2011 – 2012 Competitions

CLEVER COMPETITIONS NUMBER TEN TO FIFTEEN:

10. CHOCOLATE AND CHINESE EMPERORS COMPETITION;

11. FAVOURITE THINGS POEM COMPETITION;

12. FAVOURITE HERO DINNER STORY COMPETITION;

13. PERFECT PANDA POEM COMPETITION;

14. JADE DRAGON MYSTERY COMPETITION;

15. TROUBLE IN PARADISE STORY COMPETITION

CLEVER COMPETITION NUMBER TEN: A FANTASY STORY ABOUT CHOCOLATE…AND CHINESE EMPERORS!

Wow – what a difficult job that was!! There were 60 entries from talented writers from Shanghai to Singapore to Hong Kong to Taiwan, with stories about all sorts of Emperors and all kinds of chocolate! There was Qin Shi Huang and Kublai Khan, there were chocolate-loving Emperors and chocolate-hating Emperors, fruit-loving Empresses, Imperial Chocolate-Eating Competitions, chocolate quests to France and Italy, deadly dragons, wise dragons, Easter bunnies, emperor bunnies, rabbits with a curious resemblance to Rhonda Rabbit (!),terracotta warriors, you name it, they were all there! Above all there was CHOCOLATE…in every delicious form you can imagine! My mouth was watering for days! The overall standard was really great and you all took so much time and trouble to write your stories – you can all give yourselves a huge pat on the back for your hard work. In judging the entries I was looking for the following: Good story structure including an excellent beginning, good story development and a strong ending; Interesting and unusual vocabulary; A good writing style; Good spelling and punctuation; Following the brief: the story had to be about both Emperor/s AND chocolate! Originality and imagination!

GRADE ONE TO GRADE THREE CATEGORY

There were a total of 14 fabulous entries from 17 kids at five different schools inShanghai and Hong Kong in this section.

Congratulations to the following: Hong Kong International School – Isabelle Faiola, Megan Simonson and Cathal O’Connor; ISF Academy Hong Kong – Natasha Diederen; Kowloon Junior School: Devanshi Sharma; Renaissance College Hong Kong – Elena Leung; Shanghai American School Puxi – Sebastian Oldager, Sarah Rohrbeck, Victoria Cho, Elle Su, Alice Zhang, Kenny Huang, Gabe Johnson, Noah Murray, Andy Park, Tiffany Choi and Emma Oldager. The five winning entries are as follows:

FIRST PLACE: The winner of this Category is Natasha Diederen of Grade 3, ISF Academy Hong Kong, for a beautifully written story about the Emperor Tang Ming Huang and a magical cake that kept reappearing after it was eaten! I particularly liked Natasha’s use of adjectives, and the graceful flow of her story. Congratulations Natasha, who wins a signed copy of one of my books! Here is her story:

The story of Tang Ming Huang and the Magical Chocolate Cake.

Tang Ming Huang was an Emperor who loved chocolate. There was nothing in his fridge besides chocolate. Every month the servants had to make him a robe twice as large as his old one.

Now, this Emperor loved chocolate so much that he lived in a palace made completely out of chocolate in the cold Northern city of Harbin so the chocolate wouldn’t melt. Little did the Emperor know, that summer even comes to Harbin and then the palace would melt.

Every Sunday for lunch, the emperor would have the finest chocolate cake in the country, made by his cook. One cold and bitter Saturday night while the emperor was sleeping, the cook crept out. He was fed up and bored from only ever being able to use chocolate as an ingredient. He was insulted that his skills and knowledge were not being used. He went straight to a magician’s house and told the magician his plan. They walked back to the palace together.

Back at the palace, the magician became invisible and slept on the kitchen floor. On Sunday morning, one hour before lunch, the cook made the usual chocolate cake and the magician waved his wand and cast a spell. At lunch the cook proudly brought the cake to Tang Ming Huang. When Tang Ming Huang finished the cake, the cake reappeared. The emperor ate the next cake, and this went on and on with the Emperor getting fatter and fatter each time. Finally the cake disappeared altogether and by now Tang Ming Huang was fatter than the palace walls and he knocked the whole palace down.

Out on the street, Tang Ming Huang ordered a blacksmith to make him a carriage twice his size, and hired 500 horses to bring him and his servants toBeijing. Five days later, the carriage was ready and the Emperor rode towards Beijing. In Beijing the builders built him a palace with walls thicker than him. In the palace’s fridge there was no chocolate, only fruits and vegetables of all different sorts. To his delight the cook could finally use all his wonderful delicious recipes. Little by little, the emperor got thinner and didn’t eat chocolate anymore. But every Sunday, just as a reminder he’d have a tiny slice of chocolate cake.

SECOND PLACE: Goes to Megan Simonson of Grade 2, Hong Kong International School, for a wonderful story about a greedy Emperor, a magician and a wicked witch. It was great fun, and the dialogue was excellent! Well done Megan!

The Chocolate Chinese Emperor

There was once a Chinese Emperor named Greedo Chang who was extremely greedy. Greedo loved chocolate. One day Greedo got bored of the same chocolate from the same oven. So he wrote a note to everyone in the city saying, “Make your best chocolate and bring it to my palace at 2:30p.m. Whoever makes the best chocolate will get 100 bags of gold.”

Now, Greedo was so greedy about chocolate he didn’t think about money. (He didn’t have 100 bags of gold.) At 2:30p.m., everyone came to the palace with a box of chocolate. Greedo asked everyone to get in a line in front of his throne.

After he had tried everyone’s chocolate Greedo announced, “And the winner is…the old woman in the black cape and walking stick!!!”

The old women hobbled onto the stage and demanded to Greedo, “Now, give me the 100 bags of gold like you promised on the note!”

“But…but,” stammered Greedo.

“No buts!” shouted the woman who had changed her voice into a rather harsh one. “If you don’t give me the 100 bags of gold I will turn you into something you will not like!!” she said.

“Ha Ha, Ha Ha,” the emperor laughed uncertainly. “You’re just an old woman, right?” asked Greedo in a small, but hopeful voice.

“Nope!” cackled the old woman. “I am a witch…now give me the 100 bags of gold or I will turn you into…something!”

“But I don’t have 100 bags of gold,” whispered Greedo.

“Then in my cauldron you go!” shouted the witch as she pulled Greedo roughly from his throne and took him to a dark, dirty alley Greedo had never seen before.

There, at the end of the alley was a scary tumble-down cottage!!! When the witch opened the door a horrible smell came rushing out.

“What is that smell!?!?” asked Greedo plugging his nose.

“Oh no!!” cried the witch, “my bat cake is burning!!!” She let go of Greedo to get the bat cake from the oven.

“This is my chance to escape,” thought Greedo. Greedo rushed to the door, but as he opened the door to get out, a big black cat with green eyes jumped out of nowhere and landed right on top of Greedo.

Now Greedo was not the kind of person who liked animals. In fact, he was terrified of them!!!! Greedo fell to the ground screaming as the black cat stood on top of him meowing proudly. The witch looked up and saw Greedo on the ground with the black cat on top of him.

“You think you can run away and escape, don’t you?” asked the witch with a sly grin. “Good thing Lucy (which was the cat’s name) caught you before you got out.”

“Isn’t Lucy cute?” babbled the witch as she carefully lifted Lucy off Greedo.

“ She’s horrible,” grumbled Greedo as he got to his feet.

“Now!” shouted the witch slamming the door and windows. “Don’t try getting out again because Lucy will catch you every time, right Lucy?”

“Meow,” purred Lucy eyeing Greedo carefully.

The witch tied Greedo to a chair with only three legs. “You can pick one out of my six options for me to turn you into. The first option is: I turn you into a slimy slug. Option 2 is: I turn you into a chewy chocolate bar. Option 3: a green grasshopper. Option 4: a crunchy cat biscuit. Option 5: a stingy piece of string. Option 6: a rusty fire hydrant. “

“Now pick one!” cackled the witch.

“Hmmmm,” thought Greedo. “I love chocolate! So why don’t I be a chocolate bar?!!!” thought Greedo out loud.

“O.K!” shouted the witch. Before Greedo could say “no,” he had turned into a giant, mouth-watering chocolate bar!!

“Now,” cackled the witch, “I will put you (Greedo, the chocolate bar) in a display case when I get to your palace,” said the witch.

Then she had another thought. What if I move into Greedo’s palace? So the very next day the witch moved into Greedo’s palace and put the bar of chocolate in the middle of the palace in a display case. And the witch lived happily ever after until…she had a chocolate contest and a wizard won.

THIRD PLACE: Is awarded to Isabelle Faiola of Grade 2, Hong Kong International School for a terrific story about an Emperor with a very strange name, who lives in a very strange land indeed! I thought Isabelle’s story and her writing style was quirky and original! Very well done to Isabelle!

Emperor Chocolate Coco Fuzzy Pop

Long, long ago: There lived an Emperor named Emperor Chocolate Coco Fuzzy Pop. He ruled a land named Lily Pad Island (which now doesn’t exist until someone finds it in 2099). Sooo, let’s get back to the story shall we.

Each morning Emperor Chocolate Coco Fuzzy Pop would find some nice strawberry eggs and some ordinary vanilla bacon on his plate, on his tray, on his bed, on his legs, and under his sheets. Now, he was only 5 years old. He was crowned Emperor because his parents the Emperor and the Empress were poisoned by the previous greediest last Emperor. He poisoned them with fake chocolate, which was really poison ivy juice. He thought it was real and never ate it again.

We should carry on… Usually, you would see Emperor Chocolate Coco Fuzzy Pop in a pink and purple robe. It was a rough life for the Emperor. Not because he wore weird clothing, but he also liked puppy games and talks about help for the needy and unicorns. Each year passed and his life got harder and harder everyday. The Emperor got greedier and greedier because he had the opportunity to marry the prettiest girl in Lily Pad Island. But yet he didn’t. So he thought he couldn’t get anything anymore.

One day, he hired an evil scientist. Emperor Chocolate Coco Fuzzy Pop didn’t understand the word “evil” so he just said, “I want an evil, evil scientist.”

That day or wish came true. At 12am, someone appeared at the royal gate. It was rather a small man or a big kid. Compared to the 30 year old Emperor, the scientist was very wise. The Emperor invited him in. They sat down. Emperor Chocolate Coco Fuzzy Pop said, “can you make me a potion to make me live forever?” And of course the scientist said, “yes” crossing his fingers behind his back.

Then the scientist left. He came back the next day with a brown potion, which was really chocolate. He gave Emperor Chocolate Coco Fuzzy Pop the chocolate poison.

Nothing happened till the next day. When he woke up, he found a nice breakfast as usual: strawberry eggs and vanilla bacon. But once he ate his first bite of eggs, it turned into hard mushy chocolate! Once he noticed his food turned into chocolate, he mad a big racket and took his sword to kill the cook. But as soon as he touched the sword, it turned into chocolate!

The Emperor was very clever, so he went up to the cook and touched him. The cook was solid chocolate. Emperor Chocolate Coco Fuzzy Pop thought it was humongous fun, so he went around Lily Pad Island freezing everyone, even the scientist!

Without people, the Emperor did whatever he wanted to do. Soon the Emperor was bored and lonely. Just then, three fairies in disguises came to him. They asked for some food. The Emperor had nothing to give, so he started a fire and cooked for himself. But the fairies forgot all about him and played with a kitten who tried to give them an orange.

FOURTH PLACE: Fourth place goes to a joint entry from Victoria Cho and Elle Su from Grade 2 of Shanghai American School Puxi for their story of a very sticky food fight!

The Emperors’ Food Fight

Ying Zheng, a Chinese emperor, loved to eat chocolate. Every day Ying Zheng would have a big bar of chocolate in his hand and his dog at his feet.

Across the street there lived another emperor that loved vegetables. His name was Qin Shi Huang. Ying Zheng announced that everyone had to eat 11 bars of chocolate per day. Everybody in the country of China got fat – everyone except for Qin Shi Huang. He never took the advice to eat chocolate. He got really mad that HIS country got fat.

Then, Qin Shi Huang announced that everybody should eat 0 bars of chocolate a day and 11 vegetables a day. Ying Zheng knew about the announcement Qin Shi Huang made. He got really mad.

So then the 2 emperors decided to have a big food fight. So the 2 emperors gathered weapons, soldiers, and armour. When the day of the food fight came, Qin Shi Huang and Ying Zheng called their soldiers to bring weapons and armour with them to fight off each other’s soldiers. The soldiers had a long battle while Qin Shi Huang and Ying Zheng were lazily sipping coffee. That was when the soldiers got mad at them because they were so lazy. They got so mad that all of them left Qin Shi Huang and Ying Zheng.

Then, a chocolate bar bomb went flying into Qin Shi Huang’s mouth. Qin Shi Huang got really mad when the chocolate bomb went into his mouth. He wanted to spit it out, but the chocolate melted on his taste buds. It was delicious! Just then a vegetable bomb went inside Ying Zheng’s mouth and he got really mad. But he realized that it tasted delicious!

Ying Zheng said sorry to Qin Shi Huang because he never knew vegetables were so delicious! Qin Shi Huang also felt sorry for Ying Zheng. From that day on, everybody got the right to eat anything and did not have to eat vegetables or a bar of chocolate unless they wanted to. Many people liked to eat vegetables and chocolate when they found out that Ying Zheng and Qin Shi Huang were friends.

After that, many people believed in a silly legend – chocolate and vegetables were a sign of friendship. Qin Shi Huang and Ying Zheng became best friends. But after a few months, their sons went on vacation from boarding school and arrived home to visit their dads.

Ying Zheng and Qin Shi Huang were very happy that their sons came to visit. Ying Zheng’s son’s name was Ying Zhen and Qin Shi Huang’s son’s name was Qin Huang Ti. They were best friends – just like their fathers. But soon the soldiers told them that their dads had a food fight because they didn’t like each other. The soldiers didn’t like their bosses. In fact, they HATED their bosses.

Ying Zhen and Qin Huang Ti got mad at each other. They felt like enemies. Now the SONS got in a big fight. A big, big,fight. Bigger then their father’s fight. They didn’t have any soldiers so they had to use any equipment they could find.

So Ying Zhen prepared a bunch of vegetables and Qin Huang Ti prepared a bunch of chocolate bars. When the day of the food fight came, it was only the two of them. Ying Zhen got really frustrated. Qin Huang Ti also got really frustrated. He fired the chocolate cannon. Ying Zhen fired the vegetable cannon. Ying Zhen darted away from the chocolate bomb. Qin Huang Ti darted away from the vegetable bomb.

Then suddenly, Ying Zhen and Qin Huang Ti’s dads came. “What are you doing??!!” they commanded. The sons answered, “Nothing. Were just eating chocolate bars and vegetables” they chorused. But the dads didn’t believe what they were saying because they had scars on their faces. They realized life was about friendship. So finally they all became friends and lived happily ever after. But then a new set of disaster came………

FIFTH PLACE: Goes to Emma Oldager of Grade 3, Shanghai American School Puxi for her story of an Emperor who lived in Chocolate Land.

The Emperor Who Loved Chocolate

There was an emperor who loved chocolate. He lived inChocolateLand. Every day he spent the time digging for chocolate, but this was a very special kind of chocolate to the emperor not to his people. His breakfast was chocolate his lunch was chocolate, and his dinner was chocolate everything he ate was chocolate.

One day the emperor went out to his garden where he normally dug for chocolate. He dug and dug but to his surprise he could not find any chocolate so he said to his men, “You must find some chocolate. The one who does find the chocolate will be rewarded with half of my treasure.”

His men rushed off to find chocolate for the emperor for they really wanted to be rich and have a palace like the emperor. They dug and dug and dug. They did not want to give up. But finally they said, “This is impossible! We must say to the emperor that there is no chocolate in Chocolate Land any more!”

And so they set off to go back to the palace.

The emperor was really sad when he heard the news about there being no chocolate left in Chocolate Land so he ordered everybody to go and find the thief who had stolen all the chocolate inChocolate Land. He thought if he could not find chocolate a thief must have taken it.

Then one night there was this boy who went to look for the thief. He saw a little girl walking around in the emperor’s garden. So he jumped out and said, “Who is there?” The girl ran and ran. When the boy finally caught up with her he was that it was his sister. He said, “What are you doing out here so late?” His sister said, “Don’t tell the emperor but I was the one who stole all the chocolate from chocolate land.”

But the boy would always blabber to everyone when he knew a secret. So the next morning he went over to the palace and said, “My sister stole all the chocolate fromChocolateLand!” And the emperor said, “Good boy! We will find your sister immediately!” And so they found his sister and took her to the emperor’s palace.

The emperor asked, ”Did you or did you not take all the chocolate from Chocolate Land?” “Yes”, the girl answered, “but it was only because I never got to have any chocolate so I wanted to sneak it out when everyone was sleeping. I do hope you are not mad at me.”

“Of course I am not mad at you. I will just go to another part ofChocolateLandand find some more chocolate.”

The emperor set of on his journey to another part ofChocolateLandto find chocolate. And if you ever see an emperor saying to his men to go and find some chocolate you know that it is the emperor who loved chocolate.

SPECIAL MENTION: For the two youngest competitors in the competition, Sebastian Oldager from Grade 1 Shanghai American School Puxi and Sarah Rohrbeck from Grade 1, Shanghai American School Puxi – well done for your wonderful entries, and keep on writing!

GRADE FOUR TO GRADE SIX CATEGORY

There were 46 very different stories entered into this category and the judging was fiendishly difficult!

Congratulations to everyone who entered for your wonderful stories and hard work: Australian International School Hong Kong – Charlotte Orgill and Lucie Tolhoek; Australian International School Singapore – Megan Flood; Canadian International School Hong Kong – Yan Yan Ma and Min Seo Ki; Christian Alliance International School, Hong Kong – Jordan Lo, Edgar Tang, SinHan So, Vien Siu, Gloria Onuoha, Aaryn Ko, Abigail Malcolm, Ian Chan, Stephanie Chu, Bianca Chui and Jamie Jok; Discovery College Hong Kong – Trillian Cheung; Kowloon Junior School – Karan D’Souza, Rungta Simran, Jainil Patel, Rachel Choi, Alwin Kudomgoth, Asuka Wakino, Manasvee Sharma and Yuti Khare; Morrison Academy, Kaohsiung, Taiwan – Tiffany Kuo and Kelly Chen; Renaissance College Hong Kong – Felix Lauren Bain and Jasmeena Kaur Sahota; Shanghai American School Pudong – Surotama Banerjee, Valerie Teng and Kevin Deng; Shanghai American School Puxi – Yi Chen Chong, Aini Chew, Amily Tham, Brandon Kim, Abbie Leung and Marvin Thiele; Shanghai Foreign Language Jing’an Primary School – Alex Zhang; Shatin Junior School Hong Kong – Vicky Tsang, Sherman Wong and Hitomi Nakamura; School unknown – Yvonne Chang, Christy Pang, Andrea Phillips andEmily Wong.

Here are the winning entries:

FIRST PLACE: Goes to first-time entrant Kelly Chen from Grade 6, Morrison Academy Kaohsiung, Taiwan, aged 12. Kelly’s story is very imaginative, great fun and well-structured. I particularly like the way Kelly brings both the Emperor and Chocolate into the story early, and the way the story then develops around both. The story began well, ended well and had a good narrative flow. Well done to Kelly, who wins a signed copy of one of my books!

The Emperor’s Chocolate Fever

Once upon a time, way back when emperors ruled the lands of China, there lived an emperor named Chen Huangdi. He was short and stout and loved to eat, with a belly so huge it seemed as if he was going to give birth to a baby in the next month or so. Of course, his servants never told him that, because Chen Huangdi wasn’t known for his good temper, but rather for his short one.

On a particular New Year’s feast, when Chen Huangdi was enjoying a marvelous codfish dinner, he heard a gentle knock at the door.

“Wa oo yoo wat? (What do you want?)” Chen Huangdi bellowed with his mouth full of fish and bits of chewed rice running down his mouth.

“I have brought you a traveler who just returned fromEurope.” The servant bowed, then motioned for the traveler to step inside.

The traveler was exhausted from the trip. His clothes were torn in rags, and he was sweating so much you would’ve thought he had showered with his clothes on! Despite his fatigue, the traveler’s eyes were sparkling with excitement.

“I have stumbled upon something that is unimaginably delicious! It is called chocolate.”

The traveller took a box from his pocket. As he opened it, a sweet fragrance filled the air. Chen Huangdi was disappointed, though, when he peered into the box. All he saw were simply…dark brown balls.

“Can’t you see that I do not have any room in my belly for some weird food like that? Besides, it might be poison.”

“Then you can have your servant taste it. If he doesn’t die, you can, at the very least, take a small bite. I’m sure you’ll like it!”

Chen Huangdi agreed, and called over the youngest and most inexperienced servant boy in his palace. The skinny boy gave the dark brown ball a lick. His eyes got as big as bowling balls. The boy stuffed the whole thing in his mouth, and grinned a brown-toothed grin.

“Good!”

“Alright, then…” Chen Huangdi, seeing that the servant boy had been satisfied with it, picked up a ball of chocolate, glared at the traveler, then, with a final frown, popped it into his mouth. As he chewed, the emperor broke into a large smile.

“Hmm. It’s…wonderful! I shall have you be my ‘chocolate official’. Your job is to bring me chocolate at least once in a month.”

“Sure!” The traveler, or should I say, the new “chocolate official”, cried. For that was what he was waiting for Chen Huangdi to say all along.

The chocolate official continued to bring chocolate to the emperor. However, the king was happy only for a short time. Winter’s freezing weather had kept the chocolate nice and round all the way back to the palace. When spring came, the chocolate would melt in their boxes and make the chocolates smaller. This angered Chen Huangdi, and he ordered for the chocolate official’s head to be chopped off.

He put up signs offering the job of chocolate official to the people, promising great amounts of money. Unfortunately, the chocolates the new officials brought back from Europe were still very small. The emperor ordered for all of their heads to be chopped off.

When summer arrived, there were no more travelers who dared to come for the job. Chen Huangdi was furious. A week passed. He offered a reward of 10 pieces of gold for anyone who was willing to give him chocolate. A month passed. He offered a reward of 100 pieces of gold. A year passed. Still, no travelers came by. They knew that the emperor did not say that he had given up his punishment if he wasn’t satisfied.

Now, there was a traveler who had a passion for going to Europe. His name was Yong Tsu. The traveler heard that the Chinese emperor was desperate for chocolate and would give 100 pieces of gold to anyone who would give him some. Yong Tsu knew that bringing chocolate back to China without having it melt during the summer was impossible.

Suddenly, he thought of an idea. Yong Tsu bought some chocolate, put it in his jug, and headed for China in high spirits. When the sulking emperor lifted his head to see what in the world his servant was doing at the door, his eyebrows lifted in surprise.

“Chocolate?” he questioned hopefully.

“Yes.”

“Yippee!” With tears of joy, the emperor jumped off his throne to hug Yong Tsu.

“I’m afraid it’s not a perfect ball…” “Forget about ball or no ball! Just give it to me!” Chen Huangdi held out his hand.

“It’s melted purposefully, lord. To make a drink called hot chocolate.”

“What?!” The emperor did not expect this to happen. “Will it burn my tongue?”

“It won’t, if you let it cool for a while. I’m sure you’ll like it!” Chen Huangdi remembered the time when the first traveler presented him with chocolate.

“We’ll wait for an hour then.”

Yong Tsu poured the chocolate liquid into the emperor’s royal cup, and stepped back. Both silently stared at the hot chocolate. Finally, the hour passed. Chen Huangdi picked up his royal cup cautiously, giving the hot, no, warm chocolate a lick.

Slowly, the emperor started to smile. “This is the greatest thing I have ever tasted for a long time, Yong Tsu! Thank you, thank you so much!” The emperor paused. “I also admire you for your courage to present me with melted chocolate, and talk me into drinking it. As promised, I will give you 100 pieces of gold, as well as an additional opportunity to be the new chocolate official of China.”

Yong Tsu gladly accepted the offer. Chen Huangdi could now enjoy chocolate all year round, and was very happy. Yong Tsu’s head was never chopped off…until someone replaced him when presenting the emperor with chocolate cake. That’s another story altogether…

SECOND PLACE: Goes to Li Yan Wa, of Grade 5, Canadian International School, Hong Kong, aged 10. Yan Yan makes regular appearances on the prize-winning lists in my competitions for her excellent writing! This time her story of a very vain Qin Shi Huang and his attempts to make himself better-looking was very entertaining, with some great dialogue and vocabulary. Well done again Yan Yan!

Chocolate for Qin Shi Huang

Once upon a time, in the Warring States Period, there was an infant who didn’t know how to smile. His parents didn’t know why he didn’t cry, or laugh, or have any other emotion besides being angry. Or serious.

When the baby grew up he won many a battle and crowned himself as ‘The First Emperor of Qin’. Mind you, he preferred to be called Qin Shi Huang.

Qin Shi Huang’s habit of only scowling and fuming all the time stayed with him. (Well, until something changed that habit. Just read on and you’ll find out). He scowled so much that his mouth became permanently fixed in that position. Until the arrival of chocolate.

One day, when The Emperor was looking into his mirror, a subject came up and said to him,

“Your Highness, I just received a report of commoners rebelling against your look.” “What look?” Qin Shi Huang was not at all pleased. “Um… Well, you see, your eyebrows…” The subject trailed off.

“Speak PROPERLY!” The Emperor’s brows knitted together again and the scowl was etched deeper in his face.

“Your look. The commoners are saying that you look too… angry. And that you are not the kind of person to lead the construction of the Great Wall of China.”

“WHAT???!!!!” Qin Shi Huang shouted so loudly that the subject’s robes nearly blew off. Then: “GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!”

The subject obediently shuffled out of the room. Qin Shi Huang sat down on one of his bamboo chairs so violently it virtually broke. Maybe I really look that bad. The Emperor peered intently at his reflection.

“You! Come here, you lazy pig,” Qin Shi Huang bellowed at the servant nearest to him. “Find some pictures of the most superior-looking (nice-looking) men in the country. Be fast. Or else.” Qin Shi Huang pointed a lethally dagger-like sharp nail at the servant. The servant gulped and dashed out of the room as fast as his legs could go.

The next day at court Shang Yang, his favorite and closest subject, read out the names of the most superior looking men in China. “Bao Zheng, Guan Yu, Kong Zi, etcetera, etcetera.”

“That’s enough.” The Emperor massaged his forehead. “Now show the pictures.”

Shang Yang unrolled the scrolls of portraits. One of the pictures, a portrait of Bao Zheng, a famous (and just) judge, caught Qin Shi Huang’s eye.

“Bring that picture to me!” he barked. Shang Yang brought the picture up to The Emperor.

“Court dismissed!” He waved his hand and his whole court retreated.

Bao Zheng’s face was a tenebrous kind of color (sort of black), with a moon-like crescent on his forehead. How will I make my skin black? Qin Shi Huang mused.

“You! Come!” He beckoned a servant. “Get the cook to grind some black sesame for me!”

The servant nodded and left. Fifteen minutes later, the Royal Cook came carrying a bowl of sesame powder. “Your Highness, here is the sesame powder requested.”

“Now get a brush and paint it on my face.” The Emperor was growing impatient.

“Even your hands, Your Royal Majesty?” The Cook inquired.

“Yes.”

Without hesitating, The Royal Cook started to paint the powder on The Emperor’s face.

“Let’s see how the court reacts” the Emperor mumbled.

There was an amazed murmur when the Emperor went and sat on his Heavenly Throne.“Your Highness… You look… Different.” A subject spoke up. The Emperor, taking it as a good comment, grunted. But the subject’s Royal Highness reeked strongly of sesame. For the session in court that day all the subjects almost fainted.

This is going to be a problem. Qin Shi Huang thought as the tenth subject excused himself to go to the latrine. That night, he thought of what ingredients to make his face powder. Coal, no, too smelly; ink, no, I can’t wash it off; sesame, no, I tried that already… The Emperor tossed and turned the whole night.

The next day when he applied the sesame powder again, Qin Shi Huang thought: Here we go again.

That day a Persian merchant came to visit him. “Your Highness, I bring gifts from a faraway land. Please accept them.”

“What is that?” The Emperor pointed at a box with dark material in it.

“That, Your Majesty, is chocolate. You eat it. Try one.”

Qin Shi Huang broke off a chunk of the mysterious ‘Chocolate’ and popped it into his mouth.

“Mmmm…” All his subjects witnessed the change. First, the Emperor scowled. Then, slowly, a smile creeped out. It was the first time the Emperor had smiled since he was born. The whole of the Imperial Court gasped. Two servant girls who were fanning the Emperor dropped their fans (nearly on Qin Shi Huang’s head). Bewildered, the Persian merchant frowned. (If you were viewing all this in slow motion then you would definitely frown, just like the Persian merchant.)

Finally, the change was complete. The First Emperor of Qin laughed. It wasn’t a bitter laugh. It was a laugh laugh. (If you know what I mean.)

“Thank you!” The Emperor laughed again. (It was also the first time the Emperor said ‘Thank you’ to anybody.)

The two serving girls thought the Emperor was wrong in the head. His subjects thought he was going BONKERS! The whole of the Imperial Court immediately called the Royal Physician. The Royal Physician checked the Emperor’s pulse, then announced that he was okay. Now everyone thought the Royal Physician was going NUTS.

“He’s just happy, and it’s normal to be happy” the Physician said.

From then on, Qin Shi Huang used chocolate to coat his face (he still wanted to look like Bao Zheng) and ate some everyday. Gradually, the Emperor forgot about applying chocolate to his face. He always wore a smile on his face and that, he decided, was even better than changing his look. Of course, that smile was enough to stop the commoners from rebelling.

THIRD PLACE: Goes to a remarkable 8 year old writer Karan D’Souza of Grade 4, Kowloon Junior School. While Karan’s story did not have quite the same narrative flow as some of the other entries, his vocabulary and his descriptive powers were simply outstanding for a writer his age.

Chocolate and the Chinese Emperor

It was the most beautiful place ever seen, indescribable beauty, fleecy clouds, a soft golden sun that shed golden rays, trees that were covered with blossoms of different hues and the grass littered with mini white and yellow flowers. Rivulets and little streams that had multicolored gold fish glistened in the clear waters.

Little Chowmein, who was listening to his mother Fubao’s lullaby of “Chokolat chokolat for my little brat’ had fallen off to sleep.

Chowmein was the son of Hungadi or the Yellow Emperor. His real name was Xianvuan.

Hungadi was an ambitious man and often ventured into fantasy projects. He wanted to be known as the Emperor of a land that made the best chocolates in the world and create a chocolate farm of 100 acres. So he called for a meeting with all his councillors and told them about his desire to make the best chocolates in the world. He said the farm should have distinctive marked areas for chocolates from different parts of the world and the area should depict the country.

The councillors were very excited and spoke animatedly. The yellow emperor gave them time till end of the month to come up with the grand plan.

The grand plan was exquisite; it described a fantasy land that had never been seen before, chocolate fountains, chocolate waterfalls, chocolate trees, flowers, bushes, chocolate dance floors with chocolate canopies. The most spectacular was the Chinese Hungadi chocolate which had crushed nuts, dried fruits, nectar, utopian fragrances and there were hundreds of varieties, each variety from a different province. Chocolates were of different shades of brown, rich dark brown, hazel brown, light tinsel brown, translucent browns, walnut browns, white and brown with yellow centers named after the emperor’s wife Fubao.

Someone had the good idea to have herbal tonics to prevent worms and also advise calorie count for every 50gms. There were calorie burn units every 500 meters where you could engage in simple fantastic exercises that burnt the extra calories.

The ingenuity of the chocolate planet was that the more you consumed the more it grew! You plucked a chocolate pear and ate it and two would grow in its place!!

And there were milk shakes too, chocolate milk shakes, many varieties, each one a child’s delight with fancy names,’ Rainbow Delight’,’ Fantasy Parade’, ‘Angel Delight’, ‘Dreamsville’, ‘Chocotwist’, ‘FabFab’, ‘Smacklips’, ‘DroolDrool’. That was not all: there were hot pancakes too with different chocolate toppings.

This was not just a fairy land; it was a fantasy land, a marvel on earth, a delightful journey for the young and old. The temperature was well controlled and there was a faint breeze blowing at all times with different fragrances, eucalyptus, khus khus, rose, jasmine, lavender, musk, and more. Truly a paradise of immense beauty.

One visit to this fantabulous land was never enough. You need to go several times, Again and again. You could live there forever.

A grand memorial befitting the legendary Chinese Emperors was discussed and the councillors agreed to build the pyramid stairs made of large choco slabs and golden motifs depicting the various Chinese eras, Chinese cuisine…Szechwan, Cantonese, Manchurian… Chinese philosophy, Chinese wines, Chinese Art, Medicine. A vast library of knowledge.

With every new entrant that came in, a new slab came into place with his /her footprint and handprint. It reflected the day and time of the year in both the Roman and Chinese calendar.

This magnificent creation by man could qualify to be the eight wonder of the world. Fubao actually suggested that they file an application for recognition.

So a team of people went about their work compiling a story of the making of the Chocolate Fairyland.

The time had come to plan for a grand carnival for the opening on Chinese New Year’s Day, starting time at moon rise. The greatest spectacle on earth. Word got around and people from all overChinaand indeed the world started coming weeks before the grand day. Incredible fairy lights with soft enchanting music were to be seen and heard in all roads leading to the Choco Island.

The time had come and, to the sound of bugles, trumpets and drums, a cloud lifted off the island to reveal the pageantry in all its splendour. Children squealed in delight, teenagers started dancing. The elders could not believe their eyes and gaped in wonder. This was the best of the best. No man on earth will ever be recreating another splendor like this ever.

FOURTH PLACE: Goes to Jamie Jok of Grade 6, Christian Alliance School Hong Kong, for a very well-written tale about a right royal pair of chocolate lovers who abandon China for Italian shores. I thought that Jamie’s vocabulary was wonderful and the story was very imaginative.

God Iva and the Chocolate Empire

One sweltering day in the Forbidden City, the vain emperor God Iva and his wife Empress Lindt the Foreigner were vivaciously devouring chocolates on their plush silk couches. Expensive brown goo was smeared over their made up faces, and coated their fingers. Soon, the chocolate ran out, and the couple was left staring dismally at an empty box.

After a while, God Iva grinned at his beloved.

“My dear, we need more chocolates!”

Lindt smiled and daintily wiped her lips, saying in her accentuated Mandarin, “Let us proceed to the Royal Barge.”

The couple walked out arm in arm. A few days later, God Iva and his bride set out on the royal barge to go adventuring for chocolate. The royal couple’s chocolate thirst was way stronger than their loyalty toChina, and they lavished their gold on exotic sweets and cocoa beans. Even Empress Lindt, once in charge of the palace duties, had slacked off and become like her husband.

The royal barge was a large ship devoted to chocolate. The great galleon was made in a year, from exquisite chocolates from Italia, where the couple was heading now. The decks were painted and decorated with chocolate, so on hot days it was quite sticky. Even the furniture was made of chocolate!

The emperor had employed 200 servants just for the sake of keeping the chocolate ship from melting. What ridiculousness!

The launch was smooth and no problems were anticipated. Then disaster struck. 10 miles off the shore of Capri, a storm swirled the ship off course, flinging its candied wreck onto the sharp cliffs. The ship instantly dismantled, and most of the servants were killed in the fall.

However, the royal couple had survived, as their thick fur coats (made to protect them from the cold needed to preserve the ship as it sailed) cushioned them as they met the frigid water with a resounding smack. Clinging to a barrel, the unconscious emperor and his wife made it to the edge of the cliff, where they were swept by the current into a cave.

Hours later, the emperor awakened, due to Lindt splashing water onto his face. Amazed, he sat up groggily and brazenly stared at the brown walls, the brown liquid lapping at his tattered shoes, the people holding lollipop spears…. wait, what!?

He looked again. A man dressed in a robe of cotton candy, a marzipan crown, and holding a candy-cane scepter stepped up haughtily. He chattered off in an odd dialect, and Lindt screwed up her face, puzzled. The man tried again in Mandarin.

“Who dares invade the Chocolate Empire? I am King Licorice! Who is pretty lady and man?”

Lindt brushed herself off and helped her husband up. “I am Empress Lindt ofChina. This is Emperor God Iva.”

The king’s face lit up, and he barked an order to his troops. Protesting, the Chinese royals were marched farther into the cave. There, they were greeted with their wildest dreams, an entire empire made of candy (Think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the movie). They were shown into an enormous white and milk chocolate room, where they were to stay for the night. King Licorice was obviously enamored with Empress Lindt, who wouldn’t spare him a glance, and had offered them his best guest room.

Exhausted, man and wife piled onto the bed and instantly fell asleep.

The next morning, the rejuvenated nobles were treated to a sweet breakfast buffet, where they stuffed their faces with profiteroles, cheesecake, chocolates, and much much more. Sated, they went on a tour of the Chocolate Empire in King Licorice’s marzipan wrought boat. The tour was delightful, and took up the rest of the afternoon.

When they returned to the palace, an enchanting supper of candied lamb, mashed potatoes with chocolate gravy, and a chilled white chocolate wine was laid out. Surprisingly, the veal was pronounced delicious by the emperor, who had never tasted mutton before.

Afterwards, the nobles all retired to their rooms.

Emperor God Iva and Empress Lindt’s remaining days in the Chocolate Empire were much the same, and soon they were forced to depart.

China had heard about the shipwreck, and had found chocolate remains floating in the Italian harbours, and because the sovereigns had vowed to keep the Chocolate Empire secret, they had to return.

Heartbroken Licorice supplied a new galleon heaped with sweets to the Chinese couple as a farewell present. He mumbled goodbye to God Iva and staring into Lindt’s icy blue eyes, kissed her hand.

Jealous, God Iva wrenched his wife away from Licorice, and set sail immediately.

They retreated out of the cave, and suddenly, shouts were heard as the Chinese navy spotted the brilliant marzipan galleon.

A year later, Lindt gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. The tiny royals were treasured, and their proud parents named the boy Licorice, and the girl Marzipan.

This story is fictional, please do not go to Italy and waste money searching for a candy empire on the cliffs. And please do not pester my parents with questions. Well, if you must know, there is a Chocolate Empire portal in the Blue Grotto. Please do not divulge this information. Thank You, Marzipan

FIFTH PLACE: Fifth place goes to Stephanie Chu of Grade 6, Christian Alliance International School for her whimsical story involving an evil Emperor, a hapless cleaner, the Queen of the Forests and the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.

Together In One

“Ah Fai! Ah Man! Come!” the Chinese Emperor, Zhen Ma Fan ordered.

Two skinny men rushed out from the back door of the huge, red-coloured throne room.

“Yes?” they bowed down and replied nervously to the honourable but mean emperor.

“You see that black, dirty spot on the white tile just right in front of you two worthless cleaners? Clean that up!” Emperor Zhen screamed.

“Y-yes, your Majesty,” Ah Fai mumbled. Then they hurried to get a mop and a bucket of water.

He always loved to make his people’s life miserable, he liked to twist their ears and whip them on their backs.

He turned to Ah Man, the one whom he thought was the most useless one and asked with a sneer, “well, worthless one. What have you done so far? Did you wash the dishes yet?”

“No.”

“Have you trimmed the grass?”

“No.”

Emperor’s face turned from peach to red and you could see fire raging in his eyes, “How dare you are! What a lazy slave! You’re as slow as a rat! Now get out of my castle before I order someone to kill you!”

Poor Ah Man turned around and ran as fast as he could into the forest. While running, heavy tears welled up in his eyes.

“Who is this human?” something whispered in his ear. He woke up in a shock to see two flowers with cute bright faces in the middle standing in front of him.

“I…I came here because Chinese Emperor fired me and threatened to kill me, so…the forest would be the best hiding place for me. By the way, who are you?” he said in a puzzled voice.

“Don’t you know that the forest is full of magical creatures?” the two flowers stared at each other.

“I’m hungry and weak, is there any food here?” he begged.

The first flower smiled and said, “You must go to the Queen of Forests. She will give food to you. Just walk straight, then turn east. Then you will see a silver castle. You will be stopped by the royal guards, just tell them the password “Together in One”, then they will let you in”

After saying so, both of the cute little flowers hopped off into a distance.

Ah Man followed their instructions and arrived at the shining silver castle. He told the guards the secret codes and went in quickly. The castle hall was bedazzled with purple, blue and white jewels. It was so bright that he had to blink his eyes for a few seconds.

Finally, he saw the Queen sitting in a big dynasty chair. She was beautiful with blue-coloured eyes, a glittering dress and her shiny crown.

“Who are you?” asked the pretty queen. He told her everything and begged for some food.

The Queen gasped, “Really? You worked for the evil emperor? Poor you! I will grant you food, clothes and a bed to sleep in, but you should promise to do one thing for me!”

Ah Man said quickly, “no problem, your Majesty, I’ll do whatever you want…”

The next day, he returned to find the Queen and asked, “Your Majesty, how can I repay you for what you have granted me?”

The Queen said strictly, “Go and kill that evil Chinese Emperor. Last year, he set a fire in order to get rid of my animals. Now, it’s my turn to take revenge!”

“Wait, my Majesty, I’m just a powerless and weak human, how can I kill him?”

“Don’t worry, my General Rat will help you all the way through, go now!”

Ah Man left the castle gate with a puzzled heart, then he heard something squeaking. He saw a rat in metal armour waiting for him.

“Hurry, I’m General Rat, I will help you accomplish your mission, come, let’s go to meet my friends!”

They ran down the slope and Ah Man saw eleven animals lining up neatly and saluted to them. They were all animals of the Chinese zodiac. They all said unanimously, “General Rat, we’re all here to serve under your commands!”

General Rat roared, “Did you bring all your gifts?” He took out a bowl from his metal belt and held it up.

He collected a horn from the ox, some whiskers from the tiger, some white fur from the rabbit, some invisible fire from the dragon’s mouth, twelve scales from the snake, some coffee-coloured hair from the horse, some dung from the ram, a rotten banana from the monkey, a feather from the rooster, a bone from the dog and finally some yucky mud from the pig.

He asked Ah Man to stir it twelve times and he did. Something like a bar of chocolate appeared but it was not yet ready.

General Rat waved his arms over the bowl and some magical sparkles appeared. They whirled and dropped into the mixture. A perfect piece of chocolate was done.

The pig snorted, “Now, break it into pieces and sprinkle them over the evil emperor’s face, then he will vanish at once. We can’t follow you; you should do it by yourself. Be courageous! Destroy him and there will be peace on earth!”

Ah Man took a deep breath and walked towards the castle of the evil emperor. He knew the way to Emperor Zhen’s bedroom, so he sneaked into it secretly.

The Emperor was sleeping, he crept into his bed and quickly threw the chocolate pieces right at his nose. “Wait…” the Emperor shouted, then he disappeared.

Then he returned to report to the Queen. “Well done, Ah Man” the Queen said, “now you are the Chinese Emperor, go back and treat your servants fairly! All the animals from the forest will protect you until you die.”

He was happy and granted silver crowns to all the twelve animals. They did the plan together, they succeeded because they worked together. In other words, they were together in one.

SPECIAL MENTION: These wonderful stories almost made it to the winning list – keep on writing! Deadly Addiction by Kevin Deng, Grade 6, Shanghai American School, Pudong The Adventure of the Two Emperors by Vien Siu, Grade 6, Christian Alliance International School The Emperor and Chocolate by Alex Zhang, Shanghai Foreign Language Jing’an Primary School, 11 years The Emperor’s Contest by Surotama Banerjee, Grade 4, Shanghai American School, Pudong Tai Jin Chocolaty by Andrea Phillips (no school or age supplied)

 

CLEVER COMPETITION NUMBER ELEVEN: A POEM IN PRAISE OF YOUR FAVOURITE THINGS!

My summer holiday competition was devoted to all those things you love best in life! You had to write me a poem of no more than 16 lines, and I was looking for originality, imagination, beautiful expression, great spelling and poetic style.

FIRST PLACE  goes to Natasha Diederen, Grade 4 at United World College of South East Asia in Singapore for her skilful poem about her love of drawing. I was very impressed that Natasha managed to create a witty short acrostic which at the same time rhymed beautifully. This is a good example of the way a short poem can be just as good if not better than a longer one; style and the clever choice of vocabulary is everything! Natasha has been a regular entrant in my competitions almost since the beginning – well done on winning first place! Natasha wins a free signed copy of one of my books sent to her home address.

I LOVE DRAWING

by Natasha Diederen, Grade 4, UWCSEA (East Campus), Singapore

Doodle around with a pen and paper a bit,

Randomly sketch and you’re nearly done with it.

Add a few colours and outline some lines,

Wherever you are your imagination shines.

It keeps your mind flowing,

Never stopping, never resting, always

Going

………………………………………………………………………………………….

SECOND PLACE goes to Constance Yim, Grade 6 (no school name supplied) for another clever rhyming acrostic about summer activities. I particularly liked Constance’s lines about reading books – what a great description of the joys of reading!

 Favourite things to do… in summer!

by Constance Yim Grade 6 (no school supplied)

 S ummer holidays are finally here,

U p to the beach, let’s give it a cheer,

M altesers, Skittles, Wonka’s Dragonflies

M any of the foods I like, an everlasting supply.

E ating’s just my favourite thing to do,

R eading, writing, I like too!

H overing in the air of impossibility,

O r reading the life of crime and mystery.

L oving the fact that every book,

I s different, unique, with its own look.

D ifferent countries, off we go,

A nd exploring cultures, that’s never a no!

Y es, I almost forgot about the Chinese Festival New Moon,

S ad that summer vacation will end one day… but school’s also fun, it’ll start soon!

………………………………………………………………………………………..

THIRD PLACE goes to Sadithi De Zilva of Grade 6, Kowloon Junior School for a wonderful rhyming poem about her favourite thing, which is life itself! I thought the sentiments expressed were absolutely right – we must live each day to the fullest, as if it were our last!

Life (A Carpe diem poem)

by Sadithi De Zilva, Grade 6 Kowloon Junior School

 I have a whole summer to enjoy,

There is no time to be coy;

As the sunset falls and ends the day

I know that some people pass away.

I might be one of those people

Maybe today, maybe tomorrow;

T’is the reason why I try to avoid sorrow

I’ve come to the end of my page

And I am certainly not in any rage

For, my favourite thing in life,

Is just that: life

Life can be anything on earth

It can be your family, or a type of flower sitting still on the dirt.

It can be a pet or a toy

As long as it brings you joy.

Cause things that bring you joy, is life.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

HONOURABLE MENTION goes to Rachel Choi of Grade 5, Kowloon Junior School, for a great free verse poem listing her favourite things. I really enjoyed reading it; Rachel sounds like she’s a lot of fun to spend time with!

 Precious Things

by Rachel Choi, Grade 5, Kowloon Junior School

Precious things live in the world.

Like my mobile phone!

As it rings, I pick it up and talk to it.

My iPod is also precious to me.

I listen to it everyday with happiness.

I sing along to my iPod and learn new lyrics of songs.

What else is also precious?

My family and holidays.

Families can be the most important people in the world.

I spend time with my families when I go on holidays and sometimes meet my relatives!

It’s fun spending time in the holiday while discovering

new places and experiencing new things.

While I discover new places and experience new things,

I have such a good time and have time to spend my freedom.

Will everybody be able to go holidays though?

No! So we should spend time in Hong Kong then!

Go to the beach, swimming pool, cinema or even a amusement park!

Lot’s of precious thing are there in the world and let’s take good care of it!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

COMPETITION NUMBER TWELVE: The Night my Favourite Hero came to Dinner

Well what a wonderful time I’ve had judging this competition and meeting so many of your splendid heroes and heroines! There were authors, artists and actors; pop singers, tennis players and soccer stars; animal carers, dentists, aliens, comic book characters, Jesus, God and some very cool Super Dogs. There was even an author called Sarah Brennan! Just about everyone used at least two of my Wicked Words correctly, with some of you even using four or five very cleverly! Marks were awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar, with extra marks for originality, interesting vocabulary, effort and that special X factor! With over 40 fabulous entries from 6 different schools in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, it was very difficult to choose the ten finalists, and everyone who entered deserves a big pat on the back for their excellent efforts. The first 3 place-getters each win a free signed copy of one of my books, while the winner of first place also wins a Dirty Story T-shirt! Here they all are – all in the Year 4 to Year 6 category as we had no entries this time from the younger set.

FIRST PLACE goes to Grant Hendrie of Year 4, Chatsworth International School, Orchard Campus, Singapore, 8 years of age for his clever story about the writer Roald Dahl (who just happens to be one of my favourite heroes too!). It was obvious that Grant had researched his subject thoroughly, and I loved the way he introduced the “ideas” for Roald Dahl’s future stories. I also liked Grant’s vivid imagery and his wonderful descriptions of Africa andSingapore. Well done Grant!

Dinner with Dahl

It was a stormy day in Singapore. Rain was thrashing on the ground and the sky was black with flashes of lightning. I was chatting with my Mum while walking to school. Arriving at Chatsworth I went through the gates and saw my friends Dylan and Ikuma. I said “Can we play handball?” Ikuma said “Yes”. It was an exciting game until BANG! I must have been hit on my head by Trunchball, the name we had given to Ikuma’s handball, after our atrocious headmistress, who was horrible and evil. I woke up confused and looked around, “Where am I?” Seeing a strangely dressed woman wearing a long dirty white dress with a blue cross on it, I said “Excuse me, can you help me? Where am I?”

“Yes young man, I can.” She replied in a stern voice. “You are in the field hospital, you were brought here after a plane fell on your head.” In a softer voice she said “You are lucky to be alive.”

I looked at her confused, “But I didn’t, I was playing handball.”

She smiled and said “Go back to sleep, you are obviously a little confused.”

I went back to sleep and woke up later when it was dark and quiet. I said to myself “Where’s the canteen? Maybe the man behind me can help?” I went to the bed behind and pulled back the curtain.

In the bed was a man with a big white thick bandage around his head. “Hi, my name is Grant, can you show me the canteen?” “Hi, my name is Roald. Sure, I’ll show you.”

On the way to the canteen, Roald said “What happened to you?” I replied “I got hit on the head by a handball, and you?”

Roald looked bamboozled but said “My plane was shot down.”

We got to the canteen and collected our food, it didn’t look very tasty. It was a plate of beans. I said to Roald “What’s your favourite food?” He replied “Caviar.” I laughed and said “You aren’t likely to get that here.” He asked me what my favourite food was. “My Mum’s macaroni cheese” I said. I then asked him what his favourite music was, “Beethoven” he answered. “And yours?” “I like lip up fatty by Bad Manners.” For the second time that evening Roald looked confused. “I don’t think I know that one” he said. “I think you might like it” I replied and started to hum the chorus “hmm, hmm, hmm, hmmm, di, di, da”.

Over pudding of custard and jam, we started to talk about our lives. Roald told me he worked for Shell in Africa, he talked about going on wonderful safaris at sunrise, so good that they would make your eyes pop out. He described the fantastic animals, such as naughty monkeys swinging through the trees, tall giraffes eating leaves, huge grey elephants swinging their trunks and gigantic pelicans with amazing beaks that are shaped like huge orange basins. I said to him “Have you ever thought that would make a superb children’s story?” “Yes” he replied, “but with the war, I haven’t had the time.”

I then went on to tell him that my Dad also worked for Shell, in Oman and Australia. I told him about feeding wild kangaroos, trying to spot hidden koalas in the branches and going out in a glass bottom boat and watching humpbacked whale’s breach.

Roald look amazed and said “Wow!” I wish I could see those too. I said, after living in Australia we moved to Singapore. In Singapore we live in the middle of the city, in a flat with a swimming pool that is shaped like a polygon. The buildings around are so tall they seem to touch the clouds. Here I go to a private school called Chatsworth. It’s a great school with a swimming pool and basketball courts and nice, kind teachers apart from Miss Trunchbull and funny children who like to play football. At weekends, me and my family go for walks and explore Singapore. My favourite things to do in Singapore are seeing the animals at the zoo. There are orange, furry orang-utans with playful babies that swing upside down from branches on the trees and big, ferocious, white tigers with sharp, white, teeth that are as big as my finger. Another favourite place is going to the Chinese gardens, I really like feeding the big and small tortoises and turtles with lettuces. There are lots of different types of tortoise and turtles there, Indian River turtles and red-eared terrapins. There are also scary alligator snapping turtles, which have unusual razor sharp beaks.

At the end of my story, Roald looked at me amazed. “That’s splendiferous, you have been to some amazing places and seen some fantastic animals, are there any other places that you have been that you liked?”

I said “Yes, I liked the Chocolate factory in Dunedin, in New Zealand. It was marvellous, we got to walk around it and taste delicious chocolates. It was great”

Roald said, “I would like to see that too. Maybe I will after this dreadful war is over and then I can write funny, happy stories for children” “Grant, would it be ok if I use some of your stories too”

“Sure” I replied.

SECOND PLACE goes to Sebastian Romero-Jimenez of Year 4, Chatsworth International School, Orchard Campus, Singapore, 9 years of age for his very imaginative story about Vincent Van Gogh. Well done Sebastian – your story was very entertaining and original, and it was clear that you had done a lot of excellent research about your hero.

The Night My Favourite Hero Came to Dinner

One cold and wet Halloween the sky was black with only three stars in the night sky. My brother and I were dressed ready for trick-or-treating. Vincent was a demon with blazing eyes like fire and I was a zombie with rotting flesh. We were just about to go outside when the sky started flashing like a camera and we heard crackles of thunder. A storm was coming! When the rain started to drop, we knew that our Halloween plans were ruined. We were very disappointed. “Don’t worry we can still have a fun night” mum said, “Let’s go have dinner now it’s ready”. Nice smells were coming from the kitchen and I realised that my stomach was rumbling. We sat at the table and started eating the delicious pizza and garlic bread. “Let’s tell spooky stories!” said my big brother Vincent. “Yes” said Dad, “That sounds like fun”. To make it extra scary, Mum turned off the lights and we used candles instead. “I read in a book that on Halloween night, departed souls can be summoned back to earth” said Vincent in a spooky voice. My baby brother Luke looked a bit worried but he carried on eating carrots. “Who shall we summon?” I whispered. I was excited but also a bit scared. “How about Michael Jackson” said Dad. “Granddad” said Vincent. “I know! How about your hero Vincent Van Gogh?” said Mum. “Great idea!” I said. So we all held hands around the table and Vincent said in his deepest voice. “I summon the spirit of Vincent Van Gogh!” Suddenly there was a loud knock at the door – we all jumped in fright and stared at the door. The door opened slowly. A bearded figure came in the door dressed in coat and a hat. He didn’t look scary or ghostly at all. I realised that my parents had planned this as a trick. So I acted like I believed them. “It’s ok” I said to the pretend ghost of Van Gogh. “Don’t be scared, we invited you to our dinner. Do you like Pizza?” I looked at Vincent and realised he had figured out the trick too. I winked at him so he knew to play along. The pretend Van Gogh came in and sat down. He eyed the food voraciously as if he was extremely hungry and thirsty. He was a very good actor!

“Who are you” I asked. “Van Gogh” he answered and he took a big bite of pizza. “What are you doing here?” asked Vincent “I’m lost and I can’t remember how I got here” he said. My parents were so busy acting shocked the whole time and they didn’t say a word! I realised this scheme was a very clever way to make me to learn about the artist because they knew I had a story to write for my homework. I started asking the Van Gogh actor lots of questions about his life and art. “When did you start doing art Mr Van Gogh?” I asked. “Since I was a young boy I admired artists and wanted to paint. When I was a teenager I started painting.” He said. He took another big bite of pizza as if he’d never had it before. “How many paintings have you made?” Vincent asked. “So many! Whenever I was sad or lonely I painted a picture to make me feel better. I painted thousands!” “But why were you so sad?” I asked him. “No one understood me because I was very strange. Even my own mother wasn’t kind to me anymore after my father died.” “What’s your favourite painting?” Vincent and I both asked at the same time. This was fun! “My painting of the swirling starry night is my best work. It is simply resplendent! I painted it when I was at the asylum because looking at the moon and stars in the night sky made me feel better, even when I was very unhappy.” “Which story about you cutting your ear off is true?” Vincent asked. “I was in a fight with my friend and he accidentally lopped it off with his fencing sword! I lied because I didn’t want my friend to get in trouble.” “So if you are a ghost then what is in the afterlife?” I asked. “Ah. You will have to wait and see” said Van Gogh. He took a big drink of water and stood up. “And now I must thank you and bid you goodnight.” He said. He walked to the door and we saw a horse and carriage arrive. “Whhhhhaaaaa?” I stuttered. I couldn’t believe my parents spent all that money just to trick us! We all jumped up from the table and stood in the doorway. My parents were staring with their mouths hanging open. I realised they hadn’t said anything the whole time. The fake Van Gogh climbed into the carriage and drove off. It disappeared into the distance. My Dad was opening and closing his mouth like a fish with no words coming out. I look at my brother Vincent and said “He wasn’t a fake was he?” Vincent shook his head silently with big eyes. Baby Luke was still in his high chair eating carrots. “VAN GOOGOO!” he said. My Mum fainted. And that was the night my favourite hero came to dinner.

THIRD PLACE goes to Grace Hsu of 4th Grade at Morrison Academy Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 9 years old, for a very original story about Sacagawea, the Indian woman from the Shoshone tribe who helped the explorers Clark and Lewis in their exploration of the west of the United States. Thank you Grace for introducing us to such an interesting heroine!

The Day My Wish Came True!

Hi there! My name is Rachel. I have brown hair and am 9 years old. I live inCalifornia(just so you know) and am a daydreamer. Now I will tell you a story called “The day my wish came true”.

It happened on an ordinary Saturday morning when my dad went to the post office and brought back a package that was up to my waist. It was addressed to me! So once I saw my name on there, I rushed to get scissors and tore open the box.

“Daddy! Why would anyone give me a machine?” “If it’s a machine, I’ll do it, Rachel. You look at the instruction manual,” Dad said as he came into the room.

I hurried into my room and peered at the instruction manual. Wow! It was a machine that could bring people back from the past! I immediately began making a list in my head. How about an emperor in his resplendent robes of silk? Or an illustrious Pharaoh fromEgypt? No. Those were boys. I wanted to bring back a girl. And I had a girl that I really wanted to meet.

Her name was Sacagawea. Why? Because she helped Lewis and Clark survive their journey in the West. If they had not come back safe and sound, no one would have settled here in the western area, which includesCalifornia. That is the reason Sacagawea is the person I wanted to meet.

When I returned to the living room, Dad had left the machine there. I stopped to get a good look at it. The silver smooth surface of it shone. I saw there was a small door in its side. I also noticed a blank screen. It was truly a beautiful machine. I dragged the machine into my room and shut the door. Then, looking carefully at the instruction manual, I pressed buttons here and there. At 4:00, I was done.

At once I collapsed on my bed. Don’t be surprised. It had taken me an hour! When I looked up, I saw that the screen was not blank anymore. It said: Sacagawea will be out in 1 hour 59 minutes. I spent the time in my room, reading. (Did I mention I love good stories?) This book was called Little Women and I liked it a lot.

When I had read approximately half of it, I looked back at the machine. Something was different, but I couldn’t tell what. I stood up and went over to it. Now I saw it. The machine was bigger. The door was bigger too. I glanced at the clock. 5:00 already!?

I spent the rest of the time wondering how in the world I would keep Sacagawea from getting noticed by my dad. I pondered and pondered and ransacked my mind. I even tried looking it up in the computer (even though that is not very wise), but I found nothing.

At 5:30, I noticed that the machine was as tall as me! At 5:59, the machine was 5 feet tall. At 6:00, BEEP! At once the door of the machine opened, and out came the most beautiful lady I had ever seen. Her black hair fell in braids down her back, and at the top of her head sat a red and yellow striped band, with brightly colored feathers on it. Her leather dress had shells on the front and a fringe on the hem, with moccasins to match. She was so pretty, I was extremely embarrassed. It was Sacagawea!

Sacagawea turned to me and said (in perfect English), “Thank you.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “I mean thank you for bringing me here. You see, I heard Louis and Clark yesterday, in our tent.  They were talking about this world. A kid had called them using a machine like this. In fact, they were talking about that house right over there.” She pointed her finger at the house across the street. People had recently moved there, and I did not know they had a kid.

It was dinnertime, and thank goodness, my dad said I could eat in my room! After Sacagawea told me she didn’t need any food, I hurried to get my food. “Um, Sacagawea, I got you some juice when my parents weren’t looking.” I stepped into my room and shut the door. “What is juice?” Sacagawea asked, cautiously sniffing the contents of the cup. “Oh,” I said, hiding a smile. “Juice is the liquid from a fruit.”

Later, Sacagawea told me that the machine had automatically made her speak English and helped her not need food. Then, I got my history book and let her look at it (did I mention she can also read?). When she finished, she said, “At least half of this is false.” We both laughed.

After talking a bit more, it was time for Sacagawea to go. After I got a picture with her from my camera, she stepped inside the machine and closed the door. At once the machine disappeared. I was not surprised. When I had stood there for a few minutes thinking, I sat down and began to write. And you are reading what I wrote, my first true story ever.

HONOURABLE MENTION goes to Whitney Yu of Grade 6, Canadian International School Hong Kong, 10 years old, for her very interesting story about dinner with…me! Sarah Brennan! I laughed a lot Whitney – it was great fun, with some excellent vocabulary, and a welcome contribution of Mongol and Latin words from the talented winner of some of my previous competitions Yan Yan Li!

A Very Serendipitous Dinner

One very dark night, the curtains were closed, and my family and me were playing Monopoly-excluding my brother, who would become extremely atrocious otherwise. With Halloween a day away, we were extremely tense and aware of everything that was happening around me.

Then there was a knock on the door. We all jumped; with the exception of my mother, who seemed to have a sudden need to go.

My helper opened the door, and there was- A vampire! Not. It was Sarah Brennan!

I practically danced my way to the door. Everything from the floor itself seemed to glow iridescently- the door, the table, and my brother’s foot, sticking out in front- Blast my brother, God. Please. Or just let my mom give him a good spank.

I tripped, nearly banged my head on the gate, and cursed my brother under my breath. My dad opened the door instead, and we invited our extremely unexpected guest for dinner. Better than a horde of lions, I thought. This was so embarrassing, I could have run all the way acrossAmericajust to escape (Which is pure hyperbole!).

Anyways, the dinner went by smoothly. I managed to crack a few jokes without laughing my head off about a Mongolian proverb (God bless you and may your moustache grow like brushwood) when my brother sneezed and a Dutch one (I’m sweating carrots) when I noticed my parents sweating from the chili dish.

Suddenly my brother launched into a series of questions set by his teacher for an interview, as part of his homework. After, I explained the meanings of the Mongol word “ger” for small, round yurts.

I whiled the rest of our time away by annoying everyone else by saying “amabo te” as in “please” in Latin and “deoxyribonucleic acid” as in “DNA”. Nobody else was pleased about it. But they should have been, judging by the trouble I went through to get my hands on these words.

It was midnight by the time we finally had our fill of chatting. Sadly, it meant my mom looked at the clock and actually herded us into bed. I fell asleep immediately, but I had a fairly ineffable hunch next day that someone-someone took some cookies from the cookie jar when everyone else was asleep!

Credits for proverbs and random Mongol & Latin words: The Yan Yan Li!

RUNNERS-UP: the six runners-up were

Hannah Pearce, Year 4, Chatsworth International School, Orchard Campus, Singapore, for her touching and well-written story about her grandma;

Stella Holt, Grade 3, Australian International School Hong Kong, 9 years old with her story about JK Rowling;

Marley Grace Adams, Year 4, Chatsworth International School, Orchard Campus, Singapore, 8 years old, with her futuristic story about dinner with her Dad;

Allegra Miller, Year 4, Chatsworth International School, Orchard Campus, Singapore, with a story about author Holly Webb;

Yuka Miyamoto, Year 4,Chatsworth International School, Orchard Campus, Singapore, 8 years old, with her story about Taylor Swift,

Darcy Miller, Year 4, Chatsworth International School, Orchard Campus, Singapore, with his exciting story about dinner with the football star Fabregas.

LASTLY, a big thank you to 12 year olds Kelly Chen and Tiffany Kuo of Grade 7, Morrison Academy Kaohsiung, Taiwan for their wonderful stories about the blind educator Helen Keller and tennis player Novak Djokovic respectively. While they are not eligible to enter the competition (which only goes up to Grade 6), their stories were terrific and I really enjoyed reading them!

COMPETITION NUMBER THIRTEEN: JANUARY TO MARCH 2012

A PRACTICALLY PERFECT PANDA POEM!

What a fabulous time I’ve had judging the Practically Perfect Panda Poem competition this weekend! It’s been HUGE, it’s been NOISY, and it’s been tremendous FUN! In fact, it’s been nothing short of PANDA- MONIUM!! There were a total of 175 entries from 25 schools from around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Suzhou, Taiwan, Sydney and the United Kingdom!

There were amazing acrostics and hilarious haikus, fabulous free verse and remarkable rhymes, not to mention limericks, knock knock jokes and even some cunning kennings poems!

There were pandas of every kind – from messy beasts to outrageous outlaws to perfectly glamorous beauty queens! There were sleeping pandas, fighting pandas, pandas in pyjamas and pandas in zoos. And of course there were a great many pandas eating bamboo! I’m completely PANDA-d out!!

Needless to say it was a very difficult job to judge such a wonderful number of entries, and I’d like to say CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who entered for a truly magnificent effort! But winners there must be! I was looking for great vocabulary, interesting format and especially original ideas. And here they all are!

YEARS 1 to 3 SECTION: 39 entries; 11 schools

First place:  Kaitlyn Leung; Year 3; 7 yrs old; Renaissance College Hong Kong

Kaitlyn’s entry is a wonderful poem in perfectly rhyming verse with almost perfect rhythm – an impressive achievement for a 7 year old!  I particularly liked Kaitlyn’s use of simile:- “slower than a tiger, faster than a snail”. Well done Kaitlyn!

Pandas, Pandas, Here You Are!

Pandas, pandas, here you are

Right in front of me, you came from a far.

Big round eyes and a furry tail,

Slower than a tiger, but faster than a snail.

Black and white fur and cute chubby cheeks,

Through the trees, playing as he peeks.

Cute little ears and a little fluffy nose,

Nibbling on a bamboo, then off  he goes.

Right in front of me, you came from a far,

Pandas, pandas, there you are!

Second place:  Candice Lam; Year 3; Shatin Junior School, Hong Kong

I loved Candice’s acrostic poem, especially her choice of words like “nestled” and “lurking”. It cleverly took the reader from a feeling of comfort to a feeling of unease, then back to a feeling of relief – all in five lines! An excellent effort!

PANDA

Playful Black

And White too

Nestled in their leafy beds

Danger is lurking ahead

All is well for now…

Third place:  Emma Phillip; Year; 7 years old; Australian International School Hong Kong

I gave Emma’s poem third place for her sound grasp of rhythm as well as some excellent rhyming! As a whole, rhythm was the thing that eluded most entries into my competition, and Emma’s entry was a standout. I should point out also that Emma sent her poem to me on March 22nd!

Poem

I got a pet panda

I named her Amanda

And I fed her some sugary bread

I found that she liked it

Much more than bamboo

So she ate that from March twenty-two.

Honourable Mention:  Andrea Martine Luchangco; 6 years old; International Montessori School (Tin Hau Campus); Hong Kong

I thought that Andrea’s poem was quite remarkable for a 6 year old! And it was very clear that Andrea had listened very carefully to my talk at school about Panda Diplomacy! Well done Andrea!

Pandas

Pandas live in China

They aren’t everywhere

China didn’t spread them out

But China tried to share

China chose to rent them out

For a certain number of years

The other countries didn’t pout

And agreed to China’s deal.

Runners Up:

Lucia Holt, 8 years old, Grade 3, Australian International School Hong Kong

I thought Lucia’s poem about the lost panda was a wonderful story in rhyming couplets, and the rhyming pattern was perfectly achieved! Well done! An excellent effort!

The Panda Who Got Lost!

“Where am I?” said Amanda

“I’m such a silly panda!”

“I’m in the middle of nowhere,

Maybe there’s someone to care?”

“I hope I’ll be alright,

Because it is almost night.”

“Soon I’ll need to eat,

Maybe bamboo as a treat.”

My mind is so bamboozled now,

I wish I could find mum somehow.”

“At least there’s no pandemonium yet,

I’m trying hard not to fret.”

“Oh my goodness is that my favourite little tree?

I think I saw mummy and mummy saw me!”

“I’m home” said Amanda,

“I’m not such a silly panda.”

Emil Kjeldsen, 8 years old, Year 3, Lambrook School, West Sussex, UK

I loved Emil’s rhyming poem about Panda Samba – it was fun, and the rhyming was excellent though the last line wasn’t quite right. Overall though it was a terrific effort!

PANDA SAMBA

This is a poem of a panda called Samba.

It’s white and black and hairy

But not at all scary.

It doesn’t say waaah or miao,

If it could speak it would say ni hao.

It doesn’t live here or in Carolina

So it must live in the middle of China.

It seeks in the day and sleeps at night

And never gets into a fight.

It’s easy to talk about my panda friend

But I must make the poem end.

Finish it and get it send.

Jade Lo; Year 2, 6 years old, Shatin Junior School, Hong Kong  

Jade’s rhyming poem about pandas was very well written. The rhyming pattern was perfectly achieved until the last line which didn’t quite make it! An excellent effort overall!

Pandas live in China

Pandas live in China,

But they don’t live in North Carolina.

They are black and white,

And they might give you a fright.

They eat sweet bamboo,

But people take them to the zoo.

Beautiful fur all over their face,

And they will give you a warm embrace.

We must stop people from hunting,

Then the Pandas will be jumping.

Kavinda De Alwis, Year 3, 7 years old; Quarry Bay School, Hong Kong

I really admired Kavinda’s rhyming poem about pandas – the rhyming pattern was perfectly achieved! Well done! An excellent effort!

Panda Poem

Black and white, standing tall

Here is Panda, a gigantic ball.

In China faraway

Eating and playing all day

Lives Panda.

Panda loves to eat

Bamboo lush and sweet.

Please don’t cut his trees down

Just to bring them into town.

Save Panda!

Mary-Anne Ko; Year 2; 6 years old; Shatin Junior School

Mary-Anne’s poem about her Shi Shi was quite adorable, and very skillful for a 6 year old! I loved the way she described her panda in so much detail, especially the “smile like a flower”! Well done Mary-Anne!

MY SHISHI

I know a panda called ShiShi

From the monster island of Moshi

She is dark and light

Her panda hands and feet are small

Her head is so big that she is a noisy little panda

She is so cute and she fights with leaves plus bamboo

She has 10 nails and a twitchy panda nose

She always blushes but she is a panda monster!

I like to say hello to that chubby little panda

I also sing dadida to her and dodido too!

She smiles like a flower

She is so pretty with long eye lashes

My ShiShi!

Ryan Dufresne, Age 6, Year 2, Dulwich College Shanghai

Well done Ryan for this excellent attempt at rhyming couplets! I especially liked the ending!

Pandas Pandas

Pandas Pandas eat bamboo.

Pandas Pandas soft and cute.

Pandas pandas black and white.

Walking on a green, green stripe.

Looking for their sweet bamboo.

Up they go and chew chew chew.

Special Mention for the Youngest Contestant!

Charlotte Knights; 5 years old; Year 1; Dulwich College Shanghai

An extra special mention must be made in this section for Charlotte Knights, the youngest contestant, who wrote a very sweet poem about her very own panda called Bamboo! What an adorable poem!

Bamboo

Lovely panda so beautiful

Lovely panda so adorable

Fluffy panda I Love You

Shall we play boo in the bamboo?

YEARS 4 TO 6 SECTION: 136 entries; 21 schools

First place:  Anna K. Gould; Year 6; 10 years old; Kennedy School, Hong Kong

This poem is an outstanding example of free verse, with beautiful imagery and the careful choice of words. I particularly loved the supple bamboo and the panda’s glittering eyes – superb! Congratulations Anna on an excellent entry!

Peace of the Panda

Supple bamboo stalks

Rustling in the night breeze

Stars fill up the sky.

Content panda eyes

Glittering in the moon light

Time to get some sleep.

Second place:  Rafi Joss; Year 5; 10 years old; Discovery Bay International School, Hong Kong

This is another great example of free verse with wonderful imagery. I loved the words Rafi used to describe the panda’s fur, and the emerald green leaves. I could just picture that panda happily sleeping!

The Sleeping Panda                                                                                             

There on the forest floor, lies a sleeping beauty

The marshmallow white swan fur,

The panther black fur,

He peacefully lies upon the emerald green leaves,

Dosing to the music of the beautiful birds.

Third place:  Pamela Murphy; Year 5; 10 years old, Australian International School Hong Kong

Here is a perfect example of an acrostic poem which makes sense, is witty and fluent all at the same time! Less is often more, and Pamela’s poem of only 9 words works beautifully! Well done Pamela!

The Hungry Panda

Pretty perfect pandas

A re

Never

Doubtful

About their appetite

Honourable Mention: Juliette Dingley; Year 4; 8 years old; Clearwater Bay School, Hong Kong

Congratulations to Juliette on a wonderful piece of rhyming verse with excellent rhythm too, with the exception of the third stanza where the rhythm wasn’t quite right. But overall an excellent effort!

Beautiful Panda

Beautiful panda

So pretty and sweet

Lounging all day

With your bamboo treat

Black round your eyes

Your ears and your nose

Black on your paws

Black on your toes

Your eyes seem to hide

Secrets you can never tell

About far away places

And love you know well

You seem so peaceful

So happy and calm

I hope you stay safe

And away from harm.

Runners Up:

Sahil Mahbubani; Year 5; 10 years old; Australian International School Hong Kong

Sahil’s poem is another great example of rhyming verse, and the first stanza in particular is very good indeed! I wonder if the word “virtually” should perhaps have been “practically” in the last stanza – but overall it’s a terrific entry!

A Practically Perfect Panda

A practically perfect panda,

Is a panda worth keeping;

For it eats all day, has nothing to say

And spends most of the time sleeping.

A practically perfect panda,

Looks ideal from every angle;

With big bright eyes, on green grass it lies

It has fur that doesn’t tangle.

A practically perfect panda,

Is not colorful, but black and white;

It eats bamboo shoots and herbs and roots

And is really quite a delightful sight.

In a practically “perfect” panda,

The key word is “virtually”;

Because not everyone is perfect

Not even Pin Yin Panda in the story.

Abbie Harries; 10 years old; Grade 6; Discovery College Hong Kong

This is a terrific entry, with some excellent rhyming and wonderful imagery – I especially loved the simile of the “ink painting, coal and china white”. Great work Abbie!

PANDA BEAR

Balanced as Ying and Yang

Doesn’t have claw or fang

Gentle, tranquil, harmonious

Munching bamboo, quite melodious

Like an ink painting

Coal and china white

Slow and steady

Dark and light

Panda Bear, for you we must care

Earth’s future rests there.

Ellen Chuyi Xia, 11, Grade 6, Clear Water Bay School Hong Kong

Ellen was one of the very few contestants who chose to write a Kennings poem. This one is great – I loved the slow build-up of juicy details about Pin Yin Panda – and “chess dresser” was such a clever way to refer to her black and white markings. Great work Ellen!

Pin Yin Panda

Bamboo muncher

Boyfriend dragger

Bratty boaster

Chess dresser

Dragon banner

Fame finder

Life wrecker

Non-focused racer

Party spoiler

Place taker

Scottish dancer

Self-admirer

Trouble maker

Unfair player

Stinkbug catcher

Tommy Lee-Teng Long; 11 years old, Grade 5; Suzhou Singapore International School, China

This poem is such fun! It’s also a great example of a haiku, painting a vivid picture of that tubby little panda in just 17 syllables! Good work Tommy! Tommy actually entered 3 very good poems but this was his best!

Chubby Panda Haiku

A chubby Panda

Dives straight into the water

Makes a huge KAPLASH!

Maddie Carter, 10 years old, Grade 5, South Moreton School, Oxford, UK

Well done Maddie for writing the best limerick in the competition! This one scans perfectly, rhymes perfectly, and is great fun!

Poppy the panda

There once was a panda called Poppy

Who was always a little bit sloppy

She sat on her chair

And played with her hair

And spent the day ever so floppy.

Lachie Fagan; 8 years old; Year 4; Discovery College, Hong Kong

Here’s a terrific example of rhyming couplets, and the rhythm is perfect too! Excellent work from one of the youngest candidates in this section.

Wild Panda

I am a panda, I live in the wild I am very cuddly, soft and mild I am black and white with big dark eyes I eat bamboo and I don’t like flies.

Special Mention: A Funny Knock Knock Poem!

Dietrich von der Luehe, 9 years old, Year 5; Discovery Bay International School

I couldn’t resist ending the results in this section with just one extra poem because it makes me smile! Here’s a knock knock poem – the essence of simplicity, but with a clever punchline! Well done Dietrich!

Knock Knock

Who’s there?

Bamb!

Bamb who?

Don’t you know I eat bamboo!

RESULTS OF COMPETITION NO. 14: THE JADE DRAGON MYSTERY COMPETITION!

Hello all you fabulous writers out there! Here at last are the results of my Jade Dragon Mystery Story Competition – and what fabulous stories they were!

I loved judging this competition – it was so much fun! The dragons were a fantastic bunch of beasties: there were dragons spitting time bombs; flame dragons; sneezing dragons; dragons who spoke in riddles; two dragons called Chester Choi :) !; dragons belonging to Evil Queens; Opus Dragons; iridescent dragons with scales of jade; a mad dragon called Sizzle Breath and a very cute dragon family! Not to mention dragon tooth keys; mighty Dragon Maps and parallel worlds with dragons in all the colours of the rainbow! And the jade was simply stunning!  There were rivers of jade; jade necklaces that turned into keys; royal jade; jade caves; red jade that turned into dragons; magical jade bracelets; golden jade palaces; evil jade lying in rivers and Stone-Hearted jade with astounding powers!

Needless to say it was a very difficult competition to judge, and before I announce the winners I’d like to give all the entrants a big pat on the back for the huge effort, time and great imagination that went into your stories. But winners there must be! And here they are; I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading their stories as much as I have! The first prize winners in each category will receive a complimentary signed copy of one of my books!

Years 1 to 3 Section: Lower Primary

There were some terrific entries in this section of the competition, with entries from as far away as Great Missenden School in Kent in the UK, and two entries in rhyme! Here are the four best entries – the Wicked Words are marked in bold type!

First place:

Arunav Maheshwari, 7 years old, Primary 3, French International School, Hong Kong

The winner of this category is an extraordinary young writer with an impressive vocabulary, superb descriptive powers and a very rich and vivid imagination! Arunav managed to use a mighty SEVEN of my Wicked Words correctly in a fast-paced story spanning five countries and three continents – well done Arunav! I look forward to the promised sequel!

The Voyage of Terror and Quail

Once upon a time there was a rather gargantuan dragon. His appearance was a strange eerie green because he was made of jade. The Jade Dragon was called Terror. He was owned by a rich king who used him for battles. One time the enemy attacked and the mighty dragon swooped down to defeat them, which he did single-handedly (or is it single-clawdedly?)

Then one day, an illustrious explorer who knew dragon language was sent by the king with Terror, to fight a dragon, named Steely, who had steel claws, steel arms and steel teeth. The great explorer’s name was Quail. On 26th November, Terror and Quail planned to start their humungous journey. On the day before, Terror was ecstatic because he hadn’t battled for so many years. Now he was at last going to try to defeat Steely. He felt sure that he, the great Terror, would win. Meanwhile Quail was making final preparations for they were going to have to travel across Canberra, Sydney, Hong Kong, Beijing, Mongolia and Moscow to reach Steely’s cave in Austria. On the day of the journey, they got dressed in splendiferous clothes.

On the first day everything went well. They flew to Canberra, rented a limousine and drove to their copacetic “Dragon and Human” hotel. After their tiring day it was hard to keep awake so they went to sleep in their room (which was the number 7777777) on their gorgeous, four-poster beds. In the middle of the night, Quail heard a noise. What is this noise, Quail thought. Then suddenly he knew. The noise was of robbers! He couldn’t wake Terror, as he would make a lot of noise and rouse everyone. Then he remembered, the person staying in the opposite room had a dragon too, which he saw yesterday. It was small but could defeat any robber. So he roused that dragon and the two of them defeated the robbers easily.

Next they flew to Sydney and went directly to the Sydney Opera House. There they got to meet the director of the Opera House, who they later found out to be a villain working for Steely. The director pressed a button under his foot and the floor they were standing on folded down. They plunged into sleeping gas. However, the director didn’t know that sleeping gas doesn’t apply to dragons so Terror set fire to the thing that was emitting the sleeping gas and woke Quail up.

Then they flew to Hong Kong. They went to the MTR, but when the train arrived an old man came out running at them with a spear. Luckily they darted to a side but unfortunately Terror crashed into the elevator and Quail had to pay for it.

At last they had arrived at Beijing. They rushed straight for the Great Wall of China. Just one incident happened. An aeroplane tried to attack Terror !!!!!! But Terror showed the aeroplane who’s boss. After that they went to their hotel and had a sumptuous dinner. They slept without a wink. Terror really needed a rest!!

Then they went to Mongolia and visited the Altai mountains. They were hiking up when…. DISASTER! Quail slipped on the ice and was badly injured. Terror let Quail hitch a ride on his back to the hospital where he was healed.

They next flew to Moscow. In the Red Square they saw the world famous St. Basil’s Cathedral. It is a beautiful sight thought Quail. He hadn’t seen anything like that before. They were baffled to see one of the extremely colourful turrets starting to spin. It rose into the air and went right on top of him and Terror. The turret stayed there for a while and suddenly dropped on them. Though cleverly Terror dodged and caught it, let Quail get out of the way and flew up to place the turret in its right place.

Finally they arrived at Steely’s cave in Austria. Terror and Steely swirled, swooped, hacked and bashed each other. Near the end of the fight, Quail saw that Terror was losing, so he shot a divine arrow from a divine bow which had come from the far away Arctic. Terror and Quail suddenly got to know from the dying Steely that his master whose name was Lense, who was a rare drakon is plotting to attack them. Terror and Quail then rushed home and told everyone the story. The King then said, ‘We must make copies of Terror immediately.’

Clue: The story where you are going to find out what happens next, is called Terror vs. Lense which is coming up real soon!!

Second place:

Mary-Anne Ko, 6 years old, Primary 2, Sha Tin Junior School, Hong Kong

Mary-Anne wrote a whimsical story about a magical red jade dragon who visited a family at bedtime! A fantastic effort for such a young writer, with three Wicked Words used wonderfully well!

The Red Jade Dragon

Long, long ago in China there was a little girl called Emma. She voraciously wanted a red jade dragon. So on her birthday her daddy got her a red jade dragon. Emma said “thank you daddy” and then said to the dragon, “I will call you Magical Dragon”.

That night, the dragon came alive! He was bright red and his scales were iridescence. He whispered “Wake up Emma”. Emma woke up rubbing her eyes. She said excitedly, “Hi Magical Dragon. Ooooh! How did you come alive”? The dragon said, “With magic because I am magical.  Let’s have a party”. “Where?” asked Emma. “Here in your room” said the dragon. So they danced, sung, and painted until they felt sleepy. “Night night” said Magical Dragon and tucked Emma into bed.

The next morning Emma told everybody what had happened but nobody believed her. That night the dragon went to Emma’s little brother’s room. His name was Tom. “You are the dragon that went to Emma’s room last night right”? said Tom. “Yes” said the dragon.  “Bye” said Magical Dragon. Tom said, “Please don’t go” and so the dragon stayed and played, sang and danced with Tom.

Then Magical Dragon woke Tom’s daddy and mummy up. “Hi” said the dragon. “You must be Emma’s parents. What are your names?” he asked. “Tom and Mary” they replied.  Then he became a jade dragon again. The next morning they told Emma what happened. She went to school and told her friends about the jade dragon. Some believed her but some didn’t believe her.

That night there was a party at Emma’s house. She was dressed as a dragon. The party was in the back garden. All of her friends were there except Layla. Emma brought her jade dragon with her. When they were eating dinner the dragon came alive! Some were scared but most said, “Emma did tell us that her red jade dragon comes alive”! Then they said, “Emma you are serendipitous”! After that the dragon came to visit every night.

Third place:

Hillary Lo, 7 years old, Grade ? , Sha Tin Junior School, Hong Kong

Hillary wrote an acrostic poem which skillfully married the Jade and Dragon theme! Well done Hillary!

Jade Poem!

J is for jewels sparkling into your eye,

A is for a small bright sparkle,

D is for dragons roaring fiercely,

E is for evil dragons spitting FIRE!

Jade, Beyond Compare

Honourable mention:

Emily Griffiths, Class 3T, Great Missenden School, Kent

Emily also wrote a poem – but this one was in rhyming couplets! It’s great to hear from you Emily – keep up the good work!

Once was a Dragon

Once was a dragon who was rich

He never had an itch

Never plays soccer on a pitch

Then he makes a ditch

Dragon was never smart

He doesn’t even have a heart

Once dragon met a jade

Then he jumped up being afraid.

Years 4 to 6 Section: Upper Primary

Congratulations to the following 31 wonderful writers for their fabulous entries in the Upper Primary section of my Clever Competition:

From Australian International School, Hong Kong: Victoria Hogan and Gabby Green; from Chinese International School, Hong Kong: Lauren Ho; from German Swiss International School, Hong Kong: Jade Poon and Valerie Ang; from Kowloon Junior School, Hong Kong: Jainil Patel; from Renaissance College Hong Kong: Yavanna Verkest; from Shanghai United International School, Shanghai: Jonathan Lee, Tyler Yang, Agung Mann, Chloe Mingyan St-Maurice and Silin Chen; from Sha Tin Junior School, Hong Kong: Emily Wong, Nina Ruff, Crystal Tang (joint entry); Enoch Fu; Viola; Tess Tsoi; Joshua Hibombo; Alan Kishikawa; Christy Ho Tung Pang; Chloe Wong Barlafante; Jacqueline Ng; Chor Ki Chan; Cheng Mankiu; Yanni Ng and Vinci Cheung.

As ever, it was extremely hard to choose the winners! I had to be very strict about my special requirements: for length (no more than 1,000 words), and for the use of at least two of my Wicked Words! Those of you who forgot to use any Wicked Words lost points, with the exception of those students who entered from Shanghai United International School who were unable to access my blog or my list of Wicked Words due to internet restrictions in mainland China. But I was delighted to see so many of you using more than two Wicked Words in your stories, and those of you who did received extra bonus points!

As well as these two special requirements, I was looking for a wide and wonderful vocabulary, great writing style, bold and original ideas, riveting beginnings and strong endings, a correct narrative curve, a cracking pace and above all that special X factor which makes a really memorable story!

FIRST PLACE

Silin Chen, 12 years old, Grade 5, Shanghai United International School, Shanghai

Huge congratulations to Silin for a beautifully-written epic tale! What made Silin’s entry stand out was the wonderfully mysterious beginning which promised a great legend to come; an exciting narrative; a lyrical quality to the writing which included some really poetic imagery; excellent vocabulary and dialogue, and a well-executed ending. I look forward to seeing more of Silin’s work in future competitions!

Jade

Something stirred in its sleep. It let out a deafening growl, trying to break from the cage that trapped it. For three days howls echoed from the mountains, but no one heard. With a final, desperate growl, the creature lay down its head and stopped fighting. For it knew that no help would come here, beyond the widest desert, under the highest mountains. Still, the urge for freedom remained. It would not give up.

******

“My lord, something is awakening in the west of our empire. The great dragon may bring destruction to our land once more.”

“Yes, we must keep it trapped or the result might be deadly,” the great emperor agreed with his henchman, “But who will be willing to go to the dragon and fight it? Even with great loyalties, cowardliness may get the better of one’s heart.”

“I will go.”

The emperor’s only daughter walked out. Her name was Jade, for she had the beauty of it. Her eyes were like the deepest lake and her voice was like chiming bells. She was intelligent and loyal. Her voice rang clearly through the chamber, “I shall go and fight the dragon. I shall seal its cage and send it back into eternal sleep. I shall return peace to the people of our empire.”

The emperor fell silent for a long time. Then he spoke solemnly, “Brave words, my daughter, but do you know how powerful the dragon is? Its power is beyond your reach. I appreciate your courage, Jade, but do not go.”

“I must,” firm words flowed from her lips, “I shall leave at dawn.”

The emperor hesitated. Finally, he yielded, “Very well, you may go. But take this jade as a symbol of luck. And pray, my daughter, that you will live.”

******

Wind swept over the sand, creating small sandstorms. Where a great city once was, there was left only nothingness.

“Lady Jade, we are at Yue, the city nearest to the heart of the desert.”

“City?” Looking at this wilderness, Jade sighed.

“Stand there and unfold thyself!” a cry came from behind. An old man stood, his eyes filled with terror.

“Do not fear us, old man. We are here to help,” Jade replied.

“Thou wish to defeat the great dragon?” the old man’s eyes shimmered with excitement.

“I will do my best.”

“Take this, brave girl,” he held out a scroll, “This was left by the first man to conquer the dragon. It will help thee.”

Jade opened the scroll. Golden words were embraced in it:

“A girl named Jade who there must be,

To defeat the dragon that I left for thee.

A decision shall be made, the fate of all,”

The rest of the scroll was ripped away.

“The prophecy was never complete. The sorcerer who left it told that when the chosen one comes, she shall know the final line.”

“Sincere thanks.” Jade bowed.

******

“Who dares to come?” a furious roar rang through the air, “Do you not know, that I have not been defeated in a thousand years? Yes, for now I may be trapped, but I will escape from this prison. And then, I will let you foolish humans know how weak you are, for if I come to full power, you cannot withstand a single blow!”

“Great dragon, you have helped my father to create his empire, but why will you wish to destroy it? For you once were the symbol of power and nobility, but now you only represent fear. Why will you not return peace?” Jade felt sad for the dragon. She wished it to still be the friend of her empire.

“I have no time to chat! If you wish to let me become a pet of your father, then any words are useless.”

“Very well, than I shall not speak in peace. I do not fear battles.” Jade replied, and drew her sword.

The battle lasted for days. Wind blew from all directions, churning great storms and interposing the war. The mountains loomed over them, as if carefully watching, trying to see through the flashes of sword and claw. The storm clouds send thunder and lightning, cheering both sides to go on. Even the sun and the moon stayed longer in the sky, afraid that something might change in the wink of an eye.

And the battle finally drew towards the end.

Jade was terribly wounded. She was covered in blood from the fight, but still, she would not give up. If only I may seek the complete spell, then, there might be a chance.

She stood up with great effort, “I will never give up, great dragon! I will fight you to the last breath!”

“Then come, foolish girl. Can you not see that your poor sword cannot even harm me? My powers, even if they are not at their peak, are still enough to kill you!”

Jade raised her sword. As if by magic, the words came to her, “A girl named Jade who there must be, to defeat the dragon that I left for thee. A decision must be made, the fate of all…I shall decide the empire to survive or fall!”

As the words were spoken, huge beams of light focused on the great dragon. The earth split in two, and with a shriek of despair, the great dragon fell into the hole. The earth healed, and trapped the great dragon inside it.

Jade was no sorcerer. The spell had used too much energy, and she could feel the wound getting worse. It was a wound that could not be healed.

Jade’s spirit divided into a million parts. Each found its place in a jade. Jade, with the spirit of the brave girl, became the symbol of beauty, nobility, loyal, courage and luck. Till now, the spirit of Jade still sleeps in jade accessories, waiting for another brave soul to wake her up.

SECOND PLACE

Lauren Ho, age 10, Year 6, Chinese International School, Hong Kong

Congratulations to Lauren Ho for her gripping story of an evil dragon who changed his spots! Lauren’s story also had the quality of a legend, and I loved the surprising twist in the tale where her dragon turns from villain to hero, and the terrific ending! Lauren used some fabulous vocabulary, as well as an impressive EIGHT wicked words (noted in bold type)! Well done Lauren!

The Jade Guard

Once upon a time in China, the village of Xi An was the proud protector of a jade cave. Travelers would come from the four corners of the earth just to get a glimpse of the cave’s magnificence.

Now what could be so splendiferous about a small subterranean area on the side of a boring old mountain? But this was no ordinary cave—no, this cave was the most stunning in the entire world, inordinately resplendent with different types of jade carvings and stones in iridescent shades of not only emerald and celadon green, but also luminous pink, lemony yellow and translucent white. It had jade crystals glowing and shimmering from every corner in the pitch black darkness of the cave.

In this village also lived a selfish, grouchy and mean-spirited dragon. The dragon was the only one in Xi An, but along with that, he was the most self- centered, rude and nasty creature in the whole of China. One of his little idiosyncrasies was always awakening before any of the other residents of Xi An. This dragon’s name was “Long Tao”, meaning “dragon head”. The proud dragon would awaken at the crack of dawn, while everyone was still sound asleep, and creep into the jade cave. Long Tao had stolen so many bits of treasure that his own cave looked like it could have been the second jade cave. All the villagers had noticed that their precious, irreplaceable stones were slowly disappearing, so they decided to take action to uncover and capture the self-centered thief.

The governor of Xi An sent out eighteen search parties to apprehend and arrest the mystery criminal. Once captured, this diabolical creature was to be beheaded in front of the whole Xi An council. Each search party had 9 men and 9 stronger men. However, the 9th search party had 13 strong men, and 5 extremely strong women. All the search parties trundled up the mountain with safety gear covering their entire bodies, for where the thief lived they did not know.  They concluded that they should continue schlepping up the mountain until they found the place that contained their precious gems.

Long Tao sensed that he was in danger and started to panic. He paced up and down in his cave trying to think of a solution to save himself. The only thought that came to his mind was to run away and leave everything behind. But his next thought was that it had taken years of hard work to accumulate all his treasures, and it would be a supreme shame to leave everything behind. Long Tao was stuck. He didn’t know what to do. After seconds of brainstorming with himself, he heard shouts and voices getting closer and closer. Long Tao peeped his head out from the cave and saw the humans running towards his cave brandishing swords and sticks of fire. Long Tao knew it was too late for him to run. Knowing this, he stepped forward out of his hiding place, calling upon one of the little known yet useful talents of ancient dragon times. He began to saunter towards them with an utmost sense of false confidence, not knowing if he was strong enough to fight them off and protect himself.

It was sheer pandemonium as the humans fought Long Tao for three long, arduous hours, until the humans finally got so tuckered out they fell to the ground together in one giant heap. One of the extremely strong women from the 9th search party managed to pick herself up to speak some sense into the dragon. To everyone’s surprise, she offered him a job to take all the gems back and allow him to be the guard of the jade cave. Perhaps even more surprisingly, instead of bellowing with fire and burning up all the villagers, Long Tao took the job with a supreme sense of honor, knowing that he had to be very loyal and strong to be offered such a fine job.

Shortly thereafter, Long Tao devoted his whole life to protecting the jade cave. He stood at attention day and night, guarding the cave and keeping lookout for the slightest sign of any danger. Long Tao was determined to be the best guard ever. He knew he would be, because the last guards had not even realized he had crept in and stolen gems on numerous occasions before.

One fine sunny day, Long Tao was watching the children play together nicely, while their parents were washing clothes together by the stream and chatting about how fast their children were growing up. Suddenly, Long Tao got a feeling he had never felt before. His eyes welled up with tears. Long Tao was feeling a great sense of loneliness and wistfulness. When he was a baby, his parents had left him and he had never seen another dragon like himself. He suddenly wished he were a child again, except this time with two loving parents.

BOOM! Dark ominous clouds were suddenly ubiquitous, covering up the sun and casting a broad shadow over the village. Everyone stopped what they were doing and slowly lifted their heads. Long Tao stopped crying too. As everyone looked up, two gargantuan dragons appeared from behind the clouds. Long Tao was tempted to run away like all the terrified villagers, but he knew his job was to protect the cave no matter what. He remained where he was and blew fire at the dragons, which he soon found out were not fire-breathing dragons, but stone-breathing dragons. They blew back at Long Tao, turning him to stone. When the clouds cleared, the villagers came out to see what happened to poor Long Tao. The moment they saw him, they knew that he had given his life for the jade cave and for the people.

His statue remains in Xi An today as a tribute to his loyalty and memory of how the once selfish dragon became a hero.

THIRD PLACE

Jade Poon, 9 years old, Year 4, German Swiss International School, Hong Kong

Well done to Jade, one of the youngest entrants in this category, for a very close run third place in the competition! I thought Jade’s story was very clever, with a terrific beginning, a well-paced narrative, excellent vocabulary and some gorgeous imagery. She also managed to use a terrific SIX Wicked Words!

The Flaming Mountain 

Once upon a time, an ancient vast land called China was formed. Inside the fertile land of China, a mythical and magnanimous creature was found. It had golden scales and it breathed fervent red fire. Soon after it appeared, everyone called it “Dragon”.

Dragon would fly here and there, and soon, fresh plants and rivers would appear. Eventually, China was filled with the beauty of nature. But Dragon mysteriously disappeared. Everyone tried to look for Dragon, but there was not a clue of where Dragon had gone. Or so they thought…

Tian, the 9-year-old daughter of a poor farmer woke up, bright sunlight shining into her eyes. Yawning, she combed her ebony black hair and quickly munched on a fresh steamed bun for breakfast. Then, she got her spade to dig a new patch space for some farming seeds. It was a scorching day in the field. Tian waved a hello to her father as she wiped some sweat off her face. As Tian started digging, she felt something hard stuck in the soil. “What could it be?” she thought, surprised. Tian scooped the thing up with her two hands and her jaw dropped open with awe. It was a resplendent jade with a verdant green colour, shaped like a dragon.

Tian had heard stories about Dragon; she had been told it was a strong and wise creature. Tian stared at the jade and saw 4 words carved on it: TO THE FLAMING MOUNTAIN

The Flaming Mountain? Never heard of it.” Tian said to herself.  So she slipped the jade into her pocket and continued digging the patch.

The night sky was filled with bright stars. Tian put her hand inside her pocket, feeling relieved to feel the smooth and cool surface of the jade. “Father, have you ever heard of a flaming mountain?” she asked. “No. Why?” Tian’s father asked.  “Oh, err it’s nothing.” Tian replied quickly.

When Tian was tucked in bed, she took out the jade, and held it out in the moonlight. “What could The Flaming Mountain be?” she thought desperately to herself. As if to answer her question, the famous mountain Mount Flamous that was near her father’s field let out a puff of smoke. Mount Flamous, Flaming Mountain? Then a thought hit her. “The Flaming Mountain must be Mount Flamous!” Tian exclaimed. Though she was enthusiastic, her eyes started to get tired, so Tian lied down on her bed and was quickly sound asleep.

The next morning, Tian woke up early and packed her things for the trip to the lethal Mount Flamous. She then left a short note: “Gone to Mount Flamous. I’ll be back later.” Feeling ecstatic, she shouted, “Here I come, Mount Flamous!”

After 10-minute walk, Tian arrived at the gargantuan foot of Mount Flamous. Taking a deep breath, Tian began to walk cautiously on the walking paths of Mount Flamous. Suddenly she heard a loud, swishy sound. A gust of wind drifted from the dusty ground. It whirled around Tian, coiling into a swirling, shadowy tornado. Tian screamed with terror and fear. But the jade in her pocket glowed dimly and the horrendous tornado vanished with a pop. Though Tian was shocked, she kept on walking. The walk was very dangerous and exhausting. The paths were all very narrow but they became wider in the end. Finally, Tian found an opening. She carefully stepped into the opening and stopped dead.

Tian saw a creature with gold scales and coruscating eyes. It was a dragon! He was chained to the walls of Mount Flamous. She took out the jade to examine it. The dragon matched the one on the jade! “Help me.” The dragon suddenly muttered, its voice a deep wise tone. “Y-you s-speak?” Tian stammered. “Yes,” The dragon answered. “An ogre has captured me. It wanted to get my powers and be a dragon itself. The ogre is now catching prey.”

Tian abruptly tried breaking the chain with her spade but it didn’t work. She held the chain with both hands, trying to find a way to free the dragon. As the hand with the jade touched the chain, the chain shimmered in splendiferous gold and broke into a million pieces.

Just at that moment, Tian heard a loud thump. In came the ogre. He had slimy green skin, ambitious dark eyes and gloomy black hair. “Who are you?” he growled. “I am Tian.” Tian answered bravely. The ogre charged at Tian, but a lime green force field came from the jade to shield her. The dragon roared with anger. “Ogre, you are so vicious and vile.” Striving with all his might, the dragon let out a blaze of fire and all that was left of the ogre were ashes.

“Thank-you, Tian. You set me free!” the dragon said gratefully. “How can I pay you?” Tian replied, “Can you fly me back home?” The dragon nodded, raised his dazzling head and zoomed into the azure sky. Tian sat on the dragon joyously, feeling the crisp fresh air as it swooped swiftly through the sky.

At the farm, Tian’s father saw a silhouette of a dragon in the sky. “TIAN!” Tian’s father cried with a lugubrious look on his face. “And is that …DRAGON?”  Dragon smiled at him and said, “Tell all human kind that I, Dragon have come home and this little smart girl has bravely saved me.” And no one ever dared to kidnap Dragon again.

FOURTH PLACE

Joshua Hibombo, Grade 5.1, Sha Tin Junior School, Hong Kong

Well done Joshua for a really exciting story! Joshua’s legendary tale was set at a cracking pace, and his writing style was witty and very appealing with some great vocabulary including four Wicked Words! I had a lot of fun reading this one – and would love to read the next installment!

The Farmers and the Jade Necklace

A long, long time ago, China was ruled by a dragon called So. He was a brave and noble dragon with the heart of a lion and the power of – well – a dragon.

There was also an evil man called Lo (aka the Dark Shadow) who wanted to take over the Empire. And there was a farmer with the heart the size of his field, which was rather large, whose name was Ho.

One day, So was taking a nap from solving the problems of three hundred of his people. There was a huge…CRASH!!! So nearly jumped out of his beautiful scales. “What was that?” he yelled. It was coming from the room with his priceless treasures. He flew as fast as he could. Something clad in black ran out the window. He looked down. Nothing was there. He looked at the glass case where he kept his most precious item – a Jade necklace, which held up the entire palace.

But it was gone.

The case had a huge hole in it. The red, velvet pillow was still there… but the beautiful, sumptuous, illustrious jade necklace was gone.

The palace rumbled. “RUN!!!” he yelled to all the guards. And they left just in time before the palace finally half-collapsed.

“Who shall assist in finding the Great Jade Necklace?” asked So’s commander. He had assembled the citizens of the Valley of Peace. There were murmurs from the people but nobody volunteered.

Now Ho was watching this with excitement. He could see his friends were as well. And as if they could read each other’s minds, they said the words that would change their lives forever…they said… “We will.”

They looked around the entire Valley for nights and days and nights and days and days and nights and nights and days. For an entire month… then two… then  five months…they weren’t really finding anything – just clues – until… “I quit!” yelled Long, Ho’s best friend. They were at the entrance of a deep, dark, cave with no light whatsoever. “I’m sick of doing all this looking but not finding! I’m going home NOW and that’s that!!!” Then he spat at the volcanic sand and walked back to the boat, cursing along the way.

As he disappeared behind the cave and went out of sight, there was a gasp and a scream… and then… silence. Ho and his friends sprinted towards the sound. They found him lying on the ground. He had cuts and bruises all over him. Five of his teeth were lying around him. There was a long, curved, double-edged sword next to him, splattered with blood. But no one else was there. Long groaned. ”Stay down,” warned Ho. You’re much too injured to get up”. Ho told Long’s twin brother, Ping, to stand guard and protect Long and if there was any danger or sight of strangers, to give a holler.

The cave was stunningly, awesomely admirable, especially for a cave that looked so dark.

Then they found the footprints. They made a trail that went on as far as the eye could see. They followed the trail of footprints for what seemed like hours and hours. Then finally, the footprints stopped. They were replaced by a long, wooden bridge with no railing.

And on the other side of the bridge was the Great Jade Necklace.

The Great Jade Necklace

We’ve done it, thought Ho. His friend’s eyes seemed to say the same thing.

Slowly they began to cross the bridge. They reached the other side.

The Necklace was beautiful. They were all transfixed. They didn’t know what to say.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said a deep, loud voice. They turned around.

It was Lo, the most evil man in the whole of China. He had stolen the Jade Necklace.

“You!” growled Ho. He and his friends all unsheathed their swords.

The next moments were complete pandemonium.

Lo pulled his sword out of his sheath and gave a loud whistle. Men clad in black jumped out of nowhere and pulled out their weapons. And then the battle began. The clash of the swords could be heard miles away.

Ping and Long could hear the clashing of swords and the cries of pain but knew that they couldn’t help .Or, at least Ping did.

“I have to help,” groaned Long as Ping was giving him medicinal herbs.

“Oh no you don’t” he said. But Ping knew that wouldn’t be true for very long. They were going to need all the help they could get. And as if on cue, a horn blew. A large ship appeared on the horizon. Its flag had a picture of a red dragon. It was the Chinese navy!

Inside the cave, the battle was raging. It brought the full definitions of hectic chaos into action. Or it did when So arrived. With his ability to breathe fire and the men who fought valiantly (which was all of them), the enemy didn’t stand a chance. Victory was swift. After the battle, Ho took the necklace and put it around So’s neck.

Order and harmony returned to the Valley of Peace for a long time.

A few days later…

“What would you like in my kingdom?” asked So. ”Only say the word and it shall be yours.”  He and Ho were discussing the quest in So’s rebuilt private headquarters.

Ho thought a while before saying, “I would only like me and my friends to get enough equipment to go somewhere.”

“And where would this somewhere be?” asked So.

Ho smiled and said “To the City of Gold,” Then seeing the ineffable look of surprise on So’s face he said “Yes, The one at the edge of the world.”

“Your wish shall be granted.”

And so it was. Ping, Long, Ho, and their friends became heroes. Whether they found the City of Gold… that is a story yet to be told… The Story Ends and the Legend Begins.

FIFTH PLACE

Yavanna Verkest, 9 years old, Grade 4, Renaissance College Hong Kong

Yavanna had a rather different writing style to the other winners in this category. I really enjoyed the modern day setting and the confessional contemporary tone with its chatty asides, and I thought the ending was great fun!  I also had to smile at the return of my beloved Chester Choi in this witty story! Well done too, Yavanna, for using FIVE Wicked Words!

The Missing Jade

I woke up and remembered the advertisement. I threw my clothes on and tore across the hall, causing a huge pandemonium. I even skipped breakfast. I needed to get there. I couldn’t wait.

I leapt outside, almost running into my friend, Emily, who was doing tricks on her left hand. I guess I have to explain the left hand tricks. Me and Emily are both extremely idiosyncratic. Emily has this idiosyncratic talent for doing tricks on her left hand. Trust me, she does it better than any circus athlete.

As for me? I have this splendiferous gift of seeing tiny details. I also have a really pale look.

“Whoa! What’s the rush?” Emily left-arm-hopped backwards. “Oh yeah!” She remembered. “The ad!”

Emily, still in the left-arm-balance-posture, removed a piece of paper from her coat, unrolled it and laid it down (up for her) on the floor to reread it. Emily turned it around for me to read. This is what it said:

SAVE MY JADE

My jade is stolen. Help recover it. Go into the Beauty Hills’s forest. Find it. My jade will be there. I will be waiting in there. Hurry. You have until Monday.

Chester Choi

It was Sunday. Underneath was a picture of a jade necklace. The strange thing was, the words were etched on the paper. Like Mr. Choi had written with a knife.

“Hey!” Emily exclaimed suddenly. “You walk, I run on my hands. Race you to the forest!” Emily won. We started walking (on foot). We followed a set of squashed marks, not knowing if it was the thief’s prints or not. Along the way, whilst looking for a clue, we talked.

“You know, I wonder how Mr. Choi knew his jade would be here?” I wondered.

“He might be Mr. Chol. The guy that lives next to us. Remember he lost his handbag and a month later found it in his wardrobe?” Emily laughed. “Maybe he forgot to connect the dot and line. He probably remembered that he was walking around in the forest and dropped it.”

“Maybe.” I shrugged. “And why is he waiting in here instead of looking for it or at least at home?” I chuckled at the image of bony Mr. Chol with his long black beard, swinging around in the vines.

Then we saw the next print. On it was a familiar shape. It was the necklace. As plain as if it was pushed into the soil. Yes, we were on the right track! We continued, but after a minute a stream blocked our path. On the other side were no footprints. The stream was moving slowly leaving the water clear. At the bottom, thanks to my amazing eyes, was a squashed bit of seaweed. The seaweed had a mark on it identical to the other. The seaweed downstream had another jade mark.

We followed the trail of crushed seaweed. “Gee, this thief sure was clumsy,” I snorted. Just as the stream came to a stop we saw a gargantuan mark, around twice my height. It was deep too. “And big,” I added.

“And missing an arm,” Emily noted. I looked at the crevice. “Not missing,” I muttered.

I leapt out of the stream and scanned the floor. “There,” I pointed at the necklace. Emily and me grabbed it at the same time but tripped and tumbled into a tunnel I didn’t see before.

We landed safe and dirty. I looked around for the jade. Then I saw red feet. I looked up toward the body. This wasn’t Mr. Chol. It had a long, red body, two round, eyes, a long tail, a long, drooping mustache, it was twice my size and it was holding the jade necklace. It was a dragon.

“Hi,” it croaked. “I am Chester Choi.”

Emily choked. I wanted to scream to but I didn’t. “Er…hi Mr…uh… Choi? I take it you’re not…erm…Mr. Chol?”

“No,” Chester rasped. “Thank you for my jade.”

“Uh…what…what…what are you?” it seemed a perfectly reasonable question but Chester stared at me.

“Thank you. That’s very helpful,” I told him. “Um, can we…uh…” Good job, I told myself. Now try for a full sentence without any er’s, erm’s, um’s or uh’s.

“Can we, you know, go?” Again I thought it was a good question but Chester just frowned. I glanced up at the entrance. I saw a huge crevice. I had a quick flashback scene. The mark in the water, the mark up there. I turned to Chester.

“You took the Jade. You faked it being stolen!” The pieces were clicking together. “Why?”

Chester looked at us sadly. “I have no friends.” Tears leaked out of his eyes. He wiped them away quickly. “I was once feared, but a lovely boy named Jimmy helped me. I wasn’t feared any more. But he died and now I am alone again.”

Then I understood. After Jimmy died he was feared and hated. I saw into his heart. He was really a kind dragon. I nodded. “We’ll tell people who you really are. We promise. You will be with friends again.”

Chester broke into a grin. “Really? You mean it?” He smiled so much all the frightening things I saw in him before melted away. He looked kind, jolly, even resplendent.

Chester crouched down and we hopped on his back. He took off and we flew to my house.

“Mum!” I cried when she saw me. I told her all that happened. She looked at Chester strangely.

“A dragon friend, huh? And you promised to help him?” Mum asked. I nodded. “Well, get on with it then!” She yelled, grinning. “Shoo! Go on! You’re not coming in here until everyone’s befriended this lovely dragon. GO!”

She smiled as she waved us out of the kitchen. And in less than thirty minutes Chester had no less than fifteen friends, all lining up to ride on his back.

HONOURABLE MENTION

Gabby Green, Age 11, Year 5, Australian International School Hong Kong

I was SO impressed with Gabby’s entry – because she accomplished the extraordinary feat of a poem story of over 700 words in rhyming couplets! So while the story didn’t quite make the top five in this section, it roundly deserves publication on my blog! Gabby has the makings of a real poet, with some delicious lines – I loved Gabby’s “owl-singing hoot” and the line Mi speaks to her dragon “I will call you Lung and Lung you are!” Here’s Gabby’s poem for your enjoyment:

The Jade Dragon Mystery

A little girl named Mi Rou, or Mi for short

Was as pretty as can be and loved things that were not caught.

Mi was tidy and looked resplendent in her robes of silk.

She was healthy too; every day she had a glass of milk.

One day when she was feeling extraordinarily fine,

She asked her mum: “I saw a jade charm, and I want it to be mine.

What can I do! What can I do! It probably already has been sold,

To a one who doesn’t even want it, she definitely wanted gold!”

“But gold, gold, gold I must not buy.

Give it to me, well jade needs to be mine!”

And that was when poor Mi burst into tears;

Her mum got a towel and wiped all her fears.

“It’s ok darling, I will get it tonight.

Tell me what it is, and what did it look like?”

Mi’s mum got the jade

And gave it to Mi before she went in a daze.

Mi put the dragon beside her bed,

Before she got to sleep she said:

“Little Dragon. How sweet you are.

I will call you Lung and Lung you are.”

The next morning Miss Mi screamed

As half her bed was completely on a lean.

She turned to the dragon, the dragon was still

But Mi knew the dragon might be evil.

She packed her bags and went to school,

Not forgetting to brush her hair or brush her teeth till they’re as clear as a pool.

Its ok I know what I’m doing, I shouldn’t take the dragon to school.

I know that’s the right thing to do, as I am omniscient,

As omniscient as an owl-singing hoot.

Another disaster! How can this be!

Mi’s bedroom was covered in peas.

“YUCK! YUCK! Peas are gross!

I hate them. Dislike them the most!”

The dragon was in the same, very same, same spot.

Was there anything that Mi forgot?

“I locked it up but always the same!

Always a disaster! Always the same!”

Mi had kicked it, punched it and bashed it all up.

Weren’t dragons good luck?

One day, when Mi was fast asleep,

gargantuan animal was trying not to step on her feet.

“Dragons are smart, dragons are great,

But this one is angry, for what Mi has done late,”

The animal sang. Mi sprung up with a start.

That scared her heart!

“Who! Who! Who is there!

Is someone trying to grab my hair?”

“No I am not. I am trying to teach you a lesson.

A lesson for a lesson that Miss Mi has not yet learnt.

A lesson that teaches a lesson about dragons and jade.

A lesson that is a lesson from O mighty Lung the great!”

“Well get on with it. I am ecstatic to get to sleep!”

Mi replied, her voice full of heat.

“Miss Mi has learnt not yet, that hurting jade turns luck around

And thinking gold not better than jade,

That just turns my luck upside down.”

The dragon’s voice was so calm and sweet.

So soporific if you ever meet him.

Just really, don’t try to beat him.

“I…I do not understand. You put the peas in my floor

…because…my heart was as stale as the floor?”

“Yes Miss.  Almost exactly correct.

You were rude to me and showed a lack of respect.”

“But with the gold?” “Jade is no better than gold.

You must understand, gold is as good as mould.”

The dragon chuckled as Miss Mi understood almost nothing.

“Err…but mould is useless.”

“Yes it may seem but do you understand,

Gold is a material, it is like land.”

“So gold is like mould…” Mi said aloud.

“Yes, yes it is mould just grander and greater.

The same with jade, the grass and the mountains. They do seem greater.”

The dragon said,

Almost bumping the roof on his head.

“They are all just mould but some shinier and special. You are just jade but I like you.

I will wear you as a necklace, O mighty Lung if you will.”

Now Mi understood, that metal was just metal

But they all had different specials for example a kettle.

Whatever Mi had, whether it was elastic

Or plastic

Mi knew that is worth to her as much as gold

And that feeling will never grow old.

Mi wore O mighty Lung to school each day

And sometimes the kids just might say:

“Mi! You have got lucky! Getting all your exams right! ‘

Is it that dragon? I thought he was just a fright.”

SPECIAL MENTION/SPECIAL TREAT!

Jonathan Lee, age 10, Class 5B, Shanghai United International School, Shanghai

What can I say? Jonathan wrote a really amazing story – it was hugely exciting, crossing several continents and ending in the picturesque city of Paris. The language was lyrical, the narrative was fast-paced, the style was witty. It was such a fun story to read! BUT at 2034 words, it had TWICE the number of words allowed!  So while I thought Jonathan’s story was one of the best in this category, I couldn’t in fairness to the other contestants place it in the top five. However, I also think Jonathan deserves a special mention – and I think my blog-readers deserve a special treat! So here is Jonathan’s story:

The Curse of the Emperor’s Jade.       

1500AD

Da Long the dragon never had before thought that the sky could rain down on you on the most peaceful of spring mornings. Just a few minutes ago the birds were cooing their morning songs and the water lilies and the lotus flowers were releasing their fragrance and leaving him basking in their fragrance. He was the emperor’s pet dragon and therefore he enjoyed being allowed on the palace grounds. Normally dragons aren’t kept as pets but Da Long was special. Years ago, a demon had laid a curse on a jade and brought great suffering to the people. Da Long was the only one who could save the kingdom from the curse so when he got rid of the curse he was a national hero. That was now so long ago that Da Long forgot the spell to break the curse. But for safety, the jade was always locked up in a vault and it was still there.

He didn’t believe in omens, but suddenly black ash was starting to fall from the sky, dogs were running amok and the birds were falling off the tree branches, dazed. Surely the imperial palace wouldn’t be covered in that black stuff….the imperial palace! Da Long was suddenly jolted by this sudden thought and flew like the hurricane wind to the palace. It was hard to fly past a downpour of ash and Da Long was hit over and over by the hail of ash and rock. Suddenly, he was hit and he crashed into his Excellency’s goldfish pond.

The palace courtyard was in chaos. Servants were running around with pails of water trying to put out the blazing fire in the bonsai garden while officials were pulling imperial treasures out of the palace and onto a cart. Surely no one would notice a full grown dragon clinging on to the edge of the pool? In the background there was a terrible roar, like the one of the mighty thunder, except it was a hundred times louder. He glanced behind his back and saw the largest cyclone he’d ever seen.

2012AD

“Okay, now get the excavators into place and start diggin’ this hole……”

Exactly 512 years after a huge cyclone ripped the city ofPu’Yangapart, a team of archeologists were digging around, trying to find something that remained of the lost city. Dotty old professors and burly workmen were walking around the wasteland with their big machines, along with freckled ladies toting spades and digging here and digging there.

A few hundred meters or so from those crazy diggers Da Long finally dug himself out from underneath the rubble (it had taken him 512 years to dig his way out). And he certainly did not expect some strange men rummaging through the rubble of the palace.

He crawled out of the hole in the rubble and prepared to blow fire at them when he realized that he had shrunk to the size of a squirrel. He had also lost his wings and his ability to breathe fire. This was going to make things difficult.  He knew that nothing would survive that cyclone; except for … the emperor’s jade!!!!!! There was said to be a curse on it and even back then everyone was terrified of curses. New mission: find and wreck the jade. The jade was always kept in the royal basement so of course it would still be there! He ran to where the basement, well, used to be and discovered that the jade was not there. If there was one thing he hated more than dragon-hunters, it was palace thieves.

He snuck into a cluster of tents just in time to see the jade being taken in a case into a big box with 4 wheels (it was a truck but he had never seen one before because he lived 500 years ago), so he hopped on to the back. Inside were a few shrewd old antique dealers and some a couple of armed men. On the front seat sat a very serious man in black and he was obviously up to no good.

Da Long felt his chest puff up with importance. He now had the sole duty to protect this new unsuspecting civilization from the curse of the jade. But there was no time for “buts” and “what ifs” when a terrible curse is on the loose! It was his duty to protect the world! The power of the jade’s curse could destroy mankind.

It turned out that the jade was soon taken onto this gigantic bird thing (it was a plane, but Da Long couldn’t tell what it was.) to France,  and along the 12-hour trip Da Long who was hidden in the cargo hold thought that this ‘great bird’ might be going out to infinity and beyond. When the plane touched down a very airsick Da Long tumbled out of the plane and ran just in time to scramble into the man in black’s tote bag. (Remember that Da Long is now the size of a pencil.)

An hour later they stopped at the house of a very rich French woman named Madeleine Gateaux. When Da Long saw her huge chateau he nearly fainted. Huge gold chandeliers hung from a painted ceiling, Rembrandts and Picassos filled the halls, and there was even a tropical garden at the back. Better than the imperial palace. The jade that was brought all the way fromChinawas now being made into a necklace of solid gold, and the jade was its centerpiece. That was going to be hard to steal.

The next day Da Long who was dozing in a shoe slept in. Madeleine Gateaux had woken up and was taking a shower in her diamond-studded bath tub. She ate a typical French breakfast and for lunch she went to the Champs- Elysees. To his dismay, she kept the necklace on her the whole day. Why do women love their jewelry so much?

Meanwhile very strange things were happening at the chateau. All the bath water turned black, the fat cat who slept in the hall turned pink and the cook found a dozen tarantulas nesting in the flour bag. Madeleine Gateaux thought it was all very peculiar but didn’t care. Well, Da Long did. Those hairy tarantulas were tickling him in the night and it was very annoying. Curses, he thought. This jade would have to go.

It was only two days later when he got a chance. The necklace was off and was locked in her bedside drawer. That was a piece of cake. He slipped into the drawer easily and dragged the heavy necklace out of a box, careful not to make noise. He pulled it behind him as he proudly marched out of the room. “I’m going to destroy you, babe,” he said as he paraded out of the door.

That was his fatal mistake.

The doorman spotted him and chased him into the garden, and yelled for reinforcements. Da Long ducked into a bush and threw the jade into an ornate flower pot, then he fled for the garden shed, running for his life as men with pitchforks came chasing him. Da Long couldn’t say a word of English or French so there was no point of telling them about the curse on the jade. An hour later the men found the muddy necklace. Status: mission failed.

The curse only got worse. Now there were snakes in the bathroom, pandas appearing out of nowhere and ruining the bamboo garden, and all of a sudden the entire stock of caviar and lobster turned all smelly. The doormen grew red spots and the maids grew boils, and the cook himself was growing hair in the funniest of places.  Madeleine Gateaux thought that it was an epidemic of some sort so she hadFrance’s best doctors come over. My, my. You could buy a zoo with all those doctor’s bills she paid.

That night Da Long again sneaked out of the house, but this time he did it silently. He had learnt his lesson. It was easy to get away; since there were those monster 4 wheeled things driving around. He could just hop on, and get away since under the cover of the darkness you couldn’t see a thing so no one would even think that there was a miniature dragon pulling a necklace on your car’s boot. He jumped onto the back of a tour bus and fell asleep.

The next morning when he woke up he was started to find that he was at the bottom of this tall tower that looked like a pin. He had never seen anything like it. It didn’t have the green roof of a pagoda. Little did he know that he was under the world famous Eiffel tower.

He was pretty curious. Anyway it was a good place to destroy the jade. High and deserted. That changed when a dozen or so Italian tourists jumped of the bus that he used to travel here. A minute letter a bunch of Australians came over too, nose deep in their maps. So Da Long hopped into a backpack and off he went. Higher and higher.

It was nice to be climbing up a tower which no one in the emperor’s time had ever visited. It was going to be very simple. Get to the top, throw the jade off the observation deck, and get away. But how do you chuck a piece of valuable jewelry of a tower without someone seeing you? Plus if you were a 500 year old miniature dragon, you would be a tourist attraction. And again he was feeling dizzy. Even a dragon can be afraid of heights. When the Australian tourist stopped to take a picture Da Long slipped away, and hid in one of those observation telescopes which looked over the city. He was so pleased with himself that he dozed off .

Half a minute later, one of those Italian tourists looked through the telescope and saw Da Long. Screams of curses in Italian boomed like thunder and Da Long froze, and before he knew it, the telescope tilted over. Oops, maybe no one would ever notice a red dragon plummeting 60 feet down to the ground?

But as luck would have it, Madeleine Gateaux was there with a bunch of detectives in black suits on the trail of the necklace. The men in black didn’t see him crash land on her parasol but she did. Obviously she wasn’t very happy to find that her jade necklace was stolen by a miniature dragon. Forget the curses. A handbag smashing into your head was far worse. He ducked into an alley and she followed behind, barely keeping up.  He dodged dogs and spiders and beggars stalking him like the living dead, while Madeleine and her men simply crashed into them, and they ran on with a few dog teeth in their fancy leather shoes and spiders down their necks.

Da Long was agile and he was proud of it. He zipped round sharp turns with ease and scaled roofs like ladders. At the moment he was scaling a 10 foot wall and was very careful. In fact, too careful. He left the rope dangling there so those men caught up and caught him in a butterfly net (I know it sounds silly but Da Long had lost his ability to breathe fire.) They took the jade and was about to put it in a bag when a high pitched voice sounded down the alley.

Madeleine Gateaux rushed over with a very angry hound behind her. The men ducked but it was too late. The jade flew into the air and shattered. Amidst the chaos, Da Long got away.

A minute or so later, Da Long was holding on to a railing of a public bus, feeling very proud of himself. Far behind him, Madeleine Gateaux was screaming and crying over her shattered necklace. It didn’t matter.

Far behind in the alley, a dark shadow rose, and drifted around, gradually disappearing into thin air. The curse was now lifted and mankind was safe.

COMPETITION NO. 15: TROUBLE IN PARADISE STORY COMPETITION!

A big warm welcome back from summer holidays! I’m sure you all had a fabulous time, with lots of fun and a lot to do! Possibly TOO much fun and TOO much to do, as we had comparatively few entries in the competition this time!

Congratulations to all of you who took the time to write a story and send it in. There were some terrific entries with tropical paradises beset by terrible problems! I was looking for a great tropical paradise setting, an interesting problem, a cracking start, a satisfying ending, a good writing style, and at least three Wicked Words used correctly! The best three entries in each age category are set out below. Wicked Words are printed in bold. If you used a Wicked Word incorrectly I deleted it from your story and it was not counted to your score. Your age category depended on your grade at the end of school last year ie in 2011/2012.

Just a small word of advice…some of you sent in some very exciting stories but the setting was all wrong! The competition instructions were for a story set in a tropical paradise; if your story wasn’t set in a tropical paradise, I wasn’t able to include you among the winners this time.

Grade 1 to 3

FIRST PLACE: Kaitlyn Leung, Year 3, Renaissance College Hong Kong, 8 years old

Congratulations to Kaitlyn on an inventive and original story! I really liked the idea of a piano on the beach, and thought that the story moved at a good pace, with some excellent dialogue. I particularly enjoyed Kaitlyn’s vivid description of the beach.

The Beach Pianist

Once upon a time, there lived a family called the Pattersons. One day, Mr. Patterson suggested they go to the beach. “A great idea!” said brother Patterson and mother Patterson.

“Wait!” said sister Pats (short for Patterson) or Sis which is what her family and friends call her. “What about my piano recital?”

“Well,” said mom, “we have been waiting for two weeks and we have not had a chance to go to the beach yet. We should go.”

“But what about me?” asked Sis.

“Mom is right,” said Dad. “You’re 17 now. I think you should stay here while we go to the beach.” And before Sis could say anything else, they were gone.

But Sis did not give up. “I will not give up a beach trip just for a silly piano recital,” she thought. “I’ll think of a plan.” So while Sis was thinking of a plan, her family was enjoying a glass of cool lemonade at the beach. It was one hour till the recital and Sis should be heading off by now. Of course, Sis was still in the house when she thought of a plan… Meanwhile, at the beach, the family was now getting their feet wet in the water and jumping over the waves.

It was a great summer day for the beach. The birds were chirping and the waves were making “whoosh” sounds as they splashed on the beach. The smell of lemonade filled the air. People were using palm trees to block the hot sun. There was a gentle breeze blowing against the children while they built their beautiful sand castles.

Suddenly, there was a rumbling sound, and Sis’s dump truck came driving in sight at the beach. “Scoop!” shouted Sis, and a small crew of Sis’s friends came rushing out. They came with gigantic shovels and buckets and began scooping up sand. Sis was controlling the truck, and was scooping up sand too. Then Sis shouted “Bucket!” And another small crew came rushing out with the world’s biggest buckets. Sis began dropping the sand into the buckets. Sis continued for half an hour or so, and then her family rushed forward to her.

“Please stop,” they said. ”If you continue, then all the sand will be gone!”

“That’s just what I want,” said Sis. “If I can’t have fun at the beach, then nobody will!”

“Is that why you did it?” asked brother Pats. Sis nodded. “Well, you’re lucky, because I have an idea…” Brother whispered his idea to Sis. Sis lips turned up into a smile, grinned, and nodded.

An hour later, Sis showed up with a second dump truck and unloaded the grand piano. She had been driving home and brought her sumptuous grand piano, while brother was busy pouring the sand back on the beach.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the free beach recital given by Sis Patterson…”  Sis began to play The Mountain March, The Witch’s Waltz, and The Darling Dance. When she finished, everyone applauded. She played more songs and after a while, everyone dug their toes into the warm, white sand and started to dance.  It was so fun that she played into the night under the beautiful sunset.

Just then, a famous pianist stepped forward and said, “That was copacetic! I love your piano playing and I love the idea that you did it on a beach! In fact, I think I will organize my concert on a beach as well and I want to invite you to play along with me.”

Mother, father and brother Pats were so proud.  From then on, Sis became the most illustrious beach pianist in the world.

SECOND PLACE: Kairavi Sivasankar, Grade 2, German Swiss International School, Hong Kong, 7 years old

I really enjoyed reading Kairavi’s story about the inhabitants of Squiggle Town, both nice and nasty, and their quest to find the Gem of Peace in a beautiful tropical forest.  I particularly liked her descriptive passages which use some really lovely images and vocabulary.

Trouble in the Tropical Forest

There once was a little girl called Lily. She lived in a luxurious mansion and as she was an only child her parents gave her the best room. It was a splendiferous square room with a high ceiling and pink walls. It was breezy and open with a frilly pink canopy bed along one side. The rest of the room had shelves filled with interesting books. And there was a magical secret in her room…

In a hole in the wall there was a little town called Squiggle Town. There lived the kindest people. They lived in groups. For example, Emma, Bessie, Harry and Neville were the Clouds group.  They were the kindest of all people. Now take Bella, Shemma, Camaris and Gronto. They were the meanest and laziest of all people in Squiggle Town. They were the Sharks group. The head of the Sharks was Gronto and the head of the Clouds was Harry.

The town owned a Gem of Peace. An argument in the human world caused the gem to get lost in a forest near Squiggle Town. The town had to choose a group to get the gem back, and as usual the Clouds were picked. The Sharks were jealous so they decided to follow the Clouds and get the gem for themselves.  The Sharks packed all sorts of video games, computers, TVs, phones and other electronic things. The Clouds packed needed things. Here’s their list: raincoats, coats, food, water, a first-aid kit, walkie-talkie and for comfort, a cuddly toy.

Soon the day arrived. Everyone felt anxious and was lost in his or her own thoughts. Would they get the correct gem? Would they get hurt?  That was what the gossip was about too. Only one group was not feeling sorry, you guessed it, the Sharks. So the groups set off.

The forest was colourful, big and full of magical creatures. Orange and blue snakes slithered on the floor and iridescent birds skimmed the treetops. Deer with spots ran around while other animals came near the walking trails. The branches of the tall trees hovered up high, like a giant umbrella. The groups entered the forest far away from each other. Unfortunately the Clouds took the entrance on the right and the Sharks the one on the left, which was the correct one. There were two paths from the correct entrance.  There was a sign. It showed a four-leaf clover and a three-leaf clover. Everyone knew that the four-leaf clover was the right way. The Sharks took the correct path. Then Gronto stopped. “Let’s turn the sign around to fool the Clouds”, he said. So they did.

Meanwhile, the Clouds were getting bored. “It must be the wrong entrance”, grumbled Harry.  “Let’s go back and look at all the entrances”, said Neville. “Alright”, said Harry, not so grimly. So they came out and finally looking at all of the entrances, they chose the right one. But when they entered the sign was the wrong way around! So they went the three-leaf clover way, on what they thought was the four-leaf clover way.

They kept walking and were bamboozled because they kept on walking and there was no sign of anything. “You stay here and I will go the other way”, Harry said to his group. “OK”, said the others. So he went. “Pss”, he whispered after a while on his walkie-talkie to the others. “I see the Sharks and Gronto has found the gem, come quickly!”

The others came with a bucket of cold water and they emptied it over all the Sharks. Harry snatched the gem from Gronto. “Yay!” shouted all the Clouds. All of them went out of the forest and back to Squiggle Town. The Clouds were awarded a trophy. Hurray for the Clouds!

THIRD PLACE: Arunav Maheshwari, Grade 3, French International School, Hong Kong, 7 years old

This is a cracking story written by seven year old Arunav with some very scary monsters besetting tropical paradises just about everywhere! Arunav used an impressive six Wicked Words correctly and otherwise used some great vocabulary.

Attack on the Tropical Islands

One day, two people called Flink and Pishin were enjoying their estival break in Cebu when…… a gigantic figure rose out of the water. It had scaly arms, a crocodile’s head and where two legs should have been, there was a tail. At once all the alarm bells were raised and all the human forces attacked. Cling cling cling! All the things that the humans threw or shot rattled harmlessly off his scales. Next Flink had a great brainwave. He remembered that they too had a weapon: divine axes. He first tossed his to Pishin since Pishin was stronger; he could combine it with his divine axe and throw at the crocodile man. When Pishin threw it, he had such a good aim that he hit the crocodile man right on his tummy. Immediately the crocodile man dissolved into the water.

Flink then told Pishin that he had been getting emergency letters from his other allies stationed at different places that they were having crocodile man attacks too. Then they went back to their home which was their control room. Next they studied the places where the attacks were happening to find a similarity between them. Since Flink was a thinker and also pretty omniscient he quickly noticed that all the places, where the attacks have been in, were tropical like Cebu, Hawaii, Mauritius, Maldives, etc. He told Pishin that immediately.

After a few hours of thinking, Pishin then told Flink that he knew how to stop the attacks. He said that the crocodile men must be scared of the cities since they were only attacking tropical places. He then said that they could easily put a hologic image of a city on every tropical island since that would trick the crocodile men.

Flink then carried out their plan. They knew that there was going to be another attack so they first tested it on Cebu, and sure enough it worked! Just when Pishin and Flink thought they were out of trouble…. new egregious fears erupted from the ground: SNAKES!

However, by now this was not a difficult task for them. They knew the hologic image of the city must have tricked the snakes too. The snakes liked cities!  Soon they got the solution easily by making the hologic image of a city invisible to snakes, putting a hologic image of a tropical island on every city and making those images invisible to crocodile men. The snakes had been stopped but Flink thought that it was rather peculiar for two major attacks to have happened within a week!!! So he called all the other allies to discuss that matter.

A guy called, Bunoperto, said that there might be a strong monster that is generating all these attacks. Everybody agreed at once. Flink even congratulated Bunoperto by saying, “Ineffably good idea Bunoperto “. Flink then told everyone that now that we know why the attacks were happening, we also need to know how to stop the attacks from happening.

After no one could get it, Pishin said, “Maybe it’s time for Plan B.” Dead silence fell around the room. Then a young comrade said, “What in the world is Plan B anyways?” Flink replied, “Well Plan B is that, a person who knows how to condemn himself to death would do so and the God would magically stop whatever the person’s friends want to stop”. Then somebody said, “Well, who knows the best about the spell?”

“Me” said Nesplug. Everyone accepted that Nesplug should condemn himself to death but they all felt lugubrious.

So, Nesplug condemned himself to death and all the attacks stopped magically.

The attacks stopped but the strong monster would still arise. They needed more comrades! They collected every single comrade possible. At the start they had about 300 people but at the end they had about 2700 people. After that Flink said to Pishin, “Good progress but we need one more.” So they searched and searched and searched until at last one new comrade was born. They immediately collected him. Flink then said that they now had enough power to beat the strong monster down but to banish it they would need another hundred comrades. Little did Flink know that the baby was equal to a hundred comrades because he was the reborn Nesplug. Then they assaulted the strong monster two times and banished the strong monster (which turned out to be a gargantuan horse) forever.

Grade 4 to 6

FIRST PLACE: Jenna Jones, Grade 6, Springfield Convent, Cape Town, South Africa, 12 years old

Congratulations Jenna on a unique interpretation of the Trouble in Paradise theme in a free verse poem! I loved Jenna’s imagery: the waves like soldiers lashing the shore, the palm trees shaking with violence, rain like the tears of the islanders, and then the final climax as a tsunami swallows the island. Well done Jenna; I look forward to seeing more of your work in future competitions!

Trouble is Brewing in Paradise

Trouble is brewing in paradise

The sea today, seems as if encouraged by soaring gulls screaming, “Fight!”

Waves like soldiers lash at the white shore, praying to not suffer defeat

White horses carry no armed men – they don’t need to

Without a saddle and determination like so, nothing can get in their path to glory

The palm trees have not taken to their usual sway and instead shake with violence

Surely the sea and palms are family?

One watching the other age through all this time

Or did the palm drop one too many coconuts into the deep blue?

A great pandemonium must be boiling in the Earth’s core

Waves increase in number and size

It is as if someone has stepped into a puddle; the violence seems to have started so sporadically

Rain starts to pour like the tears of the Islanders whose summer estival has been ruined

And thunder booms far from the invisible horizon

It seems as if the whole storm has led to the latest happening

gargantuan wave swallowed the island whole

Leaving turquoise waters believing they were undisturbed.

SECOND PLACE: Natasha Diederen, Grade 5, United World College of South East Asia East, Singapore, 10 years old

Natasha is a regular entrant in my writing competitions who has written some wonderful stories before. This story set in tropical South America contains some cracking ingredients: an evil witch, a magical city, a riddle, a lucky charm and of course a gorgeous tropical beach.  It’s a lot of fun!

Trouble in Paradise

“I need the charm!” screeched the witch, Cormina, in yet another temper.

“I’ll get it,” said Cormina’s sneaky spy, Garnwer.

“Go now!” ordered Cormina, “And don’t return without it!”

Garnwer clicked his fingers, stamped his foot, said a few words, and he disappeared from Cormina’s castle, and appeared by a palm tree in a splendiferous beach in Brazil. The sand, soft and white, the waves, still and turquoise, the people, sunburnt and ecstatic.

Garnwer walked straight to an exceedingly happy man and reaching in the man’s pocket and pulled out a charm, then slipping the charm in his pocket, he sped away just as the man turned.

The man, Hortner, saw the spy leave just in time and knew exactly what Garnwer stole, and why.

When Garnwer was far away from everyone, he clicked his fingers, stamped his foot, said a few words and disappeared, reappearing in Cormina’s castle.

Hortner knew he couldn’t vanish as the spy did, but he knew the whereabouts of Cormina’s castle, and knew the potion she was trying to make needed the charm he had, but would need to boil for years before the charm could be put in, so he had plenty of time. Hortner knew the witch’s ways quite well, so he knew she would let him get to the castle safely, but when he got in the battle would begin.

Hortner went home and thought of a plan. To accomplish this plan he would need to go to a place the witch couldn’t see him. The only place was in a forest where all beasts are wild and will tear up human beings that go in. He would also need to find materials to make a fake charm; he couldn’t do this where Cormina could see him, or she would know what he was doing, but he was certain the in the heart of the forest, in a small town that even the beasts don’t roam in, he would find the materials he needed.

If he entered the forest by foot Cormina would know something was going on, but Hortner knew if he went one kilometer above ground level Cormina wouldn’t be able to see him.

Next day Hortner set off as the witch was sleeping, as this was the safest time to go, and reached the forest’s town by noon.

Hortner landed in a spot in the middle of the town, and set off to look for the materials he needed. Hortner got everything the charm contained, except one tiny grain of some magic powder, and set off to work. The reason he didn’t add this bit of powder was because without this grain of powder, the potion would become a potion of instant death.

Just as Hortner was safe, Cormina woke up. She started getting the ingredients ready for her potion for power over everyone, even the forest she had no control over.

“Five boiled toads, ten grinded snake teeth, eight moldy eggs, a branch from a three year old oak tree, 100 grams of hair, and the Laxramtius charm.” read the recipe book.

“Well, well,” said Cormina, “All the ingredients are here now, let me start making the potion now.”

After a year, Hortner had finished the fake charm. He flew up in his plane to the magical land of Orc, between the borders of Brazil and Argentina, through a crack in the pointiest rock, and into the third door on the left.

The land of Orc was a truly magnificent city, apart from Cormina, everyone was happy; they greeted Hortner with respect and let him rest before he resumed his journey. All the houses looked warm and welcoming, the food was delicious and filling and the people were nicer and kinder than everything good in the city put together.

As Hortner walked into the castle, a dragon stood guarding the door. Hortner threw a leg of lamb that the Orcs had given him, the dragon rushed after the meat, knowing that the leg of lamb wouldn’t run away, and it gave Hortner a chance to get through the doors of the castle.

After he walked for a while a wall of fire sprung up in front of him, he saw at once this was an illusion, and walked through it, unharmed. A few minutes later, he came across a Sphinx guarding the door of Cormina.

The Sphinx said, “You have half an hour to answer this riddle.”

“Begin,” said Hortner, eager to get into the room of Cormina, and present her with the fake charm.

The person who makes it has no need for it. The person who purchases it does not use it. The person who does use it does not know he or she is. What is it?”

“A coffin!” said Hortner after a few minutes of thought.

Hortner bowed before Cormina and said, “Great witch of Orc, the charm that your spy stole was not the true Laxramtius, but a fake charm made by me so you wouldn’t steal the true charm, the true charm was hidden in the forest which you cannot see or enter, so it was safe. Today I have decided to bring you the true charm, so you can make the potion you want.”

“Thank you Hortner,” said Cormina, “You have been very magnanimous, in return for this charm, I shall grant you long life.”

So Hortner gave the witch what she thought was the real charm, but what really was the fake charm, then the witch granted him long life and gave him back to charm that she had asked her spy to steal.

After this Cormina granted Hortner long life, and Hortner magically arrived safe at home.

When the witch put the charm into the potion, and drank it, she instantly died. The whole land of Orc cheered as they had all hated Cormina.

After Hortner heard the news that Cormina died, he decided to live with the people of Orc.

THIRD PLACE: Arushi Sivasankar, Grade 4, German Swiss International School, Hong Kong, 9 years old

Well done Arushi for this exciting tale set on a tropical beach where a tsunami of gems is about to arrive! The dialogue was great and I thought your ideas in resolving the problem of the wicked gremlins was clever!

Trouble in Paradise

Charm, Ginia, Pelisa and Cocoon had just begun their estival holidays and they were already on a task. The task assigned by the fairy queen was to lure the ‘gremlins’ (small, muscular, guys always opposing the girls in their missions) away from the tsunami in Englerberg. They had received this letter from the fairy queen:

“A tsunami of gems is hitting Englerberg on Wednesday. The gremlins are planning to visit Englerberg on this very day! Can you lure them away?”

They had also received a special bag to attract the gems like a magnet. The girls approached the gremlins as travel agents advertising skiing in Squashtown.

“We don’t wanna ski, earwig” teased a gremlin.

“I’m not an earwig,” shouted Charm losing her temper.

“Charm, control yourself, we are supposed to be advertisers,” reminded Pelisa.

“I don’t care,” bellowed Charm throwing off her disguise. “Nobody calls me earwig!”

“It’s those charmy girls again! Let’s go elsewhere,” jeered the gremlin turning away.  The other gremlins followed. The girls were horror-stricken.

Charm recovered first and said, “Come back!” But the gremlins were gone.

“That’s over,” said Cocoon, disappointed, “We’d better inform the fairy queen.”

“We are sorry we failed to lure the gremlins away. Now they will go to Englerberg because it’s a perfect summer retreat!”

They sent this note with Jolly the toad and received a reply:

“Please come to Fairy Land immediately, we can plan together before the gremlins leave today!”

Charm was thrilled to receive this note. Soon the girls were seated comfortably in Charm’s bedroom. She read out the letter, her eyes sparkling.

“Stupendous!” said Cocoon, “Let’s go!”

Charm scuttled off to get water. Each girl had magic powder given by the fairy queen. They sprinkled the powder in the water and drank it to turn into fairies! They fluttered their glossy, delicate wings and flew off to fairyland with their special bag.

The queen welcomed them with warm hugs.

“I want to scare the gremlins away. I don’t know how, do you have any ideas?”

Nobody answered. The queen carried on,

“Of course we know that the gremlins are afraid of their master.”

There was a moment’s silence and then Ginia jumped.

“Spiders!” she cried.

The others looked confused.

“Remember?” said Ginia frustrated. “When the gremlins wanted to get the crown of loyalty and we ran into the cave of spiders, the gremlins fled.”

“Ghosts and pirates!” screamed Pelisa. “When the gremlins watched a movie about ghosts and pirates, they kept squealing in fright!”

“Wonderful! I will transform you into these four creatures,” congratulated the fairy queen.

In a jiffy they were in Englerberg, but not as girls! They were a hairy spider, a mean gremlin master, a deadly ghost and a greasy pirate.

They looked around. The sea was a deep turquoise. The waves flowed mellifluously onto the soft, golden sand. There was a cheerful chatter of people sunbathing, building sand castles, surfing, or riding waves. The poor people, what a surprise they will get! The girls put their plan into action.

They stationed themselves at various spots on the beach before the gremlins came. To their horror the gremlins put their suitcases next to the bag that catches gems!

“What a fabulous day,” announced a gremlin looking up at the cloudless blue sky. Then out of a treetop peeped Charm, the gremlin master!

“Let’s go for a swim,” said the gremlin wanting to get away from the treetops. The plan was going well! As the gremlins paddled, a spider crawled up a gremlin’s leg.

“Aaaaahhhhh!” he yelled. Meanwhile the other two had seen a ghost and a pirate.

“Run!” they shouted as they picked up their suitcases. Just when the girls were about to cheer, a gremlin picked up their bag too! The girls had no idea where the gremlins were heading, but they followed anyway. The gremlins stopped, the girls hid.

“What’s this?” asked the gremlin holding up the bag.

“Oh! It’s the bag that will catch gems of the tsunami expected today!” said another. “No wonder the nosy girls told us to go to Squashtown.”

“Let’s get the gems,” said the first gremlin.

Just then Charm jumped out. “Not so easy. Give us the bag. You’re out-numbered.”

A heated exchange followed. Charm asked the others to fight the gremlins while she waited for the gremlin to lose the bag while fighting. Soon everybody except Charm was fighting with sticks. Then the gremlin threw the bag aside thinking it was easier to fight without it. Charm caught it and started running…but the wrong way! The girls and the gremlins followed. They came to a clearing.

“We’re lost!” exclaimed Ginia, a note of fear in her voice. Suddenly lots of gremlins holding fire torches surrounded them.

“Now you have to give it to us” sneered a gremlin. “It’s ten against four!”

“No, we won’t” said Pelisa trying to sound brave.

“We will burn you down,” threatened the gremlins.

An egregious smell and a loud roar filled the air. A dragon came swooping down. He was jet black and his eyes were blinding blue.

“Come on!” he hissed to the gremlins. “The tribes sent me. Grab the bag and jump on.”

But the girls were quicker and jumped onto the dragon first. The stupid dragon thought they were the gremlins and flew to the tsunami of gems. The people were terrified of the dragon and panicked on seeing the waves. They fled to the safety of their hotels. The girls hurriedly caught the gems before they hit the ground. The dragon still hadn’t noticed that they were not the gremlins and he flew towards gremlin town.

As they traveled over Fairyland the girls tumbled off. The soft grass cushioned their fall. They shouted ‘thank you’ to the deaf dragon who had saved the day. The girls ran happily to the fairy queen with the treasure of gems.

Soon it was time to return to the human world. In a whirl, they were standing outside Charm’s front door.

2 Comments »

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  1. When someone writes an paragraph he/she keeps the idea of a user
    in his/her mind that how a user can kjow it. Therefore that’s why this
    paragraph is amazing. Thanks!

    • Thanks for writing Hudson! I agree, that’s why writers always need to keep their readers in mind when they are planning and writing their stories.


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