The winner of the Jacqueline Wilson Creative Writing Prize 2019 is…

The winning story by nine-year-old Fern Brindle is to be published in We are the Beaker Girls by Jacqueline Wilson in June 2020.

Jacqueline Wilson creative writing prize winner

Nine-year-old Fern Brindle from Dronfield in Derbyshire has won this year’s prize. For this year’s challenge, children were asked to write a short story on any subject between 750-1000 words. Fern’s story, Mum’s New Hobby, is a highly original and very funny story. Fern says she was inspired to write it because “my Grandad said that I didn’t have a sense of humour, (I don’t find his jokes funny). Then my Mum knitted a hat that didn’t turn out right, it was big enough to fit a giant and I just started imagining what funny things might happen with a ginormous hat!

When asked how she felt about her story being published in a Jacqueline Wilson book she said:

It is so exciting! I’m still quite shocked. I can’t believe people will actually get to read my story next to Jacqueline Wilson’s new story… I’m a bit more excited to see what Jacqueline’s story is about though as I’ve read my own story a lot!

Fern will win the incredible money-can’t-buy prize of being published in an exclusive WHSmith edition of the paperback of We are the Beaker Girls. She also wins the opportunity to meet with Jacqueline Wilson, with a visit by the author to her school (William Levick Primary School). She will also receive a Microsoft Surface, £100 worth of WHSmith vouchers, a year’s subscription to First News and a bundle of Jacqueline Wilson books for her school.   

The panel of judges included: Jacqueline Wilson; Kelly Hurst, Jacqueline’s editor at Puffin; Victoria Dilly, Love Our Libraries Programme Manager for the National Literacy Trust; Keilly Swift, Managing Editor for First News; and Rachel Airey, Senior Buyer for Children's Fiction at WHSmith.

Jacqueline Wilson said: It's always a delight to see how many well written and imaginative entries we get for the creative writing competition.  This year's stories were no exception, and it was extremely difficult choosing the winner and the runners up.  However, the judges were unanimous that Mum’s New Hobby should win because it was so funny, so original, and told with such a deft touch.  I'm proud that Fern’s story will be published in my book next year!

Victoria Dilly, Love our Libraries Programme Manager at the National Literacy Trust, said: “Every year, the Jacqueline Wilson Creative Writing Prize inspires wonderfully creative and thoughtful writing from children across the UK – and this year was no exception! Congratulations to Fern for her truly enchanting entry and well done to all of the children who entered this year’s competition. Keep writing!”

Keilly Swift, Managing Editor, First News said: 

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading this year’s entries, which showcased a huge wealth of young writing talent. It was certainly no easy feat to choose a winner, but Fern’s work stood out because it not only made me chuckle but also showed great skill in creating characters and capturing the dynamics of a family.  I can’t wait to see Mum’s New Hobby in published form!”

Read Fern’s wonderful story below:

Mum’s New Hobby by Fern Brindle

My mum is hobby mad. Last month it was electronics, the month before that it was archery. I still remember her crazy new ideas about baking for budgies, though I would rather forget them! This month all you can hear is ‘clickety-clack, clickety-clack’ from her needles as she knits. No-one is safe from her knitted creations, even the dog has a stripy woolly pullover. He has been in hiding ever since. Everything in our house is knitted at the moment. Socks, blankets, placemats, curtains, rugs! Everything! Even the eggs in the fridge have cute little hats on and the steering wheel in the car is fluffy and woolly now too.

My friend Marcell comes round to call for me every day to walk to school.

“What is she making now?” mumbles my friend Marcell from behind a mountainous mound of wool. You would think that we lived in Antarctica with the amount of scarves we have piled high on every surface in the living room. I shrug my heavy but snug woollen clad shoulders.

“Hmmm, I’m not quite sure, could be a new bag to put all her wool in I suppose, or another blanket for an orphaned rhino I guess… but it looks even too big for that. It looks big enough to be a blanket for a blue whale!” I joke. No… Surely that can’t be it! I mean I know only too well what happens when wool gets wet and it is not pretty. Last week I stupidly complained to my mum that my knitted knickers were just too itchy so she washed them. My itchy knickers became my titchy, itchy, knickers which was even worse.

“What are you making now mum?” I bellowed through the colourful strands of wool whirling around the room.

“It’s a surprise! You’ll find out after school tonight.” She murmured without missing a stitch. Marcell and me back out of the crowded room. Seriously I’m sure the wool is moving, it’s almost like it is coming alive. I shudder as I close the door. What surprise could mum be working on that is sooooo large.

All day at school I just could not concentrate, I was getting more and more worried about what my mum’s surprise was going to be. At home time though I found my dad waiting for me. It was the best surprise ever as he had been working away all week in someplace far away. So I was pleased to see him as well as feeling relieved… until I turned the corner into our road.

There were people everywhere which is strange because we live in a cul de sac. Even my headteacher was there. At first, I didn’t know what they were all gazing at. Then I realised they were staring at my house. Well not actually at my house as you couldn’t see it anymore! It was now completely covered by a gigantic green and purple striped bobble hat, complete with a beach-ball sized bobble right on top. Just next to the enormous bobble sat my mum.

“Surprise!” She yelled as a kind fireman helped her onto his ladder and they climbed down to cheers and applause from the ever-growing crowd.

I thought that the firefighters would be unhappy with my mum for wasting their time however they were actually quite pleased when my mum offered them scarves, gloves and even blankets as a way to say thank you for their help.

“Well this is a much better ‘thank you’ than tea and biscuits any day!” said the Chief. “We’ll stay nice and warm on draughty nights at the station now,” she said with a wave, and off they drove.

“Hmm” sighed my Dad “The only problem I can see is that bobble hats don’t come with doors installed!” My Mum looked thoughtful and then giggled with glee.

“Now that would be a problem, except that I fitted it with this…” she pulled out a remote control, pressed it and a door-sized part of the wool rolled up to reveal our front door.

“Wow! Now that’s what I call impressive” I said, “Let’s just hope that it doesn’t rain.” I shuddered thinking about the titchy, itchy, knicks!

“TAADAHHH!” Mum pulled out a shiny silver second remote. “Have no fear! I have thought of everything!”

With an enormous


Out of the chimney shot an umbrella the size of a parachute. We both stared at my mum in amazement. Her wacky new hobbies really had come in useful after all… well all except for the archery and baking for budgies, but that’s another story.

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