Posted in The Winner

Jane Bloomfield’s FABO Judge’s Report

First of all, I’d like to congratulate everyone who wrote and filed (old journalist term for posting) a story. Real writers, write. Procrastinators, think about writing. You have all made the first step.

A big polar-bear-paw-pat on the back to:

Dihini Thantrige, Jessica Went, Freya Lawson, Joey, Finlay, Dontae, Gabriella Rusk, Indiana Taylor, Jayden Cooper, Nathan Exley, Zoe Guan, Avala Ingram, Avala Ingram, Jasmine Kister, Roarna, Anya, Benjamin McQueen, Maggie Yang, Jemimah, Max Barlow, Indee Gjaja, Bethany Argyle, Hyugo, Ysabelle C, Riki, Siena Mackley, Louenne Allemand, Leo Marcroft, Caleb Bond, Alex Walters, Renee Findlay, Bella Flowers, Elizabeth van Wijk, Tayne Coombes, Maddie Mitchell, Charlotte Ng Waishing, Meetens, Michelle Jeng, Kieran Moreton, Alisa Rao, Alex Bow, Kate Barber, Nathan Elliott, Jordy Thompson, Jeremy Beecroft, Harriet Douglas, Miah Brabin, Molly Roberts, Flo Cook, Hannah Hadden, Claudia Goldsworthy, Sui Brooking, Zoe Grant, Bella Taylor, Lexie Hughes, Roy Greer, Finn Wescombe, Bessie Martin, Fiona Chen, Cole Wescombe, Pipi Hunter, and Tania Lin.

I had fun writing the story starter ‘The Polar Bear in The Bookshop’ and it was fun reading all the creative and widely varied responses to it.

Sometimes the book came alive. Meetens wrote, “a few Snowflakes drifting out of the book his step-son was rapidly dissolving into.”

Michelle Jeng wrote, “ I flipped back to the page with the photograph of an icy landscape surrounded by blue ocean … there was a polar bear and it was waving.” I could really imagine a tiny polar on the page waving. Nice.

There were many great descriptions of the sensation of stepping through the portal to the North Pole. Siena Mackley wrote, “I was pulled into a swirling rainbow vortex.

Remember to keep your eye on details. Some stories said James was in a library. When clearly he was in a bookshop! Nice shout out for libraries being the home of books all the same. And quite often his named changed. I called him James, yet he became Lance, Jake, etc.

Even writers of fiction need to get their facts straight. Polar bears are only found in The North Pole, The Artic. Not Antarctica, in the South Pole. I did learn from Louenne Allemand, “polar bears have 42 teeth and that the male polar bears can weigh up to 680 kilograms.”

Quite a few writers obviously hate fish pie. Max Barlow (9) offered this delightful recipe.
My grandmas fish pie is absolutely repulsive. When her nose gets hot it starts bleeding and oozing with yellow and green slimy snot. And guess what she doesn’t even notice that it goes into the fish pie. She was as blind as a bat she put the rottenest of all the fish in the whole entire supermarket it was blue cod so it looked double yuck.

Feeling queasy? I was when I read that. Caleb (7) used another method to create humour in his story, “… two elephant seals, that were half elephant, half seal!  I could bear-ly see the bear get it?’ Funny.

I love writing humorous stories. It’s fun to throw in a few deadpan jokes, play around with words and have oddball characters. Writing humour can be like getting dressed-up for a school disco. Less is more. My winning story does it very well. In Bessie Martin’s story, James is hoping to escape through the book but it doesn’t work. Enter his dastardly, spoilt step-sister. Things get progressively worse and reach a funny climax with James being physically squooshed inside the book. Love that imagery. The situation is resolved with a gritty, unexpected ending. Well done Bessie. Please use the Contact Us page on this website to send us your address and your favourite lollies.

Highly Commended Stories

Highly commended certificates to: Anya (8) of Grey Lynn school whose polar bear turned into Santa Claus. I love the use of treacle as a verb in this sentence. I may have to pinch it. “The lovely smell of chocolate and fresh candy canes treacle down me. I had never felt so alive before.”

And: Ayeisha Beadsmoore also 8, of Matakana School, who created a very satisfying story and a new invention ‘the book-enteras’. “I turned to my stepdad, thinking he would yell at me “Where have you been?!”. Instead he said, “Welcome to a family of book-enteras! Lets go home for some fish pie.” Brilliant.

Finally I’d like to mention Benjamin McQueen (13) who wrote a fantastic story. I was gripped from the beginning, Benjamin. I loved all your characters and their names and the world you created. However, you were way over the word count. Maybe you could keep developing this story for another project.

Happy writing everyone!

Jane’s Story Starter: The Polar Bear In The Bookshop

It was a dreary grey day in June, the day I saw the polar bear in the bookshop. The bookshop owner, Daisy, was busy at the till and the rest of the shop was empty. Well, apart from me and the polar bear.

Of course, I wondered if I was seeing things. A huge white bear standing in the children’s corner, holding an open book in his spiky black claws!

I forgot about the newspaper I had gone in to buy. I glanced at my step-dad sitting outside in the car, then I tiptoed over to take a closer look.

The bear smelt terrible. Sort of fish-breath mixed with muddy seaweed. I shoved my hand over my mouth to stifle my gag. Up close his fur was stiff and yellowing behind the ears. He looked like he hadn’t gone for a swim around an iceberg for a while. Or had a fish dinner. He had that kind of sad face polar bears do. His rubbery black nose was almost touching the pages now. The bear was either very short sighted or he was trying to get into that book.

The doorbell chimed. I looked around.

My step-dad said, ‘Hurry up, James. Your mum’s got a fish pie in the oven.’

The bear now had the book on the ground opened to a photograph of an icy landscape surrounded by blue ocean. Next thing, he placed one massive foot on each page, growled softly, winked at me and then, pfft, he was gone.

From where I was standing, I had two options.
Option One: Fish pie (gag) at home with my ancient Nana and Pop.
Option Two: A trip to the North Pole.

I zipped up my puffa coat and walked towards the…

Bessie’s Winning Story

…book and scooped it up. I fumbled through the pages till I found the page the bear had looked at. I grinned, placed the book on the floor and stamped on it. I closed my eyes and waited to disappear. My foot hit the book. Shock resonated up my leg and I opened my eyes.

“JAMES GREEN! What on EARTH are you doing!?” My step-father was yelling at me. I looked down. My shoe had made a foot-shaped dent in the book. I had not magically teleported. I had bunged up a thick, 40$ book. I gulped.

“Na na na! You’re in trouble!” whispered Hallie, my step-sister. Hallie has bouncy blond curls, big blue eyes and is the most annoying person ever.

“Shut UP, Hallie!” I hissed.

“James! I heard that! I am very disappointed in you!”

It wasn’t fair. Hallie was only a year younger then me, after all. She’s eleven. She’s just a total jerk.

When we got home I stomped up the stairs lugging the bag with the book in it up the stairs. Did I tell you we had to buy the book? We had to buy the book. Daisy the shop owner had been very upset by the book’s demise. I yanked opened the door to my ‘room’ and stalked through. It’s the box room. There’s just enough space for my bed and my footy kit and a little chest of draws. The rest of the room is taken up by old stuff that Hallie or Mum or Kevin discarded. At my Dad’s place I had a big bedroom with all my stuff dumped on the floor in an orderly, tidy fashion and the smell was like old socks and farts. This room has colour coding and smells of Hallie’s old lip gloss. Yuck.

I opened the book and smoothed a soccer cleat size hole. I froze and peered at the page. Now I’d straightened the page tiny words on the iceberg were visible! They said touch nose to page, wink once and stamp into book. I grinned and did the first two actions. I carefully placed the book on the floor and breathed deeply. Then I bought my foot down. Just before my foot touched the page I saw something I’d missed in the earlier flurry of excitement. A disgruntled polar bear looking very flat. WHUMP!

My foot hit the book.

I was being pulled.


I gasped and sucked in breath. My head was spinning. I tried to speak but my voice was mumbly. I realised I was stuck, my mouth smooshed to the side. I tried to poke out my tongue but it hit an invisible wall, leaving a slimy mark. I was crushed like a dried flower tucked into the pages of a book. “MMPH!” I swiveled my eyes and saw a irritated polar bear to my left, as flattened and stuck as I was.

Suddenly I heard a voice. “James? Daddy and Mummy want to talk to you! You are in so much trouble! … Uh…James? JAMES!? Where are you!?”

“HALLIGH! Helph!”

“James? Where are you?”

“I’m in fa fook!””

“Under the bed?”



Hallie looked at the book “JAMES! Mummy and Daddy will KILL you! Maybe I’ll get this bedroom and you can sleep outside!”

“Helph!” I whimpered.

Hallie grinned and taunted “So much trouble, so much trouble!”

Then she slammed the book with a light-engulfing BANG!



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