The Winners: The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2020/21: Be Careful What You Wish For!

Thank you to everyone who entered The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2020/21: Be Careful What You Wish For! We had our best ever number of entries this year and the standard was really high. We know it has been an especially challenging year for students, parents, guardians, and teachers and are so grateful for all your support and enthusiasm.

Ages 5-10

1st Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

Jupiter’s Wish

By Aoibhe Aged 9

One evening Jupiter was having a drink,

While having a drink, he was having a think.

“Juno, my dear,” he said to his wife,

“So boring so far has been my life.

“I wish for friends, laughter, fun and games.

And, if our last one hadn’t gone up in flames,

I’d wish for a party with bunting and sweets.

A good old knees-up, dancing to sick beats!”

Juno nodded her head and thought for a while.

Then said, “I’ve got a plan to make you smile.

It’s a great idea you’re sure to enjoy!

You’ll like it so much you’ll jump for joy!

“You want some fun? Well, come on, let’s go!

For tonight we’re hosting King Jupiter’s Disco!”

“Oh, Juno,” he cried, “I always love your ideas!

Come quickly, let us go and buy some tortillas!”

“But first,” said Juno, “who should we invite?

If we don’t make a list it will be a lonely night.”

“Oh, let’s choose Venus; she’s always so pretty.

But then she’s also so vain, so…maybe not, what a pity.”

“Hmm…well, what about Hypnos?” “No, he’s always dreaming.”

“Orcus?” “Are you kidding? Our guests will run off screaming!”

“Bacchus will say that our party’s not as good as his.”

“Yes, and probably sabotage our wine by adding too much fizz.”

“Let’s not invite Cupid; that lovebird is such a bore.”

“And we can’t invite Diana; she’ll be hunting on the dancefloor!”

“Flora is a ‘no’ because her flowers make me sneeze.”

“And Neptune’s far too busy causing havoc on the seas.”

“We can’t invite Bellona or Mars – you just know they’ll have a fight.”

“Well, we can’t invite Mercury; he’ll play bad tricks all night.”

“Minerva is no fun because she never stops reading

And Apollo’s terrible poetry leaves my ears bleeding!”

“Oh dear,” said Jupiter, “we can’t think of one single guest!

This surely means we must cancel Jupiter-fest.

I wished for a party with all my might;

If only we had other friends to invite.”

Then, suddenly, Ding dong, “Who’s at the door?”

Juno sighed, “probably Mars wanting to start another war.

I’ll go see who it is while you stay here and rest.

I know you’re sad about the disco but it’s probably for the best.”

Soon Juno came back in the room and, in her hands, held a letter.

“Jupiter, my dear, I’m afraid this won’t make you feel better.

It’s news from Greece, but please don’t get excited.

It seems Zeus is having a party…. but we’re not invited!”

2nd Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong


By Mira Aged 10

A long, long time ago – well, it depends which part of the story you look at, but I’m gonna go from the current day. Soooo… I guess I’ll have to begin from the start. OK, here we go…

Before Coronavirus, there was a 9-year-old adventurous girl called Lucy. Lucy loved animals and had wished to meet the extinct ones ever since she was… like… potty trained. Her dad worked in a farm so she could pet all the horses and piglets as long and as tight as she wanted. Lucy’s mother had passed away two days after she was born. She didn’t know much about her but her dad would tell her stories about her mother’s adventures and quests. Lucy always wished she could be just like her one day. OK, enough background story, let’s get onto the interesting part…

One day, while she was sleeping, a golden light surrounded and lifted her up into the air. Then, before you can say “I-think-she-should-wake-up”, the light disappeared and everything became still, just as before. The only difference was there was a note on her desk that read…

Dear Lucy,

I know how much you love animals and adventures so I decided to combine the two. You now have the power to move from present to past or future. But don’t say you weren’t warned. Many dangers lurk around those corners. To get your powers working, say you’d like to go past or future and concentrate really hard.


The wish-granter

Lucy was so excited, she used her new power to travel to the Jurassic period. At first, she was pretty frightened because who wouldn’t be! If you aren’t, you are totally awesome. As she walked around the greener earth, she spotted an asteroid heading towards her at ferocious speed. Lucy panicked and ran. But then something triggered a thought and she grabbed a stiff leaf and started digging and digging, and digging! The dinosaurs roared and stomped in rage. She couldn’t leave them out there to die, so she took as many eggs and baby dinosaurs as she could fit into her hands, carried them to the deep hole that she dug while the rest exploded above them.

Lucy closed her eyes and when she opened them she was back home. But it was different. It wasn’t much different from the Jurassic period and there were no humans or human-made structures around. Suddenly, her face turned pale. Humans had ceased to exist!!! Lucy was starting to fade away! She had to hurry to change what she had done, or she would disappear in one go. Lucy travelled to the Jurassic period again and took the baby dinosaurs and eggs out of the hole. After that, she whisked out of the Jurassic period back to the current day where everything was the same as it was before the hullaballoo. Lucy also never used her power to travel to past or future again.

3rd Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

By Samuel Aged 8

Last year, I made a wish. I wished that my grey fluffy pet rabbit, Raspberry, would win an award.

I wanted her to do something different at a Pet Talent Show so everyone would applaud.

I wondered to myself what it could be,

So I followed her around the garden just to see!

I saw Raspberry running, hopping, and down the green grassy hills she went rolling,

“Nothing interesting” I mumbled to myself as I set up a game of Tenpin bowling.

But as I put the final bowling pin in its place,

I could see a huge smile on Raspberry rabbit’s face.

She was eating grass around our garden trees,

and she asked me very politely “Can I have a go please?”

Raspberry then stood up on her two back legs and released the ball,

But it wasn’t quite a strike as it only hit four.

It was my turn and I struck down another two,

but I wasn’t really concentrating on the game – no rather I was amazed that my wish had come true!

Raspberry practiced every day and night trying to perfect that winning strike!

Then Raspberry soon became an Olympic Bowling star,

and we even travelled the world in style in a luxury car.

I was always the loser and Raspberry always won,

But after a while, playing bowling with her was no longer fun.

She was such a boastful winner,

Raspberry could play a game of bowling and win whilst eating her grass and carrot dinner.

But very soon I didn’t care about the fortune and fame,

No, all I knew that Raspberry rabbit was just not the same.

She won a hundred golden awards

and yes her audience would stand and applaud,

But after one big game,

I never felt so ashamed.

Because Raspberry didn’t congratulate her opposing team,

it was then that I knew that she was becoming too mean!

I watched in horror as she punched the air triumphantly and sang a victory song,

and it was at that very moment I knew that my wish had gone terribly wrong!

This was all my fault!

What a hideous result!

“Oh this wish..,” I cried “I do regret, please oh please bring back my sweet and well mannered pet.”

To my wonderment at that very moment Raspberry changed her attitude,

and she sincerely apologised to everyone for being so rude.

“Well done Raspberry” I shouted out loud,

And tears of joy fell from my eyes as I never felt so proud.

Today Raspberry is much more humble and meek,

And she is just like her old self, polite and sweet.

But that isn’t the end of the story, because one day when Raspberry was hopping through the woodland valley,

she managed to find a nice job at our local Tenpin Alley.

Now Raspberry my bowling bunny,

works happily to earn her money,

and she has the best perk,

as she and I can play free games of bowling after school and work.

Ages 11-14

1st Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

By Tina Aged 12

It was a Prussian blue night with a half crescent moon- a beautiful one to admire

When a bright beaming star fell to Mary’s bed and asked ‘What is it that you desire?’

Enveloped with delight, Mary rubbed her eyes to check it wasn’t a dream

Whilst the shooting star stood patiently- with a rather blinding gleam

‘To have my very own garden!’ She cried, excited ‘Yes that is my wish!’

The star nodded and with a final spin a garden proceeded to flourish

Her ugly, dull, matted carpet hastily began to fade

As a lush green turf sprung up slowly tiny blade by blade

A meadow of vibrant tulips then replaced her rug

It was a lovely meadow with pretty beetles and a ladybug

Twenty sweet smelling roses mounted from her chair

Mary gently picked one up to weave it in her hair

Pockets of violets and pansies covered the windowsill

As the desk became a flowerbed that in no time started to fill

‘Why thank you star ever so much you’ve made my wish come true’

‘Well’ the star chuckled modestly ‘that’s what shooting stars do!’

Mary attended to her garden of which she was very fond

Watering all the shrubs and plants and cleaning out the pond

As for the kind shooting star, well they can only grant one wish

So once the wish has been granted they sort of die and finish

Mary saw the poor little star dim and wane away

She took it in her tiny arms as it turned from silver to grey

‘little star, little star you can’t possibly go yet!

My wish has come true but what about you’ Mary exclaimed, upset

Now Mary was no fairy godmother, she had no wand or magic

But if the kind star died wouldn’t that be tragic?

Opening the window, Mary called out to the sky

‘Help us please oh do be quick I don’t want the star to die’

All of a sudden her room burst with a shimmering light

As intricate specks of silver showered the night

‘Little girl you’ve already used your wish,’ wept the other stars, alas

‘We can bring him back if you give up the flowers and the carpet of grass’

‘I’ll give it all up for the star every single flower

But do hurry up he’ll be all gone by the end of the hour!’

So her wish as un granted and the kind little star was given back his shine

Her picturesque garden was all gone-every leaf and every vine

‘You thoughtful girl you gave up your wish just to save me?

That’s the kindest thing one could do. Every star would agree!’

‘I did’ Mary smiled ‘I gave up my wish because the last thing I need

Is cupidity, silly desires and, of course, greed.’

2nd Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

By Sophie Aged 14

In an alternate universe, a parallel land,

Time ticked sideways like shape shifting sand,

Sun rose in the west and set in the east,

(Blue-shift was the thing – what a terrible beast!)

With Schrödinger’s dog, and Newton’s pear tree,

The state of the world was as fine as could be,

(Telling stories means I’m in the sixth heaven,)

But let’s head straight to 1347,

Into the walls of Camford castle,

A posh little boy had opened a parcel,

His head was blonde, and his little face fat,

For he was born rich and a spoilt little brat,

He groaned and moaned at the idea of learning,

Whining, ‘My poor stomach is churning,’

He looked around and his tutor had gone,

‘Hurrah!’ he thought, till the window shone,

The light was blinding, so through squinting eyes,

He muttered his prayers and said his goodbyes,

But when no pain ever came to be,

He opened his eyes on the count of three,

The figure in front was short and stout,

She had blue skin and a hairy snout,

Her wings were as green as a spring-grown pea,

She said, ‘3 wishes thou have, William Godfrey,’

His face split into a devious smile,

‘I wish for no school,’ he uttered with style

‘Splendid,’ she voiced, writing a note,

‘I also wish to travel by boat,’

So she scribbled it down, and with a swish of her wing,

William asked, ‘I wish to be as strong as a king,’

The fairy figure looked up at the boy,

How selfishly he was willing to destroy,

Any chance or hope for a better earth,

Well, she thought, he has shown his worth,

‘Thy wishes shall come true within the next year,’

Then she seemed to disappear,

Little young William slept soundly that night,

Dreaming of the future with juvenile delight,

And after weeks and weeks of having to wait,

The year finally ticked to 1348,

My dear reader, does this year ring a bell?

Are bright red flags starting to yell?

For this is the year of The Black Death,

I’ll let you in on a secret (take a deep breath),

The fairy didn’t cause this, neither did the child,

For fairy granted wishes are only ever mild,

No, the bubonic plague reared its ugly head,

Causing thousands of people to end up dead,

The rich fled quickly, away from disease,

And William Godfrey felt sick with unease,

Though he was strong, he couldn’t fight mass hysteria,

And muscles are useless against bacteria,

Many years later the fairy came back and agreed,

That he had been selfish in both actions and deed,

He forgave her for keeping truth sly,

And she forgave him for his selfish reply,

‘Thy have another wish, Master Godfrey,

Please accept it as my sincere apology’,

He heaved a deep sigh and shook his head,

‘I shall leave wishes well alone,’ he said,

The small fairy merely grinned in reply,

And flew out the window, a final goodbye.

3rd Place

A poem or story about wishes coming true

Alisoun’s Tale

By Polly Aged 14

He claimed he loved me more than life itself. I realise that this made it rather fitting for me to be his downfall.

A wish in a well had been a common occurrence in tales from my childhood. Wishes to meet your prince, protect your child. I feared my radical wish would be rejected; I asked to be free from him, to not be admired like his treasured wood carvings, locked in his house, a wife too young, too wild to be given freedom. Who knows what I might do if I was allowed to live my life? Stray? Learn? He had many endearments for me: I was a rose, a beauty, weasel-slim. I was fit to be any man’s wife.

As I stared into the well, the docile water barely rippling, I heard the patter of footsteps. Nicholas, a poetic soul, an intelligent mind, a foolish heart. He stalked the streets, crooning lyrics, purring notes, singing sorrowful ballads of his poverty. He survived off pity. Leaning in, he fondled the ribbons in my hair, complimented the embroidery dancing around the collar of my blouse. He was a relentless flirt. Inevitably, in an embarrassingly impassioned way, he declared his undying love for me, his eyes glowing like a hot poker.

I was having none of it. Who was he to stake sole claim to my heart? He was no better than Absalom, a clerk who was painfully infatuated with me. But then again, Nicholas was a man of ideas so ludicrous, they often worked. If he distracted my groom, trying to buy us time alone, could I use the opportunity to get out?

I struggled not to snicker when he told me of the preposterous plan he’d put in motion. Knowing that at this moment, my fool of a husband was strapping himself, in a bathtub, to the ceiling, believing that God would soon try a second attempt at his trusty flood plan, made me sigh.

I truly wasn’t planning for such violent events to take place that night. However, I don’t regret what happened. I had known that the parish clerk, Absalom, an insipid man whose greasy hair hung like buttered corn, had a disturbing habit of staring at me. Yet when he arrived below my window, and bleated and begged I return his affection, I may have over-reacted. Apparently, he wasn’t as dreary as I had thought, given that he returned with a red-hot poker, and a cruel idea.

When Nicholas entered, I told him how I had demeaned Absalom, and that he should try too.

His newly burnt behind peeled like pastry. He cried my name as it smouldered. So did my husband, falling from the rafters, a moment before his arm was crushed.


Whether they realised my betrayal, or just needed the woman they loved more than life, I doubt I’ll ever know, since I’m now miles from that well.

I think I wished rather well – for myself, at least.

Senior – 15-18 years old

1st Place

A description of a character who grants wishes

By Sejal Aged 17

The address is scribed upon heavy parchment, no bigger than a child’s palm. It is folded into half, then half again, before being passed on, in the guise of a merchant’s handshake. The Lord has no shortage of pounds and shillings; He accepts the parchment without a flinch at the cost.

The Lord rather despises the town and its foul, narrow streets. When he comes to a stop in a street not far from the main square, his brogues are soiled from cesspit waste and animal droppings. The Lord’s overcoat does little to spare him from the chill of the evening, and he rubs the cold from his hands as he finds the house. He checks the street briefly, ensures he is not noticed. The house is seemingly normal. Four storey and close to toppling, as every other. He raps quietly on the heavy door and presses closer to the doorframe, hoping the shadows hide his features. Rain begins to fall.

The Lord waits, until his overcoat is dampened and impatience has built. The harsh braying and stumbling of drunkards sounds closer, and he sighs with annoyance before pushing the door open and stepping quickly inside.

The room is as expected. Dark and cramped, the musk of rotten wood which has not been attended to. He squints in the darkness, is barely able to discern the outlines of a writing desk. The Lord stands. Still and silent. Unease prickles at his back, dancing along his spine.

He clears his throat.

Light spills into the room, bringing with it the kind of warmth that reminds the Lord of winters spent by the fire. At least twenty candles, all lit at once, cast shifting shadows against the mouldering ceiling. He blinks, bewildered, for surrounded by all this light sits –

A woman.

Legs crossed on the table surface, she leans back against the protesting chair. Her legs are bare, the hem of her gown fallen up against her thighs. The Lord clears his throat again and looks away. The lady wears no hat, and he imagines nothing could restrain her full head of hair, with its wild, untameable curls. She stares at him, her dark calculating eyes pressing and frightening.

He shivers. His voice seems lost in his throat, unable to fill the silent room.

He tries again, gasping, attempting to utter his inner desires.

“I understand.” Her voice, cooler than ice.

“Make your wish.”

She smiles.

2nd Place

A description of a character who grants wishes

By Taqwa Aged 15

Maybe you will drop your wish into the hollows of the Weeping Angel, marble wings heavy and majestic, protruding from gashes in its blood-soaked back. Perhaps you will visit the dark lair of the Moonchild in the wee hours of night and carve your soul deep into the celestial rings of its craggy ceiling. You might decide to visit the wolves’ magic lampshade- your desires will sputter silver galoshes of sparking rain into night’s cool air. Or maybe you will float up the pale blue walls of our own hazy sky, cross-legged and murmuring softly to the Head of the Clouds. These are ideals. You can trust the Silent Ones to deliver your wishes safely.

But what if you choose another?

Horns blare at you in fractured afternoon sunlight. Cars speed by, exhaust fumes kicking up piles of dust and dying leaves. You push past the chattering kids streaming out of school doors, the rats that skitter behind dumpster trucks of seedy hotels. The air hangs rife with the odour of cheap coffee and stale cigarettes, a stifling yellow heat clinging to your sweaty back.

You march on with purpose. It is in the midst of the city’s chaos, where the Wish Witch lives.

The door swings open. Downy white curls tumble carelessly, falling just short of upturned brows. Faint blue sparks crackle out of nimble fingers that constantly move. Freckles speck a brown, cheerful face, complete with a cocky grin and pearly teeth, and you can tell it in his stride:

This is an inferno of blazing magic that burns bright in the illusion of a boy.

The witch’s impish eyes gleam with mischief. “And what have we here?”

You don’t answer. There is something splintered in the sorcerer’s blue-gold gaze that stops you. Something that makes him look vulnerable. Exhausted.

There’s a bitter twist to the grin that’s playing on his mouth. Purple shadows leave harsh grooves under his eyes. Clothes hang on a too-thin frame, and your mouth fills with something like dread.

He’s wasting away.

The downside to granting wishes; he gets left behind. He only ever gets called for favors, a tool. Used, discarded, forgotten.

Granting wishes is unnatural. Every time he performs, a little bit of his soul withers away, no matter what price he demands. Pathetic. Hollowness becomes the norm. There’s nothing but a whistling draft inside, burning red-hot frost ‘til there’s a gaping hole where something is meant to be alive, beating. Warm.

And he wants to help people. How can he not? When they come to him with desperate eyes and shaking limbs and tearstained, wretched faces, how can he say no?

He can’t. And they’re grateful, and that warms him. But then they forget or come to ask for more.

It’s like there’s bugs crawling into the crevices of his brain. There’s rocks in his stomach and a noose around his neck. Each time, it pulls tighter.

He grants the wish and dies a little more on the inside.

3rd Place

A poem or story about wishes going wrong

Across the Water

By Jenny Aged 17

Oisín had gazed at Niamh for hours, winding her hair

in plaits and raising it high so the nape of her neck

appeared, slender and pale before the tumble

of hair like petals, russet, gold and white.

She saw him looking – recognition. A spark she

knew how to strike from stone


before the wish for eternal youth had passed his lips

the horse’s legs were swept out in stiff, bold staves

as Oisín crossed the water into Tír na nÓg

Red is the wine. White is the moon. Dancers turn, turn.

Oisín touches his newly alabaster skin; a pilgrim arrived at a shrine

witnessing a vision or unearthly sign.

‘I am homesick’ whispers Oisín to Niamh.

The firewood is doused, and flares again

revealing the faeries’ weed-green skin

‘If you leave Tír na nÓg, you will never return’

Hoarse-voiced. Dark-eyed. Scattering

as pebbles by the tide.

He escapes. Gallops along road, tangled with vetch and clover,

scribbled with scree. Past the tumbled house where he used to sleep,

wake, love and weep

with his family. Where are they? The horse’s shoulder drops

as it stumbles.

Oisín hits the peaty soil. His beard, a whiskery ancient measure

of time, three hundred years has passed in Tír na nÓg, and yet

not a moment, it seems.

Now he would give all his youth to watch flower and leaf unfolding,

to be wrinkling, dulled, stooping, deaf, short of breath.

To die in the place he would have lived.

Ireland is chilled and hushed; a sun-sunken cathedral.