Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Melinda Szymanik’s FABO Story Competition Report: The Winner of the first FABO Challenge!

I was blown away by the response to our first Fabo challenge for the year. I received just over 200 entries, with many wonderful examples of good writing and fantastic imaginations. Many of you had me laughing out loud. I want to acknowledge everyone who entered and say Good Work!! All of you!! All writers know that the more writing practice you get in, the better your writing becomes. Just remember though, only ONE ENTRY per person please. If you do hit enter by accident on a half-finished story let us know and we’ll read your preferred entry only.

There were some incredible transformations that poor Mrs Jamie endured – from monsters, goblins, werewolves, dragons, witches, and rabbits, to yeti, orangutan and even a chihuahua. Many of you gave her red eyes and facial warts. There was often a lot of magic involved, or the decision to cook the opposite of the first meal to effect a cure. Having the food reveal ‘Mum’s true form’ was also popular. There was some great writing but a number of you had undercooked plots. Remember to figure out what the problem is in your story and how it should be solved, and include these in your story.

Please make sure, before you press enter, to read through your story one last time. Some of you switched point of view which was confusing, and there were some missing full stops and tricky spellings which always makes things harder to read. With so many entries the judges will love your stories even more if they have good punctuation, good spelling and consistent point of view. I also find it easier to read stories with paragraphs. Start a new paragraph a) when someone new starts speaking, b) when you change to a new location or, c) when something new happens.

I want to give a shout out to some excellent lines that caught my eye.

Taylor Goddard (Lincoln Primary) had strong writing and this great line – She turned the tap on with her teeth, lifted her hoof up and pushed Oliver’s head under the cold water to clear his thoughts.

Evelyn Darwall (Moanataiari School) – Oliver was down stairs playing with his favourite cooking spoon when he heard a big noise.

Isabella Bwayo (Little River School) had some terrific writing – Oliver stood there in the kitchen, his mouth open so far you could fit a tennis ball inside. “Do I have something on my face Oliver? Are you staring at my face because of my good looks? I get that a lot with the ladies, but then you’re not a lady”. “Or are you?” Grylls looked at Oliver suspiciously.

Charlotte Hogg (Witherlea) – he turned back and there sitting in the sink was his mum, with her bed head hair all covered in the slimy mess. “Oh Oliver, what happened?” she said. “Oh Mum, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Shall I just say we had a go at cleaning out the pantry” said Oliver.

I loved this from Sofia Stojko (Tighes Hill Public School) – seconds folded into minutes.

Niamh Murray (Churton Park School) – had some great writing in general but I especially loved the line – Oliver was stunned into silence. “Man,” he murmured. “I was hoping for some really dramatic solution with me as the hero.”

I loved Caitlin Collins (Carmel College) simile …jumped back like a cat next to a cucumber.

Emily Feng Yi Ng’s (St. Joseph’s Papanui) idea was very appealing – a tiny bottle of taniwha tears. (Which were very tricky to obtain, and the quest Oliver had to go on to collect them was very long, so he had to take frequent pavlova breaks).

Livy Urquhart (Silverstream South) had this cool description – It looked like a hairy, slimy slug, its eyes poked out of its head like baseball bats sticking out of mud.

And this line from David Akuhata (Nelson Intermediate) made me laugh – You’re the Huia bird! That’s the rarest bird in New Zealand. If I turn you in we will get 10,000 dollars, well mostly me but I’ll buy you a better kitchen” laughed Oliver.

Special mentions for great writing in general – Nadia Isaacs (St Kentigern College), Pippa Rogers (Tawa Intermediate), Sylvia Kingston, Nelima Bwayo (Duvauchelle Primary), Neve Overend (Queenspark Primary), Freddie Read (Middleton Grange School), Grace Tomson (Hobsonville Point Primary), Peta Byers (Westshore School), Timothy Hall (Bellevue School), Ariana Miller (Saints Peter and Paul School), Caitlin Lees, and Kardelen (Gordonton School), Cate Crutchley (Cambridge Middle School). Charlotte Cook (Matua School), Nathan Lu (Knighton Normal), and Tali Whiteridge (Kelburn Normal).

Kerala Beard had a cool twist, as did Olivia Morris (Oamaru Intermediate). Hana Smith (Dunedin North Intermediate) had a very original take as did Aisha Gemala (Parnell District School) and Juliet Grey (Selwyn House School). Drew Kenny (Maungatapu Primary)had some great writing and a very fun idea. Kiki Timlin (Stella Maris) had the best ingredient list. I liked Kate Pointer’s (Maraekakaho School) tiger idea. Olive Aitken Gunner’s (Parawai School) ending was fab. Mattie Lang (Nelson Central) wrote a very original tale with Weka’s, and Charlie Bint’s (Loburn School) included pirates.

And jeepers people, in the end you all made it very, very hard for me to pick a winner. My finalists were – Evie Drazevic, 11 (Nelson Intermediate), Rita Treadgold, 9 (Newtown School), Brenna Johnson, 12 (Hawera High School), Juliet, 9 (Queen Margaret College), Indigo Tomlinson, 12 (Whakatane Intermediate), and Adele Stack, 9 (Geraldine Primary).
And my winner is Juliet from Queen Margaret College. This story is a clever, surprise take on the story starter, with an unexpected ending. It does a lot in just a few words, and it made me laugh every time I read it. Wonderful work Juliet.

– Melinda Szymanik.

Melinda’s Story Starter: A Very Unexpected Experiment

Oliver Jamie had been keen on cooking from an early age. Perhaps it was the fun of making Yuck Soup as a toddler, with water from the hose, dirt from the garden, daisies plucked from the lawn, and all kinds of date-expired pantry items provided by his mother.

Now he loved to experiment, and unusual ingredients were his specialty.

‘What’s on the menu today?’ Mrs. Jamie asked her son as she padded into the kitchen, wearing bed hair and her fluorescent pink dressing gown. It was the first day of the school holidays and yet Oliver had been up since the crack of dawn. In the kitchen. Measuring, sifting, and mixing.

‘It’s a secret,’ he said. ‘But it’s nearly done. And you can be the first person to taste it.’

His right arm was a blur as he whisked a thick, orange fluid in the mixing bowl.

‘It’s an interesting … colour,’ Mum said. She didn’t comment on the smell. Partly because she had no words to describe it.

Oliver bustled around the kitchen. Pinching spices and chopping herbs his mum didn’t recognize. Stirring and straining. Opening and closing the oven door. Mrs. Jamie poured herself a coffee.

The oven timer went ding.

‘Voila,’ Oliver said, handing his mum a plate filled with knobbly orange blobs, flecked with green. He handed her a fork. ‘I’ll be back in a jiffy,’ he said. ‘Start without me.’

Mrs. Jamie scooped some of the food with her fork, and pinching her nose closed, opened her mouth and took a bite.

Oliver didn’t notice the flash of white light in the kitchen behind him as he dried his hands in the bathroom. He didn’t notice the deep silence as he made his way back to his favourite room in the house. And nothing could have prepared him for what he found sitting where his mum had sat only a few minutes earlier.

‘Mum,’ he croaked, trembling. ‘Is that you?’ …

Juliet’s story

There she was. Sitting on the chair where his mum should’ve been was…. a toad. It gave a feeble croak and hopped off the chair. Oliver noticed her dressing gown, draped on the floor. Though he had never liked the colour, he felt a pang of sadness for his mother as he looked sorrowfully at it. The toad had now hopped over to the kitchen bench.

‘Well, at least she doesn’t have to do her hair any more’, Oliver thought. The toad hopped up onto the marble bench and, with ‘her’ long tongue, caught a fly that had been buzzing around the kitchen. Oliver had a sudden idea. This could be the perfect time to set up his own restaurant- Mum had always frowned upon this and exclaimed, “You’re too young! You need to get a proper job, like your father, and have a proper family!” Even better, Mum the toad could catch the flies that were buzzing around his restaurant- and he wouldn’t have to pay her! The temptation was so great, he ran to the phone and rang the government. “Do you have any spare plots of land?” he asked. “I’m looking to set up a restaurant!”

“Yes,” came the reply. “Only there is a lot of bugs in that area, due to the fruit trading that goes on around there. I wouldn’t advise it if I were you”.

“Perfect!” replied Oliver. The official on the other end of the line pulled the phone away from his ear, confused. “I’ll buy it tomorrow!” And so he did. Over the next few years, Oliver’s Restaurant became very famous for its absence of bugs. And it was all down to Oliver’s love for cooking, his Yucky Soup, and his amphibian mum.

One thought on “Melinda Szymanik’s FABO Story Competition Report: The Winner of the first FABO Challenge!

  1. Wow Juliet! That story is amazing! I certainly wouldn’t have been able to write a story as good as that!


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