By Kate Ward
Updated October 20, 2008 at 12:00 PM EDT
Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Pick up your pencils, young Potter-philes. Scholastic announced today that they are sponsoring a national essay contest for kids in conjunction with the Dec. 4 release of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter companion book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard. The grand prize? An all-expense paid trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, where five winners, each accompanied by an adult, will have tea with Rowling as she conducts a reading of Tales at the National Library of Scotland. (Apparently, 250 other lucky kids will be in attendance as well.)

According to Scholastic, “Fans are asked to write an essay of 200 words or less describing how they have helped others. Because so many kids today are taking interest in helping others in their schools, communities and around the world, the Scholastic contest gives them the opportunity to write about causes they care about and what they’ve done to make a difference.”

As my colleague Michael Slezak just emailed to me, the whole thing sounds rather Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory-esque, sans chocolate and that whole scary boat tour thing (we only hope). But the message behind the contest is very un-Veruca Salt—since Tales‘ proceeds are going to charity, Scholastic is trying to spread the word of goodwill with the contest. Some of you hardcore Potter fans might not be eligible—you can only submit an essay if you’re between the ages of 8 and 17—but does a party with Rowling sound like your cup of tea?

addCredit(“Dave M. Benett/Getty Images”)