Posted in Enter Now

Enter the Pop-up Poetry Challenge with Elena de Roo and Melinda Szymanik now!

There’s a fun new competition to enter on the FABO website!

Pop-up Poetry Challenge

With Elena de Roo and Melinda Szymanik

Using any of the starters below, or one of the pictures as inspiration, write a poem no longer than 25 lines. (It can be as short as you want). It’s okay to be inspired by a picture and use one of the starters.

Have fun – there are no rules in poetry! Your poems don’t have to rhyme but they can if you want them to. They don’t have to tell a story or even make sense, unless you want them to. You can have long lines or lines that are just one word or something in the middle. You can even make up new words just because they sound good.

Read your poem out loud — listen to the words and the rhythm they make. How does your poem make you feel? What shape does your poem make on the page?


You have two weeks to write your poem, so there’s no need to rush! Take your time and send us the best poem you can write.

Send your poem to us by 7pm Friday August 28th (NZ time).

The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.

Here are some poetry prompts to get you started on your poem – they could be the title, the first line, the last line or somewhere in the middle.

• Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!
• Up in the tree-tops
• I swallowed a cloud
• Silent as a supernova
• Around the corner
• It smelled like old socks
• Prickles, pickles, pumpernickel
• I fell as far as the sky

You must:
1. EITHER use one of the poetry prompt lines somewhere in your poem,
2. OR write a poem using one of the pictures on this page as inspiration.
3. OR you can use BOTH a poetry prompt line and a picture to inspire you.

Send Us Your Poem on the FABO Website

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 11 judged by Melinda Szymanik

Well, that was a wild and crazy ride. There were 58 entries and so many dinosaurs and skeletons, and ‘it was all a dream’s, it was incredible!!

Some stories kind of forgot about the story starter and went off in totally unrelated directions. Some of you forgot to check your stories for spelling mistakes. Some of you had one big chunk of writing instead of dividing your story into paragraphs. These made some stories a challenge to read. It is really worth fixing these issues before pressing send.

But there was also a lot to like. I loved this descriptive line in Cathy Zhang’s (Campbell’s Bay School) story – “This farm’s too quiet, I could almost hear my blood running through my veins.” This one from Indigo Tomlinson (Whakatane Intermediate) – The girls suddenly became aware of an ominous yet discordant ticking, like a group of old ladies all knitting at once. And this one – “If mum was here, she would have found it in an instant” added Isla. They both laughed – from Siena Hays (Campbell’s Bay School). Mothers are indeed famous for finding things when no one else can. I loved the name William Kelly (Brooklyn Primary in Wellington) came up with for the bone whistle – a bazoothesizer!

I really enjoyed this last bit in Vicki Murdoch’s story (Point Chevalier Primary), which made the most of Willow’s comments in the starter –

“Willow. You were so rude to me, and made me feel insecure in myself. Although I wasn’t the prettiest person ever, does that matter? No! I don’t accept your apology.” Willow’s crying features hardened immediately.

“You…” she seethed defiantly. But Isla was having none of it.

“Goodbye. And it’s foraging, NOT fossicking.”

And I laughed out loud at Jessica Alexander’s opening line (Matamata Intermediate) – “Maybe if we ignore the problem it will go away?” Willow said in a shaky voice. If only!

Some writers came up with surprising and entertaining reasons for why the bone whistle changed everything, including Michael Jackson and the song Thriller in one case ( Elena Louise McCrossan from Berkley Normal Middle School), and penguins in another (Yuki Nishimura from Campbell’s Bay School). Grace Downie (Clearview Primary) did some great work continuing to develop the characters of Isla and Willow, building on the story starter. Taylor Goddard’s story (Lincoln Primary) created a new riff on Greek mythology involving Apollo and Orpheus. I enjoyed the stories written by Lyndey Jiang (West Park School), and William Kelly (Brooklyn Primary), and the twist at the end of Carys Silva’s story was chilling (Stonefield’s School). Vanessa Leong (Remuera Primary) drew on Alice in Wonderland in an interesting way for her story, and Indigo Tomlinson (Whakatane Intermediate) wrote a beautifully crafted Dali-esque tale.

It was difficult to pick a winner. A bunch of stories had fun clever ideas that I really liked. There was some wonderful strong writing. There were some cool twists. But these didn’t always occur in the same entry. Ultimately though, I loved mythology when I was at primary school myself, and the one story that stood out to me as having an interesting idea based on the starter, a well thought through story structure, and good writing was the entry from Taylor Goddard (Lincoln Primary). Congratulations Taylor!!

Our guest Penguin author, Chris Mousdale, award winning illustrator of picture book, Brodie and writer of the novel, A Place of Stone and Darkness, had this to say:

Some lovely words to roll around the mouth: “Fossicking”, “Foraging”, “Galumphed”. Melinda’s story starter begins with the mundane and ordinary; a day out, playing in the woods. But – as is so often the case – from play comes the unexpected and the extraordinary.

Taylor installs a cast of Greek monsters and demons and we’re instantly amongst them. There’s a chase and nail-biting action. Our protagonists are in a tight spot – how will they react? The two girls fall back on their education. Knowing who Apollo was and what he represented they formulate a plan – to communicate, in a language the enemy will understand.

In this case the language is music and, to paraphrase Congreve, “the savage breast is soothed”.

Taylor’s story is brisk with an exciting momentum. The music is evoked with a water simile: it “flowed over them…like a stream bubbling in a forest,” bringing us along for the action with the characters, then delivering us back home, safe in a peaceful resolution.

The dialogue is truthful, the interaction between Willow and Isla well observed. This is good writing – a story based on truthful character allows us to travel into far-fetched and fantastic worlds and to believe them.

Melinda’s Story Starter: The Wrong Note

Willow and Isla had been mucking around in the woods on the hill above their town all day.

Willow called it fossicking.

Isla called it foraging.

“It’s only foraging if we can eat it,” said Willow.

“Humph,” Isla replied.

“This is definitely a fossick,” Willow went on, holding up the bone she’d just pulled from a hole at the base of a tree trunk.

“That’s disgusting,” Isla said.

“It’s NOT!” Willow insisted. “It’s super old. It probably hasn’t been alive for like a hundred years. I mean look at it.”

They both peered at the bone, almost like a shin but not quite.

“There are holes in it,” breathed Willow. And before either of them could think, she raised the bone to her mouth and blew in to the largest hole at the top. A single long note.

The noise was sweeter and deeper than they expected. A shiver crawled down their spines. The ground seemed to hiccup, the sunlight swelling in a terrible, brilliant way, and then everything was normal again. Nearly.

“I think we should go home,” Isla said.

“Yes, lets,” Willow agreed. She let the bone drop to the ground.

They held hands as they galumphed down the path between the trees, hopping over the twisty vines and slippery rocks in their way. They emerged out of the bush near the bottom of the hill, just as the sun began to pull the horizon up over itself.

“My goodness!” Willow gasped.

“Oh Willow, what did you do?!” Isla squeaked, her eyes wide at the sight before them.

Where had everybody gone? And what were those frightening things that had taken their place?

Taylor Goddard’s Story

Terrifying creatures replaced the humans. One looked like a dragon, except it had thousands of necks leading to heads that spewed poison. Others looked like demons with flames for hair and blood-red eyes that seemed to whisper “death, horror and despair.” Thousands of the creatures were too horrible to describe. Isla stared at them, her eyes wide with terror.

“Those,” she said her voice trembling, “are from Greek mythology.”

“Don’t be crazy,” Willow whispered.

“YOU DARE PLAY MY INSTRUMENT?!” A voice boomed.

There was a blinding flash of light and a figure appeared, it towered over them, casting shadows across the fields.

“I SPENT YEARS TRYING TO FIND THE RIGHT BONE TO CRAFT THAT INSTRUMENT AND TWO MORTALS COME AND TRY IT! YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS, YOU WILL SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IN FEAR OF THE CREATURES FROM TARTARUS!”

In a flash, the figure was gone. Willow and Isla had no time to contemplate what happened, a monster that was half man and half bull had noticed their presence. The creature roared and charged at them.

“RUN!!!” Willow screamed.

They sprinted away, they knew they wouldn’t outrun the monster, then Willow had an idea.

“The tree!” Willow pointed to a large, old eucalyptus.

Isla reached it first, she scrambled up it, grabbing onto bits of bark that sometimes ripped off under her weight. Willow came after her, she could hear the monster’s feet thudding heavily against the ground. Isla grabbed onto a branch, pulled herself onto it then bent down to help Willow. Suddenly, the tree shook, Isla looked past Willow and saw the creature ramming its horns into the tree and roaring up at them. Finally Willow was beside Isla, they were both breathing in small, difficult gasps.

“That… was too… close,” Willow panted.

All Isla could do to reply was nod.

The girls waited for the monster to leave.

“That was Apollo,” Isla said.

“Don’t be silly.”

“It was.”

They were silent for a while, finally the monster lost interest and left.

“How do we escape this… whatever this place is,” Willow said quietly.

“I don’t know, Apollo is the god of music right?”

Willow nodded.

“When Orpheus played Apollo’s lyre, Apollo was going to punish him.”

“But he didn’t,” Willow smiled, remembering the story of how the musician got his lyre, “because Orpheus played so beautifully, Apollo spared him, and gave him his lyre.”

“Exactly,” Isla said.

“So you want me to play that instrument? What if it makes Apollo angrier?”

“D’you have a better idea?”

“Well… no.”

So Isla and Willow timidly got down from the eucalyptus and found their way to the instrument. Willow picked it up and put one of the holes to her lips, she gently blew out and music flowed over them. It sounded like a stream bubbling in a forest, and made them feel like they were in a sunlit field of flowers. Willow started to play and after a few minutes Apollo appeared and listened. When Willow was finished Apollo sighed,

“Keep it.” He smiled and nodded at the instrument, “I can make another one someday. You can go home now.”

The ground shuddered and the world was normal again. Isla fell down to the ground, exhausted. Willow smiled then continued to play her new instrument.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the FINAL FABO competition for 2020 now!

The twelfth FABO Story competition is the FINAL COMPETITION for this year! It will be judged by author Kathy White.

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 August 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 Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!

*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.

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.

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the 11th FABO Story competition!

The eleventh FABO Story competition will be judged by author Melinda Szymanik. Enter below!

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 July 31st (NZ time).

5. The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.

6. Every fortnight there will be a new competition and a children’s author will post a new story starter for you.

7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.

8. The winner will receive a Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!

*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.

Melinda’s Story Starter: The Wrong Note

Willow and Isla had been mucking around in the woods on the hill above their town all day.

Willow called it fossicking.

Isla called it foraging.

“It’s only foraging if we can eat it,” said Willow.

“Humph,” Isla replied.

“This is definitely a fossick,” Willow went on, holding up the bone she’d just pulled from a hole at the base of a tree trunk.

“That’s disgusting,” Isla said.

“It’s NOT!” Willow insisted. “It’s super old. It probably hasn’t been alive for like a hundred years. I mean look at it.”

They both peered at the bone, almost like a shin but not quite.

“There are holes in it,” breathed Willow. And before either of them could think, she raised the bone to her mouth and blew in to the largest hole at the top. A single long note.

The noise was sweeter and deeper than they expected. A shiver crawled down their spines. The ground seemed to hiccup, the sunlight swelling in a terrible, brilliant way, and then everything was normal again. Nearly.

“I think we should go home,” Isla said.

“Yes, lets,” Willow agreed. She let the bone drop to the ground.

They held hands as they galumphed down the path between the trees, hopping over the twisty vines and slippery rocks in their way. They emerged out of the bush near the bottom of the hill, just as the sun began to pull the horizon up over itself.

“My goodness!” Willow gasped.

“Oh Willow, what did you do?!” Isla squeaked, her eyes wide at the sight before them.

Where had everybody gone? And what were those frightening things that had taken their place?

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 10 judged by Jane Bloomfield

I wanted to try something a little different with my story-starter this time round. To take you keen young writers out of a contemporary setting and put you into a fantastical, historical one. With witches! As a child, I spent many a happy, weekend morning in bed with my Mum reading fairytales. Some really worried me. The foolish emperor running around town in the nuddy, in The Emperor’s New Clothes. Some made me quite sad. Rapunzel locked in the tower by the wicked sorceress, only able to be rescued if she let down her rope of golden hair. (Thank goodness for the prince riding past.) The boastful miller in Rumplestiltskin sending his daughter away to endlessly spin straw into gold for the greedy king.

Thankfully in fairytales, more often than not, good eventually overcomes evil. With Pearl and The Golden Apples, ‘greed shall not be rewarded’ was a recurring theme in the many entries. For example:

Khloe Demetriou, 12, Highlands Intermediate’s witch encouraged Pearl to try a golden apple, then turned her into a kitten and warned, “From this day on you will not eat another golden apple, if you do I’ll turn you into something you won’t be happy with.” The golden apples were too tempting. “Her hands were small, slimy and the colour of seaweed … Oh no, I’m a frog.”

I loved all the wicked crones with their debilitating powers, and the magical apples (especially the apples with gold seeds!) along with the tales of intrigue you wove into your stories. But hocus pocus, stir the witches brew, it was hard to pick one winner. Many many stories were well imagined, original, descriptive and often spooky.

My highlighter jumped on the following passages:

Naomi George, 10, Thorndon School described the noise Pearl heard as, “It sounded like thunder had tried to be sweet and failed.” And her aptly named witch, Autumn Hallow “had blazing red hair, twisted into a long plait that fell over her shoulder.”

Olivia Morriss, 11, Oamaru Intermediate also had a “copper-red” haired witch with glowing, reddy-brown eyes. “As the woman moved closer her large cognac eyes could be seen, taking in the sunlight, shining golden.” Brilliant!

Alexandra Cavanagh, 11, Thorndon School had a “forest demon” … “standing in the moonlight was a tall, skinny woman with grey-white skin grey-black hair, long, sharp fingernails and red-brown, bloodshot eyes.”

Claire Tisdall, 10, Strath Taieri School. “Green, mist soon whirled out of the sack. It had a wisp of a voice, but it was very, very, deep. I thought everyone knew about the curse of the Golden apple tree…”

Indigo Tomlinson, 12, Whakatane Intermediate. I loved Indigo’s enchanting but dangerous faeries. “A circle of tiny people, with butterfly wings that caught the light and shimmered like iridescent opals. The voice flowed from them like nectar and Pearl found herself enchanted by their otherworldly looks.”

Elaine, 10, Thorndon Primary. “Pearl turned around and saw something like the wendigo, the deer head and boney body with the dull and neverending eyes.” FREAKY.

Lily Dawson, 13, Stonefields School. “Are you here to take my apples?” It asked. Pearl reached for Darcy’s reins. Before she could grab them the tree’s branches reached down and lifted her into the air.” Argghghghgh.

Charlotte Barr, 12, Balmacewen Intermediate. “The voice continued to sing, “A witch with a nose, two eyes and three warts, one whose skin is the colour of quartz!”

In fact, it was a story with a catchy verse, great pacing and an excellent final, double twist that is my chosen WINNER. So without further a do, Margaux Astrid Detera, 10, Thordon Primary, take a bow. Congratulations, Margaux!

** Eileen Merrimen, the author of the award winning YA novels, Pieces of You, Catch Me When You Fall, and Invisibly Breathing, is our guest Penguin judge this week. Here are Eileen’s comments on Margaux’s winning story:

“A vivid story with wonderful imagery and pace. The verse near the start really caught my attention. Loved that twist at the end.” Eileen Merriman

And to all the other fantastic entrants, you’re cool! Keep writing!
Jane Bloomfield

Jane’s Story Starter: Pearl and Golden Apples

“Rise and shine, sleepyhead,” said Ma, tugging back Pearl’s quilt. “I need you to ride over to the old miner’s place and collect some golden apples.”

“Golden apples?” said Pearl warily. She lifted the sack curtain over the window above her bed and peered out. Sunlight danced on the tall poplar tree that stood like a giant sentinel beside their tiny stone cottage. An invisible breeze carried three yellow leaves; they fluttered down towards Pearl like corn-coloured butterflies.

Ma was stirring porridge at the coalrange. She slapped a bowl down on the table, startling Pearl from her reverie.

“Shall I just get blackberries, Ma? Folk say that apple tree belongs to a witch who puts curses on the children who pick ’em!”

“Nonsense,” said Ma.

“So why are the apples gold, then?” asked Pearl.

“Because they’re Golden Ambrosia apples, silly-billy. No one’s lived there for years. Don’t dally, the weather’s changing.”

Pearl pulled on her woollen riding habit and slowly laced up her leather boots. Her porridge tasted like dust.

Darcy, her big black horse, was waiting at the gate. He whinnied, hello, flicking his head. Pearl whispered to him, “You wouldn’t be acting so fresh if you knew where we’re headed.”

Darcy munched his oats, while Pearl brushed him down and plaited his long forelock. She buckled on her largest saddlebags and slipped her tin whistle in one and a crust of bread wrapped in muslin in the other. She grabbed her shawl and the pair trotted off.

By the time Pearl had played all her tunes and eaten the bread, they arrived at the golden apple tree. Without daring to scout around, Pearl rode Darcy right up beside its laden branches and started picking. She’d almost filled one bag when Darcy snorted and started jigging. All the silvereyes darted from the tree and Pearl heard a strange voice …

Margaux Astrid Detera’s winning story:

“wHo dArE EnTeR mY fOrEST!” Pearl’s eyes widened! Her blood rushed down quickly to her legs, making her tremble. She looked at Darcy terrified, observing his every move… He was looking behind her. Pearl shut her eyes, starting to feel the tears bubbling… As every single teardrop splashed onto the ground, she slowly turned around, and opened her eyes… Her vision wasn’t clear, because of the burning hot tears, but from what she could identify:

A black pointy hat
A broom with a cat
A smug little grin
With a long pointy chin
A black lace dress
With potions for a mess
And a pretty big wart
She cackled and she snort

It was pretty clear to Pearl that what she was looking at was an evil cackling witch. “I-I’m sorry! I must be on my way!” Pearl pleaded for her dear life, “Oh no! It is a weekend after all?! I insist, please stay…” The evil witch smirked at her own statement. Pearl laughed nervously and dashed terrified towards Darcy, the evil witch laughed once again “You can’t escape me child, I’ll always be, just behind your shoulder!” The evil witch cackled as she snatched her broom and tapped it onto the ground three times, she then disappeared… Pearl leaped onto Darcy’s back, then galloped away, horrified.

Once Pearl had got home, she called out to her mother, “MA! ARE YOU THERE?” no response… Pearl knew that her mother was getting a bit old so she took a long time to get to the door, while she was waiting, she gazed in amazement at the outstanding view. She was flabbergasted that an ugly witch like the one she just encountered, could live in a world as perfect as this! “Pearl! What are you doing here back so early?” exclaimed Pearl’s mother, “Ma, I-i saw a witch!” Pearl stuttered “Nonsense! I have not seen those golems in centuries!” Ma said confused.

“WELL THEY ARE STILL VERY REAL! AND SHE THREATENED ME, THAT SHE WILL ALWAYS BE BEHIND MY BACK!” Pearl yelled with frustration, her mother just couldn’t understand! Unfortunately, Pearl’s mother never understood. So she had to grow up with the thought that in any second, an evil witch could snatch her life away…

25 years later…

“Bye honey! Bye children! See you all after work and school!” Pearl called out happily, “Oh I must freshen up before I cook!” Pearl said to herself. After she was done drying her face with a towel lying around, she looked at herself in the mirror… But standing right behind her was the same terrible witch she saw 25 years ago…

That was the last person she saw until she dropped into this strange spiral.

After work and school.

“Hi mummy!” exclaimed Pearl’s children “Hi honey!” said Pearl’s husband sweetly. “Hey guys!” the evil witch smirked.

(end)

2nd place goes to Olivia Morriss, 11, Oamaru Intermediate

&

3rd place goes to William Kelly, 8, Brooklyn Primary, Wellington

Congratulations, Olivia and William!!

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 9 judged by Kyle Mewburn

It’s always very exciting to be the judge of a Fabo round. It’s also a bit nerve-wracking because it’s generally so hard to decide on just one winner. This round we were absolutely inundated with lots of great stories with imaginative plots, clever characterisations and some fantastic writing.

So many entries were brimming with imagination. Rutendo of Tokoroa had Lucy battling an evil puffin group. While Harman of Ormiston went one step further with a puffin CEO of a secret world government.

Lucy of Balmoral had the fictional Lucy meeting a wizened old woman with a weird collection of stones. Her story was full of lovely similes – the stone was warm, like hot chocolate on a winter’s morning.

Khloe of Highlands decided to go to Narnia with some great descriptive writing – She glanced up, to see a white tree, covered in crystalline snow, with a kiss of falling leaves, slanted in between the parted hedge.

Juno of St Dominic’s had many wonderful descriptions as Lucy was given a tour of the monster zoo by a man with “a fluffy moustache, like a storm cloud” and met the neanderthal giant whose “face was like a big map, with wrinkles as routes, joining everywhere across it, and a chin like an upside-down mountain.”

Indigo of Whakatane took us to Fantasia with some very clever scene setting and characterisation – Ignoring dotty Mrs. Plummer pottering around the hedge, muttering to it as though it were an old friend come to tea.

Evelyn of Clearview had a scary encounter with zombies. Anika of Thorndon had an eerie encounter with the Grim Reaper. And in William of Brooklyn’s story, Lucy met the fabulously eccentric Sir Albert Von Albatross.

It was almost impossible to choose a winner. It was SOOOOOO close. But if you’ve been paying attention during the competitions, you might have realised every judge has a different set of judging criteria – things which especially tickle our fancies.

The winning story ticked so many of my personal judging boxes. A storyline sparkling with originality, a strong writing voice and loads of fantastic similes. This was also a story with a lot of heart.

This week’s winner is Juno Ireland of St Dominic’s Primary School.

And this is what our special guest Puffin judge, Heather Haylock – author of the wonderful Granny McFlitter series – had to say about Juno’s winning story.

“This story holds some powerful imagery. I love the idea of the monster’s face being like a map, with wrinkles as routes and a chin like an upside-down mountain. The writing flows naturally and cleverly packs a lot of information about the setting and the characters into a small space. I like Lucy’s immediate emotional connection with the captive creatures (“their eyes said it all”), and the light dusting of humour (I wonder what a Monster Vanquisher 2000 does?). Juno’s story certainly gave Lucy the beginnings of the exceptional day of her dreams. I want to know what happens next!”

CONGRATULATIONS! If you message us we’ll tell you how to claim your special prize.

To everyone else, keep on sending in those entries!
Kyle

Kyle’s Story Starter

As Lucy heaved her way through the dark hedge, her imagination whirled like an out-of-control merry-go-round. There could be anything waiting on the other side. A TOP SECRET government spy base patrolled by snarling watchdogs. An evil puffin’s secret hideaway rimmed with laser detectors and booby traps. Or even a whole other world, like in the Narnia stories she’d just finished reading.

Not that she really, truly expected to find anything exciting on the other side. Stuff like that didn’t happen in real life. But after a week of boring school holidays she was desperate for just a scrap of adventure. It didn’t even have to be an actual adventure. If she found anything even mildly interesting, her imagination could do the rest. Then the day would be exceptional.

Lucy barged ahead in a fury of flailing arms like she was swimming against a twiggy tide. Or wrestling a woody sea serpent. When the hedge suddenly parted, she sprawled forward into sunshine.

But the sun quickly vanished as a shadowy shape loomed over her…

Juno Ireland’s winning story

Lucy peered up at a tall, bulky man. He had a fluffy moustache, like a storm cloud, a cream shirt, sunhat and a nametag reading: Paul. Complete with his kind smile, Paul had the resemblance of a zoo keeper.

“What brings you here today?” he asked, blowing his moutache upwards as he spoke. Lucy hesitated, but before she could reply, Paul said “Ah yes, a free tour of the Italian dragons, deadly kitties and the Neanderthal giant. Right this way”. He beckoned towards a high iron gate, almost as unpleasant as the idea of giants.

Lucy shuffled backwards, alarmed. “What’s in there?”. The man looked astonished, then confused, and then chuckled. “Why, the Zoo of Monsters” he said. And with that, he began walking forward, gently guiding Lucy to the heavily armed threshold.

Desperately thinking, Lucy imagined escaping, but then the reassuring sun reappeared, brightening her mood. She was curious after all. Slowing to a halt at the gate, she noticed that it was flanked with burly guards, each possessing an enormous gun with the words: MONSTER VANQUISHER 2000.

Lucy shuddered. Surely monsters weren’t real? However, as the guards swung open the gates, terrifying monsters stared back at her. In fact, their captivating gazes were so utterly hard and sad that she found herself looking away to avoid their monstrous expressions.

Spiky, scaly, fluffy creatures were sprawled over scorched terrain. Some monsters’ main features were sharp, jagged teeth, or great bundles of fur, or sleek glimmering scales, which made them look content and simple, but their eyes said it all. They missed their homes and the discouraging brick walls between them weren’t helping.

Lucy turned to protest on their behalf to Paul, except he handed her a map. A path with enclosures on either side snaked through the zoo. “This way to see the Neanderthal giant” he announced, strolling down the path. Eventually they reached the enclosure which absolutely stunned Lucy.

The most immense, caveman-like figure towered over them. His face was like a big map, with wrinkles as routes, joining everywhere across it, and a chin like an upside-down mountain. His heavy brow gave him the ultimate Neanderthal effect, forming a ridge over his eyes.

Lucy’s breathing turned shallow. Many unanswered questions swam in her head. Suddenly a huge gnarled hand gently grabbed Lucy’s waist and lifted her up and up. Her map fluttered down like a dove. She had second thoughts about the giant. He was probably just as lonely and desperate as the others. Still, it was so nerve-wracking being whisked into the air as Paul turned ant-sized below.

Soon Lucy was face-to-face with the giant. She tried a soft approach, touching his face. Hi grinned impishly, which looked terrible with his wrinkles and eyebrows. Then he turned and lowered her into another enclosure next to his. Lucy lay dazed on a rocky surface, and looked around.

The enclosure was barren with heaps of barbed wire around the edges. Hearing an abrupt rustle, Lucy turned. An exquisite thing stepped forward. With gleaming feathers the shades of sunset, a powerful orange-scarlet glow, and graceful legs the colour of golden wheat, the creature of myths stood before her. The phoenix!

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the 10th FABO Story competition!

The tenth FABO Story competition will be judged by author Jane Bloomfield. Enter now!

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 July 3rd (NZ time).

5. The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.

6. Every fortnight there will be a new competition and a children’s author will post a new story starter for you.

7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.

8. The winner will receive a Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!

*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.

Jane’s Story Starter: Pearl and the Golden Apples

“Rise and shine, sleepyhead,” said Ma, tugging back Pearl’s quilt. “I need you to ride over to the old miner’s place and collect some golden apples.”

“Golden apples?” said Pearl warily. She lifted the sack curtain over the window above her bed and peered out. Sunlight danced on the tall poplar tree that stood like a giant sentinel beside their tiny stone cottage. An invisible breeze carried three yellow leaves; they fluttered down towards Pearl like corn-coloured butterflies.

Ma was stirring porridge at the coalrange. She slapped a bowl down on the table, startling Pearl from her reverie.

“Shall I just get blackberries, Ma? Folk say that apple tree belongs to a witch who puts curses on the children who pick ’em!”

“Nonsense,” said Ma.

“So why are the apples gold, then?” asked Pearl.

“Because they’re Golden Ambrosia apples, silly-billy. No one’s lived there for years. Don’t dally, the weather’s changing.”

Pearl pulled on her woollen riding habit and slowly laced up her leather boots. Her porridge tasted like dust.

Darcy, her big black horse, was waiting at the gate. He whinnied, hello, flicking his head. Pearl whispered to him, “You wouldn’t be acting so fresh if you knew where we’re headed.”

Darcy munched his oats, while Pearl brushed him down and plaited his long forelock. She buckled on her largest saddlebags and slipped her tin whistle in one and a crust of bread wrapped in muslin in the other. She grabbed her shawl and the pair trotted off.

By the time Pearl had played all her tunes and eaten the bread, they arrived at the golden apple tree. Without daring to scout around, Pearl rode Darcy right up beside its laden branches and started picking. She’d almost filled one bag when Darcy snorted and started jigging. All the silvereyes darted from the tree and Pearl heard a strange voice …

Now You Finish The Story…

 

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the ninth FABO Story competition!

Enter the ninth FABO Story competition judged by author Kyle Mewburn now!

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 19th (NZ time).

5. The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.

6. Every fortnight there will be a new competition and a children’s author will post a new story starter for you.

7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.

8. The winner will receive a Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!

*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.

Kyle’s Story Starter

As Lucy heaved her way through the dark hedge, her imagination whirled like an out-of-control merry-go-round. There could be anything waiting on the other side. A TOP SECRET government spy base patrolled by snarling watchdogs. An evil puffin’s secret hideaway rimmed with laser detectors and booby traps. Or even a whole other world, like in the Narnia stories she’d just finished reading.

Not that she really, truly expected to find anything exciting on the other side. Stuff like that didn’t happen in real life. But after a week of boring school holidays she was desperate for just a scrap of adventure. It didn’t even have to be an actual adventure. If she found anything even mildly interesting, her imagination could do the rest. Then the day would be exceptional.

Lucy barged ahead in a fury of flailing arms like she was swimming against a twiggy tide. Or wrestling a woody sea serpent. When the hedge suddenly parted, she sprawled forward into sunshine.

But the sun quickly vanished as a shadowy shape loomed over her…

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 8 judged by Weng Wai Chan

This is my first time as a judge for the FABO Story Competition and I am extremely impressed by the enthusiasm, originality, talent and hard work shown by the 140 young Kiwi writers who sent their stories in. I loved reading all the entries—it was like getting to open a present every time another story arrived in my inbox!

All the stories were special in some way and it is a shame that I can’t name all of them.

There were stories with wonderful sentences such as Olivia Morriss’s: Something about this man wants me to stay far away from him. Like, football field far away. He stops, and frowns down at me, making every fold and wrinkle in his face enlarge, so they look more like canyons and mountains to me.

Emily F told us a lot about the main character’s father with this great sentence: Funny how dad can be such a great guy, yet a guy with a very risky temper.

Some of you wrote what felt like the start of some very exciting longer stories and had me curious as to what was going to happen next, like Aisha G with Auntie Antoinette, her mysterious The B.U.T.T.O.N. Organization and a chilling poem:

…Thanks to our government’s secret:
Our lives have been corrupted.
Now we will stop this, led by the one and only Queen Antoinette.

Sarah P’s work had a great style, which made me want to keep reading because it was so engaging to read: My mind whirls so much, trying to think up some smart words to be my last ones, that I barely notice I had accidentally pushed a tiny, hidden button…

Anna’s story used many of the five senses, so that I felt that I was really in the story: THUMP! I open my eyes. I’m lying on the floor beside my bed. My chest is heaving. My whole body is covered in freezing cold sweat.

Meriania’s story was wonderfully original and told of inherited loss and family trauma: The box is a family heirloom that my great great grandfather lost and bad luck had come upon every generation.

Aleece’s story had a terrific simile: My hands were sweaty and I was shaking like a wet dog. I could visualise the shaking clearly!

Lincey had a great descriptive sentence: My mouth drops to the ground, eyes as big as pizzas, and I am like a muted ipad.

I loved Ruby A’s story, which contained an Ed Sheeran look-alike, as well as drama, sadness, action and humour: I felt awfully awkward as Mr Gee and this customer had invested themselves in a stare off.

The following people gave us wonderful images with their words:

Elena: He’s wearing a blue top hat, a ring made out of metal, a bracelet of blue bowstring strapped tight around his wrist, and a black cane with a red snake wrapping around it and the head as the grip.

Gemini: The bullies were dressed in ripped shorts and t-shirts with sweat dripping down their foreheads and gold chains wrapped around their neck so tight it looked like they were trying to strangle themselves.

Angus : Crocodiles came swimming out of a pristine blue-as-the-ocean river revealing stitches and stuffing pouring out of their stomach. Plastic babies playing with what looked like kites that had flown too far.

Eleanor D: The stranger disappeared, leaving behind green dust.

Arshiya showed us a beautiful room: Flaming orange tiles lined the wall. Emeralds, rubies and sapphires ornamented the strange pillars and sculptures that dotted the room.

Freya B gave us the story of a threatening man and an unexpected outcome: The man couldn’t even finish his next sentence , next thing you know the man was lying on the ground with blood on his head and Mr Gee still with the lamp high in the air.

I liked Jack R’s description: …then they heard a BOOM!!! and it scared the bones out of them!! and also Freya B-T’s image: …and in an instant we were far, far away from the tsunami of shadows.

Georgia W gave us a touching story of a father and child bond, forged in mutual loss: They have no idea what dad and I have been through. He is an amazing person who lost a loved one.

Alfie gave us a great story of a wizard who takes away negativity: …the wizard casted the spell and everything was fun and not boring… EXCEPT Rough Man McGee the king of being negative. It all ends well, though: … they fought hard but Rough Man McGee pulled out an IPhone and said “lets be friend and make a Tik Tok”
So they became good friends and made loads of videos.

I loved Daniel L’s original take on what is in the box. Three balaclava-clad men chase the main character for the box but he runs to his neighbour’s house with it: Mrs Wong will know how to open the box. After all she is the one that told me about it. It is the box with that house’s best sweet n sour pork recipe in the world! I can’t wait for dinner.

Milsy gave us a story of a car chase and ends with the irresistible sentences: “Good news dad, we’ve lost them.” “chur son, but where exactly are we?”

Brenna told us about a magnifying glass that shows you 100 years into the past when you look through it. A golden dragon rampages out of it, and I want to know what happens after this fantastic last sentence, which feels like the start of an epic fantasy: There is a massive dragon in this world now, and it’s all my fault.

Taylor gave us this delightful exchange, about dragons fighting in the sky: “Wait, cats?” I thought. “I didn’t brace myself for flying cats. I’m not sure cats are the best weapons.”
“They seem to work,” the dragon replied.

Caitlin made me laugh, as she wondered about a lady who came into the shop. She was wearing a skin-tight, leather crop top and leather jeans. ‘ Why on earth would a lady in her early 50’s wear a crop top and leather jeans?’ I thought to myself.

Alina’s story had drama, originality and humour: Panicking, I seize the first thing I can get hold of- a plastic baby- and hurl it desperately at the vampire woman. As I throw it, the dress lifts up and sadly, I get a great view of the fake nappy.

Many others deserve honourable mentions, such as James, with a tale of exploding toilets; Brooke and the fabulously named organisation Dark Mayhem; Charlotte and the identical triplet fathers; Indigo and the dangerous Wish-Granter; Miller and the massive swordfish trap; Lucy and her wonderfully chilling horror story of identical twins; Aranui and the scary happenings that turn out (luckily) to be a joke; Lexi with her story of Mr Fedo who helps to keep a garden glowing; Olivia F’s story about taming a dragon; Isla H about being able to see into the future; and Juno, who gave us a compelling story of the theft of the dragon box, with an unpleasant twist at the end.

Special mention must go to Lyndey and William (both 8 years old) whose stories were utterly delightful: Lyndey’s shouty, shiny dragon was hilarious and made me happy; William’s story was vigorous and funny: “Take Zat”, screams Mr Gee jumping out from behind the life-size Spiderman model and knocks him out with a mint condition Star Wars Republic cruiser.”

Many of these wonderful stories came very close to winning, but I have to choose one, and the winner for my story starter is Olivia Whale. Her story had terrific description and humour, and it also had a great theme and was an excellent short story. Well done Olivia W!

I sent it to Penguin author Fleur Beale, the author of many award-winning books for children and young adults. She is the only writer to have twice won the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book: with Slide the Corner in 2007, and I Am Not Esther in 2009. This is what Fleur Beale said about Olivia Whale’s story:

“Olivia’s story is beautifully creepy! Making the dragon the focus rather than continuing with who or what comes through the opening door from the starter is the true writerly trick of not taking the obvious route. I love how the characters of Mr Gee and Ron are fleshed out and made real in a very few words. They give the story depth.

Another excellent aspect of the writing is that the descriptions move the plot forward. Thus while we’re reading about the beauty of the marble we’re also wondering what will happen next. And something exploding with a ‘satisfying POP’ is a great image. Explosions normally mean a huge bang, but a satisfying pop is so much more interesting.
I wanted to eat that hamburger. . .

This is a well-crafted story with good, ‘crunchy’ language and a twisty plot that reaches a satisfying conclusion and all within the word limit which isn’t the easiest thing to do.
Happy writing Olivia, and my very best wishes for your future writing explorations.”
– Fleur

Weng Wai Chan’s Story Starter

My favourite place in the world is the second-hand shop in Main Street. It’s crammed to the ceiling with all sorts of stuff. In fact, things hang from the ceiling too, like paper lanterns and the stuffed crocodile that always seems to be staring at me no matter where I am in the shop.

Mr Gee sits behind the counter, reading a newspaper and ignoring me. That’s one of the best things about this place—Mr Gee never talks to me unless I talk to him first, even on the days when I’ve spent hours here, reading or touching objects, while waiting for my dad to come and get me. The other thing I like is that there’s always something new to find.

Today, I walk past the old comics, the bin of plastic babies and the display of Star Wars toys, some of which are still ‘mint in box’—at least, that’s what it says on the sign beneath it.
Just past the musical penguins section is an old red wooden box that I’ve never seen before. A dragon is carved into the lid. Just as I touch it, I hear the front door of the shop open…

Olivia Whale’s Winning Entry

I glance up, before recentering my focus on the box. I trace my finger over the etched dragon’s patterns and features, its stomach, tail, and finally it’s multicolored eye of violet, ruby and silver, then flip it open. My jaw drops.

A marble. The small marble is nestled amongst the layers of black velvets, hidden. I flinch, and sweep the fuzzy blankets over. It’s a clouded grey, with mixes of smokey indigo and faded crimson. Amazing. Breathtaking. And… Changing?

The marbles sides strain, and with a satisfying little POP the marble explodes, leaving behind a hamburger. Huh?

The smooth tomatoes are diced thin and a vibrant glossy red; the crinkly green lettuce is finely chopped, crisp and cool; the moist Swiss cheese slices smell warm and homey; the thick meat patty is beefy and juicy dark; and the warm crusty buns hold the culinary perfection altogether, crafting my favorite meal.

Licking my lips, leaning for the burger, outstretching my finger…

“Ow!” I cry, as a sharp jolt of pain dances up and along to my shoulder, lunging for my neck. I brace myself, but it fades away as quickly as it came. What’s that old saying? Ah, yes, curiosity killed the cat.

The small pearl has rolled onto the ground.

I turn to leave, but…

“Meow,” It’s Ron.

Ron is Mr Gee’s cat. He’s sleek, white and small, about as big as my arm, with ginger patches – the biggest is on his head – and big, cinnamon colour eyes, filled with understanding and of course curiosity. But my favorite part about Ron is this: when I see him, he never fails to make me giggle, because I imagine him at the wheel of a rusty blue car with big, feathery angel wings, flying over acres of native bush and billowing blue waterfalls.

“Meow,” he repeats. Then he notices the marble.

His eyes grow large and longing as he takes in the marble, which morphs into a salmon in a snap, lying limp and disgustingly stinky on the wooden floorboards. Ron doesn’t seem to mind the pong ad he trots forward, and before I have time to stop him… he licks the fish.

“REOW!” Screeches Ron, flopping onto his back like a fly in a spasm of seizures. Then suddenly he is still, looking like some kind of sick, furry omelet. I place my hand on his chest: dead.

Curiosity killed the cat.

I use the Star Wars figurines to scoop up the colourful pearl, drop it into its wooden cocoon, then walk to the counter.

“Uh, Mr Gee? Is this yours?” I stutter.

He glares at me, looking suddenly reptilian. I can see swirls of grey, indigo, and crimson within them; his pasty skin gives of a scaly texture. “Ah yes…” He slurs, his melodic voice soft, sadistic. Then he smiles, with pointy, too-white teeth. “It seems curiosity truly did kill the cat…”

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the eighth FABO Story Competition!

The new FABO Story competition is now open for entries. It will be judged by author Weng Wai Chan.  Enter now!

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 5th (NZ time).

5. The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.

6. Every fortnight there will be a new competition and a children’s author will post a new story starter for you.

7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.

8. The winner will receive a Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!

*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.

Weng Wai’s Story Starter

My favourite place in the world is the second-hand shop in Main Street. It’s crammed to the ceiling with all sorts of stuff. In fact, things hang from the ceiling too, like paper lanterns and the stuffed crocodile that always seems to be staring at me no matter where I am in the shop.

Mr Gee sits behind the counter, reading a newspaper and ignoring me. That’s one of the best things about this place—Mr Gee never talks to me unless I talk to him first, even on the days when I’ve spent hours here, reading or touching objects, while waiting for my dad to come and get me. The other thing I like is that there’s always something new to find.

Today, I walk past the old comics, the bin of plastic babies and the display of Star Wars toys, some of which are still ‘mint in box’—at least, that’s what it says on the sign beneath it.

Just past the musical penguins section is an old red wooden box that I’ve never seen before. A dragon is carved into the lid. Just as I touch it, I hear the front door of the shop open…

Now You Finish The Story…