Hi there scribblers! I couldn’t wait to see what you thought might be lurking in Ariana’s birthday box, and you didn’t let me down. Creatures included: a South American velvet-backed crystal lizard; a stuffed magma cube from Minecraft; an axolotl; a unicorn; a bouncing man-eating monster; five cats (one alien, one robotic); several dragons (one exploding, one chocolate-eating); a lizard wearing a top hat; a crowd of tiny blue Scotsmen; a winged tiger; a dinosaur, and three creatures new to science – a bonnie, a thunfp and a ribagim.
Now that is a pet shop I’d be interested to visit!
We had a total of 23 entries this time. There were some clever plot twists, a few with sad endings (sniff), and a fair few that were quite bonkers. (Not a problem – bonkers is good.) One story had an apology instead of an ending – Benjamin, I loved your story but it was cruel to finish on a cliff-hanger with a note that you ran out of time. Stories need endings. I might, however, forgive you because of this awesome line: “… always remember, power does not only lie in strength but also in responsibility.”
Some honourable mentions before I reveal the awesomest of the awesomes (and those of you from Croft Downs Primary, I bow down to your imaginations!):
In Grace’s story, Ariana’s low-fur cat, Oliver McClaw, dies saving her from the killer cat Macho. “She dug a hole and gently placed Oliver’s lifeless corpse inside. In stones around it she wrote, ‘Here lies Oliver, the most courageous of cats. RIP. I love U too.’” [sob!]
Curtis’s story was a rip-roaring adventure in which Ariana’s frog-like pet escaped and “bounced from house to house like a pinball in a machine”. Then it ate Kylie’s pet dog before going on to attack America.
Derek gave us a wish-granting unicorn. “The next day I was rich like James Hogster who is a random name I just thought of.” Not really necessary to the story, Derek, but you made me laugh.
I liked how in Hayley’s story, Ariana realised that even though she loved her pet blackbird, Death Star, it probably wasn’t right to keep a wild bird as a pet. She let it fly away home to its family.
Georgia, I’m not sure a komodo dragon would fit through a cat flap, but I’m glad it chased Kylie Cardoorsian down the street and ate her skirt.
My favourite character in Raya’s story was Mum, who was so laid-back in the face of the fire-breathing dragon that “Ariana wondered if some calm gas had possibly been sprayed at her.”
I loved Ollie’s dinosaur, who asked the family if they fancied a game of football. When Ariana said they didn’t have a football, it produced the bladder of a wild boar it had eaten for dinner, saying: “They can be dreadfully useful you know.”
Freddy’s Ribagim (thank you Freddy for the helpful pronunciation tip) had “great big brown eyes that looked like you could get lost in them for a million years”.
I also liked Alyssa’s animal, called Foofy, which said nothing but “meh”.
Kate’s winged tiger, Charn the Great, had “a gentle voice, like the wind whistling through the trees”. But Kate – your story turned out to be a dream. So did Ruth’s. Now what did Kyle Mewburn say about stories turning out to be dreams last time? Hm?
And while we’re on the subject of things not to do in stories, a reminder to check your words and spellings. If you don’t you might accidentally write “bananas” instead of “banners”. You know who you are! (Of course the children COULD have been waving bananas, but I’m not sure you could fit “Ariana you are amazing!” on a banana.)
Peyton, I really loved your story. It was well-written (“It was a full moon and the houses seemed to just glow”) with an important message. Ariana says, “I swore that for the rest of my life I would never judge people or anything based on their looks. Like they say, don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Similarly, in Xavier’s story, a dog that is “positively the ugliest thing that walked the planet” turned out to be a hero. Xavier cleverly wove Mr Fractal and his maths questions into the story – I was hoping some of you would do that.
Finn, your story was deliciously bonkers. I loved your little blue kilt-wearing men that exploded into Ariana’s kitchen, causing a “mess so bad you could hardly call it a mess”, and conveniently demolishing Ariana’s homework sheet so she’d have the perfect excuse for Mr Fractal.
So, having read such awesome plots, you get that I had a REAL problem picking a winner! But I decided that the most awesome of the awesome was Carly Atkin’s tale of a robo cat called Moon. Carly included Kylie Cardoorsian and Mr Fractal in her plot, making full use of the story starter, and her tale cleverly formed a circle – you’ll see how when you read it. Very satisfying. Some great writing too – Ariana didn’t just put her shoes on, she “had a furious battle with her laces”.
Well done to ALL of you, and Carly I will email about your prize!
Here is Carly’s story:
Ariana gazed out of her bedroom window at the street below. Her brain seemed to have logged off. Given up. It was all the fault of Mr Fractal and his “Ten Super-fun Maths Homework Questions”.
No, Mr Fractal. Making x “The speed of a Star Wars X-wing fighter” and y “Distance to the Death Star” does not make algebra FUN. It is still MATHS.
And now, to make life even worse, Kylie Cardoorsian was coming along the street, taking her new puppy for a walk. The cutest puppy EVER, she’d said at school. How maddening to find out that this was, in fact, true. LOOK at it! It was a walking ball of cuteness. Fluffy and white and tiny and gazing up at Kylie every few steps in adoration.
Ariana felt her brain rebooting, coming back to life as it was taken over by something green and monstrous … jealousy. Ariana’s mum had allergies. If a cat so much as peeped over the garden fence she would start sneezing loud enough to shake the house. So to make up for the lack of cat or dog, Ariana had been presented with a goldfish (boring, boring … dead), then a turtle (quite interesting … dead). For two years now, the family hadn’t dared progress to the next level of low-fur pet.
But tomorrow was Ariana’s birthday, and she’d been dropping some big hints (cute pet photos fixed to the fridge with cute animal magnets), sending a message that now she was older, she would be better at looking after a pet.
As she turned her attention back to Mr Fractal’s not-fun maths, she wondered if she’d be in luck.
* * * *
“Happy Birthday darling!” said Mum. On the kitchen table was a box – quite a big box – a promisingly big box – with a few holes in the top.
Her heart in her mouth, Ariana carefully slid off the big red bow that was holding the box shut. The flaps sprung upwards.
Ariana took a step back. “What is that?” she said.
“A cat, darling,” Mum said.
“That’s not a cat!” Ariana spluttered.
“Well, no it’s not. I just thought you’d like a nicer pet as a change.”
“If it’s not a cat, what is it?” Ariana asked.
“She’s a robo cat. She will do anything you say.”
“Cool! Thanks Mum. She looks so real.”
“What do you want to call her?” Mum asked.
Ariana looked at the cat. She had a little tuft of white fur on her forehead. Her body was a light grey, and her eyes were a cold blue.
“I’ll call her … Moon.”
“What a lovely name sweetheart! Ok, open the rest of your gifts and get ready for school,” Mum said.
Ariana got the most gorgeous gifts. A rhinestone ring, a box of paints and a new tablet.
“Mum, can I please bring Moon to school? Mr Fractal asked me to bring something for show and tell,” Ariana pleaded.
“Well …” Mum hesitated.
“Please Mum. Please with strawberries and cream with a cherry on top.”
“Well … I don’t know … mmm … okay.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Ariana squealed.
Ariana rushed upstairs and threw on her school uniform. She combed her hair and had a furious battle with her laces. She grabbed her bag, shoved in last night’s unfinished homework, kicked at the clothes littering her floor, jumped down the stairs, two at a time, and ran into the kitchen. She picked up Moon and cuddled her close. She just felt so real.
“I’ve programmed her to do whatever you say,” Mum told her.
“Thanks Mum. See ya!”
Ariana set off down the road. UH OH. Alert Alert. Kylie Cardoorsian.
“What’s that you’ve got? It’s gorgeous,” Kylie asked.
“Thanks. This is Moon. I got her for my birthday.”
“I thought your Mum had allergies?”
“Um … well, promise to not tell?”
“She’s a robo cat. She will do anything I say. For example, Moon, jump into Kylie’s arms.”
Moon jumped from Ariana’s arms into Kylie’s. “Wow!” Kylie exclaimed.
They had arrived at school. Ariana and Kylie walked into Mr Fractal’s room.
“Maths please,” he said. Mr Fractal took a quick look at the work and said gravely, “Ariana, please go to the headmaster’s room.”
Ariana knocked on the door and went in. She was standing behind some poor kid in the infants.
“Oh Moon, I wish this had never happened.”
Then she was moving back, back to Mr Fractal.
Talking backward with Kylie Cardoorsian.
Through the kitchen, back to bed.
She looked out the window.
Ariana gazed out the window at the street below. Her brain seemed to have logged off. Given up. It was all the fault of Mr Fractal and his “Ten Super-fun Maths Homework Questions”.