Ripples Short Story Competition 2024: Primary

The quality of entries for the inaugural Ripples Short Story Competition made judging a difficult task. Around 100 entries came from 17 schools across the Central Coast area, as well as via parents. The judging team were extremely impressed with the variety of ways that students dealt with the topic, as well the high standard of entries. It is exciting to see so many students engaging with the creativity that comes from a love of literature; something that Words on the Words strives to grow in our local youth.

Winner: The Ripples Ripper Award

All That Is Lost Can Be Found by Coralie A, Yr 6, Umina Beach Public School

I let one eye open, slowly and carefully, letting my eye adjust before opening the other eye. 

Then I continue down my body, waking up my lips, my fingers, my legs, my feet, all the way down to my toes. Once I’m sure that my thigh won’t hurt as much when I get up and out of bed, I prop myself onto my elbows, my loose hair gathering into a swarm around my face.

A dull glare seeps through my windows, sweeping the nooks and crannies of my room, highlighting my bookshelf. I swing my legs off the bed, my bare foot hits the cold wooden floor with a thud. A short, sudden spike of pain sears through my right thigh, making me stop and automatically check my prosthetic leg for any sign of a problem. I adjust my footing, favouring my left foot, using it to push myself up off my bed.

I check my phone, aware that Dad set up a schedule that I must follow. 5:32 am, perfect timing. I stretch, reaching my arms up to the roof, then down to my toes. My thigh shudders with the effort, but I continue to stretch, inhaling when stretching up, exhaling when stretching to the floor. I hear movement from Mum’s bedroom next door to mine, so I silence my movements, emphasising each footstep to make sure the floorboards don’t creak, and continuing my morning routine.

In minutes, I’m outside, in my wetsuit, grasping my flippers and goggles, breathing in the sea-salt scented air. Clouds litter the sky, wisps of white and grey, some of them tinted pink and orange as the sun slowly rises. The sand in front of home is cold, frostbitten and damp, biting at my toes. I see the ocean peeking through the bush, and a glimpse is all it takes to get me moving, step by step down the bushtrail.

Dad’s already there, waiting for me at the jetty with his feet dangling in the water. He’s at a time when he’s at peace with the world, when he isn’t thinking about me too much, where he’s young again. My footsteps plonk across the sea-ridden wood of the jetty, snapping dad out of reverie. He nods at me, eyes sweeping my body, searching for a sign of hesitation or pain. Always searching. I nod back, coming to sit down next to him. I slide on my flippers, the rubbery plastic increasingly familiar. The depths of the ocean stare up at me, endless opportunity, yet endless memories of pain… 

The shark looming up from the dark, catching me off guard, I tread water, I stay safe, but it comes, attacks me, takes something from me, the pain, the sirens, Mum, Dad, the surgery…

 My breathing has quickened and I can sense Dad studying me.

Two words, spoken solemnly from my parted lips, seal the unspoken questions and worries.

“I’m ready.”

I jump. The water ripples, and I’m engulfed.

Judges Comments

We are cleverly drawn in from the very first line as the beautifully drawn picture of the early dawn and morning schedule to be followed when preparing for the day with a prosthetic leg unfolds. The story reveals a close connection between father and child as they prepare for their morning surf, and the setting of sand and sea realistically described. Suspense is built until the climax when we read of the shark attack which had led to the loss of limb and both characters overcome their initial fears after reliving the memory and becoming at peace with the world. All that is lost is found when the character says “I’m ready” and is engulfed by the ocean.

Runner-Up: A Whale of a Tale Award

Stepping Stones by Isabelle M, Year 5, Lakes Grammar

Life is like a river; currents pull you left and right and you just go with the flow, but sometimes it can go wrong, it can be like an ocean. You feel like you are getting sucked into the deep depths of life.

Ben felt like that.

All his life he had been pulled away from the things he loved. Here at the creek, was the only place he could relax. It was a beautiful place to go. The water was still, dew drops hung from the leaves. It was also where his mum was buried.

When Ben was little, he came here with his mum to skip stones. Ben was never any good at

it, but he loved the way the stone made a ripple in the water. The next day, as Ben was sitting on the shore of the creek, he heard noises. Ben quickly went and hid behind a spiky bush. Two men were walking down towards the creek with tools.

What are they doing here? Ben wondered.

As they got to the place where Ben was sitting before, they started to dig. He had seen in the newspaper that a new housing estate was being established. They were going to dig up the creek!

Ben was horrified. The place where Ben had grown up, the only place where Ben could relax, was going to be destroyed.

The men had gone on a lunch break, but Ben was still being careful. He picked up a pebble, This may be the last time I skip rocks here, he thought. He threw the pebble out onto the water. His Mum’s face suddenly appeared in the water. Ben jumped back thinking it was a hallucination, but no, there she was. He scrambled up onto the bank to see her.

“Hello,” she said in a jumbly voice. “I don’t have much time, but I will tell you this’ she whispered, “Remember what is right. Be confident to stand up.”

The men came back, but this time Ben was ready. When the men saw Ben, they just started digging again but Ben yelled out. “Oi! Don’t do that.”

The workers spun around, but before they could speak, he spoke again.

“Life isn’t always about money, it’s about freedom and going with the flow like a ripple. As soon as the pebble hits the water it makes a splash, like the bad times in life, but it calms down eventually letting them drift away. Every time a pebble hits the water, it’s another bad time. You can’t stop this from happening. Even a small thing can make an enormous difference. Please don’t build here.”

The two men stood speechless. Ben reminded one of the builders about his lost son. They couldn’t build here now, it meant so much to this little boy, but what they could do is make it a beautiful place for kids to come and play, and that’s exactly what they did.

Judges Comments

The story compares life to a river with currents pulling you “left and right and you just go with the flow” or like the ocean, sucking you in. We are taken to the beautiful creek setting, where Ben has precious memories of times spent with his mum who is now buried there. Ben’s mother appears to him and tells him to have courage and stand up against the housing development which will destroy the creek. The beautiful descriptions of the skipping stones hitting the water remind Ben that small things can make a difference and his courage does have a ripple effect and he persuades the developers to preserve the creek. Theme, character, plot and structure are well developed.

Highly Commended: Simply Swell Award

Ripple Of Kindness At Sea by Juliana D, Year 5, Green Point Christian College

The moment Bella woke up, she could feel the gentle rush of waves like clouds wrapped around her smooth and soft skin. As she stretched her flippers, her muscles shivered a little. She then realised that today she was migrating with her family and friends in a pod to look for warmer waters.

Bella swam to the surface, took a deep breath through her blowhole, dove back down, and set off to start her journey. The air’s scent had a hint of saltiness and a touch of freshness. She felt nervous because it was her first migration but her excitedness overtook it.

Bella and her friends were busily chatting at the back of the pod about the adventures they could embark on.

In the corner of her eye, she spotted an object in the distance. Bella told her friends about it, but they told her that it was just another fish, so she didn’t worry about it. The current kept pulling the object closer, but she still ignored it and kept yakking away. When Bella turned around to check on the object again, she couldn’t see it. She scanned all around her, but it wasn’t in sight.

Even though the sun was shining, Bella thought something was above her, blocking the sun that was glistening on the water. She began to panic because she felt like she couldn’t move her fins anymore. Her friends were in front of her so she couldn’t ask for help.

Soon the pod became a tiny dot in the distance. Bella frantically tried to swim but she couldn’t move her body. She desperately tried to scream but she couldn’t open her snout. 

She was trapped in a net!

Bella spotted a boat nearby, so without thinking, she tried to move and splash around to get their attention. Thankfully, a girl on the boat exclaimed, “Mum! Dad! There is a dolphin in the water, stuck in a fishing net!”

The girl rushed to her parents and pointed to where Bella was. The whole family urgently went to cut the net to free Bella. The moment she was free, she waved goodbye and swam off to join the pod.

The happy clouds turned ominous as the pitter-patter of rain started to fall. Then, the calm, beautiful waves turned destructive and chaotic. The boat the family was in, started to sway, tumble, and slowly sink. Without hesitation, Bella explained to the pod that the sinking boat carried the family who saved her life. The pod immediately agreed to help save the family. They swam swiftly through the water. When they arrived, there in the wreckage was the family huddled up together, trying to withstand the pounding waves. They signalled each family member to hold onto their fins as they swam to the nearest shore. The family was weak and exhausted when the pod laid them on the sand, however the look on their faces said that they would be forever grateful to their new sea friends.

Judges Comments

We are gently drawn into discovering that Bella is a dolphin with beautiful word pictures of the sea and Bella’s physical description as she swims with her pod. Being a dolphin, she doesn’t realise that she finds herself below a boat and then trapped in a net. The descriptions of Bella’s rescue by the boat owners and their sudden capsize bring the events to life. The ripple effect of kindness returned by the dolphin pod reflects the theme and structure and plot well developed.

Encouragement: Keep On Swimming Award

This award was added due to sheer creativity and laugh-out-loud value, even though it didn’t meet the competition criteria.

Rat Vs The Moon by Charlie B, Year 6, Ettalong Primary School

*CRASH*!! SQUEAK!!

“Help!! There’s a massive inter-galactic rat called “Galacta-Rat” trying to eat the moon! (because it’s made of cheese)” said a citizen.

“I’ll save you!!”

A strange figure emerged wearing a massive dog poo shaped hat, and a cape with what looked like chocolate on it, also with an extremely pungent smell similar to that of a dying racoon in a garbage dump.

“I… AM… STINKMAN!!!” said the strange man as he landed on the moon, saying, “No appetite now, Galacta-Rat, have you?”

Galacta-Rat swiftly replied, “I happen to love the taste of dog poo!!”

“…Erh…” said Stinkman in disgust as he lifted off the ground, light as a hippopotamus, and KO’d him!!

But there was one problem. Galacta-Rat remained unphased by this attack, as Stinkman was like the size of a mosquito compared to the rat. But then…

“OH PONG!!!” yelled Galacta-Rat, as he might not be big enough to knock him out, but he sure was smelly enough. Even a poo-loving Galacta-Rat couldn’t stand the smell of ultra- Stinkman!!

As he fell back, shocked, flabbergasted, Stinkman jumped on to him, (and he should have bought lottery tickets, because he happened to hit the exact right point that would instantly kill him!!! If he was mortal that is… and who said Galacta-Rat was? After all, he was an inter-galactic being.)

He stood up and bellowed, “OH SILLY MORTALS!! WHOEVER ATTEMPTS TO KILL ME, ONLY MAKES ME 10 TIMES STRONGER!!!”

As he stood up to take a massive bite out of the moon, he was so full he entered a great food coma, but only temporarily.

You see, before he ate it, the moon was always full. Now that Galacta-Rat exists, every night he takes another bite of the moon until it is gone.

However, because obviously, the world was created by chinchillas, the chinchilla gods, (a chinchilla is an adorable fluffy animal) decided to instead, get rid of Galacta-Rat, and instead make this phenomenon a naturally occurring thing.

Then after the moon is gone, of course it slowly reappears.

That’s how moon phases became a thing.

The End