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Children’s Laureate Wales’ Weekly Challenges – Your Stories! (Weeks 1-4)

Published Fri 15 May 2020 - By Literature Wales
Every Monday since 30 March, the Children’s Laureate Wales, Eloise Williams and Bardd Plant Cymru, Gruffudd Owen have been setting a new creative writing challenge for the children of Wales.

In these uncertain times when many workshops and events have been postponed, these challenges are a way for Eloise and Gruffudd to continue to engage and inspire the children of Wales through literature. We have loved seeing the children of Wales rise to the challenges – keep going!

The weekly challenges are set every Monday morning. Further information, including how to join in, can be found on our website, Facebook, Twitter (Children’s Laureate Wales / Bardd Plant Cymru) and Instagram.

Everyone who sends us a poem or story will receive a postcard specially signed for them by Gruff or Eloise.

The Responses to the challenges have been fantastic! Here are some from the first 4 Children’s Laureate Wales’ challenges. Enjoy!

Many more stories can be found on the Children’s Laureate Wales Twitter page here.

 

Weekly Challenge 1

What a week! We received so many stories, thank you everyone! Every story took a different approach to the opening, well done!

 

Hailee’s Adventures, by Catrin

“Argh!” I wake up on the roof, scrabble my heels against slate, try not to fall. I grip as tight as I can to the tiles and feel the pull in my muscles, the crack as my bones shift. What on earth am I doing up here? How did I get here? Suddenly, a strong wind shifts my body ever so slightly… just enough that I tumble down the roof, my head smashing around and tiles flying everywhere. I collide with the drainpipe and it throws me on to the tall, tangled grass. The wet dirt smothers my face when I try to push myself up. I lay there for a while, thinking, until I feel a pointy object hit my head a few times, and I push myself onto my knees in alarm. To my left, I see an enormous crow. It looks me in the eyes. Is it trying to tell me something? I then remember all the fairy tales including gigantic birds. Usually you’re supposed to follow them. But before I do, I can’t resist looking up at the damage on the roof of my house. “This isn’t my house…” I mutter. It looks like a church… but its bricks are purple and the tiles are blue, with what looks like splats of orange paint attacking it in different areas. The crow squawks in my face and suddenly grabs my shirt, lifting me up in the air. I’m so scared of heights; I suppress a small squeal as I’m lifted above the clouds and towards some sort of fence, with incredibly sharp ends… As we get closer, the clouds turn into fog and it’s easier to see. It’s a roof. Again. Are we going to land on the roof, and is that crow just going to stare at me as I fall again? As I’m thinking about it, the crow swoops down and I sigh in relief; the building is so tall, I would have probably broken my spine if I fell off that roof. The crow then soars through an open window. He drops me onto a metal board, and I’m knocked out. When I awake few minutes later, I see an old hag towering over me. She looks very mean, and I instantly dislike her. “Give me your power, or face your doom… even though me stealing your power would mean a slower death…” She cackles at her own words… did she LIKE the sound of death? She must have been mad, because I didn’t have ANY power! She stares at me, as if she was waiting for me to say something or admit that I was the one who had stolen the last of her favourite cookies.
“WELL?! I’M WAITING!” she screeches. She then bears her sharp teeth at me and grins. I’m suddenly tripped up by an invisible foot and I topple backward into some sort of strange hole; dark and mysterious. I then wake up in a puddle of sweat on my bedroom floor. Was it all just a dream? I leave my room as I’m called to breakfast by my mum. It must have been…
“I will get you and your magic someday, Miss. Hailee Jones… I swear.”

 

The Story Challenge, by Dyddgu

My breath became louder as my feet became sorer while my mind was in deep concentration mode. The night only became darker as the noises and lights of the sirens was quieter. I stopped to think for a moment what happened, so I eventually slowed down. Still panting and heart-beating. I immediately fell on my bruised knees and tried to find a decent place to rest. I knew that I couldn’t wait here much longer, but I also knew that I couldn’t go At on foot. So I planned in the morning I would head to the nearest town to beg for a ride in a vehicle.
So in the morning, without breakfast, I set my journey by following a train track until I saw a village. After about three quarters of a mile I found a little town called Berrylike town right by Berrylike forest. It was Monday, 12:00 so the town centre was packed with people trying to get food, a perfect time to ask for a ride, and nick some food along the way. So At eating a piece of bread and an apple, I asked many people, and all the answers I got was ‘No’, until a group of people started to discuss the question and here’s what I got: `Ok, we accept your request, but only if you do something for us.’ I simply nodded, but inside I was over the moon. All of them went into a truck while I went in the back. I was to excited that by the time I actually wondered what the thing I needed to do was, it was too late because all four of them was in the truck with the windows down.
It isn’t a surprise that I went to sleep when it was only sunset because I woke up early and went to bed late. ‘Argh!’ I woke up on the roof. Scrabble my heels against slate. Try not to fall. I grip as tight as I can to the tiles and feel the pull in my muscles, the crack as toy bone shift. What on earth am I doing here? How did I get here? I saw the four people again, but with some kind of bandanna on them. I looked around to see what they were looking at. They didn’t tell me or say anything, but I just knew not to say a word…
To be continued…

 

The Magic Puppies, by Emily

“Aargh”
I wake up on the roof. Scrabble my heels against slate. Try not to fall. I grip as tight as I can to the tiles and feel the pull in my muscles, the crock as my bones shift. What on earth am I doing up here? How did I get here?…
I look around and suddenly I see a puppy, its eyes gleam at me lovingly. It starts to talk. I understand it! It says that its name is Twilight.
All of a sudden I struggle to balance. I’m about to fall… then hear a noise “woof, woof a woo, a woo, a-hoo”. Then I start floating right back to balance well again.
Twilight tells me that it’s not my house I’m on, it’s my neighbour’s. “I am their new pup”, says Twilight. “I brought you up here”, she says.
“Why me?” She replies, “You’re the only one who hears me!” “Only me?” “Yep!” replies Twilight. “Wow!” I say. “Can you get me down?”
“Sorry, that’s the one thing I can’t do”, Twilight says. “The only way we might be able to do it is if we combine our magic”.
“Okay!” “Repeat after me”, says Twilight, “Let our power combine”. “Let our power combine”, I say. “Aoo aoo!” “Aoo aoo!” “Get us down!” “Get us down!” Twilight says “Aoo aoo”, I answer back “Aoo aoo”. Now she tells me to think where I want to go at the same time I hold her hand. I do it! Next in a flash we’re on the streets, next to my house. “It’s almost morning”, I say, “Can you pause time?” “Of course I can pause time!” says Twilight. “Yay!” Twilight just paused time. “Now let’s play!” I say. “Yes!” says Twilight. We go to the local park and play with bubbles. Then we come across another puppy. Twilight runs to the puppy and hugs it. “This is my sister, her name is Sparkle!” says Twilight. “Hi Sparkle”, I say.

 

The Story Challenge, by Ruth

Here’s Eloise Williams reading Ruth’s story:

 

The Story Challenge, by Eleri

Argh! I wake up on the roof. Scramble my heels against slate. Try not to fall. I grip as tight as I can to the tiles and feel the pull in my muscles, the crack as my bones shift. What on earth am I doing here? How did I get here? This horrendous dirty place. One minute I was in my little dark room and now I am here. Maybe my boss, Jeff wanted me to clean the roof. I expect I was sleeping and he told me to go and clean the roof but I did not answer, that he got so annoyed he just carried me up here, locked the window so I couldn’t get down until I cleaned the roof. It is not very surprising that Jeff has done this, he does this every day. When he wants me to do something, I have no choice but to do it. Jeff is really my uncle, but I call him boss cause I must do exactly what he says for me to do, the only reason he looks after me is cause my mother and father pay him. They have such busy jobs; they travel a lot and they do not have time for me. That means that I need to stay with my dreadful uncle that treats me like his slave, but my mother and father do not even know about how he has treated me. I only see them once a week, and Jeff says if I tell anyone about how he is treating me he would lock me in my room until my mother and father forget about me. He says they don’t love me. Even though I really wanted to tell my mother and father about how Jeff was treating me, it would be a nightmare if they forgot about me. Seeing them is all I live for. Just thinking that I would need to live in this place for the rest of my life sends shivers through me. Recently its been getting harder and harder to put on a brave face, I have just felt so sad, and my mother and father started to notice when they saw me. So, they started to come to see me more often. One day they came over without asking Jeff and they saw me cleaning the dishes, washing the floor, making the food. They started to realise what Jeff was doing and like a stampede ran through the door and immediately asked to speak to Jeff. They had a long and important chat. In the end my mother and father started to look after me and took some time off work to spend time with me. Without their money, Jeff needed a job and became our butler. My father wanted him to see what it was like to serve people. I didn’t treat him badly, but I did make him clean the roof. And they all lived happily ever after.

 

The Story Challenge, by Alaw

AAAAAAAAAAA I wake up on the roof scrabbling my heels against the slate, trying not to fall. I gripped as tight as I can to the tiles a. feel the pull in my muscles, the CRACK as my bones shift. What on earth am I doing up here? How did I get here? I looked down I was surrounded by blue and red flashing lights but it was all a blur. I was wearing old ragged clothes that I did not recognise.They were itchy and thin, out of the corner of my eye, there were some firefighters shouting at me. I got scared and then they started clambering up some ladders trying to get me. I started to limp and my feet were full of wounds. My legs were tired and were full of cuts and bruises. It was like I was in a boxing arena, the police and firefighters were the noisy crowd, and I was the loser. All of the sudden the noises of little cracks CRACK CRACK CRACK!!! The roof was too old to hold weight and it started to crumble under my feet. Everyone started to shout and I didn’t know what was happening, I felt dizzy and then, everything fell silent and I mean everything. The bird’s had stopped chirping, the trees had stopped swaying and the roof had stopped cracking. My mind was blown. I could find out who had put me there. And trust me they were in a lot of trouble, well they would be if i hadn’t been beaten up, it was like i had been thrown into a washing machine on a high spin. I was in pain, but I climbed down the pipes and then suddenly realised that I was lost. I turned my head around like an owl to try and work out where I am. I started to walk or more like limp around the town for quite a while, I stumbled across a little hatch on the floor and decided to go in. There were wooden stairs, they were rotten and damaged and very creaky. It was very dark and intimidating, there were skeletons and cardboard boxes everywhere. It had seemed like this person had done it to many other people before me. Then all of the sudden, there was an almighty bang from the floor above, it was like Hulk did his famous hulk smash. The door opened from above with a bang. In the shadows something walked through the door into the light, it was a mixture of animals, a horse head, a zebra body, giraffe legs, a penguin tail and wolf legs. I screamed as loud as I could to get someone’s attention, but it didn’t work. I was stuck in a corner of a room probably going to get eaten by a horse zebra giraffe penguin wolf thing, why does this always happen to me 🙁 The only way to get out is to go through the hatch. To be continued…

 

Weekly Challenge 2

We loved your stories in the first week, well done everyone! The second challenge was all about that door in your house, let’s see to where that door could lead…

 

The Mermaid Ball, by Elin

It was a dark and stormy night. Elena the Queen mermaid was sitting on the rocks, the waves were crashing on the dock. “I can’t wait until Emaleen and Rosy come to the mermaid ball, at the castle. I am so thrilled they will get to meet my daughter”.
Meanwhile a few miles away, Ela the princess was sitting in the river. She had been forced to stay with her Auntie’s after she was born because a great storm was forecast and she was taken to live with them for safety. “I can’t wait until the ball because I will meet my mother for the first time,” she thought.
Emaleen and Rosy stepped through the door behind the mirror in their bedroom like they had done many time before. They couldn’t believe their luck. The Queen mermaid had given them magical earrings so they could go to the mermaid ball. The Queen had told them that her daughter would be returning to the kingdom that night, after many years away.
They were sitting on a hill, finding butterflies, excited they will soon be dancing in the ball, but first they had to sneak out of the house that evening. Their parents did not like them going out at night alone and they couldn’t tell them the mermaid’s secret.
That evening, they climbed out of their bedroom window and down the vines which grew up the house. They lived at the seaside so it was easy to walk to the sea. They left pillows under their duvets to make their parents think that they were sleeping. When they got to the sea they tapped the earrings twice and when they turned pink they jumped in. Emaleen had a pink tail and Rosy had a light blue tail that glowed in the sea from the moonlight. They met one of the mermaid guards in the deep by the castle getting the last pearls ready for the decorations. “Who are you?” he asked “I don’t recognise you” “We are the Queen’s human friends. She has invited us to the ball” said Emaleen. “Oh, that’s why I didn’t recognise you but the Queen did say to expect you. Follow me to the castle and take a shining pearl with you to light the way” he said.
The girls followed the guard and when they got in they saw glowing pearls everywhere and a big throne at the end of the room. The queen was sitting on it and when she saw them she swam to them. “Welcome girls! I’m so pleased you could come. My daughter will be here any minute now. Oh, there are the trumpets! She’s arrived! Sit down girls quickly”. The girls swam to the two front chairs, saved for them, and watched as Princess Ela swam in. She had long blonde hair and a golden tail. What a thrilled sight it was as the Queen and the Princess hugged.
The Queen introduced her daughter and then invited Emaleen and Rosy up on stage. She told everyone how they had once saved her life, from being caught in a fishing net. “You may keep the magic earrings forever and come back whenever you want. Please watch over my daughter and keep her safe, like you did for me.”
The girls danced all night and then walked back through the door and into their beds. That morning they woke and wondered if it had been a dream, like they do after every visit. It always feels like a dream but there were the earrings. Shining and magical, just like their adventures.
The end.

 

Charlotte, by Lydia

Here’s Eloise Williams reading Lydia’s story:

 

The Story Challenge, by Iago

Somewhere, in my house, there is a door. I know what you’re thinking, what’s so special about a door? But this door is different. If you open it, it will take you to another world! It sounds really weird, but it’s actually real! It takes quite a lot to remember where it is though. Firstly, you need to go to my bedroom, there’s two ways to get into my bedroom. There’s two doors there, so you need to go to the door that’s close to my sister’s bedroom. After that you need to come out of the bedroom by the other door. If you did exactly what I said, you should be outside the spare room. Go into the spare room and you will see a double bed. And then go under the bed and you will see a door on the floor. Open the door and, BANG! You should be there now. There’s a whole sports world in front of you. If you look to your right you will see a bunch of people playing tennis against each other. And if you look to your left there’s a massive bunch of people playing rugby with the biggest rugby post ever! It’s amazing isn’t it. And if you go further forward, you will see the biggest swimming pool ever! And on your left there’s a basketball pitch. It’s amazing! To go home you will need to go back to where you started and then click three times with your finger and it will take you all the way back to my bedroom.

 

The Story Challenge, by Zoë

I woke with a start. After looking around for a second, I was confused. What had woken me? The sun wouldn’t be up for another few hours, my alarm wasn’t even on because it was Saturday, and the rest of the world was quiet. Too quiet. There was a deathly silence hanging over my room, engulfing all other noises. No creak of the radiator, no cars outside. Nothing. Then I heard it again and remembered what had woken me up. A strange voice, calling my name. “Zoe!” It was like a whisper, but it echoed through my head, burrowing itself into my mind. I couldn’t get it out of my head, but at the same time, I was unsure whether it was just my imagination. The voice was soft and harsh, calm and panicked, almost inaudible and the loudest thing I’ve ever heard, all at the same time. “Zoe!” It beckoned yet again. By this point, I was certain that this was no dream. This was real. I grabbed my torch, threw a jumper on top of my pyjamas and slipped my feet into my absurd slippers. Following where I thought the voice had come from, I crept through the hallway, careful not to wake any of my family. A floorboard creaked under my foot and I froze, but no one stirred. It felt like I was the only person on the planet who was awake, everyone else enveloped in a deep, endless sleep, but I knew that was ridiculous. The voice called, drawing me closer to its source. I made my way downstairs, through the kitchen, to my basement door. There was only one problem; I didn’t have a basement. How could I have never noticed this before? I pushed my mind back to all of the times I had walked past this wall. This door had always been there, in the corner of my eye. I had ignored it, too busy with my everyday life to notice it or care what it led to, but it had been there the whole time. Hiding in plain sight, waiting to be noticed. Tentatively, I opened the door and a blinding white light came streaming through, filling the whole room, whole house, with its glow. Still the voice called me, urging me closer. I stepped through the door. And I was transported to another world. It was night, but a brilliant bright sun was hanging high in the cloudless blue sky. Pure clear water poured down from the waterfall in front of me, sparkling in the sun like a million diamonds. The luscious trees and grass surrounding me gently swayed in the soothing breeze. My eyes focused on a small fairy hovering just in front of me. She was no bigger than the palm of my hand and I knew she was the source of the voice that had been calling me. “It’s beautiful.” I gasped. “Beautiful, yes.” She agreed “Beautiful, but deadly. This world is in danger, terrible danger, Zoe. And only you can save it.”

 

Weekly Challenge 3

Weekly challenge 3 was a chance for you to write a review based on your favourite book. We loved reading them! Thank you also to Family Bookworms for supporting this week with their wonderful Periodic Table of Children’s Authors and Illustrators from Wales!

 

Review by Dyddgu: The Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

This is a 10/10 book. It explains the backstory of Father Christmas, who was once a poor boy called Nikolas who lost his mother and his father had left him. After travelling for a very long time he eventually arrived at Elfhelm (the town where the elves live). This was once a miserable place, but could Nikolas change that? Could he bring joy to the world? My family has a way of calculating if a book/film was perfect, good, bad etc. Instead of marking everything out of just 10, you can mark it out of 40 — up to 10 points each for characters, style of writing, the art and/or cover, and enjoyability. So the first is characters, I’ll give it 10/10 because the characters are funny and enjoyable, my personal favourite character is the Truth Pixie. Next is the style of writing. I’ll give it 9/10 just because its not Shakespeare! But yes, Matt Haig’s way of writing is delightful and you really can go into the mind of the characters. I don’t know if this counts but the art and the cover is a definite 10/10 because Chris Mould is a lovely illustrator and the cover is amazing. Last but least, enjoyability. And of course this is a 10/10 because I had like 70 pages left and I finished it in the next half an hour! So this is an almost perfect book with 39/40!
And now I’m looking forward to reading and writing about the sequel, The Girl Who Saved Christmas.

 

Review by Abbie: Attack of the Demon Dinner Ladies by Pamela Butchart

 

Weekly Challenge 4

Weekly challenge 4 was in partnership with St Fagans National Museum of History. We ventured to the spooky side and asked you to write a ghost story based on the Cilwent Farmhouse.

 

A Ghost Story, by Emily

Once upon a time there was an old man and an old woman.  They both lived in an old house.  In the house was a fireplace, next to a creaky old rocking chair.  The old woman was always rocking on the rocking chair but little did they know, the rocking chair was haunted.

One day, the man got up before his wife and went into the kitchen.  He heard a terrible creak.

“What’s that?” he said.  Then just after he said that, it stopped!  The man knew he heard a creak, even though he was a bit deaf.

Soon the wife woke up.  The man told her all about the creaking.

“Nonsense!” she said, “Ghosts aren’t real!  You must have imagined it!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure!” said the old man.

They forgot about it later in the afternoon but then when it was late and they were having toast, THERE WAS A CREAK!  And the old man saw the chair swing!

“Ahhhh!” he shouted.

It kept going.

“What is the matter?” asked the old woman.

“Look at your chair!” said the man.

“There’s nothing there” said the woman.

The man knew he was blind but not that blind.

“You had better go to bed!” said his wife.

He went to bed.  “Zzzz” went the man, he eventually got to sleep.

But in the night he was having a bad dream and woke up from it.  He looked at his alarm clock and it said that it was 3:02 am.  Then he heard a noise.  It sounded like a ghost.

He quickly got under the covers and slowly went to sleep.

In the morning they were having breakfast when the old man noticed a creepy-looking doll on the rocking chair.

“Ahhhh!” he screamed.

“I quite like it!” said the old woman.

The next few days were quite normal.

But then the doll started to laugh “Ha ha ha haa!” until the house burnt down and they were never to be seen again.

 

A Ghost Story, by Rose

 

The Ghostly Village, by Dillon

It was a normal day in the small Welsh village called Esgid, 1943. The village, popular with shoemakers was a beautiful place on the Welsh border with England. Here, many factories were closed or replaced by ammunition factories to help fight the war and most mothers worked while their children were at school. Three teenagers walking home past an abandoned shoe factory on a peaceful, sunny day were interrupted by a loud bang coming from inside. Bobby, the youngest, jumped, “WHAT WAS THAT?” he shouted. Mair and Glyn looked towards the noise, then at Bobby but he had disappeared. “Oh, Lord”, quivered Mair, a gangly girl of twelve. She would be in so much trouble for not minding Bobby, an evacuee from London.

Scared and confused, they heard two more bangs coming from the factory and looked at its door blowing open and shut even though there was no breeze. Above the door, sunlight caught the movement of a ghostly figure across the web covered glass, its eyes glued to theirs. A voice screeched. “You’re next…” it repeated this phrase over and over. Hearts pumping, they ran like bullets to the rickety bridge that crossed the river to the safety of the village. Not daring to look back, the first adult they saw was old Mr. Williams sunning himself outside Dai’s Grocer shop, they threw themselves at him, crying, when, “AHHHHH!”.
Twenty-nine years later, Phillip checked his watch, the summer holidays had begun. Phillip, a happy, popular boy, was excited about the long school break, “No more maths or science for six weeks”.
“I know”, agreed Lee. “Anyone going to the Fair later? I hear the ghost ride is fun!”.

Phillip shivered, “Uh, I dunno, ghost rides are so scary!”. “C’mon Phill! You never go places with us!” It was true, his Mammy only now let him walk home with his friends, she felt so bad about some kid’s disappearance many years ago. “Ok then!” Phill said but deep down, he knew that Mammy would not let him. They continued down the road, behind the school were the woods and the old shoe factory. Mammy’s friend, Glyn and some boys had got into dreadful trouble for setting it on fire after the police had searched for the kid, Bobby. He had never been found; it was a mystery. Similar disappearances had happened in a few other villages along the Welsh border. Nobody knew why. “There’s a ghost ride for you”, said Phill as he retold the story to his friends. “Let’s go see…please”, begged Gareth, “nobody’s been inside there for years, come on boys, let’s have a real adventure”. “Are you sure that’s wise, Gar?”, Rob said. Rob was always sensible and often the one that stopped the other boys getting into mischief. “What can go wrong?”, Gareth replied, “It is empty, and boys, do you really believe some old ghost story? A kid ran away, that’s what happened!”.

As they got near the factory shell, Rob decided to be the Watchman, in case anyone came past. He peered inside, “It’s so dark, anyone have a torch?”, “I got matches”, Lee said. “Come on boys!”. Excitement bubbled inside them as they stepped over the burnt door. “Wait!”, Gareth put his finger to his mouth, “SHHH!” Did you hear that voice?”, they stopped, mid step and a voice growled behind them, “Finally, you came!”