This year’s Toronto Roald Dahl Day Story Contest is the most splendiferous one yet. After all, who doesn’t daydream about visiting an enchanted candy factory? To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, we’re joining forces with Toronto Public Library on a short story contest for writers 8-12, based on the following question:
What if Willy Wonka was running his contest today, and, a kid from Toronto found a winning golden ticket?
We ask that you tell your story in two parts:
1) Compose a short prose portrait (750 words max) of a less-than-sympathetic Torontonian 8-12 years old, before she/he arrives at the front gates of Willy Wonka’s factory.
For instance, what do they look like? Do they have any hobbies or passions? Which area of the city do they live in? How did they get a golden ticket? And what’s their tragic flaw?
Feel free to exaggerate aspects of their personality, especially the negative ones. Dahl uses this technique to great comic effect. And it lays the foundation for the next part of this exercise:
2) Compose lyrics to a short song (750 words max) that the Oompa Loompas might sing, chronicling all of the incredible, humbling yet fitting things that happen to your character during his/her tour of Wonka’s factory.
How does her/his Achilles heel contribute to their comeuppance? For instance, does their insatiable appetite for chocolate lead them to almost drown in a river of it?
What difficult thing(s) does your character learn about her/himself? And what moral should we, the audience, derive from the outcome?
“Moral,” you say? Yep, the Oompa Loompas’s witty ditties are ultimately cautionary tales.
Indeed, the songs convey one of the key themes in Dahl’s novel: behavior is rewarded appropriately. Being greedy and selfish leads to unfortunate consequences. And great things await those who are patient, kind and generous, like Charlie.
Send your tale to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 13th (A.K.A. Roald Dahl’s birthday).
Renowned poet Dennis Lee will host this year’s awards ceremony. Our all-star judging panel is going to read aloud and award cool prizes for the top five stories. And Don Kerr & The Oompa Loompa Band, featuring leading members of Toronto’s indie-music scene, will play the top five songs, at our Roald Dahl Day soiree on October 19th in the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon at Toronto’s Reference Library.