KidEngage Writing Competition 2019 – A perspective from the judges

The KidEngage Writing Competition has just completed its third successful year. What started out in Summer 2017 as an idea to engage children during the holidays, has now grown into India’s largest creative writing contest for children.

The first year, we had around 500 entries in the categories of Flash Fiction, Essay Writing and Short Story. In 2018, we replaced Essay Writing with Poetry, and Flash Fiction with Picture Composition and the number of entries went up to 980, with some amazing winners. This year, we received more than 2000 entries, with many children sending multiple entries. The students were not limited to metro cities alone. We received dozens of entries from places like Kakinada, Ambala, and from mofussil towns near the big cities as well. There were a few entries from UAE and US as well. Another heartening feature has been the enthusiastic participation from schools that cater to lower income groups – special thanks to the fellows from Teach for India who go the extra mile to inspire students and then help them in submission online!

It is not just the quantity of entries. The quality of writing has also been of very high level, making the task of the judges tougher. It was a pleasure reading through the entries, and as promised, the judges provided feedback of 2-3 lines (and sometimes more) for every entry. Our two judges are anonymous and it shall remain that way. They also feel the privilege of reading the creative output of children across the country is a fine reward in itself.

We would like to share their quick thoughts on the winning entries in Short Story and Poetry categories below.

Short story

1st Prize – The Long Road Home by Varsha Raghuram – Bangalore

“Searing, unflinching prose mirroring the barren landscape it describes. The ability to hold the reader in thrall and keep the hope alive in human vs nature battle till the very last paragraph shows a gifted pen. The story will haunt the reader for sure.”

2nd Prize – The Eleven Jars by Ananya Aloke – Mumbai

” This one makes you feel you are reading the early work of a future master storyteller –  a cross between O’Henry and Stephen King. Very satisfying read.”

3rd Prize – The Secret of an Expensive, Noisy Bed by Shabbir Ali Razvi – Hyderabad

“An utterly original and funny take on our greedy consumerist culture. I could not believe a boy sitting in the heart of Old City Hyderabad has put his finger on the global consumer culture so effortlessly. Googled to check if this story is lifted from somewhere, and was delighted to fail in my search.”

3rd Prize – The Tooth Fairy by Harshitha Bhat – Bangalore

“A story about a 15 year old girl realising that life is indeed magical, and there is a reason for fairies and fairy tales to exist in a child’s imagination. A slice of life story involving sisterly love, told beautifully.”

3rd Prize – The Maze Escape by Purvaja Yennamaneni – Hyderabad

“Purvaja welds the Hunger Games motif with a fantasy land populated by characters from classic stories. Written with a touch of assurance belying her age, the writer makes you want to read more and more of her prolific pen. All her entries are of high quality.”

Poetry

1st Prize – If you were stuck clicking a photograph, by Shreya Sethi – Ambala

“I can do no better than just quote one of the lines from the poem -‘Running out of nothing on an overcast day; And diving head first into a miracle‘ – Shreya Sethi is a poet and a philosopher for the new age.”

2nd Prize – The Story of Sir Hilly-Hay (Now for the first time in verse), by Aritro Ray – Hyderabad

“Where do these kids come from? The chutzpah needed to write a ballad of sorts, making it fun to read, and end with a self-deprecatory crack. Shabaash !”

3rd Prize – Who We Are, by Varsha Raghuram – Bangalore

“Varsha who won a prize with a brilliant short story uses her strength to great effect in this poem. With a staccato rhythm, this could be set to music and can become an anthem for women power.”

3rd Prize – The Spider Web, by Bhadra Panicker – Ghaziabad

“Bhadra weaves a dark picture here. She has submitted other noteworthy poems as well, but this one takes the worm and eats it too.”

3rd Prize – Alone In a Crowd, by Marcela Fernandez – Hyderabad

“Marcela opens a window into the feelings of a loner, an introvert, someone in the background always. This young poet has oodles of empathy. She can be a writer who can help people with her writing.”

You can view the full list of results along with the special mentions here.

We’re so proud, and so grateful to the universe that we have this opportunity to bring the talent of these young children to the world. These entries are going to be published in an anthology as a printed book. We hope that seeing their name in print as an author will motivate the children further to write more. If you would like to get copies of the book, please email us at contact(at)kidengage(dot)com with your contact details and the number of copies you wish to order.

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