The Chalkface Challenge 2014: The Shadowing Results

We know who won The Chalkface Challenge 2014 - congratulations again to Jill Atkins for Elrac and the Konkipong Tree  but whose entries were sent with Jill's to the Shadow Judges? And did our shadows choose the same winner as the children?

Firstly,  here are our runners up - shortlisted by the children at Sparsholt C of E Primary School, in no particular order:

Ruth Griffiths @ruthsageman with Sheriff Daisy and the Cold Custard Ambush (entry22)
'I liked that this story was fun and enjoyable, yet it was probably better suited for younger readers. The story made full sense and was easy to read, I don't think I'd change anything If I'm correct about the age thing.'

Jan Deykin with Hunting Fernando (entry 28)
'It was a real page turner'
'I like that the theme was football.'
'I enjoyed it and I would like to read more.'

Celia Anderson  @CeliaAnderson1 with Teacher Torture (entry 3)
'I loved the idea of a teachers prison.'
'I found it quite funny that he only had one hair.'
Tamara Wolcough with Stag Lodge and the Missing Oracle (entry 16)
'I liked this story because there was a school for secret agents and I thought the story was really good'

The comments above are from The Chewstoke Reviewers who are aged 10 to 11yrs.
A small problem with the post (the kind that lands on your door mat) means I don't yet have the Sparsholt comments. All those of you who entered and have kindly sent me SAE's, I'll post out as sound as I do.

Congratulations Celia, Tamara, Ruth, and Jan!

So what did the shadow judges think - did they agree with the children?

Here are the shadow judges comments:

Amber Caraveo, Editorial Director at Orion Children's Books & Indigo

'I had so much fun reading the top five Chalkface Challenge entries!

It was incredibly difficult to pick a favourite. I thought Entry 3 was very funny (especially torturing the teachers with pictures of tea and KitKats! ☺) and I can definitely see how it will appeal to young readers, but ultimately the winning entry for me is Entry 22.

I thought Entry 22 was written with personality and imagination. I loved that Daisy was such a brave and feisty female protagonist, I really enjoyed the idea of her storybook characters coming to life and I adored the little details – like Ears’ ears drooping when he’s disappointed, the Strawberry Saloon serving jam tarts and Bad-Breath Bill demanding a ransom of gold chocolate coins! Fun and inventive – it’s a winner for me!'

Ben Illis, Literary Agent at The BIA Agency

'My favourite is entry 16.

Here’s why:

I love the way it starts as any ‘first day at a new school' narrative might start and then casually throws in the fact that Jamie and Dan are to be training as secret agents. There’s something lovely about the matter of fact tone in which this piece of super-exciting information is then discussed, to say nothing of the humour in Aunt Evie’s description of her own failures back in her own day and the tantalising revelation that Jamie’s mum was one of the best back in hers. I also love the way it leaves us hanging, wondering just what sort of excitement Jamie and Dan are going to be facing during their top secret training. I mean after all, who HASN’T dreamt of being a secret agent?!'

Jasmine Richards, Senior Commissioning Editor at OUP Children's

'OMG! How amazing are the shortlisted entries! Really confident and exciting storytelling and I've found it extremely difficult to choose just one because all of the stories are very strong.

However, under threat of being poked with a long stick and thrown in a cage with those horrible teachers I'm going to choose Flynn and the Cell Block Zero Teachers’ Prison. I loved how naturally funny this writer was and the attention to little details which set the scene and provided backstory.

I also liked that I could clearly see where this story was going - got a feeling that Flynn and those teachers are going to need to work together to beat that monster! Overall a very masterful piece of work - well done!'

Karen Ball, Publisher at Little, Brown Young Readers & Atom 

'My favourite extract is number 16, reasons below: The extract opens with a strong and intriguing line of dialogue. I immediately wanted to know why Jamie was struggling to breath! The opening sentences also work hard at establishing personalities in a quick space of time. We see that Aunt is distracted but very engaged in Jamie’s destiny and that Dan has a mischievous sense of humour. Our main character’s wry narrative perspective establishes the mood of the book, and I quickly understood (in a good way!) what type of journey I was on.

Jan Carr is the editor of Words & Pictures. Her fiction is all over the place, she actually blogs every week - here! She loves to write colourfully and organises The Chalkface Challenge by sweet talking all these lovely people to read, review, judge and most importantly ENTER! You can contact her at


  1. Wow - thanks so much for posting these great comments! Am very honoured to be chosen by the children as one of the final five and to be in such good company.

  2. Thanks so much, kids, I'm thrilled to be a runner-up. Congrats to Jill, Celia, Tamara & Ruth; and many thanks to Jan, Jasmine, Karen, Ben and Amber.

  3. Ruth Griffiths28 July 2014 at 15:40

    I would like to echo the thoughts of Ceila and still pinching myself (this is so awesome). Of course I would like to thank all the children and the judges for taking the time to take part in such a unique competition and can't wait to read the children's comments in the post ;-)

  4. I didn't win but what a great experience.

    Today I read the feedback from 10 and 11 year olds who had read the start of my story. It was like gold dust. So valuable and so much to learn from.

    I was encouraged by the positive comments and spurred on to make the start even better by the suggestions of these star pupils.

    A couple of observations:
    - keep the story flow clear and explain any jumps from one character to another
    - similarly don't make things too cryptic. Keep it simple, straightforward and well explained
    - kids want to quickly get to know the main character
    - two characters talking doesn't keep the attention no matter what they are talking about or how important it is


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