A NARRATIVE essay written from the perspective of a minke whale calf has won over the judges of a national competition.
"The Voice of the Whale pushes the message that whaling is bad," said its 12-year-old Cherrybrook author, Sheree Kuan.
"I think it's really cruel to kill innocent creatures for things you don't really need, like ice-cream and jewellery."
The perspective essay won her first prize — a laptop and $250 — in The Sydney Morning Herald's annual What Matters? essay competition.
The all-ages competition was organised by the University of Western Sydney and the Whitlam Institute.
Institute director Erica Sidoti described the essay as an "evocative piece of writing with an almost poetic edge".
"Sheree brings a freshness to a subject that has long been in the public eye," she said.
Asked why she chose this topic, Sheree said: "I really like whales but, overall, I just really like animals."
She said she was surprised to be named the winner, and to win the years 7 to 8 category, but her friends were more excited about the win than she was.
"They were really proud of me and they said they really care about whales as well and the environment, which makes me happy," she said.