On the 3rd of February Imaginosity launches its 2nd annual “What’s The Story” competition – a BIG competition for little storymakers! The competition is open to individual children from 3 to 8 years and classes from pre-school to second class. Thanks to our very generous sponsors the winning entries will receive fantastic prizes which include bikes, Imaginosity memberships, class trips to the museum, Construction Toys, Arts and Crafts materials, puppets and more! Last year I had the privilege of being chosen as the Imaginosity representative on the judging panel and I am thrilled to be granted the opportunity once again for this year’s competition.
The first time venturing into unchartered territory is always daunting and the launch of the inaugural “What’s the Story” was no exception. The press releases were sent, leaflets and posters printed and distributed – and so the wait for entries began! The stories came through the door in gentle drifts and flurries at first – one or two a day in the beginning, the flow gradually building momentum until eventually, in the last week, the poor postman was quite literally weighed down with packages, envelopes and giant parcels. From every corner of the country children from all walks of life had picked up pens, pencils, cameras and paintbrushes to reveal to us their stories, ideas, imaginings and memories. There was something incredibly special about being a part of this drive to tap into the creativity that is evidently brimming over in children across the land.
Of course as the entries piled up in the office, I was cruelly barred from sneaking even the tiniest peek as the readers trawled through the many colourful pages. As a judge, my first glimpse of the stories was to only be after the arduous task of shortlisting was completed – a task which was valiantly (but admittedly with great delight!) taken on by Marketing Manager Ciara and General Manager Jenny.
When we eventually got there, the judging process was fun and rewarding but TOUGH – we had 5 shortlisted entries in each category and every piece of work was so different, each with its own individual strengths and merits, that we debated, discussed, yelled at each other and threw chairs full force across the room (ok, that’s an exaggeration - but as our young authors would certainly agree, what’s a story without a bit of colour?). We eventually managed to whittle down to our winners and runners up but it wasn’t an easy process! In the end the winning entrants were a mix of poetry, biography, illustrated stories and comic strips – we had tales of adventure, everyday family life and visitors from outer space to name a few.
Both Imaginosity and the competition entrants were lucky to have each and every piece of work considered and studied by a judging panel studded with such bright stars and big brains of the creative industry. It was interesting to observe the style preferences of each judge – RTE presenter Blathnaid Ni Chófaigh understandably had a grá for the entries we received as gaeilge just as Illustrator Chris Judge was a valuable commentator on the animated stories that made it to the shortlist. We are sincerely grateful that many of our judges will resume their seats this year and are also honoured to be joined by new faces such as Paul Howard of “Ross O’Carroll Kelly” fame and Irish Times journalist Roisin Ingle.