My Twist on a Tale: Represent!

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Powerful prose: Dear Ghetto Girl by Emma Appah was among the winners in this year's My Twist on a Tale competition. Her piece is published alongside this specially commissioned illustration by Liliana Perez

A girl shedding female stereotypes and a story tackling themes of blindness and deafness are among those written by primary school pupils to have won the My Twist on a Tale competition this year.

The annual competition encourages children and young people aged from four to 19 to put pen to paper and 18 winning stories have now been published in an illustrated book by Pearson, which is free to download.

This year’s challenge carried the theme Represent! It encouraged children represent what, and who, they feel are being left out in literature today. Entrants were able to write and reshape their own diverse stories, exploring topics that are important to them.

Among the topics: tackling female stereotypes; a passionate call to end the misrepresentation of women’s bodies; children feeling lost as they fall between two cultures and more. Highlights include:

  • Sixteen-year-old Iona Mandal’s work Belonging which centres around a British Bangladeshi pupil who feels forgotten in the classroom: “Nothing in the entire world makes me happier than seeing my own culture recognised. I have spent all my life feeling ashamed. Today, I feel celebrated.”
  • Reina Oda, aged 8, was recognised for her story, The Special Senses, which sees a blind refugee boy and a deaf girl from Iran feeling isolated and lonely until their special senses save lives: “He’s blind and I’m deaf so the other kids would make fun of us and call us names. We’d tell the teachers, but they never really stopped bullying us. At least Latif and I had each other.”
  • Dija Jonaviciute, 10, won the Yorkshire and Humber category with her story, A woman’s right, tackling female stereotypes: “And you will now be wearing pale pink dresses to college. No more of them idiotic trousers and baggy t-shirts! You should thank me! Don’t pout! Your posture should be straight!”
  • Fifteen-year-old Aditi Daniel’s story, Represent, won the key stage 4 category for the portrayal of a girl struggling to identify as either Scottish or Indian: “I don’t know how to act, how to dress, how to talk; people here barely understand what I’m saying half the time because of my accent.”
  • And the winning entries also included the poem written by Sophie Campbell. Gallery was declared as the joint Northern Ireland winner: “Is it because online there are no pictures of me? My colour? My face? Or because I came from across a sea? I don’t even know why I’m different. Am I an outcast or just unique?”
  • While the powerful prose Dear Ghetto Girl by Emma Appah was declared the South East region winner. It begins: “Twinkle twinkle little star. You are not a diamond; you are too dark.”

Pearson’s School Report research last year found that only 1 in 20 teachers felt that education in schools reflects the diversity of pupils’ lives. To find out more about the competition or to download a free pdf version of the book, visit

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