Posted in The Winner

FABO Story Report judged by Kathy White

Thanks to everyone who answered the Fabo call and sent in a story. A special high-five goes to Mr Clarke’s class at Hoon Hay School, who worked on Fabo Story as soon as the new term started. It’s great to see  new faces, but it’s also nice to see the keen writers from last year back again. 

I got excited by YOU using your imagination and seeing all the different directions you took this Stewart Island adventure. 

Having a word limit can be difficult, but you’ll get better with practice. You need to choose a story that you can tell within that word count, that will have a beginning, middle and end.

If you only wrote a few sentences, you probably didn’t win the competition this time. If the story you wrote wasn’t closely connected to the story starter, or if you didn’t finish your story, you probably also didn’t win the prize, even if the writing was AMAZING. And some of you DID write amazing stories that didn’t finish. Some stories are simply too big to tell within 500 words. If that’s the case, you need to rethink the size of your plot and make it a short story rather than a novel. Make it simpler.

Here are some of the entertaining things you DID include in your stories this week.

I liked it when you thought about who the rat was,  the qualities of the heroes and villains in your story, and what they wanted most. 

Bill Kelly said: “I am Bileford, the son of the Great Rat of Rakiura, and I wish to unite the warring tribes of this island.”

Natasha said: “It is foreseen that a child of Willow the patron of the kiwi will free the kiwi birds of their worst enemy the rats” whispers the voice again from the shadows. “You think its me?” I reply suddenly. “Of course” the rat whispers. 

Ava Schaumann’s fantails had a very specific goal: “Ridding Stewart Island of ALL humans that infest it!”

I liked it when you painted a picture with both actions and descriptions so I could see the scene in my head. 

Juno Ireland said: I start running. Without even a glance back at the lonely, rickety toilet on top of the hill, I sprint down the other side of the slope. Remy’s tail thumping against my neck as our torch light shadows chase us. As the star-encrusted sky turns an inky indigo, we approach the gnarly trees that mark the beginning of the bush.

Bill Kelly said: Ensuring I have my torch secure in my pocket, we set off, trudging into the darkness of the bush. We pass towering podocarps, that make elaborate patterns overhead with intertwining branches and flowering rātā. On the forest floor in the low growing ferns, creatures rustle and the ground seems alive.

I loved the language you used.

And when you used sight, sound and smells in your descriptions.

In the dark outside, the whistle tastes of magic, of old things, rust, and sea salt …. (Indigo Tomlinson).

I liked it when you were funny. 

Stella Johnson said: “Bristle you’re back!” An older looking creature scurried to greet the rat. Bristle must be her name, I thought. There isn’t one bristle on her rat-pelt. I think these creatures need to choose more appropriate names for their family.

Juliet Young’s spooky story about ghosts had its funny moments: Feeling the crescent-shaped whistle in my palm, I put it to my mouth and heave a deep breath – difficult when surrounded by ghosts, you could easily swallow one ….

Indigo Tomlinson’s main character used the magic whistle to change the diet of rats, and inflict a bit of torture on her brother Sam at the same time. She wrote: “What’re we gonna eat now?” asks one. There is a clamour of concerned voices. I smile wickedly,
“Well, if you go over to the North Arm Hut, there’s a boy there who really needs someone to clean up his toe jams.”

I liked it when you surprised me with a twist. 

Katy McLeod wrote about a rat that gave a series of instructions, then blew the whistle and shrank until he was invisible. You might think the main character would have followed the rat, but did she? No. She didn’t want to shrink, so she “betrays the trusty rat” and instead tricked her brother into blowing the whistle.

I wasn’t expecting that.

I loved it when you captured something special about the characters in the way you made them speak and interact.

Ridima wrote: The rat bowed down and said, “I am Prince Templeton Augustine Willis the Fourth, raised in the palace of Rattingburgh.” Reading the expression on my face, he said, “Just call me Tom.”

And I loved it when you logically tied together all the elements from the story starter and included a beginning, middle and end.

That’s why my winner this week is 12 year-old Anwen Davies. Congratulations, Anwen. Your plot pacing, your descriptions and your dialogue were good, and you even managed to weave the football theme further into your story. We’ll be in touch to organise your prize soon.

Adventure on Stewart Island

Photo by the Graf boys

“This place is pure magic,” I whisper. I’m watching a white-tailed deer amble past the North Arm Hut. She stops next to the picnic table and bends down to nibble at the leaves on the ground. Right where we had lunch today. Behind the hut, I can hear two possums squabbling and then a thump as one of them falls out of a tree onto the corrugated iron roof.

This natural magnificence all happens as the sun goes down, painting a rosy glow across the bay, and it all would be perfect … except Dad and Sam haven’t noticed any of it. They’re still talking about football. Unbelievable.

I glance over at them drying the dinner dishes. “Hey, are we still getting up early to look for kiwi?”

“Absolutely,” Dad says. “How about I wake you at 4?” He winks at me.

“No way, José. We’re on holiday,” Sam says, flicking his tea-towel at Dad. “I’m not going anywhere before lunchtime.”

Photo by the Graf boys

Dad shrugs at me as if to say there’s nothing he can do. I know he likes sleeping in as much as Sam, and Sam is the laziest brother a girl could have.

“This IS MY birthday present,” I remind them. “And I want to hear and see a kiwi. It’s all I want.” But Sam’s already back to talking about Ronaldo and his famous free kicks, and why he thinks he might be talented enough to be Ronaldo the Second. Right now, I’d like to give him a famous free kick of my own.

I flop onto my bed in the bunkroom and reach under my pillow for the treasure I found earlier. It’s a golden crescent-shaped whistle. The initials KW are scratched onto the back of it, which is kind of freaky because those are my initials and it even looks like my writing. But it’s not mine.  I try blowing it again for what must be the 6th or 7th time today but there’s still no sound coming out. Not even a rattle. Perhaps I need to give it a good blast.

I tuck it into my swanndri pocket, grab my torch and a roll of toilet paper, and slip out the back door. It’s a bit of a hike up a steep hill to the toilet, and you do have to check the seat for spiders, but it’s the only place for a girl to get privacy here, and even then you have to put your foot against the door to stop annoying brothers from barging in.

I’m just about to drop my pants when a small voice squeaks. “I’m so pleased you called. It was so faint, I nearly missed it.” In the halo of my torchlight, I see a young rat perched on the edge of the basin. “Are you ready to go? Do you have your whistle? We don’t have much time.”

Anwen’s Winning Story…

Never in my life had I ever felt so frightened. My whole body shook and I started to feel that the toilet seat might start talking to me. “Who are you”

“No time, do you have the whistle?”

It takes me a while to click, does the rat mean the whistle I found earlier?

“Well” Squeaked the rat sounding a little impatient.

“I, I have it here” I utter, fumbling for it in my Swanndri pocket.

“You ready?” He says enthusiastically.

“Where are we go-”

“Just trust me and come” he interrupted, “Come.”

Reluctantly but with excitement I followed the rat into the thick undergrowth of the native bush, breathing in the cold, thick night air. I wondered where we were going as we start to quickly head down hill. For the rat it was easy as he scuffled over the leaves where a path his size seemed to have been made. But at my height, I was having a real fight with the bracken and ferns, not to mention the spiders webs.

The wind howled and twisted through the branches. I shivered. It started getting more exposed now and as the trees opened up ahead, we came into a clearing.

I squinted, then gasped as I looked down in front of me. It seemed that I was about to enter a football pitch. Not any old pitch, but one the size of a table with fern fronds for goal posts. What stunned me most of all was that the players were animals – big, plump rats and little stubby kiwis.

“What’s going on” I burst out. The rat glared at me, then he suddenly smiles. “ I suppose I better explain. All the rats and kiwi’s living on Stewart Island meet on the full moon for a game of football – forest style.”

“Why am I here?” I asked, still puzzled.

“Well, the reason you are here is this.”

The rat explained that every ten years they assigned a new referee for their game, and this time I was the chosen one – me, Katie Walker.

“You are KW – Katerina Whites daughter”

I nearly fainted for the second time that evening.

How did the rat know my mother, Katerina White?

My mother who had left me when I was 2 and who died 10 years ago of cancer. The rat seemed to read my mind and responded straight away. “Your mother, used to be our referee, many full moons ago. That was her whistle, the whistle you will blow tonight”

I nodded, barely able to take it all in. There remained one question for the rat.

“This whistle doesn’t seem to work” I mutter.

The rat pauses then replies;
“Yes, you are right, it only works in the correct light – moonlight from a full moon.”

As the rat nods at me, I fish the whistle out of my pocket and blow. But it doesn’t sound like any whistle I’ve heard before; It sounds like music, a lullaby perhaps. The game begins. I don’t know how, but I just seem to know the right time to make a call, to blow the whistle.

Well, maybe Dad and Sam’s obsession with football wasn’t for no reason after all.


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