This post and its author have been in hiding for some time. I first posted this in March 2008 but started getting some web traffic from Brian's school with the search "Curse of Al Amin" and later on another search with an entire sentence in quotes. I subsequently saved it as draft, and it's been hidden since.
Why the searches from school? I know that Brian's Grade 4 teacher had passed his composition on to other teachers who then read it out to their respective classes. So I suspect that some teachers, probably including Brian's own, suspect that the composition or at least part of it was plagiarised.
At first, I was quite insulted. I mean, Brian had worked hard on it over an entire weekend, spending many hours thinking, typing and editing. When I half-teasingly told Brian that his teachers think so lowly of him that they thought he must have copied this story, he grinned and quickly cited the story of a famous author who as a child was caned by his teacher because his story was so good his teacher thought he must have copied it from somewhere.
Well anyway, this story is coming out of hiding. And I'm hoping the hidden author will too. Brian has been frustrated by his attempts at writing PSLE-style compositions and we've come to quite a number of bust-ups over this. I couldn't give any constructive criticism, I just knew a bad composition when I saw one. He'd get mad at me for only telling him how bad his attempts were, yet not showing him how to improve, except to say, this is not good, just practise more.
Luckily, Monica, whose P6 daughter writes so very well, looked through a few of his compositions and managed to point some very useful tips our way. He still has some way to go, but his writing speed has improved a little and he is putting more focus on the middle section of his compositions, usually his weakest. And an important tip we got from Monica is that a title is actually needed for each composition. We never knew that!
So thank you Monica from the bottom of our hearts. In the meantime, I'm hoping the hidden author in Brian emerges in time for PSLE.
May the Curse of Al Raiter's Blok be lifted!
Original post dated 31 March 2008.
Since leaving his British prep school last June, Brian has not come home with any sort of 'creative writing'. He's not one to write voluntarily either, something I have to accept is just him, ie read lots but don't write at all. Nothing wrong with that, according to Susan Wise Bauer (Thanks Hsien for the link, that'll stop me fretting for a month or so :)).
Still, I was glad to hear that he's been getting creative writing lessons this week in school. And on Friday, he came back with a writing assignment. The kids were asked to choose a picture to write a story about. Brian chose the picture above of a sleeping girl with an open book and tendrils on it.
I remembered Hsien's suggestion for him to type out his thoughts instead of write (he has some problems with fine motor skills)...and I think it worked. I helped him with paragraphing (if you left it to him, he'd have the whole story in one paragraph!) and some minor editing, but most of this was his work.
The Curse of Al Amin by B Leong
If you asked anyone in Cairo to describe the Al Amin Library, his or her first sentence would be, “It is the quietest and most peaceful place in all of Egypt!” For it was true. There was hardly a sound in the library at all. It was free from the hustle and bustle of the traders and market dealers outside. The Al Amin Library had an excellent reputation as one of the best libraries in the world. Until about two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, Mohammed Azerbah had borrowed a book about wild cats, written by Phee Lyne. Mohammed had fallen asleep while reading that same book, with the book left open. In the morning, Mohammed was found dead, with a huge orange Bengal tiger prowling around the house. Neighbors said that they had heard a disturbance at midnight.
The police thought that they had heard the last of it. They were wrong. On the day the victim was buried, a ghostly sound emanated from the grave of Mohammed. The sound echoed through the streets until it reached the Al Amin Library, then it went in. I know sounds don’t enter or exit, but that was the only way to describe this strange phenomenon.
That was not the end of it. Similar cases were popping up everywhere, the only difference being how the victims died. All the victims had borrowed their books from the Al Amin Library, left their book open when they slept. In all the cases the disturbance started exactly at midnight, the victim was always buried on the return date stamped on the book, and the ghostly sound always started at the end of the funeral and went into the library.
There's more than a thousand words so the story continues here.