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?


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.
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 fabo story, Junior Winner, Senior Winner, The Winners!

FABO Winning Stories!

Here are the two stories Melinda picked as the winners of the last competition. Congratulations again to Charlie and Isha!

By Charlie O’Connell from Greytown Primary School

‘Who goes there,’ boomed a large man with an equally large British accent. ‘The museum does not allow trespassers.’ It was a cleaner named Jeffrey, Russell could tell from his museum uniform. He stood there as stiff as stone, then backed away slowly- “Crash!” Russell whizzed around. Broken glass lay scattered across the floor, the ship lay, “capsized” as well as all the passengers. They both gasped, Jeffery caught his eye and he bolted, Jeffery right behind him. Russell couldn’t believe this was happening he was a good boy, well apart from the time he broke a priceless museum artefact, half a minute ago! Russell turned to get to the main entrance, he had lost the cleaner, but he didn’t know if he could get out of here alive. Russell turned the next corner, the main entrance should be up ahead, but it wasn’t. He was in some kind of corridor. Russell looked around trying to find a museum map somewhere on the wall. He span round to see a sign above the doorway, “West Corridor”, it read. Russell gasped, the main entrance is the East Side, so that meant- ‘Hey!’ Russell turned around, Jeffery was back but he now had two security guards tagging along with him. ‘You won’t get away this time.’

‘I wouldn’t count on it.’ Russell replied and took of in a rush.

‘Come back you little troublemaker’ Jeffery shouted, he wasn’t running but the security guards were. Russell turned left at the next intersection and sprinted off back down to the Hall of Pacific. But he caught his trousers on a doorway that was open ajar. Russell stumbled, hitting the ground in a massive “Thud”! He started rolling of to the other side of the room. There was a big caveman exhibit he was about to crash into. Russell closed my eyes and braced for impact, but nothing came. He felt himself fall through the floor, had he come across a loose floorboard, or was he just dizzy. Russell opened his eyes, he was falling through the bottom of the whole museum. Russell saw the guards run over his head just as he fell into darkness…

Russell pulled out his phone, no signal. How long had he been falling for? Surely he had to hit the bottom soon. Russell saw a light up ahead. “Freedom”, he thought, the light started glowing brighter. Too bright to be moonlight, I must be heading to some secret cave Russell thought. ‘Oomph’ he muttered as he hit some kind of landing area. A big, bright, red X lit up the ground. Russell could see a small village nearby. He got up and tried to see how far up the museum was. Suddenly a big, red helicopter blocked his view and he scampered out of the way. ‘Greetings’ yelled a voice from up in the vehicle. ‘What brings you here?’ He was an elderly man, about in his 50’s, who was wearing ragged, servant clothes.

‘Well’, Russell began. ‘I was in the museum and I fell through the floor, and I’m just trying to get back home.’

‘Home!’ he bellowed. ‘I don’t know what you’re playing at boy, but if you think you’re going home you’ve got to be out of your right mind.’

‘What do you mean I can’t go home,’ he replied. ‘You have a helicopter that could take me up there as quick as a bird!’

‘He knows too much,’ replied the helicopter guy. ‘Feed him to the Landger.’ A crowd quickly gathered around Russell as helicopter guy dragged him towards the end of the landing area. The ground ahead of them sloped downward into nothingness. Russell gasped, was he going to go down there. Suddenly a giant, ragged dragon erupted out from the edge of the landing area, that must be the Landger thought Russell. A burst of fire exploded from it’s mouth, Russell felt like he was in a Hobbit movie. The Landger suddenly flew towards Russell and he knew he was going to die. But the creature avoided him and shot a fireball at helicopter guy. All the other civilians fled, but Russell stood frozen there. The Landger turned to him and made a gesture like he was offering a ride. Russell didn’t say no, he didn’t even say anything, all he did was get on the Dragon and ride to freedom.

Beep, Beep Beep, rang Russell’s alarm clock. He banged it furiously. ‘Morning Russell,’ yelled his Mum from the Kitchen. “Better get ready for your museum trip today.” Russell got up, really tired. He had a late night yesterday, planning his overnight museum trip with Michael Brown. He couldn’t wait for it to all go down.


And by Isha Walker

Russell gasped, then quickly covered his mouth. The last thing he wanted was to be sent home just as his adventure began! He had to hide.

He scampered as silently as he could up the hallway. He went around some corners and down more corridors until he came to a door.

Slowly, he opened it. A cloud of dust escaped out of the room. It looked like no-one had been there for a veeery long time.

Russell heard a noise from behind him. Footsteps! He didn’t think twice. Through the door into the musty smelling room.

It was full of boxes that were all different sizes. Most of them had been damaged, probably from age. The stale brown cardboard of the box he was sitting next to had sunk into itself at the top. A black figure of a cat poked through the lid as if it just popped out to see what was going on. Russell pulled the cat from the box, unleashing a big cloud of dust. He stifled a cough.

Where had the cat came from? Was it Egyptian? He knew from reading a book about Egypt in his school library that they were crazy about cats.

From what he could see in the darkness, the cat had markings carved into the bottom. He couldn’t see what they were but he was now sure that it was an Egyptian cat. What was those carvings called again…. hiero- hierogl- hieroglyphics! Thats it. Hieroglyphics were what ancient Egyptians used to write with.

Suddenly the door flew open. Russell froze with the cat locked in his grasp. A burly watchguard peeped his thick red face around the door.

“I can’t see anything, Bill. Ya must’ve bin hearin’ thin’s again.”

“I swear to ya, Jon! I heard something.” Bill said exasperatedly.

Jon snorted through his bristly beard and slammed the door shut. Russell could hear them arguing as they walked up the hallway. He breathed a silent breath of relief.

All too soon, as we often do.

The last thing that Russell saw was a huge pile of boxes laden with precious objects tumbling through the air toward him.

Then everything went black.

Russell groaned. Where was he? Then it all came flooding back to him.

That’s why his whole body was feeling like it had been sat on by an elephant. Slowly, he cracked open his eyes.

Why was he on the front steps of the museum? It didn’t make any sense! The early morning sun was shining straight into his eyes. It made his head sore.

Russell shook his head. What was that in the window display? The ancient Egyptian cat!

The light seemed to be bouncing off the steps and dancing around his head. I must be concussed from those boxes, he thought, my mind’s going crazy!

He decided to go back to sleep.

“Russell, wake up! Russell!”

Russell opened his eyes.

“Mum…?” he mumbled. “Is it time to go to school?”

“No, silly, it’s Mrs Fry. We’ve been looking all over for you! Where were you!”

Russell looked up at the cat in the window. It was probably just his mind, but he could have sworn that it winked at him.

“Oh, I… I got lost. It’s okay, I just slept in the foyer on one of the big couches. I’m fine.”

“Okay then… If you say so. Anyway, we have to get you back home, your mum’s been worried sick about you!”

Russell sneaked one last good look at the cat and hopped into the car.

And off they went.


Posted in fabo story, Junior Winner, Senior Winner

The Winning Stories – Peyton Morete and Rebecca Wilkins

Senior Winner: Peyton Morete

At first his grey fur shortened in its size and it’s colour slowly changed into a muddy brown. His eyes grew into the size of golf balls and were red, like the colour of blood. His legs turned into crooked limbs that were dodgy in many places. His arms grew into short stumps that were just useless limbs. Max’s tail grew into a spiked bush, the brown and grey colours merged together like watercolor artwork.

Molly was speechless, was she dreaming or was she awake. She took small and cautious steps backwards until she reached something to hide behind. She ducked down behind the dining room table and crawled into the depth of the tables legs,her body wriggled and wormed through them all until she was in the center. She clutched her pajama pants and the chair beside her. She rocked backwards and forwards, making sure not to create any loud or sudden noises. She watched as Max stumbled to the doors. He crouched down and tried to fit through the cat flap, but he was massive and would never make it through, but he still persisted. After minutes Molly couldn’t hold back the laughter. She just couldn’t as she was mixed with fear and joy. She laughed until she had to stop, after she quietened down she saw Max staring at her. Molly’s eyes widened and she froze in her position. Her body started to shake and her teeth chattered, the temperature had dropped so suddenly and she couldn’t help but move. She rubbed her arms to get the blood circulation back into them. The chair creaked as she accidentally knocked it, Max glared
at her and touched the window. Just like that it disappeared and Molly regretted choosing her position. Max walked in like it was nobody’s business and stopped at the table. Molly screamed silently and tried to shuffle back, she unwound herself through the dozens of chair legs. Molly was free and she ran to the stairs but she didn’t realise that the ground beneath her was on
a loop so that she would never get anywhere. After a while of running on the spot, she soon realised that it was a trick from Max.

Molly turned to see Max had a massive grin on his face, it may have been quite awkward to see since his body did not match his expression.

He growled at her.

“Maxy!” Molly grunted at her cat, “Bad!”

Max stopped and mad a weird sound, suddenly his size seemed to change. He was smaller and less uglier.

“Maxy boo bear, where have you been at this time of night?”

Max grunted and shrunk even more. Molly kept on this until five minutes had past, she didn’t know anymore words to say because she had run out. Anything nice to say was gone. Then it hit her, the answer was love!

“Kittywitty, I love you.”

She couldn’t see anything except pure white light. After it faded out, and she could see, she saw Max, lying on his side, his tail flicking.

“Max, I am so glad your back to normal.”

Molly reached down to scratch behind his ear, she picked him up. Kissed his soft, fur head and carried him up stairs. Towards her room.

Junior Winner: Rebecca Wilkins

Molly gasped in awe, and was about to tell her parents, but it was as if the moon pulled her back.

Maxs’ cold, glassy eyes bore into her own.

Just then she felt cold. And tired.

She didn’t care what was happening to her. And she didn’t know.

Suddenly she forgot who she was.

And in horror, she saw her own shadow transforming in front of her. Molly couldn’t remember what happened next. It was as if she froze completely.


Max looked at his paws. Paws was not the right word. They were feet!

Yes, at last he was human again. Why had he come into the garden in the first place? Maybe I should tell the world this house is cursed, he thought. No, I shouldn’t. People will think I’m crazy.

But I will always believe. And the fear of being turned into a cat again will haunt me.



Molly gazed down at her body. She saw fur, and huge sharp claws attached to what used to be her feet. I’m some kind of animal, she thought. She yelled out for help, but all that came out was a small, timid “Meeeeeowwwww….”

Something then emerged from the shadows. It was a tall, skinny thing.

But Molly was still frozen. It came closer. It was a boy and it said, “Molly, don’t be afraid, just listen to me and you’ll understand. My name is Max. You knew me as a cat that lived here. But I was not always like that. I was once a boy.”

Molly listened to Max and found out that the house she lived in was cursed. Once a year when a very bright moon came out the child that lived in this house would feel a sudden urge to go out into the garden, where they would be turned into a cat to take the place of the current cat. And this year… it was Molly who was to be a cat. And it was Max’s turn to return to human form.
It was a cycle that repeated itself every year. No one knew a way to stop the curse.

Molly’s eyes were shining in the moonlight. She leapt over the high wall. She thought that if she left her house forever, everyone would be safe from the awful moon-spell.


1 year later….

Louise was sleeping well, even though the moon was unusually bright. She loved her new house. Even though it was cursed…

But not anymore.

Posted in fabo story, Junior Winner

Junior Winner – Ollie Gooch

Story Starter:

A small figure in black crept along the edge of the wall, climbed the oak tree, and inched along a branch to the drainpipe. All was quiet. The moon was safely hidden behind smudged and brooding clouds. The figure shimmied up the drainpipe, clinging with gloved hands and rubber-soled booties until she was level with the window ledge. Nimble fingers deftly untied the rope ladder from around the pipe. She gripped the bottom rung of the ladder tightly, and within seconds the figure was swinging like a pendulum underneath the window and flipping her legs over the bar that extended from the window. She was breathing hard now. The last climb over the ledge was more difficult than expected. She pressed a button on her watch.

Hmmm. Too slow. Down the wooden hallway. The figure was only a few steps from the small recessed doorway when a floorboard creaked. A sliver of light flashed in the gap at the bottom of the door as a lightswitch was flicked on behind it.
Lucinda froze. The prince had promised the laboratory would be empty.

Ollie Finishes The Story:

Very suddenly a black and white hexagon ball rolled out of the long black door. She dived for cover. Hurting her shoulder on a small sharp object that she hoped wasn’t a knife.
“I did that, perhaps, a bit to dramatically” she thought.
A small, frail, old man came out dressed like a footballer and picked up the ball or so she thought, as very suddenly the old man was next to her.
” Would you like a game?”
“I ah ..Um ..ok” she replied
“Well come on then”
When they got inside the spanking new lab, he handed her a pair of shiny, new, top of the line pink trainers to replace her booties 😦
She swiftly put them on.
“Good, good” he murmured.
“Aren’t you playing?” Lucinda asked.
“No, of course not. I am only testing”
He waved a hand at a control panel with so many buttons and levers it took up half the space.
“Then who am I playing?” She queried.
“Oh just Ronaldo”
“Ronaldo!” she yelled. “You mean the best football player in the world?”
“Yes, of course I do” he said, an eyebrow raised.
“Any way” he clapped his hands “lets get going…..”

A couple of hours later, she staggered out, vowing never to play football again. The score, I won’t tell you, it’s too embarrassing.