JAZ, written by Frank Mackie, Meg Aldridge, Anne Prince, Chris Prince, Wes Gliddon, Bronwyne Thomason, Peter Laud and Lillian MacDonald, was the clear winner for me. All the entries were a privileged read and I thank their creators for a day well spent, but JAZ would'nt let go. Indeed, it kept me awake!
A month ago in Broome I dined with two Vietnam veterans. One was a teacher, the other a farmer. Both had survived, if that be the right word. Both will carry the scars into their retirement years. We said our goodbyes and the farmer turned to me. "Glyn, you know what hurts? Leaving good blokes behind."
What I loved most about JAZ was the absence of sentimentality. No bleeding hearts here, only well developed characters. Of all the entries, this novel nailed the characterisation best. I absolutely believed the bike-riding veteran with the slouch hat and useless medals. I was completely taken by the skateboarding princess and her spray can of teenage rebellion. But it was the host of brothers lost - one gunned down, the other drowned - that worked like a single heartbeat to bring this unlikely pair together.
JAZ. A bloody good read, and they even managed to sneak in their sea creature. Congratulations and many thanks.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading each of these stories. All of them showed great imagination and adhered well to the parameters set for the competition. The pleasing range of responses received shows the wisdom of the organisers who gave young writers and illustrators a challenge which was simultaneously engrossing, achievable and most importantly, great fun.
In selecting a winner, I considered the creative use of the parameters, the Australian flavour achieved, the illustrations, the quality of the editing and the overall presentation. Each contesting group did well in most areas.
The work of some teams gained my immediate attention. The Leinster group's Green Desert warmed my heart by telling me that John Howard had resigned and had been replaced by a far better leader, whilst Esperanc's Barking up the wrong tree's copyright warning had me chuckling even before their story began. Some great descriptive passages in The Macronamede Crystal and the effective adoption of an unusual character-narrator's position in Gothic Guardian were also appealing.
Sophisticated language usage was obvious in much of Celestial Aspirations - "[Gabriella] seemed more ethereal, illuminated by the moon shining somewhere above, through th sea of cloud." There is no doubt the writers from Perth College can weild a pen of keyboard with precision.
However, teenagers in the specified 10-18 years target group, like all readers, are attracted to stories that show not only skill with language, but most importantly, provide credible characters and an intriguing plot which demands the next page be turned. Other stories stood out in regard to these features.
Lilly's Dreaming from the Kununurra Mob 1 created a real sense of place and time with their story set up north. Here too were writers who knew how to quickly evoke character with clever and realistic dialogue.
"You overheated and fainted dear," said Lisa.
"You make it sound like I'm a car," Lilly replied.
However, the narrative which combined all ofits elements most successfully with a tongue-in-cheek, fast moving plot was set on Garden Island in the near future. Interesting characters, careful use of view and a well structured plot were combined effectively in a very well edited and carefully presented story. This story would definitely appeal to most younger teenagers.
I therefore declare Vengeance by Carpe Chaos - the Applecross SHS writers, the winners.
Winner - Perth College Junior School with The Truth of the Crystal Murder
The under 13 prize goes to a team that wrote about an Muslim girl called Maloona who was dumped by people smugglers on an Australian Beach, who was exploited by a wicked witch called Mun Daring who wished to possess the rare crystals of balance between good and evil, and was rescued by an angel and a muddle headed judge. The prize goes to the Perth College Junior School with its book The Truth of the Crystal Murder.