21st Apr, 2021

Teenage wordsmith's work published after national writing competition win

A WORDSMITH teenager from Rugby will have her work published in a new book after she won a national writing competition with a story about the heroic power of a violin.

Jessica Bryn, 17, was named as one of the winners of learning company Pearson’s My Twist on a Tale writing competition.

The competition encouraged children aged 4-19 to let their imagination run wild and write a story based on the new theme for 2020: Everyday Heroes.

Scooping the award in both the Key Stage 5 and West Midlands categories, Jessica’s work ‘When the world lost its beat’ was chosen alongside 14 other stories written by children across the country.

The book, My Twist on a Tale: Everyday Heroes Winning Stories, is being released to celebrate World Book Day today (Thursday March 4) – with all budding authors receiving their own hard copy as part of their prize.

Rugby High School student Jessica’s quirky story explores how the rhythm of normal life was altered with the announcement of the UK’s first national lockdown.

She wrote: “School bells stopped ringing, car alarms stopped beeping, people stopped sneezing but most importantly they stopped talking.

“When the beat stopped, all that was left was silence. How can we live in a silent world?”

As the story progresses, and the narrator’s room feels more and more like a prison, she is rescued by a ‘forgotten friend’ – a violin, gathering dust in the corner. Playing the violin helps her face her fears, and stop caring about what other people think. As a result, she is able to view her life with a newly positive perspective. “The old beat may have stopped,” she wrote, “but a new mix was starting to be created. By me.”

Jessica said: “I was really shocked when I found out I was one of the winners.

“I wanted to highlight that everyone and everything has the power to make a change to someone’s life big and small. Hopefully my true experience told through the story gave hope to people and showed them that there is light in times of darkness.”

Katy Lewis, Head of English, Drama and Languages at Pearson, said: “Jessica should be extremely proud of the story she has written. Her imagination and writing skills are outstanding.

“It was an incredibly difficult decision choosing from the 1,000-plus stories we received, as they were all fascinating to read, but Jessica’s piece really stood out and deserves its place alongside the other 14 winners who have built a collection of short stories that celebrate a diverse and modern-day Britain.

“Following an extraordinary year of disruption, we wanted to give children the opportunity to write their own tales of people who have made a difference to them. It is so important that children and young people feel represented in the literature they read and the stories they write.

“We wanted children and young people to get creative and reflect their own personality, location and experiences as they bought their local crusader to life. The results were fascinating. Everyone who entered should be extremely proud of their hard work and creative flair.”

Stella Thebridge, a member of the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Libraries who judged Jessica’s category, said: “This story had an object as its unusual hero, and the writer showed creative flair.

“The musical theme was well realised in the title and the imaginative use of language and wordplay made me want to read on.”

Visit go.pearson.com/mytwistonatale to find out more about Pearson’s My Twist on a Tale: Everyday Heroes, or to download a copy of the book.

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