Books·The First Page

A Bird's-Eye View by Akieziah Emerie Garcia

A Bird's-Eye View by Akieziah Emerie Garcia is a finalist for The First Page student writing challenge.

2023 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

A cartoon astronaut with a laser sword bursting out of a book and flying through space with her cat.
The First Page student writing challenge asks students in Grades 7 to 12 to write the first page of a novel from 150 years in the future. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

A Bird's-Eye View by Akieziah Emerie Garcia is one of 11 stories shortlisted for The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 category for 2023.

Students across Canada wrote the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out. More than 1,200 students submitted their stories.

The shortlist was selected by a team of writers across Canada. The winners will be selected by bestselling YA writer Courtney Summers and will be announced on May 31.

Emerie Garcia, 16, a student at Elmwood High School in Winnipeg, writes about human existence and their destruction of nature and themselves.

I peck at rotting strips of skin sagging off the bone. Once belonging to giant, two-legged mammals who wore their flesh on the outside and had feathers nowhere but on their head. Who once roamed the earth like parasites — reduced to skeletons decaying in mountains of their waste. Becoming hosts to flies and swarms of maggots slithering within their spoiling husks, much to my delight. I scoop up a beak-full, feeling the slime as they squirm and writhe in my mouth and throat.

Spreading my wings — I fly.

Into the foggy sky of gray and yellow, the smell of rust and death getting fainter.

I fly.

Past towering square structures crawling with vines, murky riverways between them that climb higher each time I pass by.

I fly.

Over the skeletons of trees, singed patches of grass, and the corpses of giants ignited ash black; scattered on the grounds and inside the stomachs of corroding bodies overgrowing with moss —


But not like me.

Long birds of smooth stone who dropped green seeds onto the giant's homes. Until it became blazed with smoke and a mass of shrill screams. Predators. Of the giants. Of the world. Of me.

I fly.

Above vast plains where bits of birds remain. Who never chirped, but roared in deep rumbles. With fire for wings that willed to fly past the sky. Every day. Every night. Like it was desperate to leave the world, but never could, diminished to an eruption of flames and fumes.

I fly.

Until I reach where nature begins.

The polluted air tightening my lungs eases like taking my first breath out of water. Ribbons of white paint the blue skies, drifting like the breeze combing my feathers and the canopies of trees. Their leaves rustling a symphony of a thousand hushed voices. Joined by roars, caws, croaks and crows — a buzzing rainbow of sounds below their swaying green cloaks.

Further within, louder and louder it gets. I weave through a maze of trunks before landing on a branch next to my nest. Snuggling inside, I soak in the sunlight hugging my body, filtering through the gaps of leaves. Casting a golden haze over the pinks and yellows of fruits dotting trees. Birds hum. Flowers flourish beneath.

And as I bathe myself in life, I think, "This is how it was always supposed to be."

About The First Page student writing challenge

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2173. They wrote the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.

Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by bestselling author Courtney Summers. 

Summers has won numerous awards, including the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult literature, the 2019 Odyssey Award and the 2020 Forest of Reading White Pine Award. Her 2021 book The Project won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Young Adult novel.

The shortlist was selected by a team of writers across Canada:

The winner will be announced on CBC Books on May 31, 2023.

Both winners will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends fresh boxes of books to young readers across Canada on a monthly basis. In addition, each of the winners' schools will receive 50 free YA books.

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