Two boys are the winners of the Dragonzilla Short Story Writing Challenge, topping 22 finalists who wrote stories and sent in videos of themselves reading them.
Josse Franco, 11, and Josh Hansraj, eight, placed first in their categories to win laptops, courtesy the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest. Franco was among 11 in the nine-12 age group, and Hansraj went up in the five to eight age group also of 11 competitors in the second round of the challenge.
More than 100 children shared their 300-400 word story on the theme – My Covid experience in Trinidad and Tobago – in the first stage of the online challenge, hosted by the Bocas Lit Fest in collaboration with Nalis.
Franco’s story – The Big Fight – is an account of a fight between a boy and the covid19 virus. He also impressed the judges with his video depicting a boxing match between the two.
The Great Depression by Hansraj is a dramatic account of of the oppressive reign of “King Corona”, detailing the virus' terrible effects on his daily life.
At two separate prize-giving events held at the Nalis Port-of-Spain Children’s Library last Friday, the 22 finalists learnt the results and were awarded for their effort and creativity with a range of electronic prizes, including tablets and laptops, courtesy NGC – National Gas Company – title sponsor of the annual children’s literary festival.
The People’s Choice Awards, donated by Nalis, were presented to Nivaan Ramjattan in the five to eight age category for his 1,500 votes, and to Tahlia Ramsamooj in the nine to 12 group for her 1,400 votes. The results were determined by the number of social media likes and shares Ramjattan and Ramsamooj received that counted as votes towards their videos.
Nalis librarian Hazel Hazzard-Samuda, a judge in the final round, was pleased with the ways the children presented their stories.
“Some children used the format of presenting a documentary report, some the storytelling format, while others dramatised it," she said. "Creativity was evident in the interpretations of the theme: some chose to relate their experience during the pandemic, while others created an imaginative world, complete with a fairy.”
Another judge, storyteller and retired librarian Joan Osbourne commended the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest for “a very thoughtful and excellent initiative to nurture the literary habit among children.”
“The depth of understanding of covid19 demonstrated in the stories and the videos submitted was remarkable. I was moved by the ring of sincerity which was felt throughout the reading and the viewing of the stories. I hope they all continue their writing,” she said.
Nalis corporate communications manager Debbie Goodman said the ten-year partnership with the NGC Bocas Lit Fest had helped to foster among children "a love for literature, promoting authorship and encouraging evocative discourse.”
Danielle Delon, children’s festival director at the Bocas Lit Fest, said the online challenge, which replaced the storytelling caravan because of public health restrictions, made sure the festival could still "engage and stimulate these young minds". She thanked the children, their families and sponsors for their participation and support.
Readers can visit the the Bocas Lit Fest or Nalis facebook pages to view all of the 22 videos from the challenge finalists.
Short story results
5-8 age group
1st Josh Hansraj
2nd Nivaan Ramjattan
3rd Hannah Caesar
4th Jolene Bridgelal
5th Che Forbes
6th Tasneem Ali
7th Chelsea Guppy
8th Nia Seerattansingh
9th Naima Hannibal
10th Daniel Ryan
11th Viashnavi Ramroop
9-12 age group
1st Josse Franco
2nd Jean-Loius Brown
3rd Amara Stoute
4th Dharsan Ramroop
5th Subira Charles
6th Bridgette Gopal
7th Sriya Persad Maharaj
8th Nenriki Lai Leung
9th Risha Maharaj
10th Anasuriya Seeram Maharaj
11th Tahila Ramsamooj