Read excerpts from last year’s prize-winning entries from the junior and senior categories, featured in For Kids By Kids: The Best of the Scholastic Writing Awards 2012:
– Nalin Bedi
Rani Koel and her friends sang their morning
song as usual. The song also served as a marking
of their territory. The song told the other birds
and animals that the area where their song reaches
belonged to them. But songs serve as a territory
marker only if it can be heard. There was no chance
of any Koel’s song getting heard with all the noise
in and around the park.
One morning, Rani Koel heard a new Koel
singing from the next tree. As she went to see who
it was, she found the newcomer. ‘Hey! Leave my
area!’ said Rani.
‘Who are you? If this is your area, why aren’t
you singing to mark it?’ asked the newcomer.
‘What do you mean? I have been living here for
the last two years and singing daily. Did you not
‘If I heard you, would I enter your area?’
‘Now that you have heard me, you’d better buzz
off!’ said Rani. The newcomer stared at Rani for a
minute and then flew away. Rani then flew towards
the banyan tree where Lata lived and whistled a
special tune which was their signal to meet. As she
reached the tree, Rupa and Sona also turned up.
‘What happened?’ asked Lata.
‘Something has to be done. I had an intruder
in the next tree! You know, he said that he had
come because he could not hear me singing. What
nonsense! I have been following the routine for so
long!’ said Rani angrily.
‘You know what? I had the same problem
yesterday!’ said Rupa. ‘There was a bird with a
white tail who told me the same thing. I quickly
told him to leave and that this park was already
‘It happened to me last week!’ said Lata and
Meanwhile, a pigeon and a crow had also come
near the four Koels.
‘We are also facing the same problem. The same
confusion’s happened in the Myna colony on the rain
trees and in the squirrel colony in the neem trees,’
said the pigeon.
‘This is it. Just one more month and the longest
waiting period of my life will end. In a month’s time,
I, Michael Rebeiro will finally be allowed to drive a
car.’ I paused for a second to stare at my rapt audience.
As they continued to look at me intently, I carried
on. ‘I’m going to be a responsible eighteen-year-old
in one month. Besides, I have someone with me—it’s
not like I would drive alone.’ Here, I stopped to look
again at my audience of three, consisting of a potted
plant, a stuffed toy dog and the family pet—a hamster
named Pudding. The plant continued sitting on the
windowsill. The furry blur St Bernard kept smiling at
me. And Pudding kept sniffing his empty food bowl.
The atmosphere was certainly not very heartening.
I nevertheless valiantly kept up my oration for about
another three minutes until I heard a muffled giggle
behind me. I turned around, and there, standing in the
doorway were my older brother and sister. They simply
burst out laughing. My sister Fleur, a pesky creature
who treated me with superior tolerance and the
amused condescension of an older sibling, wiped tears
from her eyes. ‘Did you notice that you are talking to
your window?’ she said, choking with laughter.
‘Actually, I’m talking to the plant, Fluffy and
Pudding,’ I said coldly.
Radford, my older brother, tried to hide his
smile. ‘Miles, you can’t go around talking to lifeless
things. It’s just not done by most sane people.’
My childhood fascination for every kind of
automobile resulted in my father nicknaming me
Miles, and after that the name just stuck. Everyone
called me by my childhood nickname, and strangely
enough it suited me better than the distinguished
name Michael. I usually do not mind this moniker
except that sometimes, just to annoy me, people
call me Kilometre instead of Miles.