WHERE will the next JK Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson or Philip Pullman come from?
That is what the Oxford Mail was hoping to find out when we launched our Ox Tales writing competition in November.
Today we are delighted to present our three winners.
In first place Freya Lovstrom, 14, from Larkmead School, Abingdon, wowed our judges with a time-travelling poem about Boars Hill – one of Oxford’s most famous landmarks – through the ages and the seasons.
First runner-up was 12-year-old Mattie Amphlett from Bartholomew School, Eynsham, with a story about his favourite garage, and our third place winner was 11-year-old Tia Boyden from Wood Green School, Witney, who penned a tale about some forgotten memories at a Witney vintage shop.
You can read all their stories and 37 others that made our shortlist in a special pull-out supplement today.
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Freya will receive a £50 book voucher and £250 worth of books for her school, and there are also vouchers for Mattie, Tia and 20 other commended entrants.
But more important than any of that, we are hoping the experience will help foster a lifelong love of writing in all the 678 pupils who entered from 16 schools.
First-place Freya said winning the contest had boosted her confidence: “I was really, surprised. I’ve always liked writing but I’ve never won a big competition before.”
The 14-year-old, who has lived in Abingdon all her life, said she had rarely shown her work to other people.
She said: “It can take quite a long time to get to the point of sharing something.”
Ox Tales, organised with the National Literacy Trust, asked 11- to 14-year-olds to write up to 500 words about a place in Oxfordshire that means something to them.
Freya’s poem was inspired by family walks on Boars Hill.
Bartholomew School pupil Mattie wrote his story about Pitstop garage in Brize Norton, where he and his dad restored a 1963 MGB Roadster.
The 12-year-old from Hanborough said: “It’s one of my favourite places; it inspired me because I go there often and love learning about cars.
“I felt surprised and proud to be a winner – it’s the first time I have had this recognition for my writing.”
Our youngest winner is Tia, a Year 7 pupil at Wood Green School, who painted a portrait of her favourite shop: Witney’s vintage boutique The Old Pill Factory.
Tia has been making up stories since she was four years old and dreams of being a writer like her favourite author Sophie Mackenzie.
All pieces were judged by children’s author Frances Hardinge and representatives from the literacy trust, Oxfordshire County Council and the Oxford Mail.