Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Wild, Wet, Willa: FABO Story Report by Michele Powles

Wow, you guys are amazing. Your stories are getting consistently better and there are more and more of you entering all the time. From all across the country, some wonderful stories wriggled their way out of more than 100 brains this week. There were SO many entries, and SO much great writing. Congratulations to everyone who entered, you really are all improving and writing some incredible work!

I’m super glad that David and Willa’s story inspired such a range of ideas for you all. A few themes popped up, with magic being the favourite. A lot of you used the fact that Willa was steaming and turning red to great advantage, having her change David and all manner of objects into other things.

Cats were popular, and Sarah Park from Te Uku School gets a special mention for her wonderful cat descriptions. Other transformations included turning Willa into dragons which Taylor Goddard from Lincoln Park did so well that there’s a highly commended award for her, and werewolves…wow. Chloe Morrison-Clarke from Casebrooke Intermediate, your werewolf was particularly terrifying and gets you a highly commended badge too! I also loved Sarah from Waikowhai Intermediate’s idea which took things even further, having Willa being taken away to a special magic school in handcuffs.

The other super popular theme used the real life setting of the story to talk about self-responsibility, stranger danger and emergency services. There were ambulances, Willa rushing about trying to get help, and some very smart kids looking out for each other. Maggie Thompson from Roseneath school was a standout with this theme along with Daisy from Rototuna Primary.

There were a few new schools to join the Fabo Family this week and an incredible effort from some schools in particular. Outstanding entries from Discovery school all round, especially Isabella F, a highly commended badge for you. Glen Eden Intermediate too had a big range of great entries, with particularly good work investigating description. Saint Clair School, you guys are just amazing. So many entries! It’s awesome to see how you’ve embraced Fabo and it captured so many of your imaginations so vividly, even sending the story back in time to World War II. A highly commended badge to Lucy Carrington too for your cloud castle puppet master story.

A final mention to some other stand-out stories. Gayathri Dinesh from Glen Eden Intermediate, I’m not sure what Willa ended up turning into but I’m terrified by your description in the best possible way. Highly commended. And Stella O’Brien from Roseneath school, I may have nightmares now, you created great suspense throughout your whole story, highly commended to you! Also, a highly commended badge to Maia O’Callaghan from Carmel college for your body swapping story and to Catherine Mcleod from Pillans point primary school for your incredible shrinking science project mishap, and to Frances Nawoo Gregory from Hukanui Primary School for your stormy sequence.

A quick reminder that stories should be less than 500 words, this took some of you out of the running for the top prize. It’s also totally fine to ask an adult to help with checking over spelling if you’re using words that are tricky. But do remind your helpers that this is your story not theirs, we love to hear from you all.

While many of you did an amazing job of creating a world for your story, some of you ended with “it was all a dream.” This can be useful, but if you can find a way to keep us in your story world it’s often even more exciting.

One quick technical tip because some of you are writing at such a high level: try if you can to keep your story in one character’s point of view or if you change it, be aware of the shift. So, if we’re reading about what is happening for David, hearing his thoughts, describing what he is seeing, then stay with him, rather than suddenly being inside Willa’s head. While it’s great fun to hear what all your characters are thinking and seeing, it can sometimes be hard to read if we thought we were with one character and we suddenly change.

Now, to those that did everything right! I had to invent a new award this week for best sentence because it was just so great. Best sentence award goes to eleven-year-old Indigo Tomlinson from Whakatane Intermediate. “The rain pelted harder, dark clouds bulging like an old man’s belly, restrained by a too-tight belt.” Amazing.

Runners up to the top prize are twelve-year-old Isabel Calvi-Freeman from Roseneath School and Julia Moffitt from Hauraki Primary School. Your stories were wonderful, with lots of care and attention to technical detail, as well as imaginative ideas. Great job.

But finally, the winner this week is from Pt Chev Primary. Ten-year-old Indi Taylor, your use of language is amazing. Keep up the great work. Thanks for letting me read all your stories everyone!

Michele’s Story Starter: Wild, Wet, Willa.

“You said you had it in your pocket!” Willa’s face was twisted into angry creases as she hissed at David.

“I didn’t,” David replied. “I said I thought I had it.”

Willa closed her eyes for just long enough to make David hope she’d forgotten she was yelling at him. Then she opened them again and wiped rainwater off her face. “You. Were. In. Charge. Of. The. Key.”

David shrank. It was true. Mum had put him in charge of the house key, and now that they were standing on the doorstep, in the pouring rain, he couldn’t remember what he’d done with it.

The school holidays had sucked, big time. One of David’s fish had floated to the top of its tank and gulped its last gulp. Someone had driven into Mum’s car and busted it up so they’d had to cancel their trip. All David’s friends were away and there was nothing to do. Oh, and it had rained. Every. Day.

Standing outside as his hoodie turned into a soggy, skin-sucking mess without any way of getting out of the cold, was the icing on the sucky-holiday-cake.

Willa folded her arms, her wet hair plastered to the sides of her face. “Let’s go next door for a while, you said. It’ll be fun, you said.”

David looked at the skin on his thumb and pulled at a loose bit near his nail. “It was fun. Sort of. And anyway, why didn’t you take the key? You’re the eldest.”

“Mum said I needed to stop doing things for you. You’re eleven.”

“Eleven and a half,” David muttered and knew, immediately that it was a mistake to mutter anything while Willa was in this sort of mood. The concrete thudded wetly as she stamped her foot. She pointed her finger at him and her face started going red.

“It’s okay. I’ll find the key, promise,” David said, frantically digging in his pockets.

Willa opened her mouth and looked down at her body, her eyes growing wider and her face getting steadily redder.

Uh oh. “Take a breath. You can do it,” David said desperately.

Willa gasped and managed to squeak out, “You said this wasn’t going to happen again.”

“I didn’t think it was. Quick, think about kittens. Puppies. Sunshine.”

Willa’s whole face was now the red of overripe tomatoes. Red, and starting to glow. Her eyes started changing colour and as she glared at David, a loud whooshing noise rushed into his ears and made him feel woozy….

Indi’s Winning Story

Abruptly, clouds of steam hissed from fissures that appeared in Willa’s sides. Her hair extended to the ground in scraggly streams, while rapidly turning a fiery red-orange hue. Bubbling on the circumference of her head were small pustules; some of which burst and spurted a boiling, molten liquid onto David. The air around her was suffused with a hot red light. There was no question about it. Willa was a human volcano.

David inched backwards, watching Willa’s face contort before she erupted with an angry shriek.

“AAAARRRGGGHHH! You told me everything was fixed. You told me I wouldn’t do this anymore. You told me I was fine!” she spat, aiming the words towards her sibling.

“Keep thinking about…” David looked around. “Rainbows, chocolate, theme parks.“

Rushing towards the door to the house, David lifted the corner of the polka-dotted doormat up for the umpteenth time. It still revealed an empty space where the spare key usually sat.

They were both startled by lightning that blanched the sky above, followed by an almighty clap of thunder. A heavier shower of rain pelted down, making Willa’s flowing lava simmer and sizzle in a furious hum. Where had David left the key? Willa was howling insults at her brother, but they had no effect. David knew the only way to stop her angry stampede was to find what she needed. A key that not only opened the door, but Willa’s peaceful side, aswell.

Pouring down in buckets, the rain seeped into fractures that had cracked in Willa’s outer layer. This temporarily plugged the sluice of lava that gushed from her top. David studied the way the water stuck to the oozing liquid; how it created a sort of cement. An idea formed in his head.

To create a deluge of water, David wrenched Mum’s pansies from the nearby pot. He grappled fistfuls of dirt and threw them onto the driveway. When it was free from soil, David held the container underneath the leaky drainpipe on the side of the house. He could hear the water collecting in it, and he knew his plan was working.

When the overflow of water started dripping onto him, David stumbled (carrying the heavy pot) over to where Willa was fuming, and tipped. The rivulet splashed into Willa’s open top. It hardened within moments. The torrent of lava that had been brewing inside of Willa was suddenly replaced by a stone-like substance. Her body twisted back to its normal shape, her face colour changing back to its original, pale tone, and her hair was stripped back to the brown bob that reached her ears. Willa was back.

“Ow.” Willa squeaked. “Something hit me.” Her fingers fumbled around in her matted locks, before bringing out a thing made of metal. The key!

“Must’ve been in the pot plant!” David cried, incredulous about the discovery.

Posted in The Winner

Fabo Story Report For ‘Weird Tuesday’ by Jane Bloomfield

85+ writers, aged from 7 to 13, had a jolly good crack at helping Mark outsmart his dastardly older brother Raymond. Yay! I loved seeing the nice-guy winning. Good-versus-evil is a very handy plot device to keep in your writer’s toolkit. It’s especially handy to keep this type of conflict in mind when you’re planning your story. Because you cannot write a good story without conflict.

But before we get down to the nitty-gritty, a gentle pat on the back for the following writers who took the time to file a story (old journalist term for completing a writing assignment.) Max S.S, Charlie, Gabbie, Sharon, Jasemehar, Anya, Lily, Nicketa, Scarlett, Sarah, Emerald, Maya, Cullen, Bethany, Aiesha, Marcus, Louise, Zoe, Treeshula, Leilani, Flynn, Holly, Vaibhavi, Emily, Nova, Isla, Tess, Nathan, Chiara, Nadia, Narmeen, Layla, Sofia, George, Anya, Indigo, Naomi, Lola, Chloe, Ryder, Isabella, Olivia, Joshua, Elvin, Alice, Marama, Eliza, Kristen, Kat, Amelia, Emily, Matilda, Willow, Nahee Kim, Taylor, Eva, Niamh, Stella, Michelle, Lorcan, Indi, Charli, Brennan, Diontay, Ruby, Eviana, Jessica, Katie, Jaimie, O’shynn, Leah, Sasha, Lucy, Rebekah, Richard, Maryyum, Maia, Chloe, James, Patrick, Tommy, Nella, Olivia, Grace, Julia, Grace.

After posting ‘Weird Tuesday’, I was really looking forward to reading what you put inside the mysterious brown paper package. And believe me, your package-contents did not disappoint.

You unwrapped some very curious, and innovative creatures along with quite a few fluffy puppies and kittens needing homes. (I think there are a lot of children throughout New Zealand who’d like pets, but aren’t allowed them?!) I discovered: Phoenix (more than three) a ghost, a squirrel, a mechanical spider, a violet dragon, a malfunctioning robot, a million baby snails (the average garden snail has 14,000 teeth, arranged in rows on their tongues – thanks Bethany!)

A fire-blowing-dragon, a slimy frog, a goat, a teddy bear with magic Raymond shaming powers, vomiting fish, air tickets to Los Angeles, mermaids, a Grimlock, a bird with a unicorn horn (birdie-corn,) snakes, a feathered dragon-dog, a teeny tiny miniature elephant, an evil puppy, a birdbutterflywormflyspidercat, a magical music box, a guinea pig named Tinker, a hat that makes the wearer invisible (brilliant!), a white owl, a white toy cat with red eyes and hypnotising powers, and a glowing-pink-furball spewing kitten. Phew! What great imaginations!

There were also, lots of the-most-disgusting-creature-I-have-ever-seen. Next time, describe what the-most-disgusting-creature-you’ve-ever-seen looks like. It’s more interesting for the reader if you’re specific, like the list above.

I think my favourite package contents would have to be Indi’s, 10, Point Chevalier Primary, A Beastly Broth to Banish Brutal Brothers! Indi’s funny, well- written story also received a Highly Commended badge. Unfortunately, Indi, you went way over the 500 wordcount so I had to mark you down for that. Chiara, 11, Carmel College, also received a Highly Commended badge for her heartwarming story. Inside Chiara’s package was Brownie, Mark’s cousin’s chocolate labrador sent to rescue him. If I was a professional editor preparing this story for publication, I’d have to point out that Mark wouldn’t be able to carry a full-sized lab into his bedroom. Labs are heavy! A lab puppy would have worked. I also want to mention, Matilda Rennie, 10, Grey Lynn School. I really liked how your ‘air-creature’ read Mark’s thoughts and acted immediately. However, your ending let you down. This was a perfect opportunity to play a funny prank on Raymond. Sometimes it’s hard to be even a little bit mean to characters, (if you’re a super kind person, I used to struggle with this.) However, drama always makes a more exciting story.

Before I announce the winner, the winner, chicken dinner, I’d like to give a shout-out to Diontay, 9, Moanatairi School with this great imagery of Catatonia: There were cats driving cars, cats riding bikes and dogs running up trees. The trees were as blue as the sky. (Plus cats in sunglasses talking.) And to Narmeen, 9, Orakei School. There were trees made out of lollies and a river made of pink milo and giant s’mores for the boats. Describing the setting helps the reader put themselves into the story.

And the winner is … Indigo Ciara Tomlinson, 11, Whakatane Intermediate School. Congratulations, Indigo! Indigo set up her story well, detailing Mark’s emotional struggle at being the downtrodden younger sibling. Her positive- mood-altering elephant was a very mature way to stop Raymond’s bully-boy behaviour. Well done, Indigo!

Jane’s Story Starter: Weird Tuesday

This is how weird Tuesday began …

I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating my usual breakfast of Fruit Loops with milk. My big brother Raymond, as per, had helped himself to two-thirds of the box, leaving me with only colourful crumbs. The crumbs floated on top of my bowl of milk like a pixellated rainbow. I spun my spoon round and round, swirling the colours together. My stomach rumbled. I reached for the perfect banana from the fruit bowl, but not before Raymond jammed his fist down hard onto its blunt end.

‘You love smashed banana don’t you, midget-person?’ he said, and laughed. Milk dribbled down his chin, tracking past his volcanic pimples. I had to look away.

Right then, there was a loud rap on the front door. I instantly stood up from the table to go and see who it was. But Raymond did too and we collided at the kitchen door. He held me against the frame. I raised my hands in surrender and let him go in front of me.

On the front steps was a medium-sized brown paper parcel tied with white string. Raymond picked it up, then he shoved it at me and stomped off.
The package was addressed to me:

“Mark Malcolm-Jones”

The writing was green and wild and swirly like seaweed washed up on the beach. The postmark was a place I’d never heard of before. Catatonia. The package had an interesting smell. I couldn’t make it out.

Cinnamon perhaps? Or turmeric? It felt warm in my hands. I tensed a little.

Then the package started to squirm.

Here is Indigo’s Winning Story

I let go of the parcel, and stepped back as something strange emerged from inside. I felt a scream building in my throat. I hated slimy things. I hated creepy crawlies. This was something Raymond had used to his full advantage on more than one occasion. I shuddered remembering the worms covered with a puddle of tinned tomatoes. (Pretty sure Mrs Twits lawyer tried to sue.) Was this another of his dastardly pranks? I took another step back and prepared to bolt as the creature came fully into the open. An exhale of air whooshed from my body and I sagged a little, like a worn out balloon. It was an elephant. A teeny tiny miniature elephant. It blinked, bemused, then looked up at me, sending a small squirt of water into the air with its trunk. It fractured into hundreds of shimmering diamonds and just for a second, it felt like the world was bathed in rainbows. Curiously, I bent down and shook the package out. A scrap of paper fluttered to the ground. I took it in my hands, examining the curling emerald green scripture, and my eyes blurred. I read with my heart in my mouth, a sense of bitterness rising within me like a coiling serpent. At the last line I felt the metaphorical snake send a stab of venom deep into my heart, adding to the peppered assortment of half-scabbed over holes that were already there.

Happy Birthday love you’re turning ten! What a big moment! Hope you like this miniature elephant – they’re everywhere in Catatonia.
Love Mum

I seethed. Mum. She wasn’t my mother. She never had been. A real mother would have remembered that my birthday is in August, not November. My chest simmered with resentment like the disgusting fish stew she used to try and make me eat. Still, at least I’d got something.

I bent down and picked my gift up, cradling it close to my chest. Suddenly a jolt of colour rocked the world and everything looked different. It was like I was seeing the world through a camera filter. Or maybe my life had been tinted slightly grey and only now had that been removed. I felt like I’d put on a pair of rainbow sunglasses. This is going to sound corny, but the sun was brighter, and the grass was greener. Strange. Experimentally, I put the elephant down. The world suddenly felt grey and heavy. For some reason the elephant was making my life feel brighter. I considered what else it might be able to do. Hundreds of magical possibilities flowed through my mind, like a multicoloured staircase of wonders. An idea popped into my head.

I went back inside and up to Raymond’s room that smelled of sweaty teenager and old deodorant. Raymond was sitting on his swivel chair poking cautiously at a bubbling pus ball. I raced in and shoved the creature into his arms.

His eyes glazed over. He smiled. ‘’Hey little bro. Wanna go out for ice cream? On me.’’

ps. A note for all young writers. Be careful not to over do adjectives. Use strong verbs instead. If Raymond is ‘munching away at his fruit loops’ we know he is shovelling them into his mouth and chewing noisily. You don’t need to say ‘greedily munching’ because munching on its own is explaining how he’s eating.
Equally, instead of saying: ‘Drearily, I got up from my bed.’ It’s stronger to say, ‘I dragged myself off my bed.’

Thanks for all your stories!
Keep writing!
Jane xx

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story Judge’s Report From Melinda Szymanik

Wow. A lot of you were inspired by the scary story starter and we received around one hundred and twenty entries. There were some wild and crazy ideas and some very inventive thinking and writing. There was a lot to enjoy and I giggled and gasped at the things you came up with, so thank you!

There were a few common mistakes that I saw coming up again and again. One was changing from third person (speaking about Isabelle) to first person (writing as if you were Isabelle, using “I”). The best idea is to follow on from how the story is started (third person in this case). Another problem was not putting your story into paragraphs. If something changes (the person speaking, the action, a new scene, etc…), start a new paragraph. It makes your story so much easier to read and understand.

A lot of you also had Isabelle waking up to discover it was all a dream. Most of the time this is not a very satisfying way to finish a story as it means you don’t have to work out a resolution for your plot and it takes all the excitement out of the story. However a couple of you did find a way to make a dream a good resolution to your story, so it can be done (compliments to Lucy Kennedy at Balmoral Intermediate and Jason Figgitt at Epsom Normal for achieving this). And lastly some of you had wonderful ideas which you set up beautifully and then the story stopped. I wanted to know how things worked out but you left me dangling. Resolving your story will always win you extra points.

So in no particular order the following writers get an honourable mention for some pretty smart/cool ideas and/or clever twists – Fleur Pedersen from Matamata Intermediate (a talking dog!), Samuel Anderton at Marina View School (the horror!!), Grace Howard from Beckenham Te Kura O Puroto, Zara S. (Vampires!), Hector T. (Skeletons!) and Matheus Z. (creepy doll!!) all from Remarkables Primary, Libby Namana at Whangarei Intermediate, Niamh Murray from Churton Park School, Arshiya Tuli at Queen Margaret College, Heidi from Fairlie Primary School (Go Mrs McGreevy!), Sharon Jones at Te Mata Primary in Havelock North (future Isabelle!), Julia Moffitt from Hauraki Primary, Aleisha Skinner at Saint Kentigern College (the phone calls!), Salina at Carmel College, Tash Dellabarca from Moanataiari School (it’s a stick with attitude!), Margot Wilson at Maungawhau School (a sand witch!), and Eliza Carter from Moanataiari School who turned Mrs McGreevy into Mrs McGreedy.

And some of you blew me away with your lovely lyrical or funny use of words. Honourable mentions go to Nadia from Saint Kentigern College, who included one of the truest lines, “Through the darkness she saw the shadow of a person with a hunchback. Something just out of the horror film that every young person feared to watch, and when they did they regretted it.” Nadia, I’ve regretted every horror movie I’ve ever watched!

Alantis James at Westport South School wrote “the sky stopped dropping its forks of lightning and clapping the clouds together” which is a wonderful image.

And a very special mention for Niketa Fernando at Carmel College for sentences like “Her breath broke the silence, like dawn breaking darkness. Isabelle was a small fly, in the midst of a spider, searching for its prey.” “Even though a tiny whisper floated out of her mouth, it danced its way through the house until it reached the ears of the intruder.” And “Thunder crashed, like band, who had not rehearsed its music.” Niketa that is some beautiful writing. Keep up the great work.

I ended up with three favourites, all good stories with original ideas and good writing, and it was a tough job to pick a winner. Maia O’Callaghan from Carmel College, and Sarah Aitken at Broadfield School, I really enjoyed your stories and I hope you keep writing (and entering Fabostory).

And my winner for this challenge is Chloe Morrison-Clarke from Casebrook Intermediate. I loved the simple, elegance of the idea and the writing. It was well constructed and felt fresh and satisfying.

Melinda’s Story Starter: Once, on a Dark and Stormy Night

Every light in the house was on, but the darkness outside still forced its way in through the windows, and past the curtains. Except when lightening blazed jaggedly through the sky, momentarily lighting everything up with a shocking whiteness, like a camera flash.

Sitting in the lounge downstairs, Isabelle counted the seconds between the flare of light and the crash of thunder. Only two. Two measly seconds. The storm was almost right overhead.

Why did they have to live at the end of a long, long driveway? On the very furthest edge of town? Why did both her parents have to go with Jojo? They didn’t want to wait for an ambulance when her little brother fell out of the biggest tree in the backyard. That tree was evil. Isabelle and Jojo both knew it. They never clambered up through its branches, or lay beneath it, even when the shade beckoned them during the hottest summer months. And they both refused to sleep in the middle upstairs bedroom where the branches clawed at the windows, even when there was no breath of wind. Isabelle didn’t even know why Jojo had climbed the tree that afternoon. Or if he even had.

He’d looked so pale lying in the grass, his eyes closed, his body limp.

Dad said, “I’ll drive,” and Mum said, “I’ll sit with him in the back and make sure he’s okay.”

“Don’t worry Isabelle,” Dad said. “I’ll ring Mrs McGreevy and get her to mind you.”

And Isabelle said the words she now deeply regretted and would never forget. “I’m fourteen now. I can mind myself. But call me as soon as you get to the hospital.” She’d smiled bravely then, and waved as the car pulled away, throwing up dust as Dad put his foot down.

Now she was alone in the house at night, with a storm raging all around.

BOOM! An almighty clap of thunder shook the house.

All at once, every single light went off. Everything went dead quiet.

And in the dark Isabelle heard a determined tapping sound coming from upstairs. And then she heard a new sound. A voice. Rasping, and low.

“Let me in.”

The winning story by Chloe…

Her body seized up, every muscle was under the control of some unknown enemy. Isabelle felt glued to the chair, her only conscious thought being, ‘ I’ll never complain about having Mrs McGreevy mind me ever again…’

“Let me in!” the voice sounded higher than before.

Isabelle suddenly felt a burst of courage. She thought she heard a note of desperation- or was it sadness – mingling with the anger in the strange voice. Could it be a creature in need? (Isabelle was passionate about saving animals in need.)

Her soft steps echoed up the landing as she tiptoed to the source of the sound. Her mind overflowed with horror scenes as she crept, thinking of the tree out in the garden, it’s bare, pointy branches slamming her brothers body to the cold Winter ground, of the spots of blood on the lawn.

Her skin seemed electrified, any small noise and she would jump and shake uncontrollably, fighting the urge to run, hearing the rain beat on the window like a drum band. Lightning flashed, but Isabelle had given up counting the seconds.

Finally, the velvety curtains concealing the window hung in front of her.
“Please, please, Let there be nothing there…” she begged the universe. It was in the moment of hesitation she noticed her surroundings. Her feet were firmly planted on the dusty, unused surface of carpet in the middle upstairs bedroom.

“Oh no.”
Silence reigned. Dust settled. The room held its breath. The tense knot in Isabelle’s stomach grew.
Her shaking hand swiped at the heavy curtain and it sprung aside.

“AHHHHHHH!!!” she screamed.

The most beautiful face she had ever seen stared back at her.
Long locks of hair hung in curved tendrils of her head. Her curving figure was covered only by wisps of leaves and branches; the ballgown of a tree.

Her full lips turned down at the corners, in her wide brown eyes tears welled and slowly fell back to earth.

Isabelle fumbled with the latch and opened the window. She leapt back as the beautiful woman glided into the room.

She spoke. Her voice sounded like music, rushing rivers, leaves rustling in the wind.

“I am the Dryad of the tree you despise. What have I ever done to hurt you? Your brother struggled as I tried to lower him, he broke of my branch. I couldn’t catch him. He was distrustful of me.”

A minute elapsed.

“I long to be a welcome beauty in your garden, to be climbed, for you to lay beneath me and appreciate the gloss of my leaves in all seasons.”

The Dryad waited for Isabelle’s shaky nod before smiling, and fading back to the tree she belonged to.

Each time Isabelle went out to the garden after that, she (and Jojo, who fully recovered) would sit underneath the tree she now recognised for its beauty, and stared into the branches. Once or twice, she even thought she saw a beautiful face with full, glossy lips gazing back. Smiling.

Posted in The Winner

FABO Judge’s Report: Kathy White

A cat ban. A mother with a secret. And a phrase – They Are Us.

I’m stunned that you imagined so many different types of stories based on this dilemma. A loved cat’s life could have ended. And how did you respond?

There were over 100 entries in total. You had a lot of ideas, from the mother being half-cat, a were-cat, the hulk, a witch, an ogre, GreenBlood, shapeshifter, secret service agent, alien and just a loving, determined mother who was willing to fight for what is right.

Cats were hidden in the cellar, the attic, a portal and even the planet, Kirilia. Cats were rescued in backpacks. Humans transformed into cats and went to war. Kids scaled parliament walls and blew up parliament, and some simply used the lovable nature of cats to persuade Jacinda Ardern to reconsider her attitude to pests. A few of you even got the government to decide that cats are actually great animals, but dogs should be eradicated instead. What a twist to the story! Rita did a bit of mind-control with mist. Kendall’s trick went horribly wrong, and the mother turned psycho. Ayden said cats were only the start; Humans were next. That was a very sinister thought.

Some of my favourite lines?
It’s almost as if without cats, the world is dying (Edie).
If you knew about this, you would have told everyone because that is just what teenagers do (Alivia).
Finally there was a pop and I became a big, fluffy Birman (Samuel).
“Your mother treats cats like kings and queens” (Katherine).
“Every night your mother creeps out of bed and brings home in the morning, a dead fish” (Harry).
What if it is our job to keep all the cats safe? (Claire)
I returned to my bed with droopy eyes and legs like overcooked spaghetti (Rita).
We are as silent and as swift as snakes (Paige)
“Is Gwandad my Fwankie?” (Chloe)
She is the government (Charlotte).

Great characters and natural dialogue:
Chloe, Ruben, Kyla, Sylvie, and Neisha.

Some of my favourite endings?
Dad also cried a little bit of joyfulness (Michelle).
Craters were scattered everywhere – and there was Frankie, slinking through the variant aliens, releasing a loving mew from her jaws (Niamh).

Maia O’Callaghan had a fabulously clever bitter-twist in her ending. When the police turned up to arrest her mother for being a shape-shifting GreenBlood, Josie gave up Frankie, saying he was her mother.

The Winner

The winner this week is Chloe Morrison-Clarke of Casebrook Intermediate, who wrote a well-balanced and well-paced story with a mix of logic, surprise, and a funny ending. Congratulations, Chloe. You did a fabulous job, but I still want to know what happens to Fwankie AKA Gwandad. Please use the Contact Form on the website to let me know where I can send your prize.

A high five to all of you for entertaining me with your lovely and lively writing this week.

Chloe’s Winning Story

I sucked in my cheeks. A flurry of emotions swirled up in my chest as I mulled over the rather interesting idea that my mother ( who, by the way, recently inflicted untold embarrassment upon her poor, unsuspecting daughter by informing her school principal that her skirt was too short) might actually be hiding a deep, dark secret …

My eyes fell upon Tim, who met my gaze with the same suppressed excitement I felt pumping through my veins. We simultaneously flopped onto the scratched couch and were quiet, eager to hear more.

Dad took a huge breath like he was about to blow up an enormous balloon, snuck a sidelong look at mum, then began.

“The reason we are NOT going to give up Frankie to those … cat killers, is because … Frankie is your grandad.”

“WHAT?” I exclaimed.
“Is Gwandad my Fwankie?” asked Tim, desperately confused.
I snorted.
Dad had obviously lost his marbles.

“Tim, Josie, Your mother is a witch,” he continued.

My freshly plucked eyebrows skyrocketed and I bit back a wide grin.

Mum stared down at the bowl of untouched dinner and I noticed it had gone cold. Tim was staring at the fluffy cat in his arms.

“It happened one day while your Grandad was helping your mum hone her powers. They were working on ‘the ability to transform humans with irreversible spells,’ and your mother, who – while looking sideways at Mum as though hoping to score what parents called ‘brownie-points’ – was always an excellent student, did it first try, though instead of directing it at her beetle… she hit your Grandfather. And er, turned him into a cat.”

I looked down at the striped cat now slinking in and out between Tim’s outstretched arms. I blinked and stared closer. It was just for a brief moment, but I swear and always will; that cat/Grandad smiled.

I was convinced. Why wouldn’t you want to believe your crazy parents telling you that your mum was a witch? Heck, think what that could mean… No more homework… exciting adventures involving changing your family cat back into your Grandad to escape newly imposed ‘Cat Bans… ‘ just punishment for school bullies… There were endless possibilities…

That was the moment I knew that, one, we were going to win the war concerning the definition of the word ‘pest,’ and two, never again would I shove poor Frankie/Grandad out in the cold on Winter mornings.

Later on, I asked Dad what he meant when he said ‘I know who the pests are, and it’s not the cats.” It turns out he was still grumbling about yesterday when he had strolled out to the back lawn to check on his cauliflower garden. He was eager to see if they were ready for the vegetable growing competition.

There were no cauliflowers. Just bits of shredded leaves and six enormous, fat and satisfied looking caterpillars.

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Sue Copsey’s FABO Story Report

Excellent work, Fabsters! I have so enjoyed reading your stories and finding out what that “Russian satellite” really was: a dragon (popular choice), an asteroid/meteorite (often containing something sparkly like a crystal or diamonds), a stag (unexpected!), colourful worms (love it), zombies (quite a few of those), an alien spacecraft (top choice), zombie dogs, and … a man-eating sloth (terrifying).

There were more than 120 entries in total. Thank you ALL for using your imaginations to such great effect. As soon as I started reading the winning entry I knew this was the one, but before I share it with you, a few honourable mentions:

Alantis James of Westport South School imagined an ‘Everything Machine’ that produced the perfect breakfast buffet, while Olivia Edhouse of Remuera Primary imagined that the thing that crashed to Earth was the lost Mars Rover, Opportunity.

Hats off to Jep Donaldson of Moanataiari School for turning the story on its head by making the humans the troublemakers with their horrible polluting habits, and the dragon who crashed to Earth just a poor creature trying to protect his home.

Angi Li of Remuera Primary School – you have a great future as a writer of horror stories. I thought your ending was clever.

Jordan Hawkes of Marina View School, your use of descriptive language was great, and your story cracked along at a great pace. Your ending wrapped the story up beautifully. Top marks!

I also loved Matthew’s story (Discovery School) in which lots of versions of himself emerged from the spaceship. Beautifully written, and a great ending too.

Rose Curley of Churchill Park School wrote a bonkers story about a piglet with a unicorn horn and fairy wings. I’m a big fan of bonkers – well done!

Indigo Tomlinson of Whakatane Intermediate – I loved your story, the beginning hooked me in immediately and the ending was satisfying too.

Ava Howard of Beckenham Te Kura O Puroto also demonstrated a lovely use of language, and Isabella from Ellerslie – I loved the twist at the end of your story.

Maia O’Callaghan, the ending to your story made me laugh out loud.

Arwen Dove of Ellerslie School had Disney princesses emerging from the crashed spaceship. I love it when writers mash up themes like that.

A special mention for Treehula Turnull of Ellerslie School for the Star Wars-themed story, especially for the line ‘Although he looks more like a Noah than a Luke’. I was so impressed with this line I tweeted it!

Zara S from Remarkables Primary School wrote this awesome last line to her story: ‘The creature lived happily never after because he was dead.’ (I tweeted that one too!)

Erin from Tighes Hill Public School, some fabulous description in your story. Well done!

And Indi Taylor from Pt Chevalier Primary, your story was a close contender for the winning spot. I liked how you used your senses in your descriptive writing: ‘The aroma of feijoas hung around the substance like a low-hanging cloud.’

And so to the winner! Many congratulations to Niamh Murray from Churton Park School. Your story about astronomer zombies had it all. An intriguing start that hooked me in, well-written in short snappy paragraphs, well punctuated, spelling and grammar all excellent. And that ending! So very clever. Niamh I will email you for your address so that I can send you your prize, and once again well done, I knew your story was the winner as soon as I started reading.

Niamh Murray’s Winning Story

We sidled closer and gazed at a bedroom-sized building that looked like a white globe, with silver letters inscribed on it: ASTRONOMER GRAVEYARD. A shimmering golden door hung below the words, and without thinking twice we barged through.

Limp, lifeless bodies lay all around the room, with somehow familiar names embroidered on their flowing academic gowns. Then, to our horror, they slowly stirred and murmured monstrous language, their eyes rolling uncontrollably in their clammy heads. They stretched their arms toward us, and one – labelled: GALILEO – tossed a green bottle toward us. Shocked, I unscrewed the cork hesitantly and read the letters inscribed in black, spidery ink on the parchment inside, ‘I have cloned the dead astronomers! – Vera Rubin.’

We observed the swarm of astronomer zombies as they towered over us intimidatingly. They trotted outside, their eyes darting up many a time to the crescent moon, while we attempted frantically to herd them back.

We barely glanced at each other, too focused on the zombies, who advanced toward a log cottage, and we buried our faces in our sweating palms, pacing around and waiting for the zombies to enter. A moment later we heard a muffled scream, and a lady with round glasses burst through the door, but pulled to an abrupt halt when she saw us.

‘I’m Vera Rubin,’ she sobbed. ‘The one who cloned them. Sorry, I didn’t mean for them to come to Earth…’

We gripped her trembling hand, and she led us to a white hall, oodles of zombies following.

‘The Wellington Authorities… live here, with me, coz they… my friends,’ she panted, and tapped her knuckles against the polished door. A moment later there was a commotion and a troop of authorities bustled into the night, where they turned a deathly, ghastly white, and gaped at the oncoming assault of clones, some dropping into unconsciousness.

People were scattered in various places, hurling things toward the zombies, but the zombies only made deafening, satisfied chuckles.

Then one authority, Officer Matt, sighted a glimmer of hope.

‘Astronomers hate magic things,’ he muttered. ‘They like scientific theories. I have “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”, which is a book to do with magic, and if I throw it at ‘em I bet they’ll go back.’

So he braced himself, and catapulted the faded book into the jet-black sky.

As hoped, the hideous beasts fled back to the mystical object they had come from, letting out high-pitched screams, and the authorities slammed the door firmly.

‘Connor,’ hissed Officer Matt to me, ‘Here are the keys to my police car, which is parked there on the driveway of the hall. Get the gun and shoot the… you know, the thing the zombies came out of.’

The resounding BANG boomed around the district while the vibrant moon and radiant stars hung in the sky.

The next day, many folks claimed that a gunshot had echoed through the suburbs at exactly 3:42 in the morning. But that is a secret.

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Judges report and winning story May 12th 2019

Welcome back to FABO for 2019.

Crystal thrones… Strange giant birds… prophecies… Birds that can speak… tell stories or mimic class members. New lands… extinct birds and lost children filled the bush at every turn. Mrs Fraser will need therapy or at least a good lie down after going on a class trip.

The adventures this class had in the bush kept me on the edge of my seat… what will happen next?

Sadly many stories started out full of action and adventure and then the main characters woke up and it was all a dream.

A little bit of brainstorming at the beginning could have saved some great stories.

Sometimes writers start out writing hoping to find out what happens next. We can often write ourselves into a hole and not know how to get out. It is perfectly fine to stop in the middle and do a quick brainstorm on how to end the story. Then you leave the reader with a satisfying end.

Many entries were stuffed full of long words. Long words are fine to use if it is the right word. Sometimes writers can reach for a long word thinking that it will make the story better. The best stories keep the reader hooked into the story all the way through. If the reader has to stop every second sentence to figure out what a word means, it slows down the story for the reader. At the end all they can tell you about the story is that it had a lot of LOOONG words.

The winning story managed to have action, the right words, Jody becoming a legend…and the discovery of a mythical bird. Although I think Mrs Fraser still would have needed therapy.

So the winner this fortnight… is Bailey McC from Remarkables School.

Bailey McC’s Winning Story

We all held our breaths in anticipation. Mrs Fraser started to jump up and down on her tiptoes in excitement, we all looked at each other, holding in our laughter. She whispered “ok class, we’re going to get up and start to walk quietly to the source of the sound, If you have cameras get them out!”. After what felt like hours, everyone was deflated as we didn’t discover the mysterious sound.

Before long, we came across a rickety bridge. We were all walking across it when we heard a squeal, followed by a splash! Everyone froze. we looked down, Jody had fallen in AGAIN…”Help!!” he cried in fear. Just then the sound of a crack fell upon us, CRABANG! The bridge collapsed beneath our feet. With the sounds of screaming, we hit the water with a splash into a fast flowing, deep river. I started to dip in and out as my head was forced underwater. I saw people attempting to clamber out but the walls of dirt were too high and slippery, hindering our escape. I started to think of the worst outcomes ,my clothes were dragging me down, we were either gonna drown or drown!

I saw Jody trying to swim towards something. I couldn’t see what it was until I got closer … a massive log! But it was too far away, he was never going to reach in time. Just then we heard a familiar cry that blocked out all the hysteria. It was a majestic sort of sound, in fact, that was the cry that lead us to be here. It drew closer and closer. “Eeeek!” Mrs Fraser cried as a burst of colour came into view. It was the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen! It swooped down and opened its gigantic claws and grabbed onto the log. It flew towards Jody within a matter of seconds and dropped it right into his reach, then it swooped around and winked at Jody before swooping off. Jody acted fast.

“Everyone grab on!” he yelled. Everyone swam towards the only sign of hope. When I reached the log and clambered on, Jody manoeuvred it sideways so it wedged up against both sides of the mossy dirt wall creating a perfect dam. “Quickly everyone, stand up and um, Mrs Fraser you won’t mind us standing on your head to get out?”. Mrs Fraser carefully stood up and leaned against one side on the dirt wall, “quickly now kids!” she yelped in fear.

One by one every kid scrambled onto Mrs Fraser’s head and out of danger. Eventually we all got out and hauled Mrs Fraser up. “Oh my! That actually just happened!” Mrs Fraser said covering her mouth with her trembling hands.

Jody had just saved everyone’s life! We all gave Jody a round of applause. Just then we heard a cry, the mystical bird circled above our heads. We finally found what we were looking for, if only we had our cameras! What a legendary trip!

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story Judge’s Report by Sue Copsey

Congratulations all you Fabo-sters on your fabo-ulous stories! I was impressed how you took the time to read through the starter properly, and picked up on the cattish, rattish, clues about what could happen next. I was hoping for lots of description of what it might feel like to be a rat, and you didn’t disappoint.

I particularly enjoyed the stories in which the rat’s hurt feelings came across. Not only did you imagine how it felt to have whiskers, be small, have claws and a twitchy nose, you also thought about how it would feel to be an unwanted pet dismissed as disease-carrying vermin.

Some special mentions:

There were some great descriptions of shape-shifting into a rat’s body. I loved this from Cole Wescombe: “A twitchy black button of a nose sat in place of my normally human nose. My ears expanded to twice their ‘normal’ size and constantly performed half revolutions in their sockets, listening. I was Rat.”

Lots of you came up with good names for the rat – Cole Wescombe (again), I loved yours, which was also one of the best last lines: “I have now named my rat. Jessica Isabell Lawrence, my own name.”

The best name given to the lady next door was dreamt up by Aksinya Bhagirath from Fairburn: “Miss Fickledoodle, or as I like to call her, the Horrifying Old Hag”.

Siobhan Tantrum from Bohally, I enjoyed your rat with its funky hip-hop moves.

Zoe Adams, also from Bohally, I loved your story, which was beautifully written with all the ends neatly tied up.

Shreya from Fairburn – great use of rich, beautiful language (as always ;)).

Also from Fairburn, this wonderful line from Sepuita Mohetau: “… its feet crawled gently, as silently as raindrops kissing the ground.”

And Lucas Makiha, yet another awesome writer from Fairburn, your story came very close to winning. Your use of language was original, you thought very carefully about your descriptions and they worked beautifully, especially: “this majestic creature was peering into my soul as if the Devil himself was tossing my life in front of my eyes.” And, “She was beautiful and calm like the Waikato River on a misty morning.” Wow!

Ophelia from Glen Eden Intermediate, I loved your use of humour, and how your story came a full circle.

Remy Groenendijk your ending was also very clever, and quite mysterious.

Indigo Tomlinson from Ohope Beach School. OH. MY. GOSH. You surely have a future as a writer of horror stories. This description chilled me to the bone: “Her face was paler than the moon itself. Her eyes were encircled with black shadows … The eyes themselves were soulless, devoid of any emotion. She had no teeth. No lips. No tongue. Just a hole …”

So with all these great yarns about shape-shifting rats and cats, and witches, it was very hard to pick a winner. But pick a winner I did, and from the moment I read this one I thought … wow, that’s going to be difficult to beat. Ella Stewart from WHS, your story really stood out. It was well written, imaginative, and it included all the story elements I wanted to see, but it took a different approach. The main character learned an important lesson about how to treat others – your story was heartwarming, funny and thought-provoking. Congratulations Ella, I’ll be in touch about your prize!

Ella’s Winning Story

The rat drew a circle with its finger, on the table where it was sitting. A mysterious swirling vortex opened up in the same place the circle had been drawn. The rat jumped in. I sighed and followed the rat. This was already more trouble than it was worth.

I was spat out in another dimension. I saw my Rat just ahead of me and tried to grab it. Its tail swished through my fingers. I just wanted this over and done with.

“It is not polite in this dimension to capture rats,” it said.

I did a double take. “What?”

“I said that you should not try to capture rats while in this reality.”

“But I want to go home, and I want you to come with me!”

“I thought you didn’t want me? I am simply taking myself away. You can be my pet.”

“But I want you to be my pet!”

“Should have thought about that before you started thinking about how you didn’t want me.”

“I’m sorry!”

“Do not apologise to me. After all, I’m just vermin.”

I felt terrible, I really did. I felt bad to everyone I’d ever thought of as ugly or mean, without knowing them. I even felt bad about how I’d reacted to dad bringing me this awesome, witty, snarky rat.

“Rat, please can we go home now? I have some apologies to make.”

“Finally seeing sense, eh?”

“Yes. Rat, I’m sorry about how I judged you straight off the bat.”

“Apology accepted,” beamed the rat. He drew a circle on the grass and leapt through. I followed.

I made many apologies in the following half hour.

“Done.” I sighed in relief.

Rat gave me a look. I’d learnt the hard way that he couldn’t talk in this dimension. He held up two claws. First he mimed a cat, hissing and arching its back. Then he pointed at me, and then mimed brushing his hair.

I sighed. Lottie and the Cat next door. I decided to start with The Cat Next Door. I warily wandered over, with the rat in my pocket. The cat was stretched out lazily on the fence.

“Hey, puss puss puss,” I said, kindly. “I’m sorry for thinking mean things about you,” I said, reaching out a tentative hand. I petted the cat, slowly. It purred. I felt happy that I’d made a new friend. When I got home, I was covered in a mix of brown and black fur.

“You look like a tiger,” Lottie said, wrinkling her nose.

“Lottie, I’m sorry for thinking mean things about you all the time. I love you, and you’re my only sister.”

Lottie stared. “All my lollies have run out.”

“Why does it matter?”

“What are you buttering me up for?”

“Nothing. I just saw some good.”

“Oh. Well, thanks, I guess. Love you, little bro.” Lottie awkwardly hugged me, and I hugged her back.

My rat squeaked.

“I’m going to call you Jackpot,” I whispered to him.

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story Judges Report by Elena De Roo

Wow!!!! This is the highest standard of writing I’ve seen, since I’ve been part of Fabo. You’ve made it extremely hard for me to pick a winner.

A wonderful variety of creatures (both extinct and invented) appeared in your stories. Moa (with dinosaurs a close second) were popular, but some of the others that featured were: a dryad; a living statue; a taniwha; a cyborg moa and robotic tuatara; and a giant, light pink Orchard Mantis.

There were so many wonderful entries that stood out for one reason or another.

Amanda – I loved your variation on a classic ending —[Anika] was just about to try and steer the Moa back to where they had come from when Levi rode up beside them, sitting on top of the largest North Island Goose in the world. “This is awesome,” he breathed and together they rode off into the sunlit city.

Niamh — I was super impressed with the calculator-like device you came up with, to explain Anika’s and Levi’s predicament — … with switches labelled:
MOVING THINGS INSIDE VISIBLE FROM OUTSIDE. The first switch was on, the second and third were off.
Also — The International Invention Convention Building — is such a great name!

Piper – lovely attention to detail, especially colour.
His blue eyes were so wide, they looked like small doughnuts — was my favourite simile.
And I loved your description — A mammoth-sized T-Rex skelton stomped on visitors to the museum, and it lifted them up with its dagger-like teeth. Luckily when it ate them, they simply fell through its bony rib cage …

Divya – Your lovely sentence — A heavy breeze pushed past us — is one of my favourites.
It was also a nice touch to describe Anika and Levi as ‘curious creatures’, in your ending — “Well the most curious creatures here are probably you two. Where did you run off to?”

Maebel —Excellent world building!
When Levi argues dodo’s didn’t exist in New Zealand back in 1580, Stanley the Dodo explains — “We were here back when the land was still called Pangaea but the other two species [snake and giant brown moth] died of fear, when we started to drift.

Lewis — Your short story was full of energy. I especially liked the image of Levi being spirited away like a fat chicken.

Anaya — Nice use of sound and onomatopoeia.

Bethany – Your story had lots of twists and turns that kept me on my toes, and I loved your lively dialogue, especially the line, “Where next? Where next?” said the chit-chattery voices of the class. Especially impressive as you were the youngest entrant.

Charlotte – Love the moment, when Anika asks Levi if he’s still going to tell on her, and he answers — “If I make it out alive I won’t, but if I don’t I will tell on you!” whispered Levi back. A smile drifted across Anika’s face …

Cole – You also had great dialogue which captured the character’s voice — Anika, showing off as usual, and also trying to hide her panic, began talking. “This type of Moa, the Dinornis Novaezealandiae, lived in the lowlands of the North Island. Though it hunted and ate meat, it was mainly a herbivore and was tall enough to reach the higher branches of trees. It was also annoyed by sound … Oops.”

Special mention to the following finalists who all came close to winning:

Evangeline — Your evocative first sentence was my favourite opening — Crunch, crunch, scaly feet trod on leaves, gradually looming closer to the children — and I was impressed with the way you included the “grandfather paradox” in your time-travel story.

Lucia — Great attention to detail and vivid description that really brought your characters and story to life for me —
She[Miss Payne] pushed up her purple framed glasses and stared in horror at the scene before her. “How on earth did you two get in there,” she cried. Her face turning an ugly shade of tomato red.

Indigo —I loved the humour in your story, especially when the supernatural voice gets a little confused —
“For the male with his sore foot,” boomed the voice. Anika and Levi looked at each other in confusion, surely the god could tell that Anika was a girl?

Rilee — Lots of nice moments in your story — Levi’s eyes snapped shut; he shrunk down into a ball whispering, “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die …”Anika kicked him. “Snap out of it! It won’t hurt us – it’s a herbivore.”
Also, I’m super-impressed that you included the word “lugubrious” (I had to look it up to make sure I had the meaning right.) Well done!

Lucy — A beautifully crafted story, and it was lovely to see your use of Te Reo Māori in it.

Fleur — Your story came a close second place, and was very nearly the winner. I loved the way you cleverly included all the extinct birds from the story starter. And what a beautiful opening — Anika turned around, only to feel her insides drop. Towering above them, with gleaming brown feathers, was a Moa. It’s dark, malicious eye gazed down at them. “Levi, move very slowly”, she whispered. As she tugged at Levi’s sleeve, her heart pounded in her chest. If only she could share this special moment with the rare – extinct – Moa with someone other than Levi.

My winner is Rose Vannini (Mid Canterbury Centre for Gifted Education) — for a story which impressed me with its entertaining characters, overall quality and satisfying ending. Congratulations Rose, I’ll be in touch to organise sending your prize.

Rose’s Winning Story

Anika turned painfully to look. They were in a huge forest that couldn’t have been there. The exhibit was only about the size of their classroom. Stalking towards them through the trees was a moa. Not a stuffed moa. A real living, breathing moa. Anika had always thought the moa in other museums were beautiful birds with their amber eyes and huge feathers. But this one charging at her suddenly looked more like a cross between a monsterous giraffe and a chicken on drugs. It was looking right at them with its creepy amber eyes.

“Can we run now?” whimpered Levi.

He looked absolutely terrified. This moa shouldn’t be alive! But it was, very much so. It raised its head and let out a deafening “caaaaa!”

Anika stumbled backwards but that was all thanks to her stupid foot. The big monster trampled bushes under its massive clawed feet as it came closer. “Caaaaa!”

Just as the moa was nearly upon them the door reappeared in the wall and a man with a wild beard and even wilder eyes stepped in.

“What are you moaning about bird?!” he growled.

Then he saw Levi and Anika and froze. “Hello kids,” he leered “you’d better come with me. Bird- take them!” he said to the moa. It grabbed their t-shirts in its beak and stomped off after him, deeper into the forest.

“Welcome,” said the old man, “to my humble office.”

“Caaa!” called the moa.

“Shut up,” said the old man.

“Who are you?!” Anika yelled. “Put us down!”

“I am the brilliant scientist Professor Citrius.”

“Who?” asked Levi.

“Don’t tell me you have never heard of me?”

“Nope.” said Anika, trying to disguise her fear.

“Bah! Ignorant children these days!”

“He’s completely bonkers.” Anika said to Levi, who didn’t answer. Out of all the people to be captured with, it had to be him.

Just as Anika was trying to think of an escape plan Professor Citrius cried. “Here we are! Home sweet home!”

The professor’s idea of ‘home sweet home looked just like all the rest of the forest to Anika. “Drop them bird!” he shouted.

Anika was surprised when the moa placed them gently on the ground.

“One day I will rule the world using these birds as my minions.” He said, more to himself than anyone else.

“You can’t do that,” cried Levi “we’ll warn people!”

“Oh don’t worry about that. I didn’t spend years creating a gap in time for my plans to be foiled by two interfering children. I shall rule the world! Bird, you may have your dinner!”

The moa didn’t move.

“Didn’t you hear me? Eat the-”


The moa swallowed the professor in one bite.

“Nobody likes being bossed around,” said Anika to the moa. “We understand that, come with us.”

“Wha-” began Levi

“Shush,” said Anika “we could do with a class pet.

The moa looked at her with its beautiful amber eyes and let out its first truly happy “caaaaa!”

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Judge’s Report: ‘The Final Call’ by Jane Bloomfield

First of all, I would like to mention the sixty young writers across New Zealand, who filed a story: Emir, Jackson, Erica, Archie, Renee, Angela, Zoe, Maebel, Alex, Tyla, Stella, Alex, Mikayla, Neihana, Beata, Casey, Jullian, Zach, Zoe, Bridget, Alyssa, Finn, Sera, Immy, Sophie, Mackenzie, Zara, Amelie, Joe, Xavier, Lachlan, Milanya, Zoe-Jade, James, Brooke, Caitlyn, Eva, Ella, Georgette, Harrison, Jayden, Axel, Georgina, Olivia, Ruby W, Aaron, Tony, Georgina, Honor, Anna, Troughton, Maia, Indigo, Hannah, Briah-Rose, Ella, Troughton, Lucia, Wayne, Eloise. Give yourselves a pat on the back. Writer’s write. You are all writers!

When I’m writing a story, I usually always know my starting point and my ending. This method is often used by screen writers (writers of movies) and is very useful in situations like Fabostory, when you have a limited word count. Knowing where your character will end up, can help alleviate getting bogged down at the start of your story. There were many writers who did not get their characters out of the airport toilets. Or off the tarmac.

However, I was really thrilled to see plenty of high-octane imaginations heading out on wild adventures. Many entries had great imagery, clever language and sassy similies. For example:

Ella – “The ground was too far away they were over the sea and all she could see was a long stretch of blue and green, and a tiny island shaped like a diamond.”

Wayne – “Ubiquitous face of Shockley Rogers … cackled cockily like a crazed lunatic.”

Stella – “As the wind is making a mountain out of a molehill underneath the plane.”

Aidan – “Her tangly long brown hair flapped in the wind like whips.”

Lucia – “Panic burst into Chessies stomach like someone had just chucked too many logs on an already very large fire.” “… her voice sounded as sweet and fairy-like as Thumbelina”

We had spies, doppelgangers, watery plane crashes, dragon kingdoms, catacombs high-speed getaways, “dun, dun, duns …”, a bathroom-vortex, an arctic fox, a dragon-vet, King and Queen Teapot, assassins, murder weapons, escapes by parachutes, gold bars, fingerprint scanners, demon potions, kidnappers, murder, plenty of mayhem, secret agents, villains, shark repellant, emergency landings (I’m happy to report everyone has been watching the safety videos). And mermaids, which leads me to my winner:

A very mermaid story by …

Indigo Ciara Tomlinson – 10 (who happens to live by the sea) Ohope Beach School

The aircraft rocked wildly from side to side. Chessie removed her headphones and gazed around in a panic. ‘’Attention,’’ came a voice, but no one was listening. ‘’This is your co-pilot speaking. We are experiencing some minor problems please remain cal…’’ Her voice was cut off, as the plane plummeted towards the ocean, which swirled until it became a sickening blue blur. Chessie hastily scrambled for her lifejacket. The plane dropped ever faster. People tried to reach the exit doors as, with a mighty crash, the plane smashed into the water.

Chessie’s mind was a blur of terror. She couldn’t focus. Everyone converged towards the exits. She was too numb to follow. Everything had a blue tint. Her lungs were starting to hurt. She pressed herself into her seat, feeling as though it could protect her from this nightmarish horror. The stewardesses swam past. No one saw her. Then she was all alone. ‘’Nooooooo!’’ Chessie cried, as water filled her lungs. She swam towards the floor. Trying to reach the surface. Dark shapes loomed out at her. Jeering and pointing. Everything was swirling. Her brain was shutting down. Nothing made sense anymore. As Chessie slipped into unconsciousness, she thought she saw a girl with long wild hair, reaching out to her. And then, she saw nothing at all.

Chessie felt strange. She cried to move her legs-but couldn’t. Her breathing felt regular, but different at the same time. ‘’Is she awake?’’a girl asked. ‘’Shh, Coral,’’ said another voice. ‘’We must give her time,’’ Chessie opened her eyes. And saw her legs. Or, more accurately, her tail. ‘’Arrrrgh!’’ she exclaimed, as a mermaid reached out for her. ‘’Stay calm. Your mother is here.’’ the mermaid said, as a beautiful woman swam into the chamber. Chessie recognized her face. It was the same face she saw every time she looked in the mirror. ‘’Mum!’’ she cried………

‘’So, you’re the queen of Merland and the girl that rescued me was my cousin, Coral and you think Dad was kidnapped by one of his modelling rivals and you are going to organise a rescue? You were also a human when you had me and then you had to come and rule here, and you are okay with Dad marrying Miranda?’’ Chessie summarised. Her mother nodded. ‘’I’ll tell your father that you are going to be a mermaid now, but that you can visit him in the school holidays. If that’s okay with you?’’ ‘’Of course, it’s okay!’’ Chessie exclaimed. ‘’I can’t wait!’’ she did a backflip and landed on her mother’s, sea moss bed. ‘’Woohoo!’’

Chessie was sitting on the clamshell throne, waiting for the Grand Ball to celebrate her new role as a princess to begin, when she suddenly found herself in her tangled sheets. The morning before the flight. She couldn’t believe it. Had it been a correct prediction of the future? Or just a dream? ‘’Dad!’’ Chessie called out. ‘’Was Mum a mermaid by any chance?’’

Congratulations, Indigo. I’d love to read more of your underwater mermaid stories in the future!

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Judge’s Report: Survival 101 by Kathy White

They say that patience is a virtue, but I understand completely if you’ve been tearing your hair out waiting to hear the results of the Survival 101 writing challenge. I went to Melbourne and completely forgot to write my judge’s report. Aaaarrrrrgggggghhhhh. Unkind FaBo writers might correctly say I had a senior moment.

It’s tough when you’re asked to write to a word limit, but it’s a good skill to have. I used to write for magazines, and the stories were short. Knowing how many words and how much space you have helps you to pace your story. You need a good beginning, middle and a satisfying end.

You all used your imagination and created fabulous creatures – giant armadillos (Kate), hipsomgerflies (Ysabelle), megalodons, a mutated bumblebee (Marina) and a children apocalypse (Cate). Sera Raj even had Miss Peel as a disguised megalodon. Miss Peel brought out the best in your writing. You really built on her character in ways that made me laugh.

I especially liked some of the deeply thought-provoking things you said, such as “This issss real life. People can be idiots sometimes.” So true, Ysabelle.

And this from Holly – Suddenly, the monster came out of the trees. It was small, cute, and furry. “Don’t touch it, don’t sssssniff it, and whatever you do, DON’T LOVE IT. It feedss on love.

Miss Peel shrinks it with hatred and extinguishes it with some of her ‘defeat’ perfume.
I liked the way so many of you played around with words in descriptions.

Out came a leathery foot and an arm as furry as a yeti (Jasleen). The whole class gasped again but, this time, not because they just found out there is a colossal shark somewhere outside but because Miss Peel had just smiled showing off her razor sharp, pearly white teeth! (Sera Raj). The students were as silent as a grave and just as still (Holly). Miss Limone stood shivering in a caliginous cavern wearing a tatty oversized shirt (Honour). He was old and hunched, with soulless black eyes (Indigo). That night I lay awake in the darkness. It was punctured by the silvery light of the moon (Eleanor).

And Bethany, you write great dialogue. In fact, a lot of you were good at combining dialogue and description. I was particularly impressed by how natural it sounded.

Some of you had really good endings, with humour, a surprise or a twist. My favourites were these two – “Ummm well class is over I guess,” Jake said while cleaning the spit off him” (Carter), and this one by Amelie: “At least we got rid of the worlds scariest creature!”

“The Megalodon is still out there roaming the seas!” said Michael in confusion.

“I mean Miss Peel! She’s gone!” said Sandy.

You all wrote well, and there were a handful of you who were very close to winning this week … but the winner is Honour Richardson, aged 9, of St Patrick’s Bryndwr School, for a well-rounded story, good balance between description, action and dialogue, with a surprising twist at the end.

Honour’s Story

Then all the lights turned off and the blinds closed. Miss Limone stood shivering in a caliginous cavern wearing a tatty oversized shirt. She seemed to flinch at her surroundings. Monty hadn’t noticed before, but truckloads of rattlesnakes slithered hangrily behind her. She did one of those high pitch girly screams and fell to the ground. Trembling behind Monty was Sue, who had gone completely pale. The image changed. An overgrown forest with slippery, muddy grounds was empty, except for a single Kiwi tucked away in a corner. The image changed again. An ocean that looked as if there was previously a shark attack looked empty until giant sharks popped out of the water.

“Megalodons, aren’t they beautiful”? Miss Peel whispered under her breath.

The image changed one last time. It looked like a picture of town – in black and white.

Dinosaurs stomped over buildings chomping on flowers and other plants as they went.

“Yesss, all these animals extinct because of us people. Now the Kiwi isn’t fully extinct, but you people are so selfish, fools you might as well count them as dead.” Miss Peel looked at the clock like it had just killed her parents. “Noooo”! She screeched.

Everyone looked around clueless, Monty thought that nothing good could come from this day until, the lunch bell rang.

The lights flickered but turned on eventually, the blinds slipped up the window. Miss Limone came in still wearing her tatty, oversized clothes. Miss Peel ripped something off her hair and beautiful brown came flowing down. Miss Limone threw her a wipe, and she revealed a tanned face with shining brown eyes. She took off her slimy, polished, ugly green jumpsuit and showed off her charming sky blue dress. Everyone gasped at the sight of their Principal, Mrs Stevens. I hoped you enjoyed your lesson on creatures. I guess it’s time for lunch now. Monty looked at Michael. The class sped out the door. The wig was quite annoying, Mrs Stevens said. The two teachers were left in the class laughing.