Lyrical tale of mysterious teacher wins writer's prize

By Antonia Anderson

All Black Keven Mealamu will be illustrating the book featuring Pukekohe Intermediate School pupil Grace Michie's poem. Photo / Chris Gorman
All Black Keven Mealamu will be illustrating the book featuring Pukekohe Intermediate School pupil Grace Michie's poem. Photo / Chris Gorman

A young student who was a finalist in last year's inter-school writing competition has gone a step further this year, winning the top prize.

Twelve-year-old Gracie Michie's poem Room 23 and the Mysterious Miss P has been chosen as the best entry of nearly 900 in the Barfoot and Thompson Young Authors Challenge.

The fictional poem tells the story of a "mysterious" relief teacher who gives misbehaving students an unexpected lesson. It will be published alongside five others written by primary and intermediate students.

Yesterday the Pukekohe Intermediate school student was recognised at an assembly at her school with a visit from writer John Parker and All Black Keven Mealamu, who is illustrating the book.

Mr Parker described Gracie's writing as "promising and very convincing".

"You can sense the ones that are going to become good writers."

It is Mealamu's sixth year illustrating the book and he is looking forward to "getting stuck into it".

"It's pretty awesome when its finished. Feels pretty special to be part of it."

Gracie said the win had encouraged her to write more.

"Especially entering a competition like this, it really boosts my confidence," she said. "I was aiming to win after coming so close last year."

Entries came in from more than 150 schools ranging from Pukekohe to Cape Reinga.

Barfoot and Thompson managing director Peter Thompson said the competition had increased by a third since last year.

The compilation of stories will be available in November, costing about $15-$20 per book and all proceeds are donated to Starship children's hospital.

- NZ Herald

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