FOBISIA Short Story Competition 2019-20

RESULTS- you can view the winners and shortlisted entries here. Congratulations to everyone who participated.

DATE: 1 October 2019 - Friday 28th February 2020
AGES GROUPS: Primary- Year 3 and 4

                             Primary- Year 5 and 6
                             Secondary-  Year 7 - 13
ENTRY DEADLINE: Friday 28th February 2020
HOST SCHOOL: Alice Smith Kuala Lumpur
CONTACT: Lauren Ebsworth -  Victoris Miles -


Short Story Competition - Winners Announced 2019!


Judged By Choo Wai Hong, Author of “The Kingdom of Women: Life, Love and Death in China’s Hidden Mountains” published in 2007, which is now in four other languages including Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Finish. The book garnered a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Recommendation for 2017, and won the Asian Books Blog Book of the Lunar New Year in the Year of the Rooster (2018).


What a delight it has been for me to read and thoroughly enjoy the creative and imaginative voices evident in the essays submitted to the FOBISIA Short Story Competition 2019! If the 58 essays are representative of the level of writing in the many schools participating in the competition, then I will have to conclude that the writing ability of the students in these schools must be of a very high standard indeed.

And although there are only three winners awarded for each of the three categories in the competition, for Years 3 & 4, Years 5 & 6, and Senior School Category, I want to say that many of the remaining entries are deserving of mention for the sheer hard work in turning everyday essay writing topics into minor creative masterpieces. Well done, to all the students taking part in this worthwhile endeavor. We may yet see a few budding writers emerging from this coterie of essayists.


Although this is the category with the smallest number of entries totaling only 15, I must confess that I have had the most fun reading and grading what I think are the most interesting and readable competing stories in the entire competition, taking into account the fact that they are the youngest competitors in the competition. Quite apart from the three clear winners, there were at least three other entries that were so close to the mark that it is a shame that there are no consolation prizes to be awarded. All told, these six brilliantly written essays out of a field of 15 entries meant that nearly half of them are would-be winners.

First Prize

‘The Orphanage’, by Rainbow of The Alice Smith School, is by far the clear winner in the Years 3 & 4 Category, winning full marks at 10/10 of my grading system. In fact, this is the best essay in the three categories in the entire competition and the only one to which I awarded full marks. From the very first sentence, I was hooked into the beautifully story that is “The Orphanage’! Brilliantly written, the story flowed effortlessly with the most colourful use of language and adjectives. The clever use of dialoguing brought the story of the adventure of two orphan friends to life, taking the reader right inside the drama of a haunted mansion, the finding of a treasure and the confrontation with a monster, with the youngsters emerging triumphant at the end. It is classic good storytelling, with a tight plot line of an interesting journey reaching a necessary crisis, culminating with the heros overcoming the crisis and bringing the story to a happy resolution. Without questioning, this is a perfect story written with perfect execution. I really think this young student has the true makings of a good writer.

Second Prize

‘Vinita and the Painted Home’, by Ananya of Shrewsbury International School, is the next winning essay in the Years 3 & 4 Category. It is an eminently readable and lovable fairytale. The writer managed in a short piece to write with such strong prose as to lead us into her world of magic and get caught up with cheering the heroine on to magically drop into her 2D painting of a cozy home she painted to live happily ever after with her imaginary family.

Third Prize

‘I See’, by Andy of North London Collegiate School, Jeju, is a close third to take the next prize in the Years 3 & 4 Category. Starting with a poem, the essay progresses to be a powerful tale of destruction and death as told from the perspective of a gun. The topic is not an easy one, but the imaginative use of language and imagery in this essay creates a masterful telling of violence, war and death wielded by the hands of humans holding the gun.


A strong showing in this category meant that I took a while to read and re-read before determining which among the 18 essays deserved the most accolades. It must have been challenging for the students to make something unusual out of ordinary and common essay topics given out in class across the participating campuses. I applaud the efforts made by these budding writers in this category.

First Prize

‘Fiery Escapade’, by Aayan of St. Christopher’s International Primary School, wins the first prize in the Years 5 & 6 Category, with a strong storyline told of two teenage bald eagles. Written with a tight pacing, the essay successfully created a nail-biting drama of eagle hunters chasing after the family of the youngster birds of prey, setting the winged pair in motion on an adventure full of daring-do. Then with an unexpected altruistic twist to the story, the eagles saved the family of eagle hunters from a house fire in the end, thus reconciling the two opponents in a happy ending. It is quite simply an extremely well written story, as all good stories should be.

Second Prize

“Belonging’, by Daniel of Dulwich College (Singapore), wins the second prize in the Years 5 & 6 Category. In a short essay of only eight paragraphs, the writer managed by the use of tight writing to explore teenage angst when a boy strives to find friendship in a new school environment. From the start to the end, the writer manages to engage the reader without pause in a stream of consciousness type of story, taking the reader alongside the emotional turmoil faced by the young protagonist.

Third Prize

‘The Cottage of an Old Graying Man’, by Jacob of Dulwich College Seoul, takes the third prize in the Years 5 & 6 Category. In an even shorter essay of just five paragraphs, this is a strong story told by a competent storyteller who managed in swift strokes to evoke an atmospheric tale of an old man waiting for his family to return to his war-torn home in Afghanistan. The setting was well described and the saddest ending of the old man’s sad and futile wait was poignantly portrayed.


My praise goes to the all the 24 strong entries in the Senior School Category, where I initially awarded the highest score of 9/10 to two entries, 8.5-9/10 to two entries, 8.5/10 to one entry, and 8/10 to four entries. Because of the strong competition, I have decided to award two concurrent first prizes, followed closely by the second and third prize winners. The eventual winners must be congratulated as writers with great promise.

First Prize Co-Winners

‘Returning’, by Isabel of Jerudong International School, and ‘Red Packets’, by Chloe, of The International School @ ParkCity, are both concurrent winners of the first prize in the Senior School Category for their excellent writing skills. Although the two stories could not be more different in their story lines, it is in the excellent telling of the stories that they emerge as the clear winners in the senior-most category of the competition.

I was wowed by “Returning’, of how the writer brought to life in a short and sweet story of a Syrian refugee returning home at last. Her first sentence and paragraph, “All is hushed,” got me hooked. She has the most beautiful use of language in telling the story in a sparse but evocative way, with poetic phrases like “a confident sun”, “a bashful breeze”, “forced apart by a stitch picker of religious hate”. This essay is decidedly a first prize winner.

So too was I wowed by ‘Red Packets’, a brilliant twist to the Chinese New Year Reunion story, of a family reunion of vampire bats. Not only are her subjects imaginative, the story also has the best storytelling elements thrown in, including murder, poison, blood, gore, and death, in all their fantasmagoric proportions. A first class storyteller with clever writing all the way through this unexpected, surprising tale.

Second Prize

‘And She Ran’, by Abayaa, of The British School, Kathmandu, easily won the second prize in the Senior School Category. This is a strong piece of a story of betrayal by a daughter of her father written with a beautiful touch of language all through the essay, with surprising uses of phrasing , like “chains of corny tricks”, “Bright laughter as light as feathers”, “Shredding furniture”, and “They tore through the house and took all the warmth, love and peace with them”. An excellent storyteller, the writer also has a most unusual and effective use of paragraphing, one sentence each time, interspersing with longer paragraphs.

Third Prize

‘Take Me Home’, by Cornelius (Preecha) of St. Andrew’s International School, Green Valley, wins the third prize in the Senior School Category, with his sci-fi story of a boy determined to escape with his sick mother from a cold and meaningless new world in outer space. An incredible escape ensues, with the writer using well-chosen words to beautifully evoke a futuristic scenario and build up the tension of the dramatic escape, leading to the final and sad resolution of the story. When I arrived at the tragic last sentence, I found it difficult to leave the story because it had come alive so vividly for me. A brilliant read all the way.

Written by Choo Wai Hong, Author & Judge of 2019 FOBISIA Short Story Competition
13 March 2019

FOBISIA Short Story Competition 2018 - Announcement of the Winners!

This year’s FOBISIA Short Story Competition invited entrants to write about the theme ‘Watch’.  The deliberate ambiguity fostered a great deal of creativity from the story writers.  This year’s competition saw the arrival of a new category - Year 3&4 stories. Over the three categories, we were flooded with over 80 stories from 40 schools. There were over 26 entries in the new section alone!

Our judging panel were kept very busy, reading and comparing all the incredible pieces we received, and we managed to decide upon the following 5 finalists for each category.

Congratulations to:

Year 3 & 4

Eliz – Dulwich College, Seoul

Isaac – Garden International School, KL

Lexi – Bangkok Patana School

Musa – Alice Smith School, KL

Polly – International School of Penang (Uplands)

Year 5&6

Anis – Alice Smith School, KL

Eloise – British International School, Phuket

Nishita – International School Park City, KL

Tiffany – British School, Jakarta

Timothy, St Christopher’s International Primary School, Penang


Aine – Harrow International School, Bangkok

Athena – Bangkok Patana School

Finn – Tanglin Trust School, Singapore

Marvin – Dulwich College, Seoul

Raghav – British International School Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The stories were sent to this year’s external judge, Donovan Christopher (AKA Rappaman). Donovan is a poet, writer and recording artist who had our school writing and rapping when he visited last year.

Below are Donovan’s comments and final selection:

It has been a pleasure reading all 15 stories. Please wish them all the very best and continue creating stories. I have been really impressed with the standard and levels of work. The stories were all very intriguing and a delight to read and I was getting ideas myself while reading them.

I was really amazed with the Year 3&4 stories - the choice of adjectives, words and structure of sentences.  A credit to their teachers, who clearly have inspired them.

I hope you can let the rest of the writers know I think they are all winners and were a pleasure to read.

But these 6 just stood slightly taller…

The winner of the Year 3&4 Category was…

‘A Lesson For Jack’ by Isaac from Garden International School, KL

A regular story of children having to move home, leaving their only hopes and dreams behind, a tough ask for any kid. What I liked was the outcome for a young person to evaluate his own heartache which was all a waste of time as time just passed him by. And to share this important message to a new friend that he didn't fall into the same depression.

The runner up in the Y3&4 Category was…

‘Hamed’s Watchful Universe’ by Eliz from Dulwich College, Seoul

I found this story very empathic. Words of repentance and atonement came to mind.

The winner of the Y5&6 Category was…

‘The Window’ by Nishita from International School Park City, KL

My favourite has to be ‘The Window’, a great and unfamiliar story. I chose this again for the journey the window took me on and almost forgot it was the window narrating the event.

These are my type of stories with a mad twist at the end within a twilight zone. Great use of the passage of time to describe the house interior from happy days to dereliction. This was a great interpretation of a watcher. The mystery of the plot to unexpected beautiful solution.

The watcher gave up its life to help Breene. No Greater Love.

The runner up in the Y5&6 Category was…

‘The Oak Door’ by Timothy from St Christopher’s International School, Penang

You don't realise what the children go through as we look from outside in. While they see from the inside out, two different worlds.

The winner of the Secondary Category was…

‘A Pair Grey-Brown Eyes’ by Raghav from British International School Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City

I liked the sense of justice and karma in this haunting story.

It highlights do good and good will live after you. Do bad and it will destroy you.

Or when you think it’s peace and safety, it’s your destruction. Well reflected in the story with many lessons to learn. I also felt the warmth, love and sorrow that ran through the piece with a sense of vibrancy as if I were there watching the events unfold in detail.

The runner up in the Secondary Category was…

‘This is Where They Killed Him’ by Athena from Bangkok Patana School

It went from harmony to horror, with a beautiful use of adjectives and structure.

You could see the images and taste the atmosphere.

Many thanks to everyone who entered, and all the teachers who encouraged, guided and emailed on their behalf.



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