Winners of Cerrie Burnell's I Am A Story creative writing competition announced

Published on: 26 February 2020

We're very excited to announce the winner and three runners up of our I Am A Story creative writing competition, judged by Writer in Residence Cerrie Burnell

We're so excited to announce the winners and runners up of the I Am A Story creative writing competition, judged by Writer in Residence Cerrie Burnell. We received so many fantastic stories and Cerrie really loved reading them all.

Pupils of primary school age sent in stories under 1000 words for the chance to win a free school visit from Cerrie Burnell, plus one of Cerrie's books for every child in the winner's year group and a set of her books for the school library.

The three fantastic runners up will receive a bundle of Cerrie's books for themselves and their school library.

A huge congratulations to winner Poppy Biddulph for her short story Save My Sister, and to runners up Meredith Stapleton (The Great Escape), Matteo Lavazzo (Revealing the Truth) and Jonas Tang (The Life of an Orange) for their fantastic entries.

The competition also marks Cerrie's final Writer in Residence project, as she'll be stepping down from the residency on 2 March.

Congratulations everyone!

Read the winning entries

  • Winner: Save My Sister by Poppy Biddulph

    The disc mirrored light into the darkness. She propped the torch up so that it shone onto the old CD. It was almost like rainbows were fixed on the walls. October scrambled to find the camera. She placed it onto the cardboard ‘tripod’, set the timer to three seconds and took hold of the thick silver strings that she had attached to the back of the camera. She arranged them to look as though she was pulling them, just in time for the quick burst of photographs that were being taken of her. She examined each one in great detail, until she settled on one. The wires were positioned like a pathway running straight into her heart. In the picture, the colours were reflected on her face, like eyes reflect emotions, like water reflects sky, like light reflects dark.

    She tore the photo in half. She didn’t want it. Her mind took her outside, but her legs took her to the bathroom. She stared at her tear stained face in the mirror. The ink black stains of power leaving her body and weakness entering. Her throat burned with the urge to cry out, but, at the same time, she couldn’t bring a sound from her lips. She pulled a box of tissues from the cupboard and tried to dry her eyes, but tears just kept spilling out.

    The voice returned. It had been coming for months now. But this time it was stronger. “She isn’t missing; you know where she is.”

    Amber was her friend. But she wasn’t real. But she wasn’t imaginary either. She was just a something. There was no way of explaining it. She was just always there to show October the logic behind every situation. Nobody believed her except for her sister. But now that her sister was gone, she had nobody to talk to it about. She trudged back to her bedroom and slumped down at her desk. Her fingers touched the metal lid of the fountain pen that her sister had bought her as a birthday present when she was 7. Her only sister, Winter. She had always relied on her. And now that she wasn’t there, she had no one to confide in except Amber, who nobody believed in. As she wrote the shaky letter, her hot tears fell onto the pages. Dear Winter, she wrote, I miss you with my whole heart. Although it may seem that I just think of you as my annoying little sister, I promise that I love you. It seemed like she was writing for ten minutes, but when she looked at the clock, one and a half hours had passed since she had first sat down.

    She was hesitant to address the letter. Winter Elder, Dormitory 4, Eastern Wing, Edinburgh Private School For Girls. She placed the letter on the end of her bed and sat in the corner of the room. She stared at the rusty old compass chained to her wrist. She felt like there was something she could do to change everything that had happened in the past year. So she had decided that she would work her absolute hardest and she would get her sister out of that horrible prison of a school.

    The amount of time it would take any other ordinary person to find their sister a way out of that school would be simply unbearable for October. She had to get her sister out as soon as possible. Every day she worked on her persuasive letters and speeches. She wrote essays against the head teacher posting them on the Internet talking about how she made them have the same food every day and made the staff check every letter sent to the students and from the students. Luckily, her and her sister had made up a code before she had gone to the school and they could tell each other what was really going on using nonsense sentences. They would tell each other about the horrible lives that they were leading at that moment and how they would save each other in the end.

    Finally, the day had come. The day she finally took her sister home. It was a rainy morning, the dusty-grey sky weeping over the town. The family set off to go and visit Winter. It felt as though it was visiting day in a prison. The day went perfectly smoothly, up until their conversation with the headmistress. October asked to speak to the headmistress privately about coming to the school herself. She sat down and then started talking casually about all the evidence that she had against the cruel way that the head was running the school. “You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, child. Nobody is going to believe you!” The woman retorted arrogantly. October folded her arms and strutted out of the room. “Why are you looking so pleased with yourself?” The woman cried out. “Because you have just given me all the evidence I need.” She had been recording the whole conversation.

    The head teacher was escorted out of the school immediately after the recording was presented to the police. Winter ran into October’s arms and cried out to the sky, “Thank you! Thank you for blessing me with such a wonderful older sister, Earth!” October just laughed and muttered, “Well at least you actually learnt something! But it could get slightly annoying if you keep talking with such posh sentences.” Both girls burst into the loudest, happiest laughter anyone had ever heard. The laughter of two sisters finally reunited.

  • Runner up: The Great Escape by Meredith Stapleton

    “Get off me Mum, I’m only starting year 4!” I said giggling.

    “I don’t want your new teacher Mr. Andrews to think you are scruffy!” replied mum tackling my plaits.

    I’m Luna, I’m 8 years old and I’m going to turn 9 tomorrow. I have brown hair, blue eyes and light skin which in my opinion is a weird combination, I’m in primary school (as you have probably guessed.) Most people know I’m a big fan of Jacqueline Wilson and at reading time, when I’m not reading her booksI’ll probably be reading the Harry Potter series.

    “Hi Abigail!” I said panting as I caught up with my best friend,"hello Luna” she mutters in concentration. Abigail is obsessed with studying but she can still be a lot of fun!

    “Are you nervous?” she asked.

    “About what?” I replied fiddling with my hair.

    “Well firstly starting year four and secondly having Mr. Andrews as a teacher. My brother said that he has a cane!” she whispered trembling.

    I snorted “It looks as If your brother has got you again” I laughed though I dreaded to know if that was true.

    As I entered the classroom I squeezed my eyes shut. "Do you have anything in your eye Luna?” It was Mr. Andrews, he was nothing like I imagined he had blonde hair and blue eyes, his skin was pale and he had obviously already learnt our names, “James, Martin stop fighting, one of you could bang your head on the lockers!” he said pulling the boys apart, “what on earth are you arguing about” he said coldly, Martin shivered,

    “Sorry sir, it's just that” he gulped nervously, “I asked James for his best football card Lionel Messi and he said he’d only give me it if I gave him my Harry Kane, and that’s my only special one so I said no, and we started fighting.” To my surprise Mr. Andrews started chuckling, “would you like to know a secret everyone?” I tried to keep my mouth shut but I ended up chorusing “yes” with the others, “When I was little, me and my little brother used to share our packets of footy cards and when we got special ones our mother would take them away from us so we wouldn’t fight. Now let's get to the teaching part, first let’s sort out our places!”

    We made way to the back, I hoped that I would be on a table with Abigail. “Luna you sit next to Annie, James and Stewart you can sit opposite them.” I suppose that Annie is okay but she is too bouncy and chatty, it’s really hard to concentrate next to her.

    “Abigail you go next to Jessica, Lewis and Tom you go opposite them. Now children tomorrow we will be starting a project called speaker’s corner where everyone stands up for five to ten minutes and talks about something they would like to share with the class, Luna why don’t you go first, tomorrow.”


    “Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you!” I opened my eyes, there was a kitten on my bedside table, It was scratching a bag of food.

    I screamed, the kitten got a fright and ran over to where mum and dad were standing. “Do you like your new pet?” mum asked. I paused and finally said,“Do I like it? I LOVE it, I shall call it Mittens.” I suddenly had an idea. “Mum, today we are starting something called speaker’s corner and it’s my go first. I was planning to do it on aeroplanes but now I’ve decided to do it on Mittens, can I take her into school?”

    “No you can not! You know Mittens is too young and we just got her.” Mum walked out of the room.

    I groaned then suddenly I had an idea.

    “Bye mum,” I said as I reached the school gates. I watched until she was gone and then brought Mittens out of my bag. I ran over to Abigail: “Look at my new kitten.” Abigail gasped. “It’s going to be for my speaker’s corner…. But before I could finish off my sentence the bell rang.”

    I put Mittens in my coat pocket. I walked into the classroom.
    “Luna, it’s time for your speaker’s corner,” said Mr Andrews, dropping his bag on the floor making a loud thump. I felt something brush against my leg, probably dust.

    “Good morning 4A and welcome to my speaker’s corner on my cat, Mittens.” I planned to take Mittens out of my pocket but for some reason I couldn’t feel her.

    “Are you looking for anything?” said Mr Andrews.

    “Yes, my kitten,” I said, “I brought it to school in my pocket and now it’s missing!”

    “It’s all alright Luna, we’ll help you find it. I want everyone to search their trays. Now Luna what exactly does Mittens look like?” Mr Andrews asked.

    “He’s black all over and has little white paws, just like white mittens.”

    Suddenly everyone started panicking, Joselyn Greil even hid behind the curtains because she is terrified of cats.

    All the other girls were cooing because they loved kittens, the boys were just mucking about looking in silly places like the teachers bag, which had been zipped up all the time this happened. I thought no-one would help me when suddenly Abigail opened her locker and a cute black cat with white paws jumped out. It was Mittens!

    Abigail yelped, Mittens yelped and she jumped out of the window into the playground, landing on all fours, she stood still for a moment but then she ran off she was heading for the corridor I sprang up from my desk and rushed out of the classroom.

    After a lot of running I caught Mittens. “Got you!” I said out of breath, "I’m never bringing a pet to school again!”

    I don’t know why I was ever afraid of Mr. Andrews, he’s the best teacher!

  • Runner up: Revealing the Truth by Matteo Lavazzo

    Once upon a time, there lived a...
    “Woah, woah, WOAH! This ain’t no fairytale.”
    “Fine, what about this?”…

    Miles and Hope had grown closer since their parents had mysteriously disappeared. They had been surviving on the streets of Raindrell, a sprawling metropolis 24 degrees north (and 50 metres into the atmosphere) of where London used to stand.

    The year is 2460 and the Earth is no longer habitable, not as it used to be. The turning point had been the year 2050. Greta Thunberg had persistently warned us. Children now read about her in history lessons and a statue dedicated to her cause stands in the centre square in Raindrell. Debris now litters the once plush-green grass, the once glittery-blue rivers and the once life-filled, heather-purple mountains. The air is thinner now. The magnificent forests are all but gone. People now walk the streets wearing oxygen masks and anti-UV suits.

    This adventure starts six days ago. One thing I should have told you about Hope is that she is a master coder. She sat in her usual seat at the Internet café (Connections), gawping in horror at the screen. She had just cracked the code and had accessed the government’s secure mainframe. She felt sick reading the secrets. Miles, who sat opposite her playing Space Invaders (the old school games were his favourite), noticed the look on her thin face. “‘What’s wrong?” He asked and added, “you look like you’ve seen a ghost!” “I know where mum and dad are.” She replied, dumbstruck.

    As they rode the sky-ship towards Candelle, Hope and Miles plotted. They had learned six days ago that the government (now world-wide and not national) had set up a super-intellectual colony, in a secret location protected by a barrier of buzzing energy that nothing, not even the smallest air molecule, could penetrate. This barrier protected the colony from the invasive polluting air outside. The government had taken the greatest minds of our world and forced them to work in secret on a project to save planet Earth, code-named Operation Thunberg. The cleverest scientists had been selected and Hope and Miles’ mum and dad had been among them. When Hope read her mum’s profile on the government files, she had felt an enormous sense of pride and of course relief at knowing where their mum and dad were, but also nauseous. How could the government have done this?

    Miles, being the practical one, planned the route. He always knew what to do. Hope admired his pragmatism. The air-ship would take them to Candelle. From there, they would need to sneak aboard the next air-ship, which would take them to within 30 kilometres of the Operation. That part of the journey, Miles insisted, would be perilous and involve taking some risks. Miles knew that Hope was not the risk-taking type. She stayed within her comfort zone, except for when she was hacking, of course.

    In the government headquarters, the director of the Operation watched with interest as these two youngsters climbed aboard a sky-ship. He had been spying on them in the Internet café six days ago and had followed their every move ever since. Jones spoke,“Carter, get in here.” Burt Carter was ex-military and was head of black ops for Jones.Within seconds, the steel door slid open and Burt marched in, stiff and tall. “‘Yes sir?” His assertive tone was as ungiving as his body. Jones’ eyes pointed to the images being projected mid-air and he sighed. “It was only a matter of time”, he said. “Been following them since the breach 6 days ago. They know. They’re Riley’s kids. Clever lass, that one. We could use her. Not sure we have much use for him. Deal with it, Carter.” He said callously. Burt nodded coldly, turned on his heals and marched out.

    Hope was restless. Her foot tapped nervously on the floor of the air-ship. Miles tutted, “could you be any more annoying?” Hope glared at his face, but her look soon softened. She saw their mum in his eyes and she felt soothed. “We’re almost there,” Miles smiled. “We will need to be especially vigilant.” Hope nodded and they rode the rest of the journey in silence, watching the once-beautiful world pass by under their feet.

    Burt Carter was an expert in surveillance and already knew where he would intercept the kids. He would befriend them. Lead them to believe he was there to help. And when the time was right, he would do what he does best.

  • Runner up: The Life of an Orange by Jonas Tang

    Hi, my name is Squirt. I came from the deep tropics of Spain. It all started when I was a plump, juicy orange. I had the orangest skin and juiciest flesh. No one dared to challenge me in my tree for I was the greatest. But soon I realised that being the best was not always good. One day, I have been taken away to London by two farmers that seemed to really want to take me for some reason. The journey was rough; I had been bundled up with other juicy delicacies: Majestic mangoes, luxurious lychees and benevolent bananas sat beside me as the lorry rumbled on. Then, it stopped and we all tumbled out. I was terrified: pips pounding; pulse racing; skin sweating. I had no idea where I was going. I wished that I could be back at home, relaxing and basking in the sun.

    I was transported to a mysterious place called Waitrose. Someone dumped me into a black, leather basket full of other oranges. Next, a woman scooped me up and before I knew it, I was travelling once again. When the vehicle halted, I was carried into a house where I got placed onto a kitchen table. A young boy walked up to me and exclaimed “Ah, there you are my delicious orange, I can’t wait to gobble you down into my stomach!”

    “Bob, it’s bedtime!” called the boy’s mother.

    “Coming!” groaned Bob.

    The next day I found myself in a lunch box as an ear-piercing ring struck the air like the wail of a banshee. Then Bob came rushing down his classroom, shoving and hitting people as he came down. He advanced towards me and picked me up. He jogged into the playground, I could see the destruction in his eyes as his buff, chubby fingers readied itself to rip my skin. My life had ended.

    This was my last stop. Nothing could save me from the clutches of death. Suddenly, someone came and started talking to Bob. 

    He had dirty, brown hair with a bedraggled, scrunched-up shirt. His laces were undone and his shoes had mud covered all over it.

    “Yo, wha’sup Bob, I saw you playing Call of Duty yesterday!” the boy remarked.

    “Yeah, I got seventeen kills!” he replied.

    This was my chance, I thought. I can escape! I wriggled like a worm as much as I could and manged to roll into a field. There I made a new family and raised children of my own. And they’ll soon have adventures just like me!

Meet our latest Writer in Residence

Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer in Residence to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books. Our current Writer in Residence is Rashmi Sirdeshpande.

Find out more