11.07.16 - Students’ Story Commended by Top Children’s Author

A story written by our pupils and inspired by the relationships that often occur between children with autism and the natural environment has been awarded runner-up in the ReadingZone Picture Book Competition 2016.

Thousands of children around the country took part in making picture books for the national competition. With over 5,000 entries, we’re delighted that ‘This is Me’ by Year 8 and 9 students Niamh Barry, Abi Kinsella, Sasha Ritchie, Imogen Sidaway and Tamsin Worthy was Highly Commended within the ‘Secondary School’ category and narrowly missed out on the overall prize.

The story draws inspiration from The Horse Boy Foundation. Imogen explains: “We have grown up around small animals and horses and were inspired by the effect they have on our emotions and wellbeing. Thanks to The Horse Boy we have educated ourselves on autism whilst creating a simple reflection on what those of us like Billy, our character, have to deal with. We have identified differences in how we all confront anxiety by taking a look at the world through Billy’s eyes.”

Mick Inkpen is the author of children’s classic ‘Kipper’ the dog. As judge he said: “This is Me got to me the moment I read it. It is very difficult to tell a story of this depth with so few words – and what a story! It could not be more successful in communicating the sense of isolation of its central character, in a way that we can all relate to. Nor could it be more elegant in combining those words with such arresting imagery. The transition to colour which marks the emergence of the central character’s identity – the point at which he breaks out of his isolation, is also the point at which we discover his name. A real masterstroke.”

Buzzing from their recent achievement, Tamsin said: “We’re ecstatic to win second place, especially as over 5,000 entries were received! The competition was a great experience and encouraged us to work together as a team and develop our creative and artistic skills. We’d also like to say a big thanks to Mick for his positive comments!”

Tom Brooksby, Headmaster, Ockbrook School, added: “We will be publishing a number of copies of ‘This is Me’ so that that parents, staff and children can enjoy this beautiful story. And I agree with Mick Inkpen when he says ‘This is Me’ creeps under your radar and moves you with its profound simplicity’. It’s an extraordinary achievement.”

The overall winner was The Grand Pancake Race by 12-year-old William Thompson, a pupil at Cockermouth School in Cumbria. His book appears on the Guardian Children’s Books site.

More information on the competition can be found online: