Posted in Poetry, The Winners!

Fabostory Poetry Challenge Report! 

Judge’s Report by Melinda Szymanik

Wow! Just like last year, we had a lot of entries so Elena De Roo and I divided them up and judged half each. It was wonderful to see the poems that emerged from all the different prompts we offered in this last challenge for 2021. I read ice cream poems and monkey in hot pool poems, turtle poems and climate change poems, cloud poems and quite a few haiku.

Make sure with your haiku that you have counted your syllables and have the right number, as this is one of the most important rules for this type of poetry. My favourite haiku included those by Elsa Hurley from Katikati Primary, and Rubina Kim, Ryan Stuckey and Xavier Turner (the first haiku), all from Long Bay Primary. Well done! Haiku may look easy to write, but they definitely aren’t.

I wished fervently that some of you had let your poems rest for a day or two before you revised and submitted them. They had such lovely ideas inside them but they needed a little more work. Poems can be like that – like a block of marble that you need to chip away at carefully to find the sculpture inside.

And I’m sad to say some of the poems submitted were plagiarised. It was disappointing to see that a few of you chose to steal someone else’s work and submit it under your own name. Please don’t do this. I would much rather read your own poetry, and give prizes to those folk who have done the hard work and created their own poem.

I really enjoyed Grace Evans’ Friendship Recipe poem which was well thought out and quite delicious, and Amy Gilbert’s poem about the monkey in the hot pool which included some lovely descriptive language. Aveline Forsyth also wrote about the monkey in the hot pool, using great rhythm and with a powerful ending which reminded me of the Lion King. All three poets were from Selwyn House School.

Olivia Morriss from Oamaru Intermediate wrote quite a dramatic and unusual poem about climate change which I found intriguing, and Grace Moodie from Bethlehem College wrote a very clever poem using colour and the senses in a really interesting way, including the very cool following line which made me feel like I could hear it –

It sounded like gold
The symphony of a rising sun

The science geek in me really liked these lines from the second half of Maria Bereto-Walker from Ilam School’s poem –  

When this generation is over
The next will come
By forming

from the dust
Of the stars

Ben Cranwell’s (Long Bay Primary) second poem about the Last Polar Bear was short but very moving. Amelia Mackenzie from St Joseph’s Whakatane wrote a long, fun, slightly nonsense poem which had lots of lovely rollicking rhythm and rhyme. And Zoe Rive’s (Long Bay Primary) poem about eating an ice cream had me wishing I was eating one too.

I loved this line from Michael Brown at Long Bay Primary – Fluffy clouds were as orange as the hair on a fox – and these lines from Arlo Brooker, at Verran Primary –

He sounds like a piggy in mud  
He shakes the tv with his grumbles

Sophie Danaher from Marist Catholic School Herne Bay used a different poetry style, writing it as a paragraph, which worked really well with the lockdown theme she wrote about.

I thought Cooper Gallagher’s (St Andrews College) entry, which could also be turned into a short story or flash fiction, was clever and very funny. So Cooper, along with Samantha Muirhead from Kenakena Primary who wrote a wonderfully evocative poem, are my runners up.

The Grumpy Ape by Cooper Gallagher
First off I am NOT an ape!
I am a monkey,
A Japanese Macaque to be precise.
I am also known as the snow monkey, but I don’t like that name much
I HATE the snow!
My family all say “oh it’s not that bad”,
But they are wrong snow is TERRIBLE
They all sit in the hot pools and relax
But I sit and brood
I don’t care if they say I’m “being difficult” it’s just too cold!
When I try to sit in the hot pools the snow settles on my head
Then if I sneeze it comes tumbling down on me and that’s even worse!
I wish I could go to the rainforest with my cousin Gary
But he always says I’m to young to go with him
And that my home is here not halfway across the planet
But I don’t care they’ll come around eventually

Samantha Muirhead’s Poem

Wild animal beneath me
Ocean washes away sparkling gold
Pounding hooves a drumbeat
A glorious sight to behold
Wind whipping through my hair
Imprints whispering the way
The gentle warmth like a hug
The sea sends a teasing spray
My toes curl against her sides
Encrusted with sand
She flies on heart, not hooves
I speak to her by hand
Dune grass sings to the breeze
It smells like green
The lullaby speaks to my soul
The water tantalisingly gleams
Plunging through the waves
I trust her to lead
Fingers entwined in mane
Frothing water with her speed
Awash in golden glow
Lying side by side
As quiet as the tiniest whisper
“Girl, wanna go for a ride?”

And my winners (drum roll please …)
 … Vitek Mencl with this wonderful poem, which is short but full of meaning, a quiet confident rhythm and lovely imagery. Vitek is 7 and goes to Ilam School.

The last polar bear
slid into slowly rising water
to catch a seal.
A pack of kind orcas
sneaked up as quiet
as the heart of the sea
to help him catch his dinner.

And my other winner is Holly Fraser from Selwyn House School with this beautiful, quietly confident poem which also has terrific rhythm, simple yet haunting imagery and packs a powerful punch.

The earth silent
 A small room
as blank
as a piece of paper.
Natural light fading
the paint peeling
like a grater
has just stripped
the walls.
A lonely table
perched in the middle
of the room.
A cup
of plain words
swirled inside
waiting to be sipped
of its knowledge.

I will be in touch with my winners via email to arrange for your prizes to be posted to you. 🙂

Judges Report by Elena De Roo

As Melinda said, we divided the poems up between us. There were over a hundred each to judge, and what an imaginative and impressive collection they were, using a wide range of different prompts. A special shout out to the young 7 and 8 year old poets from Verran Primary, whose poems featured strongly in my list.  

Rhyme — one thing I noticed in general was that many poems included words just because they rhymed.  Every word counts, so make sure the choose ones that are a good fit for your poem.

One of my favourite poems that used rhyme and rhythm to good effect was the poem On My Plate by Megan Liew from Kingsway School. Your poem rolled along effortlessly and I could really visualise your plate full of way too many veggies! It had an excellent last line too, which isn’t easy to do!

On My Plate

I sat right down, glanced at my plate
Then soon realised my awful fate:
Spinach, carrots, peas galore
Beetroot, onions, and there’s more
Eggplant, turnip, chopped and cut
A giant chunk of who knows what
I picked it up; it smelled of green
So then I placed it in between…
Two brussels sprouts I’ll never eat
Finishing this will be a feat
Everything, without a bite
But then I saw a glistening sight:
My favourite cake, so sweet, so dear
Plate of veggies, disappear!

Another poem that had great rhythm and rhyme and transported me straight to summer was from Amber Miller, age 7 from Verran Primary:

Beach Days (Amber Miller)

Hot sun, sea air,
waves crashing, salty hair.
Ice cream melting in my hand,
sprinkles dripping on the sand.
Licking, crunching, cooling me down,
ice creams on beach days are the best around.

On titles — make your poem’s title work for you. It’s a bonus line — you might be able to use it to add something that wouldn’t otherwise fit in your poem, or to give us a clue as to what the poem is about. The title of Aria Rajendran’s (from Buckland’s Beach Primary) poemtells us what its subject is without ever mentioning it in the poem. Here’s the first verse:


I climbed until the sky turned inky blue.
The colour gently pulled me through.
I flew and glided without a care.
Midnight bliss, stars amiss.

Some poems felt closer to stories than poems. A poem usually has a sense of rhythm and musicality to it and often uses lines in a different way to prose. By reading lots of different sorts of poems you’ll soon get a feel for how they look and sound.

Owen Alvarez, age 7, Verran Primary cleverly experimented with line-breaks, and played with the shape of one of his words to mirror its meaning in his poem

Dinosaur Battle

One time a Stegosaurus
was having
a battle with a Tyrannosaurus
and the moon
on the Stegosaurus

I also loved Cece’s (Buckland’s Beach Primary) surreal melting poem which cleverly used repetition to create a strong rhythm.

Everything is Melting!

Pick up an apple,
it melts,
pick up a peach,
it melts,
pick up a T-shirt,
it melts,
pick up a pair of shorts,
it melts,
pick up headphones,
they melt,
look down at your feet,
they are melting,
look at your legs,
they are melting,
turn around,
no one is there,
just puddles,
you grow shorter,
you can’t think,
you are no more,
you’re melted!

Tip If you can, leave your poem for at least one night before submitting it, so you can look at it with fresh eyes. Often, you’ll find there are words you want to change.  

Luca Delonge’s (Bucklands Beach Primary) poem began “Scuba diving in my lava-orange suit” and featured a different colour in every line which I thought was a clever idea and gave the poem a clear structure.

Ada Calveley, 8, Gladstone Primary created some beautiful images in her lines:
The swaying of the silver grass
I whistled as the sky turned from white to silver blue

Ayla Chapman, age 8, Verran Primary – Nice use of the “marble” prompt in your Lockdown poem.

My whole class is a marble
Even Mrs Wilkins and me.
And Charley is a rainbow
And Lily is a star
And Amber is a love heart.

Sophia Brown (Albany Junior High School) wrote a poem full of delicious summery images called Summer & ice cream. Here is the first verse:

a pool of sticky sweet heaven rests on my tongue,
a cloud of whipped cream floats at the top of my mouth,
as the summer breeze blows by.

Arshiya Tuli ‘s (Queen Margaret College) poem (or is it an anti-poem?) had a wonderful strong last verse, which was full of energy and almost a complete poem in itself.

That is why I will not write a poem. You can not make me.
I will not. I have never written a poem in my life.
And if I do, you will never read any of my poems.
Ever. Goodbye.

Special Mentions go to:

Elsie Dickson, age 7 (Verran Primary) for her lovely, and very funny poem, My Poppa. I really enjoyed reading it and especially liked the lines, “He will make you laugh like Pinkie Pie,” and “He has a cucumber coloured tractor that he keeps in a barn near a chicken coop.”

Sophie Kirkov, age 8 (Verran Primary) for her poem, A Pair of Pears — I loved the image created by your lines:

A thousand reasons why
they should be dancing at night.
But instead I hear them chatting.
I wonder what they say.
Do they think they will live another day?

Bella Chen from St Cuthbert College who wrote a very controlled and accomplished poem, full of the imagery of spring and rebirth. Here are the first two verses:

Nature emerging slowly out of the past
Spring winning the battle against Winter at last

Blossoms bringing back colour to the earth
From the ruins of 2020 begins a new birth …

Now to my shortlist:

I found it really hard to choose between these four poems as they’re all so good but also so different from each other. However, after much deliberation, I decided that my two runners up would be:

Quinn Dixon, age 7, from Ilam School, with his evocative polar bear poem, which I think really captures the feeling of being the last polar bear.

The Last Polar Bear

The last polar bear
On Earth
Standing there
As white
As a cloud
It dived
In the ocean
To get fish
It was wet
And soggy
And lonely

And Sophias Wright  (AGE School) who sent in a beautiful lyrical poem, full of movement and sweeping images.

The Wind

Gracefully dancing through hills and valleys
Stirring up waves
Twisting round birds in flight
Murmuring in my ear as quiet as the tiniest whisper
Setting autumn leaves afloat
Swirling past mountains and forests
Playfully puffing at cotton candy clouds
Skimming the surface of the lakes
Cooling down a hot summer’s day

Well done Quinn and Sophias!

And my two winners were:

Joona Zaza, aged 7, from Verran Primary who wrote a tiny but pitch perfect poem about a turtle

A baby turtle
crawling to the sea
Tomorrow I wonder
where it will be.

And Indigo Tomlinson (Hunaui College) whose poem on the moon painted a beautiful and timeless image, with its perfect simile.  

The moon was a frown, upside down,
It made a slice of silver
On the early morning sky,
Like the scale of a fish
That jumped so high,
It landed among
the stars.

Congratulations to both of you! I’ll be in touch by email soon to find out where to send your prizes.

Posted in The Winners!

FABO Story report for competition 7 judged by Maureen Crisp

I will never look at the swamp in the same way again… after reading these wonderful stories. Hidden below the mud exist magical lands full of monsters and kings, mermaids and sprites, and sacks full of gems, enough for a dragon’s hoard.

When I wrote the beginning, I was remembering a school trip I had been on where we went to the swamp to study what things lived there. It was great to see stories that took this a little further with eels and frogs making appearances in New Zealand swamps. ( FYI. We don’t have alligators.)

A lot of the stories ended in dreams or forgetting what had happened or abandoning people in the swamp. A good story should have a satisfactory conclusion for the reader. If you find yourself floundering in a swamp of words trying to finish the story, retrace your steps to where you last made a plot decision. Taking another plot path can get you out of the word swamp.

These stories really stood out as being complete stories and had me chuckling as I read.

Juliet and the colossal eel

Johnna with mud mermaids

Bill – Lord Horticulous Murke XIV

Danika with Cassie the swamp monster!

Lily with Mutant number 1

Cleo- left me hanging in a great story. What happened next?

Arshiya and the beautiful wonderland under the swamp

Jerry – an epic tale of rescue

Sarah – The scepter

Peyton and the massive frog

Grady – with Max and the floating clothes

Aurie and the rescue of a missing man in the swamp.

Indigo-and where imaginations go to die… (Ouch Poor Swamp.)

Bethany – and the sprites of the swamp.

Matty and the mud elf

You are all wonderful writers using great descriptive language. It was hard to choose one winner from the great stories so I have chosen two. Both stories finished well. When a reader is still thinking about the story a few hours later, that’s how you know it is a winner.

Congratulations Aurie Tzeng and Bill Kelly.

Maureen’s Story Starter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Aaargh the stick is getting sucked down.’

‘Let go.’

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

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

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

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

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

Tere turned. ‘Oh No! Don’t!’

Aurie’s Story – Winner One

The churning swamp water erupted into the air as a grime-covered figure burst from it. The pressure on the stick released as Tere dragged Max back to the safety of dry ground. The muddied figure flailed wildly in the swampy water, sending wave upon wave of mud in all directions.

A giant clump of grass and slop hit Max square in the face. He tumbled backwards in a tangle of limbs and landed with a thump on the ground. Tere would have burst into laughter had the situation not been so frightening.

Max clambered to his feet and staggered away from the swamp while wiping mud off his clothes. Tere could sense Max slipping over and cowering away from the abomination in front of them, turning the surrounding swamp into a whirlwind of flying mud.

Max scuttled back like a spider in a feeble attempt to slip away, but he was met with the swamp behind on either side of him. Tere stood still, trying to be brave and control his primeval instincts to run and hide. Then for a moment, Tere fancied he could hear muffled words.

“Max, hold on!” exclaimed Tere in an attempt to calm Max. “Listen, he’s speaking English. I think it’s a human.”

Max stopped struggling to find a dry path to safety and made painful eye contact with the figure.

“Hello?” questioned Tere.

“Thank you, boys, so much!” roared the man so suddenly that both boys unconsciously flinched away from him.

“Uhm, you’re welcome,” Max mumbled, confused.

“I was stuck under that swamp for days, I was,” the man started, seeming not to have heard Max. “I was walking, looking for some firewood, and I tripped on this here very root.” He jerked his head in the direction of a clump of roots protruding from the uneven mud clumps. “I fell face-first into the swamp. Luckily for me, there was a sort of cave thingy down there, and I got stuck right in it.” He paused for effect. “The hole in the swamp where I fell closed up like a door on a hatch, and I had to use my jacket here to block the spot, so I didn’t drown. I was damn scared to try and push through to the surface, so I was stuck down there for a couple of days, drinking from my water bottle and eating an energy bar I found in my pocket.

“And when my stick got stuck in there, it opened a hole up for you,” offered Max, seeming to regain some of his composure.

“Exactly! I grabbed onto that stick when it went through the roof and clung of for dear life.”

“So… what now?” asked Max.

“Well, we were here with those museum reporter guys, right?” said Tere after some consideration. “Let’s get them to record this; it will make a thrilling story on the news.”

Five minutes later, Tere, Max and the man arrived back at the dusty road and the parked school bus. The reporters were filming students holding up tiny swamp creatures. When one of them caught a glimpse of the mud-covered man out of the corner of his eye, he nearly dropped his camera in shock.

“We have quite the story for you,” said Tere, grinning.

Bill’s Story – Winner Two

A big green face popped out of the mud, sending a wave of water over the top of Tere’s boots. He let go of Max.

‘Well, how do you do?’ said the unusual figure, holding out one hand towards Tere and picking up Max with the other.

Max’s mouth dropped open, ‘w..whu..t?’ he mumbled.

‘Very sorry, did I startle you. My name’s Murke. Lord Horticulous Murke, the XIV,’ his hand still held out to shake Tere’s. ‘I was rather hoping you two boys could help?’ he asked in a posh accent.

Tere and Max grabbed at each other, they were sinking, the mud now over their knees. Max made a gasping noise like he was trying to speak but nothing came out.

‘Looks like you could do with moving to higher ground,’ said Murke. The boys turned with a squelch and waded carefully through the smelly green water, midges clouding around their heads, whilst seeming to avoid Murke’s matted brown curls. Not noticing the panicked look on his companion’s faces, Murke continued ‘I have concluded you are interested in swamp creatures and if you are interested in swamp creatures,’ he paused momentarily taking a breath and then adding ‘you might be interested in helping me?’

Max opened his mouth to speak again, this time managing part of a jumbled sentence ‘actually… school trip…and…’ before trailing off when Tere stamped on his foot.

‘Many years ago’ Murke continued, ‘I was a happy fellow, living in a beautiful house surrounded by wild flowers. Then this tragic accident befell me…’ he stopped and eyed the boys closely. ‘I got into debt, and ended up in prison. When I got out I had lost everything and had nowhere to go. Finally I made my home here with the eels, and the frogs and the insects.’ Murke sniffed loudly and tears rolled down his face. ‘and now… now they are going to destroy it, drain the land, build a factory, poison us, our home.’

‘That’s horrible! And I thought this was just a rotting swamp’ Max quietly sympathised.

‘It’s our home, and they are going destroy it,’ Murke repeated, sobbing. Max patted Murke’s green hand, trying to provide comfort without getting himself any muddier. Max, for once, seemed lost for words.

The silence was broken by the voice of their teacher, Miss Grimwald, calling them.

‘We’ve got to go’ said Tere pulling Max, ‘we will think of a plan. Good bye, Horticulous,’ Tere’s voice cracked and he paused, ‘it was… interesting to meet you.’

On the bus on the way back to school, the class talked excitedly about their swamp study and all the things they had found. Tere and Max stayed silent, they didn’t think anyone would believe what they had discovered. However when back at school the boys googled the swamp and found there really were plans to drain it and build a factory, which upset the whole class. Everyone decided to write letters and show how important the wetland was for different fauna and flora. The local newspaper got involved and Tere and Max made placards and even got on TV.

They won. The swamp was saved. The boys went back to tell Murke about their success but they couldn’t find him, just mud and millions of bloodsucking midges.

Posted in The Winners!

FABO Story Report for Competition 4 judged by Weng Wai Chan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were some great animals and hybrid animals:

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

Alexander Cooke and the octoshark.

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

There were also some wonderful descriptions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My two winners are:

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

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

Well done Kahlan and Indigo!

Weng Wai’s Story Starter: An Unusual Situation

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

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

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

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

Kahlan’s Winning Story

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

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

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

Indigo’s Winning Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The gramophone appeared to be dribbling tears.

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

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

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

“Could someone please get me a tissue?”

Posted in 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 Poetry, The Winners!

FABO Poetry Challenge report by Melinda Szymanik and Elena de Roo

Melinda Szymanik’s Report and Winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hedgehog In My Basket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elena de Roo’s Report and Winner

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

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

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

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

Best titles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special Mentions:

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

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

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

Runner Up:

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


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


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

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

FABO Story Report for competition 12 judged by Kathy White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heh, heh, heh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love


Kathy’s Story Starter: My Life as a Roach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


William Kelly, age 8, Brooklyn Primary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What shall I do now?

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

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

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

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



Ysabelle C, age 13, Baradene College

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

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

Yet I digress. Again.

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

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

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

“Lulu!” I greet her. Then I see it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The world stops.


“Quentin,” Lucinda says softly.

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

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

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Kyle Mewburn’s FABO Story Report

What a teeth-chattering, blood-pumping, hair-raising and altogether breath-taking lot of stories there were in the final competition of the year. The perfect climax to another fabulously entertaining FABO Story year.

There were a lot of familiar names amongst the entries. It’s wonderful to know there are so many keen and rather talented young writers out there. Your teachers must be so excited to have you in their class!

As usual, choosing a winner proved a complicated and challenging process. With so many different writing styles and genres, it’s like trying to compare apples to orangutans. Judges always have their own personal preferences when deciding what makes one story better than another. For me, I’m always especially excited when writers use unexpectedly descriptive language or have a totally original idea.

There were so many examples of both. Like Brock’s: “screeching noise sounded like a rusty bike slowly going up a hill.” Or Freya’s: “Pippa was petrified, still like a glacier. In front of her was a man-chomping blood-sucking freshwater megaladon.”

I loved Kari’s menacing hunchback scene: Through it she could see the blurred outlines of four hunchbacked old men, howling together and waving gnarled fingers in the air to make complicated patterns. She shuddered.
‘’Created from darkness was the human’’ chanted one,
‘’Created from light was the soul,’’ another intoned,
‘’Brought together they made the norm,’’ chorused the third,
‘’But we will shatter that with this dawn,’’ the last man finished.

As for original ideas – WOW! How’s a judge supposed to choose between Julia’s banshees, Cameron’s vampire nightclub, Phoebe’s wise old purple dragon, Evie’s werewolf, Justin’s aliens bearing Medieval swords or Niamh’s shape-shifter keruru who can’t see windows? The FBI was certainly busy in this round of stories, too.

Many of the entries had a very strong narrative voice – which is so important if you want your story to stand out. Which is why I loved Hannah’s: The ground gave way beneath them. She choked on the grit and soil around her, her vision a messy haze. There was no time to be shocked. The last thing she saw before she blanked out was Archie’s blue baggy jeans, and that darn mahogany shirt. Was that really going to be the last thing she saw before she died?

And Isabella’s: Pippa woke in a glittering palace. At least, she assumed it was a palace, because on the mosaic tiled roof was the word PALACE, and she assumed it was glittering because, well, it was glittering.

It was almost impossible to pick a winner – so I picked two instead.

The first co-winner is Chloe Lamb from Horsham Downs Primary. The writing was very atmospheric with some very powerful descriptions: Lily pads and duckweed rippled as the dark silhouette made its way through the boggy ground towards her. The dripping tangle of hair twisted itself around the animal’s shoulders.

The second co-winner is Indi Taylor from Pt Chevalier Primary. It was a very skillful and entertaining piece of writing. Besides, how could anyone not like “egregious rabbits“?

On behalf of all the FABO judges, I’d like to thank all this year’s entrants for keeping us entertained, amused and inspired. Also a big thanks to the teachers and schools for your support. See you all next year.

In the meantime, keep writing!!

– Kyle

Kyle’s Story Starter

The night was as dark as a dragon’s lair. Pale stars glistened like crystals in the crisp, still air. It was almost silent, too, as though the world was holding its breath. There were only three sounds disturbing the peace. The gruff snuffling of sheep grazing amongst the tussock clumps. The distant whisper of the creek slithering over stones. And Archie’s regular: “Ka-Boosh!”

Pippa swung her torch around. “Do you have to do that?” she asked, already knowing the answer.

Archie’s face was a grinning deathmask. “Of course. Everyone knows if you stand on a landmine you get blown up.”

“They’re not mines, they’re cowpats. And you could avoid them… if you wanted.”

“That’s not much fun, Pip.”

“Well, could you stop it for a while? It’s annoying.”

Pippa swung her torch back to the path and stormed away.

“All right,” Archie said finally. Pippa could almost hear his eyeballs rolling in their sockets.

They’d walked the track to the creek so many times, Pippa was quite sure she could find her way blindfolded. But she kept her eyes peeled and her torch pointed firmly at the ground as she picked her way between the tussocks. The last thing she needed was to fall down a rabbit hole and break her leg again.

She glanced over her shoulder, hoping Archie was being a bit more careful too. When she saw him hunched forward holding a long stick like a rifle, his torch jerking wildly from left to right, she sighed.

“What now?” Archie asked, bewildered. “I’m being quiet, aren’t I?”

“Sometimes you’re such a… such an Archie,” said Pippa.

Archie smiled as if it was a compliment.

The field sloped away, falling towards the chuckling creek. They zig-zagged down the hill, following criss-crossing sheep tracks. Rabbits jerked upright as they were caught in a circle of torchlight. They looked more guilty than startled. Like they’d been caught doing something naughty.

An ear-shattering shriek split the night.

Pippa and Archie bolted upright.

“What was that?” asked Archie.

Pippa was too shocked to answer. Which didn’t make much difference because she didn’t actually have an answer. She’d never heard any sound like it before.

“Come on,” said Archie. “Let’s check it out.”

He sprang off the rock and dashed upstream before Pippa had a chance to argue. She wasn’t at all sure investigating was a good idea. The goosebumps tingling across her entire body suggested it wasn’t. But there was no stopping Archie, so she hurried in pursuit.

Chloe’s Story

Another ear-piercing shriek echoed through the deep, misty valley. Pippa jumped. Archie’s eyes popped out of his head.

‘Let’s check our torch batteries, just in case.’ Archie peered through his torch’s glass casing. ‘Empty,’ he sighed, disappointed.

Pippa cautiously creaked open the case of her torch. ‘Completely…’

And that was when they plunged into terrifying darkness.

‘What do we do now?’ inquired Pippa.

Archie said nothing. For the first time in his life, the smart aleck would not talk. They both knew that it was too late to turn back. So, they stumbled down into the inky black. A soft moaning sound rattled their bones as they made their way down.

‘What was that?’ whispered Archie.

Pippa didn’t answer. Her eyes were fixed on the beast in front of them, her mouth wide open in terror.

A magnificent animal stood in front of her, its midnight black coat shimmering in the lowlight created by the moon on the water. Lily pads and duckweed rippled as the dark silhouette made its way through the boggy ground towards her. The dripping tangle of hair twisted itself around the animal’s shoulders. The creature snorted, a rumble of thunder. It looked something like a horse, except for those eyes. They would not let her go…

‘Pippa! Pippa!’ called Archie, rousing Pippa from the horse’s evil stare.

‘Archie?’ mumbled Pippa weakly, ‘Is that you?’

‘Yes, of course it’s me,’ huffed Archie. ‘C’mon, let’s get out of here.’

‘No’, argued Pippa indignantly, ‘I want to stroke the horse.’

‘Fine,’ snapped Archie, ‘But don’t say I didn’t tell you so.’ He turned grumpily, walking over to a rotting log, squatting on top of its moist surface. Meanwhile, Pippa cautiously picked her way through the bleak landscape. The horse nodded, an evil witch beckoning a lone traveller. Pippa raised her hand to pet the dark horse, hypnotised by its glowing eyes. It nuzzled her hand, a picture of pure warmth. Or was it?

As soon as she placed her soft hand on the horse’s muzzle, it kicked. It bucked. It leaped. It dove down into the water’s murky depths, dragging Pippa too, in its stained teeth. A large pool of crimson liquid spiralled up to the scummy surface of the water. It floated there, suspended between layers of algae.

‘Pippa!!!!!!!!!!’, Archie screamed, his face petrified. No answer. Then… Archie woke up, wrapped in sweaty sheets, calling Pippa’s name.

Indi’s story

As if a switch had been flicked, the stars lost their twinkle. The pitch-blackness of the night sky seemed to consume the two in a solemn, almost sinister way. An abrupt gust of wind howled, taking the duo by surprise. Their torches flickered, and, in unison, stopped working. Archie whacked his, desperate to get it glowing again. The blaze it had been projecting was the only reason they could see anything. Now, the light had surrendered. And the shriek – that only seemed to get louder and more high-pitched – made Pippa and Archie’s midnight trip less like an adventure, and more like a mission. A mission to save someone; or something.

A jagged fork of lightning licked across the sky. It temporarily lit up the scene in front of Archie and Pippa. Small creatures marched around in a formation, much like sentinels. It seemed to be in a ceremonial way, as if it was a sacred dance. They were also chanting something that neither Pippa or Archie could decipher. The animals had long, floppy ears and twitching tails. Pippa gasped in shock as she realised what they were: egregious rabbits.

Archie carefully bent down, and found a nearby cow pat. He prodded its surface, checking if it had hardened. Successful, Archie grasped it, as well as others that were adjacent to it. If the bunnies were as evil as they looked, they needed to arm themselves. Pippa, too, gathered piles of dried cow poop, before they both set off towards the rabbits.

Encircled in the dark cape of night, the two crept towards the diabolical mammals. Once close enough, they could see that the bunnies weren’t just parading round in circles – they were guarding something.

Pippa had to crane her neck to see in, as did Archie. Inside the circle of rabbits there was a deep pit. And prowling around the outsides of the pit, making a high-pitched screech was… Marauder?

Marauder had been a stray cat. The siblings’ Dad had seen it hunting on their farm, and had decided to take it in to wage the war on pesky, breeding rabbits he had been trying to eradicate for years. He finally had a secret weapon to defeat them. But the bunnies were now obviously taking matters into their own paws – by eliminating their main threat, Marauder.

With a sudden chorus of mutters, the creatures attacked. Their feet came flying at Archie’s face, while Pippa was dealing with razor-like teeth trying to gnaw at her legs. Archie reached for the cow-pats he had stored under his arms, before flinging them at the rabbits; frisbee style. Some were knocked back into the pit (of doom), while others were sent, soaring into the air. Pippa copied his style; fighting off attackers of her own. Once she was sure Archie had her covered, she raced near the hole. While dodging fierce bunnies, she reached down to pick up a grateful Marauder. Then Pippa ran, triumphantly seeing that Archie was close on her heels.

Posted in The Winners!

The Winners Of The FABO Story Competition: 28 May – 8 June

Wow! I have enjoyed reading so many different and imaginative visions of the future. I was looking for stories with imagination, clever problem solving (how David and Ella would stop Sissy 7.3 from detonating), and with that X-factor (be it humour, strong voice, fiendish plotting, colourful characters or a particular combination of these) that elevate the story from competent into a prize winner.

Please also pay attention to the word limit which is 500 words. Most writing competitions have strict limits and stories exceeding the limit are automatically disqualified. I was a little more lenient than this but there were a couple of great stories that were unfortunately way too far past the word limit to allow (it isn’t fair on the other contestants who completed their stories and had less words to play with).

If you look back to the instructions at the start of this year’s Fabostory competition you will see that we are writing a serial story which means your story should end in a cliff-hanger. I haven’t penalised anyone who didn’t do this – but don’t forget for next time 😊

The following nine stories made my short list:

Caila (Saint John Bosco School) – good use of vocabulary and imagination. I enjoyed the political aspect to this story.

Charlotte (Pinehurst School) – a future in which giraffes have grown tired of the humans and taken over the world. That made me laugh.

Anna (St Columba’s School) – one of the youngest contestants – for a complete story culminating in a cliff-hanger ending.

Harry (Tauranga Intermediate) – the only entry where a future version of one of the kids is utilised. Good thinking!

Ruchi (Pinehurst School) – wonderful humour and a strong voice.

Lucy (Te Mata Primary) – short, punchy sentences kick the story off into a terrifying vision of the future and a heart-racing ending.

Hazel (Turitea) another of our youngest contestants with a complete story leading to an unexpected ending.

Carter (Discovery School) – super dialogue in a complete story which contained humour and tension that grew to the climactic ending.

Georgia (Bethlehem College) – great use of vocabulary and tight writing.

And the winner is… CARTER!

The runner up is LUCY.

Well done everyone and thank you for sending through your incredible stories. Congratulations to my winners I will be in touch to arrange the prizes.

– Suzanne Main

Carter’s Story

“Whoa, look at this place,” Ella said in awe.

“I feel sick. I’m gonna puke” David moaned.

Ella stood there staring into the future… Literally. David stood bent over with his hands on his knees.

“Is that a hover-board?” Ella asked.

“I think so” David replied. “Anyways, we have to go and return this to that Aramaya Abal-whatever.”

“Okay” Ella agreed. They jogged off with Ratty trailing behind. The first person they saw looked old, maybe around 70-75.

“SIR! Please, tell me do you know someone name Aramaya?” David questioned.

“Ummm, yeah quite a few of em'” The old man said.

“The Aramaya that has one of these.” David said confidently, as he brought out Sissy Version 7.3.

“Ohhhh, you mean ALL of them eh” The old man laughed.

“What do you mean” Ella asked.

“Everyone has one, kid” The old man Scoffed. David and Ella didn’t reply, they turned around and left.

“That was rude” The old man mumbled. David and Ella ran around trying to find Aramaya. They looked left and right, up and down. They could not find anyone named Aramaya, and they were running out of time.

“What are we going to do?” Ella asked David.

There was one thing I noticed” David emphasised.

“What?” Ella wondered.

“How everyone has a name tag!” David yelled.

“I never paid attention enough to notice that” Ella said. David laughed. 5 minutes left. They paid attention to all the name tags. Mike, Daniel, Ashton, Emma, so on, but NO Aramaya. They take out Sissy Version 7.3 and ask it what to do.

“I can find where Aramaya Abalonia is” Sissy Version 7.3 said in a robot voice.

“Why didn’t you say this earlier” David screamed.

“You didn’t ask” Sissy Version 7.3 said annoyingly.

“YES! DO IT, NOW!” David howled. All his anger rushed into that one sentence. David was scared. So scared that he was sweating.

“Aramaya is in the… Real life Cinemas.” Sissy Version 7.3 said.

“The what, um. Where is the Real life Cinemas?” David asked.

“The directions to the Real Life Cinemas are two rights then one left” Sissy Version 7.3 said. They have 1 minute. David and Ella sprinted so fast when they got there the people didn’t even notice that they broke into the movie.


“5 seconds until detonation” Sissy Version 7.3 said.

“HERE THROW IT!” Aramaya Abalonia yelled.

David couldn’t throw so he gave it to Ella, but Ella can’t throw either. Ella had to take her chance and threw it. It went nowhere near Aramaya, but Aramaya jumped.

“PLEASE DON’T DETONATE!” Aramaya yelled while in the air.

What will happen… She caught it!

“Hello Aramaya.” Sissy Version 7.3 said.

Ella sighed. “Let’s go home” Ella said. They went to the Cane Hoop, to leave.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

The Winners Of The FABO Story Competition: 14-25 May

First off a little reminder – the competitions close 8pm every second Friday. If you send your entry after then it won’t be judged, so make sure you get your stories in on time.

Like Maureen, I was thrilled to see some familiar names from 2017 competitions among the entrants, and so pleased that you have returned for another year. One of the best ways to improve your writing is practice and it is one of the reasons we run Fabostory.

There was some wonderful storytelling, some fresh new ideas and a few confusing ones as well. I gave extra points if you structured your sentences well, and had a story that felt complete before sending Ella, David and Ratty off on their next adventure. I also gave extra points for including some mention of the World War One setting.

I loved this line in the story written by Hazel and Sarah from Laingholm Primary – ‘The time travel ring was trying to teach them about how their world was shaped and how they can begin to appreciate everything they have today.’

Lulu Marty from Maungawhau School put David in a gym smock (as did a few other writers) and then used this in an interesting way in her story. Some excellent dialogue there too Lulu.

A number of you hid Ratty in the socks being knitted which I thought was rather fun and clever. I really enjoyed the stories by Cole Wescombe (Aidanfield Christian School), Lucy McLagan (Te Mata Primary), Ricco Howarth (Verran Primary), Ysabelle C (Ellerslie School), Anna Turingan (St Columba’s Catholic School) and Junna Wong (Kingsway School). There was some great writing there – keep up the good work!

My runner up is Anna (home-schooled) whose entry contained some wonderful polished writing, and my winner is Chelsea Young from Tighes Hill Public School. Chelsea’s story was well written, had some fresh, interesting language, used the World War One setting, and felt complete, taking us back to the shed for the next adventure. Well done Chelsea. I’ll be in touch with both of you to arrange your prizes.

– Melinda Szymanik

The Winning Story by Chelsea Young

“Wow,” David muttered under his breath as Ella snuck out of the sports shed and ran silently after Ratty. “What are the odds that we’ve traveled back in time, and a rat could be the cause of our problems.” Shaking his head, he slinked out of the dingy, dark shed after Ella. He hoped he could catch the rat before Mrs Satterworth or any of the other students saw it. But it was too late. The girls were shrieking and the boys were trying to thump it with sandbags. Above all the chaos, Mrs Satterworth’s voice could faintly be heard, trying unsuccessfully to restore order. David shook his head and tried to slip into the crowd unnoticed. That didn’t work. He was worried that he would might be beaten, or punished in some other horrific way, but all Mrs Satterworth barked was
“You’re late!”

“Yes, Miss,” David replied sheepishly.

“Well, catch the rat and set it free, our boys in Gallipoli don’t need to see rat guts on the sandbags.”

Ratty was darting around the girls ankles, and avoiding the grasp of some of the older boys. David leant down and swept him up, much to the amusement of the boys who had failed before him. Ratty buried his head in David’s hands, as though it would protect him from the mean kids and heavy sandbags. He saw Ella poke her head out from behind a wall, and he put Ratty on the ground. Ella scooped him up in her hands, and hid back behind the wall. Mrs Satterworth kept encouraging the children to do their best work for the brave boys in Gallipoli, but David was distracted by a soft rumbling that began to get louder. Mrs Satterworth noticed it too.

“Bomber planes!” She yelled. “Everyone get into the shelters!”
There was hysteria all around, but not from David and Ella. Seizing their chance, they bolted for the sports shed. Mrs Satterworth ran after them, yelling out to them. Ella knelt down and held Ratty in her hands.

“Ratty please take us to our time.” She said. They both jumped inside the hoops. The shed was modern and machinery was flying around.

“David…” Ella said cautiously. “I think this is after our time.”
David looked at her.
“You’re saying this is the future?”

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Fabo Judges Report from Maureen Crisp

We are off to a cracking start in 2018. It was great to see such a range of schools from all over the country and even an entry from Australia.

Clearview school sent in the most entries… followed closely by View Road school. Hmmm I wonder what they have in common, aside from great storytelling. It was also nice to recognise familiar names from last year. *waves*

I am always interested in how many minor characters appear in stories. Giant slugs, cats, evil principals, dinosaurs, ghosts, rat children, teleporting machines, Helpbots, talking rats and Krispy Kreme donuts made their appearances in our exciting PE Shed Vortex story. And it wouldn’t have been a Fabo story without a zombie apocalypse. (No- we don’t want any more!)

This is a serial story. That means that you need to use cues from the starter for setting and possible crisis situation for your characters to deal with and then leave everything on a cliffhanger. (This term came from stories that literally left their characters hanging off a crumbling cliff so that the reader had to turn the page to find out what happened next.)

A cliffhanger ending sets up the next episode, so agreeing never to talk about the adventure again is not a good ending.

There were a few stories that ended with jumping into the hula hoop vortex. This ending doesn’t really set the stage for the next episode as it finishes on a soft stop. If you add one more line… setting up a setting scene and problem then the serial story continues.

I was looking for stories that did just that.

There were many fine attempts at telling a serial story. Poppy, Georgia, Cherry, Natalie, Cole, Kate and Roxy had stories that came close.

But the winners for Round One are Piper Matchett and Rebekah Lile

Both their stories ended in the best cliffhanger tradition after a great scene buildup.

Their stories are below.

Rebekah Lile

“We could always try to jump back up the vortex” suggested David.

“I mean what else could we do? Any ideas?”

“No” sighed Ella. So without further ado they jumped up and into the vortex. There were lots of loud noises on the other side, SPLASH!! David and Ella fell into a lake. “I don’t think this is the PE shed OR school” grumbled Ella.

Suddenly they heard a loud roar and a strange bird circling them from above. “What is that?” questioned David as they scrambled out of the water. “

Dinosaur!” cried Ella “I’ve only see pictures, but I know a pterodactyl when I see one.” Ella was dinosaur crazy and all of her friends were dinosaur crazy too. They knew everything there was to know about dinosaurs.

Then quick as a flash the pterodactyl swooped into a dive. It scooped up David in one claw and Ella in the other. The pterodactyl dropped the two children into a nest beside a cliff. The first thing they noticed was the egg shells.

“ummm, does that mean… you know…” started David

“Baby dinosaurs? Yes.” Interrupted Ella “It’s fine, pterodactyl’s are piscivores”

“What does piscivore mean?” asked David. Ella rolled her eyes and sighed “Piscivores are animals that only eat fish, for example: dolphins, they are piscivores”

“Ok, ok don’t need to go on and on about it” muttered David

Ella and David looked around “are those baby pterodactyls playing hopscotch?” David asked “No, that can’t be right, I must need my eyes checked”

“I’m just as confused as you” said Ella “I know dinosaurs were… I mean… are intelligent but I never knew human games were created by dinosaurs!” Just then the pterodactyl came back and sat in the next. “Hello little dinosaurs” said the pterodactyl. The children jumped with surprise. “I saw that you two were looking lost and so I brought you here” continued the pterodactyl.

“It talked” said David

“Should I be scared?” asked Ella talking to no one in particular.

“No, no dear” exclaimed the pterodactyl “and by the way, you can call me Charlotte. And those are my children over there. The light green one is Elma, the turquoise one is Daniel, the blue one is Oceana and the dark green one is Gorse. So what are your names?”

“My name is Ella and this is David, my friend” said Ella, frightened.

“Oh what beautiful names” said Charlotte

“Can you help us to get home please?” asked David. Ella and David told Charlotte everything. But when they got to where the vortex was before it was gone!

Piper Matchett

“Get back into the hoop!” David yelled.

The beefy kids were nearly there, and David did NOT under any circumstances want to pick a fight. The painful outcome would probably result in them getting dragged to this weird school’s dusty office. It would be hard to explain getting warped through time by an old cane hoop.

“It’s not there!” Ella shrieked. She was right. It wasn’t.

“Where the heck did it go?!” David wondered.

“How should I know?” Ella snapped. “Scatterbrains probably set this whole thing up.”

Where did that wild theory come from? David thought. The broad-shouldered kids had caught up. David raised his bat.

“Hey, put that down! We just wanted to ask you whether or not it was you who let that rat loose,” one of the kids said.

David tried to answer. “We were just- uh- w-what rat?”

The smaller of the two (And only smaller by a few centimetres) narrowed her beady eyes like a hostile cat. Somehow. “We know you saw it. And you also seemed to be looking for something. You two were arguing about time travel or something like that, and she looked out the door to see where it had gone. We were watching you,” She snarled.

Ella glanced at her. “We don’t want any trouble, we’re just looking for a cane hoop.” Ella soothed. She was clearly trying the passive voice she uses when she’s trying to convince someone something. It hardly ever worked. But this time it did.

The taller kid stepped on the cat-like girl’s heavy-looking foot. He said to her, “Come on Kimberly, let’s just go. Let them get in trouble,”

She glared at him. “Fine, Chuck, but if we see them again…” She trailed off with a nasty hiss.

David had found the idiotic cane hoop. He motioned to Ella, who pointed off into the distance. “Rat!” She sang convincingly.

Kimberly and Chuck ran off, fighting as to who would step on the poor rodent first. Together, they both dove into the hoop…

It took a lot longer this time, but luckily they came out the other end. The entire P.E shed was gone. They were in a… construction site?

“I think the school is being built!” Ella cried.

“We have to get out before we get seen!” David yelled.

They ran through the maze of rubble. They were running under a crane carrying a heavy load of sharp bricks in a see-through crate. The chains snapped. Clay bricks went flying down, straight towards them…