Write path to suc­cess for Hellen

Young­ster wins top prize for play

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Is­abell Petrinic

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

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