Pilgrim Artists Festival - 2021 Youth Literary Finalists

For our 2021 Pilgrim Artists Festival, we've invited literary submissions of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in three age brackets: adult (18+), teen (13-17), and child (12 and under).

Below you'll find the winners, finalists, and runners up in the child and teen age brackets. You can read the adult entries here.

Writers for this year's festival had a maximum of 500 words to explore our 2021 festival theme of The Lord's Prayer. They were encouraged to reflect from a Christian perspective on one or more lines from the prayer. Then, all entries were judged anonymously by an independent team of literary curators. That is, the curators had no idea whose work they were evaluating. The curators then chose three finalists from a competitive field in each category at each age level for you, the public, to vote on in person at the festival.

Teens (13-17) were eligible for the $50 Pilgrim Artists Prize and children (12 and under) were eligible for a $20 Suzannah Rowntree Prize in each category.


Child (12 and under) Winner

We're Going on a God Hunt

By Layla Imms

We're going on a God hunt.
We're going to find the Holy one!
What a beautiful day.
We're not scared.

Uh-oh! Temptation!
Big bad temptation!
We can't give in to it.
We can't trust satan.

I know!
We need God!


We're going on a God hunt.
We're going to find the Holy one!
What a beautiful day.
We're not scared.

Uh-oh! A grudge!
A deep cold grudge!
We can't hold on to it.
We can't just ignore it.

I know!
We need God!

I forgive you!
I forgive you!
I forgive you!

We're going on a God hunt.
We're going to find the Holy one!
What a beautiful day.
We're not scared.

Uh-oh! Envy!
Thick oozy envy!
I want what he's got!
I want what she's got!

I know!
We need God!

Content and grateful!
Content and grateful!
Content and grateful!

We're going on a God hunt.
We're going to find the Holy one!
What a beautiful day.
We're not scared.

Uh-oh! Greed!
Big dark greed!
We can't just have more.
But I really want more.

I know!
We need God!


We're going on a God hunt.
We're going to find the Holy one!
What a beautiful day.
We're not scared.

Uh-oh! An idol!
An impressive gold idol.
We can't go and follow it.
But it is kinda cool.

I know!
We need God!

Turn back!
Turn back!
Turn back!

We're going on a God hunt.
We're going to find the Holy one!
What a beautiful day.
We're not scared.

Uh-oh! Pride!
High and mighty pride.
I know I'm so amazing.
Being humble is boring.

I know!
We need God!


We're going on a God hunt.
We're going to find the Holy one!
What a beautiful day.
We're not scared.

Uh-oh! A valley of darkness!
A narrow gloomy valley.
We can't go over it.
We can't go under it.

I know!
We've got to go through it!



One big powerful being.
One holy presence
One all-powerful creator

If you see him you will surely die!

Quick! God help me back through the valley! Tiptoe! Tiptoe! Tiptoe!

God help me with pride! Humility! Humility! Humility!

God keep me away from idols! Turn back! Turn back! Turn back!

God help me with greed! Generosity! Generosity! Generosity!

God help me with envy! Content and grateful! Content and grateful!

God help me with grudges! Forgiveness! Forgiveness! Forgiveness!

God help me resist temptation! Resist! Resist! Resist!

Get to our front door.
Open the door.
Up the stairs.

Oh no!
Satan's coming!
Back downstairs.

Shut the door.
Back upstairs.
Into the bedroom.

Open the bible.
Pray to God.

I'm glad I went on a God hunt.

Children (12 and under) are eligible for the $20 Suzannah Rowntree Prize in each category.

Child (12 and under) Finalists (Fiction)

Daily Bread

By Lydia Reed

Based on Exodus 16:1-21

Eliana tramped on the dry earth in the Desert of Sinai. She gripped her little sister Naomi's sweaty hand as best as she could. Father and her older brother Jacob were in front of her carrying Mother, who had passed out from the heat. Mother had told Eliana that having a baby inside her made her feel much hotter than she normally would, and sick to her stomach sometimes. Eliana didn't know if she wanted to have a baby if that's what it did to her. But Mother had said that she didn't mind about the sickness because the baby was a gift from God, and she already loved it. Eliana prayed silently for her mother and the baby and the rest of her family. She prayed that God would deliver them from this famine just as he had delivered them from the Egyptians.

A few days later, the Israelites had still not found anything to eat and had started to complain to Moses. They had been walking all day, and Eliana hoped they would soon stop. She thought she could not walk even another step, and she felt hungrier than she could ever remember feeling, as well as hotter than she had ever been in her life. She could feel Naomi's hot and sweaty palm grasping her own. But still, they trudged on. 

Suddenly Naomi's hand slipped out of Eliana's. Naomi had collapsed on the ground and started to sob. Eliana knelt down and cradled Naomi in her arms. 

"I don't want to walk anymore," Naomi sobbed. "I want to go back home, where Mother is well and we don't have to walk and I'm not hungry anymore. I want to go back home, Eliana; I don't want to walk anymore." 

Eliana didn't know what to say. What Naomi had said was exactly what Eliana had been thinking herself. Sure, it had been hard working for the Egyptians as slaves, but at least they had food to eat and water to drink. She could hear everyone else grumbling all around her. She was sure they were thinking the same thing she was. 

"If God was really with them, why was everyone so miserable?" she thought disconsolately.

In response to the complaints, Moses and Aaron made a speech explaining that God had said that they would soon have food delivered by him. And so it was that that very evening, large numbers of quail flew in and covered every inch of the camp. And then the next morning the camp was covered in a flaky substance, and Eliana could not identify what it was. Moses said that it was food the Lord had sent, but that they must gather exactly what their household needed and they must not keep any of it until morning.

Eliana gathered what her family needed that night. Her family trusted God and did not gather any more. So, every day, as it was, they collected their daily bread.


The Legend of the Bells

By Roman van Ryn

Once there was a town of people who loved the Lord. Every day they would get together to cook meals, play and chat but most importantly they praised God. One day a loud rumbling noise could be heard. All of a sudden the ground burst up from underneath and out rose a mob of angry Mineral Monsters. They were covered in diamonds, rubies and emeralds stolen from mining villages.

The Mineral Monsters started terrorizing the town. Everyone was forced to give up all the shiny things they had; jewelry, cutlery and even the glass out of their windows. Nothing shiny was safe. Many people hid in fear of the horrid Mineral Monsters. Once these ruthless creatures had stolen all the shiny objects in the town they set up camp in the people's barn-like homes.

One stormy day a man called Anthony ventured into the streets hoping to get away. A Mineral Monster saw his sparkly eyes and teeth shining in the dark, and ran towards him. Anthony dashed back to his home and told his wife Natasha what had happened. She knew that the Mineral Monsters would want them next.

Natasha and Anthony gathered friends, family and neighbours.

"I say we ring the Bell of Help," said Natasha.

"No that won't work, that's just an old myth," said one of the neighbours.

"Well, what harm will it do if we ring the bell?" said Anthony.

At last it was settled that they would barricade themselves in the bell tower and ring the bell in the morning. It was a warm night, though no one could sleep for cries of pain echoed around the town. They were scared.

Finally, daylight streamed in through the windows and Natasha and Anthony climbed the stairs of the bell tower. At 8:37am the Bell of Help rang out across the countryside. Almost instantly a blazing light shone down on the town. Within the light was a knight called The Deliverer, descending from heaven to earth. The knight wore the Armour of God. When he landed in the town square people stared in amazement. Everyone was shocked and whispered amongst themselves.

"The legend of the bells is true," said the people.

The Mineral Monsters had seen the bright light shining down and they wanted it for themselves. When they got to the light they found themselves face to face with The Deliverer. The Mineral Monsters glared, half scared, half angry.
"Come at me!" said the Deliverer.

But the monsters were dazed by the light and couldn't move. The Deliverer tapped each monster on the head with his golden Sword of the Spirit and instantly all their jewels poured off their rocky skin onto the ground. The people shouted, "Glory to God!"

With all their sparkly jewels gone, the Mineral Monsters began shrinking until they were dull grey pebbles at the people's feet.

The people gathered up all the jewels and from that day on the town flourished under the guidance of the Holy Trinity.

Child (12 and under) Runners Up (Fiction)

The Kingdom is Now

By Evelyn Baehr

We were peeling potatoes when the bell rang. 

"Better go get that tray before he gets angry," Nelly said as she brushed back a wisp of blond hair. I ran up the stairs as I wiped my hands on my apron, my brown hands. Why did God give me dark skin?

I tapped my knuckle on the door. I could hear shouting in the room. A man hurried out the door past me. Then I saw someone hurl a newspaper at the wall near the door. It must be the master, I thought. I walked in, picking up the empty breakfast tray. As I walked towards the door, a spoon fell off the tray. I bent to get it. And then I saw the newspaper. At the top of the page it said "a Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America."

But a bit of the article stood out to me: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness." 

All men, all men, all men.

Maybe one day my children or my children's children would be free, free as the white men and women.

My head was going dizzy. I picked up the spoon and walked out of the door.

Rose and the Journey to Heaven

By Josie Imms

Once upon a time a little girl named Rose was VERY scared of dying. One day, Rose was standing in her bedroom when a small fairy appeared right in front of her!!! Rose got so surprised she nearly fainted!!! The fairy said "Hello, I am Tilly the time-traveling fairy. I can make you time travel." Rose got VERY excited. She was about to ask whether she could travel back to when there were princesses stuck in towers, knights riding on horses and dragons attacking, when Tilly said "but only if I choose where you go." This made Rose sad. But somehow she felt she could trust Tilly, and agreed to go. She asked "where are we going to go?". Tilly said "it's a secret". Rose didn't like the sound of that!!! Tilly had a GIGANTIC grin on her face. This is the first time she had let anyone time travel.

A time machine appeared right in front of Rose. It was about as tall as her Dad with her baby sister standing on his shoulders. It was shiny silver, and had tubes going everywhere. Tilly said "get in and pull on the chain". Tilly said "now, press the button that says 'time travel'. But first, you have to open the doors to let me in as well by pressing the 'open' button". Tilly flew in. Then the doors closed automatically. Then Tilly told Rose to press the 'time travel' button. Suddenly, Rose realised she wasn't on Earth any more. She was in a very new place that she hadn't seen before. It was a bit like Earth, but there were no houses. People were walking around looking very happy. 

Then she saw her great, great, great grandparents sitting down having a cup of tea. 

She saw piles of food everywhere, and people taking what they wanted. There was bread, biscuits, fruit, rice, vegetables and chocolate. There was water, orange juice, apple juice, and cherry juice. 

Then she saw Jesus.

She saw Noah and his ark.

She saw Moses. 

She saw Adam and Eve.

She even saw king David.

She realised this MUST be heaven. She knew that if she believed in Jesus she would come here when she died. Rose asked "why did you choose for us to go to heaven?" 

Tilly said "I can read people's minds and I chose heaven so that you wouldn't be scared of dying anymore." Tilly said "it is time to go home." Rose and Tilly went back into the time machine, and Tilly told Rose to press the 'home' button.

She landed with a big bump, opened the door, and saw that she was back in her room. She heard her Mum say "dinner time, honey." 

Rose said "Thank you for making me not scared of dying any more. Do you think we'll ever see each other again?" Tilly said "definitely!!!"

Rose walked down the hallway, and ate rice with curry for dinner. She told her parents all about her adventure. 

Surprising Provision

By Heidi Koens

Once there lived a boy named Sam. All he liked to do was play video games. He lived with his grandma. Grandma loved to garden, but Sam did not. One day Sam was helping grandma garden. "Why do you garden when you could play video games?" He asked her. "Because," she replied "I get to see all of the amazing things that God has provided for us. Carrots, lettuce, cucumber." Sam shrugged. 

A few weeks later Sam noticed Grandma spending more time in the garden. He also noticed she was sighing more often. 

One day that week Sam came outside. To his surprise, the garden was all dead. "Oh yay!" Sam explained "Now you can play video games with me!" Grandma frowned. Sam looked around, and to his horror, he saw that all the grass was brown. "Sam, we're in a drought." Sam said nothing."We will have to go town to buy more food." 

On the way, they stopped for a rest. Suddenly a giant bird swooped down and picked Sam up! "No!!" Sam screamed. Grandma didn't notice, since she was asleep. At first Sam was really scared, but after about five minutes he felt more relaxed, and soon fell asleep. After a while, Sam woke up in the town and there were some people crowding around him. He stood up. A girl said "My name is Emily, who are you?"

"I'm Sam," replied Sam. "I'm looking for my Grandma."

"We'll start looking in the West Rattlesnake," Emily said. "It's where newcomers pass through to get to the town."

They headed west. Just as they came near the West Rattlesnake they heard talking. They kept walking, curious to find out who was talking. As they approached they saw construction workers and barriers. "Is that always there?" Sam asked. Emily shook her head, confused. To both the children's surprise, there was a ginormous hole in the ground! Sam suddenly felt very worried. "What's going on?" Emily asked a workman.

"A sinkhole opened up," explained the workman.

"D-d-did anyone f-fall in?" Sam stuttered. "No, or at least not that we know of." Sam didn't respond. They waited for about 7 hours. Grandma didn't appear. Sam was sad. 

One day while Sam was living with Emily, they saw something in the sky. The thing swooped down. And on top of the giant bird was grandma! Sam was so happy. They soon moved back to their old house. They were happy. But one day, Emily sent word to Sam and grandma that her mother had died. They cried with her and invited her to stay with them. She did. And when she had settled in she said, 

"Have you ever thought about how God provides for our needs so much, when you two needed food you got some. God provided Bob (the giant bird) to protect you from the sinkhole, and he made you to take care of me when my mother died." 

"You're right!" Sam and grandma said. And then they lived happily.


Child (12 and under) Winner

Hallowed Be Your Name

By Margaret Baehr

The rooster, with a tiny glimpse of light, at the break of dawn, will start singing. He glorifies God with all his might, bursting out into beautiful song, though the sound is just a crow to us. 

It's like with Mary, when she says, 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.' Even with no miracle to show her, with just the angel coming and telling her that she's going to have a baby, she believes it's the son of God. And she glorifies Him. Though like the rooster, she's hardly even noticed by other people. She's just thought of as lowly. 

We should have more trust like the rooster and Mary. Even with hardly any signs, they trust Him and glorify Him with all they've got. We don't have to be rich or have a beautiful voice, we can still glorify him with what He gave us.

Child (12 and under) Finalist (Non-fiction)

Your Kingdom Come

By Liliana Baehr

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever." - Revelation 11:15 

First there was no heaven, and then God created heaven. He brought all of his people from death to life through Jesus. He brought us into his Kingdom.

I love the picture in Isaiah where it talks about all the animals lying together without hurting each other, and the baby sticking his hand in the cobra's nest. It's extremely beautiful. 

Since God is our King, he sits on a throne. I always imagine that the throne is made out of vines and leaves and nature because God loves animals and he loves us and he loves everything he has made.

At first we were wrong, but God turned us around and gave us another chance. A chance to be in his Kingdom. 

In the Bible it says that Jesus will come back and finish what he started. We'll all be judged and the people who believe in him will go to be with him. I imagine that when he makes the new earth, the animals won't be afraid of us and we can feed the birds by hand.


Child (12 and under) Winner

My Father

By Adelaide van Ryn

My Father,

You are a bright light so I can see.
You are a tight cuddle.
You are the brightening of a flower.
You are a puppy's kiss.
You are a home full of memories.
You are a calm sea.

Child (12 and under) Finalists (Poetry)

Come to God

By Elsa Imms

Oh no, the evil one!
He who is cold and dark has come.
He makes us sin (he thinks it's fun).
So come to God, come, come, come.

Prayer: A Haiku

By Elsa Imms

This is why we pray.
To talk to our true father.
Ask him to clean us.

Child (12 and under) Runners Up (Poetry)


By Rachel Davis

Forgiving is good. It's something we should do.
God forgives because He loves you.
When you get forgiven, you feel happy and warm.
Some people won't forgive when they are in an anger storm.
When people aren't forgiven, it makes them feel sad.
Not forgiving is very, very bad.
Forgiveness makes us happy. It knows no end.
Forgiveness will always and forever be our friend.

Mean to Clean

By Elsa Imms

There was a young girl from Babel.
Who was bad till she went to chapel.
She was rough and mean,
Till god washed her clean.
And she there every Sunday did travel.

The Olive Garden

By Abi Prins

On the breeze gently swaying
Leaning slightly
In the garden Jesus prayed
Very sad
Even to death he still obeyed.

God's will be done
A scary moment
Really troubled
Did it for us
Everlasting forgiveness
Name is honoured.

Teen - Fiction + Non-fiction

Teen (13-17) Winners

Unlike our child and adult brackets, we had a very limited number of young adult entries this year. Our curators selected one finalist in fiction and one finalist in non-fiction. We congratulate Laura and Emma on winning the $50 Pilgrim Artists Prize in their categories. And we encourage all our young adult writers to enter next year's festival.


Give us this Day our Daily Bread

By Laura Durdin

"Give us this day our daily bread."

Have you ever really thought about what this sentence means? What it means to ask God to provide your daily bread, to make your daily bread? 

In Jesus' time, preparing the daily meals was one of the main jobs of the day, probably the one that took the longest. In those days, you couldn't just warm up some baked beans or make up a few packets of noodles! Making food took time. For example, consider how much time and effort it takes to make bread if you don't use an electric mixer or bread machine. You have to mix the dough, knead the dough, let it rise, knead it again, shape it, possibly let it rise again, then bake it. Add to this grinding the flour and cooking it over an open fire, or in a primitive oven instead of a modern oven, and you get an idea of what cooking was like at the time. Of course, they probably made unleavened flatbreads more often than risen bread, and probably did not wait for things to rise as much, but rising time is much the easiest part of making bread. 

I am talking specifically about bread, because, though "daily bread" refers to everyday food, not necessarily bread, the fact that the word "bread" is used is significant, showing the importance of bread as a staple food. The Bible makes many references to bread. Consider the unleavened bread the Israelites ate at the Passover, Manna, the "bread from Heaven", the sacred bread in the temple. Bread is represented as a sustainer of life, and God provides it. The widow Elijah stayed with had only a handful of flour and a little oil, yet she did not run short of bread until the famine ended. God always provides enough, and sometimes he provides more than enough. When Jesus was preaching, and over 5,000 people were hungry, God fed them with five small loaves of bread and two fishes, and there were twelve large baskets of food left over. Can you imagine? Twelve baskets! God also gave us the most important bread of all; Jesus, the "bread of life".

In normal speech we use expressions with bread as a focal point too. The prisoner is fed bread and water(bread as a sustainer of life), we break bread with others ("bread" representing all food), and, in another phrase from the Bible, we are warned that we "cannot live on bread alone" (advice about a balanced diet, and also advice about more important things). 

Putting all the things we have discussed together, we can now come back to my original question. When we ask God to give us our daily bread, we are asking him to take on the work of providing, possibly even preparing our daily meals, giving us enough for each day. In doing this, we are also acknowledging God's control of all the circumstances related to providing the food.


Her Brother's Favourite Prayer

By Emma Warwick

Cold, bitter wind blew into Hazel's face. Her nose, red from the cold, peeped out from under her hood. The snow seeped in through the soles of her well worn shoes, soaking her. 

Thoughts of her family kept the teen girl pushing through the deep snow drifts. Two younger siblings, cramped under a thin blanket, desperate to keep warm. Her twin brother, Simon, struggled to bring in enough wood to keep the little wood heater going. He was forced to scrounge through the nearby lumberyard in search of wood. It was just enough to keep them warm. 

This winter had been the coldest and hardest for Hazel's family. A case of scarlet fever had taken her parents, and eldest brother, William. 

Now, Hazel and Simon shouldered the responsibilities of caring for their younger siblings, Kate and Charlie. Their parents had left them with nothing. 

Clutched in Hazel's frozen hand was their last hope. A few items of her parents' clothing - a dress, a coat, and a pair of overalls. Hazel hoped they would sell, and that she might make enough to buy some flour and oil, so at least she'd have some warm bread for her siblings. 

As she pushed on through the snow, her skirt sticking to her legs, Hazel began to fear. What if she didn't make it? What if something happened to the rest of her family? Hazel shook herself, trying to shove away the unhelpful thoughts.

You aren't going to make it. . . .

You might as well give up now - just go home. . . .

Hazel forced these thoughts away, remembering what her older brother always used to tell her, before he fell ill. She began to pray aloud, the prayer her brother had always prayed, every morning and night, no matter what. 

"Our Father," the girl started, her voice soft, "Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

As she continued, hope filled her. She knew she was going to be alright, as was her family. God was with them, through everything. 

"Give us this day our daily bread . . ." Whatever they needed, God would provide them. 

". . . and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." Sometimes, things were tough, and she wasn't always the best sister she could be, but God would always forgive her. 

"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one . . ." God would not let her be distracted by the evil things around her. He would keep her safe in His arms. 

"For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever amen." 

God was completely in control, and the knowledge of that made Hazel feel warm inside. Everything was going to be okay, as long as she believed in Him. A smile on her face, Hazel pushed on, remembering her brother's favourite prayer.

Special Thanks

We are so very grateful to Suzannah Rowntree for sponsoring our child literary prizes. The teen literary prizes were sponsored by us at Pilgrim Artists.

All works on this page are copyright their original authors. The Pilgrim Hill Association Inc has been granted a permanent but non-exclusive right to publish these works. We hope you enjoy them.