Writing

Dame Jacqueline Wilson helps Shrewsbury Bookfest celebrate its 21st birthday – with pictures – shropshirestar.com


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Dame Jacqueline Wilson returned to Shrewsbury Bookfest to mark its 21st birthday and award young aspiring authors taking part in this year’s competition.

The 73-year-old children’s author, known for writing some of the most read children’s novels in the UK such as Tracy Beaker and Girls, drew crowds as she congratulated youngsters from a number of Shropshire schools taking part in a creative writing competition.

From more than 1,500 entries, eight top winners were selected.

Year six Whixall Primary School pupil Sam Foster was awarded first place for his novel, Trafficking Tiger.

Josie Wilson, of Rushbury Primary School, came second with her story, Never Say Never; Montana Malin, of St Leonard’s Primary School, came third with Bully, and Evan MacDonald, of St Winefride’s Convent School, came in fourth with Odd Things Have Happened.

This left, Oliver Smith of Castlefield’s Primary School, Mia Gardner of Radbrook Primary School, Weronika Woszczyna of Mount Pleasant Junior School and Omari Thomas of Gobowen Primary School, receiving highly commended awards.

Dame Jacqueline Wilson cuts the cake at Shrewsbury Bookfest’s 21st Birthday along with Shrewsbury Mayor Peter Nutting

Speaking to the Shropshire Star, Jacqueline Wilson said: “I think Shrewsbury Bookfest has been such a success and inspired many others to start up their own book festival.

“Anything that celebrates books and opens up reading to children is just wonderful in my opinion.

“I keep coming back here because you have wonderful audiences, everyone organises everything splendidly, there’s fantastic hospitality and Shrewsbury is such a lovely town – what could be better?”

Organised by the Shrewsbury Bookfest charity, the creative writing competition was organised to give every child whose school had signed up to its Schools Week project, an opportunity to write their very own book.

Judge Jane Payton, trustee of Shrewsbury Bookfest and previous head teacher at St John’s Catholic Primary School, was among those on the panel dealt the task of narrowing down one winner from the 29 schools taking part.

“The judging was not an easy task,” she said.

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Dame Jacqueline Wilson

“Every child that entered showed tremendous creativity. The quality of writing and presentation of the entries was amazing. All the books were a pleasure to read.”

Earlier in the project, Shrewsbury Bookfest brought leading authors in the world of children’s literature to work with the pupils in their classrooms – giving them advice and tips on how to structure a story, ideas on where to look for inspiration and how to develop characters.

Molly Clarke, a teacher at Wrockwardine Wood Junior School, said her class had been left with a great enthusiasm and passion for writing.

The pupils wrote their stories in blank books given to them by Shrewsbury Bookfest and were encouraged to decorate and design the books to make them look like the real, published tomes found on the shelves of bookshops and libraries.

Participants were also encouraged to research the mechanics of a book such as how and why a book displays a bar code, the publisher’s name and the use of indexes.

Ali McGowan, schools coordinator for Shrewsbury Bookfest said: “This has been a unique and very special project, designed to give an opportunity for pupils’ writing to escape from their exercise books and become a real story to share with the world and feel incredibly proud of.”

The eight top winning stories have been narrated and produced as audio files, which can be listened to at shrewsburybookfest.co.uk

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