Posted in Enter Now, Poetry

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 October 1st (NZ time).

You can enter TWO poems (at most).

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.

• The last polar bear
• Everything was melting
• I held the golden ticket
• The moon was a frown, upside down
• One cup of plain words
• I climbed until the sky turned inky blue
• It smelled of green
• As quiet as the tiniest whisper
• Like a shiny marble
• The boom of moon tubers*
(*You can change the spelling to “moon tubas” if you prefer).

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 Here…

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the ninth FABO Story competition judged by Michele Powles!

★ The ninth FABO Story competition for 2021 has started and author Michele Powles has written a story starter. Finish the story your way and 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 September 17th (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 the judge.

Michele’s Story Starter

“Nothing has miraculously appeared since you last looked!”

Tor swung the fridge door closed and sighed at his mum. “But I’m hungry.”

Mum patted him on the head distractedly as if he were a puppy. “I’ll make lunch once I’m off my next call and you’ve finished your maths. I have to go, don’t come downstairs.”

Tor picked up his iPad and looked at the 20 maths questions his teacher had set. Fractions were his least favourite thing. Okay, that wasn’t true, class Zoom calls where everyone had to share were his least favourite thing, but fractions came in close. Lockdown was laaaaaame.

“Done and done.”

Tor looked up at his brother Duncan. “You are not.”

Duncan wiggled his eyebrows. “Level 39.”

Tor snorted. “Prodigy doesn’t count as school work.”

“Does if you’re in Miss Morelli’s class.”

Tor shuddered. Miss Morelli might set the least amount of home-schooling work, but she was creepy. End of story. When she looked at him with her dark, flashy eyes, Tor always got a sucking sensation like she was trying to pull his brain out through his eyes.

Tor grabbed his brother’s iPad. “You’ve still got this task to do.” He clicked on it:

Lockdown Life Lessons

Share a story and snapshots of life in lockdown. Things you’ve seen on a walk, things you’ve grown, creatures from your fridge, silly tales about your pets or family.

Weird.

Duncan cleared his throat; it was a sort of strangled sound. “Ummmmmm, I thought you said there was nothing in here.”

Tor looked up, and saw Duncan bathed in the light from the fridge, his face twisted in a strange expression…

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the eighth FABO Story report judged by Jane Bloomfield

★ The seventh FABO Story competition for 2021 has finished and author Maureen Crisp is reading your stories. She’ll announce a winner shortly. 

★ The eighth FABO Story competition for 2021 has started and author Jane Bloomfield  has written a story starter. Finish the story your way, and enter now!

★  AND if you’re in New Zealand and you’d like another writing challenge to keep you busy during lockdown, enter the Poetry Box Lockdown Poetry Challenge

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 September 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 mystery prize donated by the judge.

Jane’s Story Starter

Mark and Maeve skipped along the dark corridors of McMinty Towers, and into the dining hall. They expected to see their mother sitting at the head of the table. Instead, they found a letter pinned to the top of a large, black chest.

My Dear Twins,

First of all, Happy Birthday!

This chest contains two magical things:

1 x Witch-Starter-Kit   &

1 x Wizard- Starter-Kit

Please choose one kit. Choose carefully as you cannot swap your kit once you have chosen. However, Mark may choose the Witch-Starter-Kit, while Maeve might choose the Wizard-Starter-Kit. It doesn’t matter.

Please write down each spell you test, and the results. A few words of warning. When starting out, I advise all young witches and wizards to use their new powers wisely. Because spells, when not followed correctly can go terribly wrong. Terribly wrong!

Good luck. Good luck, I repeat. You will need it.

Yours in witchcraft

Mother Witch McMinty

Mark shrugged his shoulders. Maeve opened the chest …

Now you finish the story…

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the Seventh FABO Story competition judged by Maureen Crisp!

★ The sixth FABO Story competition for 2021 has finished and author Elena De Roo is reading your entries. She will announce a winner on this website in the next few days. 

★ The seventh FABO Story competition for 2021 has started and author Maureen Crisp  has written a story starter. Finish the story your way, and enter 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 August 20th (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 the judge.

Maureen’s Story Starter

Tere balanced on one leg in the swamp. He had left his gumboot back in the mud. Around him he could hear the rest of the class as they began their swamp study.

‘Hey everybody, Tere is doing ballet,’ laughed Max who had gone ahead of him.

‘Shut up Maxie.’ Tere carefully inserted his foot back in the gumboot and heaved. A sucking slurping sound came from the mud as it reluctantly let go of his foot. The stench of rotting plants wafted all around him. He screwed up his nose trying not to smell it.

Suck. Gurgle. Squelch. Every step brought clouds of midges around him hunting for food from the mud he stirred up. They batted his face. He could feel them on his skin and in his hair. Tere waved his arms trying to get them away from him and clamped his lips tight so he didn’t swallow any.

When he finally squelched to their study section, Max was waiting for him, casually leaning up against a cabbage tree. ‘Took you ages to get here.’

‘Yeah,’ said Tere. ‘Thirty seconds behind you. Come on, let’s do this work so we can get out of here.’

They marked out their square metre and then leaned down for a better look at the mix of plants, mud, and stinky swamp water in their section. ‘Living animals first,’ said Tere, ‘millions of midges.’

Max picked up a long stick to push aside clumps of grass. The clumps bobbed away. ‘The grass must be floating on the water,’ he said.

‘Is it living fauna?’ asked Tere, ‘cause that’s what we’re looking for, eels, fish, frogs, birds, insects.’ He had their clipboard ready to list all the things they found for their assignment.

‘Well, it could be.’ Max poked at the grass again. ‘It could be a disguised swamp monster.’

Tere sighed, this promised to be a miserable school trip, stuck in a swamp with Max-imum Idiot as his partner. ‘Grass is flora. We’re looking for fauna first.’

Max poked at the clumps a few more times, pushing them under the water and watching them bob up. When he poked the biggest clump, his stick went down into the water and stuck fast. Max flailed. His body arched like a bow as he struggled to stay anchored to solid ground.

Tere grinned as he watched Max struggling. If Max fell in the mud, it would be a sweet payback for all the hassle Max had given him. I’d better help him, he thought or we’ll never get this thing finished. He grabbed the back of Max’s shirt to haul him back but he was ready to let go, if he had to.

‘Aaargh the stick is getting sucked down.’

‘Let go.’

‘No, I’ll fall in. Pull me,’ yelped Max. ‘Something’s got the stick.’

There was a stirring of mud and water and an awful stench surrounded them both. Max was almost a bridge now. His arms stretched, hands gripping the stick. His back was flat and his legs bent. His feet slid into the soft mud goop.

‘The only way out, is to let go,’ said Tere, still hanging on the Max’s shirt. He was trying hard not to laugh out loud, glad that Max couldn’t see his face.

The muddy swirl around the stick kept churning. ‘That’s not natural, is it?’ Tere frowned. The goopy mud bubbled and slopped getting nearer to where he was standing.

‘Look out, I’m coming through,’ said a voice.

Tere turned. ‘Oh No! Don’t!’

Now you finish the story…

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the fifth FABO Story competition judged by Sue Copsey!

The fifth FABO Story competition has started. Author Sue Copsey has written a story starter. Finish the story your way to enter the competition!

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 9th (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 Sue!

Sue Copsey’s Story Starter

‘I hope the sky stays clear for tonight,’ said Charlie’s mum. ‘This only happens once in a blue moon.’

‘Once in a red moon, don’t you mean?’ said Dad, helping himself to more salad.

‘Silly me, of course. Red moon.’

Blood moon,’ said Charlie. ‘Why does it turn red?’

Charlie regretted the words immediately – Oh no, what have I done? – as Dad reached for a tomato and began, ‘So, imagine this tomato is the sun …’

Ten minutes later, when the large, medium and small tomatoes were back on their plates, Mum said, ‘Well that’s interesting, but where I come from, a blood moon has a different significance.’

‘How so?’ said Dad.

‘Let’s just say, we should keep the bedroom windows shut tonight.’

Now You Finish The Story…

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 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 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…