Summer Stars illustration 2021

Of all the places in the world, I never thought I would be here...

The story competition is now closed for entries but check back here to read the winning stories in the coming weeks!

Photos of author Erica McGann

Story competition judge: Erika McGann is the author of a number of children’s books. Her latest books, Puffling and the Egg and Tabitha Plimtock and the Edge of the World, will be released in autumn 2021. Photo by Lee Furlong Absolute Studio.

Photo of author Marita Conlon McKenna

Story competition judge: Marita Conlon-McKenna is the author of the bestselling and award-winning The Children of the Famine series, and other books for both adults and children. She one of Ireland’s best loved authors and her books are enjoyed by readers across the world.

Photo of author Nicola Pierce

Story competition judge:Nicola Pierce is the bestselling author of a number of books for adults and children, including The Spirit of the Titanic and Chasing Ghosts.

This year, as well as enjoying the all the amazing worlds you visit when reading books, Summer Stars celebrated young people's imagination by running a short story competition for three categories: age 6-9, age 10-14, age 15-18. To enter, young people were asked to write a story using the following opening line:

Of all the places in the world, I never thought I would be here.

Shortlisting the entries for each category is now underway. The winners of each category will be selected from the shortlists by authors Erika McGann, Marita Conlon-McKenna and Nicola Pierce in autumn and will receive a Tablet as the first prize. They will also receive a hamper of books courtesy of O'Brien Press. Each finalist will receive a €50 voucher.

The winning stories will be published here so check back soon for updates!



Writers write, it's the one thing they have in common whether published or not. And there is no better motivation than a writing competition. Well done to the public libraries for creating this particular short story competition with three different age categories, spanning six to eighteen years of age, all charged with using this first sentence to tumble headlong into a story: 'Of all the places in the world, I never thought I would be here'. If I could enter this competition, I would start by standing in my local library and breathing in the atmosphere created by all those shelves playing host to a million different voices. It is my firm belief that all writers, at some point, did just that. I know I did!
Nicola Pierce
A brilliant competition, and a great excuse to let your imagination run wild!
Erika McGann

As na háiteanna go léir ar domhan, níor cheap mé riamh go mbeinn anseo...

Tá an comórtas scéalta dúnta anois ach féach ar ais anseo chun na scéalta buacacha a léamh sna seachtainí amach romhainn!

Short Story Competition 2020

Congratulations to the overall winners of the 2020 short story competition An Unexpected Adventure:

  • Category 1 (6-9 years): Willow Dowds, Co Meath
  • Category 2 (10-14 years): Tiago Brennan, Co Kildare
  • Category 3 (15-18 years): Nicole McFadden, Co Kildare

Read their winning stories below!

Willow Dowds Summer Starts story competition winner 2020

Category 1 Winning Story, by Willow Dowds

Mia was so bored. For the past few months she had not been able to see her friends or go anywhere fun because of lockdown. Mia decided to go to the library once it opened up. She went in and picked out a book. She scanned her library card and left.

As she stepped outside she saw that the balloon lady was selling balloons. She chose a big red balloon and then went down to the nearby park to read her library book. Mia realized that her balloon was tugging. It was getting stronger. In fact it was so strong it was lifting her up into the air. Mia looked down. She saw her feet drifting far away from the ground.

She was drifting up further into the sky. She looked in the distance and saw the Earth below her.

Mia was above a planet when the balloon popped. She crash landed. The planet was filled will all the stories you could ever imagine like sky scrapers. When the people walking around spoke sentences appeared in a speech bubble above them.

One book person noticed Mia and walked towards her. He asked her, “How did you get here?”

“I came on a large red balloon”, Mia replied, “from Earth.”

“Now that you are here would you like to have a tour of Libraryland?”

“Sure,” said Mia, jumping leaped with excitement.

“My name is Ted. Every story ever written comes to life here in Libraryland. If you jump into a book you enter into the world of that book.

Ted showed Mia around the land. First they walked down Fairytale street. The street was lined with storybooks. She could see the pictures moving on the pages. They turned right at the end of the street and walked down Hobby Lane. Ted pointed out Science Fiction Corner and Biography Square.

The next street was the Bestsellers Road. Mia could see on either side of the street books lined up with their book covers like a front door. She recognised Artemis Fowl, the Harry Potter series and Diary of a Wimpy kid.

Mia asked Ted, “Where are you from?”.

“I am from the book you have in your bag,” Ted said, “that is what brought you here.”

Mia said, “My mum will be wondering why I am not at home. How do I get back?”

“You open the book,” Ted explained.

“But will I ever be able to come back?” Mia asked.

“Yes anytime you want to come to Libraryland just open a book and you are transported to our planet. You can visit anytime you read a book.”

Mia smiled with pleasure once she realised the unexpected adventures that lay ahead. She took the book out of her bag and opened it. Suddenly she found herself back in the park with her balloon. On her way back home she walked past the balloon lady. Mia could have sworn she saw the lady wink at her. Or was it all her imagination?

Category 2 Winning Story, by Tiago Brennan

Iron Man
An Unexpected Adventur

My name is Iron, and I live in the kitchen together with my friends: Fridge, who is very cool, and his cousin Freezer; Cooker, who in discussions wants to heat things up, and so does his little brother Microwave; The two sisters Dishwasher and Washing Machine, who always keep things clean.

I have a dream: I want to become a superhero! I can spread mist and flatten my enemy. I can also attack by squirting boiling water.

I asked Fridge to help me, and he says the first thing to do is to escape the kitchen. So, I went to Cooker for him to cook up a plan:

“When the Mother picks you up, you squirt her with boiling water and escape.”

It has been 10 days since I last ironed the Family’s clothes, and we haven’t heard them going around the house either! Microwave says that they are dead. So, I decided to take the opportunity to escape, but as I reached the front door two men walked in:

“To do this renovation right, we need to put them all away”, they said.

I ran back and told everyone what I heard.

“Send them away’ that’s exactly what they said!” I recalled.

Fridge told us to stay cool, but everyone started making their way to hide in the shed.

“Everyone FREEZE!” said Freezer.

“How can you say that? Things are heating up in here.” said Cooker.

Do you want to get dumped in the dirty skip? Is that what you want to happen to us?!?”, said Washing Machine.

“…or die?!?” added Microwave with a dramatic voice.

A discussion broke out and the next thing we know the builders covered us with dustsheets. It all turned dark and cold. Everybody was scared, so I said in a soothing voice:

“Don’t worry, I am also afraid which is not good for a superhero but …”

I took a deep breath which warmed up the place.

“No matter what happens I will always have good memories of you guys. I am sorry I was going to leave you because now my dream is for us to stay together.” And then there was silence.
We all woke up as if we had been plugged in. We were surrounded by a shiny new worktop and bright coloured walls. I heard the faint voice of some of my friends:

“Iron, look! We have new fronts!”, said Fridge proudly.

It seems that they become built-in appliances. Later I found out that the Family too got new clothes for me to iron. They had gone on holidays to get away from the dust and asked the builders to make sure we wouldn’t be in the middle of the mess either.

We also got a new friend who seems to be very energetic.

“Hi guys! I’m Blender. Nice to meet you! The kitchen looks great…” whizzed Blender.

“FREEZE!” shouted Freezer.

“Sorry,” said Blender “I think I was on turbo mode.”

Category 3 Winning Story, by Nicole McFadden

Mrs. O’Hara grabs my arm as I step into her classroom. She pulls me out into the hall. My friends wiggle their eyebrows at me as they file into the room, guessing that I must be in trouble.

“Go to the guidance counsellor’s office, Ashley. You have a meeting.”

Her tone is sincere but her eyes are clouded with pity. It’s downright embarrassing.
I sigh. I hated these little unexpected adventures to the counsellor’s office. There’s a reason that I try to skip every session. I drag my feet downstairs, already dreading the next hour.

“Do you ever wonder what would’ve happened if Eve never ate that apple?”

The guidance counsellor stops rifling through the papers for a moment. She glances up at me, scrutinising my face.

“No. I don’t.”

I smile slightly. I’ve been playing a game for the last few sessions, throwing out questions to catch her off guard.
I feel as if I have a fishing line in my mouth and I reel it out every time I speak. She clicks her teeth, trying to resist the bait.

She bites.

“Do you?”

I shrug. “Well, God created all of these beautiful things and gave them to us. And what did we do? Wreck everything, of course.”

She pulls out a thick, green file with “Ashley” written on it. The letters are big and bold, as if reflecting the person that they described. I continued to speak.

“And what if man never fell? We’d be swimming in the oceans and dining in fruit trees forever. No pollution, no abuse, no war.”

She opens the file and scans the pages. ‘Addiction’ and ‘foster home' and ‘mother’ must be sprinkled in there dozens of times. I wonder if the newest addition of ‘relapse’ has been added yet.

“We’d all be beautiful, little fools. I reckon we’d be happy, too. Ignorance is bliss, after all.”

She sets the file down on the table, and glances up at the clock, my greatest enemy.

“I really don’t think that anything was missing in Eve’s life anyway. She had protection, love, joy… She was happy. Maybe it wasn’t her fault, but the snake’s. Maybe the snake is the one to blame?”

The guidance counsellor interrupts before I can speak again. I think that she’s realised that my goal is to waste half of our session.

“Ashley, we must talk about your mother sooner or later. The school needs to know what’s going on in your life. We can help.”

I almost laugh. This woman’s only credentials are a week-long training course during the summer. What help can she give?

Her words remind me of the point to my question. I lean in and widen my eyes, radiating vulnerability. She must be eating this up.

“About my mother… do you know what her middle name is?”

Her eyes flit to the file, but don’t find an answer. She shakes her head.