TIDE TURNS FOR TOAD AS WRITERS
TURN CLASSIC NOVEL UPSIDE DOWN
- Winners announced for Wind in the Willows short story
- Authors re-frame Kenneth Grahame's classic for the 21st Century -
16 June 2009: There's not a toad, a rat or a badger
to be seen in the winning entries to a competition launched by the River
& Rowing Museum (www.rrm.co.uk)
to write a short story inspired by Kenneth Grahame's classic book The
Wind in the Willows.
Announced today (15 June) at a special prize giving ceremony at the Museum
- the winning entries cover everything from the credit crunch to issues
of global warming; teenage angst through to juvenile pranks, with something
for everyone - from tots through to terrible teens!
Launched last October to celebrate the 100th birthday of Kenneth Grahame's
famous novel, the competition invited writers to re-frame the story for
the 21st century and attracted hundreds of exciting entries, presenting
new and imaginative insights into this much-loved story and transporting
it to a contemporary riverside setting.
The winning entries were chosen by a panel of award-winning children's
writers led by Beverley Birch, Senior Commissioning Editor at Hodder Children's
Books. All ten shortlisted entries are available to download FREE from
www.rrm.co.uk - so bedtime stories need never be boring again!
And the winners are
- First Prize: Sarah Burnett, Edinburgh for Pike: How to
survive predators, parents and other disasters - a contemporary
tale of childhood exploration, sibling rivalry and daring discovery
proving that a sense of imagination and adventure will conquer all -
even the credit crunch!
- Second Prize: Lydia Fulleylove, Isle of Wight for Rose Petal
Mirage - a hypnotic and mysterious story of teenage love as
two friends swim together in dangerous water with unknown consequences
- Third Prize: Tim Ellis, Essex for The Expedition
- turning Toad Hall upside down, this quirky story for younger readers
appoints the weasel as Lord of the Manor as they head upstream to discover
why the water has stopped flowing and the river has run dry
Sarah Burnett, first prizewinner said: "The challenge
of this competition was to take the essence of this magical story and
turn it into something even more relevant to a children's audience today.
Children will always be inspired and captivated by the river and its promise
of adventure. I wanted to mix this with the very real concerns of our
time - adult issues that really impact upon our children. Many of the
stories I loved as a child were about children who overcome fear or loneliness
or a sense of being lost; I wanted to write something like those stories,
but in the context of today."
Beverley Birch, Short Story Competition Judge and Senior Commissioning
Editor at Hodder Children's Books: "What we liked about the
winning entries was the way that they all captured, in very different
ways, the spirit of the river and a sense of its magic as well as the
essence of childhood, adventure and discovery. These are not stories about
children, but for them - never underestimating their capacity for subtlety
Paul Mainds, Trustee and Chief Executive, River & Rowing Museum:
"Congratulations to Sarah, Lydia and Tim. They have taken inspiration
from this great treasure of children's fiction to create exciting, new
and pertinent stories for today's young readers. They have turned Grahame's
classic novel on its head to deal with a variety of contemporary issues,
especially the environmental problems affecting our rivers and the wildlife
surrounding them. It underlines the power of the river to inspire people
in so many ways. Perhaps one of these stories will become a national classic
in years to come."
The River & Rowing Museum is a national museum with a strong regional
focus, attracting over 100,000 visitors a year. And at just £7 (£5
for children) for admission for a whole year - it's a complete bargain!
The Museum houses the UK's only permanent exhibition dedicated to The
Wind in the Willows as well as galleries exploring the ecological, environmental
and leisure uses of the River Thames as well as the international sport
of rowing - areas close to hearts of the characters in Wind in the
Press releases and pictures for the events and activities can
be downloaded from http://www.kallaway.co.uk/rrm.htm. For further information
020 7221 7883
Notes to Editors
About the Authors:
Sarah Burnett was born in Dorset and spent many long summer holidays
playing by the river Stour. She studied Japanese and Law at Cambridge,
and worked as a financial journalist in London, before moving to Brussels
and then Edinburgh. She's written many types of publication, from guidebooks
to websites, on subjects from shortbread to credit cards, but 'Pike' is
her first attempt at a children's story, She now juggles copywriting and
editing, with - in no particular order - family, hens, dog, piano practice
Lydia Fulleylove is currently completing an Arts Council funded
cross arts project, Wild Places, at HMP Albany, Isle of Wight, where she
has worked as writer in residence from 2004. She has published poems and
stories in magazines and anthologies and has received a Writer's Award
from ACE to work on a first poetry collection. Lydia has also published
creative writing/literacy materials for young people for the Isle of Wight
Education Directorate and for Nelson Thornes. While working on a creative
writing degree, she became especially interested in writing for young
people and in radio drama.
Tim Ellis was born in London and grew up in Manchester. He joined
the Royal Army Medical Corps at eighteen and completed twenty-two years
service, leaving in 1993 having achieved the rank of Warrant Officer Class
One (Regimental Sergeant Major). Since then he has worked in higher education
as an associate lecturer/tutor and consultant, and secondary education
as a senior manager. He currently works as Head of Behavioural Sciences
in a secondary school. He has a PhD and an MBA in Educational Management
from Lincoln University and an MA in Education from Anglia Ruskin University.
He lives in Essex with his wife and five Shitzus. His main interests are
reading and writing fiction.
First prize: £500 and a Real Writers (www.real-writers.com) appraisal
Second prize: £200
Third Prize: £50
The judging panel is made up of award-winning writers for children and
young adults - Beverley Birch (Rift), S.I. Martin (Jupiter Williams),
Paul Bryers (Kobal from The Mysteries of the Septogram), and Sarah Mussi
(The Door of No Return)
About Wind in the Willows:
Wind in the Willows was first published in 1908. It focuses on
four anthropomorphized animal characters: Ratty, Mole, Mr. Toad and Mr.
Badger and is set in a riverside setting on the River Thames. It is often
seen as a commentary on class dynamics in British society with the four
main characters representing the upper, middle and lower classes but also
focuses heavily on the themes of the river. The mild mannered, water loving
Ratty is still hugely popular and is the character to whom the famous
phrase "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth
doing as simply messing about in boats" is attributed.
Wind in the Willows at the River & Rowing Museum.
The River & Rowing Museum is home to the UK's only permanent exhibition
on The Wind in the Willows. The exhibition recreates the timeless
E H Shepard illustrations from Kenneth Grahame's famous novel - from Mole's
home to the dangers of the Wild Wood!
Decline of the Water Vole:
The water vole is Britain's fastest declining mammal. 1990 levels recorded
a national water vole population of just over seven million across the
UK. By 1998 numbers had crashed to less than 1 million, a decline of almost
90 per cent in just seven years. Predation by American Mink and poor watercourse
management have accelerated its decline. The Government has recognised
its plight and from 6 April 2008 the water vole was given extra protection
under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Further information: www.wildlifetrusts.org
Decline of the Toad:
An estimated 20 tones of toads are squashed crossing roads in the UK every
year. In Kenneth Grahame's book, Toad is a reckless driver in his beloved
motorcar - a rarity on roads 100 years ago. Today the car is considered
one of the biggest killers of toads, helping plunge the warty amphibian
into a steep population decline. Toads are very selective about where
they reproduce. They often return to the ancestral pond that they emerged
from themselves, which often means crossing busy roads. Half of Europe's
frogs, toads and newts could be wiped out by 2050, according to the Zoological
Society of London. Factors include climate change, habitat destruction
Source. Froglife: http://www.froglife.org
Badgers and TB:
Bovine TB is transmitted between cattle, amongst badgers and between cattle
and badgers. But what has dominated debate is whether badger culling could
be effective in controlling the disease. On 7 July 2008 Hilary Benn, the
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made a statement
to Parliament that the Government's policy will be not to issue any licenses
to farmers to cull badgers for TB control, while remaining open to the
possibility of revisiting this policy under exceptional circumstances,
or if new scientific evidence were to become available.
Source. DEFRA: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/abouttb/badgers.htm
The Threat to Moles:
Earthworms are the most important component of the mole's diet; an 80g
mole needs 50g of earthworms per day. Non-indigenous flatworms (the New
Zealand and Australian) prey on earthworms and pose a potential threat
to our native earthworm populations and consequently. In some areas they
can even cause the local extinction of earthworms. The spread of non-indigenous
flatworms could have an impact on wildlife species dependent on earthworms
such as the mole. Sources: DEFRA: http://www.defra.gov.uk/planth/pestnote/flat.htm
The Mammal Society: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/mammal/mole.shtml
The River & Rowing Museum (www.rrm.co.uk)
The River & Rowing Museum is one of the UK's leading regional and
sporting museums, attracting over 100,000 visitors a year. The Museum,
an independent charity, also has a purpose built education centre visited
by over 20,000 children and adults a year.
The Museum provides superb value for money. Tickets start at £7.00
for adults and £5.00 for children, and provide free access for one
The Museum celebrates four themes explored through a wide variety of exhibitions
and events across four galleries and special exhibitions:
- The past, present and future of the River Thames
- The historic riverside community of Henley on Thames
- The international sport of rowing
- The Wind in the Willows
Since opening in August 1998 the Museum has received numerous awards
including the National Heritage/NPI Museum of the Year award and the Sandford
Award For Heritage Education.
Location, opening and ticket information
The River & Rowing Museum (www.rrm.co.uk), Mill Meadows, Henley on
Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF. Tel. 01491 415600.
- The museum, terrace café and shop are open every day from 10am
- 5.30pm in summer and 10am - 5pm in the winter
- Tickets give FREE admission for a whole year!
- Admission is just £7.00 for adults, £5.00 for children
aged four and over, FREE for children aged three and under and £5.00
for senior citizens and concessions
- Free parking for visitors
The River & Rowing Museum is part of the Thames Valley Museums Group
(TVMG) Family Friendly initiative - a scheme that brings together 29 museums
across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, to promote their popular
appeal to the whole family.
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