Introducing our 2016 Young Judge: Orli!

Posted by Jazz on Monday December 14th, 2015

Hi there! I’m Orli, and I was fortunate enough to be chosen to be The Times and Chicken House’s Young Judge for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2016. I’ll try and tell you a little about myself, just to hopefully persuade you that I’ll be worthy of the role!

If you’d, for some reason, like to picture me, here’s a short description. I’m 16 years old, with crazy, curly hair that slightly hates me because of how much I kill it with my straighteners, an awkward tendency to laugh at inappropriate moments, an even more awkward tendency to have the kind of sarcasm that even I find difficult to understand, and a whole load of passions that really shouldn’t work together.

I would say I have two main loves in my life. It’s probably obvious that I really love to read, and I have for as long as I can remember. Contemporary dance is my newest flame, but never fear – I’m NOT cheating on my books. There’s space in my heart for both!

There’s something magical about stories. There’s this strange sort of gratitude and connection that we feel for what are essentially simply bound pages. There’s an even stranger addiction that comes with reading THAT kind of book. The kind that makes you wonder how you ever lived without it, the kind where you want to meet the author and beg them to make their characters real. I can tell you from experience that unfortunately, no matter how much you wish, neither Katniss Everdeen nor Hogwarts exist, but here’s the brilliant part: as the (debatably) wonderful Dumbledore tells us, ‘of course they’re just in your head. But why on earth should that mean they’re not real?’

There have been frequent times in the past few years where I’ve thought life would be easier if I didn’t read. I would sit in the school’s Book Club hunched up in a corner so that none of ‘those people’ saw me through the window, and I’d try and tell myself I didn’t need books. But I always came back to them. Because books are embedded with memories, bound by the way you felt when you first read them, enveloped in everything and everyone they made you forget.

I can’t help myself. I can’t help that my heart skips a beat when I see an amazing cover, or that I almost cried when I found out Patrick Ness had a new book out. To be honest, though, I almost cry at everything Patrick Ness does. And I was just completely over the moon to find out that I had been chosen to be Chicken House’s Young Judge this year. I didn’t expect it in the slightest, and cringed for multiple days at the happy dance I did at Carphone Warehouse when I got the call.

And so, I just can’t wait. I can’t wait to get lost in pages that make everything else irrelevant. I can’t wait to switch off the semi-stressed, GCSE-obsessed, unintentional-rhyming-addict nature of my head, and switch on to another world, another place, another time. Another chance to fall head over heels in love with THAT book.

Your comments (4)

Teresa Schulz says...

Well done Orli. You sound like the perfect young person for the task ahead. Enjoy your journey into the new unknown tales presented before you. We look forward to hearing how much fun the journey was and all about the marvelous characters you have met along the way. Teresa

Added January 12th, 2016 at 10:23 am 

PhanTrash123 says...

Wow good luck Orli!
I got lots of books for Christmas, and so far I've read four and a half of them! So don't worry because you're not alone in obsessive reading ?

Added December 28th, 2015 at 8:33 pm 

Geraldine says...

Happy-dancing at the prospect of such an enthusiastic and qualified judge as Orli.

Added December 28th, 2015 at 5:24 pm 

Elena Rousseau says...

Welcome, Orli! Lucky indeed! You will get to read books that we will be waiting years to see in print. But you deserve it. It sounds like the writers who submitted their work this year are very fortunate to have someone like you to read their stories. I wish that I will be so lucky as to get someone as passionate about books as you, to be a part of the judges' team when my story will be ready for the submission.

Added December 28th, 2015 at 4:47 am