5 JUNE 1971, Page 19

Results of Children's competition

To coincide with the Children's Book Show 'last December. the SPECTATOR held a competition for children up to the age of ten. In the first part, which was in effect a qualifying round, competitors were asked to name nine illustrations of characters from children's books. In the second part, they were to write about their favourite character from any book and say why they liked him or her.

Mary Norton. the well-known children's author, kindly agreed to judge the com- Petition, picking three winners from each of the three age groups. She remarks: 'I have tried to choose the ones which showed the deepest understanding of the character chosen, and where one can see quite clearly what has stirred their imagination'.

Oldest age group (8-10 years old) 1. Jane Garrett (£5.00) 2. Philip Lymberry (£3.00) 3. Jacqueline Gawen (1.1.50) Highly commended: Helen Anelay. Juliet Bernard, Jane Body, Stephanie Binder, Diana Chardad, Carol Dennison, Elizabeth Ellis, Rupert Maas, David Newdegg, Toby Parrott, Anne Pope. Raj Rastogi, Candida Reece, David Sinclair, M. N.D. Stuart. Middle age group (5-7 years old) Michael Lanchi (E5.00) 2. Sophie Heiser (£3.00)

3. Frances Wedgwood Bean (£1.50) Highly commended: Rafe Courage. Cath- erine Cummings, Sarah Cutforth, Elizabeth Douglas, Nina Hamilton, Sophie Heiser, Lucy Henderson, Elizabeth Hill. Clare Hyder, Edwina Jamieson, Robin Lauffer, Richard Livingstone, Vivien Moot-house, Meg Usherwood.

Youngest age group (under 5 years old) 1. Kenneth McAulay (E5.00) 2. Beatrice Mayfield (£3.00) 3. Hector Sims (1.l.50) Highly commended: Jessica Cuthbert-Smith, Hamish Mair, Chuck McKee. All prizes are in book token form.

The relatively new characters in chil- dren's literature seem to be establishing themselves very quickly. The traditional favourites such as Brer Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh, Rupert Bear and the Beatrix Potter characters. maintain a sizeable following, but Paddington Bear. Michael Bond's crea- tion, outstripped every other candidate with ten per cent of all entries. Reasons for choosing Paddington varied but the most appealing factor seemed to be his mild silliness: Raj Rastogi, aged nine, put it very succinctly:

I like Paddington the hear because he's quite sensible a bit stupid and very mis- chcvuous.

Jane Body, aged ten, thought of him differently:

Paddington and his Marmalade Sandwichs are most important.

Many more children chose animal char- acters. They seem to find no difficulty in identifying themselves with them, or relat- ing them to people they knew. For example. Toby Parrott, aged eight, wrote of Mootnin- t roll :

He would be a good friend to hay in the house because he would be nice to play with. Candida Reece, aged ten, wrote, again of Moom int roll: I always when ever I read a book with him in wish that I was him.

As would be expected, there were far fewer entries in the youngest age group than in the other two. Only a very small proportion of entries was discounted be- cause the first part was incorrect.

Here are the winning entries of all three age groups:

Kenneth McAulay (aged 3: dictated entry)

1 like Pippi Longstocking because she is as strong as a man, enough to lift a horse. though she is only young. She lives on her own and doesn't worry about grown-ups. She can cut out pastry on the kitchen floor. and stay up all night. I like her because she has

carroty hair and freckles like me and she is funny.

Michael Lanchi (aged 7)

I like the Urchin (from 'The Urchin' by Edith Unnerstal) because he is funny, he brings back the thoughts of when I was a little boy. I think the adventures he has arc funny ones. He is five years old. To him everyone is so big and when I was five I felt just like he does. I like the words that the author uses, for instance chicken coop (his bedroom) and Urchin which means mis- chievious boy which he certainly is and I am too.

Jane Garrett (aged 10)

My favourite character is Arrietty from 'The Borrowers'. Arrietty is the daughter of Pod and Homily, the little people no bigger than matchsticks. who take things from large mansions and arc very scared of humans. When they have to move into the country, things become quite different, as there they have no houses to borrow from. Arrietty en- joys herself very much as there are plenty of things to do and she enjoys swinging from trees, looking at all the tiny insects (which are bigger than her) and eating wild raspberries. Homily does not like it one bit, as when night time conies, the creatures which Arrictty loves so much crawl into their house, which is an old boot, and Homily usually makes a hasty retreat through the laces. But Arrictty with her soft voice gradually persuades her mother to love the animals which she herself loves so much.

Arrictty is as tall as her mother and has long dark brown hair tied back in plaits. She has hazel eyes and a snub nose. She wears a different dress nearly every day as when she is climbing small trees and hunting for wild raspberries she often tears her dress.

I like Arrietty because of her independence: she is always going off on her own finding out things on her own and enjoying being alone. Also i like her because of her love for animals For instance, although herself very hungry she refuses to eat a dead dormouse when it is offered to her. Also when her mother tries to kill the insects which crawl into their home she stops her and tells her that they will do no harm.

All in all, Arrictty- is a delightful little person. and she and her family have given me great pleasure.