Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Finish Kathy’s Story And Enter The FABO Competition Now!

Children’s author Kathy White has come up with the start of a story – it’s called No Guarantees. She’d like you to finish the story in 500 words or less and submit it using the online form. Entries close 8pm Friday August 18th. No late entries will be accepted.

NO GUARANTEES

“I’m not doing it. You can’t make me.” Tyler gripped his placard tightly and stood his ground. Behind him, the other kids in Room 5 fell silent. Even the cockroaches in the jar on Mr Lewis’s desk stopped moving. A chair scraped on the lino, as Frankie stood up and crossed the classroom to stand behind Tyler. Brendan reluctantly followed her.

“Well, well. What have we here? The Three Musketeers?” Mr Lewis leaned forward to read Tyler’s sign.

NO ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS AT WOODLAND SCHOOL. BUGS ARE ANIMALS TOO.

Mr Lewis slurped on his tankard of coffee. “Is that right?”

Brendan started to answer, but Frankie nudged him sharply with her elbow.

Mr Lewis picked up the jar and shook it. The cockroaches bounced off the sides of the glass. “Don’t you want to make their legs twitch?”

Tyler swallowed. His mouth had gone dry.

Mr Lewis stared at them through the jar, one eye magnifying and shrinking in turn.

“No problem,” he said suddenly, placing the jar back on his desk. “We have lots of chewing gum that needs scraping off seats. Or maybe you can help Mr Lancaster with the rubbish for the next two weeks. Hmmm? Would you like that?”

Frankie screwed up her nose as if she could smell the bins already.

“There’s one other option, but the equipment hasn’t been used much lately.” Mr Lewis’s lips curled into a little smirk. He rubbed his hands together. “No guarantees.”

He tilted his head towards the door to the back room. “Shall we look?”

The fluorescent light in the back room flickered, revealing a jumble of jars and cabinets in a room with a long corridor. Cobwebs draped across piles of papers strewn with scribbled sketches. In the middle of the room was some kind of machine that looked like a telescope but with an eclectic mixture of switches and gauges and a huge dial with labels in another language.

“Wow, you’re into astronomy, Mr Lewis. I didn’t know.” Frankie leaned in closer and read the labels aloud. “Pusillus and ingens.”

“Pus sounds gross but I like engines,” Brendan grinned.

“It’s ingens,” Frankie repeated. “I think it’s Latin. Like in Harry Potter.”

“As long as it doesn’t have anything to do with those giant spiders, I don’t care,” Brendan said. “They freaked me out. I couldn’t even go on holiday to Australia after I saw that movie.”
“So what exactly do you want us to do?” Tyler asked.

The teacher pushed Tyler to a red circle that had been drawn under the skylight. He positioned him carefully and then beckoned to the others. “I just need to calibrate the machine. Can you three stand over here so I can adjust the focal range. It’ll only take a minute.”

The three friends huddled together while Mr Lewis made his calculations and adjusted his gauges.

Frankie nudged Tyler and whispered. “Doesn’t pusillus mean small?”

Tyler suddenly got the chills. “What is this machine, Mr Lewis?”

Mr Lewis closed one eye and squinted through the viewfinder one last time. They were perfectly in focus. Just perfect. He pushed the uppermost red button and smiled.

Finish the story on the FABO website now!

Posted in The Winners!

Kathy White’s FABO Report

You all deserve to be congratulated. You got this story-starter just before the school holidays. I gave you Dewey Decimal Classification numbers to decode. I also gave you an ethical dilemma – an animal rights Predator-Free dilemma – and left it up to you to decide what should happen to the last Trichosurus Vulpecula in New Zealand.

You decided that the creature in the box was a rather dangerous codswallop, a spider, a wasp, squirrel, brushtail possum, platypus, wallaby, kiwi, tuatara and moa.

One of these animals ate a growth pill and our librarians met an unexpected and untimely end (Charlotte Treadwell). Another Trichosurus Vulpecula was a genetically modified combination of three creatures, designed by humans to fix man-made problems (Rebecca Wilkins). Most of you decided to let this creature live, despite getting into trouble for it. I admired your boldness.

Some of my favourite thought-provoking quotes from your stories were:

Alannah Ward wrote “No sorry, this creature is more important than my play time, this could be the discovery of the century, I HAVE to investigate further.” He tried so hard, but he could not find anything, except that the government had made a rule that this species is a pest, and if found, you have to murder it! “What about the animal’s rights?” thought Katya.

Lola Hartingale wrote “Back in Russia my uncle was a fur farmer and he killed innocent possums just like this one for their amazingly soft fur,” commented Katya.

“You’re talking codswallop! No one would kill a creature as beautiful as this for its fur no matter how soft it is!” exclaimed Sarah.

Rebecca Johnson wrote “How is that beautiful? It’s a possum,” Todd said, looking at it weirdly.

Alexandra Bow: “It is a pest to New Zealand, it must be killed at once.” Sarah cried.

Corwin Heath-Cameron showed the Australian perspective of Trichosurus Vulpecula: “Like hell it’s nothing,” he chuckled. It was one of the airline ground staff. More friendly now, he asked “Were you going to let that possum out on the tarmac? It could get run over, or hurt. Give it to me – I live near the bush, I’ll let it out there.”

Cole Wescombe wisely said “Anyway, they hunted them almost to extinction right when the SPCA decided that just because they weren’t the best for the environment, they didn’t need to make them perish from the world ….”

Sarah Aitken wrote “Talk about animal rights, more like animal wrongs,” groaned Jessie.

Some of my favourite phrases and snippets from conversation were:

“Let’s get this animal into proper care. That boy is a true Russian Rascal.” (Great alliteration, Finn Wescombe)

“Mad!” Mr Johnson screamed. “Codswallop! Curse madness and bury clouds. Mad!” (Finn Wescombe)

“Your moo-ah ate my doughnuts.” (Alexandra Bow)

He wasn’t ordinary. He didn’t have a pesky bone in his body. (Sienna Mitchinson)

And there were some beautiful descriptions:

A spark had ignited in his very being, bringing with it, new courage to get back there …. A rush of adrenaline suddenly coursed through his bones. Wings he didn’t know he had surging with energy. The Kiwi almost bounded out the window, leaping onto Katya’s roof. With one last whoop of thanks the Kiwi channeled this energy and bounded off the roof. Without a second thought – as if by some primordial instinct – the Kiwi flapped and soared gracefully through the air, magnetic fields materializing in his vision. He turned towards a pulse. “Home!” Thought the bird with joy. He flew with even greater speed past the town, past the mountains, past the port and out towards his island. (Nathan Stacey)

It was a strange sight. Its yellow stripes stood out garishly against the ebony darkness that covered its thorax, where a wasp’s razor sharp stinger sat. Its small, fluffy limbs dangled uselessly in the air and its face was a squirrel’s face, with a butterfly’s tongue, and beautiful ethereal butterfly wings covered in iridescent blue powder. (Rebecca Wilkins)

A great ending

And that brings us to the end of our story. Casper lived on for eight years, helping young children learn to read at the school library. Sarah, Katya, Jessie and Todd never forgot that special possum. (Sienna Mitchinson)

Tatiana Austin caused chaos in Australia, through Mr Creech and Katya returning a possum with a green-tinted tail that was immune to snake venom.
“A tv’s headlines read “Australian Possums Are Taking Over Australia.”
As Mr Creech swung his bat and grumbled curses, a slightly green tinted tail blurred the television screen before the possum they had spared went off to take over Australia.”

The Winners

Your stories were so much fun to read. It was extremely difficult choosing a winner because you all did different things well, so I have two winners. The first, Corwin Heath-Cameron, wrote a well-rounded and balanced logical story, with great dialogue and description. I also loved Corwin’s solution to the dilemma. The second, Lola Hartingale, has a lovely writing style and a great twist to her story. Congratulations, Corwin and Lola. Please write and let me know where I should send your prizes.

Kathy’s Story Starter

“Not again!” Sarah grumbled. She picked up the apple she’d left on the library bench and pointed to the bite marks. “This isn’t a joke anymore. Who’s been eating my lunch?”

The four school librarians looked at each other and then focused on Todd.

“Not me,” he shrugged. “I only steal chocolate and chips.” He glanced at the boy next to him, who was wearing an enormous mustard-coloured raincoat that stretched down past his knees. “Katie looks like he needs a feed though.”

The small boy scowled. “My name is Kat-ya.”

Sarah sighed. “He’s Russian, Todd. Doesn’t speak much English, remember? Leave him alone.”

She looked at the empty space on the front counter and gasped. “There’s no number.”

Every day for the last week, they had found a number – a dewey decimal classification number – scrawled on a paper star, on the front counter. Mr Johnson, the librarian, hadn’t said anything about it, and because he’d been acting so strangely lately, no one had wanted to ask.

“Do you think we’re going to be tested on it?”

Everyone pulled a face.

“Maybe it’s a treasure hunt.” Jessie looked hopeful.

Katya pulled a scrappy piece of paper out of his pocket and flattened it on the counter. All of the numbers were listed in the order they had found them.

179.3
599.2
363.78
333.95
636.8
027
675.2
634.11
994

“994 is the number for Australia,” Jessie said, pointing to the animal poster on the wall above 994 in the geography section. It had AUSTRALIA emblazoned across the top, with photos of a snake, Huntsman spider, crocodile, bilby, numbat, wombat, kangaroo, and koala. Underneath the poster sat a cardboard box.

“Oh no, please don’t let it be spiders.” Jessie groaned. “I’d just die.”

Todd lifted one of the flaps with a ruler. Claws scuffled inside the box, making everyone jump.

Sarah leaned in for a closer look. “Oh my God. I haven’t seen one of those in years,” she said.

“That’s because New Zealand killed them all back in 2017. The year of the big cull. My parents protested about it.” Todd looked into the big eyes of the creature looking back at him.

“What are we going to do with it?” Jessie whispered. “It’s just a baby.”

“It’s also a Biosecurity Code Red,” Sarah said. “Perhaps we should give it to Mr Creech.”

No one said a word. Mr Creech was the caretaker. He kept a cricket bat on his wall for taking care of the things he classed as pests.

Katya lifted the frightened animal out of the box, stroked it and slipped it inside his jacket. “Bee-YOU-tee-ful,” he murmured.

Winner 1: Corwin

Corwin Heath-Cameron (aged 12), South Wellington Intermediate continued:

“It was eradicated for a good reason. Trichosurus vulpecula. Also known as the common brushtail possum,” said Sarah. “We should probably turn it in”.

“Codswallop,” said Todd, “it’s only a baby”.

“I wonder what these other numbers mean” said Jessie.

“Guys, whoever left them was trying to leave a message for us. 179.3 is animal rights, 599.2 is marsupials, and 363.78 is…”.

“What is it Sarah?” asked Todd.

“It’s pest control”.

“Oh”.

“What about the other ones?” asked Jessie.

“Well, I don’t know everything do I?” said Sarah.

“I was just saying – let’s go look”.

They spread out to search.

Soon Todd called out, “found one, 333.95 is biodiversity”.

“636.8 is cats, which were one of the possum’s only predators in New Zealand” said Sarah.

“675.2 is leather technologies. I guess that makes sense because weren’t possums introduced to New Zealand for the fur industry?” Jessie said.

“And 027 is… general libraries? Sorry guys, I can’t fit that in,” joked Sarah.

“Apples” said Katya.

“What?” asked Todd.

“634.11. It’s apples”.

“Maybe they like to eat apples or something?” tried Jessie.

“We need help to work out what to do. How about Mr Johnson?” Sarah suggested.

“He was probably the one leaving us these clues,” said Todd.

“No. If he was leaving the clues and handing it over to us I do not think he will be able to help,” said Katya.

They thought for a while.

“You know, I’m going on holiday to Australia in the school holidays, which is only a few days away” said Jessie. “I could take it with me”.

“Will it get through customs?” asked Sarah.

“Maybe? They won’t be looking for it at our end. I’ll let it out as soon as we get off the plane, and since they are still protected in Australia, it will run free.”

Todd shrugged, “I can’t think of anything better”.

*****

They were the longest days of Jessie’s life. A distraction at customs helped her sneak the box through, and she thought she’d faint when the possum stuck its head out of the box as a flight attendant went past, but somehow, they made it.

When she was finally there she hustled out of the plane and opened the box to let the possum out. Suddenly someone said “Hey you! What do you think you’re doing?!”. Panicking, Jessica said “Nothing”.

“Like hell it’s nothing” he chuckled. It was one of the airline ground staff. More friendly now, he asked “Were you going to let that possum out on the tarmac? It could get run over, or hurt. Give it to me – I live near the bush, I’ll let it out there”.

“Oh thank you so much!” said Jessica.

“Well hello there,” the man said, as he popped an apple from his pocket into the box.

It was at that moment that Jessica realised that it was the baby possum that had been eating Sarah’s apples.

“Ha!” she thought, “I’ll have to tell her when I get home”.

Winner 2: Lola

Lola Hartingale (aged 9), Motupipi Primary School continued:

The baby possum looked up at Katya with beady black eyes.

“How has a possum got into New Zealand?” Asked Sarah in a questioning tone. Everybody was clueless.

“Maybe it could have been smuggled here.” suggested Todd

“What do you think Jessie?”
Jessie didn’t answer, she was on the other side of the large library at the computer table staring at a computer. She had the tatty slip of creased paper with the Dewey decimals on it beside her. Sarah, Todd and Katya walked over to her and seated themselves comfortably on the plastic school chairs next to her. They peered at the computer screen.

“What is on that piece of paper ?” Asked Sarah

“Look.” whispered Jessie. “All of these Dewey decimals represent something, don’t they?”

Everyone nodded. “I have found out a few of their meanings… for example, 179.3 is animal rights, 599.2 is marsupials, 363.78 is pest control and the other meanings I wrote on this paper.”

The other words scribbled on the piece of paper by Jessie were: Biodiversity, Cats, Library’s , home tanning and leather craft, Apples, and Australia.

“These Dewey decimals were on the paper, right?” Asked Jessie without waiting for a reply. “We got them off Mr Johnson’s desk. They must have been on there for a reason. This might have something to do with the possum.”

“Back in Russia my uncle was a fur farmer and he killed innocent possums just like this one for their amazingly soft fur.” commented katya
“You’re talking codswallop! No would kill a creature as beautiful as this for its fur no matter how soft it is!” Exclaimed Sarah

“They…” Katya was just about to retaliate when he was interrupted by Jessie, she was pointing at the computer screen, “Oh my gosh!” In the corner of the website on the computer they were looking at a gray advertisement streaked with black and white and had these words on it…

“Jolly Johnson’s gloves!
Made with the softest Trichosurus vulpecula fur
By the warm-hearted Mr Johnson “

Everybody was startled. They peered over to Mr Johnson’s desk. They stared at his softest furry scarf and at his gloves with a fur lining laid neatly on his desk. They then swiveled their heads to peek over at his winter coat. Fur was poking out of the sleeves and it had a fluffy collar. The children were startled. They gaped at each other, then peered down at the creature nestled safe and sound in Katya’s coat pocket. It never knew what nearly happened to itself, and if it found out it would have been horrified …

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Kathy White Is Judging A New FABO Competition!

Kathy White is the next celebrated children’s author to write a story starter for the new FABO competition. To enter, just finish her story in 500 words or less. Entries close 5pm Friday April 14th so start writing your story now!

You will get bonus points if you use the following words in your story: Animal rights, Trichosurus vulpecula and Codswallop.

Kathy’s story starter

“Not again!” Sarah grumbled. She picked up the apple she’d left on the library bench and pointed to the bite marks. “This isn’t a joke anymore. Who’s been eating my lunch?”

The four school librarians looked at each other and then focused on Todd.

“Not me,” he shrugged. “I only steal chocolate and chips.” He glanced at the boy next to him, who was wearing an enormous mustard-coloured raincoat that stretched down past his knees. “Katie looks like he needs a feed though.”

The small boy scowled. “My name is Kat-ya.”

Sarah sighed. “He’s Russian, Todd. Doesn’t speak much English, remember? Leave him alone.”

She looked at the empty space on the front counter and gasped. “There’s no number.”

Every day for the last week, they had found a number – a dewey decimal classification number – scrawled on a paper star, on the front counter. Mr Johnson, the librarian, hadn’t said anything about it, and because he’d been acting so strangely lately, no one had wanted to ask.

“Do you think we’re going to be tested on it?”

Everyone pulled a face.

“Maybe it’s a treasure hunt.” Jessie looked hopeful.

Katya pulled a scrappy piece of paper out of his pocket and flattened it on the counter. All of the numbers were listed in the order they had found them.

179.3
599.2
363.78
333.95
636.8
027
675.2
634.11
994

“994 is the number for Australia,” Jessie said, pointing to the animal poster on the wall above 994 in the geography section. It had AUSTRALIA emblazoned across the top, with photos of a snake, Huntsman spider, crocodile, bilby, numbat, wombat, kangaroo, and koala. Underneath the poster sat a cardboard box.

“Oh no, please don’t let it be spiders.” Jessie groaned. “I’d just die.”

Todd lifted one of the flaps with a ruler. Claws scuffled inside the box, making everyone jump.

Sarah leaned in for a closer look. “Oh my God. I haven’t seen one of those in years,” she said.

“That’s because New Zealand killed them all back in 2017. The year of the big cull. My parents protested about it.” Todd looked into the big eyes of the creature looking back at him.

“What are we going to do with it?” Jessie whispered. “It’s just a baby.”

“It’s also a Biosecurity Code Red,” Sarah said. “Perhaps we should give it to Mr Creech.”

No one said a word. Mr Creech was the caretaker. He kept a cricket bat on his wall for taking care of the things he classed as pests.

Katya lifted the frightened animal out of the box, stroked it and slipped it inside his jacket. “Bee-YOU-tee-ful,” he murmured.

Finish the story on the FABO website now!

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!, writing tip

Kathy White’s FABO Judge’s Report

It’s been a lot of fun reading your stories about Aunt Lillian and that poor kid who’s bleeding on the rug.

What I loved most was that every single one of your stories was different. Madeline’s slug was sucking the colour out of the room, which was a very clever idea. Some of you turned Aunt Lillian into a hero, others turned her into a villain, and one fed her slug soup (Tingmeng, St Cuthberts). Some brought out bazookas (Skye, Waipahihi School), slingshots, and massive quantities of salt in the battle against vampire snails (Finn, Aidanfield Christian School), a ‘summoning animal’ (Katie, Waipahihi School), aliens looking for a host body (Peter), a shapeshifting slug on the rug (Skye), and a creature that burrowed its way through the skin, breaking bones as it went (Bridget, Milford School). Jared’s main character metamorphosed into a slug. YUK! Some of you made it mega-YUKKY by replicating the single slug into hundreds when you tried to destroy it. I like this concept of trying to fix something and inadvertently making it worse (it happens to me all the time!) I’ve always liked tall tales and this story starter allowed you to take it to the extreme if you wanted.

Two bits of advice for improvement in future stories – remember to stay focused on telling THIS story. Don’t dilute it by trying to include another story idea if it doesn’t fit well with the logic of your main idea. If you made this a thriller, you’d focus mainly on the unknown and frightening bits. This story was told from inside the main character’s head, which meant you had access to all their thoughts and fears. Having said this, you could just as easily turn this story into a hilarious tall tale with one disastrous thing happening after the other. Some of you did this brilliantly. And as a general rule, if you choose to tell your story in past tense, stick to it.

There were so many great things about your stories. Here are a few highlights.

Best twist in the middle of the story (going from something that was frightening to funny) – After what seemed like forever I saw pale light encasing me from corners of my eyes, then what seemed like a muffled giggle escaped from under the bed. Then there came a howling of laughter. I dropped to the floor and there was my little brother- Andrew, squirting the tomato sauce bottle as hard as he could, his slime still sitting there – the so called slug was unmoving as it wobbled back and forth for eternity. Meanwhile the sauce soaked into the rug. I knew Aunt Lillian would kill Andrew but not before I had my payback …. (Henry, Milford School)

Best beginning – You know when you flip a ladybug onto its back and it waves its little ladybug legs around, stranded… that’s probably what I looked like right now, add in a Tasmanian Devil scream to the equation and BOOM! You’ve got my current situation. (Pip, Mahana School)

Fabulous imagery – The blood kept on pouring out of my leg like a massive, never-ending waterfall (Ben , Reignier Catholic School), Susan screamed and shouted but nothing came out. She was a remote controlled car and was helpless (Jared, Milford), My brother was in his room, mucus pouring out of his nose, a river cascading into the sea of tissues at his feet (William, Milford), and … blood gushing down my leg like an exploded pipe! (Katie, Mahana School).

Top marks to Bessie from Houghton Valley School for a smooth blend of action and description – I groped for a weapon. My hands hit a white table lamp. I smacked the slug…it burst with a loud comical pop like in a cartoon. The next bit was not cartoonish. As I wiped slug juice from my eye a bloody torrent whipped through the air. MY blood! It gathered in the empty slug skin and then the skin merged together. A new cricket-bat sized slug!

Rose (Vardon School), and Zoey (Waipahihi School) wrote great dialogue. Kyra (Kingsway Christian College) was exceptional at showing her character’s thoughts and fears and used evocative language. All of the children at Willowpark School did a good job with descriptions, and deserved top marks for their use of the words pulsating, exsanguinated and mucus.

Some of you, like Madeline of Birkdale Intermediate and Matthew of Tawa Intermediate just wrote really well in all sorts of ways that deserve applause. All of you did something well. That made it incredibly difficult to choose winners. But I have.

Tatiana Austin is the winner and Pip Coakley and Jessie are highly commended this week. I loved Aunt Lillian as the unexpected hero, but the thing I loved most was the way she used the first person point of view to tell her story, displaying all her main character’s thoughts and fears and sense of humour. It was just fabulous from beginning to end – a great overall story.

As for Pip’s entry, I fell in love with her voice and writing style. At times her cautionary tale is funny, and other times, it’s thought-provoking. She focused on the positive side of the situation, which was unique. Leeches do have medical benefits, and I liked the way she stretched the idea into something fantastical, ethical and philosophical.

And Jessie, you made me cry. You took it as far as it can go and yet kept it all so real. Well done, everybody.

Tatiana, Jessie and Pip, can you super cool kids please email me your address so I can send you a little something.

WINNER – Tatiana Austin, Amberley School (aged 11)

What the…?

I stared at the blood that slowly dyed the white rug red, trying to figure it out. That’s when it dawned on me that the ‘slug’ wasn’t on the rug anymore.
It was up my leg.

But it wasn’t a slug. Slugs don’t have razor sharp teeth on the bottom of their slimy bodies. Slugs don’t rip through human skin, pushing their teeth until they reach the pulsing veins. All in all, slugs AREN’T vampires.

But this one was. And I didn’t like it. I grabbed one of the white cloths hanging in the corner of my room. I wacked the filthy creature again and again, but the only thing I gained was blood marks and slime.

The slug didn’t like being wacked. No… Not the slug.

The slime. The slug was slime.

The slug slime thing deformed to its natural state. Now slime doesn’t sound like the strongest substance on the planet. But what people don’t know is that slime is tough. That slime is strong.

Slime is liquid steel.

Well, a gooey version of liquid steel.

It slithered around my leg, tightening its grip. It placed its blood-sucking fangs inside the wound, and bit.

I aimed, and plunged with all my might at the slime.

However, you can only do so much with a cloth. The slime fled from the smack of the cloth. I ended up smacking the injury, blood suddenly flowing rapidly from the wound. I screamed in pain, dropping the cloth. The slime slithered back toward me in hatred.

Oh yeah, how do you know if a ball of vampire slime is happy and is angry? Well, look at its teeth. Usually, their teeth would be nothing but helpless shards of stones, only glistening jewels stuck in muck. But when he is enraged… Well, it wasn’t pretty. His teeth sprouted, teeth curving wickedly to form daggers. A transformation. That’s all you need to know.

I backed into the corner, so close to the door. If I got out, I’d be safe. Safe…

I reached over to the white fabric, the cloth, gripping it like it was my last chance.

The slime followed my path of blood, sucking up every last drop. At least Aunt Lilian won’t notice the new red dyed onto the rug, however she would still scream at me for the slime that had replaced the marks… Aunt Lilian!

My mind tried to push the words out of my mouth with all my might, but I only squeaked it.

“Aunt Lilian…” the words were nothing but a wisp of a whisper.

The slime went up to me, and dug its jaws into my wound. I slammed the cloth again and again, but the slime didn’t stop. I wanted to scream, I wanted to dig my fingernails into the living goo’s back. Wanted.

I lost feeling in my hands and legs. But I still had some control in my mouth.

“Hell! Go move your slimy butt to hell!”

Now, I know that was kind of a lame thing to say, but I’m not a person who curses other lives and other people. What did you want me to say to the vampire slime slug? THANKYOU?!

That did it. My vision drained away from my eyes, my mouth struggling to breath. And then I knew. I knew that the slime had exsanguinated me. Then the slime opened up its mouth, rising to my face…

The door slammed open. I felt the wind from the door in my face, and you would think that when you are about to die, everything would be faint, blurred. But oh no, the wind smacked me in the face, and it smacked me hard. Painfully hard.

The figure stood silhouetted in front of the opened door, like a person on the top of a mountain, a person on the tallest tree in the forest, a super hero arriving at the fight-scene, or, in my case, an aunt standing tall in front of my bed room door.

I felt my heart start pumping again; the slime fell back, away from my face, away from me. Breath rushed towards my mouth in short sudden gasps.
Aunt Lilian’s piercing voice cut through the air at me.

“I keep telling you, Rachel, DON’T go out to the waters. Slugs and slimes, REMEMBER?!”Aunt Lilian shrieked.

Aunt Lilian was wearing gloves, gumboots, and in her right hand was a witch’s broom, and in her left hand, a bottle of spray-able vinegar. The outfit oddly suited her, Aunt Lilian had always been one of those ‘clean clean clean’ aunties. Oh yeah, and the gloves and gumboots were all clean and polished, with a spray of vinegar. I knew because the smell of vinegar flooded my room. Ugh.

The slime began to shrink, squirming and slithering to the rug, where it could flee and escape. Aunt Lilian was quicker.

“AND WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR GOING?!” Aunt Lilian roared at the slime, chasing after it. The slime shrank some more, allowing it to move more quickly. Unfortunately, for the slime, Aunt Lilian was quicker.

She smacked the broom onto the slug with such force I knocked back, too. Then Aunt Lilian switched to her vinegar, and sprayed. Sprayed like a skunk, I tell you. I swear I saw a puff of green squirt out from the bottle. It landed onto the slime. It withered and squirmed madly. And then the slime died.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Aunt Lilian whipped around, her hawk-eyes narrowed as she looked me over.

“What are you going to do with socks like THAT?!” she shouted, her finger almost sticking to my sock.

Busted.

But I wasn’t thinking about all the scrubbing I was going to have to do, as punishment. I had seen toads, fish, and slime, even a platypus family.

But before I went back to New Zealand, I needed to see a crocodile.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Pip Coakley, Mahana School (aged 12)

You know when you flip a ladybug onto its back and it waves its little ladybug legs around, stranded… that’s probably what I looked like right now, add in a Tasmanian Devil scream to the equation and BOOM! You’ve got my current situation.

I grabbed my selfie stick and cautiously approached the foul beast. As I crouched beside it, I noticed the mucus spilling out of the slug like creature. Its skin was bumpy like a snail’s and stretch marks were evident on the middle part of the body. Reaching out, I gently pushed the pulsating lump with the picture taking device that was in my hand.

Stirring, the creature makes a strange noise.

“Shebang I am!”

Confused I poke it again, this time it says,

“Shebang I am, Shebang is here to help Georgia!”

I guess I was puzzled, or maybe it was the shock, but I spoke back!

“W-w-what do y-you help with?” I stammered.

“I h-help you t-to be h-h-healthy.” Shebang mocked me.

Taking a deep breath, I tried to calm myself down. This slug thing, that was sucking my blood, was helping me?

“How?” I enquired, my voice sounding much more confident than I felt.

Shebang shook his head. “When I suck your blood I take out all the mucus in your body, and if you are mean, deceive or back-stab, I will magically disappear” He replied. I peer apprehensively at the remains on the floor.

“Yes, that’s your gunk.” The Miniature Thrasher Whale next to me explains, seeing my stare.

My sight was suddenly shrouded by black dots and I was getting increasingly dizzy.

▴ ▴ ▴ ▴ ▴

All was calm in Aunt Lillian’s house, the birds chirped, people laughed. Shebang sat peacefully in his tank. Suddenly the door opened, a girl strolled in, following her were flashing cameras, journalists and microphones. The girl grins and leads them over to the tank at the side of the room, trying to show them the rare species that supposedly sits there. But it’s too late, Shebang is gone, his trust destroyed by the traitorous girl. Georgia stares in disbelief. Realising her mistake she quickly ushers the people out of the house. The journalists, thinking Georgia wanted publicity, begin to hit Georgia, until all that remains of her, is a beat up piece of worthlessness.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Jessie, St Cuthberts College (aged 12)

I thought nothing of it as Aunt Lilian rushed to tend to the cut. After all, it didn’t hurt and there wasn’t even that much blood. Aunt Lillian thought that I was too frail, so she made me sit down and read my comics while she scrubbed hard at her rug.

Little did I know that, that would be the last day of truly feeling at peace.

The cut was much, much more than what Aunt Lillian and I had thought. I remember the way Aunt Lillian screamed in the morning. Her newly bought, crisp white sheets had been soaked with my crimson red blood. Head pounding, fingers trembling and my entire leg red I had tried to get up but my efforts were useless. As Aunt Lilian bundled me up in the sheet, she whipped out her cellphone and called Mum.

Honestly, the memory of Mum’s crying resonated with me the most.

The next few days I don’t recall. Apparently, after being rushed into the Emergency Hospital, the doctors and nurses all panicked, but Aunt Lililan told them to shut their faces and help me. This made me laugh. According to Aunt Lilian, the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me, So they rushed me to Starship Hospital in Auckland. In a blur of ruby lights, wind whistling and several white figures, we boarded a helicopter.

Arriving into the hospital seemed quite effortless, almost as if I had just woken up there. Aunt Lillian didn’t tell me but it was pretty obvious. They had clearly knocked me out with some gas and chemicals. I didn’t get why everyone was treading so carefully around me. I remember thinking that teenagers don’t need chemicals or gas. After all, being almost 11 years old is basically almost a teenager. Aunt Lilian said I had “undergone a very serious and sore surgery”. Soon after that “sore and serious” surgery, I recall Mum dashing in like there was something really important.

“Oh God. You okay? Are you hurt? Were you any trouble for Lilian? Oh talk to me Josie!” cried Mum with every single bead of spit she could utter.

“Geez Mum, I’m fine. Really” I murmured awkwardly. There were plenty of people staring. Good thing I was being whisked away before Mum had anymore saliva to drizzle.

Now as I think, I really should’ve said something like, “ I love you,” or “Don’t worry Mum, relax” but I guess there’s no time for that. I’d been furiously trying to remember what happened in the last few weeks of my life. So that when I’m reborn, I’ll remember Mum and Aunt Lilian. What were the chances that, that little bloodsucker was an endangered and highly poisonous African leech. Disgusting, filthy little slug.

I know you’re probably wondering why the doctors would tell me “You’re going to die”. Well, I’m smart. Words like ‘amputation’ and ‘internal infection’ mean that I’m gonna die.
To whoever who reads this, just remember Josie Linn, was a super cool kid.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter The New FABO Competition Now!

Kathy White is the next FABO judge, and her story starter has just been posted!

INSTRUCTIONS

Finish the story. Send it in by Friday August 5th (so don’t rush – you have heaps of time).

Here are a few extra tips

Ask yourself ‘What’s the problem?’ in this story.

What kind of story do you want to write? A realistic story or a tall tale? Perhaps a doomsday story, adventure, thriller, mystery or horror? This will affect the ending that you choose.

Add a surprise or twist to the story before you finish. Readers always like a surprise.

Extra challenge: Try to use one of these words somewhere in your story – pulsating, mucus, or exsanguinated (that last one is quite horrible so I’ll understand if you don’t want to use it).

STORY STARTER

Aunt Lilian re-decorated after I visited her at Easter. She said she couldn’t get my tub of slime out of her brown shagpile carpet. She wasn’t very happy about it. Nor was I. I’d only just got that slime for my birthday!

Now, everything in my new room, from the chenille bedspread to the plumped pillows and the cotton floor rugs, are as white as an English Christmas. Why on earth did she choose WHITE? Doesn’t she know about the time that Mum bribed me to eat a tomato, and I was sick down her favourite white jumper? It’s a recipe for disaster.

“Where are you putting those boots?” Aunt Lilian’s sharp voice made me jump.

I looked down. My boots WERE filthy. I’d just got back from looking for platypus in Froggett’s pool, and the ground had been very squishy at the creek edge.

“I’ll leave them at the door,” I said, quickly undoing the laces. Then I long-jumped onto the bed before she got a closer look at the other filthy parts of me.

“I’m not sure why you kiwis feel the need to spend so much time outdoors,” she said, growling at me over her horn-rimmed glasses. “This is Queensland. There are crocodiles in the water, remember?”

I nodded enthusiastically. Australia was so COOL!

She rolled her eyes at me and turned to go downstairs.

I peeled off my socks and was about to throw them into the corner of the room when something slimy plopped onto the rug. At first I thought it was a slug but this wasn’t the kind of slug you find in your cabbages. Those ones are small, but this one was the size of a golf ball.

That’s when I noticed the blood running down the back of my leg onto Aunt Lilian’s rug.

Now you finish the story! Go to the FABO website to write what happens next.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kathy White Announces The Winning FABO Story!

Wow! The FaBo stories took directions I wasn’t expecting this time. Some were funny, one rocketed into sci-fi and one in particular featured a strange boy who barely said a word. He didn’t need to speak – he gave me the shivers just by what he did.

Some of you wrote something that wasn’t connected to the story starter. Some were only a few lines and needed a bit more to be a full story, and some needed to be checked for grammar and spelling, but on the whole, you did a great job. The stories I liked most were the ones with vivid descriptions of characters and places (Will), with realistic conversations between characters (Ava and Tashya) and a well-rounded story (Peyton). I liked the pace in Reuben and Kyle’s stories, and I loved the thoughts and fears of the main character in Amelia’s story. There were also some wonderful ideas – riddles (Helena), a magic notepad and pencil (Amanda), and codes (Madeleine).

Peyton Morete described the characters so well that I could see them. I ran downstairs and slung my backpack over my shoulder. Chloe had her pink miniskirt on and her purple tank top. Her sassy queen bag lay on her converses.

And then Peyton gave the story an interesting twist. Keegan and Chloe’s mum got changed and walked down the stairs, wearing a red dress and hair spiraled down in curls – just like the miniature wax figure in the front seat of the yellow VW.

The dad in Will Isaac’s story had died in a tragic car accident and the kids missed him terribly. It was a great idea, and Will did well to capture the sadness in the detailed memories about Keegan and Chloe’s dad. “… dark brown eyes, all-time favourite yellow suit (it was incredibly ghastly but I didn’t want to tell him that), his blue tie with cars on, and his incredibly polished R.M. Williams boots.”

I loved the detail. It made his dad come alive in my mind.

A good story becomes bigger when characters want something badly and they have to struggle to get it. That’s often what motivates them to do something extraordinary. It also needs to have a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes you find a great story by starting with your main idea and asking questions, such as “What happened to their dad on that tragic day of the accident?” Perhaps the items in the box were clues to what really happened to their father. What if there was a sinister element to his car accident? Or perhaps their mum lied about it? Why would she lie? Finding that out could spark off the rest of the story, with Keegan and Chloe going back in time to prevent it happening.

In a good thriller, the stakes need to be high.

It was difficult to choose a winner this week, because so many of you did something well. In the end my shortlist was Ava, Amelia and Peyton, because you all wrote well and you had a beginning, middle and end. Amelia, your story had a mood and tension that no other story had. It was like we were listening to your character’s thoughts and fears, and it was beautifully done. “I heard a bang in the middle of the night and in the morning my red headed friend randy was gone. There was no box or sign or note just the shoes of randy.”

It was a tough decision, but the prize this week is going to Peyton Morete of Te Horo School, for a well-balanced story with good pace and unexpected twists and turns. Congratulations, Peyton, and thanks to everyone for writing such entertaining stories for us to read. Email me your postal address, Peyton, so I can put your prize in the post.

– Kathy.

Kathy’s Story Starter

The doorbell rang.

Mum groaned, nearly stabbing herself in the eye with her mascara. ‘Why does it always ring when I’m in a hurry? Can you answer that, Keegan? I haven’t cleaned my teeth yet.’ She breathed into her hand. ‘Good gracious, I smell like a gorilla’s armpit.’

Keegan sighed and slid off his bar stool, vegemite on toast in one hand, and a Go Pro attached to his head. He had been filming all weekend for a school project called ‘BSI: A scientific investigation into boredom, during which he had fallen asleep in his food twice. He could have drowned in his bolognaise or got a bit of corn stuck up his nose. But did anyone care? No. His sister Chloe muttered ‘Gross’ like she’d swallowed a snail, and continued doing inane snapchats with her friend Marty. And his mother? Well, his mother did what she always did.

‘Have you tidied your room yet, Keegan? There’s a good boy.’

She was so busy these days, she wouldn’t notice if he died and rotted on the carpet. She would step over his fly-infested corpse in the hallway and moan that he was always leaving stuff around. Keegan sighed deeply and opened the door.

Standing on the doorstep was a man in a red-and-yellow uniform. He grinned widely and thrust a rectangular box into Keegan’s hands. ‘Special delivery for K Bennet,’ he said, handing Keegan a clipboard and pen. ‘Sign here.’

Keegan put a vegemite fingerprint and a squiggle on the dotted line. He couldn’t stop looking at the strange aquamarine eye printed on the box lid.

‘Enjoy,’ the man winked. ‘Oh, and happy birthday.’

Keegan frowned. ‘My birthday’s in January ….’

Chloe poked him from behind. ‘What is it?’

He shrugged and lifted the lid.

Buried under the tissue was a small yellow car (a VW), a wooden cat with a long neck, and a notepad and tiny pencil.

‘What the …?’

Chloe snatched the card out of the box and read. ‘Happy birthday. We’re going back. We have to change the world, Keegan. We have no choice. P.S. Don’t forget the chocolate.’ Chloe looked up. ‘You have some weird friends, dude.’

‘Not half as weird as this,’ Keegan said, lifting the little yellow car into the air. There in the back seat were miniatures of Keegan and Chloe. And driving the car was ….

Peyton’s Winning Story

dress-clipart-red-dress-mdMum. She was wearing her red skinny dress and her hair spiralled down in curls. She looked amazing, her makeup made her features stand out. She didn’t look like herself, she looked like a… a goddess.

“Kids, I am just quickly changing. This outfit is too ick. Please get ready so we can leave.” Mum yelled from upstairs.

Geez, she was so messy these days, what was I to do.

“Keegan, clean your room up now.”

I groan, my go pro bobbing on my head as I bounced up the stairs.

After I had chucked everything into the wardrobe, I ran downstairs and slung my backpack over my shoulder. Chloe had her pink miniskirt on and her purple tank top. Her sassy queen bag lay on her converses.

I groaned, “Mum! Hurry up!”

“Just a minute!”

Normally that meant she was going to change her appearance again but who knew. But this time we heard her clattering down the stairs.

When she came around the corner, I nearly choked. What the…

She wore the red skinny dress and her hair was spiralled. This couldn’t be happening.

Chloe had obviously noticed, “Isn’t that like your toy car, K?”

“Hmm?” Mum asked as she reached over to get her purse.

“Oh yeah, I got this present for my birthday. You are wearing exactly the same clothes. It is weird”

Mum smiled at me and started to hum. This was weird.

She pats my shoulder and whispers in my ear.

“Go get in the car please.”

I groan, “Fine.”

I wander out to the car and strap myself in. Life was cruel.

I look at the car and look at Chloe, she is wearing a pink miniskirt…. Oh my god. What the hell.

I quickly zoom my eyes at my little wax body and see myself wearing the jeans and shirt I was wearing now.

This is weird, then I realised. Our car was yellow…

What. The. Hell.

I close my eyes and hear Mum and Chloe enter.

When we start to drive, I start playing with the car. Racing it along the seat, dodging the rocks that were spilled on the VW seats.

It was actually kind of fun to be back in my childhood memories. Then I made the car hit a big rock, denting the front of the car and smashing up Chloe and Mum.

Oops.

Suddenly the car screeches and I see a massive boulder on the road, we swerve but hit it. The car groaning and grumbling.

Then I realise before I black out. The note said we had to go back, We have to change the world, we don’t have any choice. I did go back to playing with this car. The world has changed because I don’t have a mum anymore. I don’t have anyone. There was no choice. This was always destined to happen. I blame whoever sent this. It was them! Or was it me…

Posted in fabo story, Junior Winner

Junior Winner – Ollie Gooch

Story Starter:

02:00
A small figure in black crept along the edge of the wall, climbed the oak tree, and inched along a branch to the drainpipe. All was quiet. The moon was safely hidden behind smudged and brooding clouds. The figure shimmied up the drainpipe, clinging with gloved hands and rubber-soled booties until she was level with the window ledge. Nimble fingers deftly untied the rope ladder from around the pipe. She gripped the bottom rung of the ladder tightly, and within seconds the figure was swinging like a pendulum underneath the window and flipping her legs over the bar that extended from the window. She was breathing hard now. The last climb over the ledge was more difficult than expected. She pressed a button on her watch.

02:04
Hmmm. Too slow. Down the wooden hallway. The figure was only a few steps from the small recessed doorway when a floorboard creaked. A sliver of light flashed in the gap at the bottom of the door as a lightswitch was flicked on behind it.
Lucinda froze. The prince had promised the laboratory would be empty.

Ollie Finishes The Story:

Very suddenly a black and white hexagon ball rolled out of the long black door. She dived for cover. Hurting her shoulder on a small sharp object that she hoped wasn’t a knife.
“I did that, perhaps, a bit to dramatically” she thought.
A small, frail, old man came out dressed like a footballer and picked up the ball or so she thought, as very suddenly the old man was next to her.
” Would you like a game?”
“I ah ..Um ..ok” she replied
“Well come on then”
When they got inside the spanking new lab, he handed her a pair of shiny, new, top of the line pink trainers to replace her booties 😦
She swiftly put them on.
“Good, good” he murmured.
“Aren’t you playing?” Lucinda asked.
“No, of course not. I am only testing”
He waved a hand at a control panel with so many buttons and levers it took up half the space.
“Then who am I playing?” She queried.
“Oh just Ronaldo”
“Ronaldo!” she yelled. “You mean the best football player in the world?”
“Yes, of course I do” he said, an eyebrow raised.
“Any way” he clapped his hands “lets get going…..”

A couple of hours later, she staggered out, vowing never to play football again. The score, I won’t tell you, it’s too embarrassing.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kathy White’s Judge’s Report – The Winners!

You’ve written up a storm this fortnight. Lucinda’s cat-burgling adventures got 59 of you writing all kinds of imaginable stories – horror, romance, adventure, comedy, gothic, fantasy, science fiction and twisted fairy tales.

People included the theory of dust, pole vaulters, zombie research, and green goo that gave people superpowers. I loved Nezar’s rescue of the laboratory animals. I saw some spectacular dialogue with distinctive voices for individual characters (Amie Tunnicliffe, Leila Dunlop). Others used all of the senses (sight, smell, sound, touch and taste) to make a scene come to life. What I loved more than anything was seeing so many writing styles, which included a mixture of poetic language, beautiful descriptions, funny quips, tension and fast-paced action. Sam Persson’s style made me feel like I was inside Lucinda’s thoughts. Great stuff. A writer’s writing style is as unique as fingerprints – it reveals things about you – and it’s one of the things that makes writing (and reading) so much fun.

Here are some of my favourite bits from this fortnight’s writing challenge.

I loved Ollie Gooch’s humour and writing style: She dived for cover. Hurting her shoulder on a small sharp object that she hoped wasn’t a knife.
“I did that, perhaps, a bit too dramatically,” she thought.

I liked a lot of things that Geena said, but I loved her beginning: The laboratory’s small wooden door slammed shut behind Lucinda which made her gasp in shock. In the middle of the laboratory stood a boy with jet black hair and eyes the color of the vast sea.

This from Rosa Opie: Lucinda rolled herself under the long scientists’ bench, hoping she wouldn’t collide with any developing experiments that were in the middle of her path.

Gianna Lill did a great job at building tension using the senses: Lucinda just stood there numbly and observed as he hacked into a computer and overrode security. A fluorescent blue light flickered on. The cylindrical steel case he’d been trying to open recoiled into the ceiling. The blue light mingled with a vibrant golden beam which protruded from a peculiar flask. Her Granddad quickly pocketed it and gestured for Lucinda to follow.

Beautiful images from Cora Scott: Relief washed over Lucinda like water washing over an umbrella.

And more great use of the senses from Ruby de Beus: Lucinda quickly scanned her surroundings, searching for a nook or cranny to hide. The laboratory was vast, cluttered with dusty machines, cupboards of mysterious entities, empty bottles and flasks. Lucinda could hear dull, heavy footsteps drawing closer and closer. Floorboards creaked and plumes of dust rose into the air and settled down again.

And again from Ruby: His eyes burned with flames of hatred. His hideous face was framed with shaggy dark hair that covered his entire body. A cloak, as black as his soul, fell short of his colossal feet which could have easily belonged to a giant. The Beast, standing before Lucinda’s wardrobe, was the one who took what was hers. And Lucinda…. Well, tonight she was going to get it back.

Kanicha Nualkhair had a beautiful flowing rhythm and a mature style of lyrical, thoughtful writing:
She silently cursed him, already planning her escape. The thundering footsteps neared the door and she was a mouse, scampering away, silently, hidden among the dust bunnies and resting by the floor. She was a dark shadow, so well hidden that no one would see her even if eyes were glancing her way. The dark wood of the floorboard weren’t uttering a sound, keeping silent as if sensing the danger. Slowly, so painfully slowly, the door swung open and light spilled into the hall.

And at the end of Kanicha’s story: “I’ve finally caught you, Lucinda Draconell…” His grin was feral and she thought of a fallen angel. This man indeed had fallen but it was she who had fallen further. She had been betrayed.

A surprising ending from Sarah Meyer: Putting the bright beautiful sapphire in her hand, she wondered why she should give this to the prince. If only she was not so scared of him. Her big brother could be such a bully. (Nice touch to keep that secret until the end).

Emma Denton, Hazel Williams, Rosa Opie and Carmel ‘Uhila had good well-paced, logically connected plots. Well done. Some writers had great beginnings but didn’t manage to piece things together to get to a fitting end. Things need to be logically connected to tell a story, and that’s not as easy as it sounds. Something happens, which causes something else to happen, which leads to something else. These logical connections (or cause and effect) provide the foundations for the plot in your story.

It wasn’t easy choosing winners this time because you all showed so much talent in different ways. However I was particularly impressed by imagery this week so that’s where I’ve decided to award joint senior prizes. Kanicha Nualkhair, you managed to create a lot of tension with your focus on the senses. And Ruby de Beus, there’s a beautiful flow to your writing. Both of you deserve prizes this week.

I’m also giving Ollie Gooch the junior prize for his humorous style of writing and his natural dialogue. It amazes me that you managed to fit your love of soccer into this story

Congratulations to you all and thanks for entertaining me this week. I’m looking forward to where you all go with your writing in the future.

Kanicha, Ruby and Ollie, I will contact you by email over the next few days to discuss your prizes.

Love and literary hugs

Kathy

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!

A New Fabo Contest Has Started!

A brand new Fabo writing challenge has just started. This fortnight’s judge is Kathy White, and if you enter you could win one of Kathy’s wonderful books!

She’s giving away your choice of the following:
• The Wolves of Yellowstone (McGraw-Hill Education – in e-book format only).

OR

In print format, one of the following:

• Alex and Josie (Just Kids series)

• Hampered (Dive in and Read series)

• Muffin Magic (Kiwi Bites series)

Or a copy of a friend’s spooky book called The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head by Sue Copsey

Entries close on Sunday July 6. Happy writing and good luck!

Posted in writing tip

What Should You Include In Your Story?

Remember that although you work out the history of a character and the reasons for things happening, you don’t have to include everything that you know in your story.

It’s tempting, especially when you’ve come up with such fabulous traits and explanations, but the trick is to select what needs to be in this chapter, what can be revealed later, and what can be left out completely. You want to include just enough to keep good rhythm and pace in the story, and you also want to leave some gaps for your readers to fill in the details.

Including too much information slows things down and the reader can get bored. But you still need to make sure you include ‘enough’ information for the reader to figure things out for themselves. Tricky, huh? That’s the writer’s challenge.

– Kathy White