Short story competition - win pounds 2,000

Ruth Rogers, co-owner of The River Cafe is married to Richard Rogers, the architect. She and their son Bo, aged 12, talk to Jenny Gilbert
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Ruth Bo prefers information to abstract stories. His favourite book is probably the London A-Z. He just loves the idea of grids and indexes and looking things up. And if you offer to read to him his first choice is always one of his guide books. He's come with us on trips - to Africa, India, Mexico, New York. It's not just that he imagines himself in that country - he's actually excited by details of getting there.

His father, Richard, is dyslexic and didn't learn to read till he was 13. All of Bo's four older brothers had trouble with reading, but Bo was different. He didn't speak till he was three and then learned to read six months later. As a small child he loved puzzles, and that turned into an obsession with maps. One of the reasons Richard and I tend to tell him stories rather than read them is that he'd not choose to read a story from a book at all. If it's a book, it must have information.

At 12, Bo still likes being put to bed, so we try to arrange it that one or other of us is at home. Richard makes up stories about going off in a spaceship to other planets - travel again, mixed with adventure. Mine is to tell him about a land we go to, a place where everything is the same. It might be waterland, where everything's covered in water, or sleepyland where everyone is sleepy and the taxi driver has to pull in and have a nap. Bo suggests the subjects. He also likes us to tell him about when he was little, and about our friends and family.

As parents we've had a dilemma - whether to carry on giving him what he wants, or try to broaden his experience. He is reading story books now, so we're not as concerned - he's enjoyed lots of Roald Dahl and Wind in the Willows, and Charlotte's Web. Although he finds some things difficult, his school has been marvellous about bolstering his confidence. He doesn't resist fiction, but given the choice, he'll still choose maps. Or cookery books. When he comes to the restaurant, he's intrigued by the rotas, the menus, the totting up. It's specific, you see, and that's how he likes things to be.

Bo My favourite books are atlases and travel books. And I like books about planes. Sometimes my mother and father and I read guidebooks and I quiz them on countries and cities. I like studying maps of cities, especially places we've been to, like New York or Paris or Venice. My brother Roo, who's 21, is in South Sudan and they read the letters he writes about his work with Medecins du Monde building a clinic. Sometimes he writes just to me and I read those to them.

Last Christmas, I got lots of books about travel and planes. I also got a book about myths, which was pretty good, I suppose. But my favourite book is about Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay because it gives a lot of detail. When I'm older those are the first places I'll go to. When I go to bed my mum always tells me a land story about a magical land, but she does read to me as well. Sometimes we start out by her reading a page and then me, but as I get more tired she takes over. When she puts me to bed, she always wears a soft woolly so that when we cuddle, it's soft

How to enter Our competition is for adults to write a short story for six- to nine-year-olds. It has a pounds 2,000 prize for the winner and pounds 500 each for two runners-up. You are invited to submit stories of 1,500 to 2,500 words which must arrive before 13 April at: Story of the Year Competition, PO Box 10715, London WC1A 1NA. You may enter once only, and the entry must be made by the writer, not on his or her behalf. Entries must be typewritten, double-spaced and on one side of the paper only. Stories cannot be returned, so please keep a photocopy. Stories submitted must be unpublished, but the competition is open to published writers. We will not accept stories with illustrations. The first page of the entry must consist only of your name, address and telephone number. The story should start on a separate sheet, with no name on any of the pages, so that it can be judged anonymously. The winning story will be published in The Independent in June. The top three stories and up to ten other entries will be published in the autumn by Scholastic Children's Books in a Story of the Year 4 anthology (a list of stories chosen will be published in The Independent at the same time). Any story chosen for publication in the anthology that does not win one of the top three cash prizes will receive a fee of pounds 200.

Rules This competition is not open to employees of, or relatives of employees of, Scholastic Ltd or Newspaper Publishing plc or anyone connected with the competition. Proof of posting cannot be accepted as proof of delivery. No responsibility can be accepted for entries which are delayed, damaged, mislaid or wrongly delivered. The judges' decision will be final and no correspondence can be entered into. Entry grants to Scholastic Ltd the exclusive right to publish an entrant's story in all formats throughout the world for the full legal term of copyright. A copy of the form of contract may be obtained on application to Scholastic Ltd. By submitting a story an entrant agrees to be bound by the terms of this agreement, and to sign it if called upon to do so. Any entry not submitted in the form specified will be deemed invalid. If your story is not published in the anthology or the newspaper by the end of 1996, these rights revert to you. Entry into the competition implies acceptance of these rules.

Comments