Time is running out for budding authors to enter the National Young Writers’ Awards and the chance of a family trip to Disneyland Paris.
The competition, which is free to enter and aimed at children aged five to 14, was launched seven years ago.
Since then tens of thousands of children have put pen to paper in a bid to be judged National Young Writer of the Year, making it one of the biggest annual writing competitions.
As well as the exciting trip, the winner gets books worth £500 for his or her school.
This year’s theme is Strange Events & Peculiar Happenings and the judge is Jonathan Meres, former stand-up comedian and author of the popular The World of Norm book series.
“I’ve done a lot of strange things in my life,” he says.
“Playing flute with a band in Mumbai, doing a live radio interview with a goat and walking down a Scottish high street in the middle of winter wearing nothing but a voluminous pair of boxer shorts are just three of them. And they actually happened!
“So I’m genuinely intrigued to discover what children can make up when they put their minds to it.
“This competition is a perfect opportunity to let young imaginations run riot – and, as far as I’m concerned, the more riotous the better.”
The competition is run by Explore Learning, a private company set up 15 years ago to provide English and maths tuition at easily accessible centres including supermarkets.
In the North East there are Explore Learning centres at Sainsbury’s, Riverside Road, Sunderland, and Tesco, Kingston Park, Newcastle.
The best story at each centre around the country will be forwarded for consideration for the top prize. All runners-up will win a cup and a certificate.
Carey Ann Dodah, head of curriculum at Explore Learning, said: “What we’re looking for is pure imagination.
“The theme of Strange Events & Peculiar Happenings really gives our young writers infinite scope for possibilities and we hope that boys and girls will not be afraid to have a go and give writing a try.”
Last year there were 14,000 entries to the competition.
The winner, picked by Liz Pinchon, was 10-year-old Hansraj Ramlagan, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, with a story called The Milkman and The Fairies.
Children (aged five to 14) have to submit a 500-word story by the closing date of June 5. They can be submitted via www.explorelearning.co.uk/youngwriters or handed in at a local centre. Full details are also on the website.