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2020 The George E Ravenhall Writing Competition

A Letter from

Head Judge Heather Zubek 

Congratulations to every writer who took part in this competition. The standard for all stories submitted was extremely high.  Writers were encouraged to ‘think outside the box’ with their themes and it was thrilling for the judges to read stories of such creativity and originality.


The short-listed entries have been placed on the website for you to vote for the winner. These entries have been corrected.


The judges would like to offer some advice to all the participants in the competition:


  1. Follow the rules of the competition. Keep your writing to the theme and make sure your word count is within the requirements. A few entries went well over the 1000-word limit making them ineligible for entry.

  2. When you have finished writing, read the story aloud to yourself. Many little mistakes would have been avoided if only the writer edited their work.

  3. As mentioned during the Zoom meetings, great writers are great readers. It’s through reading that writers witness correct spelling, grammar and sentence structure.

  4. Varying the length of your sentences can create a rhythmic prose that makes your writing more engaging. 

  5. Generally, you shouldn’t use ‘text-speak’ (e.g LOL) in your writing, unless it is relevant to the story. 


Emma Robinson - Friendship - YEAR 1 

A delightful and surprising tale of a quirky friendship between a young girl and a penguin. The story began simply as sisters find a penguin stuck in the sand but then a clever twist was introduced as the penguin began to talk. The lovely photo and drawing of the penguin added to the story’s enjoyment.


Ryan Cao - The Dream - YEAR 1

Readers were made aware of the intrigue from the very first line. The story then went on to describe a visit from a very lonely alien. The Dream is a well-crafted story that uses descriptive words and phrases that help the reader form images of the setting.


Lucas Gu- Friendship - YEAR 2 

What begins as a simple tale of two friends grows into quite a mature story about the importance of comradeship and empathy. The writer slowly and cleverly builds the tension of the story until the readers realise the problems faced by one of the characters.


Orion Tian - Magic Friendship Ant - YEAR 2

Fact and pure fantasy are combined in this clever story about how a Magic Friendship Ant helps Anne Frank whilst she hides in the annex. The writer obviously knows the story of Anne Frank well as he cleverly weaves facts with the fantasy of the ant.


Coco Yau - Nara Normal and Nancy No - YEAR 2 

Clever use of character names and strong dialogue help make this story a great lesson in friendship. Readers learn so much about characters through their conversations, something that can be a little dangerous in some stories, but the writer of this story has done it well.


Leon Osborne - Ludwig and Percy - YEAR 2 

The writer skilfully sets the scene by ‘showing’ the reader the temperament of the characters. Power words are used (Boom! Bash!) creating interest and the inner thoughts of characters are revealed. A very clever story about learning who your true friends are.

YEAR 3-4 Judge Report

Aiden Zhang - Secret - YEAR 3

An exciting, well-written story with a powerful sense of mystery and suspense. The hero is brave and resourceful and his action scenes are cleverly and clearly described. The setting is atmospheric  with a strong feeling of impending danger that  keeps the reader wanting to know more.


Emily Lu - UFO Secrets - YEAR 3

A superbly told, expertly crafted and beautifully written story with plenty of mystery, action, and intrigue. An outstanding example of how to tell a gripping story in as few words as possible. In other words, the author makes every word count.


Milton Li - The Secret of Keeping a Wild Frog - YEAR 3

While taking a somewhat loose approach to the theme, the author’s obvious love and respect for frogs makes this piece of writing irresistibly heartwarming. It is also beautifully illustrated and logically organised and reflects the writer’s deep and sincere appreciation for the natural world and its many wonders.


Chloe Zhang - Tom’s Secret - YEAR 3

Tom’s Secret features an excellent use of vocabulary coupled with plenty of colourful and imaginative descriptions. The exciting plot and the story’s clever and unusual use of mini-chapters elegantly capture and retain reader interest.


Yuankai Li - Secret - YEAR 3

An amusing and often touching exploration of what it might feel like to suddenly have everyone dislike you. The hero’s valiant attempts to discover who or what is behind his sudden and inexplicable fall from grace are cleverly executed and abundantly entertaining. An outstanding effort.


Catherine Yan - The Secret Discovery of the Octopus - YEAR 3

A mythical, gorgeously described exploration of courage in the face of unimaginable terror. An excellent use of vocabulary coupled with a mature understanding of story structure combine to produce a highly entertaining and captivating story.


Achilles Yang - My Secret - YEAR 4

A delightful opening which led to the character’s realisation that his secret is about to be revealed. This writer used descriptive words and phrases that employed all senses. The reader can easily place themselves in the story’s setting. Alliteration and similes were cleverly used to guide the reader through the character’s problems and then realisation that all is well.


Angela Li - Secrets - YEAR 4

A writer who obviously enjoys the Warriors series! A cleverly written piece that has the readers at first believing a friendship occurs between the cats. The setting of the story is beautifully described through the movements of the cats. A well-crafted piece.


Derek Qian - The Secret of the Serpent - YEAR 4

Everyone loves a good message complete with a riddle! A well-crafted and well thought out story that captures the reader’s attention right from the beginning. The writer uses strong dialogue and descriptive prose to create a story of deception and menace.


Katelyn Li - The Secret of Magic and Wonder - YEAR 4 

Arguments between siblings make way for a cleverly written story about witches, family and superpowers. The writer uses dialogue for humour and to create the tension in the story. An excellent story that takes the reader on a super powered journey.


Ryan Ning - The World of Lava - YEAR 4 

A super powered science fiction story set somewhere in the future. The writer creates a satisfying action scene using humour and strong dialogue.  The story arc cleverly rises and falls as we take a ride with the characters on their jet. A well-crafted story.


Sophia Huang – Secrets - YEAR 4 

A charming time travelling story that introduces the reader to a young girl and her ‘not-so-nice’ school mate.  Cleverly written dialogue helps the reader feel sorry for the main character and the final realisation of a betrayal at the end.


Victor Zhao - Ellie’s Secret - YEAR 4

Readers feel so frustrated for Ellie as her secret prevents her from communicating to those around her……until it becomes a matter of life or death! An engaging and well written story about a little dog that can talk with humans. The writer writes from the point of view of Ellie the dog, painting a vivid picture of frustration and then joy when Ellie finally finds a family she can trust.


Ya Ruolan Wang - Kale’s Secret - YEAR 4

An engaging story about a young rabbit outwitting a terrible foe. The writer has used all senses in describing a lush setting for the imaginatively named characters. A well-thought out action scene completes this well-crafted story.


Anna Wang - Rose’s Deadly Isolation - YEAR 5

This wonderfully written story was one of many entries we received that explored the coronavirus pandemic. In Rose’s Deadly Isolation, the writer employs an innocent six-year-old protagonist to convey the heartbreaking reality behind our current isolation. This one stood out to us as it evoked a roller-coaster of emotions. The gut-wrenching opening flowed seamlessly to an impressive juxtaposition of an abundance of food and family in the protagonist’s dream. The bittersweet conclusion was a perfect way to end this beautifully told emotional roller coaster, and readers won’t be able to help shedding a little tear for poor Rose and her grandpa.


Selena Feng - Isolation - YEAR 5

A superbly written story that follows the struggle of a boy who found himself lost while playing a game of tag while evoking powerful feelings of solitude and longing. We were particularly impressed by the writer’s judicious use of language and sophisticated sentence structures, which added a layer of maturity to an otherwise simple tale.


Michael Zeng - Isolated - YEAR 5

Isolated, another well-written story that employs the theme of becoming lost, stood out to us for outstanding use of imagery that almost makes the reader feel like they are right there with the narrator, stuck on Jagged Island. We particularly enjoyed the writer’s description of the protagonist’s… should we say, Bear Grylls-like diet while marooned!


Norah Yan - Isolation - YEAR 5

This highly engaging piece of writing might be brief, but beautifully employs imagery and sophisticated sentence structures to paint a vivid picture for the reader. We particularly enjoyed the writer’s careful use of language to convey to the reader exactly how the narrator felt in his or her isolation. This story is a very creative interpretation of the theme and a pleasure to read.


Debbie Jiang - The Creatures - YEAR 6

A gripping prologue about the isolation felt by a small boy left after the massive destruction of his city by monstrous ‘creatures’.  The writer cleverly uses variation in sentence length to convey a sense of tension and horror.  The conclusion is a satisfying ‘cliff hanger’ making the reader eager to know more.


Ethan Zhang - Alone - YEAR 6

A well-crafted story book-ended by a quote by Albert Schweitzer about one’s inner fire. First person narrative takes the reader into the mind of the character who has found himself afloat on a raft after a natural disaster. At first the writer employs variation in sentence structure to imply all is lost but as we read further as hope draws near, more descriptive phrases are used.


Kevin Ch'ng - Unaccompanied - YEAR 6

An intelligent and highly engaging story that follows a character caught up in an abrupt form of isolation. The reader is engaged right from the first line, and then taken on a journey of reflection and then loneliness. The ending provides a clever twist that will make everyone want to read it all again.

Liya Li - Isolation - YEAR 6

A wonderfully written piece about the importance of looking inside for the beauty in us all. The writer uses first person narrative to engage the reader and to create in us an understanding of the horror facing the character. The writer has built empathy and tension through strong dialogue and imagery. A very well written story.


May You - Blue Land - YEAR 7

An engaging and unique take on climate change, which was a common theme in this category. The gripping opening draws the reader in at the beginning, and the conclusion leaves the reader feeling melancholy but driven to action. The writer’s use of personification to tell the story from the perspective of the earth itself was particularly creative and made this story stand out.

Emma Ni - Vampire Bite - YEAR 7

Excellent use of literary devices such as foreshadowing, imagery and simile. I particularly enjoyed the writer’s use of imagery to paint a vividly grim picture of the ominous moments before her protagonist’s vampire bite. The writer’s subtle allusion to the coronavirus pandemic was a clever touch, and while this may not have been intentional, the conclusion skilfully conjures the same feelings of hopelessness that many of us are feeling right now.

Anna Shen - Life's Everyday Tragedies - YEAR 8

A beautifully written story that evokes strong emotions in the reader, Life’s Everyday Tragedies is a unique take on the theme of ‘Future’ that maturely explores dark themes. The juxtaposition of the story’s traumatic events with the monotonous ‘everyday’ was particularly jarring, and leaves the reader thinking about the issues long after the story concludes. An excellent piece of work.

Alice Zhang - Future - YEAR 9

An excellent piece of work that intelligently paints an ominous picture for the reader about the dangers of climate change. The use of the conversation between a mother and her child to convey a message about the intergenerational impacts of climate change was a clever touch, and the conclusion leaves the reader feeling called to action. Great work!

Derrick Ch'ng - Future - YEAR 9

Future is another highly creative interpretation of the topic with an evocative and moving narrative. The story is wonderfully told, superbly organised and uses gentle humour to convey a powerful message. Its theme of predestination and self-determination is thoroughly compelling, and the uplifting ending is particularly sweet.

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