Wicked! Young writ­ers make fi­nal cut

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY NEWS -


The awards were cre­ated and are spon­sored by the mu­si­cal Wicked, in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Na­tional Lit­er­ary Trust, with the 115 fi­nal­ists in the run­ning for the an­nual cre­ative writ­ing prizes.

Now in their sev­enth year, the awards en­cour­age 5-25 year-olds to use writ­ing as a way of ex­press­ing them­selves, with orig­i­nal pieces of prose or po­etry.

Nearly 30,000 young peo­ple have en­tered the awards since they be­gan in 2009, with this year see­ing the fastest grow­ing level of en­tries to date.

More than 600 pri­mary and se­condary schools and col­leges have en­tered from all over the UK, with a par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive rise in en­tries for the 8-10 and 18-25 cat­e­gories.

Many of this year’s of­fer­ings were con­sciously crafted and pre­cise, but of­ten bleak, with dark and some­times dis­turb­ing themes.

Men­tal ill­ness, forced mar­riage and the value of ed­u­ca­tion were topics on the young writ­ers’ minds.

The brave and hon­est writ­ing showed an un­der­stand­ing for the im­por­tance of em­pa­thy and the need to give a voice to men­tal ill­ness.

Sub­jects in­cluded show­ing kind­ness to strangers, look­ing for hope in ad­ver­sity, the sad­ness of de­men­tia and the value of ed­u­ca­tion to help us feel com­pas­sion.

Play­ful and imag­i­na­tive sto­ries from the younger en­tries in­cluded an en­chanted brief­case, life as hu­man body cell, joust­ing, ad­ven­tures with love, an un­der­wa­ter world where fish work to­gether – and a trou­ble­some spot.

Hay­ley Leyshon-Brady, a pri­mary school teacher from Ox­ford­shire and one of the sift­ing judges, said: “The en­tries were of an ex­cep­tion­ally high stan­dard and the pieces that were short­listed showed such in­cred­i­ble skill in in­volv­ing the reader emo­tion­ally.

The sub­ject mat­ter ranged from hid­den rooms in grand­par­ent’s houses to be­ing a Syr­ian refugee but all of these pieces en­gaged me from the open­ing line.

“The pow­er­ful language and phe­nom­e­nal em­pa­thy demon­strated what a per­cep­tive and cre­ative group of au­thors these chil­dren are.”

The115 fi­nal­ists will see their work pub­lished in the Wicked Young Writer Awards An­thol­ogy, which will be pub­lished in as­so­ci­a­tion with Young Writ­ers (www.young­writ­ers.co.uk).

They are also in­vited to an ex­clu­sive cer­e­mony at the Apollo Vic­to­ria The­atre, home to the mu­si­cal Wicked since 2006, where judges and mem­bers of the Wicked cast will an­nounce the win­ner in each cat­e­gory.

Join­ing former Labour MP and Strictly con­tes­tant Ed Balls as judges were ITV News arts ed­i­tor Nina Nan­nar and the ac­claimed per­for­mance poet and writer Laura Dock­rill.

Au­thor and il­lus­tra­tor of the How to Train Your Dragon books, Cres­sida Cow­ell, re­turns as head judge for the third con­sec­u­tive year, to­gether with long-stand­ing judges Jonathan Dou­glas, Direc­tor of the Na­tional Lit­er­acy Trust, and Michael McCabe, ex­ec­u­tive producer of Wicked.

Anna Bassi, ed­i­tor of The Week Ju­nior, is also a guest judge for the FOR GOOD award for non-fic­tion, the cat­e­gory in which

The judges re­viewed and con­firmed the fi­nal­ists that sift­ing judges (teach­ers from both pri­mary and se­condary sec­tors) had se­lected.

They then made their de­ci­sions on the win­ners who were due to be an­nounced at an awards cer­e­mony at the Apollo Vic­to­ria The­atre, the home of Wicked.

Mr Dou­glas said: “Well done to ev­ery­one who took part and con­grat­u­la­tions to the wor­thy fi­nal­ists.”

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