Books·The First Page

Finding Home by Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson, 12, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 7 to 9 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2020 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category

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)

Finding Home by Anne Gibson is one of 10 stories shortlisted for The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 7 to 9 category.

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 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Gibson, 12, a home-schooled student from Bedford, N.S., writes about wildlife extinction.


Ashley gazed at the stars as her shuttle drifted through space. She looked back at the huge shimmering domes dotted across the dusty red landscape of Mars. Ashley's spine tingled as her shuttle soared away from the only home she'd ever known. It wasn't all bad, but Ashley just couldn't understand why barely anyone noticed (let alone minded) that sometimes the simulated oxygen tasted like her doctor's office, or that the orange trees in her family's greenhouse looked exactly alike.

"Which is why no one would ever understand that I have to go to Earth," Ashley muttered to herself.

"Ashley, look!" said the translator that was strapped to her pet chinchilla Doritto's collar. Doritto scampered down to the shuttle's control board and put her tiny paws against the window.

There it was, Earth. It was covered in the most beautiful swirls of white, blue and... brown? Her Granma had told her how beautiful and green the Earth was, then again, her Granma wasn't exactly known for having the best memory in their dome.

As she brought her ship closer to the planet that humans used to live on she saw the ruins of a city with tall buildings that looked like in their day were silver and glistening, but now were only piles of rusty grey.

As Ashley got closer to the great planet she noticed how revolting all of the mountains of trash really were, but she also noticed the trees, beautiful tall green plants each one different from the other. Trees and garbage weren't the only things there though, and as she brought her ship closer to the planet that humans used to live on she saw the ruins of a city with tall buildings that looked like in their day were silver and glistening, but now were only piles of rusty grey. 

She scanned the strange planet for a place to land, and decided on a place with quite a few trees. She headed to one of the small ship's rooms and changed into a sleek suit to keep out any dangerous gases.

Ashely headed back to the main room, and she noticed something coming from the landscape below. A thin grey streak of smoke was making its way through the tops of the trees, and that could only mean one thing. Ashley was not alone.
 


About The First Page student writing challenge

David A. Robertson is a Governor General's Literary Award-winning author and judge of the 2020 First Page student writing challenge. (Amber Green)

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2170. 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 award-winning author David A. Robertson

Robertson is a Cree writer from Winnipeg who writes books for readers of all ages — including the Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book, When We Were Alone and the Reckoner Rises graphic novel series.

The winner will be announced on CBC Books on April 16, 2021.

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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