What's Your Story? – The 6th Annual Short Story Contest (Youth Category)
Christian Courier is pleased to announce the winners of the What’s Your Story? Sixth Annual Short Story Contest (Youth Category). The judges for this competition were Angela Reitsma Bick, editor in chief, and Monica deRegt, features editor. For winning first place in the junior division (Gr. 3-5), we congratulate Jennifer Boone for her story, “The Mini People.” In the intermediate division (Gr. 6-8), we congratulate first-place winner Jeremy DeBoer for his story, “Life of Khari.” Both winners will receive a $50 gift certificate to Chapters, in addition to having their story printed in this issue. We would also like to acknowledge an Honourable Mention to Jenna Duimering for her story, “Desire of the Soul,” also printed in this issue. Christian Courier would like to thank all those who submitted their entries to this contest – we were pleased with the large number of entries that showcased talent and promise. We encourage all of the contestants to continue using your creative gifts in this field!
Of Boone’s “The Mini People,” a story about a population of tiny people who live underground and race birds for sport, editor Reitsma Bick commented that “this imaginative, lively story illustrates how competition can affect friendship. Small snippets of information convey a creative new world. Nicely done!” Features editor deRegt added “the whimsically descriptive writing style is somewhat reminiscent of the classic fantasy storytellers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.”
DeBoer’s “Life of Khari” is a more serious work of fiction that takes place in a developing country and addresses the issue of worldwide literacy concerns. “The writer very cleverly introduces the situation facing the main character,” deRegt comments. Reitsma Bick adds, “‘Life of Khari’ has a believable setting and the obstacles in Khari’s way are very real. There’s a good use of dialogue to advance the plot, and a lovely concluding line. Well done!”
“Desire of the Soul” by Jenna Duimering is a well-written story about a young girl who is struggling with issues of faith and attitude. The editors felt it was well-paced and used good dialogue, and that the very relevant topic was reflective of the inner dilemmas that many young people go through.
The winners of the Adult Category of the Short Story Contest will be announced in August.
Once, long ago, there lived tiny people who were about as small as your pinkie finger. They were called Pippins. Birds were like horses to them (but, of course, the birds could fly) and the Pippins would have races using the birds. Every Pippin took part in these races – either racing or watching and cheering everyone on.
The Pippins lived underground. They would help each other dig their homes (which were tunnels the diameter of golf balls leading to rooms the size of a soccer balls with still more tunnels leading to other rooms) and once one hole was finished they would help with another hole and so on. In the end every home would have several tunnels. They thought that their holes were quite cozy and indeed they were.
The Pippins were very excited for the huge race coming up. There would be three races, and the winners of each of them would race each other at the end to win a trophy. Zinnia was especially excited.
Zinnia poked her head out of her family’s hole. Red and orange leaves were gently falling. It was perfect weather for practicing flying.
“Redwing!” Zinnia called as she watched her beautiful hummingbird land in front of her. “Let’s go practice for the big race!”
Redwing chirped in agreement and Zinnia ran off to gather her riding gear. When she came back, Redwing was joyfully skipping through the leaves. Zinnia got onto his back and her bird left the ground. Redwing had red feathers on his head and the tip of his tail was purple. He had red wings but the rest of his body was a magnificent green. Zinnia’s favourite thing about him was his blazing amber eyes.
When Zinnia and Redwing had flown for a while they headed toward Zinnia’s best friend Lilly’s home. She knocked on the bark that was covering the hole. It swung open to Lilly’s mom (Mrs. Crystal).
“Hello, Zinnia!” said Mrs. Crystal. “What a pleasant surprise. Would you like to see Lilly?”
“Yes, please,” Zinnia answered. Mrs. Crystal disappeared and Lilly came outside.
“Do you want to ride on Redwing with me?’’ Zinnia asked her friend.
“Sure, thanks!” Lilly answered excitedly.
The big race
The next morning was the big race. Zinnia couldn’t eat her breakfast, she was so nervous.
“You’ll do fine,” her mom told her. “Even if you don’t win it’ll be lots of fun and Dad and I will both be watching.”
“But I still feel like I’m going to fail!” Zinnia said.
“Shall we go?” Zinnia hadn’t noticed that her dad had marched in. So Zinnia followed her parents outside. She led Redwing all the way to the racing grounds because she wanted to save his energy for the race. Unluckily for Zinnia her race was first.
“Would all the first racers please line up at the starting line?” The loudspeaker boomed.
“That’s you!” said her parents. “Good luck!” Zinnia nervously scrambled up Redwing. There were three other racers, two boys and one girl. The girl was riding a bluebird and the boys were riding robins. Then the race began.
“Eat my dust!” The girl yelled as she pulled ahead.
“You wish!” One of the boys shrieked.
Oh no, thought Zinnia, I’m last! But Zinnia realized the other racers weren’t paying attention to where they were going. Sure enough, all three flew into tree branches and Zinnia pulled ahead. The girl shrieked: “You won’t win this!” But Zinnia and Redwing did. The crowd cheered as they crossed the finish line.
“Nice job, Redwing! We’re in the finals!” She petted Redwing’s head and they landed softly on the ground. She watched the rest of the races with her parents while Redwing rested in the sun. One of the winners was a tall girl with brown hair who rode a chickadee and the other was a mean-looking boy who rode a sparrow. Just when the winners lined up to start the final race, Zinnia saw a boy with his arms crossed sitting on the ground. There was a man talking to him and Zinnia caught a little bit of what he said.
“. . . Know that you can’t race with a peregrine falcon. Too fast. That’s why you almost …” But Zinnia couldn’t hear the rest because the tall girl sneezed. The loudspeaker suddenly boomed: “On your marks, get set, GO!” and they were off. Again Zinnia was last, but that didn’t matter because Zinnia knew that hummingbirds were much faster than sparrows and robins. It was true – she once again pulled ahead. The finish line was a metre ahead of her! She was almost there! And then . . . the crowd went crazy! She had won! The next thing she knew everyone was hugging her and she was given a trophy.
Flight in the darkness
When Zinnia’s family was getting into their hole and her parents wouldn’t stop congratulating her she saw Lilly quickly running into the darkness.
“I’ll be back in a while.” Zinnia called to her family as she ran after Lilly.
“Hi, Lilly! I didn’t see you at the race.”
“That’s because I wasn’t there.” Lilly said without turning around.
“WHAT?” Zinnia nearly toppled over! “But I thought you loved watching races.”
“Look,” Lilly turned around. “I’m sick of you always racing and being better than me.”
“Lilly, if you maybe just tried flying on your own bird with no one else with you, you might enjoy it.” Zinnia said.
“Well I don’t have a bird, and I don’t plan on getting one.”
“I’m sorry, Lilly, but could you just try on my mom’s hummingbird, Speedy?” Zinnia really was sorry.
“Fine. If she lets me.” So the two girls went to ask Zinnia’s mom. She said it was fine, so they led the birds to an opening in the forest. As soon as they were in the air Lilly laughed and said, “Sorry I didn’t go to the race and that I was mad.”
“It’s fine, sorry I was mad too. I’ll race you!” And then the girls flew into the dark chilly night.
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