Posted in The Winner

FABO Story Report judged by Kathy White

Thanks to everyone who answered the Fabo call and sent in a story. A special high-five goes to Mr Clarke’s class at Hoon Hay School, who worked on Fabo Story as soon as the new term started. It’s great to see  new faces, but it’s also nice to see the keen writers from last year back again. 

I got excited by YOU using your imagination and seeing all the different directions you took this Stewart Island adventure. 

Having a word limit can be difficult, but you’ll get better with practice. You need to choose a story that you can tell within that word count, that will have a beginning, middle and end.

If you only wrote a few sentences, you probably didn’t win the competition this time. If the story you wrote wasn’t closely connected to the story starter, or if you didn’t finish your story, you probably also didn’t win the prize, even if the writing was AMAZING. And some of you DID write amazing stories that didn’t finish. Some stories are simply too big to tell within 500 words. If that’s the case, you need to rethink the size of your plot and make it a short story rather than a novel. Make it simpler.

Here are some of the entertaining things you DID include in your stories this week.

I liked it when you thought about who the rat was,  the qualities of the heroes and villains in your story, and what they wanted most. 

Bill Kelly said: “I am Bileford, the son of the Great Rat of Rakiura, and I wish to unite the warring tribes of this island.”

Natasha said: “It is foreseen that a child of Willow the patron of the kiwi will free the kiwi birds of their worst enemy the rats” whispers the voice again from the shadows. “You think its me?” I reply suddenly. “Of course” the rat whispers. 

Ava Schaumann’s fantails had a very specific goal: “Ridding Stewart Island of ALL humans that infest it!”

I liked it when you painted a picture with both actions and descriptions so I could see the scene in my head. 

Juno Ireland said: I start running. Without even a glance back at the lonely, rickety toilet on top of the hill, I sprint down the other side of the slope. Remy’s tail thumping against my neck as our torch light shadows chase us. As the star-encrusted sky turns an inky indigo, we approach the gnarly trees that mark the beginning of the bush.

Bill Kelly said: Ensuring I have my torch secure in my pocket, we set off, trudging into the darkness of the bush. We pass towering podocarps, that make elaborate patterns overhead with intertwining branches and flowering rātā. On the forest floor in the low growing ferns, creatures rustle and the ground seems alive.

I loved the language you used.

And when you used sight, sound and smells in your descriptions.

In the dark outside, the whistle tastes of magic, of old things, rust, and sea salt …. (Indigo Tomlinson).

I liked it when you were funny. 

Stella Johnson said: “Bristle you’re back!” An older looking creature scurried to greet the rat. Bristle must be her name, I thought. There isn’t one bristle on her rat-pelt. I think these creatures need to choose more appropriate names for their family.

Juliet Young’s spooky story about ghosts had its funny moments: Feeling the crescent-shaped whistle in my palm, I put it to my mouth and heave a deep breath – difficult when surrounded by ghosts, you could easily swallow one ….

Indigo Tomlinson’s main character used the magic whistle to change the diet of rats, and inflict a bit of torture on her brother Sam at the same time. She wrote: “What’re we gonna eat now?” asks one. There is a clamour of concerned voices. I smile wickedly,
“Well, if you go over to the North Arm Hut, there’s a boy there who really needs someone to clean up his toe jams.”

I liked it when you surprised me with a twist. 

Katy McLeod wrote about a rat that gave a series of instructions, then blew the whistle and shrank until he was invisible. You might think the main character would have followed the rat, but did she? No. She didn’t want to shrink, so she “betrays the trusty rat” and instead tricked her brother into blowing the whistle.

I wasn’t expecting that.

I loved it when you captured something special about the characters in the way you made them speak and interact.

Ridima wrote: The rat bowed down and said, “I am Prince Templeton Augustine Willis the Fourth, raised in the palace of Rattingburgh.” Reading the expression on my face, he said, “Just call me Tom.”

And I loved it when you logically tied together all the elements from the story starter and included a beginning, middle and end.

That’s why my winner this week is 12 year-old Anwen Davies. Congratulations, Anwen. Your plot pacing, your descriptions and your dialogue were good, and you even managed to weave the football theme further into your story. We’ll be in touch to organise your prize soon.

Adventure on Stewart Island

kiwi2
Photo by the Graf boys

“This place is pure magic,” I whisper. I’m watching a white-tailed deer amble past the North Arm Hut. She stops next to the picnic table and bends down to nibble at the leaves on the ground. Right where we had lunch today. Behind the hut, I can hear two possums squabbling and then a thump as one of them falls out of a tree onto the corrugated iron roof.

This natural magnificence all happens as the sun goes down, painting a rosy glow across the bay, and it all would be perfect … except Dad and Sam haven’t noticed any of it. They’re still talking about football. Unbelievable.

I glance over at them drying the dinner dishes. “Hey, are we still getting up early to look for kiwi?”

“Absolutely,” Dad says. “How about I wake you at 4?” He winks at me.

“No way, José. We’re on holiday,” Sam says, flicking his tea-towel at Dad. “I’m not going anywhere before lunchtime.”

kiwi1
Photo by the Graf boys

Dad shrugs at me as if to say there’s nothing he can do. I know he likes sleeping in as much as Sam, and Sam is the laziest brother a girl could have.

“This IS MY birthday present,” I remind them. “And I want to hear and see a kiwi. It’s all I want.” But Sam’s already back to talking about Ronaldo and his famous free kicks, and why he thinks he might be talented enough to be Ronaldo the Second. Right now, I’d like to give him a famous free kick of my own.

I flop onto my bed in the bunkroom and reach under my pillow for the treasure I found earlier. It’s a golden crescent-shaped whistle. The initials KW are scratched onto the back of it, which is kind of freaky because those are my initials and it even looks like my writing. But it’s not mine.  I try blowing it again for what must be the 6th or 7th time today but there’s still no sound coming out. Not even a rattle. Perhaps I need to give it a good blast.

I tuck it into my swanndri pocket, grab my torch and a roll of toilet paper, and slip out the back door. It’s a bit of a hike up a steep hill to the toilet, and you do have to check the seat for spiders, but it’s the only place for a girl to get privacy here, and even then you have to put your foot against the door to stop annoying brothers from barging in.

I’m just about to drop my pants when a small voice squeaks. “I’m so pleased you called. It was so faint, I nearly missed it.” In the halo of my torchlight, I see a young rat perched on the edge of the basin. “Are you ready to go? Do you have your whistle? We don’t have much time.”

Anwen’s Winning Story…

Never in my life had I ever felt so frightened. My whole body shook and I started to feel that the toilet seat might start talking to me. “Who are you”

“No time, do you have the whistle?”

It takes me a while to click, does the rat mean the whistle I found earlier?

“Well” Squeaked the rat sounding a little impatient.

“I, I have it here” I utter, fumbling for it in my Swanndri pocket.

“You ready?” He says enthusiastically.

“Where are we go-”

“Just trust me and come” he interrupted, “Come.”

Reluctantly but with excitement I followed the rat into the thick undergrowth of the native bush, breathing in the cold, thick night air. I wondered where we were going as we start to quickly head down hill. For the rat it was easy as he scuffled over the leaves where a path his size seemed to have been made. But at my height, I was having a real fight with the bracken and ferns, not to mention the spiders webs.

The wind howled and twisted through the branches. I shivered. It started getting more exposed now and as the trees opened up ahead, we came into a clearing.

I squinted, then gasped as I looked down in front of me. It seemed that I was about to enter a football pitch. Not any old pitch, but one the size of a table with fern fronds for goal posts. What stunned me most of all was that the players were animals – big, plump rats and little stubby kiwis.

“What’s going on” I burst out. The rat glared at me, then he suddenly smiles. “ I suppose I better explain. All the rats and kiwi’s living on Stewart Island meet on the full moon for a game of football – forest style.”

“Why am I here?” I asked, still puzzled.

“Well, the reason you are here is this.”

The rat explained that every ten years they assigned a new referee for their game, and this time I was the chosen one – me, Katie Walker.

“You are KW – Katerina Whites daughter”

I nearly fainted for the second time that evening.

How did the rat know my mother, Katerina White?

My mother who had left me when I was 2 and who died 10 years ago of cancer. The rat seemed to read my mind and responded straight away. “Your mother, used to be our referee, many full moons ago. That was her whistle, the whistle you will blow tonight”

I nodded, barely able to take it all in. There remained one question for the rat.

“This whistle doesn’t seem to work” I mutter.

The rat pauses then replies;
“Yes, you are right, it only works in the correct light – moonlight from a full moon.”

As the rat nods at me, I fish the whistle out of my pocket and blow. But it doesn’t sound like any whistle I’ve heard before; It sounds like music, a lullaby perhaps. The game begins. I don’t know how, but I just seem to know the right time to make a call, to blow the whistle.

Well, maybe Dad and Sam’s obsession with football wasn’t for no reason after all.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

FABO Story Report for competition 12 judged by Kathy White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heh, heh, heh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love

Kathy

Kathy’s Story Starter: My Life as a Roach


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUNIOR WINNER

William Kelly, age 8, Brooklyn Primary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What shall I do now?

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

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

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

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

Slurp!

SENIOR WINNER

Ysabelle C, age 13, Baradene College

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

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

Yet I digress. Again.

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

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

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

“Lulu!” I greet her. Then I see it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The world stops.

“Boyfriend?”

“Quentin,” Lucinda says softly.

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

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

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the FINAL FABO competition for 2020 now!

The twelfth FABO Story competition is the FINAL COMPETITION for this year! It will be judged by author Kathy White.

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 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 7pm Friday August 14th (NZ time).

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

6. Every fortnight 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.

Kathy’s Story Starter: My Life as a Roach


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 5 judged by Kathy White

You guys are fabulous. I had so much fun this week reading your stories – perhaps not so much fun trying to figure out who was going to win the prize this week, because there were so many people who wrote well – but thank you, thank you, thank you for putting so much thought into our 5th writing competition, The Oak Tree Gang.

There were 134 entries this time – from all over New Zealand, and even from children in the UK, Taiwan and Malaysia. One thing was certain, no matter how old you were (three amazing entries were from four-year-olds), or where you were from, you were all keen writers, making the most of your spare time in Lockdown. Awesome.

THE STORY STARTER – I’ve been a judge with Fabo for more than ten years, and it constantly amazes me how many different ideas, genres and styles can come from a single story-starter. Every single one of you sounded different, as if you have your own unique writing fingerprint.

Some of you didn’t use the story starter, and just wrote your own story, saying it wasn’t your style. Just remember that it’s good practice to experiment with writing in all genres and styles, because it helps you to figure out what you DO like, and it hones your writing skills. I also can’t give prizes to people who write a story that’s not connected to the story starter, no matter how good your writing is, so PLEASE always use the story starter and find a way to add your own flavour to it.

YOUR IDEAS – On the surface, this story starter was about a few kids who came home to a street with no oak trees and a monolithic tower outside their home. But what was it REALLY about? You sent me sinister plots of mind control and surveillance, rival gangs, Russian spy agencies and people stealing data and cats. Neighbours disappeared at the same rate as the trees, factories pumped out grey fumes into the air, and birds were killed by radiation from the towers. There were killer power poles and drones, evil household appliances and automated houses. I have to say, you really liked the drones 😊 and poor Tyler seemed to bear the brunt of them.

There were also heroes going into battle, bamboozling and destroying drones, infiltrating factories, rescuing kidnapped cats, taking on the lead role in a fight to protect the world against alien invaders, investigating the law around protecting 100-year-old oak trees, and protesting at the council office and in Oak Tree Lane. You had some very innovative solutions to protecting that last oak tree. It took on symbolic significance for a lot of you, as it should. I particularly liked Hannah Tait’s story about an old man, a Valiant, just before he died, passing a magical weapon to the Oak Tree Gang, to protect the last of the ancient trees that are vital to our world’s survival.

Of course, where there’s action and argument, there’s also sometimes failure and despair. Zahra was especially good at writing with emotion, as were Alex, Summer and Anna.

Will, Angus, Theo , Harry, Juno, Frida, Hannah, Alexander and Molly wrote great action sequences. I also enjoyed reading good dialogue (conversations between people), with the best examples building on the personalities of the characters. Indigo, Cora, Olivia, Holly, Theo, Taylor, Emily, Hannah, Sadra, Emelie, Bethany and Victoria were all good at this.

Here’s an example from Victoria Murdoch, whose character was a little sinister:

“I wasn’t expecting a crowd. That was simply your choice. I thought perhaps there would be a tagger-on, but young people do tend to stick to one another like magic potion gone wrong ….” His words slipped from his mouth like an eel moving through water.

And one from Theo Parks, building on the character Deano’s superior vocabulary skills:

“We’ve just come back from school camp. Do you have anything to do with this …” I wave my hand around the forest of stumps. “M-er …” I can’t think of anything to say. “Deforestation,” Deano said. I shot Deano a glare.

And from Bethany Scott-Donelan, showing the distinctive dialogue of an older sister:

My older sister Kim then bounded in, looking strangely joyful. “Ügh stop with your frowny faces, boys. I have an idea.”

Treasure in language – The best thing about your stories was the words that you used and how you put them together, whether it was to create a scene, a mood, or to show something about the characters and the relationships between them.

Here are some of my favourite lines from your writing this week –

“Then we will just have to say our goodbyes, and not only to our tree, but also to our gang.” It was the stinging truth, you can’t have an Oak Tree Gang without oak trees. (Emelie Wissel)

Everything around me became a blur, like this whole event was just a nightmare. But it wasn’t, this is the grim reality, and not even some kids that fell in love with their little forest could stop the buried truth. (Emelie Wissel)

I didn’t even care that I had missed crumpets. I don’t know what had gotten into me. I love crumpets. (Arshiya Tuli)

The driver was a huge brick of a man (Seb Gibbs)

The drone’s light examined us. It saw our imploring looks. With a grunt, it whirred away into the orange sky, and the sky’s colour began to change again. The whispers of the breeze rose to a roar. (Arshiya Tuli)

My mind was so much like the ocean, calm on the surface with so many deep undercurrents, all of them with their own purpose. (Samantha Muirhead)

One by one, the cats jumped, their parachutes floating like coloured jellyfish out behind them. (Ben Parker)

It was hell to see the last oak tree also bend down into saw dust. (Zahra Parker)

THE SHORTLIST

My overlong shortlist included Emelie, Indigo, Arshiya, Taylor, Seb, Finn, Zahra, Taylor, Theo, Angela, Juno, Karina, Will, Juliet, Amadeia, Emily, Lucia, Evie, Bethany, Hannah, Olivia and Samantha.

You all had moments of brilliance. Please don’t despair if I haven’t mentioned you in my report. Every week is a new competition and a new judge. This week is Sue Copsey, who has both a quirky sense of humour and a love of things ghostly. Don’t delay. Get writing and enter the 6th writing competition.

But now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for ….

The 5th writing competition winner is 12 year-old Indigo Tomlinson from Whakatane Intermediate. Her story is particularly strong in dialogue and imagery.

Here are some of my favourite lines –

There was an air of menace about him, as though we were dancing on the edge of an icicle.

… the red light gleamed like vampire eyes ëven in the hazy afternoon sun.

His smile was like barbed wire.

That’s how he was looking at us. Like we were unwanted gifts.

David Hill, author of various books including Kiwi Bites and picture books about Edmund Hillary, Joan Wiffen, Peter Blake, and Jacinda Ardern also said

“Congratulations to Indigo on her success. I’m impressed by the tightness of her story – the way she’s managed to fit so many events into a small space. Things move briskly, clearly, and it’s a clever, unsettling ending. I very much like her use of dialogue, which is such a good way of showing mood, characters, relationships. The people in her story are authentic, and there’s a nice range of feelings among them. A good layout also, with a variety of paragraph and sentence lengths. The story looks interesting on the page. Congratulations to a writer from whom I hope we’ll hear more in the future.”

And that pretty much says it all. Kia kaha, Indigo. We’ll be in touch about your prize, a book from our fabulous sponsor, Puffin Books, soon.

– Kathy

Kathy White’s Story Starter: The Oak Tree Gang

“So how was it?” Mum asked as she drove through the Heu Heu Street intersection. “You boys weren’t too happy about going on your first school camp.”

Deano leaned forward through the gap in the front seat. “It wasn’t too bad, Mrs G, apart from the horrific river run …”

Wills groaned.

” … and Wills getting called Puffin’ Billy because of his asthma,” I added. Wills coughed as if on cue.

“And the over-salted rabbit stew on toast was disgusting.” Deano pulled a face. “Please don’t add it to your fine culinary repertoire, Mrs G.”

Mum smiled at him.

I sighed. Deano always impressed my mum with his vocabulary. I just wished he didn’t manage to make me look quite so stupid in comparison.

I yawned and pressed my face against the window as we turned the corner into Oak Tree Lane. Suddenly I was more awake than I’d been all week. “What’s happened to all the trees?”

Last week the street had been full of magnificent 100-year-old oak trees, one on every grass verge. Now they were stumps in the ground smothered in a fine layer of sawdust. I felt sick.

“As long as they haven’t cut ours down,” Wills wheezed. “You can’t have an Oak Tree Gang without an oak tree.”

I knew the news was bad as soon as I saw Mum’s face in the rear-view mirror.

“A phone company cut them down yesterday,” she said. “I came home from work to find it looking like this.” She pointed ahead of the car.

Holy macaroni. Right where our tree used to be, outside number 14, was an enormous tower made of concrete and steel. On the top were three antennae, and a platform full of dark grey boxes with LED lights.
What had they done with our club-house? And where was the flying fox that went into the gully?

“No way! ” Deano yelled, stumbling out of the car before it had pulled into the driveway. “There must be a law against this.”

“Apparently not,” Mum sighed, slamming the door. “I called them and they said the tree wasn’t on our land. There’s just one tree left and they’re coming to cut that down tomorrow.”

“Oh woe is me,” Deano said, sinking to his knees.

I heard a sound behind me and turned to see my beautiful cat, Tyler, running toward me, the bell on his collar jangling, and his big belly swaying. He started rubbing himself against my jeans, a big smile on his whiskery grey face. He obviously didn’t understand that this was mega.

“Hang on a minute,” said Wills, squinting. He pointed to a grey box at the top of the tower. “That looks like a mammoth drone.”

That’s when the light came on. A red laser light. And its sights were focused on ….

Indigo Tomlinson’s Winning Entry

I was still fuming, but the red light gleamed like vampire eyes even in the hazy afternoon sun. It rotated slowly till the tip was focused directly on Wills, Deano and me. Wills took a step back, waxy skin pale and cheekbones pulled into sharp relief as he took hasty little puffs on his inhaler. Deano glowered at the structure.
‘’What is that drone thing?’’ I asked, Mum sighed and shrugged,

‘’I don’t know but I’m going to cook dinner. You boys must be starving!’’ she pulled a silly face, ‘’Fancy any more rabbit stew on toast?’’

‘’Muuuum!’’ I groaned. She made her way inside the house, and we were left alone with the towering monolith. The gigantic drone lifted off into the air and whirred towards the ground, with a sound like a ferocious wasp’s nest. I shivered. An ashy black bird it landed on the ground next to us and I was reminded of my Grandfather’s funeral, and the way everything felt heavy and smelled of plastic flowers from the dollar shop. It was a funeral really. The funeral of our Clubhouse. The funeral of the Oak Tree Gang.

‘’I can’t believe anyone could commit such vicious sacrilege!’’ Deano declared theatrically. Neither could I. Anger bubbled like a lava lamp inside me.

‘’Wait!’’ Wills cried, ‘’Jo, didn’t your Mum say there was one tree left?’’ I nodded slowly,

‘’But they’re cutting it down tomorrow’’ I replied, Deano narrowed his eyes,

‘’We can stop them!’’ he cried, ‘’Tie ourselves to the branches! Y’know, like those environmental thingys!’’

‘’I’m afraid you can’t.’’ a frozen voice like an alpine lake said from behind us. We whirled around. A businessman in a crisp blue suit stood waiting. He reminded me of a glacier. Polished, yet hard and cold. There was an air of menace about him, as though we were dancing on the knife edge of an icicle. He smiled. A perfect celebrity smile. Fake, and shiny the way you are when you get a birthday present you really don’t like. That’s how he was looking at us. Like we were unwanted gifts. Fear bloomed in my stomach like poisonous spores.

‘’My name is Arnold Blunderbuss.’’ he said, ‘’I work for a multi-million dollar company.’’ his smile was like barbed wire, ‘’People pay us to, discover things. I suppose you could call us the ‘’gossips.’’ We give them the information. They give us the money. ’’ He clearly had no practice talking to pre-adolescents.

‘’What he’s saying,’ Wills explained adjusting his round glasses, ‘’Is that his company is invading peoples privacy then selling their personal data, using the tower and the drone! They’re not telephone people at all!’’

‘’Gah!!’’ screamed Arnold Blunderbuss. He lunged for Wills, but with the hiss of an exploding kettle, Tyler (whom I had completely forgotten about) landed on Mr. Blunderbusses perfectly gelled hair and clawed viciously at his face. He worked as a very good pair of head cuffs until the police arrived.

A few weeks later I woke up and looked out the window. A glacial looking man in neon orange community service overalls was digging a hole down by the road. Next to him was a baby oak tree. I smiled.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the fifth FABO Story competition now!

The fifth FABO Story competition will be judged by author Kathy White.  Enter below!

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

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

Kathy White’s Story Starter: The Oak Tree Gang

“So how was it?” Mum asked as she drove through the Heu Heu Street intersection. “You boys weren’t too happy about going on your first school camp.”

Deano leaned forward through the gap in the front seat. “It wasn’t too bad, Mrs G, apart from the horrific river run …”

Wills groaned.

” … and Wills getting called Puffin’ Billy because of his asthma,” I added. Wills coughed as if on cue.

“And the over-salted rabbit stew on toast was disgusting.” Deano pulled a face. “Please don’t add it to your fine culinary repertoire, Mrs G.”

Mum smiled at him.

I sighed. Deano always impressed my mum with his vocabulary. I just wished he didn’t manage to make me look quite so stupid in comparison.

I yawned and pressed my face against the window as we turned the corner into Oak Tree Lane. Suddenly I was more awake than I’d been all week. “What’s happened to all the trees?”

Last week the street had been full of magnificent 100-year-old oak trees, one on every grass verge. Now they were stumps in the ground smothered in a fine layer of sawdust. I felt sick.

“As long as they haven’t cut ours down,” Wills wheezed. “You can’t have an Oak Tree Gang without an oak tree.”

I knew the news was bad as soon as I saw Mum’s face in the rear-view mirror.

“A phone company cut them down yesterday,” she said. “I came home from work to find it looking like this.” She pointed ahead of the car.

Holy macaroni. Right where our tree used to be, outside number 14, was an enormous tower made of concrete and steel. On the top were three antennae, and a platform full of dark grey boxes with LED lights.
What had they done with our club-house? And where was the flying fox that went into the gully?

“No way! ” Deano yelled, stumbling out of the car before it had pulled into the driveway. “There must be a law against this.”

“Apparently not,” Mum sighed, slamming the door. “I called them and they said the tree wasn’t on our land. There’s just one tree left and they’re coming to cut that down tomorrow.”

“Oh woe is me,” Deano said, sinking to his knees.

I heard a sound behind me and turned to see my beautiful cat, Tyler, running toward me, the bell on his collar jangling, and his big belly swaying. He started rubbing himself against my jeans, a big smile on his whiskery grey face. He obviously didn’t understand that this was mega.

“Hang on a minute,” said Wills, squinting. He pointed to a grey box at the top of the tower. “That looks like a mammoth drone.”

That’s when the light came on. A red laser light. And its sights were focused on ….

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in The Winner

FABO Judge’s Report: Kathy White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Winner

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

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

Chloe’s Winning Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Sharpen your pencils for a new FABO Story competition!

Are you ready for another FABO Story competition? Author Kathy White has written a story starter. Now it’s up to you to finish it off.

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 June 7th.

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.

Kathy’s Story Starter: They. Are. US.

The headline on the news said it all. CAT BAN BEGINS.

“The government says the new Cat Eradication law comes into force from the 1st of June,” the newsreader said. “All cats must be surrendered to the Department of Conservation or council office in your closest town before the 1st July. Anyone caught with a cat after that date will pay a $50,000 fine or face five years imprisonment. The War on Pests is ramping up.”

“I know who the pests are, and it’s not the cats,” Dad muttered. He pushed the button on the TV remote. The screen went black and silent.

“They can’t take Fwankie,” Tim sobbed, squeezing Frankie hard against his chest. “Fwankie’s my fwend. My best fwend.” Frankie poked his furry ginger kiss-coloured head out from between Tim’s chubby fingers and smiled at everyone. He clearly didn’t understand his days were numbered.

“What’s wrong with these people?” I asked, pointing at the TV. “Frankie’s part of our family. What makes them think it’s okay to kill our pets?”

Dad gave a deep sigh. “The only difference between a pet and a pest is the letter S,” Dad said. He always comes out with random and profound philosophical statements at times of family stress.

Mum plonked a steaming bowl of spaghetti bolognaise on the table. “Its not okay,” she said, slamming the knives and forks on the table. Her hands were shaking with rage. “Frankie … is … us. Do you understand? It’s not okay.”

I frowned (although I’d plucked my eyebrows so much this afternoon, that no one could tell I was frowning). Mum’s eyes seemed to be glowing in the dim light, and her skin was turning a pale shade of olive green. “Are you … okay, Mum?”

“We love him. We feed him. We worm him. We take him to the vet.” She looked at Dad defiantly, clenching her greening fists, like this was his fault. “He wears a bell so the birds know he’s in the garden. He’s a good cat and this is a BAD law. We’re NOT giving him up.”

Tim climbed off the couch. “We’re not?”

Mum put her hands on her hips. “We’re not.”
She was now as tall and wide as the Eiffel Tower and Tim was dancing around her.

She made me think of that moment in The Lord of the Rings when Gandalf slammed his staff into the ground and bellowed at the balrog “You shall not pass.” It was scary when it was my own mother. I mean, this woman puts gummy bears in my lunchbox.

Dad took a deep breath: “Josie, Tim … there’s something we’ve never told you … about your mother ….”

Now You Finish The Story…

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 Enter Now, fabo story

Enter The New FABO Story Competition!

Are you ready for a new FABO Story? Author Kathy White has written the start of a story – now it’s up to you to finish it.

For this competition, your story should not end in a cliff hanger. Please write the story’s ending.

(Kyle Mewburn has chosen a winner for the last competition – click here to read Kyle’s report).

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and finish 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 August 17.

Survival Class 101

The door slammed and Room 14 shook like a magnitude 7 earthquake. A stench of slimy fish filled Monty’s nostrils, and then suddenly a pair of bulbous eyes bored into his, making him topple from his headstand into the papier mache volcano next to him.

“Where’s Miss Limone?” he squeaked, slithering the right way up onto the nearest chair. He snuck a quick peak at the new Survival 101 teacher’s long slimy grey face, and stunted frilly arms. She didn’t look like an agent or a teacher.

“The eels in the moat got her ….” Marianne whispered across the aisle. “I heard they ate her gall bladder.”

That’s gross!” Michael said, clutching at his stomach.

Sandy Galbraith started his funny nervous snorting that always made everyone laugh, but this time he barely had time to inhale. The teacher’s enormous bottom flattened his head against the desktop. “Miss Limone was ssssssetting up this evening’s parent-teacher evening. She was attacked from behind.” Her voice was familiar but Monty couldn’t think where from.

The teacher eyeballed each of them in turn as Sandy’s face slowly turned purple. “My name is Missssss Peel. You need to obey me if you want to stay alive at this school, do you understand? Miss Limone was not careful.” Everyone’s head bobbed up and down.

She slid off the desk and Sandy took a giant breath.

“We’re supposed to talk about Project Predator today,” Sue said, trying not to let her voice shake. “Miss Limone left instructions.”

Miss Peel picked up the instruction sheet with one frilly fin and dropped it into the rubbish bin. “We are not talking about meso-predators today. The possum isssss the only animal that is capable of spreading the seed of large-seeded native plants. Do you understand? We need it. It isssss no longer the target.” Everyone started to talk at once. The teacher made tutting noises with her mouth.
“Our mission is much bigger than a marsupial or a rodent. We have identified a REAL predator in our midsssst– a megalo-predator, one that could cause extinctions in New Zealand.” She pointed her remote at the laptop and an image appeared on the screen that made everyone gasp. “I need you to remain calm.”

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Kathy’s FABO Judge’s Report!

I don’t think I’ve ever read so many great ideas and well-rounded stories. Talk about making it difficult for the judge to do her job!

There were some exceptional ideas – using sticky tape on small hands to climb the walls, using lego pieces to spell out messages to classmates, and gigantic rats and spiders lurking in the back room. Some cockroaches morphed into humans and merged with human society. I particularly liked the rebelling mutant cockroaches who turned out to be badly-behaved kids, and Mr Lewis’ wife who had been trapped in the cockroach jar for 17 years! (Sian)

Language

I liked the way you played with language and used it to create memorable pictures of characters and ominous places.

The kids slowly sunk to the dusty floor like ice melting in the sun (Daniel);

Before the trio could speak, they had shrunk to the size of a child’s pinky finger and formed the shape of a crunchy little cockroach (Daniel);

The three kids became “the bugskiteers” (Sarah).

Characters

Some of you thought carefully about the detail in who the characters were and how they behaved differently.

“Frankie landed neatly. Tyler sprawled and Brendan crashed into painful splits.” (Bessie);

Mr Lewis was beaming, and you could see all his cavities, silver teeth, and remnants of the burrito he had had for lunch earlier that day. (Indiana)

Dialogue

So many of you wrote great dialogue that I can’t mention you all. The best bits sounded really natural, with small pauses. For instance Kate wrote about how horrified the kids were when they found out that Mr Lewis didn’t know how to reverse what he had done.

“Scared that they won?” one of the boys shouted.

Mr Lewis shook his head.

“I don’t know how to reverse it,” he quietly sputtered.

The whole entire class gasped. You could hear a pin drop.

“Why, did you do this to US,” Frankie exploded.

In fact, Kate and Indiana had two of my favourite philosophical questions:

“Insects are a part of the circle of life. Do you like destroying the circle of life?”

“What is wrong with not making cockroaches’ legs twitch?!”

Endings

I like the way a lot of you played with words and used humour in your endings.

(After having been shrunk and re-sized)

3:30 at Tyler’s House.

“How was your day Tyler,” Tyler’s Mum asked.

“I have little to say about it,” Tyler replied. (Kate)

“Mr Lewis got fired, and now lives in his mother’s basement, trying to be a half-decent citizen.” (Jeremy)

Frankies eyes went blank. Her mouth was dry. “If this is a spider web, then where is its maker?” Eight eyes glowed red as Mr Lewis opened the cage behind them. (Indiana)

However I had the biggest chuckle with this from Daniel:

Mr Lewis came bursting in, Jason tackled him down like an ALL BLACK. Hurling him onto the red dot he commanded Brendan to press the button.

The evil teacher shrunk down to a cockroach. Wondering what the commotion was about, massive Mrs Watson quickly waddled in. Seeing the ugly insect on the ground she crushed it under her large shoe.

“Do you think Mr lewis is okay?” asked Frankie

“No guarantees” replied Jason.

You’ve made it particularly difficult to choose winners this time because

(1) you’re all talented;

(2) You’re getting better at delivering a well-balanced story (with surprises) in terms of a beginning, middle and end;

(3) You cleverly used details in the story starter and built on that story, making it something that was uniquely your own.

Prizes

I’m not joking when I say that so many of you were in my shortlist, so thank you to all of you for making me laugh and think. Congratulations to Indiana Taylor (age 8) and Daniel Morrison (age 11) who are my junior and senior prize-winners this week for being good at so many things, and because I loved the way you put your words together.

If I had highly commended prizes, I’d be giving them out to Bessie Martin and Kate Barber plus several others for doing particular things exceptionally well. Unfortunately, I’ve only got two prizes so I’m sending the rest of you a virtual high five. Indiana and Daniel, can you please email your addresses through the Fabo story website, so I can send you a prize.

P.S. My story starter was based on a real one. When I was 13, I stood up in my science class and told my teacher, Mr Lewis, that I wasn’t going to cut up the dead lamb on my workbench. Kids were firing body parts around the room and I found it upsetting. My friend Dinah joined my protest, and we both had to scrape chewing gum off school seats for a week as punishment. It was the first time I protested about something that mattered to me; I’ve done it many times since. ☺

– Kathy White

Prize-winner: Indiana Taylor, Pt Chev Primary

Something from above shot down at them, and cloaked all three in a sticky, tough, strong material. They were trapped. Goners. Doomed.

“Ughh… I read a book on spiders yesterday,” Frankie shivered. “And gathering all the facts together, this is a spiders w..w..web!” Frankie screamed as a small prod in the back occurred.

“It’s all right.” Tyler whispered. ‘We are going to be fine. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO US MR LEWIS! WHAT IS WRONG WITH NOT MAKING COCKROACHES LEGS TWITCH?!”

He continued. “Well, you’re not bugs, are you? Your sign only said no bug experiments. Or am I mistaken, are you a bug, and I should switch you for these cockroaches.” Mr Lewis smirked.

Tyler struggled to find his sign so he could change what it said. “Looking for this?” Mr Lewis was beaming, and you could see all his cavities, silver teeth, and remnants of the burrito he had had for lunch earlier that day.

Brendan thought back to all those missing children from room 5. Tyler probably was right with assuming Jenny didn’t go on holiday so suddenly, and for such a long time too. That was over 2 and a half years ago. And maybe Jack really didn’t switch schools without telling anybody. Maybe Mr Lewis had been up to his experimenting for some time.

Frankies eyes went blank. Her mouth was dry. “If this is a spider web, then where is its maker?” Eight eyes glowed red as Mr Lewis opened the cage behind them.

Prize-winner: Daniel Morrison, age 11, Te Mata Primary

It all happened within a second, lasers shot out illuminating the mysterious room with colours, the kids slowly sunk to the dusty floor like ice melting in the sun.

Before the trio could speak, they had shrunk to the size of a child’s pinky finger and formed the shape of a crunchy little cockroach.

Mr Lewis gathered them up, walking them into the classroom he locked the back-room. With a little giggle he informed the kids in the classroom that he had found a few new cockroaches in the backroom.

Mr Lewis poured them into the jar on his desk and Tyler tried to escape but it was no use, they were trapped.

And then…

“Psst.”

“Hey… You three, can you guys get me out.”

“who are you?” Asked Brendan sounding confused.

“I’m Jason.” he answered.

“Jason Greene?” asked Brendan.

“Yeah,” he told them.

“You kicked the football through the window last term, Mr Lewis told us you were expelled” exclaimed Brendan.

“He turned me into an ugly six legged pest and has kept me in here for weeks!” Yelled Jason frustratingly.

“So who are all these people with you?” asked Tyler.

“Oh no these are just normal cockroaches” he said with a short smirk.

Everyone muted, the same thought locked inside everyone’s head. How to get out? Finally the silence broke.

“We could play dead!” screamed Frankie.

“Yes, and we run on three!” “Agreed Jason.”

The four insects faced their shiny backs to the ground and just laid there waiting. Just as they had hoped, a large boy from their class walked by noticing the four seemingly lifeless cockroaches laying in the jar. Out of curiosity he slowly lifted the lid up and Jason signaled

“3,2,1 GO!”

The pocket sized pests all scattered out of the jar within a second which made the poor lad embarrassingly scream his head off.

Tyler directed the three roaches to head under the back room door, they quickly followed. Frankie then got an idea.

“We could use those Lego pieces on that shelf to make words to tell the other kids to press the red button and turn us back.” she insisted

“Great idea” said Brendan, and quickly the insects formed the words.

Immediately a kid ran into the room with bug-spray in hand. Surprised by the Lego message, he pressed the button reluctantly. Again the room filled with light. Instead of shrinking, they grew from the red spot on the cold flooring, transforming back to their human form.

Mr Lewis came bursting in, Jason tackled him down like an ALL BLACK. Hurling him onto the red dot he commanded Brendan to press the button.

The evil teacher shrunk down to a cockroach. Wondering what the commotion was about, massive Mrs Watson quickly waddled in. Seeing the ugly insect on the ground she crushed it under her large shoe.

“Do you think Mr lewis is okay?” asked Frankie

“No guarantees” replied Jason.