King Edward's School BATH

Once upon a time .... there was a Modern Foreign Language storybook competition

Once upon a time .... there was a Modern Foreign Language storybook competition

24 April 2018

Once upon a time ...

...there was a princess, a lion, a unicorn and a flying cat.  These are just some of the fabled characters and mythical creatures who featured in the stories written by our talented pupils for a new Modern Foreign Language storybook competition.

Fairy tales such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood are well-established in the rich tapestry of children's literature.  A brief glance at Disney's animated films reveals the influence of fairy tales on their creations too, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937) to the more recent Tangled (2010).

The origins of these tales lie in centuries-old stories handed down verbally from generation to generation.  We owe the endurance of so many of these fairy tales and our enjoyment of them to the French and German writers who first recorded them in written form.

The English term “fairy tale” comes from the direct translation of Madame d’Aulnoy's Contes de fées written in 1697.  At this time, fairy tales were not written for children but for adults and were fashionable amongst aristocrats in Parisian literary salons.  In the same year, fellow Frenchman Charles Perrault published Histoires ou contes du temps passé (better known to English-speaking audiences as Mother Goose Tales), consisting of works derived from pre-existing folk tales.  These include La Belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty), Cendrillon (Cinderella), Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), and Le Maître chat ou le chat botté (Puss in Boots).

The German Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm produced Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) in 1812 in a quest to save local traditions from extinction.  This publication included classics such as Rapunzel, Rumpelstilzchen, Hänsel und Gretel, Die Wichtelmänner (The Elves and the Shoemaker), Die goldene Gans (The Golden Goose), Schneewittchen (Snow White) and Der Froschkönig (The Frog Prince).

Honouring this great tradition, Years 9 to 11 were invited to take part in KES' Modern Languages Storybook Competition.  Pupils were asked to write a children's story in French or German, using simple, repetitive language and illustrations to help convey meaning.  Winning entries were to receive Easter eggs and Amazon vouchers.  Presented with this challenge (and incentive!), our brilliant linguists did not disappoint. 

Year 9 pupils Tabitha Gardiner (Lyra la licorne) and Jacob Miners (La fille et le djinn) impressed the judges with their creativity, originality and endeavour.  Olivia Seaton  produced an inventive story (Le lion qui ne pouvait pas rugir) about a young lion's frustration at not being able to roar.  The judges, Language Assistants Daphné Raas and Tabea Thommen, particularly enjoyed her illustrations drawn by hand, and the wisdom of the moral of the story. 

Year 11 pupil Samuel Frith opted for a twofold approach, producing both a French and a German version of his story The Mouse, the Parrot and the Dragon, whilst his younger brother Harry wrote a very accurate story Léo fait du shopping, which judges deemed "perfect for beginners of French". 

The judges admired the collaboration between generations in Year 11 pupil Archie McKenzie's storybook Es war einmal, a tale of princesses and dragons, which was beautifully illustrated by his grandmother Christina.

The winning German entry was created by Emily Best (Year11) who used her German skills to create a beautifully illustrated and educational narrative for children. Die fliegende Katze tells the story of a cat who is blessed with wings but is unable to fly.  Emily's story exceeded the expectations of the judges, with its original narrative, outstanding visual impact and perfect use of repetition of language.

First prize in the French category went to Sukey Humphries for her moving story "La petite fille et le rouge-gorge" (The Little Girl and the Robin).  She impressed the judges with her stunning water colours and the delicate tone of her story.  The closing words of her fairy tale could not be more apt in summing up the amazing responses to this competition in its introductory year: "il n'y a rien de plus beau que l'imagination".

Many thanks to all those who took part in the competition. 


  • Winner - Sukey Humphries - La petite fille et le rouge-gorge
  • Runners up - Olivia Seaton - Le lion qui ne pouvait pas rugir and Harry Frith - Léo fait du shopping
  • Highly commended - Jacob Miners - La fille et le djinn, Tabitha Gardiner - Lyra la licorne, Samuel Frith - La souris, le perroquet et le dragon


  • Winner - Emily Best - Die fliegende Katze
  • Runners up - Samuel Frith - Die Maus, der Papagei und der Drachen, Archie McKenzie  -Es war einmal…


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