey tip!”, water dripped,

Ling’s wife’s dress was ripped.

The Lings were shut in a dark cell,

They could hear the ring of their golden bell.

The townsfolk poured over the Lings’ gold,

And took much more than they could hold.

Gold, gold for me!”

The townsfolk gurgled with glee.

Ling’s wife cried,

Her freshly picked flowers died.

Pit, pat, pipitty, splat.”

Came the noise far from where Ling sat.

A ball of string rolled past Ling’s feet,

Did that come from the street?

Suddenly, the Lings heard a sound,

That sounded ever so round.

Rul, rul, rul, rul!”

Came the sound of a bulbul,

Rul, rul! Rul, rul!”

There on the windowsill, indeed was a bulbul.

Rul, rul! Pssst! Hey! Rul, rul!”

Sang the red-whiskered bulbul,

Rul, rul, rul!

I am a very, very, normal bulbul!

Don’t mind me!

I’m just singing, you see!

What’s your name?

It couldn’t be the same,

As my master’s, Ling!

A name through the villages, they ring!

Now my master has everything he wants,

No one he taunts!

He gives to the needy,

Feeds the weedy!

Even though he has some curves,

He has as much gold as he deserves!

After I give him wealth,

He wishes me good health

And best of all, he thanks me so!

But alas, I have no master like that, lo!”

The bulbul swished its dull feathers,

The air exploded with heathers

And a rooster lay dead.

The room filled with dread.

In the wetlands of Chongming,

You could hear a rooster sing …


Erik Lawton, Grade 6, Excelsior Public School, Castle Hill, 11 years old

A warm welcome to Erik, a newcomer to my Clever Competitions! Erik’s story was such fun, it made me laugh out loud. It had real panache and a laconic wit that reminded me of a young Raymond Chandler. But your tenses kept changing Erik!! Remember to choose one tense and stick with it – for your clever, witty style in this story, I’d go with the present tense!

 Are You Chicken?

I’m on the very brink of insanity. I’ve been stuck in this oh so tiny stone room for a week where the walls have learnt to speak Chinese. I mean all I did was “accidentally” turn my owner’s kitchen into a fiery inferno just like that human spy what’s his name? Oh yeah I might’ve overlooked one fact: I’m a rooster.

“Hello” echoed a high-pitched voice from the other side of the window towering about 20 feet above me. “Anyone in there?” I tilted my head upwards and stared straight into the face of a coquelicot Bulbul. Yeah you heard me, coquelicot. “How in Shanghai did you end up like that?”

“I flew into a dye factory” he murmured.

“Say what?”

“I flew into a DYE FACTORY!” The Bulbul remains silent after that.

“So, you happy with the colour?”.

He gives me one of the frostiest glares I’ve ever seen and yeah, I turned on the gas stove, but how was I supposed to know that the Shanghai terrors would light a cigarette?

“The view is breath taking, too bad you can’t see, hey I didn’t ask, what’s your name?” the Bulbul wonders aloud.

“Katchatori, and yours?”

” Al’orange”

” Might want to rethink that, now can you please exonerate me?!”

With Al’orange’s feet digging into my shoulders we’re flying over rural China towards Shanghai. The humidity making his and my feathers damp, the rain pelting us, stinging my eyes. The rice fields and crops passing by underneath us becoming more detailed. Wait, where’s the feeling of feet on my shoulders? Uh Oh. ” Al’orange I’m FALLING!”

I always thought I’d end up as a platter of dumplings but at least this is dignified. Suddenly I feel the reassuring pressure of Al’orange’s feet on my shoulder blades. “Cutting it real close man!”

“Sorry I’m a little rusty”

“Understatement! ,wait Al’orange, Building straight in front of you, 12 o’clock!”

He doesn’t have time to respond but he does manage to swerve into an open window before we come to a sprawling heap on the cold, concrete floor.

“Great thing I pointed that out or we’d be a pile of unrecognisable stuff!”. I glance down at my plumes. My perfectly groomed plumes! Now, they’re sticking out at totally unnatural angles. “Why, why I ask you?”

I didn’t really examine the room during our ‘landing’ but it looks like we’re in a warehouse. Shelves lining the concrete walls, and a reinforced steel door that was graffiti tagged. Security cameras recording every move we make.

” Stop sulking I can hear something!” He murmurs. Wait a sec, he’s right. The faint sound of whispering is reaching us from the other side of the reinforced steel door.

Ca-chunk! “Somebody’s unlocking it’

“Man you are fastidious!” I wheeze.

The door creaks open and a bunch of people walk in, all sporting ski masks and American accents “What’re we going to do with the money?”

A guy with the word Mark tagged on the front of his T-shirt answers “I’m going buy a penthouse in NYC baby, those diamonds are worth millions!”

” Cool it hotshot” Interrupts the third guy “We have to get out of the country first!”

” As the leader, if you follow me to the briefing room, I’ll show you our next move” announced the last person.

They leave, not caring to close the door.

“They were the guys that robbed the Bank of Shanghai, they stole about 35 million dollars worth of diamonds, hello, Khatchatori?”

I don’t care, I’m just staring at a bag of seeds, seething as it tantalises me.

“Sorry, you say something?”

” If we post the security footage online we’ll unmask them!”

” Genius but how are we going to do that?”

” I know how to use a computer”

” I don’t want to know”

The CCTV room is just up the hall and so far we haven’t run into any form of trouble. Al’orange finally makes it to the door, pecks it open with his beak and we’re in.

The room is lit up by the glare of the monitors and a swivel chair is parked in front of a woven bamboo desk. Al’orange flaps up onto the desk and starts tapping the keyboard until the footage comes up of the thieves hauling the diamonds into the ware house.

“And done!” Al’orange exclaims ” All I need is five minutes and this will be all over the internet”

I wander out into the hall, but the moment I step out, Mark and the leader emerge from around the corner. I mean what are the odds.

“Hey look Spike, it’s a chicken!” cheers Mark. I need to buy Al’orange time. I charge at them, flapping my arms. “What’s it going to do, peck our eyes out?” chuckles Spike.

“Great idea guys” I squawk. I flap my wings, giving me enough lift to get up to Mark’s head and then it’s complete pandemonium. The force of the strikes are so hard his skin starts to break. To try and relieve himself of the pain he dives through a window and lands in a sprawling heap on the pavement.

Spike’s hand lands on my throat and he hurls me into the CCTV room. Feathers go flying when I land, and Spike steps into the room, armed with a crowbar. Spike starts trying to pound my face in, landing the blows on my chest, breaking skin and drawing blood. I flap onto the desk and collapse in time to see Al’orange fly at Spike,trying to make him forget about me.

I scramble towards the keyboard frantically tapping keys.

“Cut it out you stupid bird, I really hate chickens!”” roars Spike, as I finally find the right key and tap it with my beak. The footage sends! I turn in time to witness Al’orange wrapping a ball of string around his neck before Spike dives out the window.

” Khatchatori you are resplendent!”


Below is the link to a fabulous story by my old friend Hillary Lo and her friend Winter Lau (now 12 and 13 years old and in Year 8 at Shatin College in Hong Kong). Readers will remember Hillary from a long string of winning entries right through her primary years at Shatin Junior School. Hillary has always been a gifted writer, and the great news is that she hasn’t let her elevation to upper school stop her writing in her spare time! When I last caught up with Hillary, she told me that she and her friends had started a writing club, and spend many hours each week meeting up to write stories together and entering as many competitions as possible. She and her friend Winter couldn’t resist having a crack at my Really Riveting Rooster Story Competition – even though they knew there were no longer eligible to enter. And here is the result! It’s a long story, but a fantastic read which I know you’re going to enjoy, and admire! And they’ve used EVERY ONE of my Wicked Words! How clever is that?? This is the kind of writing YOU could do when you’re older, if you keep practicing hard! Their story is based on my Tale of Rickshaw Rooster, but is a sort of prequel…this time Tommy Tan, the fastest Rickshaw Runner in Shanghai, is auditioning for an assistant…will it be Rickshaw Rooster or the evil bulbul Plague…click the link below, read on and find out!


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  1. Hey Sarah, I’m from BHS, Hong Kong! Remember Mrs Leone? Mrs Kam? Well, I’m so terribly sorry but you can’t access my site…….Only BHS students and teachers are allowed. STill, I filled it in, right? BTW, the site is all about migration………would you like to write a book on migration? That would be cool, and you could say ‘Inspired by Karen Ng’s site details’ or somethin’! There couldn’t be anything more wonderful than having your own books PUBLISHED and sold worldwide…….I mean, I’ve written around 30 books (10 series of books, including:Celebs 4eva, Sports 4 life, Cahills rockz and School guide (in this series, there are 3 books, one for teachers and one for children and finally, one for parents. They all are guides)! I will send the books over to you asap! I don’t have your email………What is it? Can you email it to me? Call me Kgirl, that is my nickname. Thanks, I love Chester Choi!


    • Wow Kgirl – that’s amazing! 30 books! That’s more than me! How old are you? I think migration would be a fascinating subject for a book – but I have to get to the end of the Chinese Calendar Tales first! You can contact me at Keep on writing! Sarah

      • Dear Mrs.Brennan, I am a chinese, is their anyway to improve the grammar and the structure of the sentence?

        I don’t like reading books about fairy tales and fiction books.

        I like reading history books, and Bermuda Triangle those stuff.


      • Hi Lasandra – what a great name you have! The best way to improve your grammar and sentence structure is to read and read and read a lot of well-written books. See my list of Brilliant Books for my recommendations of some beautifully-written books. The more you read, the more you will unconsciously absorb the style of the writer and the rules of good writing. I love history books too, but I particularly enjoy well-written historical fiction, where fact and fiction blend in a fascinating way. Thanks for writing to me!

      • ms sarah, it’s Annette from Canadian international school at singapore lakeside, just wondering what is your email s that i can send my writing to u?

      • Hello Annette! You can send to I look forward to reading your story! All the best, Sarah

      • Did you get who won yet

      • Hi Sarah
        I just hope that your daughter and your dog get well soon

      • Hi, Sarah By the way where are the results of the Halloween poem competion anyways it’s past the date

      • Hi Annette, you can find the results of ALL my previous competitions in the link on the right hand side of my blog page, in the relevant year. So for my Hair-Raising Halloween Competition results, click on the 2015-2016 page. Enjoy!

    • Hi Kgirl-
      How old are you? You’re so amazing.

      • I agree Hillary. Thirty books are a lot! But I know a friend who writes excellent poems. She’d win the Snake competition for sure!

      • What’s her name?

      • Hey Hilary are you from SJS (I am too!)

    • Wow hi I am Abby I want to be a writer and am working on some books also kgirl your really cool

  2. mindful





    • Wow Marie, that was an impressive acrostic and spot on too! Thanks for your entry!

  3. Dear Kgirl if you are still on this blog here goes:
    If you want to publish something then you can go to HarperCollinsKidsBooks and you can send your draft in Email. But I cannot guarantee that you will be 100% suscessful because the draft has to be approved by the editor (I think). Most of the time if you get through publishing your first book then it will be very likely they will publish your second book.
    By the way I’m from Hong Kong also and I’m still working my way through my first book.
    Hope the information helps & Sarah Brennen Books rocks!
    Yan Yan

    • Thanks Yan Yan for your very useful comments and I hope that Kgirl is still reading this blog! Another useful hint if you want to get published and need to know all the “rules” is to buy the Artists and Writers Yearbook 2010 as this is full of useful advice and information from how to write a proposal letter to a publisher or agent, to how to present your manuscripts, and even how to market your book after it’s published. Best of luck with your first book Yan Yan!

      • Hi! -Anneseptember- How do you um post the poem?

      • Hello Anne-mette – all the information is on my Clever Competitions page if you click on the link above! Take a look and let me know if you still have any queries!

    • Yan Yan:

      Can you give me both the e-mail and the website? I have a best friend just love writing.

      Thank you!!!

  4. Dear Sarah,
    next time for the competition can you post a short story contest?
    I’m horrible at acrostic poems and bored out of my tree in Hong Kong.
    Yan Yan

    • Hi again Yan Yan – I think that’s a great idea and we’ll look at doing that very soon. In the meantime, don’t get bored! Get yourself a great book!

  5. Dear Sarah, The princess name is precious.Rida recspet ,kind,angry,happy,sad,bored,unhappy,bashful,excited,bad.

  6. Always happy
    Loves singing
    Especially Excited
    X-ercise’s alot
    Icecream is my favourite
    Smart at English

    • That’s a really cute entry Alexis. But can you please send your entry to my email address or I won’t be able to contact you directly if you’re a winner! Write to

  7. Dear Sarah this is my acrostic poem:
    Hard at working
    Always concentrating

  8. dear sarah
    i give up how old are you?

    dearest ashley

    • As old as my tongue and a little bit older than my teeth!

      • how old are you?
        you clue is giving a clue at all.
        Anyway thankyou for chosing me as a runner up in the bunny poem.

      • It was my pleasure Jainil – your poem was terrific!

      • do you like the girinmo stiltion and diary of a wimpy kid series? They are fabmouse. They both relased a new book. the pumpkin theif and the ugly truth.Diary of a wimpy kid rodrick rules movie is finally can watch the trailer in youtube.Why dont you give it a go?

      • Hi Jainil – I think the Geronimo Stilton books are very clever and great fun! Not so keen on The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books – but so long as you move on to reading bigger and better books they’re not a bad stepping stone!

      • can you write a book about cats and dogs.They are both adorible pets.

      • I agree – they’re rather cute! I’ll have to think of one!

  9. matthew

    merry adorabol trific at maths tereble at chopsticks heathly enviromentol friendly writes trific pomes

  10. Dear Sarah,
    Where can we buy your books if we can’t order them?

    • Hi Stephanie – you can order my books off my website – just click the kids’ books page and click on the book you want, then scroll down to the bottom of the details about that book – you’ll hit a website for Bookazine which you can order from. Or you can go to any bookstore like Bookazine, Dymocks or Page One which all stock my books. I hope that helps!

      • hi sarah you came to my school churchie and im the one who was in the front row and told you how much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood im just asking if you remember me

      • Hello Cooper – of course I remember you! How could I forget someone who said “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood” so fast!! Thanks for writing!

  11. whats youre next competitions sarah brennan

    • Hi Danish – now that would be telling! I’ll let you know when the current competition is ended at the end of this month. Have you written an acrostic yet? Why not join in and see if you can be a winner?

  12. Hi Sarah,
    I’m the winner of the short story competition, Yan Yan. I’m so surprised that my name came up as Yan Yan Ma, not Yan Yan Li. Did I type something wrong in my email???????
    Yan Yan Li >_<

    • Oops forgot something. BTW, my full name is Li Yan Wa and I’m from Canadian International School of Hong Kong.
      Yan Yan

      • Hi Yan Yan – I amended the blog – hope I got it right this time! And congratulations again – it’s a great story! Your signed copy of The Tale of Temujin will get to you this next week! Keep on writing!

  13. […] Click the link below to read her story! An Alien Invasion […]

  14. Hi Sarah,

    I was surprised when you came to school today, I read Chestor Choi and it was so funny I laughed so loud that I couldn’t stop for 5 minutes!!
    By the way, if you are wondering what school I am talking about is Shatin Junior School!

    • Hi Devan – thanks for your lovely comment! I’m so glad you like The Tale of Chester Choi – it’s one of my favourites too! I had such a great time at SJS today and look forward to seeing you all again tomorrow!

  15. […] Laugh-Out-Loud Winners […]

  16. Thanks for picking me for the winner of the Limerick competition. I really enjoyed doing the poem and hope you post up a new competition so thx for picking me and bye!

    • You’re very welcome Brittany – it was a great limerick. But you need to let me know which book you’d like as a prize! Visit my website to choose your book and email me soon so I can send it to you!

  17. Hi Sarah!
    I just wanted to tell you, your books are the awesomest ones in the whole world! I MEAN IT!

    • Hi Chelsea – what a lovely comment! Thanks so much! Sarah

  18. […] See Sarah Brennan’s Blog for more details! […]

  19. Where do you write the story for the compitition?

    • Hi Sydney – when you’ve written your entry for my competition, just send it straight to me at and I’ll enter it! Then I’ll let you know by the deadline date whether you’re one of the ten winners who’ll have their entries published in my blog! You might even win first prize and get one of my books, signed and send to your home address!

  20. there were some scary halloween ones and some crazy ones! But they were all awesome!
    From shiho
    I love your blog! great story about temujin!

    • Hello Shiho and Aika – I think the entries into my Haunting Haiku competition were great too! So … it would be great if you entered my new competition titled “IF”! Give it a go! Sarah

  21. Dear Sarah do you think this would be good enough for the contest!!!
    I admire you and feel like im talking to a moovie star when I
    write to you!!!
    I would love to be writer like you when I’m older I love reading, Poetry, and all round english Im 10 and was wondering how old you have to be before writing a book.


    • Hi Annabel – thanks for your great entry into my competition! But remember, you must send it directly to me at NOT to my blog! I’ve cut and pasted your entry so it’s in the competition now and I’ll let you know by the deadline date if you’re one of the ten finalists! And thank you for your lovely comments too! You don’t have to be a grownup to have a book published! See my blog dated 9 September 2010 to find out all about a kid aged just four who had her book published!

    My Pop/Grandfathers 80th Birthday is in 2 weeks and I need to get him a present. But he said he dosent want anything but for me. So I decided to write him a poem thats where the problem steps in…
    Please help me:)

    Annabel Jeffery

    • Hello again Annabel: What a wonderful idea to give your grandfather a poem for his birthday! He’s going to be so happy to get his very own poem, written with all your care and love. Why don’t you write a poem entitled

      I love my Pop because…

      Then you can list all the reasons you love him, and even make it rhyme! If you don’t want to make it rhyme, you could write an acrostic poem, maybe using the letters P O P or maybe the letters of his first name! Give it a go and let me know how you get on! And please say a big Happy Birthday to your grandpa from me!

  23. Dear Sarah Brennan,
    I’m Gabby I am 10 years old.
    And you recently came to my school AISS.
    I really enjoyed you reading the tale of Temujin to us!
    I was the one who walked out of the theater and then came back.
    I was a TIGER!

    • Dear Gabby – I remember you well, especially that tiger-like prowling as you left the room! Glad you liked Temujin – I’m rather partial to him myself! I’ll be sorry to see the Year of the Tiger end in February, but there’s a really cheeky bunny around the corner so that will be fun too! Sarah

  24. Dear Sarah,
    Can we submit more than 1 entry for the Christmas writing Competition?
    Your whatever you like,
    Yan Yan ^_^ 🙂

    • Whoops and sorry can we do some toilet humor (e.g. your nose falls suddenly down the toilet)
      Yan Yan 😆

      • Hi again Yan Yan – toilet humour is a tricky subject. I know a lot of kids find it very funny, but as an adult I usually find it a bit silly and not that funny. HINT: Always remember the golden rule of writing for success: when you’re deciding the topic and the tone of your writing, KEEP YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE IN MIND AT ALL TIMES. I hope that helps!

    • Yes Yan Yan you can – I look forward to seeing them!

  25. […] Their winning entries have just been posted on Sarah’s blog at […]

  26. I am from P4M and I am a student that you vist my school today.
    I wish to enter it because you made me want to enter it.
    Thanks for that Sarah!
    I would like to buy your books but maybe my parents will not buy for me.
    That’s the end of my massage.I will not forget all the things you said this morning.
    From Ingrid that is eight years old.

    • Hello Ingrid – it’s lovely to hear from you! I really enjoyed visiting your class today! I’m so glad that you want to enter my competition and I can’t wait to see your entry! Don’t forget to send it to my email address by the end of the month! And don’t worry if Mum and Dad can’t buy the books – there will be copies of all my books in the library at school.

  27. hi how many books have you wrote

    • Hi Alec – I’ve published eight in all so far – five Chinese Calendar Tales, two Dirty Stories and one Dummies for Mummies!

  28. Hi Sarah,

    Your books are amazing. You came to our school on the 31st March. Rhonda Rabbit was great. Guess what school?


    • Hmmm… let me see now….31st March…that would be…..KENNEDY SCHOOL!! I’m glad you enjoyed Rhonda’s story!

  29. hi you went to our assembly on Jan 10 hi when are u write anorther book

    • Hi Alec – it’s great to hear from you! I’ll be publishing another Dirty Story later this year – keep reading my blog and you’ll hear all about it!

  30. Hi its Madeleine from Kennedy School Hong Kong I was wondering how do you summit a piece.

    P.S. could you get back as soon as possible I would really appreciate that thank you.


    • I’m sorry I now know the answer



      • That’s great Madeleine – I look forward to your entry!

  31. […] First prize winners in each age group will win a signed copy of one of my kids’ books; the ten best entries in each age group will be published on my blog! […]

  32. Hi Sarah,

    It’s me again, Bianca from CAIS, I’m so glad that I made it in the runner up with my friend Rachel and also Chioma (Gloria) in third place. I want to tell you that my slastname is spelled C—H—U—I, because it’s shown like chIU on top.

    Thank you,

    • Thanks for letting me know Bianca – I’ll change that right away! Sarah

      • Thanks, Sarah! I can’t believe that you change it right away, because some people, especially when they are famous! Thank you very much because I just simply dislike when people mix it up into Chiu!

      • It’s my pleasure Bianca – I don’t like it when people mis-spell my name either so I perfectly understand!

  33. […] 爸爸媽媽覺得 haiku 很有趣,於是鼓勵我嘗試創作,當然他們都有一起創作自己的 haiku。想不到第一次參加作文比賽的我竟然取得 Runner Up! Hurray! 我的得獎作品還上載於 Sarah Brennan’s blog。 […]

  34. Dear Sarah,
    Hello, I am Cara in KCIS, I want to ask how to buy books online?? Hope it still has the discount!!!
    Best wishes

    • Hi Cara – we’ve almost set up a paypal facility on my website – it won’t be long now! I’ll let you all know as soon as it’s up and running! In the meantime you can buy my books at all good HK bookstores and also on and

  35. What is the least amount of words in this competition?

  36. Hello sarah I am a P6 from Lantau International School.What is your newest competition?

    • Hi Laura – nice to hear from you! The newest competition is all about chocolate and Emperors! See my Competitions page on my blog to find out how to enter!

  37. Dear Sarah,

    I just have a question about this months clever competition, and by the way I am so excited to start writing about CHOCOLATE and a Chinese emperor. Did you know Chocolate was my favorite food? Anyway, my question that did the emperor have to be a real one from Chinese history. Thanks

    • Hi Gloria – no it doesn’t! It can be a marvellous mythical Emperor if you want!

  38. I am going to compete.

  39. Hi Sarah Brennan!
    When is your next competition gonna come out?
    I am really looking forward to it!

  40. i forgot, when is compitition NO. 10 OVER???

    • Hi Cara – it finishes on 31 may – so get your entry in fast!

  41. […] out Sarah Brennan’s “Clever Competition” for this month.  Read all of the directions, and note that your submissions have to be emailed to […]

    • Hello Miss Hatcher’s class at Morrison Academy – I hope you’re all hopping with lots of ideas for my Clever Competition! I look forward to lots of chocolatey Imperial stories soon! Warm regards, Sarah Brennan

  42. Dear Sarah Brennan,

    I was wondering that dead line is tomorrow, so is winner’s posted tomorrow? And, can other people send you the story tomorrow?

    • Hello Sedric – the deadline is midnight tonight (31 May) and I’ll be judging the entries tomorrow and posting the results very soon after! So keep on visiting my blog and you’ll see the results soon!

  43. compitition 11?

    • It won’t be long now Cara – just wait a bit longer while I judge the last one!

  44. when are the winners of the competitions’ winner come out, the reasult?

  45. Hi Sarah!
    I am called Hye-An.I know it is very hard to say my name.But I made my english name as Chole…Only my special friends call me Chole but people at my school just calls me Hi…They call me Hi An!My actuall name is Hey An but please write it as Hye-An!I am a korean girl and I love to read your books.I am a christian.When I grow up I would love to be an author like you!I also want to be a doctor at the same time!!!!!!!!I just forgotte the date of your writing competition,I really wanted to join……….well I hope you can reply me back,
    BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!p.s. I cant wait to see your books that I ordered!!!!!

    • Hello Hye-An – thanks for your message! My last competition closed at the end of May, but never mind…there will be another one announced very soon! Keep visiting my blog and you’ll find out! I hope you enjoy all the books you ordered!

  46. Dear Sarah Brennan,

    Will we have a competition during the summer !!!

    • Hi Gloria – there’s a competition running now! Go to my Clever Competitions page to find out all about it! Happy Summer writing!

  47. Hi Sarah, How ru? Do u still remember me? call me lulu that is my nickname!


  48. Hi Sarah
    will there be a competition in December?
    If there is could you please tell me and also my name is Simran from Kowloon Juniour School

    • Hello Simran, lovely to hear from you. I will be announcing another Clever Competition in January so make sure you keep checking the blog and I’ll let you know the new topic as soon as possible!

      • Hi Sarah
        When will you come to Kowloon Juniour School is it in during Book week I think so but if not when are you I’m looking really forward to seeing you
        P.S I’m in Yr 5 if you’re talking to different Groups in different times.
        Your biggest fan

      • Hello Simran! It’s lovely to hear from you! I’ll be starting my Hong Kong Schools tour in February and hope to see you all at KJS then!

  49. […] to Whitney who received an honourable mention in Sarah Brennan’s latest writing competition, The Night My Favourite Hero Came to Dinner. There were over 40 entries from 6 different schools in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. […]

  50. Dear Sarah,
    what is your favorite type of poem?


    • Hello Libby – I love all sorts of poems, but I like writing best in rhyming verse! What’s your favourite type of poem?

      • My favorite poems are acrostics.

      • I love acrostics too – they’re great fun to write!

  51. which chinese calendar animal are you?

    • Hello again! I was born in the Year of the Rat – I’m a typical Rat too! What year were you born in?

      • i was born in the year of the snake

      • Well it will be your year next year!

  52. I like the other people’s stories and I think they are great!

  53. Thank you for your blog post.Thanks Again. Keep writing.

  54. What is your chinese animal; i was born in april 2001 so what is mine?

    • Hi Amna – if you were born in 2001 that makes you a Snake!

  55. dear mrs. brennan,
    I would like to join the writing poem competition all because I want a signed book and I also love to write,also, I really like comedies,so I am showing you a poem about Pippa the panda who hates the zoo.I hope you’d enjoy it!

    • Hi Nicole – that was a FABULOUS panda poem and I’m entering it into my competition right away! Can you please write to me at to let me know what age you are and in what grade at RCHK?

  56. Hi, Mrs. Brennan.
    Remember me? I am from Quarry Bay School year 4F, which is Mr.Farmer’s class. My name is Jin Sol Lee. Because I’m Korean,it might be hard for you to say my name. I’m sorry I don’t have an english name. Now as you no all about me, after you reply I’ll write a poem.

    • Hello Jin Sol – I do remember you and I’m delighted you wrote! I’m looking forward to your poem – but if it’s for the Panda Poem Competition remember to send it to me at!

  57. I am very interested in Sarah Brennans clever poems.

    • That’s great Ranen – I look forward to seeing your entry in my Clever Competition!

  58. Dear Sarah Brennan I like to read books especially mysteries!

    • Hi Vineeta – I love reading books too, and I love mysteries as well!

  59. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    it was fun on that day i can’t wait till next year
    P.S:what will you write about next year.

    • Thanks Bryan! I can’t wait either! Hmmm, now what’s the animal of the zodiac next year? I’ll give you a hint…Hisssssssssssssssss!

    • Hello Bryan – I’m so glad you had fun! I’m going to write about a Snake next year!

  60. Hi sarah,im Kaiitlyn and i really want to enter your competition.I love reading,did you know that? Anyway,my question is what do i need to doto enter your clever competion/

    • Hi Kaitlyn, it’s great to hear from you! All the information about how to enter my Clever Competition is on my Clever Competitions page – just click on the tab at the top of the blog! And on the right hand side, underneath all the different competition headings, you can find more Clever Competition Rules. Best of luck!

  61. Very good!

  62. Dear Sarah
    Thank you for sharing the tale of Pinion Panda with us. It was funny and enjoyable the story you shared with the year 3’s and me. Are you going to write another tale?
    If you are I would be delighted to here it at any time.

    From Rohan

    P. S. I am at Discovery College.

    • Hello Rohan- thanks for your lovely comments! I will be writing another Tale very soon for the Year of the Snake next year! Have a great year at your fabulous school!

  63. Hi Sarah, My name is Sebastian. Im from Discovery College. I was wondering when are you gone a come back to discovery college to check who’s the winner for the competition?

    • Hello Sebastian – I’d love to come back to Discovery College! But I can judge the competition on-line and will be writing to all the schools to announce the winners at the end of March!

  64. Hi Mrs.Brennan
    I really love your book they are amazing like off the hook And I was really inspired by your fascinating books.I have seen you in DC (Discovery College when you were reading Pin Yin panda

    • Hello Faizaan – wow, what a lovely comment! I’m so glad you like my books!

  65. Hi Sarah,
    My name is casey and really like your books. I have sent you a entry for the competition and was wondering how many people have entered so far?

    • Hi Casey – we’ve had over thirty entries so far – I can’t wait to read yours!

  66. Dear Sarah,

    I want to write my Panda poem but I can’t find your email address.
    Can you tell me where it is? Where shall I wrtie my poem?

    Thank you,


  67. mmmm i have a question what if we don´t have word?

  68. Hi Sarah,
    you just visited my school, discovery college and i really liked your new book.
    I just wanted to tell you that in primary is that we have to write the poem about panda bears and it is really fun writing poems but you wont get 90 poems from each year level our teachers will just pick the top 5 from every class. I LOVE YOUR BOOKS!!!!!!!! and i hope you get to see my poems!!!!!!!!

    • Hi Maya – well that’s going to be fun! I can’t wait to get the Discovery College entries! So glad you love my books and I DO hope your poem is a finalist! Sarah

  69. Hi Sarah,
    I just read the Tale of TEMUJIN and Pin Yin Panda. They were awesome, especially Pin Yin Panda! I think you’re one of the world’s best author! Your books are very creative and fun to read! Your books are filled with cool and creative words! I made a draft for my acrostic poem and I can’t wait to send it and for you to read it. I really hope I win.
    From Giulia!

    • Thanks so much Giulia! It’s lovely to hear from my fans!! I look forward to that acrostic panda poem! Keep up the good work!

  70. i can’t wait for the results for the panda competition!!!

    • And I’m looking forward to judging it! Be patient…it won’t be long now!

  71. i am looking foward….. Iwonder who is going to win?!!!!!!! I love you Sarah!!!11

  72. Hello, Sarah, I’m Harry, I am from AISHK, I loved your author visit!

    • Thanks Harry – I had a lot of fun! Thanks for having me!

  73. Dear sarah,i’m soooo glad i won first prise! However,i can’t think of a book out of all the good books you wrote! Any suggestions?

    • Congratulations for first prize

      I read it just now.

    • Hello Kaitlyn – take a look at my books on the Kids Page on my website at and see if there’s one there you haven’t got yet! My latest one (The Tale of Pin Yin Panda is great fun and also has stickers if you don’t have that one yet!

  74. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for putting this competition on! I didn’t win but I improved my poetry a lot better

  75. Hi Sarah, I want to thank you for giving me 3rd place in my age group!!!! And Also what will I win??????

    • Hello Pamela! It was great to meet you the other day! You win publication on my blog!! The first prize winners receive a free signed book – so you must make sure to enter next time and see if you can win first prize!

      • Hey Pamela,
        Congratulations on 3rd place.

        -Victoria from AISHK

  76. So fun doing this. I improved my poetry skills :]

    • That’s great Victoria – as they say, practice makes perfect!

  77. Dear sarah,
    I know a lot of kids ask you this question,but now i want to know for myself. What is your age? I don’t mind if you give my a super challenging maths question!

    • Hi Kaitlyn – there’s already a super-challenging maths answer on one of the pages of my blog hidden in the Comments – see if you can find it!

  78. hi there, could i add in the word bathroom?

    • HI Kaitlyn – bathrooms are just fine!

      • Just entered!

      • Great! And it’s an excellent entry!

  79. I Just made 2 books and a website!

    • Wow Hillary – congratulations! You will definitely be an author one day!

  80. Hi Sarah. I love to write and I have written alot of short books and a few private websites with my friends. My longest book I have written in year 3 is forty pages. I reallllllllllly want to be an author and I am wondering, is it hard to publish a book?

    • P.S I looked at your Brilliant Books page and I am reading Swalllows and Amazons. I love it!

      • That’s great Gabby – my daughter loves the series too and keeps re-reading it!

    • Hi Gabby – it’s great to hear from you and I’m delighted to hear about all your books and your writing! Publishing isn’t very difficult if you have the right team of illustrators, designers and printers, but it is fiddly and time-consuming and of course, costly, and it’s easy to make mistakes! That’s why most authors choose to get an agent to present their work to a publisher who specializes in their kind of book.

      • Hi again Sarah. Thank you for replying so quickly. My favourite chapter book seiries is Harry Potter. My favourite picture books are your Chinese Character Tales. My dad likes them too, especially Run Run Rat. What is your favourite chapter book seires?

  81. When is your birthday?

  82. i love reading and writing books

  83. Thank you so much for giving me the honourable mention in the jade dragon competition! I really don’t know what to say!

    • It’s my pleasure Gabby – your poem story was quite wonderful!

  84. Hi Sarah! I just wanted to say how good those stories were! I can’t believe how many of your wicked words the young writers can use! I think I need to start checking out your wicked words! Do you remember when you came to Shanghai American School Puxi last year? I do! I can still find my entry on your site- the haiku about spring! Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Kelly – it’s lovely to hear from you again! I totally agree – the stories were so great, weren’t they! And the wicked words are a lot of fun to use so make sure you keep checking them out!

  85. I just wanted to add- I know I’m too old now to enter the Clever Competitions, but it’s still fun to read all the great stories!

  86. Dear Sarah,

    You are my #1 fan.

    love Emily

  87. Hi Sarah,

    The competition was so fun! I was waiting a long time and thank you for mentioning my name!

    Victoria 🙂

    • My pleasure Victoria – I look forward to your entry in my next competition!

  88. Sarah,

    whats your favourite book besides your own? My favourite series besides your series is, “The Inheritence Cycle” I’m sorry if I spelt it wrong. The Series is about a boy called Eragon who finds an “Cyrstal” which is really a dragon egg. It then hatches and he finds out a million things! He can do magic too, and fight with a sword.

  89. dear sarah
    i dont have any more books to read. WHAT SHALL I DO!!! im soooooooooo bored at home and nothing seems to be as fun before. can you suggest something for me to do?

  90. Hello Chorki – you can do some writing! I’m just about to post the summer writing competition so you can write me a fabulous story! And if you need some tips as to how to get writing, see my Top Ten Writing Tips for Kids – I’ll be posting Top Tip Three tomorrow!

  91. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    When are you going to post competition no.16? I’m bored now with nothing to do.


    • Hi Hillary – in just a couple of days’ time – hang in there!

  92. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    I already e-mailed you my entry, I corrected it. I e-mailed you it on Oct 5! Please enter my entry!

    With thanks,
    Hillary Lo 🙂

    • Hi Hillary – don’t worry! I’ve entered it already! Well done for doing a good edit!

  93. sarahbrennan i want to join your competition

    • Hello Ditto! I’m sorry but you’re too late for my autumn haiku competition. I’ll be posting another competition soon though, so keep visiting my blog and I’ll let you know the details very soon!

      • coolio!! (quoted from Grubbs Grady and Bill-E Spleen from the Demonata)

  94. Hi Mrs Brennan,
    when is the next competition coming out? I’ve nearly finished my book (To Kill A Mockingbird) and I am starting to become bored. Thanks!

    • Hi Jemima – have patience! I’ll be posting it at the beginning of next week (18 November)!

  95. Hi Sarah, do you remember me, at the australian school i came after you reat pinyin panda, and told you that one of my books will be published.

    • Yes I do remember you! Make sure you send me a link to your book when you’ve published it – it’s a fantastic achievement!

  96. isn’t there a competition tomorrow? if there is is it a poem or a narrative???

    • Yes there is Isabelle, and I’m about to publish details of it right now!

  97. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    How can I publish my book? I want my books to be in the book stores and everything like your fantastic books. I had already finished 4 books and is starting to write another one. Please can you help me publish my books?


  98. Your books are so good I burst my head off! OOOOHHHH! That’s the coolest book I’d ever seen!

    • Well thank you Hillary! I hope your head is still in tact!

  99. Can I do Garamond for the font on the Martian Christmas competition? The reason why I can’t do New Times Roman is because my Word doesn’t have New Times Roman as a font. Thanks!

    • Of course you can Jack – Times New Roman is what I publish on the blog but if you can’t use it yourself, anything clear and easy to read will be fine and I can change it my end if you’re one of the winners! I look forward to your entry!

  100. hi sarah thank you so much for visiting AIS i really enjoyed the tale of pin yin the panda!!!!

  101. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    Can you enter my entry for the competition no.17? I’ve sent it to you a long time ago! Have you entered it?

  102. Hi Sarah,
    Do you remember me? I am the 3rd place winner from your Jade Dragon Competition and one of the runner-ups for your autumn haiku compettion.
    Can you tell me when you’ve my entry for Competition No.17? I’m waiting a long time for you to enter my entry!!!!!!!!!
    Please can you check my entry?

    With thanks,
    Hillary LO
    (Y4.2) (SJS)

  103. When are you coming to visit SJS Year 4?

  104. Hi Sarah-
    I’ve wrote 4 books. How many books have you written?

    P.S I’ll send them to you.

    • Hi Hillary – I’ve written lots of books but published just 9. Congratulations on all your writing – that’s fantastic!

  105. Hello Sarah ,
    i’m a student from Sha Tin junior school and i really enjoyed your visit to sjs on the 29th. Any way are there any compititions to join now because i really want to enter and my momk says i am a good story writter so if there are plz let me know!!!!
    🙂 thanks


    • Hi Hafsa – thanks for writing! I had a great day at SJS! I’ll be publishing details of my new competition in a couple of weeks, so keep visiting my blog or sign up for my newsletter and you’ll be notified shortly!

  106. When are you going to post the next competition?

    • I’m bored and I’ve finished reading all my books!

      • Hillary – go to the library and find some more books!!! There are always more wonderful books to be read, believe me!

    • Hi Hilary – in a couple of weeks! It’ll be a great one! Keep visiting the blog or sign up for the newsletter and I’ll let you know soon!

  107. Sybil Snake is fantastic! I’ve finished reading it after the book launch!

  108. My friend called Pranali Joshi participated in this competition and is mentioned on this page. Good Job Pranali!

    • Anyway, your books always entertain me without fail every year! I love your books!

  109. Dear Sarah Brennan, thank you for visiting Doncaster Gardens Primary School today. I really enjoyed hearing your story about the tale of Sybil the Snake. I hope one day I can write books like you. I was born in the Year of the Rooster and I was wondering when you will write a book about roosters? From Emily Hopp, Grade 2A.

    • Hello Emily – it’s great to hear from you! I’m so glad you enjoyed my lovely Sybil Snake! The Rooster comes 10th in the Zodiac so I’m afraid I won’t be writing his story till 2017! But you can get a sneak peek at his face in my Tale of Pin Yin Panda along with all the other characters in the Chinese Calendar Tales! Keep on writing!

  110. Sarah Brennan,
    Please can you post the new competition?

    Hillary 🙂 :+

  111. Sorry, I forgot…… My teacher’s name is Mr. Martin!!!!!!!!

  112. Hi Sarah! i really like your books! i can’t wait to enter the snake competition but i have a problem- how do i attatch a word document to you or how do i get my entry to you??? please help!! i really want to enter cause your books are soooooo cool!!! BTW i still remember the visit that you came to my school- SJS i hope you can come again!

    • Hi Angel – glad you like my books! YOu just need to type your entry on a word doc, then send it to me at – but make sure you add your age, grade at school and school details on your document! Happy writing!

  113. Hi Sarah! i weally love your books!! thay are my top no.1 now!!!! i think my favourite tale was pin yin panda but i did’nt read you newest book yet- sybil snake because it has’nt come to my school yet!! can you please tell me when are they going to arrive- my school is SJS because i am really Eager to read!!!

    • Thanks Angel for your lovely comments! I’m proud to be at your no. 1 spot!! I’ll be at SJS very soon so you’ll be able to hear Sybil Snake then!

  114. “Hi Sarah. This is Kerry Law (Chinese teacher) at DGPS in Melbourne, I just spoke to Kathy Given about this competition, I would like to encourage students in my Reach classes (Advanced) to write in Chinese as well. Is that possible ?”

    • Hi Kerry – I’m so sorry but I don’t speak Mandarin so would be unable to judge their entries. Could they enter in English but add on the Chinese version? If any of their English entries are in the top ten for their age group (and if my computer and blog will take it which I don’t know at present), I could publish their winning entry on my blog in both languages. What do you think?

      • Yes I will definitely can work on that, and encouraging students to enter the competition.

      • That’s fantastic – thanks Kerry!

  115. Dear sarah, can we do more than 1 entry for your competition please!!

    • Hi Angel – you can write as many as you like, but you can only send in one! So it’s best to write a number of them then choose the best, or maybe ask a teacher which they think is the best, then send it in!

  116. Dear Sarah, i was just wondering if you got my email for the snake competition-email adress is you did then that’s great!

  117. I’m really excited!!!! I can’t wait for you to come next week and read us a good tale of sybil snake!!!!!!!!

    • Are u in GSIS too?
      I’m in Y06B

  118. Sybil the snake wasn’t a very good book… Can’t you write a horror story?

    • i thought it was really good!!!

    • Me too! It’s a funny book! I think it’s great!:)

  119. Please can I mention your name in my story???????????

  120. Dear Ms. Brennan,

    3A from CAIS has read the rules and we are ready to get to work creating original poems. The best ones will be submitted to you 🙂

    • That’s fabulous Miss A – I look forward to reading them!

  121. Dear Sarah, in case you haven’t got the details for the competition (if i win) are- age 10, Shatin junior school, Lai Wo Lane, FoTan , my name is angel wong and my teacher is Mr.Hyde HOPE I WIN!

    • Thanks Angel – I’ve got your details and your entry and will write to you soon!

    • Are you in Year 6? I am in SJS Year 5!

  122. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    Are you coming to replace our school visit because you didn’t come because you were sick last time you were planning to come?
    Hope you will:)


    • Hi Hillary – yes I will be coming – we’ve rejigged the dates so I’ll be seeing you all again soon!

  123. just asking if you have my details for the competition-sorry! i forgot.If you have’nt then they are on top of hilary’s comment

  124. Hi Sarah Brennan,

    Are you coming to our school(Shanghai Singapore International school)for the author visit? You were supposed to come but our library teacher,Ms Kateryna,told us you were not coming because you were sick. But I liked the bookmark you sent to us:)

    • Hi Joyce – I’m so sorry I couldn’t come. But I’m arranging a replacement visit for October/November so I hope to see you all then! Thanks for writing!

  125. Hi Sarah, I think you must be busy now because you hardly ever go on your blog now!

    • HI Angel – i’ve been a bit ill lately with a nasty flu which took a long time to get better! But now I’m back to normal and am really happy to be starting my school tours again tomorrow! Keep visiting the blog – it’s going to get VERY BUSY!!

  126. Dear Sarah Brennan,

    I’m so sad! My mom says i’m going to change to a different school next year but you are only coming to our school next year and not this year! Will you be going to SHSID(Shanghai High School International Division) the puxi side one?

    • Hello Joyce – I’m really sad to be missing you too! I’ll be back in Shanghai in November, but I guess you’ll be at your new school by then. I don’t generally visit high schools as my books tend to be more for primary school kids, though I do sometimes give writing workshops in high schools. Why don’t you talk to your English teacher or librarian at your new school and see what they think?

  127. Hey i am the girl from the back of the room in LIS who asked you how old u are.I will love to wright a poem for snakes with my friends Demi and Taylor omg i am so sorry my name is Bella and i wright stories in my own time too but my computer broke down completely and i am using my mums i also come from Australia and England! Thanks so much as well for putting that picture of us with the snake skin on your blog haha.


    • Hi Bella – it was great to meet you and I can’t wait to post that photo as soon as I have a copy of it! I look forward to your entry in my competition!

  128. Hi Sarah its Demi and taylor you visited us today by the way is it ok if we use calbri body font for the snake poem competition because we dont have greek please reply soon sincerely demi and taylor

    • sorry i thought it was greek not roman font were so sorry

      • Please don’t worry! I make mistakes myself, often!

    • Yes Demi and Taylor, calibri font will be fine if you don’t have Times New Roman!

  129. hi! remember me? Alice from lantau international school? i was ther on your left hand side on the blue tables! i was the one with a pink hat and with glasses. when you read those books to me i was fasinated. they are so touching and i would love to get one or two of your books. i really hope i will win. and i hope it gives you a feeling.


    • Thanks Alice and I well remember you! I look forward very much to seeing your entry in my competition!

  130. hi Sarah! when are you going to visit SJS again? all of my friends are asking me for your sybil snake book i ordered. They really want to read the story!. Please come again soon cause your last visit was TOTALLY AWSOME, by the way when will you announce the winner’s for the poem competition?:)

    • Hello Angel! I”m actually coming to SJS again quite soon – just ask your teachers and they’ll tell you when! I’m glad you all like Sybil Snake so much. I’ll be announcing the winners of my Poem Competition in early June, before school breaks up for the summer!

      • wow! that’s great!!!.

      • Thanks Angel!

  131. Hi, I am a student from BHS. I just listened to your talk today and found publishing a book really interesting. As my teacher says how good story planning is a how it is brief you exactly said the same thing. I love your books and too bad my Mum and Dad doesn’t let me to buy them!

    • Never mind Jaime, you can always read my books – and lots of other good books too – in the library!

      • Yep! But I would really like my own copy!

  132. Hi! I’m from BHS and I want to know how many entries are we allowed to enter and if we can type our entry on a google odc and share it with you!:)

    • Hello Ida – you can write as many poems as you like, but please just send the best one in! Please write your poem on a word doc. and send to me as an attachment to an email. I don’t do sharing on google.doc. I look forward to hearing from you!

      • Hello again! I just realized that I don’t have the font times new roman so can I use another font called WIDE??? Thanks.

      • Yes that’s just fine Ida!

  133. Hi Sarah! what is your favorite book in the ones you wrote?? my favorite is Chester Choi. And what is the best book you ever read??

    • Hello Angel – I always say to kids when they ask me which book is my favourite that my books are like my children, and good mothers NEVER tell their children which one is their favourite – they just say, I love you all equally, but for different reasons! And I guess that’s how I love my books too!

  134. Hi! I’m Talisa, I’ from Renaissance College. I LOVE your books because it is so……. I don’t know how to say it because your books are so amazing.

    • Hello Talisa – what a lovely comment! Thank you! I LOVE comments like that and think that my fans are pretty amazing too! Keep on reading and writing!

  135. Can I join your competition!! Can I join???

    • Of course you may Talisa! Just click on the Clever Competitions tab above for all the details!

  136. I really like your books! They are full of humor and makes me laugh all the time. I thoroughly enjoyed Pinyin panda and Sybil Snake, and next year it it going to be about a horse! I am born in the year of the horse. I love to write short poems about everyday life. They aren’t very good, but I just like to and no matter how much my friends get at me, I cant stop. Especially when I am bored.
    I am so excited in joining your writing competition this year! Last year I joined and hopefully, this year, my writing has improved. I really enjoy writing stories, so I also hope to be an author when I get older!!!
    – Nicole

    • Thank you so much for posting on my blog Nicole! It’s lovely to hear from someone who loves writing as much as I used to when I was your age! Just keep on reading and reading lots and lots of good books (take a look at my Brilliant Books page for some suggestions or ask your lovely librarians at RCHK for inspiration) and keep on writing your poems (which I’m sure are better than you think :)) and you’re sure to end up an author like me!

      • I agree, Sarah Brennan’s books are so amazing, fantastic and the best always in the whole universe.

  137. Hi Sarah! one question- for the competition (the snake one) can we write a story but writing it as a poem about a snake doing something?. Like, you talk about the snakes catching weapons and stuff like that but in the format of a poem but tells a story? please!!

    • That will be just fine – so long as it’s a poem, and it’s about a snake, and it fits the word limit, it’s okay!

  138. Hi Sarah! i checked with my teacher and he said you will be coming to SJS to read only to the year 1-4’s. Since im in year 6 it’s a real shame!:(

  139. Hi again Sarah! can you please tell me your age please! were doing a homework on your favorite author and we have to do an essay!! please!!

    • Hi again! i saw your calculation of your birthday, it’s soo hard!! i ended up with decimal numbers!! ughhhh!!. It’s soooo frustrating!! please can you give me some clues please!!.

      Thanks! Angel

    • Actually, i figured out your sum for your age! but don’t worry, i won’t tell promise!:)

  140. Thank you so much for saying my poem was good.

  141. Sarah,

    I like your story sybil snake,but some of your stories does not have happy endings.
    Actually,I like sybil snake best.

    Thanks,Vivian 3.2 sjs

    I am a new user and I want to know the others.

    • Hi Vivian – I’m so glad that you like Sybil Snake’s story! But ALL my stories have happy endings – perhaps you haven’t read them all yet? Take a look at the books in the library and you’ll find out!

  142. HI Vivian – if you want to subscribe to my blog, just click the tab which says “Follow my blog” and you can then receive a notice every time the blog is updated!

  143. Hi Sarah, i heard that you came to SJS yesterday. Sadly, it is only for 1-4’s (I am in year 6) but i still look foward to the competition! i just finished writing my entry!.

    • Hi again! I look forward to reading your entry very much! And even if you’re in Grade 6 you can still read my books – make sure you catch the latest book The Tale of Sybil Snake – it’s in all the shops now!

  144. Sarah,

    how about writing “The year of the lion”?

    • But Vivian there is no such thing as the Year of the Lion!!

  145. write a super dirty story!The children will like it!
    to sarah

  146. To Sarah,
    do you write the competition entries on your blog or you write it in a piece of paper?

    sorry, I’m driving you crazy by to many texts and comments.
    im a chatter box.

    • Hi Vivian – no problem! You type it on a word document and attach it to your email, or just email me directly with the poem typed in the body of the email. Please email to me at

  147. Hi Sarah! did you get my entry yet?? i sent it to you by email on a word doc!

    • Angel I did – thank you. I think I wrote to you about that today!

  148. Rachel that’s a fun poem but it can’t go in the Competition as it doesn’t follow the rules! Look at the rules on the Clever Competitions page and have another go, only make sure you send it to the address specified in the rules!

  149. (SIGH)I always feel so bored

    • Vivian – go and get yourself a great book to read! Then you’ll stop being bored right away!

  150. hi I’m from dbis hk in y6 amazing school right
    do you have instagram. if you do can you please follow me my username is josh_hunter_11 or you could do josh_the_hunter_2 thanks 🙂

    • Hi Josh – it’s great to hear from you. I’m sorry but I don’t have Instagram. If you want to enter the competition, you do have to follow the rules on this page and send your entry as a word document attached to your email, or in your email itself, to the email address set out in the rules! I hope to hear from you again soon!

  151. Hi!! Sarah!! i can’t wait till the results are out for the competition!! what is your next competition going to be???

    P.S how are we going to get the prize if we win?

    • Hi Angel – the results will be announced in the 2nd week of June! My next competition will be my summer story competition for kids who want to do some fabulous writing over the holidays, but I haven’t picked the topic yet! If you win my competition I’ll write to you to tell you, and we can then sort out sending you the book of your choice!

  152. Hi Sarah! a riddle for you: my horoscope is capricorn, my birthstone is tanzanite, my birth date is 24…. what month is my birthday in?

    P.S is your birthstone ruby?? and is your horoscope leo or cancer?? if it is….. COOL!! 🙂

    • Is your birthday December 24th?
      If it is that is the same as my Mum!

      • I’m afraid not Neha! I was born in July.

      • Yeah!:)

    • You’re very clever – my birthstone is ruby and my horoscope sign is Cancer! Well done!

    • Your birthday is in January

      • December, same as me!

      • Cool!

  153. Hi Sarah!!!!! i can’t wait till the competition results!! could you tell me how many entries you’ve got so far?????

    P.S do you like riddles? i just love reading and guessing them! 🙂

  154. Hi Sarah!! in case you didn’t know, my comment is above two of yours….. i have no idea why!

  155. Hi Sarah!! um, for your next competition, can the topic be about ice cream and the sun?? but please PLEASE! does it have to be a story? im terrible at writing stories!

  156. hi Sarah!! are the results going to be out on June the 14th?? if it is……
    I CAN’T WAIT!!!! 🙂

  157. Hi Sarah! sorry if im sending you too much comments, i was just wondering what is the prize for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each category. Could you please tell me?

    Cheers, Angel

    • Hi Angel,

      1st prize is a free signed story, and 2nd and 3rd gets a publishing on the blog!

      • Thanks Hilary!

        but what do you mean by a publishing on the blog?

      • You get to be on the blog and when the whole world goes on this blog, they can see your name and your poem.

  158. Hi Sarah! is hairsplitter a word? because i keep hearing my friends talk about it and i’m getting confused!

    • Hello Angel – yes someone can be a hair-splitter if they are always splitting hairs! To “split hairs” is to be extremely fussy when you are arguing a point. So for example someone who says that my dog Bobby isn’t a cocker spaniel, he’s a GOLDEN cocker spaniel is someone who is splitting hairs!

  159. Hi Sarah, I’m an EA from BHS, Hong Kong and I was given the task of sending the chosen snake poems from the year 4 students to you. However I’ve attempted to do this multiple times but have been constantly getting a “mail delivery failure” due to an apparent fact that your mailbox is too full. Is there another way to send these poems to you? The students were really eager to write them!
    Kind regards!

    • Hi Kannis – try sending them again to my main email address – I’ll send you that to your email address! I look forward to reading them!

  160. Hi Sarah! Did you judge the entries yet? I’m so excited!

    P.S are the results going to be announced on the fourteenth of June?

    • Hello Angel – I’ve got lots of entries now, including yours. I’ll be posting the results within a week of the deadline date!

  161. Hi Sarah! I’m Kaitlyn. I’ve entered 2 of your competitions and won both of them. I’m looking forward to entering this one as well!

    PS: I just won another writing competition. The prize is…. I’m going to get my book published! It’s called the Sparkling Swans, if you want to buy it.

    • Wow Kaitlyn – congratulations! That’s fantastic news! Why don’t you send me a photo of you and your book and a bit of information about what it’s about, as well as your school, age and grade, and I’ll write a post on my blog about it!

  162. Hey Sarah,
    Do you remember me? I just entered your competition last Saturday. I saw on that you’re not allowed to copy. Sorry I just copied the title, but really, I cannot think of one! Does that count? Or is it okay or am I banned for two years?

  163. Hi Sarah! I was just wondering do you HAVE to have a title for your poem?

    • HI Angel – no you don’t. You can just call it “Snake Poem” if you like!

  164. Hi Sarah! I have written 2 poems and cant decide which one I should enter. Can I enter both?

    • Hi – thanks for writing! I’d rather you chose which one you like best – but if you really can’t choose, I’ll let you send both just this once!

  165. Sarah,
    I’m turning Year 5 now, though I’m still mucked up! I hope my poem will be better than the first one.
    On July, I am going to Japan. I’ll try to make up a poem for that?!!

    • That’s great Fiona – I look forward to it! Have a great time in Japan!

  166. Paddling hard,
    Feel the water rising beneath me,
    And it pulls me down under.
    As I try to resurface,
    It starts to rain.

    A single raindrop,
    A drop of life.

    I wrote this poem above!
    I am a friend of Hillary.

    • Tiana that’s a wonderful poem – thank you. But it isn’t about a snake! If you want to be part of my Clever Competition you must stick to the rules!

      • Hi Sarah,

        Tiana is my BFF. Can she enter the next competition?


  167. I never win! Does that mean I don’t improve?

    • Hillary I haven’t finished judging yet so be patient and wait for the results to be published!

      • Did I improve?

  168. Hi Sarah! When will you finish judging? Is it the person with the most points win?

    P.S how do you get points?

  169. Can the next competition be a story?

  170. Hi Sarah –
    I haven’t been able to enter any of the recent competitions – partly because I don’t know how! Would you mind getting back to me and outlining how?
    – Isobel Yeaman

    • Dear Isobel – you need to type up your entry and send it to me at as an attachment. Please make the attachment a Word document, or type your entry into the body of your email. The next competition is coming up soon so keep visiting my blog or I’ll let you know by newsletter!

  171. what’s a short story?

  172. Hi Sarah! I was just wondering what was a short story and how do u write it


    • Hello Angel – a short story is just that…a story which is short! For my new clever competition, that means no longer than 1000 words! Get busy and get writing!

  173. Hi Sarah can u please tell me what’s a short story? I’m really confused about this! And for the competition, I don’t really get it. Does it have to be about the forbidden city? Or is it like this, e.g. A rumor was once spread through the forbidden city hundred of years ago, a story on how a secret changed this city……

    P.S please please tell me what’s a short story because I saw we could only write one thousand words!

  174.  Hi Sarah, I was just wondering does the competition story have to be a real one with a real secret that actually happened before? And does the setting features, like a king and emperor and those stuff have to be real or does the whole thing can be fake except for the setting?

    • Hi Angel – no it doesn’t have to be a real secret – you can make one up! and it doesn’t have to be a real Emperor either! That’s the beauty of writing fiction – you can entirely make up the characters from your imagination! The same for the time period in which the story is set – it can even be set in the future with aliens occupying the Palace!

  175. LONG TIME NO SEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!how are you?

    • Hello Vivian – it’s lovely to hear from you! I hope you have a great holiday this summer!

  176. Well what I meant was can we add like a wireless tv in our story or does it have to have real features. Does the setting have to be when there were actually people living in the city, or is it now?

    • Yes Angel of course you can – the story can be as is is now, or how it was in the past, or even how you think it might be in the future!

  177. Hi Sarah! can we add violence to our story, like killing people… just to make it scary. can we also add like souls and ghosts to make it even scarier?


    • Hi Angel – I have no objection to you bumping a few people off in your story so long as it’s done tastefully and without too much gore to frighten the little kids! Looking forward to your entry!

  178. do we have to have a title and story chapters and paragraphs in our story? do we also have to have beginning middle and end with paragraphs or can it be one whole blob or a lot of different spaces?

    • Hello again – you will definitely need paragraphs, and a beginning, middle and end, as these are essentials in any story. But you won’t need a title unless you want one (I always think it’s nicer though) and you won’t need chapters either for a story of this length.

  179. Hi, when are you going to post your next competition?

    P.S Do you remember me? I’m Hillary from SJS.

    • Hello Hillary – of course I remember you well! I’ll be posting the next competition VERY shortly so keep visiting my blog and you’ll see the details soon!

  180. I am making my own series book! Thinking of some ideas

    • That’s a great idea Joshua – good luck with it!

      • Thanks. I already am writing the second book!

  181. Hi! Mrs. Brennan
    Remember me? I am Rachel Chui from AISHK

    • Hi Rachel – thanks for saying hello! It’s great to hear from you!

      • I want to make my own novel , what should I do ???

      • Hi Rachel, That’s a truly great ambition – well done you! There’s no easy answer to your question! But the two things anyone wanting to write a great book needs to do – right away and for the rest of their lives – is to start reading lots and lots of different books, and to practice writing as often as they can – be that in a diary, or a writer’s notebook, or just practicing writing stories! You should also enter as many writing competitions as you can! Take a look at my Writing Tips for Kids page above for more great ideas!

  182. hi Sarah
    I’m from dbis

  183. Hi Sarah,
    I am interested in buying one of your books and thanks for coming to Quarry Bay School to tell us all about you and reading the pin yin panda.

    From Hermia, Class 2L, Quarry Bay School

    • Thank you Hermia! It was lovely to meet you and I hope you enjoy your book! Happy Reading!

  184. Hi! You came to my school a couple years ago… SAS (Shanghai American School) if you’re wondering. I won fourth place with my friend in second grade… that would be 2010 I think. I am trying to reach an older contest the one about emperors and chocolate. How do I find it because I really want to send it to my friend (Victoria) who wrote the story with me. The story was called: The Emperors’ Food Fight.

    • Hello Elle – it’s lovely to hear from you again! If you go on the blog home page, then scroll down the list on the right hand side, you will find the Clever Competitions tab with some dates under it. If you click on the 2011-2012 tab, you’ll find the Chocolate and Emperor’s competition at Number 10. Happy reading!

  185. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    My name is Poppy (it’s actually a nickname but that’s what people call me by) and I love writing! It’s also my talent. I won two of the competitions at school and I like writing for fun. I started writing when I was six years old, and I wrote my first book then. It was about an owl. Then when I was seven I began a series called Detective Blackie. I’ve started many stories (I have a bad habit of starting lots and not finishing them). The ones that won the school competitions are called Garth and the Dragons and Panda’s Adventure in Beijing. I have a notebook with short stories in it, such as The Mysterious Box and Banana and the Peculiar Triangular Creature.
    Sorry that I wrote so much, but I don’t know exactly how many books I wrote!
    I also really like reading. At the moment I’m reading an encyclopedia about animals, and I’ve read most of the Warriors series. I’ve read over 50 of the Geronimo Stilton series, and more. My whole family likes your books – especially me and my dad!
    I hope you don’t mind my writing so much – as I said, I like writing.
    From Poppy

    • At the end I wrote ‘I hope you don’t mind my writing so much’. I meant, I hope you don’t mind that I wrote so much! Haha.

    • Poppy it’s great to hear from you, and I’m very glad to see that you’ve entered my latest writing competition! I can’t wait to do the judging after Friday this week! Thanks for telling me all about your writing and reading – I’m sure we’re going to see your books on the shop shelves in the future – well done!

  186. Hi Sarah,
    I am Alvina from DGJS. I am very happy to meet you in the talk at school. I look forward to reading your books.Thank you for telling us the story”A Black Horse” at the talk at school. I like the way you rhyme the words with each other. Also, the illustrations of the illustrator is very creative. From Alvina

    • Thanks for writing Alvina! I’m glad you enjoyed my talk and hope you like the books too! Have a great summer holiday!

    • Dear Alvina,

      I think that you a big fan of Sarah’s books! right?
      Please Reply!

      Love, Lavinia

  187. Hi Sarah when is your next comp? I really want to enter one soon
    thanks, Sara

    • P.S My mum said that ur comming in for book week next term for book week I’m really looking forward to it!!!

      • Yes Sara I’ll be visiting your school on the 25th August! See you then!

    • Hello Sara! I’ll be posting my next competition just before I come out to Oz in August. So make sure you keep visiting my blog – or if you’d like to subscribe for my newsletter I will notify you by email! Make sure you check first with your mum that that is okay!

  188. hi sarah brennan
    hi my name is madhura i just finished primary school and i really wanted to enter in you tree competition but im not sure if i can because its only for primary students, so can i still enter

  189. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    It’s me, Hillary!
    Since it’s summer holidays, for your 23rd competition do I enter with my grade before summer holidays or after summer holidays? Thank you!
    From Hillary

    • Hi Madhura – as it’s still the summer holidays in many schools, if you get your entry in quickly before the new school year starts you can enter under your old Grade 6 class status. Just make sure you get it to me before school starts again! Hope that helps!

    • Hi Hillary – if you can get your entry in before the school year starts, you can enter under your grade as it was in June! Looking forward to it!

  190. Hi Sarah,

    My daughter Jemma and I were up the back at the fabulous talk you gave at Chatswood Library the other day. As an illustrator I was so impressed with your informative talk encompassing history and your books with such enthusiasm. Bravo! Jemma has today sent in a tree poem. I note in to blurb that you are from Tassie. So am I, so naturally I wondered where you grew up as I grew up in the 60’s in Launceston but travelled alot to Hobart and the northeast. Feel free to write to me at my email if you want to keep private info out of your blog. I’d love to send you some pix, just for fun. Regards, Diana Reynolds

    • Dear Diana – thanks for your lovely comment and I’ll write to you at your email address! I’d love some pix – thank you! All the best, Sarah

  191. Thank you for coming to are sj Malvern on the 25th August

  192. Sarah this is AMAZING news for all of us! So happy for Sonia on winning the first place! I am travelling to Shanghai next week to give her that special hug for this feat 🙂 Your competitions are a great contribution in motivating young children to write. I am reading all the poems posted here and thoroughly enjoying myself.

    • Thank you Rumana. They are wonderful poems aren’t they. Who said that poetry was dead?

  193. Dear Sarah Brennan,

    I am Lavinia from Think International School. Remember? Well, I have typed so many books I can’t even count! But I am sure I have typed more than 60 books. My school is suspicious. We would like to know who won the writing competition.

    Reply Soon!

    Love, Lavinia

    P.S. I lost my tooth! I put my tooth and a letter that I wrote to the tooth fairy and guess what. She replied! Her writing was so beautiful! She said that no job is too hard (Well, something like that!), that there are many fairies that do lots of sorts of different things and she said that she was glad that I liked tooth fairies! She wrote T.F. so beautifully!

    • Wow Lavinia – I’m very envious as I always wanted to meet the Tooth Fairy when I was a kid, and while she left me lots of coins, she never wrote me a letter! I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply but we moved house in December and boy, was I busy! I guess you’ve seen the results of my last competition now. Keep visiting my blog and you’ll find details of the next competition in ten days or so!

  194. Dear Sarah Brennan,
    I’m Hillary from ShaTin Junior School, remember? It’s been some time since I have seen any post on your blog.
    I’m making some stories while waiting for your next competition……I wonder when it will come. It’s OK if you’re busy lately because I saw your Rodney Ram book at BookaZine some time ago. Your books are forever lasting creative;), aren’t they? I just love how you write your books. Still, at least I can read and write all holiday! Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
    P.S. Happy HOLIDAYS!

    • Hello my friend! We didn’t have a writing competition this Christmas because I was moving house to Tai Po and that kept me very busy indeed! But I’ll be publishing details of my next competition in my blog in about 10 days’ time and will send you a newsletter then to let you know! Hope to see you at one of my launch events for Rodney Ram!

  195. l saw you at school today Sarah.

    • And I saw you too Flynn! Hope you enjoyed today as much as I did!

  196. ram comp sorry about spelling

  197. i saw you at school the other day(LEPS). i was sitting behind the boy you were talking to about the things Rodney Ram was saying to the ewe(in the book).

    From Maya

    • Hello Maya – it’s lovely to hear from you and I hope you enjoyed my story reading! I’ll write to you about your entry in the competition at your email address!

  198. dear Sarah Brennan
    i remember you came to Cranbrook last Thursday i wanted to tell you how long have you been a author for.Have you ever been to the scots college to talk about some stuff

    from matthew jabbour

    • Hello Matthew, It’s great to hear from you! I really enjoyed my visit to Cranbrook last Thursday – it was fabulous fun! I haven’t ever been to Scots College though I DID go to Scotch College in Melbourne two years ago! Keep in touch, and do make sure you enter my Clever Competition!

  199. Hi Sarah,
    My name is Marissa. You came to my school (KJS) a few weeks ago. I am a great fan of yours and I entered the Shaggy Sheep competition – I hope I win. I love writing and I hope to be an author when I grow up, but I always start stories that I don’t finish because of Writer’s Block – it’s really annoying!!! Anyway, your story Rodney Ram was very interesting and I ordered Pinyin Panda. It’s very good!!! I like your use of rhyming words and the re-run of the race was very funny!

    From Marissa 🙂

    • Hi Marissa – thanks for writing! I’m so glad you’ve entered the competition – that’s a smart way to practice your writing! The best way to avoid Writer’s Block? It’s easy! You just have to PLAN your story before you start writing it, and you’ll never get blocked again! Keep on reading lots and writing lots, and I look forward to seeing your books on the shelves some day soon!

  200. Dear Sarah Brennan,
    Thank you very, very much for giving me third place, I am over the moon! Next week, we are having book week at school, and it is going to be a week of books and fun, and even Purple Cake Day! I love entering your competitions, and these days I am reading my old books as my mum said I can’t buy any more, which is sad, but at least I get to read! I am going to walk back and forward doing nothing, and be extra sad next year, because I’m not going to be able to enter your competitions! It’s funny as I think about when I was small and worshipped you, and now I still do! But I am mostly younger than the Year 7s next year, because I am born in December, and I will be 11 when I am Year 7. I get so sad seeing that 11 year olds can still enter, but I will ALWAYS still send my poems to you for fun, when I’m older, because I LOVE DOING IT! Thank you for giving me the chance of winning a place!


    • Dear Hillary, what a lovely blogpost. It’s been a real honour having you enter my competitions over the years and watching you develop into a wonderful writer. And I know it’s a pain that my competition finishes when you go up to Grade 7 BUT please don’t worry! I’m going to be promoting competitions for older kids on a special new page on my blog very shortly, and that will give you more competitions to be getting on with! In the meantime, you’ve still got one more competition you can enter and I”m posting the details very soon! Keep visiting my blog and you’ll be able to see all the details.

      • Really – you are in Year 6 right now? I am 10 years old and I was born in February 2005 and I am in Year 5. But I can see that you are a brilliant writer because I have seen your competition entries and they are marvelous!

      • Hi Marissa,
        Thanks for your lovely comment! I’m sure you’re very good at writing as well! I saw your comment above and I can see that you really love writing stories. You are very lucky, because you still have time to enter the competitions. Hopefully, one day I will get to read your writing!

      • Marissa,
        I’ve seen your entry now as well. Congratulations on winning a place in the Shaggy Sheep Competition. Your poem was great, snappy and I loved it.

        From Hillary

  201. Please enter your next competition! I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    • YES PLEASE!!!!!!!! 😉

      from Aiyesha

      • pls enter ur next comp. thx! 🙂 😉

      • Have patience my friend… I’ll be posting it shortly!

      • Patience, patience, I’ll be posting it very soon!

      • Thanks! I can’t wait!!! 🙂

      • Me 2! Ur competitions are 2 cool!!!!


  202. hi

  203. Cool! I am going to enter your new competition! 🙂 😉

    • Fantastic – can’t wait to read your story!

    • Hi Marissa,
      I think I saw you on the Young Post website. Could you tell me your email because I want to ask you some questions about the Young Post Writers? I liked your answers for the Brain Game! And your story was brilliant, you used a lot of adjectives! Thank you so much!

      P.S. My email is

      • Hi Hillary,
        Sorry for not replying earlier! You can email me at
        Thanks for your comment! 🙂


  204. Hi Sarah, I’m in year 7, but I was wondering if I could enter this competition just to improve my writing skills and to get feedback from an author, and by any chance will there be any competitions for year 7’s and above?

    • Hi Madhura – of course you can write up a great story and send it to me! But sadly I won’t be able to enter it in the competition! Don’t worry – as soon as I can I’m going to track down some competitions for older kids that you can enter and do a special blog page on this.

  205. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO excited!

    • That’s great Wes – I hope to read your entry soon!

  206. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    I have written a story for your talking frog competition which I think is one of my best I’ve ever written. The problem is, to fit the 1000 word limit my ending can’t be as detailed and fantastic as I have liked it to be. I’ve tried editing out other parts but the rest then doesn’t seem to make sense. Is it okay if I go another 30 words longer?
    Thank you,

    • Hi Isabel – I’m so sorry, a rule is a rule! You’ll have to go back to your story again and do a little more editing! Try taking a break from it for a few hours, or maybe asking a friend to take a look at it – it can help you to find those extra words or sentences you don’t really need. Best of luck!

  207. I have entered my competition entry!!! Hopefully I will win! 🙂

    • That’s great Jake! I’ll let you know by the end of next week – just keep an eye on my blog and I’ll publish the results soon!

  208. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    Your advice of taking a few days off really worked!
    I have entered my story and I think it’s good!

  209. I am so nervous!!!
    I really want to do well in this competition. I am so proud of my entry!
    Hopefully it’s good enough!
    Fingers crossed!!!

  210. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    After this competition, how long will the wait be until your next?

  211. Dear Sarah,
    will your results be posted before Saturday!
    Thats when i go to America and then i’ll have to wait 3 weeks to find out!

    • When will your results be posted?

      • This weekend! Be patient!

      • Dear Sarah,
        Thank you so much for placing me fifth! I am so happy! Also my friend Eleanor is super excited that she got special mentioned!!! I can’t wait to enter your next competition. This time I’m aiming for fourth!

  212. URGH! I AM STEAMING MAD THAT I AM NOT THE WINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😦

    Nah. Just kidding. But I am sort of disappointed, because I put a lot of effort into writing my story, and I was surprised to find that I wasn’t on the list of participants! I sent my entry to


    Name: TJ Simons
    Age: 9
    Story title: The Legend of Wing Yan

    Thanks a lot!

    Yours sincerely,
    TJ (Timothy John)

    • Timothy thanks for writing, but I never received your entry! I’ve double-checked your name, and the name of your story, against all my Mailboxes, and it simply isn’t there :(. I’m so sorry that you are disappointed, but unfortunately I never got the chance to read your story. Make sure you enter next time, and I’m sure you’ll do very well!

      • Yeah… guess you’re right. Never mind, I’ll just wait till your next competition! BTW when are you going to post your next competition?


  213. When is your next competition???? I cannot wait!!!

  214. For the Halloween Poem competition, does the title count as 1 line? Because my poem has 16 lines and a title, which makes 17 lines in total…

    • Hello and please don’t worry about the Title line – it doesn’t count in the 16 lines so you’re okay! I look forward to reading your poem!

  215. Hi Sarah!
    My name is Emily, from KJS. You might remember visiting it once. I am a big fan of you and your books! I am inspired by your style of writing. I am very impressed with your website(I just saw it now!) and competitions! Someday I want to be an author like you. I have written some stories of my own, as well. I am entering your competition for Halloween. I hope I get a place! I have a question- What inspired you to come up with your series of books?

    • Hello Emily – it’s lovely to hear from you, and thank you so much for your lovely comments! It was living in Hong Kong and meeting lots of lovely Chinese students that inspired me to write the Chinese Calendar Tales – I thought it would be fun for them to read books in English about their own culture and history – and to teach non-Chinese kids a bit about China too – in a fun way of course! I look forward very much to receiving your entry in my Hair-Raising Halloween Poem competition!

  216. Hi Sarah Brennan,
    It’s me. Lavinia. From today, the 27th of October. I am the girl who asked many good questions. I am also one of the people who got a book mark. Remember that girl that you asked the name of for an example of a story? Well that was me! I can’t wait to get your email and try your Halloween poem competition. I do have a question though, last year did you get the stories that Mr. Meehan sent from Think? If you did please reply! Or just reply anyway!
    -Happily yours,

  217. Dear Sarah Brennan,
    My name is Paul. I study at Think International School. I am an avid reader and a big fan of your books. My sister Claire studies at French International School. She likes reading Oswald Ox. My favourite book is Sybil Snake. We both love reading Run Run Rat. Nice stories! How do you get inspiration for books? Thanks!
    Paul S. 🙂

    • Thank you Paul! I’m so glad you and your sister enjoy my books! I get my inspiration from Chinese history, and also from all the animals my family used to keep when I was a kid growing up in Tasmania! Thanks for writing!

  218. Hi Sarah!
    My name’s Nelly Brown. I am eight years old. I love your stories!

    • Thanks so much Nelly – that’s very nice to hear! Keep up the great reading!

  219. I luv ur books! They r so cool. I can’t wait for ur next book to come out!

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Thanks so much Julie – that’s very kind of you! Please do tell me where you got my books in West Ontario?!

  220. Hi Sarah,
    I was wondering if I could send you a draft of a poem I wrote so I can get some feedback from a really awesome author like yourself, but I completely understand if the answer is no.

    • Hello Isabel – I’d love to see your poem! But I’m currently judging my latest Clever Competition with over 120 entries, so maybe you could send it in a week or so? I look forward to that!

  221. Thanks Sarah,
    Look forward to sending you my poem

  222. Hello Sarah – I am so sorry but i am a very impatient person. I was just wondering when the results will be posted. I CAN’T WAIT

  223. Thank you so much for giving me a place in your last competition! I am so happy 🙂

  224. Thank you for choosing me Sarah!!

  225. Hello Sarah – Thank you for giving me an honourable mention. Your the best! When will your next competition be posted. I can’t wait!!!

    • Thanks Isabel – you deserved it! Next competition will be posted before Christmas so hang in there!

  226. Thanks Sarah

  227. Hello Sarah – Sorry to be such a pain but it’s already after christmas and your next competition isn’t posted yet. Once again I’m really sorry but I cant wait to get back into my writing!

    • Hellooo Isabel! I’m so sorry but I decided to wait till the New Year to post my next competition as we need to start celebrating the Year of the Monkey with a fab story competition! Adding in a Christmas competition was running things too close! So please be patient and check my blog in a few weeks’ time – the next competition is coming soon, I promise!

  228. Sarah, I’m the girl who said bloodstains that are actually ketchup, do you mind telling me if you could have a competition where you could write about anything? You could be a bit specific by choosing a place (like a museum? a park?) and we just YOLO it. Maybe? It would be hard to pick a winner, though…

    • Hi Sharen, I remember you very well! I like setting quite specific competitions with specific ingredients as that way I know that you’re writing your story especially for my competition, which is important, so you get lots of writing practice! Also as you point out, it does help narrow things down for the judging. It also makes the writers work that little bit harder to be inventive and original! I do hope you’re going to enter my current competition!

  229. That’s great Abby! Best of luck with your writing career!

  230. Hi Sarah,
    When you say the story must include a chinese emperor, is it ok to have a chinese empress. It fit’s my story much better if it’s a female. Thanks,

    • Isabel, an Empress would be just fine!! Full marks for originality!

  231. What is the Color verditer

    • Abby you have to find out by yourself! Why don’t you type the word in your Google search engine… or look it up in your dictionary?

  232. The Ming kee monkey book is very good

  233. Hi Sarah Brennan ,
    I just wanted to ask you if the story has to include chinese history in it ?

    • Oh yes…. and how do I send it to you? Our school ‘s email doesn’t let us send or recive gmail to other people out of SJS?

    • It doesn’t HAVE to have Chinese History in it, but if you add some in I’ll give you more marks!

      • OK

      • I mean does it have to be non fiction

      • Hi Benedict – it actually has to be fiction ie your own original story!

      • So can I write something not true on my story ?

  234. Hi Sarah I was just wondering if you know I live near Tai Po I live in Tai Mei Tuk plus when is Ming kee’s birthday? if you think you know i’ll ask another question anyway i’ll just wait for your reply!!!

    • Hi Jennifer – Ming Kee’s Birthday is, of course, in the Year of the Monkey, but her birthdate is a top grade secret! Maybe you need to ask all the monkeys that live nearby in Tai Po!

  235. Hi Sarah I’m Jennifer Chiu! I was just wondering can people order your books on your blog or they get books in order forms and plus have you drinken my dad’s company tea?Its super irresitible! Thus how do know that there pandas in chengdu?Plus did you know i live in tai mei tuk and most important.HOW CAN YOU SIGN UP FOR THE MONKEY WRITING COMPOTION?????????????????????????????????

  236. haha very funny pssssss i can’t speak monkey!

  237. I have a joke to tell about Ming Kee!

  238. Q:what happens if ming kee’s birthday cake falls down on her?

  239. A: she gets CRAZY

    • by the way Hilary Lo is probably in shatin College

      • She is

      • I wiil wait for all your replies.

      • Im in Shatin Junior School

  240. Hi Sarah,
    I just wanted to know if you are coming to my school this year. I really like your books and would love it if you could visit KJS (Kowloon Junior School) again. Thanks!
    – Marissa

  241. Hi
    Just want to ask you that what is the website button for

    • From Scarlett

  242. Hi also want to ask you where is the button that you said was on top

  243. Thank you for judging my story , I will try my best next time .

    • I look forward to your next entry Benedict! Have you entered my Sunny Summer Poetry Competition yet? There’s still 3 weeks to go!

  244. […] Clever Competitions | Sarah Brennan Funny & Fabulous Blog – But in the hands of the cook! … “No,” said the older brother whose name was Arn Kay. … Dear Sarah this is my acrostic poem: Special Terrific Excited […]

  245. […] Clever Competitions | Sarah Brennan Funny & Fabulous … – Clever Competitions . COMPETITION NO. 27: A MISCHIEVOUS MONKEY STORY COMPETITION! Helloooo again all you wonderful writers out there! It’s been a tough … […]

  246. Hi Sarah! It’s me Arjya and i love reading all sorts of storybooks, especially adventure ones. Have you heard of Malory Towers or St. Clare’s? They’re both very nice series about 2 boarding schools and i love reading them😀😀

    • Hello Arjya – it’s lovely to hear from you. I do know the Malory Towers series and loved reading it myself many years ago! I was delighted to receive your entry into my Clever Competition – please keep entering!

  247. […] the other winning poems, can be seen on Sarah Brennan’s  blog on the Clever Competitions page at Well done Ady! Maybe this will inspire your child to get writing and enter Sarah’s next Clever […]

  248. […] in the Years 4 to 6 Category. Their poems were outstanding! All the winning poems, can be seen on Sarah Brennan’s blog on the Clever Competitions page.  Good job Emily Cameron, Mia Santangelo and Neil Vijayan, from Lakeside campus, who all made […]

  249. Hi
    Do you remember me Scarlett from Sha Tin Junior School.I am trying to find time to write the story and enter the competition.Hopefully I can finish it in time so you can judge it !

    • Hello Scarlett – of course I remember you! And do please make sure you enter – I look forward to reading your story!

  250. Hi
    do you remember me I am Nicole from Think (New Campus) ! What is your email ?

  251. Hello Sarah Brennan, I am Marjorie, remember Shatin Junior School (You visited us yesterday and the day before) I would like to ask if my book is not fiction, can I still enter?
    Best Regards
    Marjorie Chan 5.5

    • Hi Marjorie – it’s lovely to hear from you! Actually, your story must be fictional! I’m looking for creative, original work, using the very best of your imagination! Good luck!

    • Yes of course Marjorie – your story MUST be fiction! I look forward to reading it!

  252. […] Sarah Brennan, a Hong Kong based author, who writes about the zodiac animals books, has a new competition that your child can enter. It looks lots of fun and details can be found here: […]

  253. hello saran Brennan,
    I am Nayonika and i am 11 yrs old. i was thinking about entering this contest but I have a question; can my story be less than 1000 words? If yes, what is the minimum number of words needed? Thanks for your time reading my question.

    Best regards,
    nayonika biswas

    • Hi Nayonika – of course it can be less than 1000 words! 1000 words is the MAXIMUM but you can write a shorter story if you like! I look forward to reading your story!

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