To mark the release of the fifth Harry Potter book on Saturday, BBC News Online is looking for the next children's blockbuster writer.
JK Rowling: But could you show her how it's done?
JK Rowling is estimated to be richer than the Queen, with a personal fortune of £280m, having sold 200 million copies of her first four books.
But could you outshine her in a few years' time? Are your plots gripping, your characters perfectly drawn? Your villains evil, your settings bursting with detail?
Almost 600 of you have sent us the first paragraph of that children's book you've always been meaning to write.
The best will be put to the public vote on Friday, and the winner will be given the chance to have a short children's story published on BBC News Online - potentially the first step to a lucrative writing career, multi-million pound advances, the eternal love of children and parents everywhere....
The contest is now closed - get ready to vote for your winner on Friday. In the meantime, here is a selection of the best entries.
Some ghosts are all lightning and fierce eyes, chains rattling and dramatic wailing. Some ghosts are made of mischief and mayhem, re-arranging furniture when backs are turned and laughing a silent laugh at shocked faces. Some ghosts are made of centuries of tears, and just seeing them makes you feel sad for weeks after. Some ghosts are just like normal people, just a more see-through shade of real. And some ghosts, ghosts like Grey Arthur, are made of cloud, and no firm edges, and aren't very ghost like at all. Ghosts like Grey Arthur don't make you feel scared, or confused, or sad: ghosts like Grey Arthur you tend not to notice at all. And this didn't impress Grey Arthur one bit.
John's first conversation was with a squirrel. His first animal conversation you understand, he had been speaking to other people for a long time. Just like you and me. No, this was his first conversation with a non-human being. It happened during the great tree incident last summer at about lunch time. It was called a conversation because John and the squirrel spoke to each other, but the squirrel did most of the talking. John just stood and stared, which I dare say most of us would have if a squirrel came up to us and started on about the weather or the state of the nation's parks or something.
Robert Price, England
Most normal children don't have elves as their Grandmother. I'm pretty sure that most normal children don't have purple flying creatures as pets either. And I know for a fact that they do not have ancient chanting rituals in their backyard. Normal children don't have an enchanted pendant that takes them into fantasy worlds do they?
Then that rules me out of the subject of 'normal'. Oh I forgot. Hi, my name is Saijah Limetree. I am 15 a girl and a Spirit Keeper. What's a Spirit Keeper you ask? Well, you'll have to read to more to find out.
Johnny peered out of his basement through the street level window. He could make out stained concrete in a dull orange light; the smell of drains made him want to puke. Bits of me are alive and bits of me are dead, he thought. Just like the world outside: the dead bits and the live bits gradually changing places. Like in the swirling, arcing music filling the room - three sequences repeating in and out of phase with each other at medium and high frequencies, and a lower, more ominous rhythym. It was generated from his own DNA; he'd made it himself.
David Thorpe, Wales, UK
I shall never forget that shock that morning as, laughing, I pushed open my mother's and father's bedroom door, and found them gone, their sheets piled neatly on their bed, with a note (or so my brother told me years later, he having preserved it in a clear folder) reading "Dear children, we are gone, as you can see, because we think it is right that as we are famous people, and you would otherwise not have a normal growing-up, we should leave you now to experience the life that you could not know if we were to stay with you".
According to my Dad, the old house at the top of the hill is haunted. "If you're naughty, don't walk past it after dark, or they'll get you," he always tells me. He'll still say it when I'm grown up, that's my Dad for you. But I know an old man lives there, and has done for as long as I remember. I'd often see him in the garden, and hear the old-fashioned music playing through open windows on a summer afternoon. It would be a great house to explore, if the council weren't coming to knock it down tomorrow.
Rod Dhalla, UK
Tired and miserable Imogen flopped down onto her pink bed. She picked up Buzz and tossed him across the room. He landed, face down, on her pink beanbag. It was tough being six years old. Downstairs, her mother had just forbidden her from riding in the front seat of the family car. Imogen asked her mother exactly what age she needed to be. Sixteen, her mother replied. Ridiculous, thought Imogen, she would be an old lady by then. She wanted excitement and adventure now. She wouldn't stand for it.
As Imogen sat fuming, across the room, Buzz slowly raised his plastic head.....
'What must it be like ?' thought Arthur to himself, 'being as successful as Trevor.' He followed the proud figure with his eyes as Trevor strode confidently across the concrete playground, hopped surely up the old stone steps two at a time and disappeared behind the weather beaten wooden doors to the school. Trevor was the boy that most teachers thought would have the best chance of a successful future career. Tipped to head for great things in politics or perhaps some important diplomatic role. Arthur smiled to himself, "a bit of an arse" was how George had described him.
They have different names for us. Star Children. Indigo Children. Guardians. Only a few know of our existence. Several months before my 18th birthday I was told I was one of them. The worse thing is my friends don't know so I'm forever making excuses about where I am or where I got the wounds and bruises. I don't intend to rock anyone's world by telling him or her who I really am. I remember how I used to pray for something to happen in my boring life. Be careful what you wish for...
Katie Sharrocks, UK
Security at the Von Richten prison for the Criminally Insane was second to none. Designed by the brilliant Dr Albert Von Richten, scientist, architect, and (as it turned out) megalomaniac, the prison was so secure that even Dr Von Richten himself was unable to escape after he was imprisoned for attempting to take over the world. Built on stilts in the murky depths of a huge lake, just a few miles from here, even the prison guards had trouble getting out for tea. Which is why, one morning, the governor was a bit concerned to discover that all 476 prisoners were gone.
Nestled down a narrow alley off Main Street, tucked in behind the community market is Tallman Ocults. A small establishment, it sells trinkets and charms, spell books and love potions. On this Friday in late summer, the owner and manageress is herself on duty. A tall, slimly built lady sheathed in a long plain black dress, pale of skin and with long straight black hair shrouding her narrow, pointed face, looks out over her half moon spectacles. Between threading beads onto woven bracelets, she eyes the six high school seniors distrustfully. Alyssa takes up in her hands a glass spherical orb, and drops it between hand to hand, feeling its weight and its smoothness.
Thomas Shepherd, UK
Dryads lived in the woods. Leah knew that. Maybe even in her garden - attached to the trees, and sharing the trees' lives. In summer, they basked in the sun, or drank in the rain, or murmured when the wind blew in the leaves. They groaned in winter, when the gales battered the woods and branches snapped. If you were walking in the woods, and turned very quickly, you might catch one out before she dashed back into the tree. But this one was in Leah's bedroom. And it was very definitely living in the wardrobe.
How many times had Jack been told not to pull faces? Ten? Fifty? Jack thought it must have been at least a hundred. But this time he just had to. Surely Mr Grindle would understand if he told him why. It was perfectly simple really: he had to pull a face to stop the world so he could go and help Chloe. She was his friend who lived in another dimension, and she was in terrible danger. To get to her world you had to stop this one; the bits that were still moving (usually a curtain by an open window, or a catflap in a door) were where you could get through to the other place. If only he could remember which face it was he had to pull.
The Moth looked strangely familiar, in the light of the dying candle he resembled my old Maths teacher Mr Irwin. The moth danced around the flame as if being conducted by an unseen orchestra, his shadow grew, its black shades climbing the wall to the beams above.
Nick Thomas, United Kingdom
"Look it up in a dictionary." The words were cliched in his family; and ironically it was the word "cliche" that Guy wanted to know the meaning of. Guy's mum was so annoying sometimes. She never gave him a straight answer. It was always "I'll tell you when your older" or "Later, dear". Or today's reply. At 12 years old, Guy wanted answers, and answers now. He had already been forced to look up the words "clandestine", "politics" and "modern art". He hated it.But the meaning of the word "cliche" was to change all that.
So, half a bag of strawberries later, no one was hungry anymore. Still, there's the angry bear and the tether rope that had about five minutes of restraint left in it. I look at Martine, she at me. Just as I think she has a marvellous plan to get us all out to safety, she pauses. And then asks the killer question. "Who's bright idea got us into this mess then?" "See if he likes strawberries", I ask David. He looks at the bear and gives me the bag back. Smart five-year old, so he is. My go, I guess.
Pop! I was dead. Just like that! But, astonishingly enough, my mind was still ticking over, first annoyed at the ill-fated injustice of it all, and then, suddenly, spinning with the grand possibilities of the new world swiftly taking form in front of me... I should point out, however, that my premature demise and reawakening was only the second most extraordinary thing that happened to me that frost-bitten January morning.
Philip G, UK
Her heart was pounding in her ears, as she raced through the dark. Tears flowed freely down her ravaged cheeks, where they mingled freely with the fresh blood seeping from countless scratches. Thick branches, twisted like arms in unbearable agony, whipped by her as she raced through the forest. Her breaths came in short, sharp, gasps. Her vision had narrowed to a point right in front of her feet, her existence reduced to a single thought, 'RUN!' Her mind screamed the thought over and over, as her exhausted body struggled to comply with the command. To stop, was to die.
Ian Urquhart, USA
As unbelievable as it might sound, Oliver found himself hovering above the trees at the bottom of his garden, looking back at his little group of friends jumping and hollering in excitement far below him. It was unbelievable for the simple reason that Oliver was not in an aeroplane. Nor was he in a helicopter. He hadn't even spouted wings. But somehow Oliver was flying.
The street was dark, the night air soft as a black cat's paw. By day, the same street heaved to accomodate thousands of bustling bodies, and the tarmac sweated under the gong of the South African sun. So the whispering blackness had an unnatural threatening edge, silent as a flick-knife. But Ndole liked the silence. It swallowed him, blanketing the slap of his bare feet on the cool tarmac. He loved these nightly sprints, away from the taunts and punches of the schoolyard. In the thick night air he was no longer the wrong colour. He blended with the darkness; he was faster than the light.
Caroline Lea, UK
At just after five o'clock one summer evening, when a small vehicle flying over London crashed into Putney Heath, nobody noticed. A few people nearby may have glimpsed a flickering movement in the corner of their eye, and perhaps someone in the area heard an unusual echo, but none of these people thought twice about it. This was because those who were inside the vehicle were making every possible effort not to be seen, and some very effective means were available to them. They couldn't have known that they had crashed directly into Mike Sullivan's route home from school.
The little country station must have been unused for years. The sign had gone, though the empty posts still stood. On the line itself, ragwort and cow parsley grew almost as high as the platform, but in the gaps you could see the tracks were gone. Ally chewed a grass stalk and listened to the bumblebees. And then to another sound, a rattling and clunking, and then a long, low whistle as it came around the bend. Small and green with a shiny dome and smoke rising from it, a train, running on the tracks that weren't there.
Sheenagh Pugh, Wales
Her porcelain figures somehow made him uneasy, with their glazed and painted smiles. On reflection, he thought perhaps he hadn't enjoyed coming to see Grandma all that much. Endless rain blew over the nearby Welsh hills with nothing to do indoors but sit and listen to the adults talking. There had been an uncle once whose visit had made a difference, always laughing and chatting, he played a big folk guitar with an amber top and gold machine heads. The uncle had told him it was a "Jumbo" and showed him a few chords - he smiled at the memory.
It was the noise that woke him at first, a soft scratching like rats or something. But it couldn't be rats; this was his house and his bed and it would just not be the done thing. His mother would be upset.
Jack opened his eyes and tried to search for the noise without moving his head. What ever it was he didn't want to to been seen. Slowly and gradually the noise began to move around the room. Jack could almost follow it with his eyes and then it stopped.
There was a small shape moving but it was no rat, wasn't even a mouse. Jack didn't know what it was. But he was scared now and without thinking quickly flicked the lamp on next to his bed.
What Jack saw was the most amazing thing he had ever seen in his life, something that was going to change his world forever.
David Laing, England
Well, it had all started 19 years ago, when Fuwoggle was at school. Of all the woo yay things he could have been up to on that baking hot day, he was in a science lesson. A science lesson! As board as any kid has ever been in a science lesson. He had barely listened to a word Mrs Lovatoms had uttered, even his eyes had started to blur and slowly close so he could no longer see anything but his desk. That's when it started.
Miles Wilton, UK
A tiger or a leopard? Both creatures of forest and fierceness, but which would the boy choose?
The tiger, Amalia, inspected the pad on her left foot, taking care to fully extend her claws.
'With these I will rend and tear, be careful I choose to fight on your side young human, for I bring terror to shadow.'
Alexander understood the challenge. Boy and tiger turned to stare at one another and at that moment each felt their heart contract. A day would come, unbearable to each, when one heart would fail, leaving the other to beat alone.
Jack Langley had found it at last, after searching for ten years he had finnally found the Temple of Shambala. The entrance was covered in cobwebs and vines, water was dripping through the rocks, forming puddles on the stone floor. Jack could see metal ornaments imprinted in the stones on the wall that shimmered in the light of his torch. The ornaments were of gods coming out of the heavens above, shining their light down on their followers. There was one that shimmered more than any of the rest though, the elusive seal of the four brothers of Narsha.
Matthew Wheeler, Hong Kong
Leila Staron was bored. She gazed longingly outside of the classroom window. If she just closed her eyes, she could try to imagine that she was the princess in a fairy tale. A fairy tale with a handsome prince and magic armour and swords clashing. A fairy tale with elves and dragons and magic...
"Miss Staron? I asked you a question."
The disapproving tone of her teacher made Leila jump. She looked up mournfully. It seemed her fairy tale was just that - a dream in a city where dreams don't come true.
Melissa Kelley, United States of America
Laiza had heard the worst news any six year old could hear. She would soon have a newborn baby sister. Of course at first, she thought this would be great. She thought she would have someone to spend time with and show off when ever her friends came over for a sleepover. But once she started getting less attention from her arrogant parents, things have been taking a turn for the worst. Laiza no longer owned her teddy bear. She had to share her small room and worst of all, she didn't have her own life.
It was another stormy night in the forests of Georgia. The lightning would occasinally spark a flame in the forests. Even though the electrifying show in the sky did some damage it was a price the forest had to pay. Jon would always watch the sky light up the dark night. He went into the forest to get away from his family.He loved them yes, but he just needed some time from them. This time he found something in the forest. He never thought his world was about to be shaken when he picked up the firey-looking object.
Dan Calhoun, USA
It all started when I was ten. Thats when the...interesting powers I have, came to be. Oops, I guess I should tell you my name, huh? It's Ruby Sanders, and I'm what you call a summoner. Its not like I chose to be, oh no! Who was I to stop it when Salamnders were crawling out of my microwave? You should have seen my mum's face the first time the lawn gnomes came to life. They caused some real chaos, running all over the yard, chasing the dog, and poor Sammy never knew what hit him.
Tom is a biscuit barrel in the shape of a large stripy
ginger cat with big green eyes a big smile and a small
yellow fish shaped tag hanging from his blue collar.
Tom lives with a young woman by the name of Ursula
who loves him as he is a very fine cat indeed.
In the kitchen when all is calm and quiet Tom would
blink his eyes, twitch his whiskers and magically come
'No,' I thought. 'This can't be happening.' This sort of thing wasn't real. Real was stuff like school, homework and duffing your little brother up. They'll think I'm mad. I'll get called names. Mum and Dad'll send me to a psychiatrist. But it's there. Standing in front of me. Four feet tall, and grey, with smooth, shiny skin. It's not wearing anything, it has a large hairless head, like an upside-down pear, a slit for a mouth, tiny holes where its nose should be, almost non-existent ears, and great big, oval black eyes.
My very own pet alien.
Everyone wanted to be a Chocolate Kid. Even the girls who always sat on the back seat of the school bus, and already knew all about make-up and boyfriends, were talking about it. It was all letters of application here and glamorous photos there; how Mum or Dad was helping with the typing; what they¿d do if they won. Chocolate Kids; that was all that anyone could think about the whole of the journey in, right across the playground, and into the clammering cloakrooms. Yes, everyone wanted to be a Chocolate Kid - except for Hatty Hattersley, of course.
She could see it in his unnaturally dark eyes, she could sense it in the frosty air. He was lying and something was terribly wrong. He was warning her of something, or someone. "Whats going on?" she whispered. "Please, answer me." He rose from his seat of an old log and turned towards the lake. He took a smooth rock from his feet. "Please don't leave." she pleaded. But before she could stop him, he tossed the rock into the water, and was gone. She arose and walked out of the eerie woods, like she had done every night for the past two years.
"That pumpkin ruined my life!" announced Grandad as we sat around the dinner table. Mother turned a rather ashen shade of grey, whilst father just carved the meat faster and pretended to be looking at the clock. Grandad had a tear in his eye as he looked at me. "What happened, Grandad?" I asked, but mother grabbed my hand and whisked me out of the room. She slammed the door behind us and pointed a crooked finger at me, opening her mouth to speak. Without warning, there was a mighty crash of light and sound from the dining room...
Paul Bird, UK
There had never been a better time to do it. If Mack missed this opportunity now, he would maybe never get another chance. He tried to calm himself down. He took a deep breath. He could hear his heart pumping furiously. Everybody was watching, waiting. He could feel his face getting redder and hotter. OK... here goes. With that he started to run as fast as he could and, as got there, he lashed out with his right foot as hard as he could. For an instant the world went eerily quiet. And then all hell broke loose.
Paul Taylor, United Kingdom
When it came to computer games, Kevin was good. Not just good, in fact he was brilliant. He could master any game. He was so good, that news of his skill travelled far and wide. What nobody knew though, was exactly how far the news had travelled.
Way up in the sky, beyond our Sun, beyond our solar system, beyond the edge of our milky way, there is a star much like our own Sun. Orbiting this star is a planet much like our own, called Bildar.
When the Bildarians contacted Kevin one day, and asked him for his help, he was very surprised indeed.
People call me little Marty, but I'm almost ten. I have two sisters called Ciara and Rosin, whose job in life is to really annoy me, making me play with dolls and dressing up". It's tough being the only man in the house, especially since the king of the leprechauns has went missing, his only son Sean is the prime suspect. Oh, and I almost forgot, Sean is my best friend.
The sun rise sent a ruddy glow across the meadow, the corn looked as if it was aflame. Honey stirred and went quietly to the end of the burrow, making sure she did not disturb Jack or the others. She wanted this moment all to herself. She was aware of the dangers all around, but she felt safe in the confines of the family burrow. But wait, what was that, who else could be around at this time of the morning, what were they doing. They were uglies and they had a four legs with them. They were also bending down and poking around in Mr and Mrs Hinds burrow. What were they doing, what was in the packet that they were spreading around.
When we meet our hero, the battle between good and evil is already over, and darkness has prevailed. Although the battle was a long time coming, it was short and many suffered. Now, Philip sits atop the roof of his house, gazing out across the city of Kansworth, the fresh air blowing against his young, yet dirty face. He can hear them in the distance, their shouts and their laughter, he can hear the explosions, and he can feel the pain they inflict. These people that call themselves Bearers of the gift .
Kate McLaughlin, England, United Kingdom
was what the broken sign had said, in a menacing red font; the font that always spelt Danger. The font of choice for every HEADMASTER, GROUNDSKEEPER and GUARD DOG on the planet. The font you always associated with grown-ups yelling things like, What do you mean it was only a game! The font that should have told Kaz to think for a second before jumping from the top of the ladder. The exact same font Kaz was now staring at, on the battered piece of wood that he'd landed on, which read:
The door swung open and as they starred out towards the glaring sun they tried to understand where they were now. "Mummy!!!!!" shouted Tom and shot back towards the wall.
"Close the door James, you put in the wrong date!"
James took hold of the old alarm clock and shook it lightly. "Just get me back to my own time." Tom was trying to see where the mummy was but sand blew violently around the old shed. "Must be the batteries again but not to worry have another set here," James walked over to the door and pulled it shut.
Beneath the canopy of old gorse shrubbery was a miniature world. Ducking through an arched opening, one entered into a darkened network of pathways and tunnels through gnarled trunks of the shrubs. Occasionally, a ray of sunlight found a small opening in the dense foliage, and like the beam from a flashlight, illuminated a spot on the dusty dirt floor. Most kids would have to bend over some to walk through this wonderland, but Eliza Bell, being small for her age, was comfortable walking here just as she would in the outside world.
Susan Niedenfuer, USA
"I hate school," thought Rosie, as she meandered along to school along her usual two mile route. She found lessons boring and had no real friends. School was just another chore to be endured. Her only escape was the fantasy world of her mind where she was always the hero in a big adventure. Rosie squinted in the sunshine and looking up saw several saucer shaped craft hovering over the roofs of houses. Rosie was magnetised to the spot. What should she do? Strangely, other children walking to school did not seem to notice them.
Bryony Wynter, UK
It's not every day you fall through a rotten floor into a forgotten mine shaft. Usually such a day is your last because mine shafts have, as a rule, very hard bottoms. Fortunately for Peter, this mine shaft had a great vat of soup at the bottom. Even more fortunately the soup was not hot. Peter made quite a big splash.
DR Wilson, Scotland
He woke with a start, jolting upright, staring blankly into the mirror that leaned in front of his bed against the wall. Memories of the dream still sketched around in his eyes, gradually fading as consciousness slowly crept back in. The bedroom, still engulfed by the darkess of night, fell silent once more and helped to settle his nerves. His dreams had been dark of late and seldom had a night gone by that he hadn't revisted the same scene. It played in his head over and over; a never ending film sequence which always ended the same. Questions left unanswered, empty spaces in his mind he desperately tried to find the answers for. His bed, soaking with sweat, became cold and uncomfortable. He dropped his head back on to the pillow and stared at the ceiling for a while before drifting back off to sleep. Surely not all exams could be this stressful?
Ross McCleary, UK
No pierced ears, no highlights. White shirts buttoned up and tie. The rules were neverending thought Becks.
She tossed another stone in the river, watching it sink. All her friends were starting at the local upper school, and yet her parents had insisted she attend a posh, private school. Lots of homework - the end of her life as she knew it.
A cloud shadowed the sun as she sat alone on the riverbank. A shiver, then stillness, and the feeling that accompanies loneliness. A familiar feeling to Becks but this time more intense - almost tangible. The feeling of another's presence.
Sonia Collier, England
Another starry night thought Rolly Pinkleton as she gazed out of her window. I wonder! I wonder if they'll visit me tonight? Suddenly the four poster bed on which Rolly kneeled on began to shudder. Sure enough from beneath the bed usually strewn with kids junk appeared a hole from which led to a stone staircase. Thump! Thump! Rolly was beside her self with excitement. Ooh, she thought I wonder if they've brought him with them. Just poking through the hole came a mop of curly grey hair. Mmm came a voice, not asleep yet young'n? Good, he's chosen you!
Claire Hogarth, England
Barney waited on the corner for the hubbub to pass. He watched in bewilderment as his bed floated by in pieces. Then his wardrobe bobbed along just above the fence, closely followed by a dusty old bookshelf. They were moving in with Lucian, mum's "new boyfriend".
She'd told Barney excitedly, 'You're going to have two new sisters, isn't that great? We'll be a normal family again.'
But Barney had often watched Lucian slip out after midnight, in a long red hooded coat. He knew it wasn't normal to do that, even wearing an ordinary denim jacket like his dad's.
How could her mother be so mean? Why didn't she believe her? Molly knew she shouldn't have lied, but what else could she have done? Well, it was too late now. She dragged herself up from her bed, took one last look around her room and said a silent goodbye.
The taxi was waiting outside to take her away to live with her aunt somewhere in France. Slowly she made her way down the stairs, her heart heavy, eyes brimming with tears, yet determined not to break down in front of her family. Molly had a plan and Molly never gave up. She'd show them!
"If you don't keep your eyes closed the Sleep People will stab them out" shouted her brother George as he ran past her door. Emily pulled her duvet over her head and closed her eyes so tightly that tears ran down her cheeks. "I wish he was dead!" she whispered again and again into the night. Her clock told her it was ten past four in the morning when she smelt fire. She sat upright, at the end of her bed sat a pink Dragon admiring its newly painted claws. It smiled at her, and said "Hello Emily".
A tiny lady in a woolly green cape was perched on the edge of the sandbox, watching us. Some little thing was in her lap, probably a puppy from the way she stroked it. She was staring right at Jeremy. Suddenly she came over close, whispering. Her breath smelled like wet roots in a swamp. She held out the brown thing from her lap...it was just a velvet bag with a gold drawstring. "Here,take it, he's going to need it soon." As she dropped it into my palm,the bag wigggled a bit and felt warm.
Bobbi S., U.S.A.
That awful sound of glass breaking. There was a silent twitch of curiosity as nearby curtains moved. Eyeless windows were all around us. I glared at my brother who gasped. His was face contorted and a slow trickle of sweat ran down the side of his face. He had a strange look. Our prize possession, our ultimate discovery and he had probably clumsily destroyed it by dropping the box. I knew I should have carried it myself. We needed to get the box inside. No one must see what was in it.This could ruin everything.
The meal was over but still his wicked stepmother was forcing Peter to eat more flies. Bluebottles were the worst he thought. His dark black hair would always turn purple after just three.
Peter could smell the warm breath of his stepmother only two inches from his face. It reminded him of the smell from the farm where he was born 300 years ago. Of course it wasn¿t a real farm. Real farms don't have sheep made of meringue or pigs that can speak bonzoola.
My Dad's spaceship was big. It was far bigger than Johnny's dads and I never boasted about it like he did. Every summer my Dad would look at me with his big brown eyes and ask me where I'd like to go, and every year my reply was the same. He'd smile, wink at my Mum and soon we'd all be speeding through the magical starry skies exploring the unknown. Sometimes he let me sit at the controls next to him and I'd pretend I was his co-pilot and we¿d be fighting aliens as they tried to attack.
Martin Damonsing, UK
The fierce desert sun blazed down upon Demola's naked back and the nervous sweat pouring down his face threatened to blind him as he gazed down the shaft. It seemed to go down forever and the darkness inside was so absolute that it almost appeared to be touchable. Demola was exhausted; he had spent the last ten days in the limitless expanse of the 'Devils Desert' trying to discover the lost ruins of the ancient and secretive tribe of witch doctors known as 'the Djannars'. Legend had it that they had ammassed a fantastic amount of gold and jewels in a network of underground caves and tunnels.
Since the start of the summer holiday Jude had sensed something behind him. He had tried to catch it out by turning quickly, but he never saw a thing.
Now as Kieran, the local bully, pushed him over and took his bike, he sensed the presence again.
"Hey!" Jude shouted after Kieran, at the same time frantically looking around for some clue.
Kieran disappeared; then suddenly jumped up and ran away, the bike left where he fell.
Jude stopped - that was it! A figure disappeared into the long grass. He ran to the spot, but it had disappeared again.
"Where is it, Polder?" yelled the man.
He was holding the shopkeeper above the ground, a look of rage on his unshaven face. His black eyes were nearly concealed by his filthy hair, but they burned with anger. I-I don't know what y-you're talking about," came Polder's innocent reply. "You know perfectly well what 'm talking about!" The man lowered Polder so that they were equally tall. "You stole it, and I want it back!" "No... n-no! Please!" begged Polder. "I have no idea what you are talking about!"
Carl F. Straumsheim, Norway
Of the 47 things he wished were different, his name was the worst: Horace Morris. With a name like that, no-one gave you a chance, but they certainly gave you other names like nerd, or loser... or worse.
'Mum, why aren't I called Dave?' wailed Horace one day.
'Boring,' said his mum, who sat grooming Simon, the family cat. 'Or Simon?' 'Don't be silly, Horace. Simon is a cat's name. Anyway,' she mused. 'It could have been worse.' 'How?' 'Daddy wanted Doris. "Boy or girl," he told me, "that child is a Doris."' Horace put his head in his hands.
On the eve of my eleventh birthday Mum discovered a comet. She had turned her telescope towards an uninspiring piece of sky and there it was - an indistinct faint fuzzy blob. Minutes later it had moved. She was on the internet all evening claiming it as her own. Comet Robinson, it was called. Our family name. Our family comet. "It's an omen" my sister said. Mum clucked exasperated. She hated superstitions. But by Christmas it was clear that Comet Robinson, and all that followed in its wake, would change our lives forever. My twelfth birthday was destined to be different.
Angelica just could not sleep, although it was not because of the unusually warm weather, or the full moon shining through the open window. It wasnt because she had moved around so much that her duvet wrapped around her like a cocoon. No. It was because she was waiting. Waiting impatiently, clutching her first milk tooth to fall out tightly in her hand, underneath her pillow. Keeping it tightly guarded. For hours Angelica had been waiting. Just then, as her heavy eyelids were beginning to close, she heard a quiet voice, 'Oi! That's not playing fair!' complained the tooth fairy.
Paul King, UK
He was running as fast as he could. But looking over his shoulder he saw that the policemen were still chasing him. A quick turn into an alley and.... a dead end. Now what? Would he? He could if he was quick. But then a sound from the right hand corner. "Over here, quickly" A girl his age was waving her hand at him from a door he hadn't noticed. He ran towards her and through the door. Just in time, he got away. And luckily he didn¿t use his powers, she might have seen him.
Eva de Moor, The Netherlands
The first cannonball's fireburst was the most terrifyingly beautiful thing John had seen in his thirteen years. It would be three more cannonballs until his father was killed. And seven more before he reached the safety of the trees, amidst a crush of an unfriendly panic. As he ran to avoid being run over, John clutched at the note in his left hand. It would be forty minutes more before he read it.
Jeff Hansen, U.S.A.
Arnold sat up sharply in his bed, his bedclothes thrown aside revealing his lucky pyjamas and even luckier hot water bottle underneath. He had heard it. The quiet bing-bong of an email arriving at his computer in the corner of the room. This was it. Just as the man had said. Quietly, he crept over to the softly purring machine and, with a quick shake of the mouse, woke it from it's sleep. There it was, the email, subject line 'Treasure'. With a frantic double-click he opened it. It was blank. Completely blank. Disappointment came over his barely lit face. He reached the mouse pointer for the corner to kill the window and all his hope. Then he saw it, a little paper clip in the corner. An attachment. It was called 'map.gif'. Before opening it, he took a deep breath. Maybe this was going to change things forever.
Scott Liddell, UK
There it was again, that strange whispering sound. Lily closed her eyes tight shut, perhaps it would go away, but no, there was definitely someone there. The illness had left her feeling drained but she managed to lift herself from the huge bed. She looked out, the room was swimming in darkness. Still feeling weak she gingerly padded across the icy stone floor and slowly turned the handle staring at the intricate carvings which covered the door panels, images of children's faces. As the door opened, she felt an icy breeze kiss the side of her cheek and shivering with terror she stepped out into the hallway and softly called out into the blackness "who is it?".
Clare Farthing, UK
The pigeon lady had been feeding the birds on Shadwell pond at 3.45pm every day for the last four years. She would shuffle along the path, slightly unsteady in her too-big shoes, smiling at an unseen joke that nobody else could understand. She had been there, dishing out grain from a torn Sainsbury's carrier bag, every day since Tom had started school. He could have set his watch by her, if he hadn't lost it. Then one day, she wasn't there any more.
Louise Marshall, UK
"You're new here aren't you ?" said the elder of the two teenage boys from next door. "Yes" I replied, " I'm Nina. Who are you ?" . My family had moved down from Yorkshire in a council house transfer. A new start my father had said would be good for the whole family. "No point in telling you " said the younger of two. "Nobody stays in that house long. Its haunted". "Really ? What with ?" I asked with interest. "Things that go bump in the night " he answered. "I'll give your family 6 weeks.
On Maplehurst Road, which is a very ordinary road, without even a twist or a turn to make it snag in your memory, there is a very ordinary house. And in this very ordinary house, made of stone and concrete and plaster, lived a very ordinary little boy. Ruffle-haired, scabby-kneed and often to be found wearing yesterday's underwear, Matthew Clayton had never been anything but unremarkable. Until one day, he woke up with an idea which he just knew was going to make him rich as a troll; he would sell off his parent's unremarkable house, piece by piece.
Caroline Lea, UK
They talked about the beast most nights. With something so terrible living so close, it was difficult to think of anything else, especially when the darkness came.
At sunset, the hunters returned from the depths of the jungle to cheers and applause; a village wild with excitement. Slung across the shoulders of the eldest hunter was a wild bore and although the others were empty-handed, this was still the best catch in days.
While the meat was prepared, they lit the giant campfire and gathered around, telling stories of the beast.
It was a cold and rainy day. The sky was dark and eerie looking as I looked through the shades of our front, living room window. We were to go to my brother's play tonight. I was sitting on the window seat, waiting for my parents to come downstairs followed by an ugly-dressed toad.
I had already been ready. For the whole day I had been looking forward to going over to Brent's house (This boy I really liked) for a party; however, my parents were making me go see my little brother portray the ugly toad that turned into a handsome prince. Who really cared anyways? My brother was always a toad. I don't really know how anyone could turn him into a handsome prince, no matter how many professionals worked at this local children¿s theatre.
There was an old rumor around town that the house on Toulouse Street was haunted. People who lived there never stayed for more than a year - and if they did, they were never seen from again. To the town, the house was a monster, swallowing people who dared to live there and courageously decided to stay. The old Victorian house never seemed to get run down, either. By the beginning of the twenty ¿ first century, the house was close to two hundred years old. However, by some strange time warp, it remained in perfect condition up until the day someone tried to tear it down.
Faye Elizabeth Davis,
USA (Douglasville, GA)
This was the deepest, sparkliest snow she had ever seen - miles of it - piled against trees and houses like tons of sugar. Parked cars looked like rubber ducks in bubblebath water. Someone had taken the boring old garden during the night and left a wonderland outside her door. It was fantastic! Fantastic! She tripped three times trying to pull her wellies on over slippers and pyjamas, dragged her coat down from the hallstand and ran out into the new white world.
Janice Green, England
The inhabitants of Motmeer House were all the same - ancient. However, none were so old as Mrs. McKinnley who never moved from the seat by the window, endlessly rocking in her world of grey. She would moan sometimes, but usually she would sit in utter silence, as if waiting for something - something that she'd been waiting for longer then most people knew. She had no family - but still she refused to let death grip her, until she had found the one who could take it from her, and relieve her from the pain and anguish she had suffered so long.
My Uncle Jon always said that when you saw somebody for the first time, there was always something about them that caught your eye.
For my Aunt Lucy, that thing was her Third Hand. It was silver, with beautiful swirly patterns inside, and it hung round her neck on a black cord. She never took it off. One time she had been swimming at the beach, leaving the Third Hand under a rock, and then when she came back she couldn¿t find it. I was only four at the time, but I remember it well. Her face went pale and she started to cry.
Alexandra Croucher, England
Charlotte Marilyn Theodora Bianca Tanith Enbahke was just like any other girl who was about to turn eleven-years-old. She didn't like babysitters, or sitting still, and absolutely hated wearing dresses. She did, however, love to play outside with little boys and climb trees. Charlotte hated her freckles and her blonde curly hair, and wished it was straight and red. Or maybe dark, she couldn't decide. She liked school most of the time, especially when she didn't have to work. She did her chores, only when made to, and she usually lost her shoes. Oh, yeah - and she was a Princess.
JF Solstice, USA
It was a dark and gloomy day on 1314 Torture Avenue. People always wondered why they called it Torture Avenue, was it because if you walked past the Orphanage you heard screams and evil laughter? Maybe the reason was that when you were talking to one of the orphans the only word they would say was 'Torture'. The person, who owned the Orphanage which may I might add is called The Orphanage for Happy Children, was named Madame Libra. She was a tall attractive woman with black hair and pure red lips. But her mean and cruel personality wasn't attractive.
Vanessa, The United States
Marc had the dream again. He knew it was a silly dream, because pigs don't fly. And if pigs flew, being farm animals they wouldn't fly over a city. And if pigs flew over cities, they wouldn't fly over HIS city. And if they did fly over HIS city, they wouldn't hide in attics. And if they DID hide in attics, they wouldn't hide in HIS attic. And if, a very stubborn and contrary pig was flying in HIS city and hiding in HIS attic, he would know because he had searched his attic several times. Yet, Marc had the silly dream again.
Lightning lit Sandwater Close for a brief second as the rain gushed down drenching everything in its path. The noise this caused was deafening, and certainly impossible to sleep to. As Charlie rose out of bed to shut his window completely a car zoomed down the busy road, causing the neighbours dog to start barking. 'I'm never going to get to sleep' he thought, as he got back underneath his warm covers. He'd been lying there for over an hour. The woods at the bottom of the school had been going through his mind ever since he heard the rumours about what lurks in there.
Tom Jenkins, UK
"Aren¿t you a little blond to be a vampire?" As usual, the intended victim¿s voice held no trace of fear. Count Alucard swore violently and threw the man to the ground, feeling unaccountably glad when he landed face-first in a puddle of questionable ancestry. The victim seemed unperturbed, sitting up and regarding him with an air of mild interest.
"Aren¿t you a little eager to die?" the vampire snapped back, overdoing the heavy Transylvanian accent in his rage. The victim tilted his head to one side, apparently giving the question a lot of thought. Alucard sighed and glanced at his watch.
The man grinned. "Nobody will live, once I'm through with them," he whispered.
"You take revenge out on the other people of this town? Fool, you're nothing compared to Keniu Eslina," said a voice. It was a woman who appeared out of the shadows.
"Eslina won't be easy. I agree with you on that, but I'll find a way. I will kill him! He and his family will be first to die. They'll suffer for my father's dreadful death," said the man.
"Yushka, it won't be easy. I suggest you leave them alone or deal with me," said the woman.
Darla Amyx, United States of America
Everyone was swarming around me with microphones in their hands. To tell you the truth, I was to astonished to say anything. All of these people were surrounding me because I had just become a royal princess. I couldn't believe it when I heard the news. I just had my mouth gaping open, open as far down as it could go. Finally, I managed to mutter some words very quietly, but I can't remember them. Hopefully I will next time. I just wonder if anyone is going to stalk me since I'm a princess now. Who knows.
It was two weeks before Jenny¿s eleventh birthday and her first nigh in the new house that she inherited after her Nan died. Jenny lived with her step dad, her real father left before she was borne and her real mother just two years latter. Jack had be a good friend, if not a father, and when Jenny had been left the house they could not wait to move in. Jenny¿s Nan had always been a bit strange not in a bad way, but not all there and it wasn¿t until Jenny found the secret entrance in the cellar that she got to know who Nan really was.
Julian Cook, UK
I walked slowly down to the terrace, eyes filling with water, where a shadowed figure was sitting on the window seat. He was looking in the opposite direction but I thought I¿d seen him before. I walked as fast as anyone could in a tight, silver dress to find out who he was. Just as I turned the corner a face appeared on the figure. It was Nick, my brother¿s archenemy, and my secret crush. No one knew I had crush on him. No one would think a nice girl like me, could like that thief.But I did.
Caroline B. D., U.S.A.
It was midnight and Sam was in the toilet again. An eerie glow came from the cubicle. Sam was not actually IN the toilet, you understand, but sitting curled up above it on the high window shelf just above the cistern with its long metal chain. The glow came from the torch under her nightie and dressing gown as she was reading a book again. In the dark. Long after lights out. In a world of her own. Perhaps it was the light glowing dimly through the window on the outside that attracted them. Caught up in the world of her story about wild horses Sam didn't notice them. But they noticed her, and soon she would be made acutely aware of them.
Tina Rich, Australia
John was one of those boys that most would envied. He was gifted in both athletics and in thought. Everyone believed that he had his life set. No worries, that's what everyone said, they said he had nothing to worry about for the rest of his life. That was until the day his life changed. It was dusk, too dark to see anything. He hadn't seen the driver; the driver hadn't seen him. The driver did all he could to help, but nothing helped. The only thing John remembered was a bright white light, then suddenly his eyes flickered open.
Mike Rodriguez, United States
My secret place is hidden, tucked away behind curtains of green vines, and across fields filled with wildflowers, in which one feels content simply to sit among the children of nature. It is carpeted with velvet moss, cushioning my feet with each step as my weight releases tendrils of the earthy scent into the air. Overhanging tree branches bend over, listening closely while their roots protrude through the dirt at odd angles, waiting to trip me lest I disturb the peace. My secret place is hidden past the green backbone of the land, and the tears of the angels¿quietly waiting.
Sarah McKay, USA
Taptaptaptap. Robert was always tapping away at his computer. He rarely came out of his room in the evenings. His parents were getting quite worried about him.
Not half as worried as they would be if they knew. If they knew what he had learned, if they knew what he could do, if they knew some of the things that he had already done... tapping away at his computer.
If only they knew...
Robert was a hacker, and not a bad one at all for an eleven year old. At this precise moment he was grinning, feeling quite pleased with himself.
If only he knew...
The Sleeping Kingdom is made up of all the things you've ever wanted to be, or ever wanted to see, or ever wanted to do. There are elephants, and sailing ships, sweets for breakfast and breakfast for supper. There are spacemen, airmen, even firemen, although there ever aren't any fires. Twice a year, Mary Tweed's Rapid Eye Circus rolls into town, and signs up any boy or girl who wants to run away and become a clown or a tightrope walker. Many come and many go, but only two - Bean and Trevor - are watched by the King's nightmen.
After I'd died, things got worse. Always my luck to be in the right place, at the right time...for someone else. I was a catalyst. A facilitator for immense good fortune for others. The downside was that some universal scales needed balancing; tit for tat; ying for a yang. So when I saved Jack's life and restored him to his throne, I wasn't too surprised by my own demise. Being chased by a oversized, transparent Griefghast was the surprise. He smelt bad too. He was that close. Can you die when you're dead, I wondered. Maybe I'd find out.
Aston Aarkin, UK
A light shone at either end of the street. The street was empty and quiet,deadly quiet. Just this atmosphere made her shiver from head to toe. There was a strange stench in the air.Somewhat like rotten onions. She walked on the pavement quietly but swiftly. What was that?!!Footsteps.It must be her imagination. Or was somebody really following her. There they were again. Yes.Someone was following her. Although she didn't realise it, she started running.She tried hard not to look back. She turned her head to look back. Nothing. There was noone there.But she kept running with her head turned to her back. She felt certain that someone or something was following her. Suddenly,she tripped. As she got up on her hands and knees,she saw a shadow coming towards her. She knew she was going to die.I t was going to kill her.She turned her head to see who it was.Oh no!
Mahnoor Nadir Vaka, Pakistan
The big problem with having super powers isn¿t having to hide your identity behind thick specs and a bad haircut. It¿s not the fact I can¿t throw the school bully over the nearest hill because it¿ll blow my cover. It¿s not even learning to change into your costume in very small and dark places (I¿d often practice in my wardrobe and emerge with my pants outside my trousers. Might suit Superman, but his mum clearly doesn¿t make him wear Y-fronts). No, it¿s the everyday stuff. Like me having just sneezed a hole the size of a donkey through my bedroom wall.
Gaz Haman, UK
Please come back. I miss you. Do you have any idea how hard it is for me? People are either horribly nice to me, or pretend that nothing's happened. Every time I turn a corner, I expect to see your face. Each time a car comes past that looks like ours, I expect to see you driving it. And the phone. God, Dad, when the phone rings I think it must be you. It must be you just ringing to say you're on your way home. Mum cries sometimes and Charity always wants to know where you are. I'm just trying to keep us all sane.
Please come back.
Marbles was a cat. A run of the mill housecat. He was a very black cat with distinctive orange eyes that glowed in the sunlight like hot coals. He was cunning, yet clumsy; a loner, but thrived and loved attention. People say that curiosity killed the cat, but in Marble's case, it made him stonger. He was the keenest of hunters, often roaming for miles around to find his prey. In his backyard jungle HE was king.
Graham Cawte, UK
This is the story of a necklace. Not a very special necklace except that it was given as a birthday present to Holly by her father and that made it very special to her indeed. It was made out of hundreds of tiny interlinked silver rings, which formed a chain, with three large silver squares and two silver circles in the middle. It is the story of how Holly came to lose the necklace and how her younger brother Toby came to find it. It is also the story of what happened to them both in between.
Johnny P, UK
Jake was staring out of the window watching the rain. The next minute he blinked, then blinked again, were his eyes deceiving him? For in the garden, appearing (or so it seemed), from underneath the willow were what could only be described as little people, and they began dancing round the garden. Jake rand outside to join them, he didn't care that it was raining! At his appearance the little people began disappearing into the ground. Jake followed in their footsteps when, suddenly, he seemed to sink into the ground. He had a few seconds to look round before he completely disappeared....
Zoe Corbridge, UK
Creak, Creak, the floor boards of the staircase at Ivy Lodge went. Jake had heard it and froze in his bed, when is this going to stop? Although the house was an old house originally belonging to his great, great grandparents every night as soon as darkness falls strange noises can be heard from downstairs. Jake had investigated the noises many times but could find nothing. Jake's parents had often blamed him on playing pranks on them. Was this the imagination of an 11 year old boy or something more sinister? Jake was determined to get to the bottom of this.
Leslie Young, N Ireland