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
Right?

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:

THE ADVENTURE OF AN OWL

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
f
e
l
l
on the Stegosaurus
so
the
T-rex
won.

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 Enter Now, Poetry

Enter the Pop-up Poetry Challenge with Elena de Roo and Melinda Szymanik now!

There’s a fun new competition to enter on the FABO website!

Pop-up Poetry Challenge

With Elena de Roo and Melinda Szymanik

Using any of the starters below, or one of the pictures as inspiration, write a poem no longer than 25 lines. (It can be as short as you want). It’s okay to be inspired by a picture and use one of the starters.

Have fun – there are no rules in poetry! Your poems don’t have to rhyme but they can if you want them to. They don’t have to tell a story or even make sense, unless you want them to. You can have long lines or lines that are just one word or something in the middle. You can even make up new words just because they sound good.

Read your poem out loud — listen to the words and the rhythm they make. How does your poem make you feel? What shape does your poem make on the page?

You have two weeks to write your poem, so there’s no need to rush! Take your time and send us the best poem you can write.

Send your poem to us by 7pm Friday October 1st (NZ time).

You can enter TWO poems (at most).

The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.

Here are some poetry prompts to get you started on your poem – they could be the title, the first line, the last line or somewhere in the middle.

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

You must:
1. EITHER use one of the poetry prompt lines somewhere in your poem,
2. OR write a poem using one of the pictures on this page as inspiration.
3. OR you can use BOTH a poetry prompt line and a picture to inspire you.

Send Us Your Poem Here…

Posted in The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 6 judged by Elena De Roo

There were thirty entries from all around Aotearoa, from Southland to the Tutukaka Coast, and I enjoyed reading every single one of them. Well done to everyone who entered! I thought the overall quality of the writing was outstanding. 

I was impressed by the range of inventive ingredients in your “wisherpies.”(Kudos to Taine from Sylvia Park School for coining the word “wisherpy” meaning “wish recipe”)

Grace’s (Bethlehem College) list impressed me with its poetic qualities:
A raindrop from the sun
A hair from the head of a dreamer
A lifetime of good and gold
A hope from the fire within
A wave in the middle of a storm
A dream
A wish

Eva from Churton Park School had an intriguing mix of the everyday and the magical in her list of ingredients:
Mayonnaise
Salt Water
Tree Bark
A Star
I loved the way Jono decided to use a dried starfish instead of a star, and your powerful description once the final ingredient is added.
“… the bowl exploded into a puff of smoke, thunder clapped, the sea roared as the recipe floated into the air and a voice called out ‘make your wish now’ …….”

I really liked the thought and detail Angela from Taupo Intermediate put into her recipe method, especially the ominous warning.
“Grind the lemon candy into a powder, along with the huckleberries and flower petals. Slice the peacock feather into the smallest possible pieces after boiling in a pot with three cups of spring water … Mix well. Let sit for 22 minutes …
WARNING: DO NOT DRINK ALL IN ONE SIP, AND DO NOT FORGET THE CINNAMON!!!!!!!”

Julia from St Cuthberts College spiced up her ingredients list with the addition of “an annoying little brother.”  

Elise from Southland Girls High invented a clever rhyming incantation to say over the mixture “Magic bring the light in me, a wish is what I plead of thee.”

But my favourite ingredients, “grated unicorn horn and ogre snot”, were created by Juliet (Halswell School).  I especially liked your comic twist of turning Ash into an “Ashicorn” with a horn that “looked soft and was a subtle shade of blue” and Anaru into an ogre “carbuncled, green, stagnant and slouched”  making them the source of the ingredients.  “Jono grated the Ashicorn’s horn with such vigour that he grated his fingers more than once. I was failing at Anaru’s nose-blowing routine. He defiantly sat there, his bead-like eyes glinting angrily … pruney arms crossed.”  Great choice of descriptive words, without over-doing it, and very funny too!

But of course no matter how strange and wonderful the ingredients were the wishes didn’t always go to plan.

”They [the cupcakes] look so good,” Anaru said. “But what about the icing? I wish we had some.”  (Sophie – Churton Park School)

“’Well I wish that this goop would turn into a cupcake,’ Ash said … Slowly, the gloop started to take shape, it was as if invisible hands were moulding it into the shape of a cupcake … it grew bigger and bigger until it finally stopped at the size of a chair … the cupcake formed a mouth. The mouth opened wide and before Ash could register what had happened, he was swallowed.”  (Yang Yang Lei, Marina View School)

Taylor’s (Lincoln Park Primary) character begins by wishing sensibly, then sneaks in a little extra wish as well, which is a nice touch. “’I wish for us to leave and I wish for everything to be okay … and if flying is an option, I’d like that too,’ I whispered. “

I liked the vivid picture Mattie, from Nelson Intermediate, created with his description of a grumpy genie:  “… a slightly chubby genie floated above Anaru’s head. It looked around the room, its face covered in wrinkles like hundreds of interlocking valleys and two caves for a nose. The genie zipped around the room and shovelled all the cupcakes into its mouth then glared down at us. ‘Well hurry up, what’s your wish?’ it demanded.’”

And Janisha from Tirimoana Primary wrote this beautiful line bringing her, Shakespeare-loving, Nana character’s voice to life: “Even now, I could remember her lovely lilting accent soaring through the words, lightly deciphering the harder phrases and chuckling occasionally at the porter’s antics in her favourite, Macbeth …”

Araav (Balmoral School) – “This recipe is to be kept in uttermost silence … The Elder ones have signed a pact to protect this with their soul … It made me wonder what Nana actually did when she said she socialised at the nursing home hosting long games of bingo. Even though we all saw though the lie, we kept that to ourselves … We can all agree Nana was good at many things but lying was not her strong suit.” Your story has an epic quality to it, with some wonderful description and a nice mix of humour, mystery and suspense. Well done!

Finally, I whittled the thirty down to a short short-list

Jerry  (Churchill Park School) – “We all flopped onto the sofa in despair as the rain gently ‘pitter-pattered’ on the roof. The sky rumbled and flashed in the distance. What a gloomy day it was. “ This is a great beginning, it really sets the scene. And what a superb idea to hide the secret ingredient inside a Pickle and Brussel Sprout Lasagne recipe – it made for a great story.

Indigo from Huanui College cleverly used personification to make the wish a character in its own right. “Suddenly the ink seemed to rise off the page, and it twisted through the air like black ribbons, twining together into the shape of a hunchbacked old woman. She was made up of half-formed streaks and tears dripped like viscous oil from her unseeing eye sockets …” Wonderfully evocative description and I loved your ending too.
“’Well everyone makes mistakes,’ I said gently, feeling a bit sorry for her, ‘I think you just need to accept that you did something wrong and move on.’
Mum ALWAYS said that when Jono and I had a fight.
Suddenly a gust of wind blew through the kitchen, and the witch seemed to disintegrate into fragments of dust that scattered to the corners of the room as though swept by an invisible broom.
The lights flickered back on.
I looked at the piece of paper still lying innocently on the bench.
Two words etched in black lettering curled across the page.
Thank you. “  

And my winner is:

Bill Kelly from Brooklyn Primary School

I was won over by the way your story made me laugh, its attention to detail, the nice balance of dialogue, description and plot, and its simple but clever ending. Big congratulations! I’ll be in touch shortly, to find out where to send your prize.

Elena’s Story Starter

Even though Jono and I both had friends over, the rainy afternoon seemed to be stretching out forever. 

“What about baking something,” called Mum from her home office, when Jono and Anaru started chasing each other around the living room, whooping loudly. “There’s a recipe for cupcakes somewhere in Nana’s old scrap book.”

It sounded like a good idea, especially as we could eat them afterwards.

While Ash and I turned the pages, Jono and Anaru looked over our shoulders. The recipes, most of them in Nana’s spidery writing, were dotted with grease spots and had interesting titles, like Tapioca Pudding and Lemon Barley Water.  

“Give it here. I’ll find the cupcakes,” said Anaru. He started rifling through the pages and a small square of folded paper fell out. “Bet that’s it.”

The faintly lined paper was yellowed at the edges and almost falling apart along the fold lines. I laid it out carefully on the bench. ~ RECIPE FOR A WISH ~ it began, in Nana’s best printing.

Bill’s Story

1 snail’s shell (ideally a magic variety)
1 Tbs of red sand
Juice of a fresh lemon
3 teeth (crushed)
5 drops of black ink

The first ingredient was simply a matter of a trip to the top of our garden. Deep in the foliage Ash found a sparkly gold snail shell the size of a button, hopefully it was a magic one. For the second ingredient we ran to the sheer rock face that separated our home from the waves of the wild Pacific and climbed down the steep stairs. Rain sprayed in our faces and water filled our gumboots as we waded out to Kaipara’s Rock. The small island named in 1824 after the fastest runner in Aotearoa who drowned when he fell from the rock and hit his head. I scooped up a handful of red sand and put it in one of Jono’s old plastic beach buckets along with the snail shell.

Soaking wet we trudged home for tea. Mum had made hot soup and Nana’s scones. “How will we get teeth?” asked Jono. Anaru offered to pull out three of his baby teeth using a rubber band attached to the door knob, which Jono got very excited about but Mum thought wasn’t a good idea.

“Let’s not worry about the teeth for now” said Ash bringing us back to the task “we need a lemon.”

“You’re in luck” Mum volunteered “There’s one in the veggie box this week, it’s still fresh.”

“Thanks Mum” I replied “but where do you think we can find some teeth?”

Mum looked like she was thinking hard.

“I know”, shouted Jono as he jumped up from the table “the rat trap.”

We all grimaced, “Eww gross!”

“It’s the best idea we have got” stressed Jono. We spent the next 20 minutes poking around Dad’s rat traps at the top of garden, trying to avoid losing a finger in the process. Finally my hand felt the stiff body of a dead rat and we carefully carried it back down to the house.

Jono laid the rat on the kitchen table.

“Out”, shouted Mum so we trouped back into the garden and Ash used his pocket knife to ease out three sharp teeth. It was grim. Jono and Anaru made gagging noises and then Anaru kicked the body over the fence into the neighbours while we used rocks to grind the teeth down and add them to the bucket.

Our final ingredient, the black ink. I found one of Mum’s old ball-point pens and snapped it so the ink spread across my fingers. As I slowly added 5 drops into the mixture we crowded over the bucket and watched as the potion began to fizz and splutter. Yellow bubbles sprayed on to the bench and a smell like cat pee filled the room.

“What should we wish for?” I asked.

“A huge lolly” said Jono,

“Lego” added Anaru,

“To Captain the Black Caps” countered Ash,

“No!” I said, “we need to wish for something special.”

We all looked at each other. “After three, say the most important thing you can think of that would change the world forever.” Then I counted down slowly, “Three… Two… One… We wish for… “

“Kindness” we said in unison..  

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.

Prompts:
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.

Winner:

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!

Hedgehog

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

Posted in Enter Now

Enter the Pop-up Poetry Challenge with Elena de Roo and Melinda Szymanik now!

There’s a fun new competition to enter on the FABO website!

Pop-up Poetry Challenge

With Elena de Roo and Melinda Szymanik

Using any of the starters below, or one of the pictures as inspiration, write a poem no longer than 25 lines. (It can be as short as you want). It’s okay to be inspired by a picture and use one of the starters.

Have fun – there are no rules in poetry! Your poems don’t have to rhyme but they can if you want them to. They don’t have to tell a story or even make sense, unless you want them to. You can have long lines or lines that are just one word or something in the middle. You can even make up new words just because they sound good.

Read your poem out loud — listen to the words and the rhythm they make. How does your poem make you feel? What shape does your poem make on the page?


You have two weeks to write your poem, so there’s no need to rush! Take your time and send us the best poem you can write.

Send your poem to us by 7pm Friday August 28th (NZ time).

The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.

Here are some poetry prompts to get you started on your poem – they could be the title, the first line, the last line or somewhere in the middle.

• Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!
• Up in the tree-tops
• I swallowed a cloud
• Silent as a supernova
• Around the corner
• It smelled like old socks
• Prickles, pickles, pumpernickel
• I fell as far as the sky

You must:
1. EITHER use one of the poetry prompt lines somewhere in your poem,
2. OR write a poem using one of the pictures on this page as inspiration.
3. OR you can use BOTH a poetry prompt line and a picture to inspire you.

Send Us Your Poem on the FABO Website

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 7 judged by Elena De Roo

Oh my goodness! This was by far the most difficult Fabo Story round I have judged in all my (yikes, nine) years of being part of the Fabo Story team. The standard of writing was the highest I’ve seen yet. And the entries kept rolling in – all 120 of them. I loved the mix of all the different styles and genres. There were fairy tales gone wrong, horror stories laced with comedy, ghost stories, heist stories and even a sports story. Aurelia Lind wrote a fast paced mystery thriller:
“Jordan barely escapes, gets up and runs to the garden shed, grabs the can and runs outside. Holding the weed killer up like a gun, he yells ‘show yourself’ … and there it was at the edge of the garden. “

So what did Jordan plant?

As well as the many giant beanstalks there were money trees, lolly trees, a blue mandarin tree and a huge purple oak. There were also Venus Flytraps and plants too awful to be named:
“It was a hideous, weird, purple and yellow plant that towered up at least 6 metres in the air and it stunk like rotten cabbage!” (Leon)

Liam’s plant grew so tall Jordan had to climb back down to get a spacesuit he’d made in class:
“He hoped it would work because it was one he made and it wasn’t a real one.”

Addisen came up with some amazing hopping vegetables that hid themselves in with the normal vegetables and Freddie Read’s story had bulbs which grew legs and ate everything in sight. Dora Zhang created a rare magic ink plant, and Zoe — a crazy vine that followed Jordan everywhere:
“The thing was getting under his feet and mum would be mad, no, livid, no incandescent with rage. “

Some of the seeds grew into sea creatures — a monsterpus (Lucas Yee), a turtle egg (Lachie) and a shimmering sea-flower that lets you breathe under the sea (Lark) — or even more unusual things like dancing trolls (Lorenzo) and a giant basketball court (Hayden).

Dryads and dragons also featured prominently. I especially liked Tom Ambury’s camel-dragon who could spit water over long distances. And Neve Overend created a nice twist in her story by turning an unlikeable Jordan into a dragon:
“Jordan looked down at himself. He had talons for toes and scales for skin. He leapt to a nearby pond and checked his reflection in the water. He now had a long snout with smoke streaming out of two big nostrils, he also had leathery wings and a tail. He let out a growl.”

Another theme which emerged was portals opening to another world or time. I was impressed by Joe’s Sugrue’s concept of Jordan being stuck in an endless loop (where he keeps finding a packet of seeds and replanting them) and Millie Balsom’s nicely structured story in which the seed created a hole that took Jordan back in time.

There were also some clever stories involving wishes:
“’Well,’ he stammered ‘first of all I would love some peace and quiet!’
‘You dream, I deliver. Your wish is granted!’
All of a sudden the faint noises of his big brother screaming and his little sister crying all vanished. There was silence.
‘Also, what is your name?’ Jordan curiously asked.
‘Your wish is granted,’ the genie said smugly (Alexa Potter)

“My last wish is to have you as my friend” replied Jordan. “Your wish is useless, Jordan,” said the fairy. “You were my friend from that moment you saved me from being frozen to a fairy cube” (Mia)

I loved all the creative names that came up too — especially the cute bloodsucking zombie bear called Cuddles (Evelyn) and the caramel Cavoodle named Vickie Milickie (Esther Bond).

Some outstanding sentences that really packed a punch were:
“I am Pumpkinapple.” He boomed. “This is the Kingdom of Why, and I am the ruler.” (Maddie McDowell)

“So Jordan spat on his palms, tucked his book under his arm, took a deep breath, and started climbing. On and on he went, up and up and up, just like the marigold.” (Hana Smith)

“Questions loomed in the dark shadows. What would happen to Jordan if his Mum found out he had so carelessly planted that large vine that now rocketed up into the sky. “ (Zoe Kearns)

And there were some beautifully evocative descriptions:
“No matter how often the family saw it [the dragon] fly, arching with outstretched wings, each as brilliant as stained glass, they held their breath for a moment, eyes wide. “ (Samantha Muirhead)

“The silhouette of the moon was rising, and the sun was sneaking away on the opposite side of the sky.” (Ollie)

“Jordan finally found his alarm clock, but it felt different, rough like sandpaper. ” (Olivia Whale)

“Stars whispered words of encouragement to Jordan while passing meteorites threatened to knock him off track but Jordan continued not looking to the right or the left.“ (Pearl)

A great opening sentence can really hook the reader into your story. Here are some of my favourite beginnings:
“The plant burst out of the ground like a rocket and tangled around Jordan with its purple spikes and green roots. It squeezed him like a lemon getting squeezed into lemonade.” (Henry Peters)

“A plant the colour of blood-red dragon scales erupted from the ground. Still clutching his book, Jordan watched in awe as it grew upwards, the branches clawing at the sky.“ (Madeline Young)

I was also really impressed with the many original and well thought out similes you used (but remember to use them sparingly so that each one stands out and they don’t take away from each other).

“It was as big as the Empire State Building and as beautiful as the icy pathways, glinting in the golden sun.” (Angus Potter)

“Vines crept towards him like wildfires.” (Serena Wong)

“Its leg splattered like a pancake that had been flipped but missed the pan.” (Ollie)

“With a tearing sound, like an old top getting ripped to rags, the heaving earth split down the middle.” (Indigo Tomlinson)

“His eyelids felt like cold concrete.” (Maddie McDowell)

Best endings:

“As they carefully climbed down the vine it slowly disappeared until it was transformed into dust. Jordan sighed, guess it’s back to Monopoly fights while reading Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH!” (Ivy Lange)

“The flytrap had a good dinner that day and the moral of the story is don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” (Noah Hancock)

“He buried the packet in the abandoned house on the corner of his street. Jordan didn’t have any giant crazy plant problems again but that house… it never sold!” (Zoe – Glenview Primary)

There were some memorable characters created:

Grandpa Jo, whose piece of cheese he was saving in his pocket for afternoon tea, turns out to be the secret weapon against the plague of bulbs. (Freddie)

Lily the flower who looks cute, but is actually evil:
“He spotted Lily on top of the Sky Tower!
‘I have dominated the world!’ shouted Lily. (Bella Jones)

A very cute little phoenix who keeps accidentally burning his own wings:
“The little Phoenix puffed out his chest and said “Oh, I can still burn a hole through my wings, my flame can burn anything. It‘s even more powerful than this itty bitty bandage.” (Lincey Jiang)

And finally, here is my rather long shortlist:

Ava Lister whose story had a unique tone that made it sound almost like a memoir.

“The acid burnt large brown patches on their luscious green grass, and it was so strong it peeled the paint off any nearby fences. Over the past week, the plant had grown from a purplish blue colour to an orangish red color. The previous day, the large plant sent a shower of spiderlings and larvae everywhere.”

Her sweeping story about a plant called George, covers two generations and has a classic horror-comedy ending.

“Jordan and his parents soon forgot about George, although every now and then the memories would come back to haunt them. Jordan grew up, got married, and had two wonderful children. When the day came that Jordan’s eldest son was trying to read, went down to the old garden shed, and discovered a packet of seeds, Jordan had this weird feeling in his gut that something was wrong. When he saw his son crossing the yard with a bucket of water, he ran. ‘No! Don’t do it!’ he screamed. The bucket was emptied. ‘Here we go again.’”

William Kelly — I particularly liked the twist where Jordan’s dad (named Jack) and turns out to be the actual giant from Jack in the Beanstalk. I really enjoyed the clever dialogue in your story too.

“’We don’t climb beanstalks any more… times have changed’, replied Dad ‘well, since 2018, when there was an outcry because people were too tired and too fat to keep climbing beanstalks.’”

And what a great idea to make the giant talk in rhyme.

“’Fee, Fi, Fo, Fun… I smell a boy from Wellington,
I hate your smile, it’s sad and vile’ sneered the giant.
Dad leaned towards Jordan ‘that’s the trouble with giants, they speak in rhyme, but it’s pretty handy for when you need to write poems for homework’, he whispered.”

Zoe Bedford — I loved that your world was created out of the book Jordan was reading and that both the characters and setting relate to the same book. Even the food in this literary world tastes papery – a brilliant touch!

“Jordan glanced at his Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH copy. It was lying open on the ground. The strangest thing was happening to it; the words inside were being sucked out of it and they were attaching themselves to the tree! ‘A literary tree. Fantastic!’ Jordan thought. He touched the paper bark.”

Olivia Morriss — I was drawn in straight away by your story centred around the character from the nursery rhyme ‘Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary’ and impressed that you had done some research into different versions of the rhyme.

I love the way you describe Mary’s appearance “She clutched her bright orange dress tightly above the ground, careful not to dirty her frilly petticoat. She looked a bit like a pumpkin, orange and round, smiley all over.” And then slowly reveal the evil character she really is underneath her “big, fake, celebrity smile, all white teeth”.

Lyndey Jiang – you were my runner up. With very few words you wrote a fast-paced entertaining story, with a clever twist at the end. I could imagine it as a picture book. I like the way the story escalates as the tiny Venus Flytrap grows bigger and gets more and more out of control, first eating flies, then fruit, then Jordan’s dog and finally eyeing up Jordan as his ultimate snack.

“’Didn’t you say you can eat everything? Can you eat your roots?’ Jordan sneered.
‘I totally can!’ the plant bellowed. It bent down to the earth and ate its roots. Finally, it realised what was going on.
The plant shrieked with agony.
‘No! I got tricked!’ It started to crumble. Everything it ate spilled out.”

Well done Lyndey! Your story was very close to being first.

Which brings me, at last, to my winner – Sam Smith. The more I read your story, the more I liked it. Especially the way that, although the story is complete, it hints there is more to know. I’m also impressed by the way you had just the right balance of description, action and dialogue and tell us a lot about the characters with a few well-chosen words. Congratulations on a great story Sam!

Here’s what Penguin author, Pamela Morrow (Ngāti Pū) has to say about Sam’s story. Pamela is a self professed “big science nut” who often creates laser beams and explosions in her work as a visual effects artist. She has just published her first book, Hello Strange, a fast-paced futuristic YA romance about artificial emotional intelligence.

Pamela says:

This story is full of action and rich with character, which makes it an exciting read. I’m impressed that our point of view character, Jordan, is attentive to specifics and doesn’t miss a trick. How he notices the somewhat ironic way a botany specialist’s shoes ‘clacked down the garden path, squashing a rosebud into the ground.’

And another favourite image, the mum whose slippers ‘lapped at her heels as she ran.’ The best writing is simple, yet creates a vivid impression. I can readily see in my mind’s eye, this mum efficiently dealing to an interruption in her morning routine. You nailed it Sam, great work.

Elena’s Story Starter

Jordan wanted to read the last few chapters of Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, but there was a loud argument going on over a game of Monopoly at the kitchen table. He sighed. Quiet space was hard to find, since everyone had come back home for lockdown.

Lucky no-one had claimed the garden shed yet. He opened the back door and snuck out. The shed was hidden by weeds in an overgrown patch at the end of the garden, and its old wooden workbench, under the window, was the perfect place to curl up with a book. But, this time, as Jordan clambered up onto the bench, a small packet fell out from behind a stud on the wall.

It looked like an ancient packet of seeds. The label was so worn Jordan could only make out a few letters — an M followed by an A, then a gap and then an I. Marigold seeds maybe? On the back were some faded instructions. Extra-fast growing. Water copiously then stand clear.

Jordan tore open the packet. Weird – it didn’t look like any seed he’d ever seen before. There was just one for starters. Also, it was the size of a marble and a shiny poisonous purplish-blue colour. What sort of seed was this?

There was only one way to find out. In the ground outside the shed, Jordan placed the seed into a shallow hole, covered it with earth, then sloshed a whole bucket of water over it.

Almost at once, there was a slurping sound. It was like someone trying to suck up the last of a milkshake through a straw. The loose earth around the seed began to jiggle.

The ground rumbled.

Jordan jumped back just in time.

Woah! What had he planted?

Not a marigold, that was for sure. ….

Sam’s Winning Story

The ground split open with a mighty crack, and a small plant poked its head out. To Jordan’s surprise, it was a marigold. A perfect little flower, with fierce sunset orange petals and delicate oval leaves.

“What has happened to my garden?” a sharp voice said from behind Jordan. He turned and standing on the verandah was a tall man in a pinstriped suit, the man’s flawlessly clipped moustache had positioned itself above his tight-lipped mouth.
“Well?” the man said again.
“I… I’m sorry, Father,” Jordan stammered. “I didn’t mean to!”
His Dad burst out laughing. “Hahaha,” he snorted, wiping his eyes. “Oh, you should have seen the look on your face Jordan. Come on kiddo, I don’t always lose at Monopoly.”

His father told him to come inside for dinner, and they were all sitting around the dining room table, vegges on one side, sausages and potatoes on the other. The Monopoly box sat in the corner, it looked like someone had packed away hastily. Jordan was busy eating his third sausage while the twins were eating broccoli. Suddenly, the earth beneath them started to shake.
“EARTHQUAKE!” yelled his mother. “Take cover!”
That’s no earthquake, thought Jordan to himself scurrying outside. He reached the front door and flung it open. Dodging a falling vase, he grabbed his gumboots and kept running.

The sky was dark, the moon was hiding behind the clouds. But Jordan could see the giant marigold in their back garden. Mum and Dad came running out behind him.
“I don’t think…,” said Mum, “I don’t think that was an earthquake.”

The next morning, while Jordan was eating his cornflakes,
a dark car came speeding around the corner, skidding to a stop on their gravel driveway. A man wearing a white suit and sunglasses climbed out. His midnight-black shoes clacked down the garden path, squashing a rosebud into the ground. He rapped on the front door.

“Mum, someone’s at the door,” yelled Jordan.
“Coming,” called his Mother.
She came rushing out of the bathroom in a bathrobe, with a towel wrapped around her head. Her slippers lapped at her heels as she ran. She opened the front door and frowned,
“Were we expecting you?” she asked.
“No, I’m afraid not,” he replied, “Sorry for the interruption, but this is very urgent.”

Jordan’s mother got dressed and invited the man in. He introduced himself as Dr Brian Whittleton.
“Do you want anything to drink?” she asked him.
The doctor ignored her and stared out the window. He pulled out a small sketchbook and began sketching the marigold,
“Do you mind if I could grab a few samples?” he said as he strolled outside. He pulled out some gloves, tweezers, and a small whirring machine. He plucked a small leaf from the giant stem and placed it inside the machine. It binged, and he flashed a smile.
“Perfect,” he murmured to himself. Brian turned to us and said,
“Thank you for your hospitality, but I best be going now.”

The next day Jordan woke up to find the strangest thing had happened, the giant marigold had disappeared. Only a large crater remained. Jordan walked outside in his PJ’s and something caught his eye. It was a business card for a botany specialist by the name of Dr Brian Whittleton.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the seventh FABO Story competition!

The seventh FABO Story competition will be judged by author Elena De Roo.  Enter now!

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

2. We prefer your story to be 500 words or less (not including the story starter). Stories over 550 words will be disqualified.

3. You have a week to write your story, so there’s no need to rush! Take your time and send us the best story you can write.

4. Send your story to us by 7pm Saturday May 16th (NZ time).

5. The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.

6. Every week there will be a new competition and a children’s author will post a new story starter for you.

7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.

8. The winner will receive a Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!

*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.

Elena’s Story Starter

Jordan wanted to read the last few chapters of Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, but there was a loud argument going on over a game of Monopoly at the kitchen table. He sighed. Quiet space was hard to find, since everyone had come back home for lockdown.

Lucky no-one had claimed the garden shed yet. He opened the back door and snuck out. The shed was hidden by weeds in an overgrown patch at the end of the garden, and its old wooden workbench, under the window, was the perfect place to curl up with a book. But, this time, as Jordan clambered up onto the bench, a small packet fell out from behind a stud on the wall.

It looked like an ancient packet of seeds. The label was so worn Jordan could only make out a few letters — an M followed by an A, then a gap and then an I. Marigold seeds maybe? On the back were some faded instructions. Extra-fast growing. Water copiously then stand clear.

Jordan tore open the packet. Weird – it didn’t look like any seed he’d ever seen before. There was just one for starters. Also, it was the size of a marble and a shiny poisonous purplish-blue colour. What sort of seed was this?

There was only one way to find out. In the ground outside the shed, Jordan placed the seed into a shallow hole, covered it with earth, then sloshed a whole bucket of water over it.

Almost at once, there was a slurping sound. It was like someone trying to suck up the last of a milkshake through a straw. The loose earth around the seed began to jiggle.

The ground rumbled.

Jordan jumped back just in time.

Woah! What had he planted?

Not a marigold, that was for sure. ….

Now You Finish The Story…

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.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the new FABO Story competition now!

A new FABO Story competition is here! Author Elena De Roo has written a story starter. Now it’s up to you to finish the story.

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

2. Your story should be no more than 500 words.

3. You have two weeks to write your story, so there’s no need to rush! Take your time and send us the best story you can write.

4. Send your story to us by 8pm Friday September 13th.

5. The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.

6. Every fortnight a children’s author will post a new story starter for you.

7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.

Elena De Roo’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.

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story Judges Report by Elena De Roo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anaya — Nice use of sound and onomatopoeia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rose’s Winning Story

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

“Can we run now?” whimpered Levi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Caaa!” called the moa.

“Shut up,” said the old man.

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

“I am the brilliant scientist Professor Citrius.”

“Who?” asked Levi.

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

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

“Bah! Ignorant children these days!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The moa didn’t move.

“Didn’t you hear me? Eat the-”

“Chomp!”

The moa swallowed the professor in one bite.

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

“Wha-” began Levi

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

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