Budding writers are encouraged to put pen to paper to be in with a chance of winning books written by a local author.

Karen Gee of Walthamstow has teamed up with The Mall in Selborne Walk to keep youngsters busy over the half-term school holiday from May 27 to 31.

Ms Gee wrote the Dodger Dog series for children after taking inspiration from her rescue Staffie-cross, Dodger.

Following a career in banking that spanned 34 years, the animal lover welcomed Dodger into her home after the abandoned dog was rescued by the RSPCA.

The books cover behaviour and core values and focus on adoption, disability, the environment and animal welfare.

Ms Gee is a regular at the Mall where she hosts story time with Dodger by her side.

She said: “Children are precious and need to be loved, educated and nurtured in order to reach their full potential.

“I am excited to have been asked to judge this competition and to be allowed to be a part of the children’s writing experience by judging and reading their stories.”

The short stories are to be based on adventures and experiences that the children have had with their dogs and can be submitted at the ‘Ask Me Point’ on the ground floor of the shopping centre.

The competition is open to children aged between 4 and 11 years.

Richard Jones, The Mall’s marketing manager said: “This is a great opportunity for us to engage with the younger members of our community and get them writing.

“We have built up a good relationship with Karen over the years and are delighted that she has agreed to judge the entries for us.

“I can’t wait for the stories to come flooding in and feel sure that Karen will have a difficult task in picking a winner.

“Walthamstow is a hotbed of creativity and we are lucky to have so many talented local writers on our doorstep. It will be interesting to see what the younger generation has to offer.”