The Results

Here's the feedback from Hilary Robinson:

Katie Humphries  -  WINNER

Katie, congratulations on your winning story!! There are lots of reasons why you’re my winner so I wanted to tell you a few. I love that Buddy is a Syrian hamster packed with personality, and as soon as I started reading your story I could picture him with all of his accessories. We all know that small animals need pampering just as much as big ones! You also used dialogue really well, giving Jess and James voices makes sure we get to know them as characters really quickly, and can work a lot better than describing people sometimes, so well done!

I also like how you built suspense at every stage of the story – Julie’s colleagues were curious when they see Buddy in his cage, which makes things really interesting for us as a reader, because we’re curious too! Symbolising Buddy’s shyness by him hiding away in his cage showed me how creative your writing is, you’ve really got to know him as a character which is what you need to do as a writer!

The imagination in your writing was wonderful to read, and things really hotted up when Buddy starts chewing the fire alarm wire accidentally! What a lovely touch, and the noises he makes bring all our senses alive. You made the story so exciting and built up plenty of suspense as Buddy heroically leads Julie out of the office maze. Details like him listening out for Julie’s huffing and puffing show you’ve thought of everything and really draw us in. You’re a natural writer and clearly know hamsters well, they do enjoy a taste of freedom don’t they?

And your descriptions, as well as your characters, are beautiful Katie – from the worried onlookers to the blue lights and snake like flames, you paint us a real picture with your words. I also loved that you thought to make Buddy’s medal ‘extremely small’. This is an outstanding short story which is beautifully written and clearly shows your love of animals, congratulations!!


Charlotte Clipston – RUNNER UP (2ND PLACE)


Charlotte congratulations, you’re my fantastic runner up writer! You’ve written a wonderful story here which I fell in love with straight away. What I was so impressed with, is you fitted so much excitement and established so many lovely relationships, in a limited amount of words. That’s a sure sign of a good storyteller and is not easy to do! Your imaginative details hooked me in straight away, from Buddy’s ‘silkiest ears on the planet’ to his trick opening a closed door when there’s food on the other side! I thought the fact he brings some characters make up brushes, others beers, and that he even acts as a goalie was a magical way of showing the way he connects with every member of his family, like we know our animals do. You’re obviously a true animal lover.

Helping Horatio with his insulin was a really unusual storyline to think of and it worked so well – well done you on thinking so far outside the box. You are the queen of lovely touches in your writing, from Buddy’s lifetime supply of biscuits, to Horatio being inspired to get his own dog, and mum Jane being the writer of the article – those kind of things all make the difference and are what make your story memorable to the reader. I already want to hear where you would take Buddy on his next adventure! Maybe he would go to visit Horatio at the seaside, with his new brother Hartley? Keep writing Charlotte, you’ve got a knack for it.


Anna Grace Smalley–  RUNNER UP (3RD PLACE)


Anna, congratulations on being my fabulous runner up writer! I was so impressed with your story and it really tugged at my heart strings, which is the sign of a very good storyteller indeed...

You did a really important thing in your story, which was to create a special friendship between Buddy and Grace! These aren’t always easy to write, and show how well you know your characters and what a wonderful imagination you have to think them up in the first place. By telling us all about Grace’s background and her difficulties with hearing and walking, you made sure we got to know her and Buddy even better – which makes the drama later on in the story even more exciting because we care about them both so much. The moment where Grace speaks to Buddy on the stairs is one of the best story moments I have read in a long time – congratulations Anna. Grace speaking to Buddy, not out loud or with sign language, but in her head, shows what a special connection these two have. When Grace was blinking back the tears, so was I! I really felt for her just wanting to go to the cinema with her friends, and I know Buddy did too.

Another fantastically written bit was when you had Buddy whining, barking and howling for help after Grace had fallen- it made me want to jump in and rescue them! Sometimes simple descriptions like this can say so much. From licking Grace’s face, to listening to her thoughts, and chewing her hair to wake her up, you can tell how much Buddy loves Grace, which is what makes this such a lovely story.

 And you’re right – Grace repaying Buddy with her love, will absolutely be enough, which is a really important message when it comes to owning animals. We have to look after them too! If you can keep writing friendships like this, you will write many magical stories in the years to come – well done Anna.


Oluchi Tyra Idaboh (very, very close to coming 3rd place...!)


Oluchi this was such an imaginative bit of storytelling I was really impressed. I particularly like how you did something unusual and made Buddy quite timid, so it was even more of an achievement and a surprise when he caught a wanted thief, that’s very clever. You gave the grandma a really authentic voice and I particularly like how you told it from her perspective, she had loads of personality and you created a brilliant character. I really wanted to know why Jess and James weren’t as nice when they weren’t around Buddy, that could have been an interesting thing to bring in but I know you didn’t have many words to fit it all in! It was super how you mixed different kind of writing into one story, from Margaret’s letter to the report. “Pup, pup and away!” was a really different way to end the story and I liked it, you have a great sense of style. You write beautifully and moments like “he is a whelp and an old woman like me shouldn’t rely on the young” really stand out, so keep telling stories, you’re a natural!


And notes for the remaining shortlisters, in no particular order....

Keely Ray

Keely your descriptions in your writing paint a real picture and I felt like I knew Buddy really quickly! From his floppy long ears that could be tied in a knot, to the big juicy bone he enjoys by the fire, you thought of everything. The fire in the printing room was a really clever idea and you kept up the pace brilliantly and made me wonder how it would end. I also really liked how you reflected how things could have been different if Buddy hadn’t saved the day. And such a nice touch that his owner comes back at the end which rounds the story off, keep writing!

Felicity Eldridge

Felicity you describe things beautifully in your story, setting the scene straight away with a dreary November day. The words you use transport us straight into the world you’ve written, and I especially loved phrases like “resplendent in all its glittering glory”. You made brilliant use of Buddy’s digging skills to make him the hero of the day, and made him such a loveable character which is so important. My only question would be, would a thief leave his name on his sportsbag, or his number in a telephone directory? Sometimes when we’re writing stories we have to make things a bit trickier to means we can keep people guessing for longer! But definitely keep writing crime stories, you have a knack for it!

Emily Redman

Emily you have a brilliant way with words! Your descriptions really stood out to me and Buddy’s gold coat, motor-powered tail and azure eyes meant I could see him straight away when I started reading your story. You also have a really natural way of telling a tale, and the pace of your story flowed really easily, which is what a lot of writers find the most tricky thing to do. What I thought really stood out about your piece about Buddy was the ending, and the idea that even though Buddy is just a normal dog, he was able to be a hero. This was a perfect way to frame your message that all dogs are a bit magic, as we know they are! Endings are one of the hardest things to write as well, so you should definitely keep writing, you’re a pro...

Esme Wright

I love how you dive straight in with dialogue in your story Esme, that means we get to know the characters really quickly which is really important! And what I love about your writing is how you create pictures and you aren’t afraid to have fun with them – I could just see the Puzzle Page flying all over the place in a fantastically silly way and that’s the kind of thing an illustrator and reader will love you for! You build suspense really cleverly and make a simple office environment very exciting very quickly, which we all know isn’t easy...I loved the description of the man’s long thin arms flying everywhere and sending everything into chaos before Buddy comes to the rescue. You also did a great job of writing an ending, which is always tricky, and it’s a fab touch to end on the excitement of the party, balloons and sleepover. But what I really loved, is that although Buddy is in the paper, he doesn’t care because he’s happily fast asleep...what a special message you’ve written Esme, that fame isn’t everything, just being happy with your family is all you need. A dog’s life, eh? Well done!

Gemma Baird

Gemma I really enjoyed that you wrote the story from Buddy’s perspective, great work! It also meant you had loads of imaginative fun with your writing, from talking about litters of humans laughing at too many things, to seeing the world part colour-blind. I have a feeling you would make a great comic writer....

When you write your next story, my only advice would be don’t worry about spending too long setting up the story, get straight into the action where you can have the most fun! This is what you’re really good at, so enjoy it.


2016 winners:

2016 Pet Tales winner – Jennifer Wesley age 13, who sent in a fantastic story about a colony of wallabies.

Jennifer's story (PDF - 201 KB)

The runner’s up were:

Elleanore Phillips (PDF - 188 KB) age 8

Kerenza Baily (PDF - 128 KB) age 12

Melissa O’Mara (PDF - 113 KB) age 13

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