Congratulations to the winners of the little BIG Book Competition!
The little category winner is Emma Bowler, 8 years old from Dartford, England.
The BIG category winner is Amy Lever, 19 years old from Manchester.
Here are their winning stories Pipi The Panda by Emma and Far From The Home I Love by Amy.
Pipi The Panda
Deep in the bamboo forest lived a panda called Pipi. She was lonely because she didn't have a friend so she decided to set out to find one.
Soon enough she saw a beautiful bird flying overhead. Surprisingly it swooped down and perched onto the tree next to her! Suddenly it started to speak and asked her if she was ok. Pipi told the bird that she would like to fly like him so the bird offered to help her. They made wings out of leaves and Pipi climbed up a tree to test them. She then jumped off but instead of flying she fell and landed with a THUMP! The bird rushed over but it was too late, she was already gone.
Meanwhile Pipi was walking through the trees feeing lonely and sad. But she suddenly heard fast footsteps coming her way! Then in a cloud of dust a cheetah appeared in front of her! The cheetah started to speak and asked if she needed any help. Pipi told the cheetah that she wanted to be like her! So she suggested that she should try running as fast as her but she just couldn’t do it. The cheetah then hurried back over to see if she was ok but Pipi had already gone.
She was walking through the trees when she heard a soft noise coming her way! She saw a green head poking out of the leaves! Suddenly a tortoise came out and stared up at her! Surprisingly in a croaky voice it started to speak and asked what she was doing. Then Pipi replied and told the tortoise that she wanted to be like him! So the tortoise helped her to find the right size coconut shell and put it on her back. But it didn’t stay on, it just fell off! The tortoise clomped over but Pipi had already wandered off.
Pipi was wandering aimlessly through the trees when she saw a rabbit holding a carrot coming towards her! It stopped and asked her what she was doing. Pipi said she wanted to be like him! So the rabbit helped her to find sticks. He put them on Pipi’s head as ears but they fell off. The rabbit ran to pick the sticks up and help but Pipi was already gone.
Pipi was walking miserably towards the river. She then sat down and gazed at her reflection thoughtfully. Suddenly there was a rustle in the trees and Pipi saw all of the animals that she had met earlier! Then the animals asked if she would like them to be her friend. Pipi replied and said that she thought that she had to be the same as them to be their friend. She said that she was sorry and hadn’t meant to be rude!
The animals accepted her apology and crossed the river towards her! They asked Pipi if she wanted to have lunch with them and from then on Pipi was never lonely again.
far from the home i love
Four walls stare back at me in semi-darkness. I can just about make out their crevices by the light that has managed to migrate from the window and become displaced in their corners and cracks. A hand reaches out in a sheepish morning stretch towards this light only wanting to feel its warmth but casts a shadow instead.
I hear a neck, an arm, a weary leg crack, crack, crack, as they rise and move after being still for so long. Crack, crack, crack like the glow sticks my grandmother used to bring me on bonfire night when I was too young to hold a sparkler. I am standing, my perspective has changed from the walls to my window.
“To the windooow to the waaal” the soundtrack of my life chants. How exciting. I have not physically moved in days. Instead I travel in cracks and slips, nooks and crannies and corners. This is my new favourite pastime; they never move they are still like me, yet they change when light is shed on them. Stillness, grief does that apparently or at least that’s what I heard my mother say through the crack in my door when she must have thought I was asleep. If this is grief then it is very boring; I watched an episode of “The Simpsons” once, prior to my wall crack watching days, where Homer sped through five whole stages of grief in the span of thirty seconds. I should have known that my experience would not be the same as a cartoon yellow man; mine is monotonous and singular there are no stages, no episodes just one long dull drawl.
The hand pulls back the curtain and reveals: my window and my windowsill with the cactus plant that sits on it all set against the backdrop of a drizzly grey morning. No wonder light wants to occupy my cracks when it is clearly unwelcome in such gloom. I have the sudden urge to press myself against my window to feel coolness spread through my cheek, to feel connected to my body for once.
My vision is obscured by a blurred blob in the corner squished up against the glass. This kind of reminds me of when my mum used to try and use our camcorder when we went on holiday. She would capture my own and my sister’s sun burnt smiles which were stretched further by my grandmothers darker and more wrinkled grin. These were obscured by my mother’s finger on the lens which appeared as a blob that was a shade in between us ironically as my mother is the generation in the middle as well.
And now I’m on the floor, my view sweeping past me, dropping from ceiling to window to windowsill and finally to the carpet, in one foul swoop. I drop at the thought that I will never really see her again. Only sometimes in the face of my mother but never in my own. The hand moves towards the cactus on the windowsill, the fingers prick themselves on the points of a spine.
I will myself to feel distracted by the pain, to own the hand that pulls back the curtain, the legs and neck that crack, the cheek that is smudged up against the window. Or better yet I will this to be my spindle prick and fall asleep for years and years uninterrupted by cracks of light and concerned whispers through slips in the door. I achieve neither; the cactus a haunting reminder of the one who gifted it to me and her parting words as I left with her present to university.
“Don’t go feeding it pot noodle” she said. “Just a little water but it will probably be fine as I know you might forget, popkin.”
I did forget. Yet it endured all of term time and the journeys there and back. It survived as she had said, even its spines continued to grow and all.
Back then I felt like myself but when I came home my grandmother was not there. Now I do not feel like myself. It’s like I am in a police station looking at myself through one-way glass; I know her, I see her, I am her, yet I feel nothing she feels. My disposition is as rigid as the glass that separates us and as cold as the glass she pushes her cheek up against.
My excruciating one -way windowpane my very own bell jar. This must have been how my grandma felt - unseen and unwelcome in a place that had been her home since 1948 sadly now full of barriers to empathy and one-way glass and one- track minds. Her family portraits, primary school records, birth certificate stacked up high like a document Jenga tower tumbling down in 2018 unable stand without a red turning blue rectangular papers piece.
This must be how my grandmother felt in a place where she had met grandpa; his new home since December 1938 where he had got a train leaving his parents behind trading a gold star badge for a gold lion stamped passport instead. She spoke your language, she did your work, she gave birth to your children. She burnt wooden men on a bonfire, she sang “God save the Queen” but she was not the colour of the British flag, so you sent her away.
The hands close around the cactus the spines piercing into the skin, the closest thing I can do to embrace her. Tough and prickly on the outside, all spine and backbone a sharp survivor no doubt but on the inside retaining water so essential I don’t think I could live without. I like to think they might be linked, an odd thought I know, but as the cactus continues to grow away from its native home maybe my grandma continues to survive, somewhere in Jamaica, this place where she was born but not the place she calls home.
The hand places the cactus back on the windowsill its spines tinged red matching the tips of the fingers; they resemble each other for once. It makes me think that we are all one and the same, me and grandma and everyone else in the world; even though we look different we all bleed red.