Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Elena’s FABO Story Judge’s Report

I’ve been super impressed with the quality of the entries that have come in over the last couple of weeks.

There were some wonderfully detailed descriptions which really created a picture in my mind of the worlds Anneke and Nikau found behind the double doors.

Georgia (Palmerston North Intermediate): A sea of stars spread over the ceiling, people walking around in the strangest outfits Anneke had seen! Shapes twinkling in the walls like diamonds in the sun … An old woman with wire-like hair that fell down to her bony knees, gnarled up fingers from work and a hunched back, muttering deliriously to herself in too small overalls and sandals tinkered about with a small wooden horse.

Sylvie (Rototuna Primary School): At first they were blinded by the blue and purple shimmers and silver stars on the walls and roof, but as they got used to it, they could see by the light of a few twilight bulbs and squares on the roof that there was a huge conference table in the middle, surrounded by ten violet and turquoise bean bags.

Sasha (Marina View School): There were signs in different spots saying “Don’t Touch.” Everyone was squished into a tiny room.

I also loved the imaginative and inventive products that popped up in the Comet store.

Portable spaceships in bulging bags and dark matter bubble gum, which was later used to encase the baddie in a bubble. Maddie (Te Huruhi School)

Dark matter Oh My Stars glitter eyeshadow palette, able to literally transport you to a different world. Daisy (Discovery School)

Neisha (Tauranga Intermediate) had my mouth watering with her space-themed candy descriptions: Star Sherbert (turned your mouth from pink to a silver star colour, Asteroid Lollipops (made your mouth swell up with candy flavoured ulsors) to Universal Chocolate (never ran out).

Some superb characters came to life on the page.

Bob the Blob:
At the exact time, a bizarre creature consisting mainly of a green slimy and liquidy blob with an eye smack bang in the middle came and said, “Hullo there, my name is Bob the Blob. It is quite the pleasure to meet you mod dom. How may I help you?” Reinhelda (Palmerston North Intermediate)

I also liked the way this idea was carried over into other areas of the story with a “blob jumping” competition, followed by Anneke and Nikau exiting Comet with hands full of “thingamabobs.”

Byron (Te Huruhi School) made excellent use of dialogue, in his funny and fast-paced story, to create a likeable alien character.
“Wait you’re just going to go without me?” asked a quiet voice. They turn to see a small alien man about the size of a small book case.

Other stories impressed me with the creative way they used language.

Madeleine (Marina View School) made Comet an acronym.
“Cooperation of meteorite engagement team … C.O.M.E.T. plans to destroy the earth with a big meteorite!” Anneke explained.

Mia (Te Huruhi School) created a new word for her story’s space creature pet – a flirkin.
“Flirkin Food! Why Flirkin Food?” spilled the shopkeeper.
“We have a flirkin … obviously,” Nikau said.

Daisy E. (Rototuna Primary) included some wonderful similes in her story.
It was like sprinkles being sucked up a vacuum cleaner! …The children landed on a moist, fuchsia-coloured field. The surface of it felt like a damp sponge.

Jerry’s (Greenhithe School) story began with a clever simile which linked in nicely to the story starter:
The swinging entryways opened essentially smoother than the female voice.

Best Endings:

Aiesha’s (Marina View School) story ended on a memorable and unusual last image.
They trotted down the road as the horizon lay upon them.

I also really liked Jacob’s (Glen Eden Intermediate School) understated ending which echoed the story starter:
They made it but they were 13 minutes late.

Isabella’s (Discovery School) story took an interesting twist when Comet turned out to be a computer game (Comet the Unicorn). Her story’s ending included some beautiful imagery:
The unicorn gestured them onto her back, so they climbed on. Comet lifted off into the sky with icy wind blowing past their faces.

Special mentions:

Aden (Te Huruhi School) wrote a great fast paced story, which skilfully built up the tension:
“This ship has a rusty engine, low fuel and you say this is my fault. I’m trying to fix it not make it worse.”

Olivia (Fenwick Primary) created an impressively eerie and evocative story.
Both children could immediately hear a well-oiled mechanism click, and they jumped back in surprise, while a low hiss was heard and slowly, the huge, heavy doors slid open.
Great writing Olivia!

Erin’s (Te Huruhi School) story included two of my favourite lines:
“Calm down, Nikau. We’re still in the Milky Way. There is nothing to panic about,” Anneke said …
“I know a device that can teleport a building anywhere in the Universe! We need the dust of a newly dead star and an old robot,” said a rather elderly lady.

The following stories made it into my shortlist:

Ava Lister’s (Tokomaru School) atmospheric and very spooky story stood out because it was almost entirely dialogue, which I thought was very clever and gave it a unique tone.

Isabella McGregor (Tokomaru School) wrote a wonderfully accomplished and surreal story that skilfully took the reader through a number of alternative scenarios.

Indigo Tomlinson’s (Whakatane Intermediate) story combined excellent world building, evocative description and great characterisation with a clever story arc.

And the winner is Kate Barber (Oroua Downs School). I loved your circular plot with its clever twist at the end and am impressed by the way you managed to draw me in with a mystery and then resolve it, all within the word count.

Elena’s Story Starter

Even though it was only just after 5pm, the misty mid-winter drizzle meant it was already getting dark by the time Anneke and her younger brother stood waiting for the pedestrian light at the bottom of Queen Street. They had plenty of time. She and Nikau had managed to catch the earlier express bus into town – it was at least an hour before their robotics workshop was due to begin at the library.

De-de-de-de-de-de-de … The pedestrian signal went. She and Nikau wove their way through the flow of people crossing the road in the opposite direction. Someone, she didn’t see who, pushed a flyer into Anneke’s hand.

“Hey, what’s that?” said Nikau, once they’d reached the other side. He pointed to the stylised image of a comet streaking across the outside of the leaflet.

Anneke shrugged. “I dunno. Probably a new electric scooter or something.”

“Can I see?” Nikau grabbed it. A handful of glitter stars fell out into his hand. “Wow! Listen to this.” He moved into the nearby entrance of a brightly lit food hall to read it.

COMET is here!

For a limited time only COMET, the most famous and fabuloso POP UP SHOP in the universe, is orbiting into your galaxy right now!

If you can imagine it – we have it! Gazillions of prizes and give-aways, the very latest inter-galactic games and absolutely astronomical opening specials on all – yes, all – of our signature range, dark matter make-up!!!

Entry by invitation and in the allotted time-slot only:

17:13 local time

Strictly no late entries. Present this ticket at the door. Valid for 2 customers.

Make sure you don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity! COMET will not be popping up in your galaxy again for another hundred light years.

Snooze and you lose! Be there or be E = mc2! Find us at Queens Rise (2nd floor) right now.

“Did you hear that? Free stuff,” said Nikau. He took a few steps back and looked up at the sign above the food hall entrance. “Woah! Queen’s Rise. The store’s right here. Can we go?” said Nikau. “Please, Anneke.” He stuck out his lower lip and made pleading puppy dog eyes.

Anneke sighed. It did sound fun. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to have a quick look. She checked her phone – 5:10pm, or 17:10 using a 24-hour clock. They had exactly three minutes before their time-slot.

She and Nikau bounded up the short escalator to the first floor two steps at time. Once at the top they hurried past a circle of busy restaurants to the next up escalator. This one was much longer and steeper. The noise of the first floor faded away. Anneke checked the time on her phone. 5:12pm. Nearly at the top now. She reached back for Nikau’s hand and they stepped off. In front of them was a large solid double door. Scrawled across it in purple neon was the word, COMET.

The digital clock above the door flicked from 17:12 to 17:13. A green slot lit up and blinked.

Welcome universal shoppers – said a smooth female voice – 17:13 time slot customers may now scan tickets for entry.

Kate’s Winning Story

“I’m so excited,” Nikau grinned his face spread in a wide smile. I squeezed his hand and exchanged a smile. Slowly the crowd started to move forward. Up ahead a curly brown-haired female staff member was at the front of the line taking the tickets. A phone in her hand, her eyes fixed on the screen. Her golden name tag flashed Jane.

When we got close to her she mumbled “Ticket please,” Reaching into my jacket pocket I produced the ticket. Quickly she glanced up and checked the ticket over before giving it back.

“Name,” she asked still looking at her phone.

I replied back “Anneke Thompson and thi-” Jane interrupted me.

“Wait your Anneke Eva Thompson,” she questioned, her blue eyes staring at me. I paused, how did she know my middle name. This was weird.

I waited for a moment until I spoke again.

“Yes I’m Anneke Eva Thompson,” I said uncertainty echoing in my voice. Immediately I regretted it. You don’t tell strangers your personal details.

“Oh my gosh.” she blurted. ” I am honoured to be in your presence. The work you do is incredible.” My heart leapt in my chest. I glanced at Nikau, his brown eyes filled with fright.

“What do you mean,” I asked trying not to let my nervousness show. Jane stared at me a puzzled expression plastered on her face.

“Are you Anneke Eva Thompson,”

“I am,” Silence. For a moment everything was quiet.

“Then why don’t you tell me about your great inventions.” Jane accused, her voice rising. Slowly I backed away pulling Nikau with me. Terror filling my body

“What about your Time Retract ball.” She takes a step towards us. My mind races, what to do, what to do.

“Answer me,” Jane shouts. Nikau cowers behind me. Heart leaping in my chest.

“Who is making all that ruckus,” An angry voice grumbles from behind me. Startled I turned around and saw a burly man with brown hair and a thick beard. His mouth twisted into an angry snarl.

“Jane what did you do,” he continued. Jane crouched down in fear. I stood still frozen in shock. What was happening?

“I’m sorry sir,” Jane apologised. “It’s just this is Anneke Thompson.” The burly man looked me over before speaking.

“You silly girl. There’s a time difference here in Earth. Anneke isn’t even over fifteen. And now I’ll have to sort this out” Still angry he reached into his pocket and pulled out a strange-looking device. It was circular with bright lights spinning around inside. On the base was a silver metal label that said A.T company.

“Bye, bye,” he said. I gripped Nikau’s hand even tighter. Then….De-de-de-de-de-de.

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Posted in fabo story, The Winner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indi’s Winning Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story Judge’s Report by Sue Copsey

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

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

Some special mentions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ella’s Winning Story

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

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

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

I did a double take. “What?”

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

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

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

“But I want you to be my pet!”

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

“I’m sorry!”

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

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

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

“Finally seeing sense, eh?”

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

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

I made many apologies in the following half hour.

“Done.” I sighed in relief.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why does it matter?”

“What are you buttering me up for?”

“Nothing. I just saw some good.”

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

My rat squeaked.

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

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A very mermaid story by …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Judge’s Report: Survival 101 by Kathy White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honour’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in The Winner

The Winners Of The FABO Story Competition: 11 – 22 June

Wow what a huge bunch of amazing entries! I’ve been writing and judging fabostory for six years now and I can honestly say that it’s getting harder and harder to pick a winner each year. There was an amazing array of imaginative interpretations for this story. There were pick-pockets with circus intrigue, jewel headed boys and a lot of razor sharp realizations that future and past David and Ella shouldn’t have been meeting in such odd circumstances.

I have to say Happy Birthday to Amelie Espagnet who described her orb headed boys with wonderful clarity and entered on her birthday.

A special mention goes to Marina Showers from Sunnynook Primary for her wonderful creative language and to Ruby from St Cuthberts for the whiplash fast change in your time frame from the future with clockwork boys, to being in a contemporary movie, to being thrown adrift in time by the bracket after All! Phew.

Ashleigh Bernacchi’s scales and dark shrivelled hands had me shuddering, and Hayley King’s world made of mars bars was a close call to taking out the top spot.

A quick note to remember that tense is so important to your writing. Quite a few amazing pieces slipped between tenses and it made an otherwise stand out story a little confusing, especially when were already dealing with time travel.

We have a broad range of ages who enter Fabo but one of our youngest entrants, Anna Walker from Hutt Central School’s feathered crocodile almost got my winner’s vote this week. Amazing work Anna. But the overall winner this week is Sienna Williams from St Kentigern College. You did a great job setting the scene straight away and keeping up the tension right till the very end. Congratulations!

Sienna’s Winning Story

David and Ella stared after them with a look of despair, searching frantically for Ratty in amongst the bustling crowd of bubble-headed children. More had started to congregate in a circle around them. David and Ella shivered with fear as they stared at the expressionless bubbles in front of them. Two of the bubble-heads stepped forward and simultaneously chorused in a robotic voice, “we will take them to the principal’s office.” One of them reached into its pocket and sprayed a foul-smelling gas into their faces.

When they awoke they were slumped in two uncomfortable chairs in the school office. Ratty was there snoring noisily. Ella stole the bracelet and slipped it into her pocket. Two scary bubble-headed office ladies sat at the desk typing away. When all of a sudden one stopped and in a harsh, cold voice rasped, “enter the principal’s office now.” They creeped towards the heavy ebony door barely daring to breathe.

The principal cloaked in shadow seemed to stare disapprovingly in their direction. “Execute them,” he growled. Two guards moved out of the darkness and pulled a leaver. Beneath their feet the floor opened up to reveal a gaping chasm. Then with no warning the sissy hologram blurted out, “15 minutes until detonation.”

The principal motioned for the guards to stop and said, “I will let you live if you give me this sissy hologram 7.3.” They accepted the offer enthusiastically and the principal ordered “take them to the dungeon.” The guard dragged them out the door and across the hallway.

David stared at the bland stone prison bars of his cell. Suddenly out of the corner of his eyes he saw movement. He stood up startled and asked his voice trembling, “whho’s there.” “Only me,” a sweet silky voice whispered. A person wearing an auburn cloak emerged from the darkness. “How did you end up here?” questioned David. “And why aren’t you a bubble-head?”

“My name is Princess Amaya. Previous ruler of planet earth. Many years ago, Earth was a peaceful place where every being lived in harmony. Then one dark day the evil king of the bubbles invaded our planet. He came with his army of bubbles and we were no match for him. He imprisoned all human beings. The bubbles are parasitic creatures and live off the people whose planets the invade. The latched onto all of the heads of my subjects. They controlled them by thought and there is only one thing in this universe that can bring an end to them. It is the ancient’s bracelet.” “I know where that bracelet is!” shouted David excitedly and he pulled the bracelet from his pocket. Ella was now awake and was startled to see the stranger in the cell opposite. David threw the bracelet to princess Amaya. She pushed a button on it that they had not noticed before, then suddenly the security guard snoring in the corner next to them turned human again. David and Ella had saved the human race!

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Maureen Crisp’s Fabo Judges Report

It is always interesting to see what themes pop up in the stories. There were many horrible principals and scary teachers. Bullying and revenge also featured a lot. I loved the stories that broke outside this and attempted to be really creative. An out of control yoghurt truck was a good idea but I couldn’t think how this could have fitted with the story starter of a repeat incident.

The phrases that stayed with me had these little gems…
weird blobby splashy crunchy noises.
and aggressively put my clothes on
3 super berry deluxe mouse yoghurts
his bushy eyebrows were like two fat caterpillars
buncha munchy crunchy carrots,

Shout out to the fabulous Upper Moutere school who sent in the most entertaining entries of really high caliber. Max you could have made the story longer…. Max you could have made the story longer… Max… you…. Sorry Max, My keyboard got stuck in a time glitch.

Also a shout out to St Cuthbert’s who also had excellent stories… pages and pages and pages of them. There were descriptive words everywhere. Verily my brain was working like a dynamo with all the expansive words that populated the discourse in the correspondence I received.

The FABO writers are all great writers but remember you need the boring stuff to give the reader time to reflect on your brilliant ideas. Presentation always lifts a story. Go back over your work and put in capital letters, full stops and paragraphs. This immediately lifts your story into the second round of judging. As entertaining as the stories are… they cannot be saved if the sentences run on and on without a pause in a great big long description of action and adventures and lavish attention to detail.

You do not need to show off how many long words you know. If you read an action scene you will see that the writer uses short punchy words to make the reader read faster. This is a writing trick called pace. You cannot write an action scene with long words because readers get caught up in wondering how to pronounce the words and what the word means. This pulls the reader out of the story. You want to hold your readers to the last full stop.

Ava Alpe worked hard on all the details to get her story right and it showed. There weren’t any missing words or a plot that went somewhere else. It was a complete story too. There weren’t too many of those.

Congratulations Ava.
If you send us your address using the Contact Us page on the website, we can get your prize out to you.

Maureen’s Story Starter

“Hey, Yoghurt Brains, are you coming to play footy? Hurry up will ya!”

The rest of my team laughed at Frazer’s sad joke. When would he give it a rest?

I sat down on the classroom steps to lace up my shoes. Just once I’d like to be known for something really cool.

Inventing a new dance move… Saving the life of someone….

But no, everybody knows me because of that stupid time I got detention with the principal and ended up in the school garden with a yoghurt pot on my head.

It wasn’t even my fault!

My mum says that if I write the story down I might win a prize. It’s got everything… Action… humour… sad bits… and total fiction. Nobody believes me.

“Come on,” yelled Frazer. “Yoghurt is faster than you!”

I jogged down to the field with my team. We passed the Harris triplets who were all eating yoghurt. That stuff should be banned, I thought. I could see Frazer turning to say something more… and then the whole story happened again right in front of me….

Ava’s Winning Story

Except this time … I was the one watching it unfold!

The Harris triplets were all sitting on the bench eating their yoghurt pots.

I mean why wouldn’t you eat yoghurt before sports practice? My mum always gives it to me. She says “It’s the perfect snack before sport. It’s full of calcium, it’s healthy and it will give you energy”. I wish she wouldn’t give it to me because nobody has ever forgotten what happened to me at detention. Frazer only makes it worse by never letting me forget it.

Back to the Harris Triplets – I don’t know if anyone else has noticed but they have to be the biggest kids in the whole school – and they aren’t even the oldest! When I say big – I mean big – they looked like an ad for weetbix. They had kauri trees for legs and they actually had muscles in their arms, which is weird for twelve year old boys! I swear all three of them were at least twice the height I am …. and I’m not small … I am a hooker!

But today I heard Frazer say something to the Harris triplets. Something he never should have said …. “You’d better watch out boys, if you eat yoghurt, you will end up just like Yoghurt Brains and everybody will laugh at you!”

Suddenly Frazer was in the air and I mean literally! He had a Harris on either side of him holding his legs and he was upside down. “Laugh at us for eating yoghurt?” asked the Harris triplet that wasn’t holding him. “Are you kidding mate? Yoghurt made us this big – maybe you should try it some time?” and then he laughed and so did his brothers. But while he was laughing, I saw him pick up the not yet finished yoghurt containers and get ready to throw them at Frazer. Frazer was so petrified, he started to cry. Worst of all, it was in front of coach, the team, some parents and me! The weirdest part of it all was I actually felt sorry for Frazer – even though he had tormented me the last three months over the yoghurt incident.

“Boys hold him up higher.” The two Harris triplets holding his legs, lifted Frazer impossibly high. The other brothers raised the first pot up in the air and went to throw it at Frazer. I have no idea what came over me – but I jumped in front of Frazer – and SPLAT, yoghurt was on my face. It had happened again. How was I ever going to get over this? Amazingly, the Harris triplets let Frazer go. He was shocked.

The Harris triplets told me they couldn’t believe that I would do that for a mate…take a yoghurt pot to the face! “You are some kind of dude,” they said “how come you are not the Captain of our team with that personality?”

The rest is history. Frazer has never teased me again. I was made Captain of our team and I got a citizenship award at the end of year assembly.

Things weren’t so bad after all.