‘Gripping’ story wins writing award for Horsham girl

Children's author Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Greenway Academy pupil Makkenzi Smith
Children's author Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Greenway Academy pupil Makkenzi Smith

A story described as ‘gripping from start to finish’ has helped an eight-year-old girl from Horsham to win a prestigious national writing competition.

Greenway Academy pupil Makkenzi Smith won first prize in the 2015 Henrietta Branford Writing Competition for her story ‘The Disappearance of Park View Crescent’.

Makkenzi met celebrated children’s writer Dame Jacqueline Wilson when she picked up the award in London on Thursday July 9.

Mum Stacey said: “When she got the email to say she had won, she had to read it twice before she realised that it was her on the email and Makkenzi is never short of a word or two but was speechless on this occasion.

“On the day she did not stop smiling or chatting to everybody and when getting her book signed by Jacqueline Wilson, she asked if she could get one signed for her school and her little sister Charli.

“Everybody she spoke to on the day told her to keep on writing and that she could be there signing books in the future. We also got to meet Roald Dahl’s ex-publisher who thought Makkenzi’s story was excellent.”

Makkenzi added: “I really like writing songs and stories. When I found out that I had won the competition, I couldn’t stop myself from jumping about.

“I got the idea for the story when we learnt about the myth Arachne at school.

“Meeting Jacqueline Wilson was the best thing that has ever happened to me. She was really kind and gave me lots of tips on writing.”

Her teacher at Greenway, Mrs Pitty, praised Makkenzi for the ‘effort and imagination’ put into her story.

The award, which aims to find the story-tellers of the future, runs in conjunction with the Branford Boase Award, which recognises debut children’s novelists.

Prue Goodwin, a lecturer in literacy and children’s books who judged the entries, said: “This year, the overall standards were exceptionally high but Makkenzi’s story The Disappearance of Park View Crescent is gripping from start to finish.”

Entrants were tasked with completing a story begun by last year’s winner, and Makkenzi’s story was chosen from hundreds of entries.

As well as meeting Jacqueline Wilson, she received each of the books shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and was able to have each signed by the author.

To read Makkenzi’s story, click here.