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


Katherine Langrish said...

This has been going on for a loooong time. My younger daughter, at the age of about nine or ten, had a poem 'published' in the same way. It was quite a good poem, but that wasn't the point! It would be much better if schools simply produced a 'school magazine' in the time-honoured way, instead of being taken in by this expensive charade.

Kathryn Evans said...

Oh yes - but such a shame - the thrill of being in print is addictive. Perhaps more schools should take charge of their own vanity print job via or similar - the kids would have the thrill, it would cost the parents a lot less and the school could raise some funds. BTW Millie - nice story.

maryom said...

When a similar scheme ran at my daughter's school, all the 'winners' were published and buying the anthology was optional. We coughed up and bought it but I know at least one Mum who didn't. Maybe she was smarter than the rest of us or maybe she was making a statement that any creativity wasn't worth encouraging - "Maths and science are fine, but don't go wasting your time making up poems and stories, son."

Mary Hoffman said...

That's a huge leap of "reasoning" Mary!

Leslie Wilson said...

Oh dear. I remember my mother - when i was in my teens - encouraging me to answer an ad ' Poems wanted for new anthology.' I need. It relate the rest of the sad story. Luckily I had read about vanity publishing in one of Geoffrey Treases ' Bannerdale' books, and so I realised that this was a con when they asked for however much it was. I was left with a sour taste in my mouth - but had learned a lesson. It's awful if schools are falling for the ancient con - and yes, why can't they produ3 their own anthology, using volunteer parental help?

Leslie Wilson said...

That was meant to be 'I need not relate.'

Exhibition Girls said...

Thanks for the lovely picture of our promotional models Violet and Mario working for Julia Wurz at the London Book Fair!