National newspaper cartoonist Chris Riddell to illustrate secret page of this year's Ely 501 book

Political cartoonist Chris Riddell (pictured) has offered to illustrate one of the stories in Ely�s 501 book. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Archive/PA Images

Political cartoonist Chris Riddell (pictured) has offered to illustrate one of the stories in Ely�s 501 book. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Archive/PA Images

Lauren Hurley/PA Archive/PA Images

The Observer's political cartoonist and top children's illustrator Chris Riddell has offered to design the secret page 49 of this year's Ely 501 book.

Political cartoonist Chris Riddell (pictured) has offered to illustrate one of the stories in Ely’s 501 book. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Archive/PA ImagesPolitical cartoonist Chris Riddell (pictured) has offered to illustrate one of the stories in Ely’s 501 book. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Archive/PA Images

The Ely 501 is a competition put to children in the area aged between six and 14, giving them the task of telling their most gripping and imaginative stories all under 501 words.

David Learner of Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe Ely, who co-organises the competition, originally approached Chris Riddell for a comment about the 501 book.

To his surprise Chris “offered out of the blue” to illustrate the extra page in this year’s book; David said he “had to catch his breath”.

The 49th page will feature an extra story written by an author who was 12-years-old at the time.

Political cartoonist Chris Riddell has offered to illustrate one of the stories in Ely’s 501 book. Cover by: Will SedgwickPolitical cartoonist Chris Riddell has offered to illustrate one of the stories in Ely’s 501 book. Cover by: Will Sedgwick

Organisers say their name will be revealed on the awards night but they’re ‘internationally renowned’.

Annabel Reddick of Burrows Bookshop Ely, who is promoting the event alongside David, said: “It’s an extraordinary coup for us. The local children who’ve spent so long on their stories will see them in book form.”

The awards ceremony will take place at the St Mary’s Church in Ely on Saturday July 7 at 1.30pm and promises to be a packed afternoon.

Mr Learner said: “It’s an astonishing offer that Chris made and we’re so proud to be able to have his work in this latest edition of Ely 501.”

Chris, who has previously illustrated for JK Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard, is set to release his latest book Once Upon a Wild Wood.

Mr Learner added: “The 49th story – the one Chris asked if he could illustrate – is one that was written by a twelve-year-old who went on to become an internationally renowned writer.

“Judges Mark Lowery and Julian Sedgwick – both best-selling children’s authors – will be on hand at the awards ceremony.

“It’s Annabel who will revealing the identity of the mystery writer who’s joined the legion of children seeing their own work published for the very first time.”

If your child wants to take part in the competition they can ask their school for an application form or go into Burrows Bookshop or Mr Simms in Ely and they can provide one.

For more information, call Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe on: 07914 789 868 or Burrows Bookshop on: 01353 669 759

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