Chalkface Challenge – results at 6pm; shortlisted and very proud.

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Here’s the extract from my middle-grade book ‘Teacher Torture’, selected by the judges (all children) for their short list – see Words & Pictures

Congratulations to the children’s winner Jill Atkins – the shadow judges (grown-ups this time) will give their own verdict at 6pm.

Chapter One: Zero


‘Right, stand by your beds, you horrible teachers. I’m coming in.’

Flynn shivered as he kicked open the door of Cell Block Zero Teachers’ Prison. An icy wind was blowing across the sea from Norway. He wished Norway had kept it for itself. Grabbing one of the poking sticks from the rack by the door, Flynn leaped into the corridor of the main prison building, flicking a switch on the end of the stick to make it shoot out to two metres long.

‘Wey hey!’ he yelled, making the walls echo. This was one of the best sticks – solid and pointy – long enough to reach right to the back of the cages. He waved it about a bit, pretending it was a light sabre.

‘I’m Flynn, I’m Flynn, I’m on my way in,’ Flynn shouted. This was his battle cry. He was proud of his job – not many eleven year olds could say they spent their days inventing tortures for the worst teachers in Britain, could they?

Inside Cell Block Zero, the rows of bars stretched away into the distance. Double-decker cages lined each wall like giant Meccano, with wobbly iron ladders and bridges connecting the top levels to the ground floor. The prison was even bigger one of those DIY warehouses on the mainland but the goods stored here weren’t paint or planks or plant pots – they were human. Well, sort of human – they were teachers.

The air seemed even colder than it was outside even though the heating should have come on by now, and Flynn could already hear moans and groans echoing from every corner. Huge calendars hung on the walls in full view of each cage, showing the date – November 12th 2050 – and a picture of a steaming mug of coffee and a packet of Kit-Kats. The teachers loved biscuits even more than they loved tea and coffee. This was an important part of their morning torture programme. To see hot drinks and Kitkats but never, ever to taste them. Very painful.

Flynn took off his silly hat with the earflaps and gave his brown curly hair a shake – the hat always made him look as if he had a squashed chocolate muffin or a dog poo stuck to the top of his head. When he’d been at school on the mainland, Flynn had gone to a lot of trouble with hair gel, mainly to stop the other kids calling him Poo Head. But here in the prison, it didn’t matter. They were on a remote island off the coast of Scotland and, worse still, there were rumours that a dangerous monster was on the loose out there. Who cared if he looked cool?

‘Morning, you guys,’ he said, running his stick along the first cage with a clatter. One or two of the braver ones shook the bars and shouted quite bad stuff. Flynn blinked. He hadn’t realised before he took this job that teachers knew so many rude words.