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Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Children's Story (Results)  (Read 3141 times)

Sinitrena

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Welcome, kids.
Please gather around the librarian here and listen carefully. We will soon have the newest stories just for you!



Children love them, adults do too when they look at them through a nostalgia filter or when they are really good...


I'm talking about story books for children - (very) young children, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar (which just had its 50th anniversary) or The Cat in the Hat.

They are often a visual medium as much as a textual one (I don't expect you to draw anything, but keep this in mind), might have repetitive elements to it, might use easier words and a simpler sentence structure. The way their subject is presented needs to be appropriate for children (no swear words, for example) but their subject matter doesn't need to be light. There are children's books about dealing with death. Often, they contain some kind of message.

This is your challenge: Write a children's book (I say book because these stories are really not that long) for an age group no older than 8 years.

The stories will be judged in these categories: Plot, Character, Language (age appropriate) and Message.

You have until Monday, 5. August 2019.
« Last Edit: 12 Aug 2019, 18:36 by Sinitrena »

Baron

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Oh, cool!  I wrote a book for my daughter for her fifth birthday using only the words she knew how to read by sight (instead of sounding out).  She only knew 100 words or so, which I remember made it very difficult to write anything that made any sense.  Let's just say that the deeper message that you find in the better children's stories was somewhat lacking in that outing....   (roll)

Sinitrena

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Lovely  ;-D Did she enjoy it?

Mandle

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Lonely Noun Goes And Finds Friends

PG01: Noun (A picture of "Noun", a neutral-looking character, looking sad in its house.)

PG02: Door (Noun looking at its front door, from the interior.)

PG03: Outside (Noun peeking out of the partially open front door, from the exterior.)

PG04: Forest (Noun walking along a forest path.)

PG05: Adjective (Noun stops, looking on warily as a flamboyant-looking character, "Adjective", approaches from ahead along the forest path. Adjective also looks sad.)

PG06: Happy Noun (Noun shaking hands with Adjective and smiling. Drawn from Adjective's viewpoint.)

PG07: Happy Adjective (Adjective shaking hands with Noun and smiling. Drawn from Noun's viewpoint.)

PG08: Scary forest (A picture of the path ahead, getting darker, with brambles closing in. Noun and Adjective in foreground looking down the path with foreboding.)

PG09: Brave friends (Noun and Adjective side-by-side looking resolutely ahead.)

PG10: Scary noise (Noun and Adjective glancing around, deep in the dark brambly path.)

PG11: Scared Verb (A new character, "Verb", always drawn twitchy like it can't stay still, comes dashing out of the gloom ahead, looking over its shoulder with fear.)

PG12: Happy Noun (Noun shaking hands with Adjective and Verb and smiling. Drawn from Adjective's viewpoint.)

PG13: Happy Adjective (Adjective shaking hands with Noun and Verb and smiling. Drawn from Verb's viewpoint.)

PG14: Happy Verb (Verb shaking hands with Noun and Adjective and smiling. Drawn from Noun's viewpoint.)

(Verb's handshake, from every perspective, is very physically exuberant and shakes Noun and Adjective up and down while they are smiling.)

PG15: Brave Noun goes (Noun continuing down the scary path. Adjective looks ready to follow but Verb looks undecided.)

PG16: Brave Adjective goes (Adjective following a short distance behind Noun, looking brave in an overly-expressive way.)

PG17: Scared Verb goes (Verb, reluctantly, and with expressive body-language, following quite a distance behind Noun and Adjective, looking very scared. The start of a rocky crevice is visible ahead with the path winding into it.)

PG18: Brave Noun listens (A close-up of Noun with hand cupped to ear. The path has entered a rocky crevice and the rocks look like scary faces here and there.)

PG19: Brave Adjective listens (Adjective has arrived by Noun's side and is in similar pose, a bit more flamboyantly though.)

PG20: Scared Verb listens (Verb has arrived by Noun and Adjective's side and is in similar pose, except twitchier.)

PG21: Scared Conjunction comes (A new character, "Conjunction", comes running from further down the path, glancing over its shoulder. Conjunction is constantly looking left and right in a blur in all its future poses.)

PG22: Happy Noun and happy Adjective and happy Verb and happy Conjunction (A crane-shot of the whole band shaking hands, each in their own way: Noun is normal, Adjective is expressive, Verb is overly-energetic, Conjunction is glancing to both sides as always.)

PG23: Brave Noun and brave Adjective and scared Verb and scared Conjunction go (A shot of them continuing down the path through the rocky crevice. A dark cave looms ahead.)

PG24: Brave Noun and brave Adjective and scared Verb and scared Conjunction stop (They stand before the cave, each in their typical poses, looking up warily at the sign above the cave which reads "PUNCTUATION")

(Only part one of a series, and I am already seriously considering making this a thing. In contact with the perfect artist for it.)
« Last Edit: 24 Jul 2019, 10:20 by Mandle »

cat

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Awesome topic! My daughter only wants to read wimmelbooks at the moment, preferably with construction machines or vehicles, but maybe I can also come up with something textual.

Wiggy

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Simon, the St.Kilda street kid staves off starvation.

[An educational story for the disadvantaged, and not all kiddies stories are pleasant]

Simon's mummy and daddy were going through a hard time. They argued a lot which made Simon sad. Sometimes they woke him
up with their screaming at each other, mostly it was mummy screaming at daddy. Simon was in year 4 at school, and had no
idea what adults worried so much about.

One night Simon's mummy attacked his daddy with a meat cleaver. Simon's daddy took up a cricket bat and yelled to Simon,
"Run, run as fast as you can! She's a fucking psycho!". Meanwhile Simon's mummy slashed at his daddy yelling "Get the
fuck out of here Simon, he'll kill you after me".

So Simon ran. Down the road he found a gathering of homeless kids who invited him to share their ice pipe. "Nice",
thought Simon, "...but where do I go from here?" "Back to the squat of course." was the reply from "Dodger".
Now Dodger was a handsome boy, who dressed well, and seemed not to need to live in a squat.

Simon asked him (after his head had cooled down a bit), "hey Dodge, how come you've got nice threads, and a wallet full
of cash?" Simon replied "Well, you have to put Mr. Bottom to work!"
"What do you mean?" questioned Simon.
"how many times a day do you use your bottom?", asked the dodger.
"About once." replied Simon smiling.
"There are men out here who will pay you $500 to use your bottom, and the more times you use it , the richer you get."
replied the dodger.

"Well, when can I start?" said Simon.

Meanwhile, after having had good lovemaking, Simon's mummy and daddy said to each other; "Well, at least we got rid of
that shithead kid of yours".

"I thought he was yours!"

Sinitrena

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Two entries already? Keep them coming.

(Only part one of a series, and I am already seriously considering making this a thing. In contact with the perfect artist for it.)
You absolutely should make this a thing. And you absoluetly shouldn't leave us hanging like that. Will the punctuation bring our heroes closer together through commas, or seperate them through evil full stops?  8-0

Mandle

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You absolutely should make this a thing. And you absoluetly shouldn't leave us hanging like that. Will the punctuation bring our heroes closer together through commas, or seperate them through evil full stops?  8-0

NICE IDEAS!!! Yeah, I decided it was enough to make the point of how the stories work, and enough for a little kid to absorb, and be held attention-wise by, for one sitting.

Mandle

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And...

Wiggy's story...

I guess nobody has either wanted to comment on it or has been a bit scared to.

I can see this being a great faux-kid's-book.

It could be structured as a children's picture book for the impact that approach would have (like such works as "Maus" and "When The Wind Blows") but only sold in the adult section of stores or as a charity fund-raising item (see below).

It addresses an important social issue and is shocking AF, but it should be as these things actually happen.

I did find it a little bit too over-the-top in places and the ending seemed slightly glib, although that might be fixed with the appropriate artwork for the page, like the "father" turning over in bed, stealing the covers, while saying the final line.

A fine idea, definitely NOT a children's book, but with a bit of work it could turn into something like a book a homeless children's charity could sell to adults to raise money and awareness.

(The section about "How often do you use your bottom?" was incredibly impactful and haunting BTW.... Oh my God, that's amazing writing!)
« Last Edit: 26 Jul 2019, 15:45 by Mandle »

Sinitrena

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And...

Wiggy's story...

I guess nobody has either wanted to comment on it or has been a bit scared to.

Or is still trying to decide if this entry was meant seriously, that is, as an actual story for children, or if it was meant as a joke...  ???

I'll coment in detail during voting.

Mandle

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Or is still trying to decide if this entry was meant seriously, that is, as an actual story for children, or if it was meant as a joke...  ???

Well, it's set in a suburb of Melbourne that is infamous for under-aged prostitution.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/childhood-lost-underage-prostitutes-strain-a-system-in-crisis-20090301-8l6x.html

Most of the children there are abandoned kids from broken homes and/or the children of drug addicts.

I don't think it was meant as a joke. At least, I hope not.

Sinitrena

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Thanks for the information. Without it, St. Kilda  is just a random name. (I live on the other side of the world. I've never heard this name before.)

"Joke" was an unfortunate word choice. My apologies. I still cant tell if this story is meant for adults and has an intentional shock value or if it really is for children and maybe poor writing.

JudasFm

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"Joke" was an unfortunate word choice. My apologies. I still cant tell if this story is meant for adults and has an intentional shock value or if it really is for children and maybe poor writing.

This is kind of my problem as well. Like you, I'll comment in detail during voting, but I'm honestly not sure what to make of this entry...

"Joke" was an unfortunate word choice. My apologies. I still cant tell if this story is meant for adults and has an intentional shock value or if it really is for children and maybe poor writing.

This is kind of my problem as well. Like you, I'll comment in detail during voting, but I'm honestly not sure what to make of this entry...
Same here.

Sinitrena

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Only a couple days left. Get your stories in before it's too late!  :)

Mandle

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If the artist gives me the okay, is it within the rules to post his concept art he has drawn for my story so far?

Sinitrena

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Yes, that's fine. But don't replace your original descriptions with pictures, please. And everyone should remember that votes should only consider the actual text of the story and the idea behind it, but not the visual execution.

JudasFm

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I'm about half done with mine. My mother-in-law has been staying with us for the past week, so I've been looking after her instead of writing. She's going home to Tateyama today  :~( , so I should make the deadline  :-D

Mandle

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Yes, that's fine. But don't replace your original descriptions with pictures, please. And everyone should remember that votes should only consider the actual text of the story and the idea behind it, but not the visual execution.

Yup, I'll put the pictures in a hide tab under the story if the artist gives the go-ahead. The pictures should just give an insight into how the story works and yes, people should not vote on the quality of the art, just the concept of the story.

Baron

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My entry is coming together well.  Should be in by tonight or tomorrow night at the latest.  :)

Mandle

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The artist has a few reservations about showing the rough concept art just yet, which I totes get, so no pics for my story at this point.

Baron

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Gritty Gretel Builds a House

Page 1: illustration of Gritty Gretel with a tool-belt, looking over some plans drawn with crayon
GRITTY GRETEL  BUILDS A HOUSE
Written by Baron von Baron
Illustrated by [Your Name Here!]
Published by Manic Mandle Mega Books Inc.
Copyright © 2019
All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher or a certified affidavit signed by a coven of ferrets.

Page 2-3: illustration of a bright eyed girl with a look of determination, with friends in background doing activities that exemplify their names.
Gritty Gretel was not fast like Fleet-Foot Fanny. 
She was not strong like Bicep Billy.
She wasn't anywhere near as smart as Clever Claira.
But Gritty Gretel had determination.  That means that when she set her mind to something, she kept at it, no matter what.

Page 4-5: illustration of Gritty Gretel playing in the sand at the beach, with naysayer friends disdainfully looking on.
One day Gritty Gretel decided that she was going to build a house.  She shovelled some sand and she shingled with shells and she worked away the day.
“You can't build a house out of sand,” said Downer Dayna.
“You can't build a house in this heat,” said Lazy Lucy.
“You can't build a house, period!” said Judgy Jackie.
But Gretel was determined.  She clenched her teeth and glared a stare and worked and worked and worked.

Page 5-6: illustration of a pensive Gretel next to a silly sandy ruin of a house
By the end of the day Gretel had made a beautiful, um.... ruin?  Well, whatever it was, it wasn't quite a house.  The sand sagged and the walls wept and the roof just wouldn't stay up.
“I told you so,” said Downer Dayna.”
“I told you so,” said Lazy Lucy”
“I told you so,” said Judgy Jackie.
But Gritty Gretel wouldn't listen to that guff.  She was determined to build her house.  She said:
“Today was tough and I've had enough, but tomorrow's another day.
I tried something new, learned a thing or two, and I'll try things a different way.
It looks like I failed despite all I travailed, but I'm not one to give in,
I'll stick out my chin and wear a brave grin and I'm going to try again.”


Page 7-8: illustration of Gretel working hard draping wool over sticks with naysayers looking on.
The next day Gritty Gretel tried weaving a house out of wool.  She weaved some windows and spun some spans and worked away the day.
“You can't build a house out of wool,” said Downer Dayna.
“You can't build a house in this wind,” said Lazy Lucy.
“You can't build a house, period!” said Judgy Jackie.
But Gretel was determined.  She clenched her teeth and glared a stare and worked and worked and worked.

Page 9-10: illustration of a pensive Gretel next to a silly wispy web of a house
By the end of the day Gretel had made a beautiful, um.... web?  Well, whatever it was, it wasn't quite a house.  The wool wisped and the walls waved and the roof seemed to wiggle in the wind.
“I told you so,” said Downer Dayna.”
“I told you so,” said Lazy Lucy”
“I told you so,” said Judgy Jackie.
But Gritty Gretel wouldn't listen to that guff.  She was determined to build her house.  She said:
“Today was tough and I've had enough, but tomorrow's another day.
I tried something new, learned a thing or two, and I'll try things a different way.
It looks like I failed despite all I travailed, but I'm not one to give in,
I'll stick out my chin and wear a brave grin and I'm going to try again.”


Page 11-12: illustration of Gretel working hard stitching straw together with naysayers looking on.  A few drops fall from the sky.
The next day Gritty Gretel tried stitching a house together with straw.  She stitched some stairs and stuck some stoops and worked away the day.
“You can't build a house out of straw,” said Downer Dayna.
“You can't build a house in the rain,” said Lazy Lucy.
“You can't build a house, period!” said Judgy Jackie.
But Gretel was determined.  She clenched her teeth and glared a stare and worked and worked and worked.

Page 13-14: illustration of a pensive Gretel next to a rickety resemblance of a straw house
By the end of the day Gretel had made a beautiful, um.... fort?  Well, whatever it was, it wasn't quite a house.  The straws snapped and the walls wagged and the roof seemed to rattle in the rain.
“I told you so,” said Downer Dayna.”
“I told you so,” said Lazy Lucy”
“I told you so,” said Judgy Jackie.
But Gritty Gretel wouldn't listen to that guff.  She was determined to build her house.  She said:
“Today was tough and I've had enough, but tomorrow's another day.
I tried something new, learned a thing or two, and I'll try things a different way.
It looks like I failed despite all I travailed, but I'm not one to give in,
I'll stick out my chin and wear a brave grin and I'm going to try again.”


Page 15-16: illustration of Gretel's various attempts, each one sillier than the last.
Over the next few days Gritty Gretel tried again and again.  She built a house out of marshmallows and candy, but it melted in the sun.  She built a house out of cardboard and tape, but it kept tumbling over when big trucks went by.  She built a house out of bricks and rubber bands, but she ended up getting stuck to the chimney! 

But every time she failed Gritty Gretel learned from her mistakes.  She learned that sand is really good for draining water away, and that sticks work best if they are straight and thick.  She learned that bricks can hold a lot of weight above them, and that wool is great for making things cozy. 

Everyday her friends said “I told you so,” but Gritty Gretel never listened.  She simply repeated her rhyme again and again and again:
“Today was tough and I've had enough, but tomorrow's another day.
I tried something new, learned a thing or two, and I'll try things a different way.
It looks like I failed despite all I travailed, but I'm not one to give in,
I'll stick out my chin and wear a brave grin and I'm going to try again.”


Page 17-18: illustration of multiple Gretel's with determined expressions working feverishly on something hidden by a cloud of dust.  Naysayers are looking on.
So another day came and Gritty Gretel started building her house again.
“You can't build a house silly girl,” said Downer Dayna.
“You can't build a house crazy kid,” said Lazy Lucy.
“You can't build a house at all!” said Judgy Jackie.
But instead of Gretel's usual rhyme all they heard was silence.  The hammering had stopped.  The sawing had stopped.  Slowly the dust began to settle.

Page 19-20: illustration of Gritty Gretel grinning widely.
The first thing they saw was Gritty Gretel, grinning from ear to ear.  And then the dust settled a little more....

Page 21-22: illustration of a wonderful house with a lawn of sand, brick walls on the lower parts of the house supporting sturdy (medieval?) wood framing with straw stuck in between, with a roof of seashells and beautiful woolen curtains and pennants.  Also a tower and twisty framed windows made out of interesting sticks.
...And they saw the most amazing house they'd ever seen in their entire lives!
“How on earth...?” gaped Downer Dayna.
“I just can't believe it!”  exclaimed Lazy Lucy.
“Holy Cow!  That's awesome!” gushed Judgy Jackie. 
Gritty Gretel smiled wider still.  She said:
It took lots of tries and I'd be telling lies if I told you it was easy to do,
But if I got irked when things didn't work then I'd go ahead and try something new,
Don't stop to wail, bounce back when you fail, and don't be afraid to start,
You never do know how far you might go if you try something with all of your heart.”


Page 23: illustration of Gretel enjoying her amazing house with many friends.
The end.

JudasFm

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I know I'm late asking, but can we have an extension?  :-* I was very ill the last few days and only just recovered  :-\

Page 17-18: illustration of multiple Gretel's

Ouch. My eyes.

Sinitrena

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I know I'm late asking, but can we have an extension?  :-* I was very ill the last few days and only just recovered  :-\
Of course, you have 48h more from the time of this post.
I hope you're feeling better.

Baron

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Page 17-18: illustration of multiple Gretel's

Ouch. My eyes.

C'mon.  It's a common illustration technique for showing terrific amounts of activity!  ;-D

Page 17-18: illustration of multiple Gretel's

Ouch. My eyes.

C'mon.  It's a common illustration technique for showing terrific amounts of activity!  ;-D

I'm talking about the apostrophe...  :-D
« Last Edit: 06 Aug 2019, 19:51 by notarobotyet »

Mandle

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Page 17-18: illustration of multiple Gretel's

Ouch. My eyes.

C'mon.  It's a common illustration technique for showing terrific amounts of activity!  ;-D

I'm talking about the apostrophe...  :-D

I died.

Spoiler: ShowHide
As is traditional now apparently.

Baron

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Oh no!  They killed Kenny!  Or, um, Mandle!  Those bastards!  :=

JudasFm

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A Squid With A Dream

Once, long ago, in an ocean so deep
Was a little blue Squid who was trying to sleep
He'd swum and he'd swum and he'd swum all day long
And he'd finished his day off by singing a song.

And now he was tired. He wanted to rest.
He lay down in the seashell that he loved the best
And he closed both his eyes, and he hoped for a dream
Full of Squids, and of Dolphins, and Lots of Ice Cream.

But just as the dream seemed to be a sure thing
There came from his neighbor a very loud BRRING!
And the Squid jumped so much he fell out of the shell
And he saw a young Crab with a bicycle bell.

"Just what are you doing?" he said with a frown.
"I've swum all day long, and I'd like to lie down!
And your bell is too noisy, and spoiled my dream
Full of Squids, and of Dolphins, and Lots of Ice Cream!"

"I do beg your pardon," the Crab did reply,
"but you see, this bright thing fell from out of the sky.
It landed on top of my Great Auntie Mel,
And it hurt her poor head, and cracked her poor shell."

"If you find my poor Auntie a new kind of shell,
Then I'll gladly stop ringing this fine silver bell.
I'll go right away, and leave you to your dream,
Full of Squids, and of Dolphins, and Lots of Ice Cream."

So the Squid swam away to find a new shell
For the sake of his dream, and for Great Auntie Mel
But a Squid has no shell of his own, so you see,
The Squid had no clue where a new shell might be.

He swam and he swam. He swam left and swam right.
How different the ocean appeared in the night!
But as hard as he looked, he saw no one around
Who could tell where a new shell might then be found.

Then, just as the Squid was about to give up,
A large object fell into the sea with a plup!
It was big. It was pretty; a huge yellow shell
The Squid thought would be fine for poor Great Auntie Mel.

But as he reached out, a Dolphin came by
For the shell was her toy that she'd thrown in the sky,
"Excuse me," said the Squid, "may I please have your shell?
For my neighbor the Crab's poor Great Auntie Mel?"

"Yes, of course," said the Dolphin. "There's just one small thing.
I would so love to play with a bright purple ring.
If you get back a ring from the Big Eel's cave,
I'll give you my shell, and go play with a wave!"

So the Squid went away to the Big Eel's cave,
But to tell you the truth, he felt far, far from brave.
For a Squid is the favorite food of some Eels
And the Squid didn't want to end up as a meal!

But he didn't back down! He swam on and swam fast
And he came to the place where Big Eel lived at last.
The place was quite dark. Not a sound could he hear
When Big Eel slid out and said, "What have we here?"

"Good evening," Squid answered, polite as could be.
"I'm sorry to come here so late, but you see,
The Dolphin has asked for a bright purple ring
And I thought you might have one among all your things."

Big Eel disappeared to go look through his treasure
While the Squid stood outside with a feeling of pleasure
For the Big Eel's cave was so big, and so vast
That the Squid thought his search would be over at last.

Soon Big Eel came out with a ring on his tail.
And he said, "This one came from a green Deep Sea Snail.
It's a ring, as you see, and it's purple, and bright,
And I'll give it to you if you give me a light."

The Squid flung up his arms and cried, "When will it end?
I'm perfectly happy to help out a friend
But I've traveled the sea for the sake of a dream
Full of Squids, and of Dolphins, and Lots of Ice Cream!"

Big Eel squirmed and wriggled, then gave a shrug too
(A very hard thing for a Big Eel to do!)
Then at last gave a sigh, and he said, "Very well,
I will give you the ring, so now go get your shell."

The Squid thanked Big Eel and swam off with the ring
And the Dolphin was so pleased she started to sing!
And the Crab overjoyed at the beautiful shell
That the Squid had brought back for poor Great Auntie Mel.

The Squid spun and danced, and he shouted, "Hooray!"
When he saw that the bell had been taken away.
Then he went to his shell, and prepared for his dream
Full of Squids, and of Dolphins, and Lots of Ice Cream.

But something was strange. Something wasn't quite right.
His shell never looked like this during the night.
So the Squid looked around in the middle of yawning
And with a shock saw it was already morning!

So if you go to the ocean one bright sunny day,
And you find a blue Squid safely hidden away
Just tiptoe away, and leave him to his dream
Full of Squids, and of Dolphins, and Lots of Ice Cream!

Sinitrena

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Please sit down everyone and settle down. Here are the newest stories, fresh fro the authors, just for you:

Lonely Noun Goes and Finds Friends by Mandle
Simon, the St.Kilda street kid staves off starvation. by Wiggy
Gritty Gretel Builds a House by Baron
A Squid With A Dream by JudasFm


Read them carefully and then decide on your favorites in these categories:

Plot: What happens one event after the other? Is it well structured, interesting, engaging?
Character: The most interesting or noteworthy character, the one person who stands out.
Language: The technichal aspect of writing. In this case, pay special attention to the question weather it is appropriate to children. (Logically speaking, only the actuall text of the stories should be considered here, but not descriptions of illustrations that would not be there in a finished book. You can disagree, of course.)
Message: Which story taught a lesson? Positive or negative, morally or factual, this category is about the teaching aspect.


You have one vote per category and your votes need to be in by the end of Sunday, 11. August.
« Last Edit: 08 Aug 2019, 14:14 by Sinitrena »

Plot - Simon, the St.Kilda street kid staves off starvation. Definitely well structured, interesting and engaging, so much that I'm dying to read what comes next (Simon slashes open the throat of his first "guest" with a rusty razor. That's what happens, yes? Yes?)

Character - Simon again. This kid is just so relatable. And if it's about standing out, he's definitely the one for me.

Language - A Squid With A Dream. The rhymes flow so well and the pacing is so nimble that I just couldn't stop reading! Language is perfectly appropriate for kids, too.

Message - This one was hard, because I don't think any of them has a particularly strong message. Gritty Gretel builds her house in the end, but she's stubborn and bull-headed and refuses to ask for help and her trial and error ends up costing her so much time and effort. The Squid is a pushover who goes searching for a shell only because the Crab is annoying him with the bell, not out of the kindness of his heart. Simon decides that he doesn't need to put up with his situation and goes off looking for a better life, which is a good message but also could be interpreted as running away from your problems. So I guess the vote goes to Lonely Noun Goes and Finds Friends, if only because being brave and stepping out of your comfort zone is a good thing!

Edit: Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, I really enjoyed reading all these stories and I wanted to give a huge thank you to all the participants for taking the time to share their ideas and words with us. Looking forward to the next one!
« Last Edit: 08 Aug 2019, 17:09 by notarobotyet »

JudasFm

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This was actually very easy for me this time round:

Plot: Baron. It was obvious from P1 how it was going to end, but that's fine in a children's book  (laugh)
Character: Baron for Gritty Gretel.
Language: Baron. The only criticism I have is that some of the language, particularly Gritty Gretel's rhymes, didn't scan well and seemed very forced. "It looks like I failed despite all I travailed" came across as very clumsy, like you were clutching at straws just to find a rhyme. Other than that, it was age-appropriate, the repetition made it good for children and I could imagine it being a bedtime story :-D
Message: Again, Baron. Simple, put across very well, and good :)

Onto feedback!

Mandle: It's an original concept, but I don't get it. It seemed a little like the old Peter-and-Jane books that helped children learn to read. There's nothing wrong with it, but I think a child would be bored very quickly. It's hard judging just by text though, so maybe the pictures would have made it a lot clearer.

Wiggy: While I definitely agree that this kind of thing shouldn't be swept under the carpet, your story treated child abuse, domestic abuse and child prostitution - hell, child RAPE - so lightly that, like some other people, I honestly couldn't tell if it was meant as a serious entry that didn't quite follow the prompt, or a very sick joke. ("Hey kids, are your parents screaming at each other? Do what Simon does and run away! Selling yourself to perfect strangers is FUN and you'll have all the money you can get! YAY!") If you're going to tackle a subject like this, you should handle it with the respect (for victims) and maturity that it deserves, and I didn't see any of that here.

Credit where credit's due, though: Simon's complete innocence and lack of understanding of just what he's getting into is a good example of TruthInTelevision. However, Dodger knows very well what Simon will be letting himself in for; why in the world would a child who had already gone through this several times recommend it to another child? ("Trixie, what's it like being a prostitute?" "Oh, it's great! I have to have sex with anyone no matter how old or stinky or perverse they are, I have a whole bunch of STDs, it hurts me to piss and one of my prostitute friends got knifed last week. But I get a lot of money so you should totally try it!") If Dodger's lines had been spoken by an adult trying to sucker Simon into the life to make himself or herself some more money, it would have had far more impact, been far more believable, and you probably would have gotten the effect you were after.

I could say a lot more, but I'm going to stop here :)

Mandle

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Mandle: It's an original concept, but I don't get it. It seemed a little like the old Peter-and-Jane books that helped children learn to read. There's nothing wrong with it, but I think a child would be bored very quickly. It's hard judging just by text though, so maybe the pictures would have made it a lot clearer.

The idea of the book is to give little kids a first exposure to the building-blocks of language. When Noun is alone sentences only consist of one word: a noun.
When he meets adjective the sentences grow to two words: an adjective and a noun.
So on with Verb and Conjunction.

The sentences are slowing getting more complex as more characters join the little party of friends.

This should allow children to build their reading skills as well as beginning to understand that the different types of words in our language make communicating ideas easier.

They will see the difference between "Brave Noun goes"... "Brave Adjective goes"... "Scared Verb goes" all on different pages...

and...

..."Brave Noun and brave Adjective and scared Verb and scared Conjunction go" all on one page.

Just a quick explanation for anyone who couldn't see the pattern just in text.

Baron

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Plot: I vote JudasFm, just a little bit by default, but also a whole lot because of a story arc that kids could get into.

Character: In terms of interesting character, I suppose I have to vote Wiggy for Dodger.  As distasteful as I might find the character, he certainly stands out as a person of distinct convictions and mannerisms.

Language: I vote JudasFm, with Mandle in a close second.  I thought JudasFM did a fantastic job limiting her vocabulary to easy-to-read words, and her metre seemed bang on.  It's a hard comparison, since Mandle's story is so (intentionally) sparse. 

Message: All right, so we've got Mandle teaching basic grammar, Wiggy teaching about how you can solve all your problems by renting out Mr. Bottom, and JudasFm teaching that you help yourself by helping others (or the virtues of persistence, there's kinda two lessons).  In terms of a typical children's story "message" JudasFm wins hands down.  But I think I have to give this vote to Mandle for the sheer audacity of trying to teach a difficult concept in a fun and stress-free way.

Overall impressions:

Mandle: A brilliant concept.  I see your target audience as older children, as very young ones struggle with more than just nouns and verbs.  The average student wouldn't be able to read the word conjunction until third grade, and many not until after that.  I think, therefore, that you could be more ambitious in your choice of adjectives and verbs, teaching what they are, but also how powerful they can be at the same time.  Creative use of fonts could also colour-code the types of speech as a visual cue, and even the meaning of the words themselves could be illustrated to convey their meaning.  This might be really nitpicky, but I would introduce adverbs before conjunctions, mostly because I believe children learn them first.  Also, don't conjunctions bring things together?  So wouldn't his character be more.... huggy?  ;)

Wiggy: An interesting concept.  As Mandle has stated, it could work as a faux-children's book in the vein of Go the F**k to Sleep, but as the rules for this competition explicitly state that the story must be for children 8 and under I'm left scratching my head.  I agree that some of the themes you introduce here (youth homelessness, child abuse, child prostitution) shouldn't be swept under the rug, but I deeply disagree that children under 8 should be exposed to them in this manner.  As has already been mentioned in the thread, your work seems to glorify harmful and illegal behaviour without addressing the full consequences of those life-choices, a dangerous mix for impressionable learners.  I for one read your work as a shock-value joke, and I'll own up to giving it an occasional chuckle as I shook my head.  But alas, in terms of the parameters of this competition, the work is sadly inappropriate.

JudasFm: A very well-executed concept.  It's actually better than many published works: you should shop around for an artist!  I'm not sure why Lots of Ice Cream was capitalized, but otherwise I found the story captivating and the rhyming compelling.

As for responding to feedback on my own work, yes Gretel's was a typo.  (roll)   :)

On the use of travailed, I tried not to use it.  I really did.  I think I even had after all I have nailed in there at one point.  But travail was just too perfect of a word not to use.  It literally means work, but it also has a connotation of suffering.  It gets to the root of the message I was trying to communicate, that success only comes from hard work and hard experiences.  And it's not inherently a hard word: indeed in areas with a strong emphasis of French education it is a first grade word.  As for common usage in terms of broader English, I submit exhibit A from Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat:

"This is not a good game said the fish as he lit
No I do not like it, not one little bit." (p. 22)

I hear the word "travail" used in everyday language, albeit irregularly.  I have not ever heard anyone use the word "lit" in the context of landing.

So, in conclusion, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I submit that the word travail is innocent of not being guilty.  It's a fun word that kids shouldn't be sheltered from.  ;-D

I for one read your work as a shock-value joke, and I'll own up to giving it an occasional chuckle as I shook my head.  But alas, in terms of the parameters of this competition, the work is sadly inappropriate.

like some other people, I honestly couldn't tell if it was meant as a serious entry that didn't quite follow the prompt, or a very sick joke.

We are all adults here and I think it's obvious that it was either written for shock value or as a display of cynicism ("sure, let's write about cute animals and shapes and colours and numbers when children are being abused and raped and sold all over the world!!1!"). I don't really care much for both but I sincerely enjoyed the way the story was written, even if it wiped its butt with the contest rules.

What I do believe though, is that if you're willing to do something just for the shock value or to express your contempt towards something, you should also be willing to own it. Maybe Wiggy is waiting for the voting period to end in order to address the feedback, or clarify what he meant, or to simply tell us all to sod off, but I would be disappointed if he just "threw the stone and then hid his hand" as we say in Spain.

However, Dodger knows very well what Simon will be letting himself in for; why in the world would a child who had already gone through this several times recommend it to another child?

Having seen a fair deal of child poverty myself owing to the place where I was born, I can tell you that a lot of kids who get into gangs, crime and such due to poverty, desperation or lack of opportunities end up embracing it as pretty much the only way to live, with everything that comes along with it. There are always those who are constantly looking for a way out of the shithole, and there are also those who embrace their position, who think that having gone through something like that actually has made them stronger and more capable of leading over the newer or weaker members and who actually think that if you don't go through it you're "soft" or not fit to survive in such an environment. I know it's just a movie and whatnot, but I definitely recommend "City of God" (Cidade de Deus), which was so raw in its depiction of favela gang culture that it was denounced as "too numbing" by some critics.


I'm not sure why Lots of Ice Cream was capitalized, but otherwise I found the story captivating and the rhyming compelling.

Obviously because Lots of Ice Cream spells LIC. As in, Lots of Ice Cream to licc! :-D


"This is not a good game said the fish as he lit
No I do not like it, not one little bit." (p. 22)

I hear the word "travail" used in everyday language, albeit irregularly.  I have not ever heard anyone use the word "lit" in the context of landing.

I, on the other hand, was sure that I had heard it somewhere, and it finally came to me:



And the wind did howl and the wind did blow
La la la la la, la la la la lee
A little bird lit down on Henry Lee

« Last Edit: 09 Aug 2019, 09:48 by notarobotyet »

JudasFm

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Having seen a fair deal of child poverty myself owing to the place where I was born, I can tell you that a lot of kids who get into gangs, crime and such due to poverty, desperation or lack of opportunities end up embracing it as pretty much the only way to live, with everything that comes along with it. There are always those who are constantly looking for a way out of the shithole, and there are also those who embrace their position, who think that having gone through something like that actually has made them stronger and more capable of leading over the newer or weaker members and who actually think that if you don't go through it you're "soft" or not fit to survive in such an environment. I know it's just a movie and whatnot, but I definitely recommend "City of God" (Cidade de Deus), which was so raw in its depiction of favela gang culture that it was denounced as "too numbing" by some critics.


Yes, kids from poor backgrounds getting mixed up in crime and gangs, I can definitely understand. I can even understand kids being suckered into that life by adults, and those same kids growing up to sucker in more kids. I don't like or condone those things, but I do understand how they can happen.

However, I still maintain there is a huge difference between something like, "If you don't join our gang you're weak!" or "Come and join our gang and your life will get better!" and "Hey, I'm a child, and I LOVE being raped 'cause I get lots of money! Why don't you come and be raped too? Then we can BOTH get money!" Implied message: It's okay to rape little kids who aren't capable of giving informed consent. They enjoy it really, because they can buy all the toys they want!

I know child prostitution is a horrific reality - when I was a child, my best friend's sister had a very close call at a restaurant; basically, if her mother hadn't been paranoid as hell, we'd have lost her - and I have no problem with a shock entry being written to try and galvanize people into doing something about it, or even just raise awareness of problem areas, as Wiggy did with St. Kilda.

I do, however, have a major problem with an entry that describes child prostitutes as happy, willing little kids who are overjoyed at the thought of all the money they can get. "Are you a little kid? Well, then, we have a wonderful way you can get lots of cash! Are you a sick pervert who likes having sex with little kids? Well, then, that's alright too! They enjoy it really, since you give them so much money!"


JudasFm: A very well-executed concept.  It's actually better than many published works: you should shop around for an artist!  I'm not sure why Lots of Ice Cream was capitalized, but otherwise I found the story captivating and the rhyming compelling.


Thank you so much :D But children's books are a seriously hard sell, and if The Squid actually ends up published there'll be no living with him, so I think I'll stick to working on my second novel :P

Re: the capitalization of Lots of Ice Cream...this is actually a technique I've seen in plenty of children's books, used for emphasis:
"There is Nothing to Pay,' said the Waiter, before they had time to ask for the bill. 'It is a Pleasure. You will find the Merry-go-Round just over there!"

But then, I write sci-fi/fantasy, so it's very probable I misused the technique  (laugh)


So, in conclusion, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I submit that the word travail is innocent of not being guilty.  It's a fun word that kids shouldn't be sheltered from.  ;-D

Sustained! Or, you know, whatever word means, "I agree with Baron!" I wasn't trying to say that it was a bad word or a too-difficult one; just that shoehorning a word in for the sake of making a rhyme jarred me a little :-D

Baron

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I don't want to seem like I'm coming down hard on Wiggy the writer.  He took some risks and addressed a difficult topic.  As notarobotyet says, we're all adults here.  No harm, no foul.

Having said that, I would like to reiterate that I think the story conveys the wrong message to children, and in the context of the rules of this contest it falls flat.  We could debate the moral culpability of Dodger as a character for glorifying underage prostitution.  I agree with JudasFm that such an act is wrong, but characters in stories often express morally repugnant ideas.  "Hey, let's rob somebody!  Ooo, no, let's MURDER somebody!"  We don't even blink at this kind of stuff, so common it is.  So is it wrong for a character to try to up-sell child prostitution?  If you learn a lesson from the story, which a savvy adult who can read beyond the surface glitz and humour can, then I believe the act may have some merit.  For me it's the idea of presenting such arguments to an audience that is not equipped to understand the full consequences (i.e. children) that is morally dubious.

However, maybe Wiggy'd be willing to Gritty Gretel it up and give us a couple of rewrites....  :=

Mandle

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I'm in the last few days of a a holiday and pretty busy but I will try to read all entries and vote before the deadline.

JudasFm

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I don't want to seem like I'm coming down hard on Wiggy the writer.  He took some risks and addressed a difficult topic.  As notarobotyet says, we're all adults here.  No harm, no foul.

Having said that, I would like to reiterate that I think the story conveys the wrong message to children, and in the context of the rules of this contest it falls flat.  We could debate the moral culpability of Dodger as a character for glorifying underage prostitution.  I agree with JudasFm that such an act is wrong, but characters in stories often express morally repugnant ideas.  "Hey, let's rob somebody!  Ooo, no, let's MURDER somebody!"  We don't even blink at this kind of stuff, so common it is.  So is it wrong for a character to try to up-sell child prostitution?  If you learn a lesson from the story, which a savvy adult who can read beyond the surface glitz and humour can, then I believe the act may have some merit.  For me it's the idea of presenting such arguments to an audience that is not equipped to understand the full consequences (i.e. children) that is morally dubious.

This :) And we can bat the same arguments back and forth all day, but sooner or later, there's a risk of it getting heated. I've said my piece on the subject, Baron's summed it all up very nicely, and so I'm stepping out of this debate  :)

Baron

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I'm in the last few days of a a holiday and pretty busy but I will try to read all entries and vote before the deadline.

HE LIVES!  It's a miracle!  Or possibly voodoo....  Or even messianic? :undecided:  Of course, it could just be postmortem nerve twitches.  Or zombification.  Or like a cat or traditional time-lord, Mandle has only a set number of regenerations before he kicks off for good.  Or he could be caught in a Groundhog Day-esque loop, kind of like Kenny himself, doomed to live and die again and again until he gets his act together....

But that's just silly.  The most obvious explanation is probably the simplest.  It's just gas.  ;)

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BOOM! Last-minute votes!

Plot: Baron
Character(s): Baron
Language: JudasFM
Message: Baron

I'm not much for poetry, but I gotta hand it to JudasFM for the effort and craft here. The rest of the categories go to Baron in my view, for the simply excellent execution that is true to form considering the subject matter.
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

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Plot: Mandle - The idea is adorable, although I'm not sure at what age this is aimed. I'm guilty of buying kid's books just for their art style or cool concept, so I'm sure there is a market for it.
Character(s): Baron - Lovely characters
Language: JudasFM - I like rhymes! One of my pet peeves is wrong metre and you got it right most of the time (my only concern is Ice Cream, which in prose would be 'Ice cream, not Ice 'cream)
Message: Baron - Work hard, don't give up and you will succeed - a wonderful message indeed. I also like that in the end she is not angry with the other kids but they play all together in the house.


In the end, I didn't manage to write a story of my own, but the topic at least it inspired me for this month's MAGS  :)

JudasFm

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Language: JudasFM - I like rhymes! One of my pet peeves is wrong metre and you got it right most of the time (my only concern is Ice Cream, which in prose would be 'Ice cream, not Ice 'cream)

I think this is a to-may-to/to-mah-to thing; where I come from, we do say "ice 'cream." Although, to be fair, I've heard and used both :)

Mandle

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Yeah, sorry, I'm rushing to check out of our rented apartment after a big night last night with friends. I couldn't find time to read everything so I'm going to have to abstain from votes.

Sinitrena

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And I was waiting for you...

But we can't wait forever, so let's add my feedback and votes to the mix.


Mandle:

I love your concept. I was about halfway through when I finally realized what was going on and had to go back to check. And then my first thought was that I know a whole lot of adults who could seriously benefit from this story. It explains words and how they work together to form sentences very well.
I don't think the story is finished, though. Even considering the limited attention span of children, you end the story on a frigging cliffhanger - in a children's book! I would be seriously pissed if I paid money for this, especially because I think it is otherwise pretty good. Like Baron, I'm not entirely sure if this would be the right point in the story to introduce punctuation. On the one hand, it makes sense. That's a place in building a sentence where you could profit from this help. On the other hand, the story basically changes track away from part of speech, which it set out to be.
I would suggest changing the word "Outside" (PG03). At this point in the story you are only allowed to use nouns, and outside can be an adjective, an adverb, a preposition or a noun. One could argue that it's more of an adverb here. I'm not sure, and am a non-naitive speaker of English, so I might be mistaken. Either way, I just think you should stick to words that can be only a noun or only a verb, just to avoid confusions.
Random thought, I think I only spotted "happy", "angry" and "brave" as adjectives. Maybe it would be better to introduce more? That was just a thought, neither positive, nor negative.
And as an even more random thought, you could start the story even earlier, with sounds, and sounds forming words.
In conclusion, I think the idea is great, the concept is amazing. The plot is simple, more functional than engaging; and it cuts off way too early.


Wiggy:

A lot has been said about your entry already. As I stated before, I'm not sure what your intentions were. I don't think this story is suitable for children, especially not children younger than 8, as was specifically asked for in the intro.
There's a rule of thumb that a protagonist's age corresponds with the intended reader's age. I had to check the australian school system, but it appears a child in year 4 would be aged 9-10, so from the get-go older than I asked for. There are certain elements that might be found in a traditional children's story: the fact that the parents are called mummy and daddy, the short focus on seperate events, leading to a fast-paced story, Simon's lack of knowledge about what is going on.
Which is also a hint why the story doesn't work for children as is. Simon doesn't know what Dodger suggested, so can you really expect young readers to? In the same way this fails for kids in this aspect, it does for adults too (to a degree) because adults know what is going on immediately.
Like JudasFm, I got the impression this story glorifies child prostitution to no small amount. The impression that it is wrong and something to fight against does not come from the text, but from our previous knowledge. In the end, Simon seems okay with his new lot in life while his parents (in a rather glib way) state that they got what they wanted. So, from a purely textual perspective, this story has a Happy Ending! Other people have said a lot on this whole thing already, so I'll stop here.
Something random I noticed: "Nice", thought Simon, "...but where do I go from here?" "Back to the squat of course." was the reply from "Dodger". So, Dodger can read minds?
Just to make this clear, I do not object to the subject being explored in a children's story, but not like that.


Baron:

A very traditional children's story with a traditional message.
I'm not a fan of alliterative names and found them pretty stupid as a child as well, but that's just personal taste. I have to wonder why you introduced certain characters on the first page but then used dieffernt ones to judge Gretel's progress instead of the same? And then stick to those for the rest of the story? That just seemed a bit weird.
Also, the name for Gretel threw me off at first, because I did not think of determination when I read gritty, but of dirt. I guess there is the definition firm in your intentions, so it's fine.
I think it would have been slightly better if we, as readers, actually got to see Gretel's progress. She always starts with a new idea and claims that she learned something, but we do not get to see it until the very end. And so do the characters in the story. And so they change their opinion from 0 to 100 in the last couple of pages. I think I would prefer a gradual development on both parts: Gretel slowly improves her house and the other children slowly start to see that there is progress.
I like the By the end of the day Gretel had made a beautiful, um.... lines. They break up the flow of the story in a nice way. I'm not so sure about Gretel's little poem. It seems rather random, compared to a story that has otherwise a nice understated rhythm and poetry to it.
In conclusion a very tradition story and a very nice one.


JudasFm:

Cute. That was my first thought and I don't really have much to add. The poetic structure is good, rhythm and rhyme are never jerring. It works.
You are lacking in the message aspect. At first, I thought you might go for an environmental message, with a the bicycle bell that's really not at the right place in the middle of the ocean and the dolphin that wants to play with something that shouldn't be there either, but you never went there, so these elements feel out of place in the same cutsey way as a squid dreaming of ice cream.
I don't know why you would capitalize ice cream. I saw your post on this being a technique in children's books, but I don't see s purpose there either. Why would you use wrong grammar, especially in a book for people just starting out to read? That's just weird.
So, yeah, I don't have much to say here. It's cute, very cute and I'm sure children would enjoy it, so it certainly succeeds in this aspect.



...that got rambly...



Now, my own votes:

Plot: Baron
Character: Baron - Gretel's determination is great.
Language: JudasFm - Good poetry.
Message: Mandle - this is a very clear win for me.




And that leaves the final tally:

With an amazing 11 points, Baron wins this round.


JudasFm reaches a second place with 6 points.


And our third place goes to Mandle with 4 points.


Wiggy lands on a good fourth place with 3 points.


And that's it, over to you, Baron.

Baron

  • Mittens Serf
  • AGS Baker
  • Rottwheelers
  • Not-so-Evil Banana Dictator
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Thanks everybody for the votes!  The house building bit has been on my mind ever since we ripped the roof off.  But you should look for these other Gritty Gretel titles in the near future:

Gritty Gretel Gets a Job
Gritty Gretel Cooks Supper
Gritty Gretel Passes Science
Gritty Gretel Writes a Book
Gritty Gretel Robs a Bank
Gritty Gretel Busts Out of Jail
Gritty Gretel Backpacks Through the Sahel
Gritty Gretel Stars in a Reality TV Show
Gritty Gretel Breeds Racehorses 

It was a great competition idea, Sinitrena!  Hopefully I can come up with something at least half as compelling in the next exciting instalment of...

The Fortnightly Writing Competition  ;-D

JudasFm

  • Zlang-Zlang Squid Says: All Hail the Squid!
    • I can help with play testing
    • I can help with proof reading
    • I can help with story design
    • I can help with voice acting
Cute. That was my first thought and I don't really have much to add. The poetic structure is good, rhythm and rhyme are never jerring. It works.
You are lacking in the message aspect. At first, I thought you might go for an environmental message, with a the bicycle bell that's really not at the right place in the middle of the ocean and the dolphin that wants to play with something that shouldn't be there either, but you never went there, so these elements feel out of place in the same cutsey way as a squid dreaming of ice cream.
I don't know why you would capitalize ice cream. I saw your post on this being a technique in children's books, but I don't see s purpose there either. Why would you use wrong grammar, especially in a book for people just starting out to read? That's just weird.

It's a mystery to me too, but I would guess it's done for emphasis. Regardless, I didn't invent the technique of capitalizing Important Words; I just used it :-D

Congrats Baron! A very well-deserved win and I want to put in a pre-order for Gritty Gretel Breeds Racehorses as well ;)

Wiggy

  • Mittens Serf
  • From the tropical north Queensland
    • I can help with play testing
    • I can help with proof reading
    • I can help with translating
    • I can help with voice acting
Hi,

To those who saw what this story was about, salutations! My aim was to illustrate that there is no happy children's story, that most children in the world cop a hammering at the hands of adults - it happens in first world countries, it happens in third world countries. It happens everywhere, everywhen, every who, and it has to stop. Now. Simply glossing over it and not talking about it don't make it go away. Yes, being confronted by the truth hurts, I'm glad I confronted you and made you angry! I was an abused child myself, but I've made it to 60 years old without killing my abusers. I don't forgive them however.

Just realise that the world is cruel, and that people can hurt you. Now you take care, of yourselves and everyone in your care. My heart goes with you.