Kelpies News and Features
The Kelpies Prize for Writing 2022
We hope you enjoy reading these extracts from this year’s Kelpies Prize for Writing shortlist – massive congratulations to Louisa McLennan, Fran Moldaschl, Catherine Ogston and Vee Walker.
The winner will be announced on 1st September 2022, keep an eye on our website and follow @DiscoverKelpies on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for details. You can also sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear about Kelpies Prize news.
This extract is from Louisa McLennan’s The Snack Dragons, a laugh-out-loud chapter book for readers aged 6-8, about Spokey, a dragon outcast who likes to eat bicycles rather than humans. In trouble with the other dragons for not joining them on a hunt, Spokey is sentenced to lose his right to fly as punishment, and so steals away to find one final, tasty cycle-shaped snack.
Spokey headed to his favourite place – Scotland.
A land of castles, monsters and mountains. A land of mist (mostly just rain, actually) and mystery, where a racing-green dragon blends in with the forests and glens, and stands a better-than-average chance of catching himself a decent lunch.
On this particular misty morning, Spokey circled, until he spotted a small school by a quiet loch.
The perfect target.
He may have chosen differently if he had been able to read the sign:
“Tigh na Draíocht Primary School: excellent education in literacy, maths and magic.”
Spokey positioned himself on the branch of an oak tree beside the gate.
He watched and waited as children rode their bikes through. He waited and watched as they parked them, side by side, in the bike rack in a big shed. And then he saw his prey. An absolute beauty. Sparkling gold and red, its bell glinting in the sunlight, ruby helmet
swinging from the handlebars.
A glob of slimy drool dripped from Spokey’s tongue and landed on the path.
SPLAT! A teacher walked right through it, and slipped onto his bottom!
Spokey froze as a group of children pointed and laughed, but, just as he was sure they would look up, the school bell rang. “BRRRRRRRRING!”
When the children were all inside, Spokey slunk down from the tree and into the open bike shed.
His trophy was locked – but that was no problem to a dragon. A quick snort of flame melted the metal away.
He pulled the beautiful bike out carefully. The scent of steel had Spokey’s taste buds tingling. He licked his lips…
But then he heard small footsteps behind him, and a shout.
“OI! THAT’S MY BIKE!”
This extract is from When the Giants Passed Through, Fran Moldaschl’s historical fantasy novel for 11-13 year olds. It follows young Eadlin as she searches for her lost hound during a storm, and finds herself in the middle of an awe-inspiring encounter.
Somewhere ahead, over the strange rhythm of the thunder, Eadlin could hear a high whine. She knew it was Alfred. Steeling herself, she extended her arms and slowed her pace, pushing into the emerald dark.
Just when she thought the forest would choke her, the trees fell away to reveal another clearing. Hackles up and growling at the centre of it, stood her hound. Relief flooded her and she made a noise that was part-laugh, part-sob.
Then she looked past him to where she could just see above the tops of the trees.
Giants were coming.
There was no time to think. Eadlin sprinted forward and grabbed the dog, pulling him into the hollow left by the fallen tree when it had birthed the clearing. She crouched low, wrapping her body around the sopping wet dog. They trembled together, a tiny knot of life amongst long-dead roots.
The thunder – the thundering footsteps – grew louder. Unable to tell her own tears from the rain, Eadlin wiped her face again and squinted through the darkness at the giants.
She stopped shaking then, enthralled.
There was a serenity to them – not at all like she had expected. Wulfrun had told stories – had spoken of when her mother had seen the giants – and described them as being made of stone. Eadlin had taken that to mean boulders – lumpy and irregular – but they weren’t like that at all.
They were clearly formed from rock, but they were smooth, sleek even, like a pebble worn by the river. Their faces were handsome, graceful, and the thud of their feet on the ground belied an elegance in the way they moved. Every step was a dance. They had no hair that Eadlin could see, but they wore what looked like helmets, the edges of which skimmed their beautiful faces and slim, strong shoulders. They looked neither male, nor female, yet simultaneously both.
Against her chest, Alfred whimpered, and Eadlin registered what the dog had obviously seen moments before – the giants were coming straight for them.
This extract is from Catherine Ogston’s Polly Lillico and the Box of Magic, a funny and fantastical novel for 8-11 year olds, in which young Polly, having been bequeathed a mysterious magical box by her grandmother, finds herself the subject of much interest at her granny’s funeral.
I am sure my eyes are only shut briefly but when I open them I am not alone. Sitting beside me are two old ladies, both of them peering at me.
“Do you think it’s her?”
“Oh yes. She’s got Viv’s chin.”
“Do you think she’s ready?”
“We’ll know soon enough. Let’s hope Viv hasn’t made a mistake.”
The two of them lean closer and smile. They don’t seem perturbed that I am fully aware of their conversation.
“What’s your name, dear?” says one.
The two of them nod.
“Have you got any questions for us, Polly? We’ll help if we can,” says the other.
“Questions about what?” I have no idea who they are. Why would I have questions for them?
“OOOHH!” they both say at the same time, like I have revealed something important.
“She doesn’t know,” says the first to the other.
“No, she doesn’t,” replies the second.
“Know what?” My eyes start searching the room for Mum or Dad. Even Lola’s company might be better than this.
One of them starts digging in the bottom of her handbag. “Take this, dear,” she says. She is holding out a business card which I take, but don’t look at. I’m too busy working out how to extricate myself. “Call us anytime,” she says and snaps her handbag shut. They rise from the sofa.
“Call you about what?” I say as they start walking away.
They both turn in unison.
“The box, dear. You have the box?”
Almost in a dream-like state, I find myself nodding. They nod once back, and then disappear into the crowd. I crane and crane but the two women are gone.
I remember the card I am holding. I read it.
Svetlana and Katerina Oberlong
What does A.A.O.W.W.O. mean? What do these two ladies have to do with Granny’s strange box? And do I really have Granny’s chin?
This extract is from Vee Walker’s The Tale of Eppy Hogg, a historical novel for 8-11 year olds based on real people, places and events of the 1746 Rising. Here, one wet evening in Inverness, young Eppy, a maid to Mistress Mary Stonor, must tend to a famous injured visitor.
The Prince arrived late that night, with quite an entourage, riding a mud-splattered white horse. There was a crowd of us in the street gawping and cheering. It was as he dismounted near our house that it happened. His silver shoe buckle caught on the edge of a frozen cobble and down he went, with a cry that sounded to me like “Fishter!”, though I never did understand the meaning of it. Oh, of course his men were all around him, making a fuss. I can tell you he was not much of a bonnie prince then, his silk tartan coat and stockings all clarty from the midden muck in the gutter. His hand was bleeding slightly too, where he had saved his fall, and he was shaking it as though it had been stung.
Mistress Mary stepped forward and made a deep curtsey. “Sire, that wound needs dressed. You cannot enter the house of Lady MacIntosh in such a state. Pray follow me and I will tend you.” I stared at my mistress open-mouthed. The Prince? In our kitchen? She gave me a gentle cuff around the head as I stood there gawping and scolded me gently, saying, “Get on now, and set the big kettle to boil, Eppy Hogg!”
And so it was that Prince Charles Edward Stuart, rightful heir to the throne of Scotland, sat at our kitchen table with myself, Eppy Hogg, kneeling at his feet and sponging off his muddy stockings. Mistress Mary washed and bound his hand. I worked away, scarce daring to lift my eyes.
Then I heard him speak. I thought it would be to Mistress Mary but no, he was talking to me, wee Eppy Hogg! I raised my face to his and saw a tired, pale boy looking down at me from under a powdered wig, set on his head a little crooked from the fall.