Read North Texas Children’s Writing Competition Winning Story

May 05, 2017

And the winner is…

Carl Hu in grade 5 at Alvis C. Story Elementary in Allen ISD!

Huge congratulations to our fantastic winner Carl, who competed against hundreds of other students from schools and districts throughout Dallas/Fort Worth to take the top prize.

We are excited to visit Alvis C. Story Elementary on May 25th to celebrate Carl’s success with his teachers, friends and family, and to present him with his prizes:

  • Kindle Fire HD
  • Trophy, medal & certificate
  • $500 worth of books for his school
  • Professional illustration of story


This is what our judge Polly Holyoke had to say about Carl’s story:

“Carl’s entry dropped me straight into the action. He used sensory detail and dialogue well to create a sense of urgency. I loved his premise that we become human-robots in the future and therefore circuit destroying nanobots could become a threat to our existence. He developed a sympathetic protagonist and included similes that supported his world building and the technology in his future. Carl also left us with a great cliffhanger. I felt like this story could be the start of a novel I’d very much like to read.”


Young Writers' Award winning story illustration

Illustration by Frances Southgate


But don’t take Polly’s word for it.  You can read the story for yourself below:


I glanced at my mom in the queue, who was looking at her digital interface on her arm to board. My dad peered over her shoulder and then shook his head. I sat patiently, waiting. “Group 75,356,” the A.I. said on-screen. “We start launching in ten minutes, and if you are not in your group, you will be unable to board.” I sighed worriedly. This had been going on for months. Earth had been swarmed by circuit-destroying nanobots, a hazard to human-robots everywhere. The People’s International Government (P.I.G.) declared that transferring to another planet was the only option. I didn’t know that colonization on Mars would be possible, but here I was, sitting with a fraction of Earth’s cyborg-people.

I was bored. And hot. The waiting room was roasting like overheated wiring. I needed something to do to take my central cognition off these unbearable conditions, so I prodded the arm of a boy sitting next to me who looked as bored and hot as I was. “Hey. What’s your name?” He jerked his head toward me, like that of a startled chicken’s. “Oh. Hi. My name is Joe. What’s yours?” “Kacy. Where are your parents? Aren’t they supposed to be sitting next to you if the A.I. hasn’t called your group number?” Joe’s once poker-faced eyes turned misty with emotion, then snapped back to neutral. “I don’t have parents. They both exploded in a plasma pod crash. I’ve been homeless for the past six years.” That was all. He clammed up like a drone bug when someone had poked it with a cable. I ambled on, wanting to keep the conversation going. “Do you feel safe about the government’s plan? After all, Mars is an extreme planet. I don’t think those ‘Robot Adjusted UV Suits’ will help us in a minute.” I pointed to the bulky gear. “Please stop talking to me.” “Ohhhhhh-kay.”

I leaned back and clasped my hands across my lap. I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for this young fellow without a family. He would be alone on a new planet unless he decided not to go, and that would be even worse. Suddenly, I had an idea. “You can come with us. You can stay on Mars with my family!” I grabbed his hand and pulled it toward my mom and dad, but Joe resisted. “Group 75,357,” the A.I. said calmly. I needed to hurry. My dad was gesturing frantically. “Please!” I begged. “No!” He snatched his hand back with a sudden fury. “I won’t go with you! I can’t!” Joe started sprinting down the corridor where the exit was, and I started racing after him. He burst through the exit, with me on his heels. Then I saw a plume of smoke and the spaceship rising into the air, reflecting off the desolate wasteland around me. Joe was nowhere in sight. I was too late. I was marooned on this contaminated planet.

The end.

If you would like to find out more about how you can get your child involved in the Explore Horizons’ Young Writers’ Award for next year, click here. Or why not Explore the rest of our website to learn more about our inspiring tutoring and enrichment centers, and how we can help your child become a fearless learner.

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