85+ writers, aged from 7 to 13, had a jolly good crack at helping Mark outsmart his dastardly older brother Raymond. Yay! I loved seeing the nice-guy winning. Good-versus-evil is a very handy plot device to keep in your writer’s toolkit. It’s especially handy to keep this type of conflict in mind when you’re planning your story. Because you cannot write a good story without conflict.
But before we get down to the nitty-gritty, a gentle pat on the back for the following writers who took the time to file a story (old journalist term for completing a writing assignment.) Max S.S, Charlie, Gabbie, Sharon, Jasemehar, Anya, Lily, Nicketa, Scarlett, Sarah, Emerald, Maya, Cullen, Bethany, Aiesha, Marcus, Louise, Zoe, Treeshula, Leilani, Flynn, Holly, Vaibhavi, Emily, Nova, Isla, Tess, Nathan, Chiara, Nadia, Narmeen, Layla, Sofia, George, Anya, Indigo, Naomi, Lola, Chloe, Ryder, Isabella, Olivia, Joshua, Elvin, Alice, Marama, Eliza, Kristen, Kat, Amelia, Emily, Matilda, Willow, Nahee Kim, Taylor, Eva, Niamh, Stella, Michelle, Lorcan, Indi, Charli, Brennan, Diontay, Ruby, Eviana, Jessica, Katie, Jaimie, O’shynn, Leah, Sasha, Lucy, Rebekah, Richard, Maryyum, Maia, Chloe, James, Patrick, Tommy, Nella, Olivia, Grace, Julia, Grace.
After posting ‘Weird Tuesday’, I was really looking forward to reading what you put inside the mysterious brown paper package. And believe me, your package-contents did not disappoint.
You unwrapped some very curious, and innovative creatures along with quite a few fluffy puppies and kittens needing homes. (I think there are a lot of children throughout New Zealand who’d like pets, but aren’t allowed them?!) I discovered: Phoenix (more than three) a ghost, a squirrel, a mechanical spider, a violet dragon, a malfunctioning robot, a million baby snails (the average garden snail has 14,000 teeth, arranged in rows on their tongues – thanks Bethany!)
A fire-blowing-dragon, a slimy frog, a goat, a teddy bear with magic Raymond shaming powers, vomiting fish, air tickets to Los Angeles, mermaids, a Grimlock, a bird with a unicorn horn (birdie-corn,) snakes, a feathered dragon-dog, a teeny tiny miniature elephant, an evil puppy, a birdbutterflywormflyspidercat, a magical music box, a guinea pig named Tinker, a hat that makes the wearer invisible (brilliant!), a white owl, a white toy cat with red eyes and hypnotising powers, and a glowing-pink-furball spewing kitten. Phew! What great imaginations!
There were also, lots of the-most-disgusting-creature-I-have-ever-seen. Next time, describe what the-most-disgusting-creature-you’ve-ever-seen looks like. It’s more interesting for the reader if you’re specific, like the list above.
I think my favourite package contents would have to be Indi’s, 10, Point Chevalier Primary, A Beastly Broth to Banish Brutal Brothers! Indi’s funny, well- written story also received a Highly Commended badge. Unfortunately, Indi, you went way over the 500 wordcount so I had to mark you down for that. Chiara, 11, Carmel College, also received a Highly Commended badge for her heartwarming story. Inside Chiara’s package was Brownie, Mark’s cousin’s chocolate labrador sent to rescue him. If I was a professional editor preparing this story for publication, I’d have to point out that Mark wouldn’t be able to carry a full-sized lab into his bedroom. Labs are heavy! A lab puppy would have worked. I also want to mention, Matilda Rennie, 10, Grey Lynn School. I really liked how your ‘air-creature’ read Mark’s thoughts and acted immediately. However, your ending let you down. This was a perfect opportunity to play a funny prank on Raymond. Sometimes it’s hard to be even a little bit mean to characters, (if you’re a super kind person, I used to struggle with this.) However, drama always makes a more exciting story.
Before I announce the winner, the winner, chicken dinner, I’d like to give a shout-out to Diontay, 9, Moanatairi School with this great imagery of Catatonia: There were cats driving cars, cats riding bikes and dogs running up trees. The trees were as blue as the sky. (Plus cats in sunglasses talking.) And to Narmeen, 9, Orakei School. There were trees made out of lollies and a river made of pink milo and giant s’mores for the boats. Describing the setting helps the reader put themselves into the story.
And the winner is … Indigo Ciara Tomlinson, 11, Whakatane Intermediate School. Congratulations, Indigo! Indigo set up her story well, detailing Mark’s emotional struggle at being the downtrodden younger sibling. Her positive- mood-altering elephant was a very mature way to stop Raymond’s bully-boy behaviour. Well done, Indigo!
Jane’s Story Starter: Weird Tuesday
This is how weird Tuesday began …
I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating my usual breakfast of Fruit Loops with milk. My big brother Raymond, as per, had helped himself to two-thirds of the box, leaving me with only colourful crumbs. The crumbs floated on top of my bowl of milk like a pixellated rainbow. I spun my spoon round and round, swirling the colours together. My stomach rumbled. I reached for the perfect banana from the fruit bowl, but not before Raymond jammed his fist down hard onto its blunt end.
‘You love smashed banana don’t you, midget-person?’ he said, and laughed. Milk dribbled down his chin, tracking past his volcanic pimples. I had to look away.
Right then, there was a loud rap on the front door. I instantly stood up from the table to go and see who it was. But Raymond did too and we collided at the kitchen door. He held me against the frame. I raised my hands in surrender and let him go in front of me.
On the front steps was a medium-sized brown paper parcel tied with white string. Raymond picked it up, then he shoved it at me and stomped off.
The package was addressed to me:
The writing was green and wild and swirly like seaweed washed up on the beach. The postmark was a place I’d never heard of before. Catatonia. The package had an interesting smell. I couldn’t make it out.
Cinnamon perhaps? Or turmeric? It felt warm in my hands. I tensed a little.
Then the package started to squirm.
Here is Indigo’s Winning Story
I let go of the parcel, and stepped back as something strange emerged from inside. I felt a scream building in my throat. I hated slimy things. I hated creepy crawlies. This was something Raymond had used to his full advantage on more than one occasion. I shuddered remembering the worms covered with a puddle of tinned tomatoes. (Pretty sure Mrs Twits lawyer tried to sue.) Was this another of his dastardly pranks? I took another step back and prepared to bolt as the creature came fully into the open. An exhale of air whooshed from my body and I sagged a little, like a worn out balloon. It was an elephant. A teeny tiny miniature elephant. It blinked, bemused, then looked up at me, sending a small squirt of water into the air with its trunk. It fractured into hundreds of shimmering diamonds and just for a second, it felt like the world was bathed in rainbows. Curiously, I bent down and shook the package out. A scrap of paper fluttered to the ground. I took it in my hands, examining the curling emerald green scripture, and my eyes blurred. I read with my heart in my mouth, a sense of bitterness rising within me like a coiling serpent. At the last line I felt the metaphorical snake send a stab of venom deep into my heart, adding to the peppered assortment of half-scabbed over holes that were already there.
Happy Birthday love you’re turning ten! What a big moment! Hope you like this miniature elephant – they’re everywhere in Catatonia.
I seethed. Mum. She wasn’t my mother. She never had been. A real mother would have remembered that my birthday is in August, not November. My chest simmered with resentment like the disgusting fish stew she used to try and make me eat. Still, at least I’d got something.
I bent down and picked my gift up, cradling it close to my chest. Suddenly a jolt of colour rocked the world and everything looked different. It was like I was seeing the world through a camera filter. Or maybe my life had been tinted slightly grey and only now had that been removed. I felt like I’d put on a pair of rainbow sunglasses. This is going to sound corny, but the sun was brighter, and the grass was greener. Strange. Experimentally, I put the elephant down. The world suddenly felt grey and heavy. For some reason the elephant was making my life feel brighter. I considered what else it might be able to do. Hundreds of magical possibilities flowed through my mind, like a multicoloured staircase of wonders. An idea popped into my head.
I went back inside and up to Raymond’s room that smelled of sweaty teenager and old deodorant. Raymond was sitting on his swivel chair poking cautiously at a bubbling pus ball. I raced in and shoved the creature into his arms.
His eyes glazed over. He smiled. ‘’Hey little bro. Wanna go out for ice cream? On me.’’
ps. A note for all young writers. Be careful not to over do adjectives. Use strong verbs instead. If Raymond is ‘munching away at his fruit loops’ we know he is shovelling them into his mouth and chewing noisily. You don’t need to say ‘greedily munching’ because munching on its own is explaining how he’s eating.
Equally, instead of saying: ‘Drearily, I got up from my bed.’ It’s stronger to say, ‘I dragged myself off my bed.’
Thanks for all your stories!