The people inside the auditorium at Moreton Boys’ College went completely silent while Kristine Ramsbottom was reading.
The Langley teenager had chosen a passage from Ray Bradbury’s 1957 novel “Dandelion Wine” for the interpretive reading competition at the April 2011 World Public Speaking competition in Brisbane, Australia.
The competition rules require a short introduction about the selected piece of writing, followed by a word-for-word reading aloud.
Speakers are judged for their use of dramatic emphasis, rhythm and the ability to lift words off the page in a compelling way.
At her coach’s suggestion, Ramsbottom read from part of a chapter in Dandelion Wine where Bradbury describes one character being stalked by a frightening, ominous presence.
Competitors aren’t required to know more than the selection, but Ramsbottom found the excerpt so compelling that she read the whole book just to see how it all turned out.
“It was really addicting,” she said.
The result, when it came time to read the nine or so minutes of the excerpt, was a performance that won a first-place finish for Ramsbottom, who has been honing her talent for persuasion since she was nine and convinced her parents to get her a dog.
She was one of two Canadians who took top spots in the competition of approximately 120 participants from 15 countries around the world, held in Brisbane.
It was the second trip to the international event for Ramsbottom, a senior at Southridge school in South Surrey (She placed fifth in her category at the 2010 competition held in Lithuania), and a good way to wrap up her competitive public speaking career.
Next year, she will no longer be a high school student and will not be eligible for youth competitions like the Brisbane event.
But Queen’s University, where she is going to study, does include public speaking in the curriculum.