Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 9 judged by Kyle Mewburn

It’s always very exciting to be the judge of a Fabo round. It’s also a bit nerve-wracking because it’s generally so hard to decide on just one winner. This round we were absolutely inundated with lots of great stories with imaginative plots, clever characterisations and some fantastic writing.

So many entries were brimming with imagination. Rutendo of Tokoroa had Lucy battling an evil puffin group. While Harman of Ormiston went one step further with a puffin CEO of a secret world government.

Lucy of Balmoral had the fictional Lucy meeting a wizened old woman with a weird collection of stones. Her story was full of lovely similes – the stone was warm, like hot chocolate on a winter’s morning.

Khloe of Highlands decided to go to Narnia with some great descriptive writing – She glanced up, to see a white tree, covered in crystalline snow, with a kiss of falling leaves, slanted in between the parted hedge.

Juno of St Dominic’s had many wonderful descriptions as Lucy was given a tour of the monster zoo by a man with “a fluffy moustache, like a storm cloud” and met the neanderthal giant whose “face was like a big map, with wrinkles as routes, joining everywhere across it, and a chin like an upside-down mountain.”

Indigo of Whakatane took us to Fantasia with some very clever scene setting and characterisation – Ignoring dotty Mrs. Plummer pottering around the hedge, muttering to it as though it were an old friend come to tea.

Evelyn of Clearview had a scary encounter with zombies. Anika of Thorndon had an eerie encounter with the Grim Reaper. And in William of Brooklyn’s story, Lucy met the fabulously eccentric Sir Albert Von Albatross.

It was almost impossible to choose a winner. It was SOOOOOO close. But if you’ve been paying attention during the competitions, you might have realised every judge has a different set of judging criteria – things which especially tickle our fancies.

The winning story ticked so many of my personal judging boxes. A storyline sparkling with originality, a strong writing voice and loads of fantastic similes. This was also a story with a lot of heart.

This week’s winner is Juno Ireland of St Dominic’s Primary School.

And this is what our special guest Puffin judge, Heather Haylock – author of the wonderful Granny McFlitter series – had to say about Juno’s winning story.

“This story holds some powerful imagery. I love the idea of the monster’s face being like a map, with wrinkles as routes and a chin like an upside-down mountain. The writing flows naturally and cleverly packs a lot of information about the setting and the characters into a small space. I like Lucy’s immediate emotional connection with the captive creatures (“their eyes said it all”), and the light dusting of humour (I wonder what a Monster Vanquisher 2000 does?). Juno’s story certainly gave Lucy the beginnings of the exceptional day of her dreams. I want to know what happens next!”

CONGRATULATIONS! If you message us we’ll tell you how to claim your special prize.

To everyone else, keep on sending in those entries!
Kyle

Kyle’s Story Starter

As Lucy heaved her way through the dark hedge, her imagination whirled like an out-of-control merry-go-round. There could be anything waiting on the other side. A TOP SECRET government spy base patrolled by snarling watchdogs. An evil puffin’s secret hideaway rimmed with laser detectors and booby traps. Or even a whole other world, like in the Narnia stories she’d just finished reading.

Not that she really, truly expected to find anything exciting on the other side. Stuff like that didn’t happen in real life. But after a week of boring school holidays she was desperate for just a scrap of adventure. It didn’t even have to be an actual adventure. If she found anything even mildly interesting, her imagination could do the rest. Then the day would be exceptional.

Lucy barged ahead in a fury of flailing arms like she was swimming against a twiggy tide. Or wrestling a woody sea serpent. When the hedge suddenly parted, she sprawled forward into sunshine.

But the sun quickly vanished as a shadowy shape loomed over her…

Juno Ireland’s winning story

Lucy peered up at a tall, bulky man. He had a fluffy moustache, like a storm cloud, a cream shirt, sunhat and a nametag reading: Paul. Complete with his kind smile, Paul had the resemblance of a zoo keeper.

“What brings you here today?” he asked, blowing his moutache upwards as he spoke. Lucy hesitated, but before she could reply, Paul said “Ah yes, a free tour of the Italian dragons, deadly kitties and the Neanderthal giant. Right this way”. He beckoned towards a high iron gate, almost as unpleasant as the idea of giants.

Lucy shuffled backwards, alarmed. “What’s in there?”. The man looked astonished, then confused, and then chuckled. “Why, the Zoo of Monsters” he said. And with that, he began walking forward, gently guiding Lucy to the heavily armed threshold.

Desperately thinking, Lucy imagined escaping, but then the reassuring sun reappeared, brightening her mood. She was curious after all. Slowing to a halt at the gate, she noticed that it was flanked with burly guards, each possessing an enormous gun with the words: MONSTER VANQUISHER 2000.

Lucy shuddered. Surely monsters weren’t real? However, as the guards swung open the gates, terrifying monsters stared back at her. In fact, their captivating gazes were so utterly hard and sad that she found herself looking away to avoid their monstrous expressions.

Spiky, scaly, fluffy creatures were sprawled over scorched terrain. Some monsters’ main features were sharp, jagged teeth, or great bundles of fur, or sleek glimmering scales, which made them look content and simple, but their eyes said it all. They missed their homes and the discouraging brick walls between them weren’t helping.

Lucy turned to protest on their behalf to Paul, except he handed her a map. A path with enclosures on either side snaked through the zoo. “This way to see the Neanderthal giant” he announced, strolling down the path. Eventually they reached the enclosure which absolutely stunned Lucy.

The most immense, caveman-like figure towered over them. His face was like a big map, with wrinkles as routes, joining everywhere across it, and a chin like an upside-down mountain. His heavy brow gave him the ultimate Neanderthal effect, forming a ridge over his eyes.

Lucy’s breathing turned shallow. Many unanswered questions swam in her head. Suddenly a huge gnarled hand gently grabbed Lucy’s waist and lifted her up and up. Her map fluttered down like a dove. She had second thoughts about the giant. He was probably just as lonely and desperate as the others. Still, it was so nerve-wracking being whisked into the air as Paul turned ant-sized below.

Soon Lucy was face-to-face with the giant. She tried a soft approach, touching his face. Hi grinned impishly, which looked terrible with his wrinkles and eyebrows. Then he turned and lowered her into another enclosure next to his. Lucy lay dazed on a rocky surface, and looked around.

The enclosure was barren with heaps of barbed wire around the edges. Hearing an abrupt rustle, Lucy turned. An exquisite thing stepped forward. With gleaming feathers the shades of sunset, a powerful orange-scarlet glow, and graceful legs the colour of golden wheat, the creature of myths stood before her. The phoenix!

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the ninth FABO Story competition!

Enter the ninth FABO Story competition judged by author Kyle Mewburn now!

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

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

3. You have 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 June 19th (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.

Kyle’s Story Starter

As Lucy heaved her way through the dark hedge, her imagination whirled like an out-of-control merry-go-round. There could be anything waiting on the other side. A TOP SECRET government spy base patrolled by snarling watchdogs. An evil puffin’s secret hideaway rimmed with laser detectors and booby traps. Or even a whole other world, like in the Narnia stories she’d just finished reading.

Not that she really, truly expected to find anything exciting on the other side. Stuff like that didn’t happen in real life. But after a week of boring school holidays she was desperate for just a scrap of adventure. It didn’t even have to be an actual adventure. If she found anything even mildly interesting, her imagination could do the rest. Then the day would be exceptional.

Lucy barged ahead in a fury of flailing arms like she was swimming against a twiggy tide. Or wrestling a woody sea serpent. When the hedge suddenly parted, she sprawled forward into sunshine.

But the sun quickly vanished as a shadowy shape loomed over her…

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Kyle Mewburn’s FABO Story Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, keep writing!!

– Kyle

Kyle’s Story Starter

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

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

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

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

“That’s not much fun, Pip.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archie smiled as if it was a compliment.

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

An ear-shattering shriek split the night.

Pippa and Archie bolted upright.

“What was that?” asked Archie.

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

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

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

Chloe’s Story

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

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

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

And that was when they plunged into terrifying darkness.

‘What do we do now?’ inquired Pippa.

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

‘What was that?’ whispered Archie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indi’s story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the final FABO Competition for 2019 now!

The LAST FABO Story competition for 2019 is here! Author Kyle Mewburn has posted a story starter and it’s up to you to finish the story.

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

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

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

4. Send your story to us by 8pm Friday September 27th.

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

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

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

Kyle’s Story Starter

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

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

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

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

“That’s not much fun, Pip.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archie smiled as if it was a compliment.

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

An ear-shattering shriek split the night.

Pippa and Archie bolted upright.

“What was that?” asked Archie.

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

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

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

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Fabo Story Judge’s Report – Kyle Mewburn

I had loads of fun judging this round. Though I must say it made me feel a bit ancient when I realised FABO has been going such a long time that a lot of you weren’t even born when we started.

I was surprised, inspired and delighted to read your entries. There was some excellent writing – including some colourful descriptions and snappy dialogue. And so many exciting, wacky and downright weird ideas that it was a challenge to pick just one winner.

There were dinosaurs and robots, not to mention Jessie’s Quibbleyxrom’s making another appearance. And poor Ratty met some terrible fates, including being flushed down the toilet by Eleanor.

Two stories stood out. I loved the imagination and drama in Piper’s adventures in the Ratris where poor David and Ella were mutated into rats before being sent back to the Cretaceous era by a devious Ratty. But in the end it was the great, snappy dialogue in Indigo’s story about giants and a plot to kill the Queen that really stood out.

So congratulations Indigo from Ohope Beach School! A prize will be whizzing through the postal vortex soon.

– Kyle

You can read Indigo’s story here:

Indigo’s story

A giant lunged for them. David was caught in his monstrous grasp. ‘’You have entered my domain.’’ the giant snarled. ‘’Now you are mine.’’ He was tall and covered in brown fur, except for his face. This was covered in blotchy red patches that seemed to be alive. They coiled and wriggled ominously across his face. A fetid stench emanated from his mouth, and as David squirmed in his iron grasp, he cried not to gag. It seemed as though the giant favoured a particular deodorant made of onions and boiled eggs. Ella tried desperately to breathe through her mouth. ‘’Humans tonight,’’ the giant said, rubbing his belly.

David and Ella were led in chains to the giants kitchen. Ratty hid up Ellas sleeve. ‘’Move it.’’ the giant bellowed, pulling on the metal links as though he were playing an unusually violent game of tug of war. The chain threatened to choke them both, so they decided it would be suicide not to pick up the pace. ‘’What do we do?’’ David whispered harshly. Ratty poked his head out. ‘’Okay,’’ he said. ‘’I have magic powers that are very rare and I guard this hoop that I made. I did have a plan to kill Queen Elizabeth the 2nd using futuristic technology, so that I could make the world a better place, but you guys foiled it. Which means we’re all gonna die.’’ ‘’Hold on,’’ David said as they jogged along. ‘’You said you didn’t have an evil plan.’’ ‘’It’s not evil,’’ sighed Ratty in exasperation. ‘’Anyway, if we survive this, I promise I won’t do it. And I’m only saying that because we are all gonna die fish face!’’ he screamed the last bit angrily in David’s face. ‘’If anything,’’ Ella panted, ‘’You’re the fish face-you made the hoop. How come you made it so that we turned up here!’’ ‘’It was an accident!’’ Ratty sighed again. ‘’Okay?’’ ‘’Fine.’’ David said. ‘’ Now get us out of here.’’

‘’This is the worst plan ever.’’ Ratty said despondently. ‘’We’re all gonna die.’’ ‘’Quit being so negative would you.’’ Ella hissed out of the corner of her mouth. A giantess with a considerable girth approached them. The green blotches on her face wriggled. Time to chop you up, my kitties.’’ she cooed, as she removed the chains awkwardly, with her bloated fingers. Then with one mammoth hand seized on……empty air.

Ella sprinted for her life as her thighs burned. Her heart was beating faster than it ever had before, her life was on the line. The giant and giantess charged after them, their heavy footsteps shook the ground wildly from side to side. The long grass scratched her legs. Her lungs hurt. She couldn’t breathe. The giants were steadily closing the gap, so close so close. Ella braced herself for the crushing hands that were about to enclose her, and then the hoop was before them, Ella reached out, grasping for the safety and comfort of her own world. and then, finally, she was home.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter The New FABO Competition Judged By Kyle Mewburn!

Are you ready for a new FABO Story Competition? Author Kyle Mewburn has written a new story starter. Finishing the story is up to you!

This year, the Fabosters are having fun with Time Travel. A reluctant duo travels through time and space.

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 August 3rd.

5. Every fortnight a children’s author will post a new story starter for you. The stories will follow on with the same two characters.

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


Illustration by Ronja Schipper

Lost in the PE Shed Vortex: Episode Six

Swarms of whispering drones filled the sky like wasps with laryngitis. Bright shafts of light sliced wildly through the plumes of black smoke gushing from the main school building.

“Battle stations!” a voice boomed through the loudspeakers. The orb-headed students carrying Ella halted as if frozen.

“Battle stations!” the voice boomed again.

“What’s wrong?” Ella asked.

Without warning, the students let go, sending Ella sprawling.

“Hey!” Ella huffed at their retreating backs. “That… wasn’t… very… nice…” Every word was an effort. She struggled to her feet, puffing and panting. The filter wasn’t working anymore. She was running out of oxygen.

“Sorry,” Ballecia said as she swept past. “You’re on your own.”

Ella spun around. David was bent over double, wheezing loudly. His face was flushed. He looked like he’d run a marathon.

“We… have… to… get… inside,” Ella panted as she reached him. She grabbed his arm and tried to steer him towards the school building.

David jerked free and took a faltering step in the opposite direction.

Ella understood in a flash where he was heading. She hooked an arm around his shoulder.

Together they dragged themselves across the grass like zombie Siamese twins.

They stuttered inside the PE shed, breathless and red-faced, then toppled forward into the time travel hoop. A moment later they were sitting in a gasping, wheezing tangle of limbs on a reassuringly normal wooden floor.

Ella gulped enormous breaths of relief. That was close.

“Quickly!” David wheezed, dragging himself to his knees. He hovered over the hoop, hands outstretched.

“Are you going to tell me what you’re doing,” Ella asked, “or…”

“Shhhh!” David hissed. “Get ready!”

CRACKLE! HISS! WHOOOSH!!

As Ratty shot out of the hoop, David’s snatched him up by the tail.

“Squeak!” said Ratty, squirming wildly.

David held Ratty before his face. “So who are you? And why do you need us?”

“Ummmm, it’s a rat, David,” Ella suggested, peering over his shoulder.

“It’s not just a rat,” said David.

“What? Ratty’s some kind of evil genius?” Ella scoffed, rolling her eyes.

“Well, I wouldn’t quite say evil,” Ratty piped up.

Ella’s jaw dropped to her chin.
“I knew it!” said David. “OK, Ratty. Tell us what you’re planning or I’ll…”

“Or you’ll what, chowder-head?” sneered Ratty, folding his arms across his chest.

Ella’s brain was a whirr of disbelief and inklings. As her gaze bounced between Ratty and the hoop, disbelief grew into suspicion.

“Hey, look,” Ella said, twisting the hoop. The sunlight revealed tiny grooves carved into the frame. She peered closer. “They’re dates!”

“That must be how Ratty controls it,” said David.

“The dates on one side are before our time,” said Ella. “And the ones on the other side are in the future.”

C-L-I-C-K!

The hoop unfolded into two circles clasped by a hinge.

“Hey!” squealed Ratty. “Careful with that!”

“Are there dates inside?” asked David.

“No,” said Ella, laying the hoop open on the floor like a figure 8.

“Don’t do that!” said Ratty, sounding slightly scared.

“Wh…”

A swirling tornado of sound and light burst from the hoop and sucked them into the vortex.

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kyle’s Fabo Judging Report

 We had a flood of entries this week. So many entries, in fact, that if stories were zombies the human race would now be doomed. Well, maybe just New Zealand …

It took a lot longer than expected to read all 245 entries. So apologies for being late with my report. Unfortunately most of the stories were really exciting, so I didn’t want to miss a word. A lot of stories went very close to the 500 word limit, too. And I suspect Genevieve from Hadlow School could have kept writing for another 5000 words.

Trying to pick a winner was incredibly difficult. Judges are like readers. Each judge looks for certain things in stories, and gives high marks for those stories that contain them. In my case, I like stories with a real surprise ending and writing that’s original and colourful.

There were a lot of stories with really interesting ideas that ended up being “just a dream”. I’m always disappointed with dream endings. So if you wrote a story like that, maybe next time try to come up with a different, more original, ending.

There were lots of original ideas with robots, candy prisons, clones, enchanted lands, portals and time machines running on rosehip oil. Sammie went to Book Town where famous authors hung from cables writing their bestsellers, while McKenzie had a tree that grew books for libraries. There were some amazing secret organisations, too. From Connor’s Teacher Superhero Service to Tara’s Stop the Bullies service with their terrible fart guns. While Ted’s Sectretum Magica was “the only group of magicians who use their powers for evil.” (Though I’m not sure why they needed an accountant.)

I enjoyed Rebekah’s story with the genie taking a shower and laughed at Aurora’s “cute, evil rabbits”.

There were also some great surprise endings. In Stacey’s story the Hulk had come to give Jake a message about his mum dying. Beth decided Mrs Merlinsky was The Hulk. And Charlotte let our hero meet a rather gruesome end – He turned back around, he saw a gleaming pair of eyes, yellow teeth in a mouth where there was more gum than teeth, a hunched black, and an arm holding a gleaming knife with blood dripping off.

But most excitingly, the writing in so many stories crackled and fizzed with energy. Though watch out that you keep the same tense (past or present) and perspective (I/he) throughout your story. Swapping between them often makes the story a bit confusing.

There are so many entries worthy of special mention, but there’s only enough space to mention a few favourites. (BTW I really love clever similes.)

Allicia – Terror drove him forward. The stairs were covered in dust and the intricate torches which had once lit up this gloomy staircase were out and filled with dark ash.

Gemma had some lovely similes (eg Spread-eagled like a starfish, Jake held his breath.) and I enjoyed her fairytale references – “I’ve got you now, Cinderella,” he growled, stepping into the darkness.” “There goes Alice… down the hole.”

Alex – Jake stared down in shock, his eyes the size of golf balls, his mouth hung open like an unhinged door. The inky darkness clutched his heart, squeezing out a good portion of his courage, he felt as though a thousand tiny scorpions were crawling up his legs, and spreading along his body.

Luca – The strange man stomped off as if he had farted in front of the whole world.

Rebecca – Old people tend to tell you everything, Jake thought. The walls had emerald green moss covering them which seemed to glow in the dark. Glow worms clamoured for space on the ceiling. Stalagmites covered the caves floor.

Eden also had some lovely writing, but the rules of FABO require you to complete Jake’s story. Here’s a sampler of Eden’s writing – I walk down the lonely track, crisp golden leaves fall around me landing softly on the rusty train line, I breathe the cool morning air and exhale intricate swirls of steam.

Thanks for sharing your favourite words, too. What a variety! Everything from squelching to nonchalantly, bemused to squirt, effervescent to sparkle. And most of you used the words cleverly in your story. But in the end I’ve chosen Sam Ridsdale who is home-schooled and whose favourite word is gadget. It came in handy for his story about the Anti-Bullying Corp (ABC) with its chili hot toilet paper and laxative chocolate. If you email your address, I’ll send a copy of my latest Dragon Knight story to you.

So job well done, team! But in the end there can only be one winner – Finn Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School. The story is well paced with some great similes, funny dialogue and an ironic twist. Great work, Finn. So please email your address and a copy of Dragon Knight will be on its way.

Keep up the great writing, everyone.

Kyle

Finn’s story

Jake heard a surprised yell, followed closely by thumping as the Hulk charged, his tree-trunk arms extended. He hesitated a second too long, and just as he leaped down the first step, he was yanked back. Jake found himself staring the Hulk straight in the face. True to his nickname, the Hulk was literally a giant, or more precisely, an ogre. Jake was hit with a wave of the worst breath ever, a combination of rotting teeth and tuna sandwiches. Gross! Don’t bullies ever brush?

Jake squirmed in the Hulk’s vice-grip, trying desperately to avoid the smell. He wished the Hulk would hurry up. His right arm was going numb as the Hulk’s hand cut off the circulation. His arm burned. “So this… is… you’re not hurt… hurting much?” Jake struggled to say.

“Yeah,” the Hulk said it with as much sympathy as a rat gives to a piece of newspaper. He tightened his grip. Jake did his best to scream as loud as he could but his Larynx had gone on strike.

Jake stared at the gaping hole before him, unable to think up a plan. He strained to think of a way to get in there other than being dropped in by the Hulk. Suddenly The Hulk grinned and released Jake allowing him to fall to his doom. Or if not, to end his life in misery. The Hulk turned to the desk and began to fiddle with the drawers trying to close off the hole, trapping Jake.

Oof! Jake landed on something soft. Too soft for the bottom of stone stairs. He stood and looked down, and in the faint light from above he could make out pillows all around, obviously placed to soften a fall. He decided against exploring for fear of being trapped, but he wanted to find out more about this secret cellar. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he could make out the outline of a king-size bed, a playstation, table-tennis table, eating table and a tiny kitchen. Jake was bemused. Who would live down here? He didn’t want to stay to find out. The sound of opening drawers echoed around the room, and he realised that the Hulk was trying to close off the hole. In a panic he started up the stairs, quickening his pace and hoping the Hulk would not see him.

The Hulk didn’t need to think as Jake emerged from the hole; he instinctively reached out and snatched Jake off the ground, grinning triumphantly. But when Mrs Merlinsky climbed the stairs, the smile faded from his lips.

The Hulk fled, dropping Jake. The librarian approached and assured Jake that she would deal with the Hulk. She gestured at the hole. “It’s a refuge for the bullied. You’re in!”

Suddenly Jake realised the irony of the situation. He guffawed, laughing uncontrollably until tears streamed down his cheek.

Mrs Merlinsky frowned questioningly.

“It’s just… the bully was trying to trap me in the refuge!”

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Kyle Mewburn is Waiting For A New Round Of FABO Stories!

Kyle Mewburn is the next FABO judge, and his story starter has just been posted!

INSTRUCTIONS

Finish the story. Send it in by Friday May 13th (so don’t rush – you have heaps of time).

Extra challenge:
Tell me your favourite word and use it in your story in an interesting or unusual way.

STORY STARTER

Jake’s tongue turned to sandpaper as the heavy footsteps pounded a death-march beat up the library stairs. The Hulk was taking his time now he knew his prey was trapped. He wouldn’t want to seem too keen in case a teacher spotted him. The sight of the school bully hurrying into the library was bound to raise eyebrows. Like seeing a vampire hanging out in a vegetable shop.

Jake knew the library was a gamble. At this time of the morning it was as quiet as a cemetery. Mrs Merlinsky, the librarian, seldom arrived until morning tea. But the library had always been Jake’s sanctuary. So when he’d rounded the corner and spotted the doors standing wide open like arms, some instinct drew him towards it. He’d sprinted inside and thrown himself behind Mrs Merlinsky’s desk. For a few, panting breaths, he’d even imagined he’d given The Hulk the slip …

“Come out, loser!” The Hulk grunted as his shadow clotted the door. “I’m not going to hurt you … much.”

Jake’s head whipped around, searching for an exit. Or a weapon. In desperation, he grabbed the handle of the bottom desk drawer and gently tugged. A loud grinding sound echoed through the library as the desk slid away to reveal a spiral staircase descending into darkness.

Click here to finish the rest of the story.

The competition closes Friday May 13, so get your entry in before then.

Kyle Mewburn is the author of too many books to count, including The Dinosaur Rescue Series and the Dragon Knight series. He’s looking forward to reading your stories!

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kyle’s Fabo Judge’s report!

This week we had over 40 entries and almost as many original ideas. It’s great to see so much imagination out there! There was everything from menacing gnomes, evil witches and nasty kidnappers to time travel and alternative realities. Even a phoenix made an appearance. I was especially fascinated to see almost all of you decided poor Mrs Hutley was not a very nice person, even though there was nothing to suggest that in the opener.

A few writers had wonderfully original ideas and some excellent writing that drew me into their stories… but lost their nerve at the crucial moment. Not mentioning any names (James, Cassandra and Faith), but everyone please take out a marker pen and write “IT CANNOT JUST BE A DREAM” on your foreheads. Better yet, get someone to tattoo it there. A dream is almost never the best answer, especially when there are much more exciting possibilities following your original ideas. If you have a brilliant, original idea it is a writing CRIME to use the “it was all a dream” card.

Although it’s not always necessary to tie up all the loose ends, some writers really left the story hanging a bit too much. Your stories finished with another beginning or mystery instead of an ending. Of course, sometimes it does work. Charlize, for example, rescued her family and then… “ran back home to a land of happiness. Well, until Baxter was found on our driveway with a garden fork in his chest! Everyone forgets about the dog!”

Some special mentions for especially original ideas –

Benjamin pulled me into an exciting world of espionage with the LKSO battling the evil KDC (Kerikeri Department of Chaos) and their Interdimensional Channelling Generator.

Both Sophie and John turned into gnomes, but they did it in very different ways. And the quality of their writing meant both stories were in my top five.

And, lastly, I really liked Isha’s story in which her parents turned into cave people and were living happily in that troublesome hedge.

There were a lot of great sentences in your stories, too. Some memorable examples –

Arabella – Suddenly I realize that I appear to be completely unprofitable.

Amber – Abruptly my parents start burgeoning into their ordinary annoying selves.

Gina – The bricks were a splash of brown and red.

Bianca – The days went by and I made friends with the beavers who helped me make my house.

Payton – The sun is shining on me like a light would in a play. It is 45 degrees and I think I am going to be a human swimming pool if I can’t get out of here.

Celia – The man has a perplexed look on his face, it looks like they had just blind-folded him and made him eat a giant cockroach.

And my favourite sentence of the week goes to Rhiannon – My future form wafts away, drifting off in tiny dazzling pieces.

Choosing a winner was really difficult. In fact, it was so difficult I decided not to award any prizes at all… What? Really? No, not really. So this week’s winner is Mike from Gosford Public School who not only took the story in a completely different direction to everyone else, but I think he writes with confidence and considerable power. Yay, Mike! If you can email us here at Fabo and let me know which episode of my new Dragon Knight series you’d like, I’ll pop it in the mail.

Kyle’s Story Starter

My feet begin to drag along the footpath, getting slower and slower. If I walked any slower I’d be walking backwards. As I turn into my street, the thought of walking backwards starts sounding pretty good. I’d do just about anything not to get home. Not after what happened at school today.

It wasn’t my fault. Not directly my fault, anyway. OK, so it was my idea. But I never imagined anyone would actually do it. If I did, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near the place when it happened, would I? I’m not that dumb.
But my parents aren’t going to believe that. Not with my reputation.

I study the cracks in the concrete, wishing one of them would open up and swallow me whole. But no such luck.
When I glance up, I’m surprised to discover I’m standing in front of Mrs Hutley’s house. Her evil gnomes are staring right at me, daring me to enter. Which means I’ve walked right past my house. Weird. That’s never happened before. I must have been really distracted. For a split second I consider just keeping going. I could run away and join the circus. Or live under a bridge. Or…

I turn and reluctantly retrace my steps. There’s a thick, unruly hedge between Mrs Hutley’s house and ours. Dad is always complaining about it. He says if it spills into our yard any further our house will be swallowed whole. He’s been trying to convince the Council to remove it for years. But no luck so far. So he spends most weekends battling the unstoppable green tide.

I pass the hedge… then stutter to halt.

I’m standing before a white picket fence embroidered with pink roses. There’s just one problem – our house doesn’t have a picket fence. Or roses. I hurry along to the gate. My heart is pounding in my chest as I bend down to read the brass number 11. I spin round and hurry back the other way. Past the hedge to where a grinning gnome perches beside a letterbox holding a bright red 15.

I stumble back to the hedge and stand there, blinking furiously. My eyes refuse to believe what they see. Or don’t see. But my brain knows better.

My house is gone.

Mike’s Winning Story

The space between the houses is gone and now the two houses converge in a messy sort of single. I can’t believe it. The exact same thing happened at school. I walked into the classroom and expected to see my desk next to my friends desk. but there was nothing there. just the two desks on either side of me squashed into a two meter long irregular object. The same with my locker and favorite bench. This was weird. All my things are disappearing into shapeless balls of materials. Suddenly I am shaken back into the real world by a giant ball of crystal smashing up through the ground in front of me. The large,green crystal lands with a thud and I notice that it has tiny cracks that look like closed eyes. They open. I scream and fall back onto the hard concrete. The large yellow orbs glowing malevolently as slowly the ball unravels itself and shakes the dust from it’s hulking figure. It’s a monster. It looks like a human just bigger and covered in crystalline shards at crazy angles. I start to back away but it reaches down and picks me up. It puts me in a crack on it’s back and closes it up with a piece of his arm. All around me the crystals glow with pure light and the cool hard rock of the giant on my arms is really relaxing. I think I might just take a nap. I wake with a jolt. I have stopped moving around and there is a crack of sunlight peering through a gap in the rock. With a splintering sound to fill one thousand rooms, the great big rock lifted up and daylight poured in like warm golden water. The first look I have is of a vast range of crystal. there are crystal trees and flowers and birds and bees. The giant tells me the whole story. his voice is like music to my ears. He told me of great provinces and daring adventures to foreign lands he told of fantastic friends and power hungry miners. He told of over world collapse because of long forgotten crystal mines trying to find this crystal paradise. That explains the chairs and the house and the bench. suddenly I look down, my body feels rigid. A grey haze is working it’s way up my torso. I am growing out and up. I am now a rock giant.he doesn’t need to tell me that i’ll be here forever,standing strong for all crystals.

I already know.