Posted in The Winners!

FABO Story Report for Competition 4 judged by Weng Wai Chan

Thank you to everyone who entered this fortnight’s Fabo Story competition. I really enjoyed reading your stories and seeing what your imaginations came up with. There were mermaids, pirates, all kinds of sea creatures, as well as time travel, portals and levitating frogs. Ash and/or Ash’s friend came to a nasty end a few times too.

Some of you made me laugh, like the following entries:

Makere Cowie-Beaufort This sentence was not only funny but showed us how Ash felt about a girl he’d just met, without needing to tell us directly (a great example of subtext) Ash kept patting down his messy bronze hair and turning slightly pink at the sight of her.

Sophie Strugnell I felt like I was in some horrible travesty of the Princess and the Pea story.

Mattie Lang I feel the portal reach out to me and suck me in like you would suck soup through a straw.

Katie Lee Was this real? Was I dreaming? A levitating frog with a southern accent had just greeted me. I began to question everyone’s existence, including my own.

Jessica Mclean We ended up being famous. But we got two day detention afterwards.

There were some great animals and hybrid animals:

Maite BriderI-it’s a cat with a human head!!!’

Alexander Cooke and the octoshark.

Toko Achiwa Suddenly, there was a whispered croak, like the sound of a bullfrog with a sore throat. 

There were also some wonderful descriptions:

Kate Ye A great whip of seaweed hair smacked Ash straight into the water.

Gia The water got darker, like a pool of octopus ink.

Guy Deans-Emerys The fog rolled away like a car parked without the brakes on.

Abi Crowley Now we were in some kind of large grotto, covered with luminescent rocks that gave off a spooky glow.

Lachy’s story showed some great problem solving ideas, including using a watch to flash sunlight to catch the attention of a passing ship’s captain.

There were some terrific endings, like the fish-people who came to a bad ending through their own devices in Tim Zhao’s story: The underwater city exploded and Ash saw the explosion. “Look at that”, says Ash. “It was probably those bombs they made”, I say.

Bill Kelly’s story was a rollicking yarn of ghostly pirates versus an enormous whale, which ended with this great line: Was this what our teachers meant by school camp pushing us out of our comfort zones?

My two winners are:

Junior winner: Kahlan Allen (Aged 10) Kahlan’s story had an exciting beginning, an interesting middle and a lovely ending.

Senior winner: Indigo Kelly (Aged 13) Indigo’s story was imaginative, poignant and beautiful, yet had an ending that made me laugh.

Well done Kahlan and Indigo!

Weng Wai’s Story Starter: An Unusual Situation

I could tell Ash was feeling awkward, but I didn’t know why. Maybe it was just from being the new kid at school. Now wasn’t the time to talk about it though, as the waves were getting worryingly high. They sloshed over the side, making a puddle that was getting deeper every minute. It was getting really windy too. We were in a two-person kayak and getting further away from the beach with every gust of the wind. The other kids seemed to have made it back to land okay, but not us.

‘I’m never going on a school camp again,’ I groaned. ‘It was fine and sunny a minute ago. Where did that huge cloud come from?’

‘Let’s head for that island,’ said Ash, who now seemed less uncomfortable than before. I looked up and saw what looked like a rock with a palm tree sticking out of it. What worried me the most was that the tiny island was the only thing between us and the enormous, heaving, grey expanse that was the Tasman Sea.

I really hoped Ash was good at coping with unusual situations, especially as something appeared just next to us that was totally weird.

Kahlan’s Winning Story

 I realised what was in the water. A colossal squid! This was way unusual. Colossal Squid just about never come up from the midnight zone! It seemed frightened, and I didn’t know why. That’s when a strong current started pulling us toward the island. We leaned over the side of the kayak, and before we knew what was happening, it tipped. We fell face first into the murky water, right where the colossal squid had just squirted ink! My life jacket slipped off, and I panicked, and started to sink. I didn’t know how to swim! “Kat! Hold on!” Ash called. I gripped his arm, and with strong strokes, we made it to the island. Surprisingly alive. I could see a mark on Ash’s arm, where I had gripped onto him, and instantly felt guilty. “Sorry about that,” I said. pointing at his arm. “Don’t worry,” he said. Then, his face fell. “Do you feel that?” he asked. I had already felt it before he had asked. The island was rocking, side to side, and as it rose out of the water, we realised it wasn’t an island at all. It was a giant sea turtle, waking up from his late morning nap. He shook, and with great force, we went plummeting into the sea. Then, everything went black.

I woke up in a strange place. Ash hurriedly swam over to me. Wait, swam? We’re underwater. I have so many questions! “What? Why can I br-?” ”Hold up Kat! You know that myth about shipwrecks we read at school?” he asked. “ Yeah, But what’s that got to do with anything?” “Well, I’ve got somebody I would like you to meet.” He said. As Ash stepped aside, a small figure swam forward. She had long curly hair, and beautiful blue eyes. She wore a short purple T-shirt, and below that, she had a long green tail. She was a mermaid. A real mermaid! I blinked and rubbed my eyes. I thought I’d gone mad! “ Hi,” she said. “ I’m Lily. It’s great that you’re awake. You passed out for 47 minutes, you know.” I stared at her, mouth open. “Oh. Hi Lily. I’m Kat. Sorry, but where are we?” I asked, still completely shocked. “ We’re at my home,” replied Lily. “Cool.” I said. An awkward silence followed. “ Do you know how we could get home?” I asked. “Hmm… Let’s ponder it over tea shall we?” We agreed. We hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast.

The only thing Lily had was seaweed biscuits. We also had some peppermint tea. We pondered some ideas. Suddenly, Lily said, “Turtle!” Turtle? Lily realised our confused expressions, and said, “ The one who got you down here? He can make portals, and his name is Henry!” She made a whistling sound and then there was thumping. “Hello Lily. What do you need?” Henry boomed.” I met some friends. Can you help them get home to cabin 11 at Camp Remu?” “Umm… sure, just a moment.” He closed his eyes and a tornado appeared. “When he opens his eyes, step into the tornado.” Lily said. “Thank you so much for all your help Lily.” Ash said. We held hands, and stepped into the tornado. Ash was no longer the new kid at school. He was my friend.

Indigo’s Winning Story

Beside us a swirling tornado of sea was levitating slowly into the air. It whirled like a spinning top, strange mirages flashing with each rotation.

Suddenly a wave, the color of dirty sea glass crashed into us violently, spilling us into the centre of the malicious maw.

We whirled around wildly like clothes set on spin cycle, and when we were finally spat out like driftwood washed ashore in the tide, I realised that we were in an underwater cave.

Hundreds of abandoned things floated gently in an eerie cemetery. Some were rusted beyond recognition, algae coating the curves of the plastic digger, and seaweed tangling in the hair of the barbie mermaid.

In the corner stood an old-fashioned gramophone. It curved like a scallop shell from a decaying wooden base, and coppery rust coated the rim, the colour of wrinkled sunsets.

“Welcome to the cave of the lost.” The voice came from the gramophone, harsh and roughened at the edges, sand grating raw on a tearful throat.

“Why are we here?” Ash stammered, voice watery and indistinct.

“You, Ash, are a lost thing.” The gramophone boomed. “You escaped my clutches once, but you won’t do….” it abruptly cut off and began spouting The Wedding March. “Ahem” the rattling contraption cleared its throat and the cheerful bells ground to a resigned halt. “…do so again. I am the Curator of the Carelessly Misplaced Curiosity Collection, commanded by the sea itself. And you, my boy, are a curiosity.”

“No, no, no, no. It’s not true!” Ash started to back away.

The voice chuckled and the gramophone appeared to shake with suppressed laughter,

“Parents killed tragically at sea, now an orphan, living in a foster home. I’d say you were pretty lost.”

Ash appeared to curl into himself, like a catseye inside its shell.

“You’re right.” he muttered, almost to himself, “I was careless. I lost them.”

The gramophone released another long, low chuckle, “The sea wants you back my boy. You can’t hide forever. As for you,” the gramophone pivoted towards me, “I suppose you’re a bit of a curiosity too. A matching pair!” The gramophone jiggled ecstatically and started to play a victory march. But I had had enough.

“Lost things can be found again!” I yelled, suddenly furious, “Just because someone might have forgotten who they are doesn’t mean they can’t find their way back.”

The gramophone appeared startled. The victory march peetered peevishly out into silence. “You collect curiosities, don’t you?” I was almost screaming, “Well maybe you should start being curious about where they came from and who’s missing them.”

With every word Ash seemed to grow a little taller, a little bolder, like a pearl in fast-forward, metamorphosing from a simple grain of sand to a treasure as imperfectly scarred and beautiful as the moon.

“We’ll adopt you.” I told him, more quietly, “No-one is ever truly lost because kindness is the map to being found again.”

The gramophone appeared to be dribbling tears.

“So, so touching.” it sniffled emphatically, “I’ll return you to the surface.”

In a burst of light we landed back in our kayak. The sun was shining, and the sky was forget-me-not blue.

From far, far below us I heard an echoey voice,

“Could someone please get me a tissue?”

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story Report for Competition 3 judged by Helen Vivienne Fletcher

Thanks to everyone who entered a story this fortnight. Jessie, Sarah and Tom certainly got up to some adventures! I had a hard time picking a winner, and there were several stories I came back to many times before finally deciding.

Before I announce the winner, I have a few honourable mentions.

Nella Thomson and Anna Duff had some lovely descriptive language throughout their stories – good use of metaphors and similes!

Adele N had some great humour, with the kids mailing themselves to Paris in order to get the money to fly to Japan. One small problem with that – they then also had to raise the money to get home from France!

Grace Moodie and Adele Stack created fascinating mythology behind the origins of the coin. Grace with three imagined ancient coins, and Adele with an Inca Temple at the heart of her story.

Zhongheng Wu and Caitlin Young took the story down a sci fi track, Caitlin with Sarah turning out to be an alien, and Zhongheng with the inventor of Bitcoin and an intriguing secret project called Oasis 9.

Bill Kelly had a great adventure story, set in a museum, with our heroes getting themselves into a bit of trouble… or not as it turns out in a clever twist at the end.

Niamh Murray’s story was thoughtfully written, telling us two sides to the story – Sarah’s and the story of a supposed villain who had stolen the coin. Villains aren’t always what they seem, and Niamh gave this one a fascinating backstory.

And the winner is…

Indigo Tomlinson. Indigo’s story particularly appealed to me because it felt like a complete story, with interesting descriptions – I loved the line about the anxious typewriter! The dark twist at the end was creepy, but fit the story well, and made for a satisfying conclusion.

My story starter: The Garage Sale

“Is that the best price you can give me?”

Jessie glanced between the man and the $1.50 price tag dangling from the necklace held between his fingers.

“Well … we’re fundraising for our school trip to Japan,” she said, hesitantly.

The man’s arched eyebrow told Jessie that wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear. His piercing stare reminded Jessie of the ones her teacher gave her when she’d forgotten to do her homework.

Her shoulders slumped. “One dollar, okay?”

The man’s face softened, and he dropped two coins on the makeshift counter. He started to turn away, then glanced back. “Good luck with the fundraising, kid. Perhaps you’ll reach your goal faster than you think.” He winked, then walked away, taking the necklace with him.

Jessie swept the coins into the cashbox without looking at them. She couldn’t help thinking they would make the goal faster with that extra 50 cents!

“You’re such a soft touch, Jessie.” Sarah grinned from behind a rack of second-hand clothes.

Tom shook his head. “Not her fault. Some people will haggle over any price.”

Jessie sighed. Tom was right, but they were never going to raise enough for the trip if people kept asking for discounts. This was the third garage sale they’d held, and they were still nowhere near meeting their fundraising target.

“How much have we made today?” Sarah asked.

Jessie opened the cashbox, tipping the money out to count it. The rattle of coins stopped disappointingly soon. Sarah and Tom both groaned.

“We’ll never get to Tokyo at this rate!”

Sarah started sorting the coins into piles.

“Hey, what’s this one?” Tom held up a large bronze coin. It was bigger than any of the others, and it had a strange spiral symbol in the middle. “I’ve never seen money like this before…”

Sarah’s face paled. “I have,” she said. “But you’re not going to believe where …”

Indigo’s Story

Before Sarah could continue, Tom spat on his thumb and started rubbing the surface of the coin idly. An electric shock ripped the air apart and an urgent “ding” like the sound of an anxious typewriter reaching the edge of the page, evaporated into the air. Jessie felt her body fragment into mist, and she was slurped up into the atmosphere like the last dregs of hot chocolate in the bottom of the mug.

They were standing in an abandoned courtyard. Above them the sky was the colour of tea-stained paper, and in front a cracking marble fountain stood, bubbling dejectedly like half-flat lemonade.

Slowly, Jessie walked towards the dribbling fountain. It gurgled anxiously as she approached. At the base of the fountain thousands more unusual coins created a crazy-paving pattern.

“It’s like a wishing well!” Sarah exclaimed, “That’s where I’ve seen a coin like that before.”

“Maybe that’s what the man meant!” Jessie exclaimed excitedly, “He knew we could use the coin and make a wish to go to Tokyo!”

Fingers trembling with anticipation Jessie released the coin into the fountain. As it tumbled the surface caught the light in odd and unknowing contours of strangeness, and winked at her, as though they shared a secret.

The fountain began to shake at the sides, and from the water rose a terrifying figure. As they watched the man seemed to morph and change shape subtly, elongating shadows filling the empty grooves on his forehead and the wasted hollows of his sunken cheeks. Where his right eye should have been, a silver coin gleamed menacingly.

Jessie gasped and took a step back, heart pounding.
The man’s nails, stained with murky verdigris, tapped impatiently on the rim of the pathetically pouting fountain.

“Ahhhh….” his voice rang out like the chink of coins in the bottom of a wishing well.

“Uh, hi!” Jessie gave him the blatantly cheerful smile she usually reserved specifically for visits to the dentist.

“I see you made a wish….” the man reached out one spindly arm, and Jessie noticed tattoos running up and down every inch of exposed skin, embossed like indents in metal.

“Well…” Jessie felt her merry-go-lucky fairground facade falling away.

“Who are you?” Tom asked, no trace of fear in his brash voice.

The man gave a wide smile and Jessie saw that his teeth were made of coppery bronze.
“I am the Wish-Granter, boy.” The way he said “boy” sounded like an insult, spat from his mouth like something distasteful. “The wishes give me life, and in return I make them come true.”

“So we can go to Tokyo?” Jessie asked hopefully. The man gave a bitter little quirk of the lips,

“Be careful what you wish for.” He melted into the shadows like a dying candle.

Jessie raced to the fountain and scrambled to retrieve the wish coin. But it was lost amid the others. The man’s final words had been a warning. The sky darkened…..

Three newly polished coins chinked into the wishing well of Tokyo airport, as though dropped from an invisible hand. If anyone had looked closer, they would have seen the faces of Tom, Sarah and Jessie, engraved in harsh lines on the silvered surface.
But no-one did.
Be careful what you wish for indeed.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the fourth FABO competition judged by Weng Wai Chan!

★ The third FABO Story competition for 2021 has closed and is being judged by author Helen Vivienne Fletcher. Helen will announce the winner this week.

★ The fourth FABO Story competition has started. Author Weng Wai Chan has written a story starter. Finish the story your way to enter the competition!

Click here to take a look at the schedule for this year’s competitions.

Instructions

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 June 25th (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 mystery prize donated by Weng Wai!

Weng Wai’s Story Starter: An Unusual Situation

I could tell Ash was feeling awkward, but I didn’t know why. Maybe it was just from being the new kid at school. Now wasn’t the time to talk about it though, as the waves were getting worryingly high. They sloshed over the side, making a puddle that was getting deeper every minute. It was getting really windy too. We were in a two-person kayak and getting further away from the beach with every gust of the wind. The other kids seemed to have made it back to land okay, but not us.

‘I’m never going on a school camp again,’ I groaned. ‘It was fine and sunny a minute ago. Where did that huge cloud come from?’

‘Let’s head for that island,’ said Ash, who now seemed less uncomfortable than before. I looked up and saw what looked like a rock with a palm tree sticking out of it. What worried me the most was that the tiny island was the only thing between us and the enormous, heaving, grey expanse that was the Tasman Sea.

I really hoped Ash was good at coping with unusual situations, especially as something appeared just next to us that was totally weird.

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the third FABO Competition judged by Helen Vivienne Fletcher!

★ The second FABO Story competition for 2021 has closed and author Melinda Szymanik has announced the winners. You can read her report by clicking here.

★ The third FABO Story competition has started and author Helen Vivienne Fletcher has written the start of the story. Finish the story and enter the competition now!

Click here to take a look at the schedule for this year’s competitions.

Instructions

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 June 11th (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 mystery prize donated by Helen!

Helen’s Story Starter: The Garage Sale

“Is that the best price you can give me?”

Jessie glanced between the man and the $1.50 price tag dangling from the necklace held between his fingers.

“Well … we’re fundraising for our school trip to Japan,” she said, hesitantly.

The man’s arched eyebrow told Jessie that wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear. His piercing stare reminded Jessie of the ones her teacher gave her when she’d forgotten to do her homework.

Her shoulders slumped. “One dollar, okay?”

The man’s face softened, and he dropped two coins on the makeshift counter. He started to turn away, then glanced back. “Good luck with the fundraising, kid. Perhaps you’ll reach your goal faster than you think.” He winked, then walked away, taking the necklace with him.

Jessie swept the coins into the cashbox without looking at them. She couldn’t help thinking they would make the goal faster with that extra 50 cents!

“You’re such a soft touch, Jessie.” Sarah grinned from behind a rack of second-hand clothes.

Tom shook his head. “Not her fault. Some people will haggle over any price.”

Jessie sighed. Tom was right, but they were never going to raise enough for the trip if people kept asking for discounts. This was the third garage sale they’d held, and they were still nowhere near meeting their fundraising target.

“How much have we made today?” Sarah asked.

Jessie opened the cashbox, tipping the money out to count it. The rattle of coins stopped disappointingly soon. Sarah and Tom both groaned.

“We’ll never get to Tokyo at this rate!”

Sarah started sorting the coins into piles.

“Hey, what’s this one?” Tom held up a large bronze coin. It was bigger than any of the others, and it had a strange spiral symbol in the middle. “I’ve never seen money like this before…”

Sarah’s face paled. “I have,” she said. “But you’re not going to believe where …”

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in Junior Winner, Senior Winner, The Winners!

FABO Story Report judged by Melinda Szymanik

First of all, congratulations to everyone who entered – great work people – writing a story isn’t easy. As the previous judge Kathy mentioned, it’s important to make sure you have a beginning, a middle AND an end in your story. There were some wonderful beginnings that stopped half way through the middle and a couple that stopped just before the end. Endings ARE hard to write but they are super important if you want to make the story work as a whole. An important part of writing is learning what to leave in and what to leave out. If you leave out things that aren’t important to the story (even if they sound really cool) you have more words to use on the things that do matter.

I also think punctuation and paragraphs make a big difference. Start a new paragraph whenever someone new starts speaking, or if you change scene, or something new is happening. These things make your story easier to read. Also if the story is in third person (I wrote about Jodie), it felt strange if you switched to first person (you wrote as if you were Jodie saying ‘I did this’, instead of ‘Jodie did this’).

Using vines like ropes to rescue Ben was really popular, and a number of the stories that did this were well written, but the ones I liked best were the ones that took an unexpected route to the ending or surprised me in a good way. My compliments to Jos (Whangamata Area School) who included time slip in their story. I loved that Hannah Howis (Fendalton Open Air Primary) realised that Jodie was lost and it wouldn’t be easy to find her way back to the farm. And to everyone that included Pippi and Barney – good work! They were extra options already included in the story that could help solve the problem that Jodie and Ben were faced with.

I enjoyed the writing in the stories by Radha Gamble (St Andrews College), Grace Evans from Selwyn House School, Adele Stack from Geraldine Primary and Theo Eulink from St Andrew’s College. Also Olivia Morriss (Oamaru Intermediate), Grace Elizabeth Russell from Enner Glynn School, Johnna Zixu from Roydvale School, Aanya Jayaweera (Home School) and Amelia Hopoi from St Therese Catholic School.

There were some great lines that made me laugh:-

Siona Sircar (Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School) with – She pulls a knife out of her dress (who knew dresses had pockets?)…

Lucy Bevin (also Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School), with –  Somebody wanted Ben dead, not Mrs Winch, no offence to her but she can’t run that fast so she’s off the table

And Teia Clark with this absolute gem – Then grandad hopped out of his wheelchair, jumped off the edge, smacked his elbow in mid air and K.Oed Ben off the branch to the both of their doom. (Haha sorry here’s the real ending).

Then there were also some wonderful descriptions:-

Zak (Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School) wrote – The darkness soaked up all the light left in the blue sky…

And this – Ben clung desperately to the side of the cliff. It was pockmarked with scars from the driving assaults of centuries of wind and rain, but the area directly above Ben was smooth and sheer, like a woman who’s had too many botox injections – from Indigo Tomlinson at Huanui College.

And my winners, who both tried something a little fresh and different with their stories and included some great descriptive writing, are …

Melinda’s Story Starter: Trouble at Winch Farm

They’d got a bit lost.

They’d never had a farm holiday before and everything was strange and new. Jodie and Ben had been shocked at how early everyone got up. It was weird eating breakfast while the rest of the world seemed fast asleep, the darkness of night still asserting itself over everything.

But riding pillion on the quad bikes – ‘Yes you do have to wear a helmet,’ Mrs Winch insisted – was huge fun and they both loved the cows and Mr Winch’s dog Barney and the farm cat Pippi. They’d done their best to help where they could and stay out of the way when things got tricky.

And on the third day when they’d finished their chores and dinner was still hours away, Mrs Winch said, ‘why don’t you go for a walk. If you follow the driveway past the house to the gate and go through into the bush there’s a terrific track down to the beach.’

‘That sounds great,’ Jodie said. ‘We’ll be back by four thirty so we can help with dinner.’

They’d headed along the driveway and clambered over the gate and soon were deep in the bush on the narrow little trail. Until Ben saw something. ‘I think it’s Pippi. Maybe she’s lost. Or hurt. ’ And he was off before Jodie could say ‘Stop!’ She heard him thrashing about, the sound getting fainter as the distance between them grew.

‘Come back!’ she yelled, before plunging off the track and into the bush after him. She did her best to follow the noise but no matter how fast she went she couldn’t seem to catch up. And then she heard the sound no one wants to hear. A sharp, anguished cry and then a piercing scream. ‘Ben!’

Pushing through the tangle of scrub and trees as fast as she could, Jodie nearly stepped off the edge of the cliff herself. She looked down before fear stopped her. Below, half way down the sheer face of stone, Ben perched where a small ledge jutted beside a crooked tree growing out horizontally over the drop. Was that blood on his forehead?

‘BEN!?’

Junior Winner – Bill Kelly (9 – Brooklyn School)

Bill’s Winning Story

Overcoming her fear, Jodie peaked over the cliff edge again. Below the ledge was an endless sea of sharp rocks extending out from the headland, a white froth surrounding each one of them. ‘I wonder why they called this Smugglers Cove’ thought Jodie ‘Those smugglers must have been gutsy to land here.’
  
Jodie made eye contact with Ben, hanging on to the ledge with one hand and struggling to keep something in his jumper with the other. She could see the beads of sweat trickling down his forehead, his face as pale as death itself. Behind his glasses, Ben’s eyes were wide with panic, twitching, as he swung helplessly from side to side.
 
‘HELP ME!”
 
Protruding from Ben’s jumper was a thin, tortoiseshell tail, “Pippi”, Jodie exclaimed. Pippi hissed, fighting to get out of Ben’s grip. Knowing she had to help them, Jodie yanked off the pink merino scarf Granddad gave her last Christmas and tried to lower it down to her frightened brother and the runaway cat.
 
‘It’s no good, it will never reach.’ Jodie’s heart sank, ‘What if Ben fell … it would all be her fault. Should she run back to farm to get help? It would be too late, Ben couldn’t hold on.’
  
Dejected, Jodie leant back against the Pohutukawa tree hanging from the cliff, its twisted roots digging into the dirty yellow rock. The tree was a mass of red flowers shimmering like burning stars, with a long crooked limb which stuck out over the cliff like a diving board. Suddenly Pippi made a lunge from Ben’s arms like a speeding silver arrow, she only just caught onto the branch with her sharp claws. As Pippi scrambled from the tree, Jodie ducked to avoid her and felt a cold, sharp, cog graze her side.

Jodie’s trembling hands ripped at the bark to expose twisted metal and part of a chain. “BEN! I’ve found some sort of crane … I can try and reach you”. She started to pull the old winch from its hiding spot as Barney sprung out of the bush howling furiously. The dog pulled the chain out of Jodie’s hand, gingerly trotted along the branch, and hovered over the cliff. 
 
Jodie dug in the dirt and loosened the rest of the chunky metal contraption while Barney dropped the chain from his mouth into Ben’s waiting hands. The rusty iron chain sliding into a set of parallel grooves marked on the branch.

“Hurry .. I can’t hold on much longer”, whimpered Ben.
  
‘This might just work,’ thought Jodie. Her hands, wet from sweat, slipped as she began to turn the handle, the sharp metal digging into her palms but that just made her grip tighter. Encouraged by the excited barking of Barney, Jodie pushed through her fear and with all her strength, heaved. The chain coiled around the tree, gave a loud creak, and moving slowly, Ben was hoisted up the cliff face.

Ben collapsed on the grass at the edge of the bush, colour slowly returning to his cheeks. “That was intense.”
 
He turned to Jodie and giggled. “If Mrs Winch asks what we did today, we can just say we were hanging about by the beach!”
 

Senior Winner – Indigo Tomlinson (13 – Huanui College)

Indigo’s Winning Story

Jodie looked down and gulped, bile rising in her throat as Ben clung desperately to the side of the cliff. It was pockmarked with scars from the driving assaults of centuries of wind and rain, but the area directly above Ben was smooth and sheer, like a woman who’s had too many botox injections.
 
Without warning, a savage gust of wind tore Ben’s cap from his head, and sent it spinning out into the ether.
 
Oh no. Jodie thought, as she watched the cheerful yellow cap begin to tumble down towards the hungry waves. That was Ben’s last present from their father. Before he left. As Jodie stayed where she was, rooted to the spot by fear and indecision, Ben made a desperate lunge for the spinning hat. But as he did, his foot slipped on the edge of the narrow ledge. His arms windmilled, mouth forming an elongated ellipse of shock as he too began to fall.
 
Ben tumbled slowly as though falling through layers of liquid glass. Yet with every blink Jodie took he seemed to get closer and closer to the lunging spindrift and closer to the convulsive grasp of the desperate sea. In some ways, the ocean reminded Jodie of her mother. The way she wouldn’t let them speak to their dad after he left, and the way she clutched them jealously if someone so much as dared to mention his name in passing.
 
Ben hit the water.
 
In a flurry of small bubbles he sank beneath the surface. An echoey boom resounded out over the ocean as storm clouds congregated in the distance. To Jodie it sounded like a death toll. But it started her into action. She turned and raced back down to the beach as fast as she could.
 
 
When Jodie reached the narrow strip of rocky shore directly beneath the clifftop she didn’t hesitate. Ben was out there. He was a strong swimmer. They both were. She could save him. There was still a chance.
 
Tearing off her t-shirt and shorts, Jodie stood shivering before plunging into the sea. The cold was a shock. She went to inhale, but stopped herself just in time. Striking out into deep water, Jodie kept her eyes open beneath the surface for any sign of her twin.
 
But there was nothing. She remembered a game they used to play when they were little, imagining they could hear each other’s thoughts and use telepathy to communicate.
 
“Ben?” she tried in her mind,
 
“Jodie?” came a whispered reply, but it was faint and fuzzy like a badly tuned television.
 
“Ben! Don’t worry I’m coming!”
 
She saw him. A small figure sinking beneath the waves. Jodie dived. With a desperate hand she grabbed Ben’s wrist and pulled him to the surface. He was a dead weight.
 
Jodie swam for shore.
 
She heaved her exhausted body onto the rough rocks. Shivering she tugged Ben to dry land too. She shook him, as hard as she could. No response.
 
“Ben! I know you’re in there! Please!” She was crying now. He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t.
 
Then, with a sudden start, Ben’s eyes flew open. He coughed up a lungful of seawater and gave her his usual charming grin,
 
“Hey Sis; did you grab my hat?”
 

Well Done!! I will be in touch with you both regarding prizes 😃

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

kiwi2
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.”

kiwi1
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.

Posted in Uncategorized

Enter the second FABO story competition!

★ The first FABO Story competition for 2021 has closed and author Kathy White is reading the entries. The winner will be announced in the next few days.

★ The second FABO Story competition for 2021 has now started and author Melinda Szymanik has written a story starter. You can enter the competition now!

Click here to take a look at the schedule for this year’s competitions.

Instructions

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 May 28th (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 mystery prize donated by Melinda!

Melinda’s Story Starter: Trouble at Winch Farm

They’d got a bit lost.

They’d never had a farm holiday before and everything was strange and new. Jodie and Ben had been shocked at how early everyone got up. It was weird eating breakfast while the rest of the world seemed fast asleep, the darkness of night still asserting itself over everything.

But riding pillion on the quad bikes – ‘Yes you do have to wear a helmet,’ Mrs Winch insisted – was huge fun and they both loved the cows and Mr Winch’s dog Barney and the farm cat Pippi. They’d done their best to help where they could and stay out of the way when things got tricky.

And on the third day when they’d finished their chores and dinner was still hours away, Mrs Winch said, ‘why don’t you go for a walk. If you follow the driveway past the house to the gate and go through into the bush there’s a terrific track down to the beach.’

‘That sounds great,’ Jodie said. ‘We’ll be back by four thirty so we can help with dinner.’

They’d headed along the driveway and clambered over the gate and soon were deep in the bush on the narrow little trail. Until Ben saw something. ‘I think it’s Pippi. Maybe she’s lost. Or hurt. ’ And he was off before Jodie could say ‘Stop!’ She heard him thrashing about, the sound getting fainter as the distance between them grew.

‘Come back!’ she yelled, before plunging off the track and into the bush after him. She did her best to follow the noise but no matter how fast she went she couldn’t seem to catch up. And then she heard the sound no one wants to hear. A sharp, anguished cry and then a piercing scream. ‘Ben!’

Pushing through the tangle of scrub and trees as fast as she could, Jodie nearly stepped off the edge of the cliff herself. She looked down before fear stopped her. Below, half way down the sheer face of stone, Ben perched where a small ledge jutted beside a crooked tree growing out horizontally over the drop. Was that blood on his forehead?

‘BEN!?’

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in Uncategorized

Enter the first 2021 FABO Story Competition!

The first FABO Story competition for 2021 has started! Author Kathy White has written the first story starter and is waiting for your entry.

Click here to take a look at the schedule for this year’s competitions.

Instructions

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 May 14th (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 mystery prize donated by Kathy!

Kathy’s Story Starter: Adventure on Stewart Island

kiwi2
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.”

kiwi1
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.”

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in Poetry, The Winners!

FABO Poetry Challenge report by Melinda Szymanik and Elena de Roo

Melinda Szymanik’s Report and Winners

Crikey! We had a fantastic response to the Poetry Challenge we set. Not just a terrific number of entries but of a very high quality as well. You are a talented bunch of poets! As we had close to 200 entries we decided to divide them in half between us and I judged the first 93. Here is what I thought.

Wowsers, what wonderful wordsmiths you all are. I laughed, I cried, I gasped. Some of you wrote thoughtful clever poems, some of you wrote heartfelt laments, and some of you wrote funny twisty poems. I found it really, really hard to pick. I thought many of your poems were very good.

In no particular order I especially enjoyed the poems written by Mia Holtom from Epsom Normal Primary, and Sienna Brits and Emily Fotheringham, both from Balmacewen Intermediate. Also poems by Phoebe Smith from A.G.E. (The Bench in the Corner), Eliana Gibbons from Fendalton Open Air (Swirls of Rainbows), and Lincey Jiang from West Park School with her clever limerick. Poems by Rose-Lynn Wen and Claytin Su, both from Epsom Normal Primary, Natalia from St Joseph’s Catholic School in Takapuna, Reka Lipoth and Clare Hourigan (with another limerick) both from Carmel College, and Vicki Murdoch from Point Chevalier Primary. And William Kelly of Brooklyn Primary, and Violetta Dacre, Lillie Walsh, Anika Makle, Hazel Hall, Lily Fowler (with a great environmental message) and Alice McDonald (The Feathered Saviour) all from Selwyn House School also impressed me with their poems.

My runner up was Amadeia from Kaurilands Primary with her poem ‘The Beach.’ I particularly liked the ending:

And the shells that washed ashore,
Are pulled back into the sea
Like a mother taking care of her babies.

My junior winner, with her poem ‘The Hedgehog in My Basket,’ is Holly Delilah Brown, 8, from Westmere Primary. This poem shows good control of the rhythm and rhyme, humour, and a well-structured idea. There is some lovely language, and technique shown. Great work Holly.

The Hedgehog In My Basket

On one Sunday morning,
I heard the rooster shout,
I was lying in my bed when I thought
I might as well get out!

I slipped my fluffy slippers on
And went to check the time,
My finger lifted my peeper lid
But slipped and poked my eye!

I went to do my washing
But the machine was already full,
I put the clothes in a basket
Then out I saw it crawl!

That little snout was the first thing out
Then the spiky ball,
It paused when it saw me and then before me,
It positioned against the wall!

But a leg was lagging, the tiny foot dragging
So I took him to the vet,
And never has anyone in the world
Had such a lovely pet!

And my senior winner is Sam Smith, 13 from Awakeri Primary School. I love the repeating yet varying refrain of ‘the clouds began to cry’. I love the language – ‘tussock twisted sharp as bone’ … ‘The horizon burnt with autumn’ and ‘The moon disappeared with a sigh’. This poem feels epic and yet also personal – well done Sam.

The sea withered below me,
I fell as far as the sky,
The tussock twisted sharp as bone,
And the clouds began to cry,

The horizon burnt with autumn,
A treasure to the eye,
A landscape picturesque,
Til’ the clouds began to cry,

The trees rose tall and mighty,
The moon disappeared with a sigh,
Awakened was our silent sun,
Then the clouds began to cry,

Opened were the heavens,
And forever your peace may fly,
Tears were rolling down my cheeks,
As my clouds began to cry.

Elena de Roo’s Report and Winner

I read the last 93 poems to come in and I too was blown away by the wide range of imaginative and accomplished poems you entered. Some made me laugh, some made me cry and some transported me with their beautiful imagery. Others rolled off the tongue or delighted me with their perfect simplicity.

Also in no particular order, here are some of the poems that stood out for various reasons:

Best last line from Puffin in the Storm by Trelise McEwan (Selwyn House School) “I catch my lunch from the lulling sea.”

Other noteworthy last lines: Saskia Fitzgerald (St Andrew’s Preparatory) “Tick tock tick tock, the hedgehog runs up the grandfather clock!” and from Aneel Bartlett (St Andrew’s College) “Hedgehog, Oh hedgehog, don’t get squashed!”

Best titles:

Lingering Lollipop Lines – Maddy (Paparangi School). I love the way your whole poem skips along with alliterative energy. You use some great metaphors to describe the lollipops in your poem too, like “twisty serpents” and “eye popping snails”

A Place to Sleep – Juliet Grey (Selwyn House School). I like the way the title adds to the poem , also that you never tell us directly the what the subject of your poem is, leaving us to guess from clues – “sand dune sized blanket,” “spiky barricade” and “wrinkles of light pink flesh.”

Best structured poems: Chelsea Brown (Carmel School) who wrote a reverse poem with a thought provoking environmental message. Also Grace Plummer (St Mary’s College) and Lachie Hackston (Fendalton school) who both used a repeated structure, slightly changing it each time, to build up to some excellent last lines.

Best similes: Cy Finnemore (Epsom Normal Primary School) Up in the tree tops – reading your poem I can really picture the sights, smells and sounds of the jungle – “Emerald treetops like bunches of parsley” “Muddy rivers looping around the forest like jungle vines” “Leaves sway side to side like a hip hop dancer”

Best beginning: Maanvir Chawla (Papatoetoe Central) – “I swallowed a cloud, When I wasn’t allowed”

Excellent Rhythm and rhyme:
Hannah Howis (Fendalton Open Air School) Puffin Lunch – great opening lines where rhythm and rhyme come together to create a sense of movement, “Swooping and swerving come puffins in twos, screeching and squawking out of the blue”

Sam Smith (Awakeri Primary School) Up in the treetops – near perfect rhythm and rhyme create a musical poem that sings.

Prompts:
Ariana Kralicek (Balmoral School) – I like the way you’ve taken the alliteration of the prompt and run with it, especially the line “Now, nicely nick a nit from your cousin’s scalp,” and also the way you’ve played around with the shape of your poem to match the words.

Mia Douglas (Selwyn House School) – “Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! Frail rocks crumble under my feet”

Emma Van Schalkwyk (Selwyn House School) – The Song of the Moon – “I swallowed a cloud as I was lifted gently through the setting sky.”

There were so many excellent poems it was very hard to choose a winner. I read them all and then left it for a few days to see which ones lingered in my mind.

Special Mentions:

Maddix Smith (St Clair) – for a clever poem that made me laugh out loud.

Sivakami S (Selwyn College) – the magical images in your poem spirited me away to another world.

Trelise McEwan (Selwyn House School) – Puffin’s Lunch paints a beautifully vivid picture of a seabird diving for a fish.

Runner Up:

Lillie Walsh (Selwyn House School) – your powerful poem about home sickness spoke from the heart and really touched me.

Winner:

Hedgehog by Vitek Mencl (Ilam School) – was a tiny but perfectly formed poem. It had a lovely flow and rhythm to the words, an unexpected last line, and the image it made in my mind stayed with me. Congratulations Vitek!

Hedgehog

Around the corner
in my bedroom
a hedgehog
is sleeping
so hard
he dreams
of being on the beach.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

FABO Story Report for competition 12 judged by Kathy White

Thanks to everyone who sent me a story in the My Life as a Roach competition. This story starter made you step out of your own skin and pull on an exoskeleton – and you did it with a huge dose of enthusiasm.

Your stories displayed all the great elements of storytelling – heroes, villains, conflict, love and loss, kindness and even a little redemption. Plus a lot of lemon curd, which is good in any story 😄. You also invented some magnificent characters – the burglar and the cockroach army (William), Jazzy the Poodle (Alexa), the Bug-Sucker-Upper (Evelyn), Hurricane Charlotte (Olivia), a murderous Cairns Birdwing Butterfly (Grace), Dr Roach von Trap (Nina) and an aerobatic cockroach (Sayu).

Another thing I loved was your HUMOUR. Here are some moments that made me smile.

(Ysabelle wrote) Squinting, I try to remember if she mentioned meeting up with a male relative or friend today, when I realise they all passed in the Dishwasher Incident of November 2019. Rest in pieces, guys.

(Evelyn) But the lemon curd! Oh snap out of it you fool, roomba wants to abduct you and take you into the beyond.

(Alina) I do a little poop. It’s a very nice present for the boy with the fly-swatter.

(Blake) A pair of mint green undies with brown stains were lying in the hallway. Mmmm, chocolate.

(William, referring to a door) It swings open and I slam-dunk the trophy upon the large white flushable object, where many a good cockroach has been lost in the murky brown water.

Heh, heh, heh.

Another thing I love to see in stories is natural-sounding DIALOGUE. It always makes a story come alive.

Marcus hit the nail on the head with his thoughts, dialogue, and action combo.

“Jane!” he shouts. “There’s a blimmin’ cockroach next to you!”
The woman wakes up and says
“Huh?”
“Roach! There!” he repeats, pointing at me.
She whips around and stares at me like I’m a bug. Which I am. Then she screams so loud I nearly go deaf. I’m not scary. I’m just a cockroach. We roaches don’t scream when we see humans-with their hairy heads, hairless arms, and ugly, pink-
WHACK! WHACK!

A lot of you worked hard on your IMAGERY, choosing descriptive words and sounds that help the reader to visualise people, places, and things.

William did this with his description of a bathroom door, which was a huge obstacle for a tiny cockroach.
It stands like a tall sentinel, strong like a giant redwood.

(And from Indigo) There is a pneumatic hiss from behind me, and I scuttle under the couch cushions, catching a glimpse of humongous sagging jowls and rubbery lips as a can emblazoned with the words: Cockroach Killer appears in my field of vision.

THE TWIST
All stories need something surprising, something unexpected. Sometimes that comes in the whole idea, as it did when William turned his cockroaches into an army of heroes, battling a burglar. Sometimes that comes when a cockroach’s romantic dreams are shattered (Ysabelle) and sometimes, when it seems that all hope is lost, it comes in the form of a kind young girl’s ability to see a cockroach as something beautiful and wondrous (Indigo).

Suddenly a small hand scoops me up.
“Got it Dad!” a high-pitched voice calls,
“Kill the darned thing!” comes the growly voice. Kill me? KILL ME! I think not! I begin to squirm, kicking my legs in a pitiful attempt to escape the clutches of the child.
“Yes Dad.” But the girl does no such thing. She gently carries me to the pot drawer, and deposits me next to a quivering Lucinda. “There you go little cockroach. Safe and sound.” I am SAVED! SAVED! Hallelujah! She giggles and strokes my shell, “You’re pretty.” See! See! It’s not just Lucinda! I truly am a very attractive cockroach! She leaves after that, but the next day, I find a dollop of lemon curd especially for me, smeared on the handle of the pot drawer.

Compassion is a beautiful thing. That ending moved me. I even started to see Gisborne cockroaches in a new light after reading stories like these, and although I’d still prefer it if they stayed in the shed and compost rather than sneaking in through the old and worn cracks in my wooden French doors, I promise you that I will catch-and-release them outside in future.

MY SHORTLIST
I whittled my longlist down to three writers who ticked all the boxes – William Kelly, Ysabelle C and Indigo Tomlinson. All three understood the personality of the main character, but they still managed to use their own writing style to make him come to life. They had action sequences, great dialogue, and a plot with a twist. The story was well balanced from beginning to end, and they used the story starter well. There was nothing missing.

Our junior prize winner is William, and our senior prize winner is Ysabelle (with Indigo highly commended). I’d like to congratulate you and thank you all for entertaining us with your stories throughout the year.

This is what DAVID HILL, author of numerous Puffin books for children, said about your stories.

William – “A brisk and lively story, with clever use of questions and doubts to keep the reader involved. I like William’s use of inventive humour through the events, and his clever wordplay. Nice mixture of thoughts and events, so we meet both the internal and external worlds.”

Ysabelle and Indigo – “I found it hard to separate the stories by Ysabelle and Indigo. Both are very talented writers, who I hope continue to enter competitions during their high school years. I enjoyed Indigo’s pace and inventiveness, her technical skills and her cockroach heroine! In the end, I’ve picked Ysabelle, for her excellent use of dialogue (a great tool for authors); the sustained speed and clarity of her story; the nice sly humour, and the very effective build-up to the amusing climax. I’ll also note that her use of different-sized paragraphs which make her story LOOK interesting on the page is a useful technique.”

For those who thought FaBo was over for 2020, we are responding to a plea from fabo fans, and we are doing one last poetry challenge. So keep writing. Believe in yourself. There is nothing better than a good story (or poem).

Much love

Kathy

Kathy’s Story Starter: My Life as a Roach


You cringed when you read that, didn’t you? It’s okay. We Gisborne cockroaches have broad shoulders. I can handle disdain. Negative thoughts bounce off me like … crikey, is that child with the fly-swat running towards ME?

Time to drop into the trenches. Fortunately I have a bit of pizza down here, wedged between the floorboards. A rather posh thin-crust one with blue cheese, pear and walnuts. My sweetheart Lucinda would love to get her gnashers stuck into this, but she’s over there hiding in the pot cupboard with the pots, and I’m here hiding in the floorboards with the pizza. What a dilemma. Crunch crunch nom nom nom crunch crunch, belch.

I poke my antennae up to see if the coast is clear. Last week, the demon cat with the dirty ginger coat ripped every single hairy leg off my cousin Dennis and then used him as a tooth-pick. That was not a good day.

And the next day my Aunt Helga got caught up in the towels and ended up as confetti after an extra-hot spin in the clothes-drier.

Life is a battlefield. No doubt. I think someone even wrote a song about it. But I mustn’t get downhearted. I will find sweeties to take back to my lovely Lucinda.

The house-owner is asleep on the couch, cavernous mouth open, doing the most epic snoring. Is that doughnut cream I spy on her chin? And is that … oh my goodness, it’s LEMON CURD. My joy is unbounded!

Just call me Robo Roach! I’m off up the wall and running along the back of the couch as fast as you can say Drymaplaneta semivitta or Spheniscidae.

The smell is divine, but I can sense something else. Danger with a capital D.

JUNIOR WINNER

William Kelly, age 8, Brooklyn Primary

There is a loud rumble, a gargantuan smash and then a thump. I had better investigate… whatever made that noise might hurt Lucinda, right?

As I scuttle back into the other room, I look for clues. What could the sound mean… fly swat kid? No, it’s staring at a screen. A spider invasion? No, spiders are too sneaky. The postman? No, posties are too friendly. What’s that?

Crouching under the window is a human: tall, thin and dressed all in black. Wait, I’ve heard about these – they are dangerous, devious and devilish. The three Ds. This is a burglar.

Maybe I can distract it and trap it in the bathroom, well it’s worth a try. What do humans like? ah yes, SHINY STUFF! I head straight for the house-owner’s Cross-Country trophy which glistens like one thousand stars. No sign of speed today, just snoring! I can hardly move it but then it is huge, brass and heavy and I AM a cockroach.

Eventually after what seems like years of endless suffering I reach the bathroom door. It stands like a tall sentinel, strong like a giant redwood. It’s the only thing between the bathroom and me.

“Right, door, we can do this the easy way or the hard way” I shout as I battle-ram the door…. Splat! Well that was NOT a good idea, let’s do it the easy way and before you can say Formidulosus Ruptor I scuttle up and turn the door handle. It swings open and I slam-dunk the trophy upon the large white flushable object, where many a good cockroach has been lost in the murky brown water.

Surely the human must see it. Now let’s hide. Here he comes….

With a swift leg manoeuvre the bathroom door slams shut and I slide the lock across. WHAM! Trapped!

What shall I do now?

My Plan: I will set my friends on him; I suck in my thorax and then squat. … Paaaaaaarrrrrppppp – Ahhhhh, the ancient cockroach tradition of the call of the foghorn. The waft of blue cheese pizza mixed with an extra serving of cold baked beans summons the Brown Coats. Do you know what this means? War! An intrusion of gnarly, reddish brown cockroaches appear from every nook, cranny, floorboard and even the cupboard under the stairs.

My Orders: Defeat the human. The platoons march, ten by ten, through the gap under the door, their armoured exoskeletons clinking as they pass, antennae to the ready. I hear the human scream, the door opens, and it runs out, purple-faced with eyes boggling, and flees the house.

Slowly my army disperses; soon they have vanished entirely. Hidden from view, their work done. The house-owner stirs, grunts and then the gentle hum of snoring starts up again.

It’s been a long day, Lucinda is safe, and I think you will all agree I’ve earned a reward… So if you want to find me I will be on the chin, having a tasty refreshment.

Slurp!

SENIOR WINNER

Ysabelle C, age 13, Baradene College

In fact, danger spelt in all caps. Landing on the epic snorer’s cheek, I scour the area for any potential enemies, ones that could kill me or take my food or both. (Which, by the way, happened to Great Aunt Mary, who was ambushed in the Pizza Hut Box. I vow to never try fresh pizza.)

But I digress. This battlefield has no place for tangents. Lucinda is counting on me, and I’m planning to use that lemon curd for dessert when I propose to her this evening. It’s a shame I haven’t got a ring more splendid than the one Robert got for Tina. That stinky roach manages to upstage me in everything!

Yet I digress. Again.

Suddenly, something shifts. I need to act fast. I take quick leaps up to her chin, where I scoop up the curd and escape without a hitch. Taking a quick taste of the cream, I deem it perfect for the evening and tuck it away. But there’s still danger- no, wait, Danger- hang on, DANGER lurking, biding its time in the shadows instead of roaching up and facing me. Then I feel a featherlight touch brush my back. Whipping around, I ready myself for an ambush.
“GAHAHAHAHAHA!! I CAUGHT YOU I CAUGHT YOU I-”

A lone dust bunny sadly drifts back under the couch. Must be sad it’s single.

Still on red alert, I travel to the pot cupboard. Carefully I avoid the child, who is engrossed in drawing some ghastly portrait of their equally ghastly cat. Entering the cupboard, I flash a grin to Stuart and Ricky, who wave from their pop-up cafe, then I make my way to lovely Lucinda.

“Lulu!” I greet her. Then I see it.

She’s sitting with a man. Squinting, I try to remember if she mentioned meeting up with a male relative or friend today, when I realise they all passed in the Dishwasher Incident of November 2019. Rest in pieces, guys.

“Quentin!” she says, getting to her feet. “How was your day?” I notice her strained smile.

“I got us dessert for tonight,” I test, seeking a reaction from the guy. Sure enough, his face goes blank.

“That’s fantastic, I’m excited about our dinner,” she says. I note the absence of any excitement and open my mouth when-

“Do I know you?” says the guy-roach finally. “Cindy, who is this?”

Lucinda’s tight smile grows even tighter. Something clicks. Is this the danger I felt?
“Who is he, Lucinda?” I ask.

“Cindy, why’s he asking you who I am? Obviously, I’m your boyfriend.”

The world stops.

“Boyfriend?”

“Quentin,” Lucinda says softly.

That’s it. “I don’t want to hear it. Here’s the dessert-” I dump the cream onto her- “and here’s the ring-” I gently place it on top of the cream- “and here’s goodbye.” With a slam, I leave the cupboard.

I find myself moping under the couch. While I sit (and cry, but don’t tell anyone), I notice the dust bunnies travelling to the exits. Suddenly, I’m being sucked towards the light with them. Sigh. Us Gisborne roaches can never catch a break. Not even after a break-up.