Children’s/Young Adult Fiction First Place Winner: "Wombat Wings"

Congratulations to MJ Belko, first place winner in the Children’s/Young Adult Fiction category of the 89th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's her winning story, "Wombat Wings."
Author:
Publish date:

Congratulations to MJ Belko, first place winner in the Children’s/Young Adult Fiction category of the 89th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's her winning story, "Wombat Wings."

Competition

[See the complete winners list.] 

Wombat Wings

Winston was a wombat who lived in a forest in Tasmania. He made his home, as wombats will, under the roots of a tree on the riverbank. At the end of the day, he came out of his burrow to munch on grass and play, rolling head over heels down the hill.

Early one evening, a rainbow lorikeet sat on a branch high above Winston’s burrow and asked,

“What kind of bat can you be

if you can’t fly as high as me?”

Winston thought for a while, slowly munching on grass roots. He scratched his nose and said,

“I can roll and swim and bite.

A wombat has no need for flight.”

The rainbow lorikeet flew away, calling as he went,

“I’ve never seen a stranger thing

than a wombat without wombat wings.”

A kookaburra had been listening from a nearby tree. He laughed, as kookaburras do, and decided to have some fun. Landing on the riverbank beside Winston, the kookaburra said,

“I think it’s just an awful shame

when a bat is a bat only in name.”

And off he flew, laughing to himself.

The next day as the sun was going down, Winston came out of his burrow, looking for something to eat. The kookaburra flew over his head and landed on a low branch. He called to the other wombats waking up and leaving their burrows.

“Other wombats learn to fly!

Are you brave enough to try?”

A joey crawled out of his mother’s pouch and squinted at the kookaburra. He began to jump and flap his arms, but he thumped to the ground and scurried back to his mother’s pouch, crying.

The kookaburra flew up to a high branch and called to the mean wombat across the river,

“Flightless wombats will have to share

with wombats that take to the air!”

The mean wombat smiled. If he learned to use his wombat wings, he could get to the best roots and grasses before any of the other wombats got there. When his belly was full and round, he could fly high into the trees and watch the flightless wombats search the riverbank for food. What fun that would be!

Winston waddled over to a tree and pulled off a piece of bark. He saw the mean wombat smiling and imagined him swooping down from the trees and snatching the tasty tree bark out of his claws. Maybe the kookaburra was right. Maybe he should learn to fly, but how? Winston watched the birds flying overhead. He looked at his strong, furry arms and his claws that were so good at digging. He didn’t look like a bird at all. He didn’t have wings or feathers. Winston didn’t think he could trust the kookaburra; but if the other wombats were going to learn how to fly, shouldn’t he?

Children’s:Young Adult Fiction

The next night, Winston waddled out of his burrow and sat on the cool grass to think. The kookaburra landed on the ground beside him and said,

“Surely, you must have a plan

to fly as other wombats can.”

Winston hissed at the kookaburra and climbed up the side of the riverbank. Flapping his arms as fast as he could, Winston leaped from the riverbank and fell into the water with a splash.

The kookaburra laughed, as kookaburras do, and flew up into a tree.

“With no wings for flying free,

try some leaves from a blue gum tree.”

He dropped blue gum tree leaves on Winston’s head and perched on a branch to see what would happen next.

Winston held a few leaves in each claw and flapped his arms until he was out of breath. Still, he could not fly. Winston began to wonder if the kookaburra was playing a trick on him, but he did not want to give up.

Again, the kookaburra laughed as he circled over Winston.

“If you really want to glide along

try the feathers of a currawong.”

The kookaburra dropped two shiny black feathers at Winston’s feet and sat on a branch to see what would happen next.

Winston made a face and picked up the currawong feathers. He did not trust the kookaburra now, but he just had to try flying one more time.

Winston stood on a rock. Flapping the currawong feathers and jumping as high as he could, Winston fell to the ground with a thud.

The kookaburra laughed out loud and flew away, calling,

“Wombats like you weren’t meant to fly,

but it sure was fun watching you try!”

Winston kicked some dirt at the kookaburra, but it was too late. The kookaburra was gone. Winston looked across the river. Wombats were lying on the riverbank, tired and bruised from jumping and falling over and over again. The mother wombat was kissing her joey’s scraped knee. The big mean wombat was rubbing a bump on his nose.

The rainbow lorikeet fluttered to the ground and landed next to Winston. He folded his green wings, tilted his blue head and said,

“You must not be a bat at all

if all you do is crash and fall!”

As the sun came up, Winston and his neighbors crawled into their burrows while the kookaburras filling the trees laughed and laughed.

The next night, Winston sat on the riverbank, thinking about the trick the kookaburra had played. The rainbow lorikeet returned and asked:

Have you found a way to be

a bat that flies as high as me?”

This time, Winston didn’t have to stop and think. Rolling on his back and looking at the stars he said,

“I’ve never heard of a sillier thing

than a wombat who needs wombat wings.”

WD Competitions Banner

Get recognized for your writing. Find out more about the Writer's Digest family of writing competitions.

Batra&DeCandido_1:18

Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido: Entertainment and Outrage

Authors Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido explain how they came to co-write their novel and why it's important to them that the readers experience outrage while reading.

incite_vs_insight_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Cleland_1:17

Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!

20_most_popular_writing_posts_of_2020_robert_lee_brewer

20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.

Malden_1:16

Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.

writing_mistakes_writers_make_talking_about_the_work_in_progress_robert_lee_brewer

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.

Kelly_1:15

Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.