The life of a chicken may not sound like the stuff winning stories are made of – but, after submitting exactly that to a national competition, Jared Ren knows better.
The Bayridge Elementary Grade 4 student learned last month that his short story, Chicken Boy, won first prize for his grade in a contest hosted by Maple Ridge-based Polar Expressions Publishing. In addition to $100 for himself and $100 for his classroom, Ren’s win earned his piece a prominent page in the anthology, Winter Flight: A Collection of Short Stories Written by Young Canadians.
It was an “outstanding” submission, Polar Expressions’ managing editor Rachelle McCallum writes in a congratulatory letter to Ren’s teacher, Brenda Webster.
Ren, 10, said Chicken Boy tells the story of a boy who turned into a chicken and laid eggs to fight crime.
“He married a girl chicken, and they had a girl and a boy and then he died… by oldness,” Ren said.
“I just thought it would be fun to write about a chicken’s life.”
The contest, which also had a poetry category, aimed to showcase the work of student writers of all ages, with a goal of inspiring a lifelong enchantment.
Thousands of entries were received from more than 500 schools across Canada, and the top 25 to 45 per cent were published, including those of two other Bayridge students’ entries, Natasha Burgert and Hannah Fehr.
Ren believes his passion for chapter books helped him clinch the top spot amongst his Grade 4 peers.
“I read lots of chapter books. My dad says that’s why I won,” he said.
For Webster, the win was made even sweeter when it came time for her students to decide what they wanted to do with the $100 awarded their classroom. They decided to donate it to BC Children’s Hospital Foundation – a gesture that still brings tears to Webster’s eyes.
“I just think it’s really sweet of them,” she said. “They’re global thinkers. They think beyond themselves. I just think it’s really neat that they want to do that.”
The money was to be presented to a foundation spokesperson Thursday morning, and Ren hopes it will go far to helping others.
“It’ll maybe let the doctors go to a country where there’s a lot of sick people and no doctors,” he said.