New height of achievement with ‘Book in a day’

Bethlehem College Ashfield students produced a 5,000-word book in just 12 hours to help put a smile on the faces of children living with cancer.

The group of eight authors and two illustrators took all they had learnt about narratives and genre in their Year 7 and 8 Newman Selective Gifted Education Program English classes to create The Long Climb Up, an action-fuelled mystery about a girl displaced by bushfires who overcomes anxiety after an encounter with a game show host.

It allowed you to think quickly and be more open to other people’s ideas.

– Stephanie Ishak

Their effort for the ‘Write a Book in a Day’ competition hosted by The Kids’ Cancer Project will be distributed to children’s hospitals around Australia. Students receive elements that must appear in their text for the challenge. This year a fear of heights, boarding school, a dog walker, and a game show host were the prescribed problem, setting and characters.

“We wanted to make sure that the fear of heights was metaphorical, and to start each chapter with the metaphor of climbing a ladder so that the children could relate to the story and see the progress made,” said Year 8 student Laurena Sadel.

“The background information we had on genre, figurative language and literary devices helped us on the day. Completing the book, working together and hearing other people’s ideas was fulfilling.”

Year 7 student Angelina Ayoub said knowing the book’s audience and purpose was added motivation. She said in-class writing exercises had developed the quick thinking, creativity and empathy that were key to making the story resonate.

“We chose the name Mariaean for our main character because in Scottish, it means survivor,” she said. “My favourite part of the plot was when Mariaean had to face challenges, because the children in hospital face challenges every day, mentally and physically. You had to put yourself in their shoes.”

Stephanie Ishak, in Year 8, said the project highlight was being able to work as a group to create something that could potentially inspire young kids going through a tough time.

“It was a fun opportunity,” she said. “It allowed you to think quickly and be more open to other people’s ideas.”

For Elyssar Massif, in Year 7, reaching the project’s end after an 8am start and full day of writing was memorable.

”It was a relief but also exciting because we knew it was going to go out to children with cancer and we really wanted this book to make them feel better,” she said.

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