Young Readers League 2018 Writing Contest

2nd place

Category 2 (ages 12-14)


Anni Guo

Age 12 (Grade 7), Blair Middle School

“Syria to Europe”


Two young refugees seek a safe haven.


“I’m scared. Where’s Mommy?” Nasir asked. “Shh! She’ll be right back.” Fatima, an eleven year old was near Damascus in an abandoned building with her little brother Nasir. Their mother Asrin had left them two days ago and she was still not back, which meant that she was most likely dead.

Fatima allowed herself a sigh. Now she was the most responsible one, though where could they go? Europe was said to be a safe haven for refugees right now, but how would they get there? Nasir wouldn’t be able to take it. ​It’s like being trapped between bad and worse.​ But they had to go.

“Okay, let’s move.” She stood up and gestured for Nasir to do the same.

“What about Mommy?”

“She, uhh,” ​oh no, how do I say this? ​“She found another place. Come on, she’s waiting!” Fatima didn’t say how long their mom would be waiting.

Several days later, close to the border of Lebanon, Nasir collapsed again. “Fati, I can’t.” He rolled over on his stomach and closed his eyes. Fatima sat down next to him, her breath ragged and legs burned. They were so close. A little more, and it’d be over.

As she was about to close her eyes, she heard a weird sound. When Fatima opened her eyes, she saw it.

A rescuer.

The red helicopter flew low, and on it was the symbol of a red cross.

This new land was Germany. A family had volunteered to adopt Fatima and Nasir, and they were starting school. The only words Fatima knew was ‘guten tag’ which means ‘good day’ and ‘danke’ for ‘thanks’. Even so, she’d definitely choose this instead of going back. She knew her mother would like it this way, too.

Thank you to our judges: McKenna Blackshire, Alaina Joby, Nick Smith

Click here to view a list of all our contest winners