James Traub’s op-ed in The New York Times about Europe’s refugees
9 March 2017
3rd Place 2016 YAFF story by Thomas Ravel (3rd Grade/CE2)
12 March 2017

1st Place 2016 YAFF story by James Taoutaou (6th grade/6ème)

2016 YAFF 1st Place story by James Taoutaou (6th grade/6ème)

The American Library in Paris is proud to be the organizer of the Young Authors Fiction Festival (YAFF). The YAFF is a city-wide writing intiative that aims to strengthen community among English-speakers in the Paris area through the art and craft of storytelling. The YAFF is free of charge and open to all students ages 5-18 in the greater Paris area who write in English.

The deadline for submission for the 2017 YAFF is 1 April 2017 at 22h00. To submit a story for the 2017 YAFF, please fill out this online submission form, and then email your story as a document to yaff@americanlibraryinparis.org.

We hope that you enjoy reading this 2016 YAFF 1st Place story by James Taoutaou , and that they inspire you to write your own!


Lobster for Lunch? by James Taoutaou
(First Place for 6th Grade/6ème)

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a lobster? I did, last Wednesday evening when I went shopping in Carrefour, my local supermarket and that is when it all happened. 

I was strolling through the sweet isle, wondering which succulent sweets I would spend my pocket money on that week when I heard a loud commotion in the seafood section next door. I rushed to the scene to find the fishmonger wrangling on the floor with a lobster, trying to keep it from scuttling away. “Got you, you foul beast!” the fishmonger roared as he finally placed the lobster in its tank. For some reason, I was drawn to the captured creature in front of me with a feeling of sorrow. His dangerously sharp looking claws were tied together with a navy blue rubber band and his red armored body, had a multitude of scars, probably from all the tried escapes he had concocted. 

At that very moment, an extremely posh looking lady, with a disgusting fox fur scarf draped around her neck, came striding into the seafood isle. She went straight to the fishmonger and, pointing a bejewelled finger in the direction of the lobster tank, demanded “Give me you finest lobster at once!” The fishmonger took out the lobster who had tried to escape only moments before. The lady took just one glance at it and screeched “Ohn no, not that one! What good is a lobster that has all those scars on its back? I would be a laughing stock if I cooked it and presented it to my friends. It looks horrific!” Quickly the fishmonger dropped the poor creature back into its tank and picked up another, put it in a small bag and gave it to the lady. At that very moment, I knew that I was going to spend my money on. That poor little, unwanted lobster.

It was an unusual sight to see, me skateboarding back home with a lobster tucked under my arms! I silently unlocked the back entrance of my house, tiptoed up the stairs and opened the door to my room. I dived straight under my bed and pulled out an old fish tank which had previously housed by goldfish Googly, R.I.P.

Without hesitating, I filled up the tank, cautiously prised the tight elastic bands off the lobster’s claws and then placed the creature carefully into the tank. 

For a few seconds he looked around bewildered but then started to stare at me. Then he did something extraordinary. He spoke. “Thank you for buying me, kind sir. If you hadn’t, I would’ve been killed!”

I was astounded at this so I struggled for words to say. “You…you…you’re welcome. I mean, I couldn’t let you die, could I?”

“Well, thank you…One minute I was ruling over my whole sea kingdom and the next I was caught in a lobster pot and could not escape, there was no way out. It was terrifying! But could I possibly ask you for one more favor?” 

“Yes. Absolutely.” I replied.

“Can you help me save all of my friends and family from Carrefour?” 

“Of course I will! I’m a vegetarian after all, and I can’t stand the thought of any of your friends being slaughtered just for eating. You guys should be free in the ocean being able to do whatever you want.” 

“Brilliant! We shall start planning our daring adventure immediately.” 

Within a few hours, we had fabricated an ingenious master plan and were ready to execute it that very night. At 11 o’clock sharp, with the lobster tucked neatly away in my rucksack along with all of our other equipment, we scaled the low Carrefour wall that surrounded the supermarket. I tiptoed to the side of the main building where I unzipped the rucksack, took out a piece of rope and then zipped it back up. I turned the rope into a lasso and threw it around the chimney. When I knew it was safe enough to climb, I climbed it. When I had finally reached the roof of Carrefour, I checked the nearest window. Thankfully, it was unlocked, just like we hoped it would be, so I opened it and jumped in. 

We landed in the bread section and luckily, some bagels cushioned our fall. Now it was time for the easy part, locating the lobsters. It took us a few minutes but finally, we found them, all huddled up in the one corner, snoring in unison which was quite adorable. I then took the lobster out of my rucksack to greet his fellow friends. We knocked lightly on their tank to wake them. They all whipped their eyes open and looked at us with longing in their eyes. “Please help!” squeaked the tiniest of lobsters. “We will.” reassured the King Lobster, and we then picked them up, one by one and placed them on the floor. Now to unlock the front doors with ease, using a paperclip, a rubber band and one of the lobster’s claws. We sprinted out the doors, jumped onto my modified bike with a big fish tank secured on the back and then set off at a phenomenal speed, heading to the beach. 

The lobsters and I arrived as the sun was rising from the east. When I had come to a halt, the lobsters wasted no time in scuttling back into the sea. All but one remained. The King Lobster. He grinned up at me and tears were in his eyes. “Goodbye,” he said “I hope I will see you again someday.” 

Tears welled in my eyes at this so all I could say was “I would love to see you again. Maybe then we can have another adventure like this.”

As I finished that sentence, he stroked into the sea. He turned around, waved goodbye and then he was swallowed up by the waves…


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