Emerging writers bask in warmth of success in children's story competition

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The Independent Online
CAROLINE PITCHER in central London yesterday, with her children Lauren, eight, and Max, four, after receiving her prize as the first winner of the Story of the Year competition, writes Hilly Janes.

Launched this year by the Independent and Scholastic Children's Books, it is the biggest prize for unpublished work for children and aims to discover new talent.

Mrs Pitcher was presented with a cheque for pounds 2,000 by Andreas Whittam Smith, editor of the Independent. The joint runners-up received cheques for pounds 500. They were Rupert Morgan (far right), who lives on a barge on the French canals, for Bogart, the story of a wise-cracking teddy bear; and Nicola Jones (far left) of south London, for The Jackfruit Tree, about a seed brought back from Jamaica that would not stop growing.

Readers were invited to write a story for 6- to 9- year-olds and the judges, who included Judge Stephen Tumim, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Suggs of the pop group Madness, chose Kevin the Blue by Mrs Pitcher, a former primary school teacher, from 3,700 entries. It is the story of a little boy and a kingfisher, based on a river near Mrs Pitcher's home in Belper, Derbyshire.

A collection of the top 10 stories will be published in the autumn, and the competition is to become an annual event.

(Photograph omitted)