Lockdown Competition: The Winners

By Katherine Woodfine | 23 June, 2020

Last month we gave our listeners chance to collaborate with none other than Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell - by finishing a story she began! Cressida shared a wonderful story-starter with us in our May 2020 episode, and we challenged young writers to have a go at completing it.

We had some fantastic entries to the competition - many thanks to everyone who entered. We're delighted to announce that the winner of our competition is 9-year-old Romy Spreadbury. Take a look at Romy's winning story below:

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Horizabel didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident. Well, maybe not an accident exactly but it was all Madam Perfectry’s fault. Madam Perfectry was Horizabel’s tutor in Wizardry, and she had been telling Horizabel off for something that really hadn’t been Horizabel’s fault either. Madam Perfectry had swept majestically out of the room, foolishly forgetting to lock the drawer with the Gorginblast Book of Spells in it. I mean, what was an eleven year old Wizard-in-Training with a healthy sense of curiosity supposed to do in such a situation?

Horizabel paused for a second. She would be in BIG TROUBLE if she was caught.  

Something rustled inside her pocket. A high little squeaky voice hissed, ‘Open the drawer, Horizabel…’

Horizabel stepped towards the drawer. She opened it. 

And…

Ten seconds later she was still standing, staring. It was as if her eyes had been glued open with superglue. All she could say was, “Oh, oh!” in a high voice. To be fair to her, it was a sight to behold. A brown leather book, bound with what could have been melted gold, with intricate patterns dancing all over it.

The spell was not just broken but full on smashed when the squeaky voice, belonging to Parsnip, said, “Oh yes, very beautiful,” sarcastically.

“You’re too right,” sighed Horizabel dreamily.

“I AM BEING SARCASTIC!” squeaked Parsnip. Parsnip was a rat. Not a dirty smelly one. A pet rat. He was also a failure. Horizabel was meant to have grown his tail, but instead, accidentally (she claimed) made him speak.

She reached in and pulled the book out of the drawer. Horizabel hastily leafed through the delicate pages until she found what she was looking for. She folded the corner down on the page, so gently that no-one would know. She shut the book, and with it tucked under her arm, scrambled up to her room. She opened it again onto the page, and read.

A spell to give anyone magic.

Tail of a monkey,
Wing of a bat
A unicorn’s hoof
And a dragon’s fat
Lava and lightning to bind it well
Together create the Magic Spell.

Horizabel thought she was a failure, so this was perfect to refresh her magic. Tail of a monkey, done. Wing of a bat, done. Unicorn’s hoof, easy enough to get from Cheerfuland. But a dragon’s fat? She hastily looked for her Book of Ingredients. She found it under a pile of wizard dresses and looked at the content. She flicked to the back where it said “Dragon.”

Live in the Endlands
Eat lava and lightning
Sleep for three hours each day

EXTREMELY VIOLENT. DO NOT APPROACH UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!!

Well, this was.

“Come on,” raged Parsnip, “Let’s go!”

Horizabel grinned.

*

Slipping out of the castle wasn’t easy, but she managed it.

The castle was on the edge of the Dark Deserts, joined stretches of land that had never seen the light of day. As they travelled, Horizabel could hear the growling and hissing of the nocturnal animals, and shrank back into the shadows. Then a storm came. Lightning thrashed down on all sides. They dived for cover (not that there was much, as it was a desert) as lightning struck just where they’d been standing.

“That was close!” said Horizabel cheerfully, much too cheerfully for the situation.

“Way too close!” grumbled Parsnip.

Finally, damp and sweaty, they came to the edge of the desert, and the Pine Forest in Cheerfuland.

Horizabel ran towards a tree. “We can sleep here.”

The night was long and she tossed and turned in her makeshift bed. In the morning, an unsettling whinnying and shaking was coming from the bottom of the tree. A unicorn was crashing into it, shaking it around. Horizabel came down from the tree.

“Well, that should make getting a hoof a lot easier!”

Using wood from the tree, and Parsnip’s teeth, they made a comb. They gifted it to the unicorn, along with a small silver hand mirror she had stolen from her father. Unicorns are very vain. They set off with a unicorn’s hoof in their backpack.

*

Meanwhile her father was pacing up and down his room, muttering. “I knew she was careless, but running away is a whole new level!” Then Madam Perfectry’s dreadful shriek pierced the air.

“The book is gone!”

*
Horizabel and Parsnip walked through the forest, until they neared the Endlands.

Quietly, Parsnip said, “You know the Happyhunter?”

“Yeah.”

“Turn round.”

Sure as day, the Happyhunter dragon, which lives on the Endland Border, was growling fiercely.

“SO YOU HAVE COME TO ME!” he boomed.

“Y-y-yes,” stuttered Horizabel, “for your fat!”

“A wizard in training I presume?” said the dragon, licking his lips maliciously. “And no, you can’t have it. I get far too many requests. You’ll have to fight me for it.” He let out a mighty roar.

“Or we could just get it the easy way!” said Parsnip, leaping down from the dragon’s back.

“Hey, thief!” called the dragon.

“Let’s go!”

They ran and ran. They went back through the Pine Forest and Dark Deserts and back to the castle.

Horizabel sprinted up the stairs to her room and threw the ingredients into the cauldron with the others. She grabbed a jar of lava and went to the lightning chamber. She poured the lava onto the floor, placed the cauldron on top, and waited.

Then a small fork of lightning hit the cauldron, which started bubbling. Horizabel scooped up a small glass of the liquid and drank it. It tasted sour and sweet at the same time, and warm slipping down her throat.

There was a puff of smoke.

“Well?” said Parsnip.

Horizabel smiled.

THE END.

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Pop over to the DTRH Instagram channel if you'd like to see Romy's story being read aloud by our very own Imogen Russell Williams! We'll also be sharing some of our other favourite competition entries there. Or have a listen to Episode 73 for lots more creative inspiration from Cressida Cowell.

 


Lockdown Competition: A Creative Challenge from Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell

By Katherine Woodfine | 26 May, 2020

 

Looking for a creative challenge during lockdown? We’re giving you a very special chance to collaborate with Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell - by finishing a story she’s begun!

Here’s Cressida’s wonderful story-starter - as shared with us on our May 2020 episode:

Horizabel didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident. Well, maybe not an accident exactly but it was all Madam Perfectry’s fault. Madam Perfectry was Horizabel’s tutor in Wizardry, and she had been telling Horizabel off for something that really hadn’t been Horizabel’s fault either. Madam Perfectry had swept majestically out of the room, foolishly forgetting to lock the drawer with the Gorginblast Book of Spells in it. I mean, what was an eleven year old Wizard-in-Training with a healthy sense of curiosity supposed to do in such a situation?

Horizabel paused for a second. She would be in BIG TROUBLE if she was caught.  

Something rustled inside her pocket. A high little squeaky voice hissed, ‘Open the drawer, Horizabel…’

Horizabel stepped towards the drawer. She opened it. 

And…


… What happens next? It’s up to you to decide!

Have a go at finishing Cressida Cowell’s story - and if you're aged 16 or under, you can then send your finished story to us to enter our special competition!

We’ll choose our favourite from all the stories we receive to win a signed copy of The Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell, plus an accompanying signed print. The winner will also have the glory of having their story published on our website and read aloud by our very own Imogen Russell Williams for everyone to enjoy on the Down the Rabbit Hole Instagram channel!

How to enter


- Send your finished story to us by email at downtherabbitholeradio@gmail.com with the subject line Cressida Cowell Competition by the closing date of Tuesday 16 June
- Stories should be a maximum of 1000 words, including the story-starter
- Please include your full name and age, as well as the name and email address of a parent/guardian/teacher

Competition Terms and Conditions

1. The competition is organised by Down the Rabbit Hole.
2. The competition will open for entries from Tuesday 26th May 2020 and end at midnight on Tuesday 16 June 2020. Entries received after this date will not be considered.
3. The competition is only open to entrants in the UK who are aged 16 or under.
4. Entrants should send their entries by email to downtherabbitholeradio@gmail.com with the subject line Cressida Cowell Competition. Please ensure the name and age of the entrant is included, and also include the name and email address of a parent, guardian or teacher.
5. Personal data provided will be used solely for the purpose of administering the competition.
6. Entries should be a piece of fiction of up to 1000 words in length (including the story-starter). All entries should be submitted in English.
7. Entries should be suitable to be broadcast or published online by Down the Rabbit Hole for audiences of all ages, but in particular for a young audience.
8. The entry must be the entrant’s own work (with the exception of the story-starter provided by Cressida Cowell) and must not infringe the rights of any other party.
9. Entrants retain the copyright to their entries but grant Down the Rabbit Hole a perpetual, non-exclusive royalty-free license to publish, broadcast (across all media) and post the entry online and to any other platforms yet to be envisaged.
10. There will be one winner who will receive a signed copy of The Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell, plus a signed print.
11. The winner will be notified by email by 23 June 2020.
12. The prize is non-transferable and non-negotiable. No cash alternative will be offered.
13. Down the Rabbit Hole’s decision will be final. No correspondence will be entered into.
14. By entering the competition you accept these terms and conditions.

With thanks to Hachette Children's Group

Image (c) David Bebber