Hong Kong student, 13, has short story read out in space by an astronaut after winning international competition

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet reading Drouffe’s entry from the International Space Station. Screenshot: European Space Agency via Youtube

As the saying goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.” For French International School (FIS) student Paul-Louis Drouffe, that’s truer than ever, after a short story he wrote ended up winning an international competition and was read in space by real life astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

Drouffe, a 13-year-old French national, was one of 8,400 people to enter the French-language “Make your stories travel in space” competition, which asked candidates aged 25 and under to write a short story about the little prince from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s eponymous 1943 novella, about a young boy’s visit to seven different planets.

Applicants were tasked with imagining the prince’s adventures on an eighth planet, and Drouffe turned in a lovely tale about a celestial farmer who planted stars in his garden and nourished them until they were strong enough to fly into space. Clearly, we’re not the only ones who took a shine to Drouffe’s story, as it passed a “rigorous selection process” before being chosen by a jury of experts in the field of aviation, science, and literature, to feature on a (very) short list.

The 422-word piece, which was one of only five international entries to make the 10-entry-strong shortlist, was chosen by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet as one of his favourites, and had the honour of being read out by Pesquet himself in the International Space Station on April 13.

On top of his rather otherworldly achievement, Drouffe has also won a trip to Europe in October to participate in a series of “activities related to space and writing”. “I can’t quite believe that this is happening!” the teen said. He must be over the moon.

Read Paul-Louis’ story (and the other nine entries on the shortlist) here (link in French).

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