The Malta Independent 7 July 2020, Tuesday

L-Ispettaklu Stupend Żanżan Kelma

Sunday, 13 October 2019, 13:35 Last update: about 10 months ago

Spelling Bee competitions are extremely popular in countries around the world. The concept is straightforward: competing children are given a complex word to spell, if they spell it incorrectly, they are out of the game and the winner is top speller who beats off all competition.

At face value, it looks like a simple game but the challenge is nail-biting, exceptionally competitive and immensely popular with children. It is obviously much loved by parents and teachers because it's the perfect way to get children excited about spelling. Who needs dictation when there's Spelling Bee?


In Malta, Spelling Bee competitions or as they are known, Żanżan Kelma, were held for the first time in 2017 and organised by the Għaqda tal-Malti, in collaboration with the Representative of the European Commission in Malta. Over these three years it has grown in popularity, so much so that this year, a Gozitan edition was also held.

Merlin Publishers' new children's novel in Maltese is therefore perfect timing. It is about a shy girl whose dream is to take part in the Żanżan Kelma competition. The story is set in Australia where the competition has so much following that the final round is broadcast nationwide from the Sydney Opera House.

The book, L-Ispettaklu Stupend Żanżan Kelma, is about India Wimple, a girl so painfully shy that the last thing she wants to do is take part in the competition. But with the support and cheering of her family she submits her application and slowly slowly she starts winning round after round... each time inching closer and closer to her dream.

Along the way, young India, who lives in a remote village in the middle of Australia, shares the adventure with other contesting children - some of whom are great fun, others, ahem, much less so.

L-Ispettaklu Stupend Żanżan Kelma is written by award-winning author Deborah Abela, a bestselling children's authors in Australia. This book was a finalist for the Real awards, one of the most prestigious awards in the country. Abela, who is of Maltese descendancy, is known with Maltese young readers for Teresa, a novel set in wartime Malta, which immediately became a classic with children.

L-Ispettaklu Stupend Żanżan Kelma has been translated to Maltese by Leanne Ellul and Clare Azzopardi, the same two authors who had translated Teresa.

The launch of the book took place at San Anton School, where Deborah led two very thrilling Spelling Bee competitions for students.

'L-Ispettaklu Stupend Żanżan Kelma' is available for sale from all leading bookshops or directly online with free postage and packaging from


By Deborah Abela

Translated by Leanne Ellul and Clare Azzopardi

Illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff

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