Good Samaritan Catholic College Hinchinbrook students stayed at school long after the bell rang on August 20 to complete a 4,000 word original text. Three teams of students from Years 7, 8 and 10 collaborated to write, edit, illustrate and bind their books in less than 12 hours for the ‘Write-A-Book-In-A-Day’ initiative, which raises fund for The Kids’ Cancer Project. The books are donated as reading material to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
Students were given a setting, issue, animal, and two main characters to incorporate into their tale along with the words reflection, frantic, curiosity, eye-opening, and memory. They must use these at any point in their narrative to show they have not pre-written it.
English Coordinator Patrick Loughlin said the project was a challenge that students appreciated.
“Even though it is stressful and they have limited time, at the end of the day when they put it all together there is a real sense of achievement,” he said. “It’s really about teamwork.”
Year 8 students Natalia Stewart and Shavir Chandra took part in the competition for a second time this year. They were asked to include a hungry rat, a hospital cook, a canoeist and a chase in their narrative set in remote Australian hills.
“The canoeist has memory loss and is trying to escape from someone, but because he has memory loss he doesn’t know who,” Natalia said. “In the end he is put back in hospital and still doesn’t know who he is running from so there is still that mystery. We try to think about how to link the characters together but also make it interesting and have enough of a story to make 4,000 words.”
Natalia said the book task was a lesson in communication.
“Last year we learnt that our communication needed to be better,” she said. “We had a tendency to speak over each other because everyone had different ideas, but every person contributes so you come up with a good plot line.”
Fadi said the plot tapped into people’s thirst for adventure stories.
“I realise that everyone wants adventure and mystery, so the hospital cook is the main character and the rat is the animal that helps him track down the canoeist,” he said. “We had two illustrators and six people writing. Each person is dedicated to one chapter and we communicate with each other to link the start and the end of each chapter.
“You learn to manage your time better. It’s fun and very nice to work as a team.”
Year 7 student Anika Parage said her team were asked to include an art teacher, window washer, and a worm into their story with a railway as the setting. Year 7 teammate Fadi Jan, 12, said the group’s plot included a professor bent on stealing someone’s fortune with the help of ‘Project 54’ a robotic worm with interior weaponry.
“There’s a professor, who is an enemy in the story. He hacks into the Australian database to find recent Lotto winners and locates an art teacher who recently won a $6 million prize,” he said.
“The window washer is poor and sleeps on the railway and the art teacher catches the train to work. They somehow meet. In the end, since he’s poor the art teacher starts up a charity and invites the window washer to be involved.”
Year 7 student Abbey Vella did hand-drawn illustrations for the work with Year 10 student Geosef Espino, who illustrated some scenes digitally.
“I started with the art teacher and did a few sketches to get the right look that shows her personality in the story,” Abbey said. “She’s kind of fun and young, and looks quite rich.”
Year 8 student Erin Andrew and Year 10 student Antonio Dodd’s group were asked to include a road worker, a train driver, a snake, and a supermarket in their work.
Anthony said the main character shelved his ambitions to become a scientist and became a road worker. He enters a robot-building science competition to try to win a university scholarship, and catches a sabotaged train which leads to an underground lair beneath a supermarket. He foils a train driver’s plans to poison the supermarket’s food with snake venom.
“Villains and heroes and secret hideouts – there is so much potential to write with those three simple elements.”
Erin said: “In the end his aspirations as a scientist are recognised and he ends up achieving his dreams. Since the books are going to kids in hospital we wanted the message to come across that you can achieve your dreams, no matter what you want to do.”
The students also held a cake sale to help raise funds for the challenge, making $230 to supplement the sponsorship fee for each team that entered.