Write path to success for Hellen
Youngster wins top prize for play
HAICHEN Jiang only moved from China to Australia five years ago, but she has already proven herself a literary giant.
The Penrith High School student, known as Hellen, has been crowned a winner in the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge after writing a short fantasy play based on a book chapter of her choice.
“I was surprised I won,” she said. “It was a bit of a rush. It took me two weeks to write.”
To be eligible for the prize – a visit to her school by children’s author Christopher Richardson – Hellen had to adapt a chapter of a book chosen from the 2016 Premier’s Reading Challenge booklist, into a short play of 500 words or less, or a video of up to two minutes in length, representing the chosen chapter.
Hellen chose to adapt a fantasy saga on the 7-9 booklist, entitled The Singer of All Songs by Australian author Kate Constable.
“I set mine in the same era, but didn’t mention the main villain because I thought, in 500 words, it would take too long to explain,” Hellen, 14, of Werrington, said.
Penrith High teacher-librarian Nathan Wilcox said the students made 75,000 visits to the school library this year. “They’re big readers here. They’re reading above their age, too,” he said.
The 2016 Reading Challenge is supported by News-Local, Microsoft, Accenture, Avande and Dymocks Children’s Charities with the author’s visits possible through Penguin, Random House and Allen & Unwin.
Penrith High School student Haichen "Hellen" Jiang. Picture: David Swift