'A Children's Story' winner announced! Amy Onyango and Claire Mansfield guest judge with a little help from their (Felltarn) friends...
14th August 2015
My pick for the winning entry this week must be the enchanting tale of Poppi Red and the Jackdaw with its nuance of dark twist at the end.
A clichéd message is retold through strong yet simple character choices, pinpointed descriptive elements and prose peppered throughout with just enough alliteration to brighten the piece.
Children must have the notion that they “can be whoever they want to be” enforced upon them in many guises during their formative years, so much so that it tends to lose its meaning. As adults we know that it is vitally important to inspire children to open their eyes to the world around them and see opportunities to be taken. Our writer takes a seemingly tried-and-tested approach to delivering the message of taking charge of one’s destiny, yet makes the story entirely original.
Poppi Red isn’t a light, bright, airy delicate rags to riches story. It is rather more sinister than that with the advent of Evil Aunt and Tormenting Bully – both strong characters introduced cleverly and without over-emphasis. I immediately felt I wanted to know more of Poppi’s plight, I wanted to explore her history, and that of Aunt Edith and evil Damian. This, to me, is the test of a good quality piece of writing – am I drawn in? Yes! Do I want the story to continue? Absolutely!
The inspirational life-changer often teaches the subject in such tales by use of personal anecdote or simple life-lesson, however I thought the use of the Painter and Decorator’s art to capture his alternative interpretation of Poppi’s world and change her attitude towards the bleak situation was a very clever use of imagery. I am also drawn to the thought that Poppi Red and the Jackdaw is not only about how to change perspectives on life, but also a tale of how wonderful art is as a therapy and outlet for the soul.
We a left at the very end of Poppi’s story with the stark reminder that those things in life that cause us pain and misery stay with us long after we physically leave them behind. Poppi still harbours deep desires to exact the ultimate revenge on her childhood oppressors. This is a brave observation for the writer to make, but an important one nonetheless.
Overall, a very enjoyable read with beautifully strong imagery, bold characters and interesting delivery of a very familiar message. Great stuff!
Featured Entry 1115: Descriptively engaging and clever use of accent. Very enjoyable.
Featured Entry 1123: Emotive and thought provoking – especially as a mother-of-three myself…
About the judges