Talented teen comes first in writing contest

Jessica Wood with Beverley Naidoo.

Jessica Wood with Beverley Naidoo.

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A talented teenager who has a way with words has won first prize in a national writing competition.

Jessica Woods, from Wakefield, came top in the 2016 Henrietta Branford Writing Competition, an annual event for young people that aims to find and encourage writers of the future.

The contest runs in conjunction with the Branford Boase Award.

Jessica, 16, had to complete a story started by last year’s winner Rosie Rowell, author of Leopold Blue. Jessica’s submitted story was called Trajectory.

The Wakefield Girls’ High School student was awarded her prize by Carnegie Medal-winning author Beverley Naidoo at the Branford Boase Award celebration party in London last week.

She received a copy of each of the books shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and was able to have her books signed by the authors.

Prue Goodwin, lecturer in literacy and children’s books, judged the entries.

She said: “The Henrietta Branford Writing Competition attracts many entries from youngsters aged between eight and 18 years which, of course, makes judging quite a challenge.

“This year, the overall standards were exceptionally high but Jessica’s story Trajectory was tense, vivid and showed lots of original touches.”

The Branford Boase Award recognises a debut children’s author and their editor and was set up in memory of children’s writer Henrietta Branford and Wendy Boase, editorial director of Walker Books.

They both died of cancer in 1999.

This year’s winner was Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare, edited by Penny Thomas (Firefly Press).