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Recipe for Scotland's future;National Year of Reading competition;Winners;Amy Lineker;Alison Struthers;Douglas Newlands

Tartan, Nessie, Rabbie Burns and Charles Rennie Mackintosh - there's a familiarity about the images that inspired hundreds of young Scots who entered the National Year of Reading competition to celebrate the new Scottish Parliament. But there's a wit, and a freshness and modernity, about how they've been used by the six winners.

The overall winner, "How to Create a Great Country", by 11-year-old Amy Linekar of Miller Academy Primary, Thurso, was read out at yesterday's opening ceremony in front of the Queen. All the winners, aged six to 17 attended.

Their work and some of the best of the shortlisted entries will appear in a booklet to be published in the autumn. Today we publish three of the winning entries.

How to Create a Great Country

by Amy Linekar, age 11, Miller Academy Primary, Thurso

Winner of P6-7 category

So, you're a home baking expert,

and you want a challenge,

But you don't have the faintest idea what.

Well, here's a foolproof recipe; go ahead, try it!


several heroic battles,

some kilts of tartan fine,

a clearance's worth of emigration,

a thistle's worth of spike,

and a rebellion or two

Mix together with a spoon of fate and add:

Granny's best mince 'n' tatties,

comed beef hash or tattie soup,

Oor Willie's share of mischief

add a clove of Gaelic,

and a broad Scots tongue

Fold in gently:

an Edinburgh Festival, with all the trimmings,

a football match between the greens and blues,

a sleekit, courin, timorous beastie by Rabbie Burns,

and a life of design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Churn in on a production line:

a few millennia of fishing,

several thousand acres of farming,

a steel furnace full of shipbuilding,

and a fish supper with microchips

Leave to rise and mature,

and ice with a bright future of:

connections with the world,flourishing industries that embrace

green living,

high qualifications,

low unemployment,

and a fabulous new Scottish Parliament,

taste the wonderful, varied flavours and


You've made your first



by Alison Struthers, age 13, Hazlehead Academy, AberdeenWinner of S1-2 category

Not once upon a time, but sometime-in-the-future-upon a time, the Ministers of the Scottish Parliament decided that Scotland needed a national figurehead. But who could they find to represent the country?

"Whoever we choose must be famous," declared the First Minister.

"Whoever we choose must be impressive," declared the Second Minister.

"Whoever we choose must be trustworthy," declared the Third Minister.

"I think I have an idea," cried the First Minister, "although we might have a hard time persuading my choice to do it as she is known to be shy and retiring."

"Do we have an address for her?" asked the Second Minister.

"Oh yes," replied the First Minister, "I know where she stays, but that doesn't mean she'll answer when we call."

"Let's pay her a visit right now!" exclaimed the Third Minister.

So the ministers packed a picnic of haggis, neeps and a dram (just a wee one) and took the high road to try and persuade their chosen candidate to be the new Scottish figurehead. On the way they met a famous Scottish actor and told him about their quest.

"Choose me!" he said eagerly.

"That would never do," replied the Ministers, "because you're hardly ever on the scene." And so the actor walked away sadly.

Further along the road they met a famous Scottish politician and told him about their quest.

"Choose me!" he said eagerly.

"That would never do," replied the Ministers, "because you can't get your act together." And so the politician walked away sadly.

Even further along the road they met a famous Scottish footballer and told him about their quest.

"Choose me!" he said eagerly.

"That would never do," replied the Ministers, "because we don't share the same goals." And so the footballer walked away sadly.

Even further than further along the road they met a famous Scottish singer and told him about their quest.

"Choose me!" he said eagerly.

"That would never do,'' replied the Ministers, "because you'll never make it to No 1." And so the singer walked away sadly.

Even further than further along the road they met a famous Scottish comedian and told him about their quest.

"Choose me!" he said eagerly.

"That would never do," replied the Ministers, "because everyone would laugh." And so the comedian walked away sadly.

Near the very end of the road they met the ghost of Mary Queen of Scots and told her about their quest.

"Choose me!" she said eagerly.

"That would never do," replied the Ministers, "because although you are ideal for the job, unfortunately you're dead!" And so Mary Queen of Scots floated away sadly.

Finally the Ministers came to the place where their chosen candidate lived. There was no knocker, there was no bell, there was no door or window to rap, so they just shouted.

"Hello, hello, is anyone at home? We want you to be our new Scottish figurehead. We know you're a bit shy but you look so good, you've got such presence, people will sit up and take notice when you walk by. Camera crews from all over will come to your inauguration. The whole world will be talking about Scotland. Tourists will flock to see you."

There was silence.

"Please," pleaded the Ministers. "You'd be doing Scotland a big favour."

Suddenly a face appeared. The Ministers stepped back, awestruck. She really was a beauty. Those eyes, that neck!

"Well," she said hesitantly, "if you really think I'm right for the job."

"Yes, yes!" exclaimed the Ministers. "You're perfect. Everyone knows your name, you're clean living, old enough to know what's what and you've been resident in Scotland for a very long time. Say you'll help us!" "All right," she smiled, showing perfectly formed teeth. "I'd be honoured."

With that, she rose gracefully from the deep, dark waters of the loch, her green scales flashing in the sunlight.

"Thank you Nessie," said the Ministers. "Now, can we tempt you to some haggis and neeps?" My Scottish Parliament Diary 1999

by Douglas Newlands, age 6, Milngavie Primary, P1-3 winner

Wednesday 5th May

It's not fair! My friend Andrew is not going to school tomorrow because they need his school for voting. I wonder why nobody votes in my school.

Thursday 6th May

At breakfast I saw the news on the TV. It's a special day for Scotland. Mum and Dad told me they are going to vote for people to look after our country.

On the way to school I saw a funny car that had a big speaker on it. A man was shouting through the speaker. He told us to vote, but I'm not allowed to vote.

Friday 7th May

Breakfast time again! My big sister and I watched the TV. We saw lots of people having a party. They had won the big vote. I don't know what's going to happen now. My Uncle Andy says he'll need a passport to visit us as he lives in England. I think he was joking because my mum laughed. Anyway at least I've got something to say for "news" at school.

Saturday 8th May

I don't feel any different and nothing has changed. My football club is still on thankfully. Dad says I'm daft because the Scottish Parliament is not going to change things like football games. When we went for a walk this afternoon we saw posters nailed to trees, telling us to vote for people. They're too late, everyone's voted!

Sunday 9th May

At church Mr Ferguson, the Minister, said we should pray for our new leaders and our new Parliament because they've got a really hard job to do. They still haven't done anything yet.

Monday 10th May

At school today we had to write about the Queen coming to open the Parliament. I gave her a big smiley face and a crown. I guess that's why nothing has happened yet, because it's not going to open until the 1st of July.

Thursday 1st July

The Queen is going to open the Parliament today. It's been on the news at breakfast time. Maybe now something will happen. Better things for Scotland.

Other winners:P4-5 Caroline White, age 9,Doonfoot Primary, Ayr; S3-4 Jillian Owens, age 14 Bo'ness Academy, Bo'ness; S5-6 Craig Thomson, age 17 James Young High, Livingston Scotland Features H19 TESJjuly 2 1999 Ham Khan

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