Kathy White is the next celebrated children’s author to write a story starter for the new FABO competition. To enter, just finish her story in 500 words or less. Entries close 5pm Friday April 14th so start writing your story now!
You will get bonus points if you use the following words in your story: Animal rights, Trichosurus vulpecula and Codswallop.
Kathy’s story starter
“Not again!” Sarah grumbled. She picked up the apple she’d left on the library bench and pointed to the bite marks. “This isn’t a joke anymore. Who’s been eating my lunch?”
The four school librarians looked at each other and then focused on Todd.
“Not me,” he shrugged. “I only steal chocolate and chips.” He glanced at the boy next to him, who was wearing an enormous mustard-coloured raincoat that stretched down past his knees. “Katie looks like he needs a feed though.”
The small boy scowled. “My name is Kat-ya.”
Sarah sighed. “He’s Russian, Todd. Doesn’t speak much English, remember? Leave him alone.”
She looked at the empty space on the front counter and gasped. “There’s no number.”
Every day for the last week, they had found a number – a dewey decimal classification number – scrawled on a paper star, on the front counter. Mr Johnson, the librarian, hadn’t said anything about it, and because he’d been acting so strangely lately, no one had wanted to ask.
“Do you think we’re going to be tested on it?”
Everyone pulled a face.
“Maybe it’s a treasure hunt.” Jessie looked hopeful.
Katya pulled a scrappy piece of paper out of his pocket and flattened it on the counter. All of the numbers were listed in the order they had found them.
“994 is the number for Australia,” Jessie said, pointing to the animal poster on the wall above 994 in the geography section. It had AUSTRALIA emblazoned across the top, with photos of a snake, Huntsman spider, crocodile, bilby, numbat, wombat, kangaroo, and koala. Underneath the poster sat a cardboard box.
“Oh no, please don’t let it be spiders.” Jessie groaned. “I’d just die.”
Todd lifted one of the flaps with a ruler. Claws scuffled inside the box, making everyone jump.
Sarah leaned in for a closer look. “Oh my God. I haven’t seen one of those in years,” she said.
“That’s because New Zealand killed them all back in 2017. The year of the big cull. My parents protested about it.” Todd looked into the big eyes of the creature looking back at him.
“What are we going to do with it?” Jessie whispered. “It’s just a baby.”
“It’s also a Biosecurity Code Red,” Sarah said. “Perhaps we should give it to Mr Creech.”
No one said a word. Mr Creech was the caretaker. He kept a cricket bat on his wall for taking care of the things he classed as pests.
Katya lifted the frightened animal out of the box, stroked it and slipped it inside his jacket. “Bee-YOU-tee-ful,” he murmured.