ANZA Young Writers’ Competition 2022 attracted a record amount of entries from across Singapore from local and international school students aged 6-15. “On behalf of the ANZA Writing Group, we would like to thank everyone for participating in the 2022 ANZA Young Writers’ Competition,” says Kristen Hobby, organiser and one of the judging panel.
“After running the competition for the first time last year, this year we attracted over 150 entries from around the island and the standard of writing, creativity and flair was high. A wide variety of genres came through, however, the effects of the global pandemic, the war in Ukraine and climate change is clearly weighing heavily on our young people as the themes showed an overwhelming concern for the future of the world.“
We encourage all our young scribes to keep writing and we hope to see the same excellent levels of imagination and hard work in next year’s competition. After much deliberation and discussion, we’re proud to present our outstanding first place entries.
FIRST PLACE ENTRIES
6 -10 years
WINNER: Lauren Afable
It is 1 January 2027 in Singapore. Kate was in her room looking at her voice recorder collection. Suddenly, she heard a “Thud!” outside her window. She curiously looked out. First, she saw nothing. Then, she saw that one of the dried leaves had a weird shape. When she looked closer, she saw that it was a baby sparrow. She quickly ran down the front steps to that patch of dry leaves.
“Oh! I think I saw that bird in Bandy Park!” she exclaimed.
The baby sparrow seemed very confused. Kate wanted to help the bird, but the main question she had was, “Now how do I get you back to your home?”
She pondered about that question for days. In school, she could not concentrate in class and she just kept thinking about how to get the baby sparrow to his home. She wrote all the possible ideas, crossed out the bad ones, and kept adding new ones every day. In the end, she was left with two options: first, she will try to ask someone in Bandy Park if anyone saw a baby sparrow’s nest. Second, she could look into the big Oak tree in Bandy Park. She tried to do the first idea, but no one in Bandy Park saw any baby sparrow’s nest. She tried the second idea, but even when she looked through every branch, the sparrow’s nest was nowhere to be found.
She said with a sigh, “What now? I have tried everything! Argh! What am I missing?! I’ve been thinking and pacing this room for days! And I still have tons of homework!”
She looked out and sighed, “Sorry sparrow, why won’t you give me ideas?”
Just after she said that, she heard a mother bird call and its chick came walking towards her. Kate had a sudden realisation, “Oh! Why haven’t I thought of that?” She got her loudest recorder, hurriedly picked up the baby sparrow, and went to Bandy Park.
When she reached Bandy Park, she patiently waited for the baby sparrow to chirp. She felt as if everybody was watching her. She had her recorder on standby, one minute …two minutes …there!
“Chirp! Chirp!” the baby sparrow called.
Kate recorded it then played it a few times. The mother sparrow recognised the call and came. It was a tearful reunion, watching the mother and baby sparrow fly around each other. Before they flew back, they chirped their “thank you.”
Kate smiled and whispered “You’re welcome!”
Every 1 January, Kate remembers the baby sparrow and that “Thud” on her window. Then each time she whispers “You’re welcome.”
The judges say: “The judges loved Lauren’s story with its strong narrative arc that took the reader along with her on her adventure.”
FIRST PLACE ENTRIES
11 -15 years
WINNER: Angelique Lamouri
WE NEED CHANGE
It is 1 January 2027. I write from my room in the heart of Canada as I look out of my window. The tiny cracks that fissured the window glass from the riot, the dirt-brown snow stained with the muck from peoples’ shoes. The homeless man.
Usually, looking out of this window calms me. Today, I look out and think. I think of the many reasons the homeless man could be out there. In his rugged coat and boots that were probably way too small for him. In the cold. Alone. The people wearing elaborate coats that were in much better condition than his one walked past him without acknowledging his existence.
I can smell the smoke and hear the screams from a nearby riot. The icy wind shears my face like razors and I close the windows. My room sinks into suffocating silence. The world is in chaos. I feel like I am the only person who acknowledges it.
The world is perfect, everyone says that. I bet people in faraway places like Singapore and Cambodia even say that. But it’s not. It all started in 2019. The pandemic. The food shortages. 2020. Climate change hit hard that year. 2021. Lack of healthcare. 2022. I let a tear slip down my face. The Russian invasion of Ukraine. I glance at the statue of the soldier on my desk. That’s how I lost my Grandfather. I’m at the window again. I slam my fist against the window and watch as the fissures spread like spilled ink.
Now it’s 2027. One disaster after another. I open the window. The riot has stopped. All that is left is the sickeningly sweet smell of smoke. I walk back to my desk. While some countries are in a new era, one of technological innovation and new discoveries, most of the countries struggling with poverty can only attempt to keep up with the ever-changing world. Climate change has not stopped progressing. Neither has global warming. So what has changed? I guess more people have started campaigning about what they believe in.
The homeless man on the corner of street 78 is yet to be helped. There is a fire down the street. More smoke. I am about to close the windows again when I see something. A girl who looks about my age is talking to the homeless man. I straighten. The girl’s lustrous black hair swishes as she hands the man a sandwich. My eyes widen as she takes something out of her bag. A coat. The way the smile crinkles the homeless man’s face and erases the hard lines of years of hardship is enough to make me open the window fully. I feel the icy wind. I hear screams. But I also find peace. And as the girl walks away, I feel like my heart could burst into a million feathers because it felt so light. Because right then, I knew. When humans unite, we are so much stronger than anything else.
The judges say: “We were really struck by Angelique’s use of evocative descriptions of the world around her. The story took the reader on a journey through despair to hope.”
Read our runners up entries online here