The tenth FABO Story competition will be judged by author Jane Bloomfield. Enter now!
1. Read the story starter and continue the story.
2. We prefer your story to be 500 words or less (not including the story starter). Stories over 550 words will be disqualified.
3. You have two weeks to write your story, so there’s no need to rush! Take your time and send us the best story you can write.
4. Send your story to us by 7pm Friday July 3rd (NZ time).
5. The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.
6. Every fortnight there will be a new competition and a children’s author will post a new story starter for you.
7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.
8. The winner will receive a Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!
*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.
Jane’s Story Starter: Pearl and the Golden Apples
“Rise and shine, sleepyhead,” said Ma, tugging back Pearl’s quilt. “I need you to ride over to the old miner’s place and collect some golden apples.”
“Golden apples?” said Pearl warily. She lifted the sack curtain over the window above her bed and peered out. Sunlight danced on the tall poplar tree that stood like a giant sentinel beside their tiny stone cottage. An invisible breeze carried three yellow leaves; they fluttered down towards Pearl like corn-coloured butterflies.
Ma was stirring porridge at the coalrange. She slapped a bowl down on the table, startling Pearl from her reverie.
“Shall I just get blackberries, Ma? Folk say that apple tree belongs to a witch who puts curses on the children who pick ’em!”
“Nonsense,” said Ma.
“So why are the apples gold, then?” asked Pearl.
“Because they’re Golden Ambrosia apples, silly-billy. No one’s lived there for years. Don’t dally, the weather’s changing.”
Pearl pulled on her woollen riding habit and slowly laced up her leather boots. Her porridge tasted like dust.
Darcy, her big black horse, was waiting at the gate. He whinnied, hello, flicking his head. Pearl whispered to him, “You wouldn’t be acting so fresh if you knew where we’re headed.”
Darcy munched his oats, while Pearl brushed him down and plaited his long forelock. She buckled on her largest saddlebags and slipped her tin whistle in one and a crust of bread wrapped in muslin in the other. She grabbed her shawl and the pair trotted off.
By the time Pearl had played all her tunes and eaten the bread, they arrived at the golden apple tree. Without daring to scout around, Pearl rode Darcy right up beside its laden branches and started picking. She’d almost filled one bag when Darcy snorted and started jigging. All the silvereyes darted from the tree and Pearl heard a strange voice …