Posted in The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 6 judged by Elena De Roo

There were thirty entries from all around Aotearoa, from Southland to the Tutukaka Coast, and I enjoyed reading every single one of them. Well done to everyone who entered! I thought the overall quality of the writing was outstanding. 

I was impressed by the range of inventive ingredients in your “wisherpies.”(Kudos to Taine from Sylvia Park School for coining the word “wisherpy” meaning “wish recipe”)

Grace’s (Bethlehem College) list impressed me with its poetic qualities:
A raindrop from the sun
A hair from the head of a dreamer
A lifetime of good and gold
A hope from the fire within
A wave in the middle of a storm
A dream
A wish

Eva from Churton Park School had an intriguing mix of the everyday and the magical in her list of ingredients:
Mayonnaise
Salt Water
Tree Bark
A Star
I loved the way Jono decided to use a dried starfish instead of a star, and your powerful description once the final ingredient is added.
“… the bowl exploded into a puff of smoke, thunder clapped, the sea roared as the recipe floated into the air and a voice called out ‘make your wish now’ …….”

I really liked the thought and detail Angela from Taupo Intermediate put into her recipe method, especially the ominous warning.
“Grind the lemon candy into a powder, along with the huckleberries and flower petals. Slice the peacock feather into the smallest possible pieces after boiling in a pot with three cups of spring water … Mix well. Let sit for 22 minutes …
WARNING: DO NOT DRINK ALL IN ONE SIP, AND DO NOT FORGET THE CINNAMON!!!!!!!”

Julia from St Cuthberts College spiced up her ingredients list with the addition of “an annoying little brother.”  

Elise from Southland Girls High invented a clever rhyming incantation to say over the mixture “Magic bring the light in me, a wish is what I plead of thee.”

But my favourite ingredients, “grated unicorn horn and ogre snot”, were created by Juliet (Halswell School).  I especially liked your comic twist of turning Ash into an “Ashicorn” with a horn that “looked soft and was a subtle shade of blue” and Anaru into an ogre “carbuncled, green, stagnant and slouched”  making them the source of the ingredients.  “Jono grated the Ashicorn’s horn with such vigour that he grated his fingers more than once. I was failing at Anaru’s nose-blowing routine. He defiantly sat there, his bead-like eyes glinting angrily … pruney arms crossed.”  Great choice of descriptive words, without over-doing it, and very funny too!

But of course no matter how strange and wonderful the ingredients were the wishes didn’t always go to plan.

”They [the cupcakes] look so good,” Anaru said. “But what about the icing? I wish we had some.”  (Sophie – Churton Park School)

“’Well I wish that this goop would turn into a cupcake,’ Ash said … Slowly, the gloop started to take shape, it was as if invisible hands were moulding it into the shape of a cupcake … it grew bigger and bigger until it finally stopped at the size of a chair … the cupcake formed a mouth. The mouth opened wide and before Ash could register what had happened, he was swallowed.”  (Yang Yang Lei, Marina View School)

Taylor’s (Lincoln Park Primary) character begins by wishing sensibly, then sneaks in a little extra wish as well, which is a nice touch. “’I wish for us to leave and I wish for everything to be okay … and if flying is an option, I’d like that too,’ I whispered. “

I liked the vivid picture Mattie, from Nelson Intermediate, created with his description of a grumpy genie:  “… a slightly chubby genie floated above Anaru’s head. It looked around the room, its face covered in wrinkles like hundreds of interlocking valleys and two caves for a nose. The genie zipped around the room and shovelled all the cupcakes into its mouth then glared down at us. ‘Well hurry up, what’s your wish?’ it demanded.’”

And Janisha from Tirimoana Primary wrote this beautiful line bringing her, Shakespeare-loving, Nana character’s voice to life: “Even now, I could remember her lovely lilting accent soaring through the words, lightly deciphering the harder phrases and chuckling occasionally at the porter’s antics in her favourite, Macbeth …”

Araav (Balmoral School) – “This recipe is to be kept in uttermost silence … The Elder ones have signed a pact to protect this with their soul … It made me wonder what Nana actually did when she said she socialised at the nursing home hosting long games of bingo. Even though we all saw though the lie, we kept that to ourselves … We can all agree Nana was good at many things but lying was not her strong suit.” Your story has an epic quality to it, with some wonderful description and a nice mix of humour, mystery and suspense. Well done!

Finally, I whittled the thirty down to a short short-list

Jerry  (Churchill Park School) – “We all flopped onto the sofa in despair as the rain gently ‘pitter-pattered’ on the roof. The sky rumbled and flashed in the distance. What a gloomy day it was. “ This is a great beginning, it really sets the scene. And what a superb idea to hide the secret ingredient inside a Pickle and Brussel Sprout Lasagne recipe – it made for a great story.

Indigo from Huanui College cleverly used personification to make the wish a character in its own right. “Suddenly the ink seemed to rise off the page, and it twisted through the air like black ribbons, twining together into the shape of a hunchbacked old woman. She was made up of half-formed streaks and tears dripped like viscous oil from her unseeing eye sockets …” Wonderfully evocative description and I loved your ending too.
“’Well everyone makes mistakes,’ I said gently, feeling a bit sorry for her, ‘I think you just need to accept that you did something wrong and move on.’
Mum ALWAYS said that when Jono and I had a fight.
Suddenly a gust of wind blew through the kitchen, and the witch seemed to disintegrate into fragments of dust that scattered to the corners of the room as though swept by an invisible broom.
The lights flickered back on.
I looked at the piece of paper still lying innocently on the bench.
Two words etched in black lettering curled across the page.
Thank you. “  

And my winner is:

Bill Kelly from Brooklyn Primary School

I was won over by the way your story made me laugh, its attention to detail, the nice balance of dialogue, description and plot, and its simple but clever ending. Big congratulations! I’ll be in touch shortly, to find out where to send your prize.

Elena’s Story Starter

Even though Jono and I both had friends over, the rainy afternoon seemed to be stretching out forever. 

“What about baking something,” called Mum from her home office, when Jono and Anaru started chasing each other around the living room, whooping loudly. “There’s a recipe for cupcakes somewhere in Nana’s old scrap book.”

It sounded like a good idea, especially as we could eat them afterwards.

While Ash and I turned the pages, Jono and Anaru looked over our shoulders. The recipes, most of them in Nana’s spidery writing, were dotted with grease spots and had interesting titles, like Tapioca Pudding and Lemon Barley Water.  

“Give it here. I’ll find the cupcakes,” said Anaru. He started rifling through the pages and a small square of folded paper fell out. “Bet that’s it.”

The faintly lined paper was yellowed at the edges and almost falling apart along the fold lines. I laid it out carefully on the bench. ~ RECIPE FOR A WISH ~ it began, in Nana’s best printing.

Bill’s Story

1 snail’s shell (ideally a magic variety)
1 Tbs of red sand
Juice of a fresh lemon
3 teeth (crushed)
5 drops of black ink

The first ingredient was simply a matter of a trip to the top of our garden. Deep in the foliage Ash found a sparkly gold snail shell the size of a button, hopefully it was a magic one. For the second ingredient we ran to the sheer rock face that separated our home from the waves of the wild Pacific and climbed down the steep stairs. Rain sprayed in our faces and water filled our gumboots as we waded out to Kaipara’s Rock. The small island named in 1824 after the fastest runner in Aotearoa who drowned when he fell from the rock and hit his head. I scooped up a handful of red sand and put it in one of Jono’s old plastic beach buckets along with the snail shell.

Soaking wet we trudged home for tea. Mum had made hot soup and Nana’s scones. “How will we get teeth?” asked Jono. Anaru offered to pull out three of his baby teeth using a rubber band attached to the door knob, which Jono got very excited about but Mum thought wasn’t a good idea.

“Let’s not worry about the teeth for now” said Ash bringing us back to the task “we need a lemon.”

“You’re in luck” Mum volunteered “There’s one in the veggie box this week, it’s still fresh.”

“Thanks Mum” I replied “but where do you think we can find some teeth?”

Mum looked like she was thinking hard.

“I know”, shouted Jono as he jumped up from the table “the rat trap.”

We all grimaced, “Eww gross!”

“It’s the best idea we have got” stressed Jono. We spent the next 20 minutes poking around Dad’s rat traps at the top of garden, trying to avoid losing a finger in the process. Finally my hand felt the stiff body of a dead rat and we carefully carried it back down to the house.

Jono laid the rat on the kitchen table.

“Out”, shouted Mum so we trouped back into the garden and Ash used his pocket knife to ease out three sharp teeth. It was grim. Jono and Anaru made gagging noises and then Anaru kicked the body over the fence into the neighbours while we used rocks to grind the teeth down and add them to the bucket.

Our final ingredient, the black ink. I found one of Mum’s old ball-point pens and snapped it so the ink spread across my fingers. As I slowly added 5 drops into the mixture we crowded over the bucket and watched as the potion began to fizz and splutter. Yellow bubbles sprayed on to the bench and a smell like cat pee filled the room.

“What should we wish for?” I asked.

“A huge lolly” said Jono,

“Lego” added Anaru,

“To Captain the Black Caps” countered Ash,

“No!” I said, “we need to wish for something special.”

We all looked at each other. “After three, say the most important thing you can think of that would change the world forever.” Then I counted down slowly, “Three… Two… One… We wish for… “

“Kindness” we said in unison..  

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