The First Page student writing challenge: Past winners and finalists
The First Page is a national writing competition for Grades 7 to 12 students in Canada. The competition has been running on an annual basis since 2017.
Students are invited to write the first page of a novel, imagining how present-day issues and trends — from climate change to cryptocurrency — have played out 150 years in the future.
Over 2,000 students enter the prize each year, from which a shortlist is selected in each of the two categories: Grades 7 to 9 and Grades 10-12.
Past judges include YA writers Erin Bow, Cherie Dimaline, Kelley Armstrong, David A. Robertson and Sarah Raughley.
Any questions? Email email@example.com and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Below, find an archive of all the winners and finalists since 2017.
2022: Grades 7 to 9 category
Winner: Fugees by Joshua Zhuang, 15, from Toronto.
"This in media res beginning explodes with tension from the first word, drawing the reader in immediately. We're introduced to characters and their dilemma from the start. With only a few words, the author not only strongly conveys the conflict but also adeptly builds an emotional connection between the characters and readers, forcing us into the characters' shoes as we attempt an escape along with them," said the prize judge Sarah Raughley.
"Most importantly, while the escape attempt does not go as planned, we're left knowing that the plot is far from over. This is a story that forces us to think critically about immigration and displacement. Who does Canada's dominant society consider to be 'Canadian' and worthy of the full gamut of rights as citizens? And who do we criminalize as 'Other'?"
- The Lost Boy of Niihau by Jasjeet Bacheer, 13, from Milton, Ont.
- Farmed by Glen Chen, 14, from Thornhill, Ont.
- Death of a Tree by Denise Howatt, 13, from Manitou, Man.
- A Postcard from the Past by Esmé La Lusis, 13, from Toronto
- Filtered by Ashley Levine, 14, from Whitby, Ont.
- Life After the End by Ashley Levine, 14, from Whitby, Ont.
- The Collector by Ashley Levine, 14, from Whitby, Ont.
- My Fault by Ariadni Lianidaki, 15, from Brossard, Que.
- The Concluder's Apprentice by Esmé Mac, 13, from Vancouver
- Grayscale by Anna Pan, 14, from Richmond Hill, Ont.
- Engineer 294 by Anna Ryde, 14, from Toronto
- Embers by Tracy Wang, 15, from Vancouver
2022: Grades 10 to 12 category
Winner: Still Water by Victor Li, 15, from Mississauga, Ont.
"With clear and clean writing, the author introduces us to the beginnings of a coming-of-age story in a world that's suffered an environmental collapse," said the prize judge Sarah Raughley.
"Evocative language and smart dialogue paint a picture of the cost of climate change on our planet's sources of water. Once luscious lakes have been transformed into toxic landfills. The innocence of the protagonists' voices, still young as they wonder if fish that eat garbage is edible, drives home the price children will pay for the older generation's mistakes. With poetic flare, the author leaves the door open for a much larger story of self-discovery."
- Milk by Lillian Snell, 17, from Toronto
- Bottom Feeders by Victor Li, 15, from Mississauga, Ont.
- An Arm And A Leg by Mya Metivier, 16, from Charlottetown
- Reminder: You Are Dreaming by Mira Peregud, 18, from Vancouver
- Solastalgia by Sofiyah Shariff, 16, from Edmonton
- The Deciding by Linden Shi, 14, from Vancouver
- Tegenaria Incorporated by Amelie Snowdon, 16, from Edmonton
- Red-Brick by Jack Trott-McDermott, 15, from London, Ont.
- Survival of the Efficient by Asher Vanden Enden, 17, from Toronto
- A Modern Failing Romance by Vivian Zhi, 17, from Markham, Ont.
2020: Grades 7 to 9 category
Winner: Pollinator by Sophie McGowan, 12, from Burnaby, B.C.
"I love it when a simple concept has such complexity underneath the surface. Pollinator is at once evocative, poetic, and succinct. And thematically and structurally, this story took a different approach that was ironic, and meaningful," said the prize judge David A. Robertson.
"I loved the whimsical tone and how rich the imagery was; contrasting a smear of yellow pollen against the black stripes down the drones' centres was particularly effective."
- The Earth Odyssey by Enya Fang, 13, from Surrey, B.C.
- Finding Home by Anne Gibson, 12, from Bedford, N.S.
- The Son Leaves in November by Sasha de Leon, 14, from Winnipeg
- The Tainted Land by Annabel Li, 14, from North Vancouver
- In the Storm by Hao Lun Li, 13, Coquitlam, B.C.
- Les Avions en Papier by Irisa Rao, 13, from Victoria B.C.
- Last Soul on Earth by Madison Schettler, 14, from Winnipeg
- Timeless by Sherry Xiong, 13, from Surrey, B.C.
- Interdependent by Katie Yu, 14, from Iqaluit
2020: Grades 10 to 12 category
Winner: Chasing 1% by Caris Simmons, 17, from Calgary
"In writing, timeliness is important, but difficult to catch. Chasing 1% is a sophisticated meditation on the division of class through a literal separation; one class above, the other below," said prize judge David A. Robertson.
"But as with any good story, it goes deeper than that, addressing, as well, a division of age, starkly contrasting not just the "haves and have nots" but the entitlement of one generation against the 'grit' of another."
- A Weeping Warrior by Nida Almas, 17, from Windsor, Ont.
- Lobster by Samuel Budge, 15, from Ottawa
- Mission Genesis by Clayton Burrows, 17, from Sechelt, B.C.
- Happy Rebirthday by Jessie Chen, 16 from Toronto
- Destination Simulation by Jasmine Farah, 16, from Bowen Island, B.C.
- Everything We Want by Natalia Koss, 16, from Vancouver, B.C.
- Goodbye April Rowan by Enya Law, 15, from Toronto
- Above the Orange River by Cole Petersen, 18, from North Vancouver
- My Future for Our Future by Saadia Saqib, 16, from Winnipeg
2019: Grades 7 to 9 category
Winner: No Choice by Juliana Narváez Gutierrez, 14, from Greenfield Park, Que.
"Genre fiction has a tradition of the slow burn, where a seemingly everyday scene takes on greater and more unsettling weight as it progresses, culminating in a final, chilling twist. Science fiction also pushes us to look at ideas and issues we may not have considered before," said prize judge Kelley Armstrong.
"No Choice accomplishes both of those, the impact made even more effective by its deceptively cheerful narrative voice."
- Children of Nine by Cheyenne Gawley, 14, from West Kelowna, B.C.
- The Lizard King by Rhiannon Krauthaker, 14, from Winnipeg
- City of Masks by Annabel Li, 13, from North Vancouver, B.C.
- The First by Victor Li, 13, from Mississauga, Ont.
- The Shadow of the Green by Sebastian Romero, 12, from Calgary
- The Eye by Adam Schneider, 14, from Calgary
- Breathe by Sapphira Skuter, 13, from Victoria
- Reasonable Paranoia by Ava Swanson, 14, from Prince George, B.C.
- The Thing in the Cacti by Leyao Xiao, 14, from Toronto
2019: Grades 10 to 12 category
Winner: Below Zero, Above Thirty-Two by Leonardo Mete, 15, from Kamloops, B.C.
"The best issue-driven science fiction approaches those issues obliquely, laying them out for the reader to experience and interpret," said prize judge Kelley Armstrong.
"Below Zero, Above Thirty-Two does that with a very well-written and evocative scene that reserves its final punch for the ending."
- Happiless by Lilith Brodt, 15, from Coquitlam, B.C.
- Rebellion by Alex Chen, 14, from Vancouver
- Shelf Life by Sobin Lim, 17, from Coquitlam, B.C.
- Blue Age by Lily Liu, 17, from Toronto
- Press esc. to Exit by Anjali Rao, 17, from Aurora, Ont.
- Biodome E231 by Schuyler Siewe, 16, from Calgary
- Freedom of Tears by Lizzie Slogotski, 15, from Victoria
- Running to Mars by Sumayya Taher, 14, from Edmonton
- ERROR LOV3 by Victoria Thacker, 17, from Ottawa
2018: Grades 7 to 9 category
Winner: Taxidermied by Stella Xia, 13, from Mississauga, Ont.
"This first page shows a gift for metaphor and vivid description," said prize judge Cherie Dimaline.
"We are brought into a world where the last tree was carved into a grave and the youth share their disappointment with robots. I was moved by the development of scene and structure and am eager to see what this young writer will create now."
- Sandstorm by Aniruddh Aragola, 14, from Winnipeg, Man.
- Evolved by Jessica Bosanac, 13, from North York, Ont.
- Cat and Mouse by Jacob Czypull, 14, from Calgary, Alta.
- Focus by Evangeline Dorval,14, from Calgary, Alta.
- What I Left Behind by Owen Fitzpatrick, 11, from Ottawa, Ont.
- Through my robotic eyes by Lucie Koesen, 14, from Toronto, Ont.
- The Floating City by Bonnie Lu, 14, from Victoria, B.C.
- Teleportation Gone Wrong by Jialin Luo, 12, from Kingston, Ont.
- Neptune by Manuel Quiambao, 15, from Mississauga, Ont.
2018: Grades 10 to 12 category
Winner: Greater Than Or Equal To by Peter Ola Paul, 16, from Winnipeg, Man.
"This entry is cinematic is scope," said prize judge Cherie Dimaline.
"With just a few lines and compelling narrative dialogue, the author lures you into a world that is as immediate and visceral as it is unique. It's quite an accomplishment to bring readers this far in with so few words. I want to know what happens next!"
- The Turn of a New Leaf by Lukas Coossa, 15, from Bolton, Ont.
- UnderCity by Foxx Gilberds, 17, from Whitehorse, Yukon
- Gnarled Glitches by Yulin Harley, 15, from Winnipeg, Man.
- Tagged by Aminah Khan, 16, from Windsor, Ont.
- Life Hack by Kyra Leroux, 16, from Coquitlam, B.C.
- The Only Difference by Katelyn Snell, 17, from Richmond, B.C.
- The Incendiary Division by Carter Tsui, 16, from Coquitlam, B.C.
- Fly Fledgling Fly by Benjamin Wexler, 16, from Montreal, Que.
- Hello, My Name Is___ by Alison Wong, 17, from Winnipeg, Man.
2017: Grades 7 to 9 category
Winner: Nameless by Sari Warshawsky, 13, from Montreal, Que.
"Nameless works on its own terms, but it also could be read as a sharp critique of the omnipresent world of social media that envelopes today's young people. It made my heart ache for today's kids, and it made me think," said prize judge Erin Bow.
- Post-War Privation by Zoya Anwar from Regina, Sask.
- The Test for Humanity by Henna Cho from Calgary, Alta.
- Count Down by Teaghan Fetherstonhaugh from Calgary Alta.
- Love Forgotten by Ganga Kandanchatha from Oakville, Ont.
- Subjects by Alexa Loo from White Rock, B.C.
- Underground Artist by Henry Nguyen from Vancouver, B.C.
- Finding Out Who I Am by Mikaylah Ramos from Winnipeg, Man.
- Planet X by Schuyler Siewe from Calgary, Alta.
- Trapped by Ethan Zheng from Guelph, Ont.
2017: Grades 10 to 12 category
Winner: The Greater Good by Abby Robitaille from Oakville, Ont.
"I picked The Greater Good because it's just so much fun. If you read teen fiction, you've seen it before: the crowd of nervous teens waiting for some terrible trial or competition to begin. But here, it gradually emerges that the kids are waiting to see who is going to be picked as an apprentice to the evil dictator," said prize judge Erin Bow.
- Canada 300 by Anik Babul from Richmond Hill, Ont.
- Data Wars by Trent Baker from Summerside, P.E.I.
- The Galaxy Rover by Elessia Cantara from Montreal, Que.
- Slowly by Emma Cole from St. John's, N.L.
- Fuel to the Fire by Oghenetega Eriavbe from Calgary, Alta.
- The Girl Who Stole the Light by Kyla Kijewski from Whitehorse, Yukon
- Willingly Immured by Melissa McAllister from Brossard, Que.
- The Churchill Hotel by Nicholas Onorato from Toronto, Ont.
- Where the Water Runs Red by Claire Trotter from Mississauga, Ont.