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Prose with principle

What could a beautician, chemist, receptionist and miner have in common? No, it’s not the start of a joke, they’re the professions of central characters featuring in last year’s winning stories in the Write a Book in a Day competition. See 2016 winners and their books

The annual contest inspires teams of writers and illustrators to collaboratively develop a storybook for children undergoing treatment in hospital. The philanthropic angle doesn’t stop there. Entrants are also encouraged to generate sponsorship for their book project with proceeds going toward children’s cancer research.

Coordinator of the program, Pip Aitken from The Kids’ Cancer Project says, “While the competition has a very serious side, the project itself is enormously fun, with lots of twists and challenges.”

She’s referring not only to fact that Write a Book in a Day is a team competition that literally requires the book to be written in a 12-hour period, but also to the random words and unique parameters entrants must weave into their stories.

“In the early morning that the team nominate as their writing day, we email words they must include in their story. These are the same for every team in every division. Delicious, nonsense, hums, cracked and danger had to be included in all stories written for the 2016 competition,” she said.

“The other aspect of the story is the unique parameters. This is where the professions of primary characters come from. The teams also have to include a specified non-human character, a setting and issue.”

It might seem a cruel folly to up the ante in what’s already a considerably challenging competition, however the parameters ensure no element of the book can be pre-planned, written or illustrated. It also means each story is entirely unique.

“Every year I read the books and am amazed at the creativity it sparks,” said Col Reynolds, founder of The Kids’ Cancer Project. “So many of our entries come from school students. It’s just great that these are kids learning and having fun while they’re doing it. At the same time, they’re helping other kids by raising money for important research into childhood cancer.”

And while there’s a lot of adults and amateur writing groups who get involved with the Write a Book in a Day competition, at the end of the day, it’s all about the kids. And there’s nothing sweeter than watching kids helping other kids.

Photo above:
Education Coordinators Nicole Done and Lisa Shortland were thrilled to receive our 2016 judged entries which will be used by children staying in Ronald McDonald House participating in their Learning Program.