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Finalists announced for the 2018 Wicked Young Writers Award


Ed Balls, Cressida Cowell and Caleb Femi amongst the panel of judges to select finalists 120 shortlisted for the prestigious Awards reveal young people aware of problems of ageing and dementia Awards reveal complicated and creative storytelling Winners announced Thursday 21 June at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre.

The acclaimed 2018 WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS, created and sponsored by award-winning musical WICKED in association with the National Literacy Trust, are announcing today (Friday 11 May 2018) the names of the 120 finalists in the running for the annual creative writing prizes.

Championed by Patron Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, the judges include writer, broadcaster and former Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls, and writer and first Young People’s Laureate for London Caleb Femi. Author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon books Cressida Cowell returns as Head Judge for the fourth consecutive year, together with long-standing judges Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust and Michael McCabe, Executive Producer (UK) of WICKED. Nicky Cox MBE, Editor in Chief of First News (a joint sponsor of the Award prize for the ‘FOR GOOD’ category) is a guest judge for this category.

The winners will be announced on Thursday 21 June 2018 at the Awards ceremony and celebration at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of the long-running hit musical WICKED. These finalists and their stories, poems and essays reveal a very high standard of creative writing amongst both the younger and older categories.

Now in its eighth year, the Awards encourage young people aged 5-25 years to use writing as a way of expressing themselves, producing unique and original pieces of prose and poetry. This year saw over 4,500 submissions with a rise in entries from individuals and primary schools in the 8-10 years category and from the 15-17 age category.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust comments on this year’s finalists’ entries: “Every year, the Wicked Young Writer Awards inspire wonderfully creative and thoughtful writing – and this year was no exception. The awards give us a unique insight into what matters most to children and young people today, and this year we were inundated with heartfelt entries on older generations, grandparents and memory loss. Well done to everyone who took part in this year’s awards and congratulations to all of the finalists. We hope the awards will continue to give voice to your ideas and passions.


Amongst this year’s finalist entries were stories, poems and non-fiction writing that were both compelling and intense, often with dark themes and dramatic twists. The older category stories highlighted gender discussions regarding female roles and stories influenced by our current affairs with LGBTQ+ activism and gun control issues in the United States of America. Subjects reflected poignant references to family and love with the importance of friendship which knows no bounds. One theme that bridged age categories was the awareness of an ageing population with many stories about dementia and problems associated with old age.

The younger entries included imaginative stories about dinosaur detectives, tooth fairies tricked with grandpa’s dentures, an interesting story inspired by A Christmas Carol, touching dragons, friendly zombies and a lazy farmer who should have been more careful about what he wished for!

Cressida Cowell, Author and Illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon series and Head Judge reflects on the entries: “As judges, we were impressed by the originality and naturalness of expression in the finalists’ entries. There are some cracking good stories and poems, wonderfully described in spine-tingling language. All of these young writers are winners and can be proud of their achievements.

Book Wicked tickets for the Apollo Victoria Theatre.


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