story of the year competition; The jury is out

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We received almost 2,500 entries in our fourth Story of the Year competition to write original fiction for six- to nine-year-olds. The winning entry will be published in the magazine next week. The author also receives

a pounds 2,000 prize - the biggest award in Britain for unpublished children's work. Two runners up will receive pounds 500 and the top ten entries will be published by Scholastic Children's Books in a special anthology in the autumn - the titles and authors will be revealed on 8 June. The decisions are in the hands of our panel of judges, whose task it is to choose the winning entries from an anonymous short list of 21 funny, fantastic, touching and sad stories.

The judges

Adrian Edmondson, known for his TV roles as Vyvyan in The Young Ones and Eddie in Bottom. His first novel The Gobbler is published in September. He is married to Jennifer Saunders and they have three daughters.

Blake Morrison, former literary editor of the Independent on Sunday and author of the best selling autobiographical account of his family And When Did You Last See Your Father?

David Fickling, publishing director of Scholastic Children's Books.

Michael Watts, editor of The Independent Magazine

Wendy Berliner, editor of the education pages of The Independent.

Jose Williams, current vice-chair of the Federation of Children's Book Groups. Ms Williams represents the opinions of children who have read the stories at home and at Ferndale Preparatory School in Oxfordshire, and three Wiltshire schools: St Michael's School, Aldbourne; St Katharine's School, Savernake, and Ogbourne St George's School.

Anne Everall, a librarian and manager of the Centre for the Child in the Central Library, Birmingham.

The short list

The Amazing Tale of Maurice Norris Maurice has hyperbelirumbletosis, according to Doctor Proctor - in other words, he cannot stop eating.

A Cat Called Conker A lonely child makes friends with a cat with silky brown fur like a conker.

Don't Mention Boats in our House It all begins when Dad decided it would be a good idea to buy a boat, but what follows perhaps proves he was mistaken.

The Eagle and the Moon Jones Smallwood is very lonely until he befriends the eagle in a cage at the zoo.

The Girl who Sold Slippers to Snakes A traditional-style fairy tale, with twists and turns and a happy ending.

The Hippo in the Back Garden Aunt Sophie lives in Africa and sends the most wonderful presents. This one is called Pig, and he is a hippopotamus.

The Inventions Club Mr Wagg is new, and a bit peculiar, but his idea of an inventions club certainly sounds fun.

Johnny Crook's Ghost A ghost story set in times past.

Les Cargo - the Leaping Snail Les is a snail with a difference: he leaps, rather than crawls, and it gets him into many an adventure.

The Miracle of Little Abdul Bahir The story of a brave little boy called Abdul Bahir.

Ms Grumpbottom Ms Grumpbottom has grown into her name, but circumstances jolt her into happier times.

No Place Like Home The great, dark house is groaning with loneliness, until Emily and her father prove to it and themselves that there is no place like home.

Perfect Pets This is a pet shop with a difference. It sells eels, which are after all the perfect pets!

A Present for Gran In the course of making a special present for Gran, Danny finds out just how he takes after his father.

A Sensible Solution Mr Willis intends to let his room to a very quiet person, but Milly and her parrot Roger turn out to be not at all as intended.

The Sheltie A folk tale-style story, set in Orkney where the sturdy little ponies called Shetlands live.

Spellshocked The editor of the Daily Dragon is a whiz with the headlines as he follows developments at the Royal Court.

Spooks and Sneezes Jack is always playing tricks on Ellie, but there really is a ghost at Creepmoore Castle and, what's more, he has a cold.

The Sun's Day The sun is feeling grumpy. He has had four billion birthdays without even a card. Enough is enough.

The Tale of Thagg Thagg is a big and ugly troll, whose ambition is to win the Troll Games