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The Scribblers of Kirk Hallam College & The Piano Room

At the kind invitation of the wonderful team at World Book Day and brilliant school librarian Miss Bredgaard, I recently visited Kirk Hallam Community Technology & Sports College. It was a blazing hot day, so I thought that providing that trademark Witchfinder tingle of terror might be a bit more of a challenge. I needn’t have worried. With all the children assembled in Kirk Hallam’s terrific library, I began my usual hunt for nefarious witches with a reading from the first Witchfinder book and, as usual, the infamous BOO! moment got everyone in the right mood.

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What was particularly brilliant about this school visit was that it coincided with the Scribblers’ annual awards ceremony. The Scribblers is a creative writing club for pupils within the school. During the lunch hour we were treated to brief extracts from the scribblers’ work – a lively, atmospheric and wonderfully varied array of prose and poetry that left me reeling with admiration for these young writers.

Prior to the visit Miss Bredgaard asked if I would present the prize for Best in Show – the piece of writing judged the most accomplished of all the entrants (a very difficult task for the judges, as every entry I heard that day was exceptionally good). Of course, I was honoured to present the prize, but asked if the winning piece could be sent to me before the visit. Now, I was very tired the morning I received Miss Bredgaard’s email. After a delayed flight home from my holiday, I had arrived back in England at 2am and needed to catch up on some sleep. So I opened the email thinking I would just scan the contents and read it more carefully later…

The winning entry – THE PIANO ROOM by ABBIE MOTH (what a wonderful name!) – hooked my attention immediately and I forgot all about being tired. I read it once… twice, three times… mesmerised by this intriguing and poetical landscape. I’m not going to say much more about it… because I’m copying it below and I’d like you to savour Abbie’s words for yourself. All I will say is this: I want to read more! And that is just about the highest compliment you can pay to a writer.

During the presentation to Abbie, I said that often when young writers start out they fall into the trap of bombarding the reader with adjectives. They do this because they are desperate to communicate just what they mean and how they see the scene. They do not trust either their own skill or the reader’s imaginative grasp. Abbie avoids this mistake with her crisp, clear prose and her few carefully chosen descriptive flourishes.

Before I hand over to Abbie, I’d just like to thank Miss Bredgaard, the Kirk Hallam staff and students and the World Book Day team once again. It was a terrific experience!

THE PIANO ROOM

by Abbie Moth

The room was round, a circle-shape. The floor was made of black and white square tiles, sort of like a chessboard. In fact, the walls were like that also. In the middle was a piano, and a swirling staircase that ended in nothing. It just stopped, about a metre from the ceiling, nothing at the top. A pointless staircase.

The keys on the piano were moving by themselves, tapping out the tinkling tune she had heard before. Beside the large, white piano was a black stool; she walked over and sat down on it. As if it had sensed her, the music stopped; the keys were still. She lifted her hands and began to play a tune her mother had taught her years ago.

And as she played, the room shifted and changed.

This time, instead of walls there was a forest spreading out on either side of her. A fox was stalking a rabbit around the piano legs; surprised, the girl stopped playing. The room changed back to the original setting, and she began to play again.

The room once more shifted to match the tune being played. This time she was on the roof of a high skyscraper, the wind tugging at her hair, eyes bright with joy. At this joy, the music changed; the world once again shifted. The girl played through several more tunes, each time finding herself somewhere else. A tropical ocean of reef fish. A dirty dungeon with skulls on the floor. A burning building. Then, her fingers ceased to play; the room spun backwards and returned to its original state. She stood from the seat and the tinkling tune began to play again; silently she closed the door.

 

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