Writing Challenge Results
We challenged you to write something that included all of the following words: Library, trumpet, fluffy, banana, book, disquieting, nevertheless, beast, home, read.
[Anne Fine writes] If I'm honest, I don't think many of you put that much effort into this month's homework - except for trying to be very rude - Stand up, Adam (26). You too, Maria (50).
Since this is a family website, this month's book token prizes go to two of our more wholesome entries:
Nevertheless, this beast of a book combines a disquieting preface with a fluffy, follow-through read, somewhat akin to raising a trumpet defiantly in a library, only to blow out a banana. His books may well be all over the shelves, but no-one's at home.
It is most disquieting; have fallen in love with you and want to trumpet it from the rooftops. I cannot read the thoughts behind your fluffy face. Nevertheless, may I book a place in your heart and home?
P.S. Am at library getting banana recipe.
But I am still going to punish you all for lack of general effort with another of those mind-crackingly tedious Spot the Difference Competitions, above, that Dan Our Web Man loves so much, and I myself have despised since primary school.
Bookplate Wording Competition Results
Not your shining hour, I'm afraid, comrades. Admittedly, on reflection, we think things were made harder by the complications of dragon, blindfold, chain. In the end, we've gone for two of the least tortuous entries. Chris McGrath, aged 9, wins a book token for his entry: "Return this book to ............., or I'll set my pet on you!" And Margery Smith, aged "over 65", wins first prize for:
Please release me
Let me go
Back to .....................'s
Shane Barker's fantastic picture, right, will shortly join the Home Library bookplates.
What's being said results
Well, what a sharp lot you are! And given that many of you are no longer in the first bloom of youth, your cynicism in the face of the grave is most impressive. We had such a good time judging the competition that we thought we'd share the whole shortlist.
There was much squabbling, as usual, about the winner. But since the votes ended up shared equally between Clare, Rita, G Baluch and Paul, we tossed for it in the end. Clare won, which pleased Anne Fine a lot (although she herself was agonising between Rita and G Baluch) because Clare's the only one of the top four we know can't yet be earning her own living.
Clare will shortly be receiving her book token prize for:
"I wouldn't recommend reading it whilst you're driving, though."
Clare Falconer (14)
The shortlist comprised:
"I'm afraid the plot is a little too deep for my liking."
Rita Pirouet (48)
"I see the Gideons have been."
G. Baluch (28)
"Vicar, This is Your Life!"
Paul Bennett (?)
"This new diet book certainly worked for me."
Marc Falconer (13)
"Well, what did you expect a ghost writer to look like?"
"Excuse me, but I prefer the Living Bible translation, not the King James. Please, use mine."
Greg Redman (?)
"I've finally finished War and Peace, so could you take it back to the Library, please!"
"Can you take this back to the library for me? It's dead late!"
"Signed copy of my biography, Vicar?"
Paul Foreman - (38)
"Finished! Not a bad read, but far too many 'begats'!"
Jill Garratt (?)
"I've heard of hand-me-downs, but hand-me-ups?? I'm at a grave
Helen Willers (25)
"Have you read "Six Feet Under", by Doug A. Grave?"
David Bailey (30)
"Dead men tell no tales!"
"It's only in skeleton form at the moment."
"I thought it was a book to die for, but I was gravely mistaken!"
Susie Schofield (42)
"There's no body to the plot."
C Higgins (39)
The Book I won't be taking on holiday
Well, you certainly spilled out your bile on this one, and when it came to the chosen few we're afraid we gave in to the trend. With such a startling number of Harry Haters, we thought the prize really ought to go to Amy.
"I will not be taking the new Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince because wherever I went someone else would already have a copy for me to borrow and would be brandishing it and bragging at how they had camped outside a bookshop for 3 weeks in order to get their hands on it first."
(Amy, 37 and a tiny bit)
But we were also much taken by two other fine literary grumps: Karl, who wrote:
"Anything by Charles Dickens. Yeah, yeah, literary master, yada yada yada... He can't even describe blinking without taking up four and a half paragraphs."
And Steve's was so heartfelt, we've had to translate it into something suitable for our family website:
"About a Boy - 'cos it's (absolutely) (rubbish)!"
LUNAR LIBRARY COMPETITION RESULTS
Which five books would you place in a home library on the moon?
We had some really peculiar entries this month, and when it came to doling out the prizes, we almost came to blows. A lot of us loved Hannah (19)'s choices. Others thought they were a bit off-beam and would give any Martian a very strange view of our planet. We all agreed that Simon ("Quite old")'s choices are tremendous reads that would keep someone going for quite a long time in the lunar wastes. So we're certainly giving him a prize. But the top prize this time is going to Bernadette (40) - possibly because those of us who are older were outvoted by a host of child judges. (Be sure that won't happen again!) They sympathised more with her younger reads. (However, Anne wants it on record she voted for Simon.)
Bernadette's choices were: Peepo! by Janet and Allan Ahlberg because, if you were on the moon, you might want something cosy and the beautifully detailed pictures are nostalgic and comforting; The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett, because she read it over and over as a child and the family's adventures stuck in her mind;The Flambards Trilogy by K M Peyton, which transported her to another world. She and her friend Nina were both in love with the boy hero (though Bernadette can't even remember his name now, so the sooner she's sent to the moon to reread it, the better.); Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson, because it's so wittily written, and like all Eva Ibbotson's novels for adults or children. a really terrific story with a tender heart; and Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. Bernadette thinks this would be perfect to fill her lonely hours of solitude. "There's so much to ponder and Lyra is such a wonderful heroine."
Congratulations to everyone. And because we can't tell you all the suggestions, here, for the very curious, are the first ten of the suggestions for both adult and children's reads picked out of a hat: Snow White, by the Brothers Grimm. Translated by Paul Heins, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman; Aquila, by Andrew Norriss; The Judge, by Harve Zemach (picture book); The Seeing Stone, by Kevin Crossley-Holland; Owl at Home, by Arnold Lobel (early reader); Alan Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking; All Passion Spent, by Vita Sackville West; Time Will Darken It, by William Maxwell; Have the Men had Enough? by Margaret Forster; and The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, by Joseph Bédier.
OTHER PAST COMPETITIONS . . .
"The book that turned
me into a reader" Competition
It really is interesting what
sort of books turn people into passionate readers. All the entries
this time were so different that we were astonished. So, as an
experiment, get your teacher (if you're not one yourself) to give
up just five minutes of a lesson to trying this brilliant trick
to spread enthusiasm:
Turn to the person beside you.
Tell your partner about the book you've most enjoyed; after two
and half minutes, you shut up and your partner tells you about
their favourite for the rest of the five minutes.
That's it. That's all there is
to it. But you'll be astonished at the enthusiastic buzz. (Some
classes do this so often, it now starts as: "The best book
I read last week was....")
Anyhow, here are this month's
winners, each of whom receives a signed Anne Fine book. Simon
(in third place) shouldn't really be in the list at all. But we
couldn't resist giving him his prize for sheer cheek. Don't forget
to enter next time. And keep reading, everyone!
Winner Number 1
I'd always read when people made me, but one day my teacher gave
me a book called Harry and the Wrinklies, about Harry, who's an
orphan. He's rescued from his cruel governess by two mad aunts,
and it turns out that they're a gang of old age pensioner bank
robbers called The Wrinklies. Harry is brave and tries his hardest
to be good, but he sort of gets all swept up in it, and the book
gets soooooo exciting that I carried on reading it while I was
washing up and even while I was in the bath. It's was written
by Alan Temperley. And I enjoyed it so much that now I read all
by Richard Molloy, age 11.
Winner Number 2
Jennings Goes to School
When I finished the Harry Potters, I wanted to read more about
boarding school and my granny sent grandpa up in their attic and
he fetched down all her old books about Jennings and his friend
with spectacles Derbyshire, and they were so funny and like people
I know at school, and he has a different adventure in each one,
and now I've found about five of them of my own with much newer
covers in the Oxfam shop because my granny lets me read hers with
red covers when I'm at her house but she won't let me take them
to my house because she loves them so much. They're a tiny bit
easier than Harry Potter, but they are brilliant. And I think
they're even funnier.
Sophie, age 11
Winner Number 3
I was 13 and the book was Magician by Raymond E Feist. I received
this book as a bribe off an ex-boyfriend of my mother's when she
was having an affair so that I wouldn't tell my dad, because my
old man would have kicked the fellow's head in. It was so good,
I made the lad cough up for the sequel too...and then told my
dad who ran him out of town.
And, just in case you're wondering, here's Anne Fine's (though
we didn't give her a prize - she has enough books of her own):
The Once and Future King by T H White
Around twelve, I discovered this huge book (it's five books put
together) telling the story of King Arthur. T H White knew about
almost everything: falconry, nature, biology, sports. The woman
who wrote his biography said 'he wore his flicker of learning
so lightly' and certainly you come out from reading this riveting
story knowing so much more about everything.
There's everything in this book,
but what I swept me off my feet was his account of the great love
triangle between King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere. These three
people all loved each other, and seeing how, through the book,
they tried so hard to be true to themselves yet still kind to
one another opened my eyes to a whole new world of emotional subtleties.
It's a masterpiece. I was so glad I found it when I did.
It was so cheering to see how many of you ended
up punctuating the passage correctly. Sadly we can't give everybody
prizes, so we put all the correct entries in a hat and got Anne
Fine to pick out ten. These lucky winners are being contacted
for a delivery address for their book token prizes.
Design a Bookplate
Congratulations to Naomi Hinds, aged
10, the winner of this competition. Naomi's prize is on its way
to her. Click here to view Naomi's
Thanks to everyone who entered this competition:
the judges had a hard time picking the winner from amongst some
excellent entries, not least Naomi's twin brother, Jacob!
Last Lines Competition
This was the hardest competition to judge. It's
not that there were too many entries. In fact, we've decided that
a good number of our website visitors must be real slackers on
the writing front because far more of you go in for our picture
competitions than ones where we ask you to make with the words.
But we have chosen a winner. Rebekah takes the
prize because, even at ten years old, she's shown really fine
judgement about picking up the tone of what came before. She's
wrapped the story up without a wasted word. (It's obvious that
some of you don't read through before you press SEND or you'd
see how you could tighten things up without losing any of the
story.) She's used her wits, kept it interesting, and introduced
a deliciously macabre twist to her ending. So here's our story,
with Rebekah's winning ending in bold.
It all began a week ago. There I was, lying
in bed, when the bear from the B in the alphabet frieze that runs
round the walls of my bedroom began to growl. No mistake. I wasn't
Next night, the tiger peering out from behind
the capital T moved forward and bared its teeth. Then the viper
that's coiled around the big and little Vs spat at me with real
I've told my parents. But they're so sure it's
all in my head that they won't stay upstairs with me, to watch
and listen. "Nonsense! You're just imagining it. You must
be worrying about something. Are you unhappy at school? Are you
This evening, when I looked up from reading
to see the crocodile open his jaws even wider, I ran down to the
living room, screaming my head off. "All right!" my
mother tried to comfort me. "At the weekend we'll peel off
that old alphabet frieze and paint your room."
But, "Now!" I insisted. "Tonight!"
I heard myself yelling at her. "Do it now!"
So I've been sent to bed, of course, for being
rude. And I've been trying not to look. But already the wolf seems
to be stirring from his long sleep beside the W, and the spider
is flexing her legs. And now, and now...................
.......... and now all the animals are parading
through the air down to my bed! The alligator, the lion. There
is someone or something breathing down my neck. The monster. What
happened to the fairy and the Queen? The monster is dragging me
to the frieze.
"Free ussssssssss", hissed the
viper. "Free usssssssssss".
"No! No!", I scream.
I am stuck in the frieze under D for death.