Sunday, 10 February 2013

Not what it seems

Copyright Ad Meskens

A nine-year-old girl called Millie wrote the following rather charming story at school:

“The Fear of the Loch Ness Monster”

I was in the Loch Ness Monster’s lair. Scared stiff, frozen to the spot, worrying his beaming black eyes would be glaring at me. I saw a sudden movement in the water. I stood as still as a statue in the Museum of London, staring, feeling paralysed. I desperately wanted to rush straight home. But I was too intrigued to get a glimpse of the amazing Loch Ness monster. Just then I saw it. Wow! I rushed home very proud.

And "very proud" was how Millie's Mum felt when she learned this story was to be published, had in fact won a competition to be published.

The school had encouraged Millie and many of her friends to write and submit work to this website.

The exciting news about publication was the first Millie's Mum knew about it; like many a modern woman, she posted it on Facebook. Admiring comments duly followed.

But Millie's mother is a published writer herself and a journalist. She smelt a rat and within minutes had posted the truth of the matter. It is shocking that Jill Papworth's article about this scheme was published nearly four years ago and that schools are still encouraging children to send work to this organisation. 60-80% of the submissions will be chosen, children will be sent exciting certificates and parents encouraged to spend £15.99 plus postage to buy an anthology with their offspring's 50 words in.

It reminds me of the time my youngest daughter, then aged about thirteen, "won" a glamour shoot at a supposed model agency. We duly went, she was coiffed and made up and we were then shown a portfolio of photos I could buy. They were very glamorous, she was heartbroken at the idea that we might go home empty-handed and I shelled out squillions of pounds, feeling pretty sick about it.

What it seems to be is an early introduction to vanity publishing. Schools really should know better and children like Millie deserve better