Posted in The Winners!

FABO Story report for competition 7 judged by Maureen Crisp

I will never look at the swamp in the same way again… after reading these wonderful stories. Hidden below the mud exist magical lands full of monsters and kings, mermaids and sprites, and sacks full of gems, enough for a dragon’s hoard.

When I wrote the beginning, I was remembering a school trip I had been on where we went to the swamp to study what things lived there. It was great to see stories that took this a little further with eels and frogs making appearances in New Zealand swamps. ( FYI. We don’t have alligators.)

A lot of the stories ended in dreams or forgetting what had happened or abandoning people in the swamp. A good story should have a satisfactory conclusion for the reader. If you find yourself floundering in a swamp of words trying to finish the story, retrace your steps to where you last made a plot decision. Taking another plot path can get you out of the word swamp.

These stories really stood out as being complete stories and had me chuckling as I read.

Juliet and the colossal eel

Johnna with mud mermaids

Bill – Lord Horticulous Murke XIV

Danika with Cassie the swamp monster!

Lily with Mutant number 1

Cleo- left me hanging in a great story. What happened next?

Arshiya and the beautiful wonderland under the swamp

Jerry – an epic tale of rescue

Sarah – The scepter

Peyton and the massive frog

Grady – with Max and the floating clothes

Aurie and the rescue of a missing man in the swamp.

Indigo-and where imaginations go to die… (Ouch Poor Swamp.)

Bethany – and the sprites of the swamp.

Matty and the mud elf

You are all wonderful writers using great descriptive language. It was hard to choose one winner from the great stories so I have chosen two. Both stories finished well. When a reader is still thinking about the story a few hours later, that’s how you know it is a winner.

Congratulations Aurie Tzeng and Bill Kelly.

Maureen’s Story Starter

Tere balanced on one leg in the swamp. He had left his gumboot back in the mud. Around him he could hear the rest of the class as they began their swamp study.

‘Hey everybody, Tere is doing ballet,’ laughed Max who had gone ahead of him.

‘Shut up Maxie.’ Tere carefully inserted his foot back in the gumboot and heaved. A sucking slurping sound came from the mud as it reluctantly let go of his foot. The stench of rotting plants wafted all around him. He screwed up his nose trying not to smell it.

Suck. Gurgle. Squelch. Every step brought clouds of midges around him hunting for food from the mud he stirred up. They batted his face. He could feel them on his skin and in his hair. Tere waved his arms trying to get them away from him and clamped his lips tight so he didn’t swallow any.

When he finally squelched to their study section, Max was waiting for him, casually leaning up against a cabbage tree. ‘Took you ages to get here.’

‘Yeah,’ said Tere. ‘Thirty seconds behind you. Come on, let’s do this work so we can get out of here.’

They marked out their square metre and then leaned down for a better look at the mix of plants, mud, and stinky swamp water in their section. ‘Living animals first,’ said Tere, ‘millions of midges.’

Max picked up a long stick to push aside clumps of grass. The clumps bobbed away. ‘The grass must be floating on the water,’ he said.

‘Is it living fauna?’ asked Tere, ‘cause that’s what we’re looking for, eels, fish, frogs, birds, insects.’ He had their clipboard ready to list all the things they found for their assignment.

‘Well, it could be.’ Max poked at the grass again. ‘It could be a disguised swamp monster.’

Tere sighed, this promised to be a miserable school trip, stuck in a swamp with Max-imum Idiot as his partner. ‘Grass is flora. We’re looking for fauna first.’

Max poked at the clumps a few more times, pushing them under the water and watching them bob up. When he poked the biggest clump, his stick went down into the water and stuck fast. Max flailed. His body arched like a bow as he struggled to stay anchored to solid ground.

Tere grinned as he watched Max struggling. If Max fell in the mud, it would be a sweet payback for all the hassle Max had given him. I’d better help him, he thought or we’ll never get this thing finished. He grabbed the back of Max’s shirt to haul him back but he was ready to let go, if he had to.

‘Aaargh the stick is getting sucked down.’

‘Let go.’

‘No, I’ll fall in. Pull me,’ yelped Max. ‘Something’s got the stick.’

There was a stirring of mud and water and an awful stench surrounded them both. Max was almost a bridge now. His arms stretched, hands gripping the stick. His back was flat and his legs bent. His feet slid into the soft mud goop.

‘The only way out, is to let go,’ said Tere, still hanging on the Max’s shirt. He was trying hard not to laugh out loud, glad that Max couldn’t see his face.

The muddy swirl around the stick kept churning. ‘That’s not natural, is it?’ Tere frowned. The goopy mud bubbled and slopped getting nearer to where he was standing.

‘Look out, I’m coming through,’ said a voice.

Tere turned. ‘Oh No! Don’t!’

Aurie’s Story – Winner One

The churning swamp water erupted into the air as a grime-covered figure burst from it. The pressure on the stick released as Tere dragged Max back to the safety of dry ground. The muddied figure flailed wildly in the swampy water, sending wave upon wave of mud in all directions.

A giant clump of grass and slop hit Max square in the face. He tumbled backwards in a tangle of limbs and landed with a thump on the ground. Tere would have burst into laughter had the situation not been so frightening.

Max clambered to his feet and staggered away from the swamp while wiping mud off his clothes. Tere could sense Max slipping over and cowering away from the abomination in front of them, turning the surrounding swamp into a whirlwind of flying mud.

Max scuttled back like a spider in a feeble attempt to slip away, but he was met with the swamp behind on either side of him. Tere stood still, trying to be brave and control his primeval instincts to run and hide. Then for a moment, Tere fancied he could hear muffled words.

“Max, hold on!” exclaimed Tere in an attempt to calm Max. “Listen, he’s speaking English. I think it’s a human.”

Max stopped struggling to find a dry path to safety and made painful eye contact with the figure.

“Hello?” questioned Tere.

“Thank you, boys, so much!” roared the man so suddenly that both boys unconsciously flinched away from him.

“Uhm, you’re welcome,” Max mumbled, confused.

“I was stuck under that swamp for days, I was,” the man started, seeming not to have heard Max. “I was walking, looking for some firewood, and I tripped on this here very root.” He jerked his head in the direction of a clump of roots protruding from the uneven mud clumps. “I fell face-first into the swamp. Luckily for me, there was a sort of cave thingy down there, and I got stuck right in it.” He paused for effect. “The hole in the swamp where I fell closed up like a door on a hatch, and I had to use my jacket here to block the spot, so I didn’t drown. I was damn scared to try and push through to the surface, so I was stuck down there for a couple of days, drinking from my water bottle and eating an energy bar I found in my pocket.

“And when my stick got stuck in there, it opened a hole up for you,” offered Max, seeming to regain some of his composure.

“Exactly! I grabbed onto that stick when it went through the roof and clung of for dear life.”

“So… what now?” asked Max.

“Well, we were here with those museum reporter guys, right?” said Tere after some consideration. “Let’s get them to record this; it will make a thrilling story on the news.”

Five minutes later, Tere, Max and the man arrived back at the dusty road and the parked school bus. The reporters were filming students holding up tiny swamp creatures. When one of them caught a glimpse of the mud-covered man out of the corner of his eye, he nearly dropped his camera in shock.

“We have quite the story for you,” said Tere, grinning.

Bill’s Story – Winner Two

A big green face popped out of the mud, sending a wave of water over the top of Tere’s boots. He let go of Max.

‘Well, how do you do?’ said the unusual figure, holding out one hand towards Tere and picking up Max with the other.

Max’s mouth dropped open, ‘w..whu..t?’ he mumbled.

‘Very sorry, did I startle you. My name’s Murke. Lord Horticulous Murke, the XIV,’ his hand still held out to shake Tere’s. ‘I was rather hoping you two boys could help?’ he asked in a posh accent.

Tere and Max grabbed at each other, they were sinking, the mud now over their knees. Max made a gasping noise like he was trying to speak but nothing came out.

‘Looks like you could do with moving to higher ground,’ said Murke. The boys turned with a squelch and waded carefully through the smelly green water, midges clouding around their heads, whilst seeming to avoid Murke’s matted brown curls. Not noticing the panicked look on his companion’s faces, Murke continued ‘I have concluded you are interested in swamp creatures and if you are interested in swamp creatures,’ he paused momentarily taking a breath and then adding ‘you might be interested in helping me?’

Max opened his mouth to speak again, this time managing part of a jumbled sentence ‘actually… school trip…and…’ before trailing off when Tere stamped on his foot.

‘Many years ago’ Murke continued, ‘I was a happy fellow, living in a beautiful house surrounded by wild flowers. Then this tragic accident befell me…’ he stopped and eyed the boys closely. ‘I got into debt, and ended up in prison. When I got out I had lost everything and had nowhere to go. Finally I made my home here with the eels, and the frogs and the insects.’ Murke sniffed loudly and tears rolled down his face. ‘and now… now they are going to destroy it, drain the land, build a factory, poison us, our home.’

‘That’s horrible! And I thought this was just a rotting swamp’ Max quietly sympathised.

‘It’s our home, and they are going destroy it,’ Murke repeated, sobbing. Max patted Murke’s green hand, trying to provide comfort without getting himself any muddier. Max, for once, seemed lost for words.

The silence was broken by the voice of their teacher, Miss Grimwald, calling them.

‘We’ve got to go’ said Tere pulling Max, ‘we will think of a plan. Good bye, Horticulous,’ Tere’s voice cracked and he paused, ‘it was… interesting to meet you.’

On the bus on the way back to school, the class talked excitedly about their swamp study and all the things they had found. Tere and Max stayed silent, they didn’t think anyone would believe what they had discovered. However when back at school the boys googled the swamp and found there really were plans to drain it and build a factory, which upset the whole class. Everyone decided to write letters and show how important the wetland was for different fauna and flora. The local newspaper got involved and Tere and Max made placards and even got on TV.

They won. The swamp was saved. The boys went back to tell Murke about their success but they couldn’t find him, just mud and millions of bloodsucking midges.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the Seventh FABO Story competition judged by Maureen Crisp!

★ The sixth FABO Story competition for 2021 has finished and author Elena De Roo is reading your entries. She will announce a winner on this website in the next few days. 

★ The seventh FABO Story competition for 2021 has started and author Maureen Crisp  has written a story starter. Finish the story your way, and enter now!

Click here to take a look at the schedule for this year’s competitions.

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

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

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

4. Send your story to us by 7pm Friday August 20th (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 mystery prize donated by the judge.

Maureen’s Story Starter

Tere balanced on one leg in the swamp. He had left his gumboot back in the mud. Around him he could hear the rest of the class as they began their swamp study.

‘Hey everybody, Tere is doing ballet,’ laughed Max who had gone ahead of him.

‘Shut up Maxie.’ Tere carefully inserted his foot back in the gumboot and heaved. A sucking slurping sound came from the mud as it reluctantly let go of his foot. The stench of rotting plants wafted all around him. He screwed up his nose trying not to smell it.

Suck. Gurgle. Squelch. Every step brought clouds of midges around him hunting for food from the mud he stirred up. They batted his face. He could feel them on his skin and in his hair. Tere waved his arms trying to get them away from him and clamped his lips tight so he didn’t swallow any.

When he finally squelched to their study section, Max was waiting for him, casually leaning up against a cabbage tree. ‘Took you ages to get here.’

‘Yeah,’ said Tere. ‘Thirty seconds behind you. Come on, let’s do this work so we can get out of here.’

They marked out their square metre and then leaned down for a better look at the mix of plants, mud, and stinky swamp water in their section. ‘Living animals first,’ said Tere, ‘millions of midges.’

Max picked up a long stick to push aside clumps of grass. The clumps bobbed away. ‘The grass must be floating on the water,’ he said.

‘Is it living fauna?’ asked Tere, ‘cause that’s what we’re looking for, eels, fish, frogs, birds, insects.’ He had their clipboard ready to list all the things they found for their assignment.

‘Well, it could be.’ Max poked at the grass again. ‘It could be a disguised swamp monster.’

Tere sighed, this promised to be a miserable school trip, stuck in a swamp with Max-imum Idiot as his partner. ‘Grass is flora. We’re looking for fauna first.’

Max poked at the clumps a few more times, pushing them under the water and watching them bob up. When he poked the biggest clump, his stick went down into the water and stuck fast. Max flailed. His body arched like a bow as he struggled to stay anchored to solid ground.

Tere grinned as he watched Max struggling. If Max fell in the mud, it would be a sweet payback for all the hassle Max had given him. I’d better help him, he thought or we’ll never get this thing finished. He grabbed the back of Max’s shirt to haul him back but he was ready to let go, if he had to.

‘Aaargh the stick is getting sucked down.’

‘Let go.’

‘No, I’ll fall in. Pull me,’ yelped Max. ‘Something’s got the stick.’

There was a stirring of mud and water and an awful stench surrounded them both. Max was almost a bridge now. His arms stretched, hands gripping the stick. His back was flat and his legs bent. His feet slid into the soft mud goop.

‘The only way out, is to let go,’ said Tere, still hanging on the Max’s shirt. He was trying hard not to laugh out loud, glad that Max couldn’t see his face.

The muddy swirl around the stick kept churning. ‘That’s not natural, is it?’ Tere frowned. The goopy mud bubbled and slopped getting nearer to where he was standing.

‘Look out, I’m coming through,’ said a voice.

Tere turned. ‘Oh No! Don’t!’

Now you finish the story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story Report for the second competition judged by Maureen Crisp!

When I wrote the story starter, I deliberately left a few ideas hanging to see what everyone would do. One of the tricks for following on with a story starter is to try and keep the setting the same, at least at the beginning. I put Rona into the backyard on a very stormy night. I was looking for stories that could continue the storm theme.

Lots of ideas came flooding in right at the beginning from Penguin Plagues, vampires in the storm, Owlbears, lost dogs, lost penguins from the zoo, zombies and witches. Then the flood slowed down to a trickle as if the writers knew that they had to take some time to think about what they were writing about.

Sean got off to a great start… and then finished with: it was all a dream. Many other writers also had their main characters waking up the next day.

When writers run out of ideas it can be very tempting to finish with the words ‘it was all a dream.’ Readers are left feeling cheated from a strong story ending that matched the strong story beginning. Endings are tricky… but if you look at the beginning, sometimes there is an idea for the end that will tie up the story nicely.

Many writers turned to horror stories for inspiration. That is fine but you have to be as creative with the ending as with the beginning. Horror always has a thread of hope in it. The main character must survive.

There were many creative creatures and themes in the stories with alien chickens, wild fires, the electrochicken monster, the golden dragons, evil chicken overlords and Chicken Evolution Clinics. Many writers decided that the penguin would be the main event so there were many zoo escapes. A penguin turning into a pegasus was an interesting idea along with a cockatrice. If you ever discover purple penguins you must feed them popcorn.

Many of you seem to be living with Mad Scientists. Your lives are filled with explosions, I know as resourceful Kiwi kids you will always triumph. As writers, if you mix in a little bit of real life you can make the stories much stronger.

Many stories ended on cliff hangers… which left me wanting to know what happened next. Unfortunately, we need complete stories with a satisfying ending.

Stories that impressed me came from all ages. Zoe, Oscar, Lincoln, India, Cartier, Evie, Salila, Madeleine, Victoria, Piper, Charlie, Maria, Hannah, Monte, Ecclesia, Evie, Margot, Serene, and Emma all had wonderfully creative stories that needed just a little more editing and a stronger ending.

There were some great lines written that really stood out. These people can be very pleased with the way they can convey emotion, action and humour in a story:

You could only hear the slow beating of their hearts and hard slapping rain pounding onto Rona’s wet jacket. – Cate

The shadow of truth is a special shadow that only comes when things are unfair and miserable. – Cartier

Suddenly the nightmarish storm grew furious. Her torch flickered in the darkness of the inky night. – Olivia

The penguin somehow had a fine coat of feathers, but he smelled like he was eating garbage for a week, which might have been the case, considering he was a penguin in the suburbs. – Thomas

Rona shivered, the chilly air flapping through her coat, thoroughly freezing her body. – Victoria

Splat! “Oof!”. Rona slipped, landing on her stomach face smooshed up against the squelchy mud. -Juno

Rona’s torch light illuminated a green, slimy, putrid crocodile with razor sharp gnashing teeth as well as a devious and sinister grin. – Samantha

Heading inside boots crunching along the path she took one last glance at the coop. – Emily

Out from the shadows emerged a cockatrice, a serpent-like creature with the head of a chicken, with the wings of a dragon from its shoulders. Everyone knows that you don’t look a cockatrice in the eye, or there are unforgivable consequences. – Sophie

Some of the only things I inherited from my father was his messy loose curls which with the addition of my brown hair, It looked like dying palm fronds had been dropped upon my head. – Kardelen

… a gust of wind made her ponytail stick to her face like a lolly wrapper to a child’s sticky fingers. – Kayla

Rona knew exactly what to do. Appear brave and better than her opponent, as then it might be not so confident, even if she was cowering with fear on the inside. She squared her shoulders and emitted a war cry as loud she could. – Grace

Rona realised the only chance of turning her feathery friends back into normal chickens was to get them struck by lightening again. – Cassie

The chickens could now be wild and live their dreams. – Megan

Mya, Juno, Olivia, Indie, Samantha, Florence, Theodora, Ria, Natasha, Victoria, Amelie, Denzel, Jenny, Hannah and Imogen wrote super stories with a lot of attention to detail. A special shout out to brother and sister writers – Cate and Tom Ambury who have great imaginations, and Milla for her impressive website research. (My cackle of glee woke up the family.)

In the end the winner popped out of 159 entries with impressive style. Well done Indigo Tomlinson for continuing the drama of the setting adding in some nice touches, a toy penguin and an Easter egg and the frustration and love of living with a special needs sibling.

Heather Haylock, Penguin author of the Granny McFlitter series of picture books said of the winning entry:
“Brilliant use of similes to tell a tale of rising tension against the backdrop of the rising storm. And I love the tender ending. Well done!”

– Maureen Crisp, Fabo Story Judge Round 2, 2020.

Maureen’s Story Starter

It was a dark and stormy night, so Rona made sure her torch worked before she stepped off the deck into the long wet grass.

‘It isn’t fair,’ she grumbled. Why did she have to check on the chickens?

Ever since last week’s explosion her mother hadn’t trusted her brother to do anything. Rona squelched through puddles, her gumboots making a squish suck sound until she found the path.

She flicked the torch around, the light was feeble in the gloom of the back yard. Wind whipped the branches so they clattered and crunched into each other making a brawl of sound. Rona’s hair was now getting plastered to her face with the torrents of rain.

‘I give up.’ Any chicken still outside the coop was going to be as brainless as her brother. She turned to head back to the house. The crack of lightening lit up the back yard. In the flash Rona saw the veggie garden, the washing line and a stray penguin.

Thunder rolled and faded. The dark gloom raced back into the yard. Rona stood frozen staring into the dark. She was looking right at a mountain of trouble for someone.

‘It’s not fair,’ she muttered as she went forward knowing that she was all that stood between her family and chaos. ‘Why me?’ …

Indigo’s Winning Story

As Rona made her way forwards her torch flickered and gave out, plunging her into blackness. Rona swore under her breath and fumbled with the switch, but her fingers were numb; slippery with water, and the torch fell away from her hands, lost to the dark regions of the grass. The wind lashed the tree tops and they danced like puppets under it’s unstoppable power. They looked exactly like her mother before she went out to a fancy dinner; runnning around chaotically, scrabbling in vain at pots and creams. Rona winced as lightning again illuminated the scene. The toy penguin lolled sideways, stuffing exploding from it’s plump, white stomach. Next to it her brother Bobby was kneeling in the vegetable patch, with his curly hair plastered to his face. He was digging frantically at the dirt and making agitated noises. Rona sighed. Sometimes it was really hard having a big brother with Down Syndrome. Last week, Mum had tried letting him help with the cooking. It hadn’t ended well. Bobby had got in a lot of trouble and he hadn’t even been allowed to check on the chooks – his favorite responsibility. Worse, Rona was supposed to be watching him. If Mum found out that Rona had accidentlay let Bobby outside in a thunder storm……

‘’Bobby!’’ Rona screamed, but he paid no attention.

‘’Find.’’ he said,

‘’What?”’ Rona yelled above the gale.

‘’Find.’’ Rona reached Bobby and heaved on his arm.

‘’Bobby, we need to go inside. Come on!’’ Bobby’s face was streaked with dirt and tears,

‘’Find.’’

‘’Find what, Bobby?”’ Rona asked, dropping to her knees and tossing through the earth.

‘’Easter egg.’’ Bobby replied. Rona exhaled. Bobby loved Easter, but he didn’t realise that it wasn’t coming till next Sunday. This happened every year.

‘’Bobby, we have to go inside!’’ Rona heaved on Bobby’s arm.

‘’Easter Egg.’’ Bobby repeated. The thunderous gale was growing stronger, and Rona’s jeans were streaked with dirt. The rain fell like arrows to pierce through her wet clothes plastering them to her skin.

‘’Bobby!’’ Suddenly Rona lost it. ‘’Think about others for once, you selfish thing! Who cares about stupid Easter or chocolate eggs or whatever. Why can’t you just be normal?’’ Rona exhaled, embarrassed by her violent outburst. But Bobby wasn’t even listening. In the soil Rona saw a flash of gold. Bobby had seen it too. He gasped and scrabbled madly in the ground. The egg emerged and even though there was hardly any light to see by it seemed to glisten like buried treasure. Bobby was ecstatic.

‘’Easter Egg!’’ he cried.

‘’That’s right.’’ Rona said, ‘’Easter egg!’’ Bobby unwrapped the foil reverently and slowly brought the chocolate to his lips. His eyes shone with happiness. Rona grinned. As the rain poured down, brother and sister huddled close and shared the chocolate between them. Easter eggs never tasted so good. Sweet, creamy and perfect.

‘’Happy Easter!’’ Bobby exclaimed. Rona smiled. Chaos had been adverted. She loved her brother just the way he was.

‘’Happy Easter indeed Bobby.’’

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the second FABO competition for 2020 now!

The second FABO Story competition for 2020 is here! Author Maureen Crisp 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 (not including the story starter).

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

4. Send your story to us by 7pm Saturday April 11th.

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

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

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

8. The prize for the winner of the current competition will be revealed soon.

NOTE: Prizes can not be posted until the NZ Lockdown is over.

Maureen’s Story Starter

It was a dark and stormy night, so Rona made sure her torch worked before she stepped off the deck into the long wet grass.

‘It isn’t fair,’ she grumbled. Why did she have to check on the chickens?

Ever since last week’s explosion her mother hadn’t trusted her brother to do anything. Rona squelched through puddles, her gumboots making a squish suck sound until she found the path.

She flicked the torch around, the light was feeble in the gloom of the back yard. Wind whipped the branches so they clattered and crunched into each other making a brawl of sound. Rona’s hair was now getting plastered to her face with the torrents of rain.

‘I give up.’ Any chicken still outside the coop was going to be as brainless as her brother. She turned to head back to the house. The crack of lightening lit up the back yard. In the flash Rona saw the veggie garden, the washing line and a stray penguin.

Thunder rolled and faded. The dark gloom raced back into the yard. Rona stood frozen staring into the dark. She was looking right at a mountain of trouble for someone.

‘It’s not fair,’ she muttered as she went forward knowing that she was all that stood between her family and chaos. ‘Why me?’ …

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Judges report and winning story May 12th 2019

Welcome back to FABO for 2019.

Crystal thrones… Strange giant birds… prophecies… Birds that can speak… tell stories or mimic class members. New lands… extinct birds and lost children filled the bush at every turn. Mrs Fraser will need therapy or at least a good lie down after going on a class trip.

The adventures this class had in the bush kept me on the edge of my seat… what will happen next?

Sadly many stories started out full of action and adventure and then the main characters woke up and it was all a dream.

A little bit of brainstorming at the beginning could have saved some great stories.

Sometimes writers start out writing hoping to find out what happens next. We can often write ourselves into a hole and not know how to get out. It is perfectly fine to stop in the middle and do a quick brainstorm on how to end the story. Then you leave the reader with a satisfying end.

Many entries were stuffed full of long words. Long words are fine to use if it is the right word. Sometimes writers can reach for a long word thinking that it will make the story better. The best stories keep the reader hooked into the story all the way through. If the reader has to stop every second sentence to figure out what a word means, it slows down the story for the reader. At the end all they can tell you about the story is that it had a lot of LOOONG words.

The winning story managed to have action, the right words, Jody becoming a legend…and the discovery of a mythical bird. Although I think Mrs Fraser still would have needed therapy.

So the winner this fortnight… is Bailey McC from Remarkables School.

Bailey McC’s Winning Story

We all held our breaths in anticipation. Mrs Fraser started to jump up and down on her tiptoes in excitement, we all looked at each other, holding in our laughter. She whispered “ok class, we’re going to get up and start to walk quietly to the source of the sound, If you have cameras get them out!”. After what felt like hours, everyone was deflated as we didn’t discover the mysterious sound.

Before long, we came across a rickety bridge. We were all walking across it when we heard a squeal, followed by a splash! Everyone froze. we looked down, Jody had fallen in AGAIN…”Help!!” he cried in fear. Just then the sound of a crack fell upon us, CRABANG! The bridge collapsed beneath our feet. With the sounds of screaming, we hit the water with a splash into a fast flowing, deep river. I started to dip in and out as my head was forced underwater. I saw people attempting to clamber out but the walls of dirt were too high and slippery, hindering our escape. I started to think of the worst outcomes ,my clothes were dragging me down, we were either gonna drown or drown!

I saw Jody trying to swim towards something. I couldn’t see what it was until I got closer … a massive log! But it was too far away, he was never going to reach in time. Just then we heard a familiar cry that blocked out all the hysteria. It was a majestic sort of sound, in fact, that was the cry that lead us to be here. It drew closer and closer. “Eeeek!” Mrs Fraser cried as a burst of colour came into view. It was the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen! It swooped down and opened its gigantic claws and grabbed onto the log. It flew towards Jody within a matter of seconds and dropped it right into his reach, then it swooped around and winked at Jody before swooping off. Jody acted fast.

“Everyone grab on!” he yelled. Everyone swam towards the only sign of hope. When I reached the log and clambered on, Jody manoeuvred it sideways so it wedged up against both sides of the mossy dirt wall creating a perfect dam. “Quickly everyone, stand up and um, Mrs Fraser you won’t mind us standing on your head to get out?”. Mrs Fraser carefully stood up and leaned against one side on the dirt wall, “quickly now kids!” she yelped in fear.

One by one every kid scrambled onto Mrs Fraser’s head and out of danger. Eventually we all got out and hauled Mrs Fraser up. “Oh my! That actually just happened!” Mrs Fraser said covering her mouth with her trembling hands.

Jody had just saved everyone’s life! We all gave Jody a round of applause. Just then we heard a cry, the mystical bird circled above our heads. We finally found what we were looking for, if only we had our cameras! What a legendary trip!

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the first FABO Story Competition for 2019!

Are you ready for the first FABO Story Competition of 2019?

Author Maureen Crisp has written a story starter. Finishing the story is up to you!

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 May 10th.

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.

Maureen’s Story Starter

The class trip had started off badly when Jody fell in the water getting off the boat. Everybody had laughed. But he did look funny as he clambered out of the water onto the sand. Byron fished his bag out of the sea. ‘Lucky we’re only here for a day,’ he said handing the dripping bag over to Jody.

Jody squelched along behind us on the island trail. We were trying our best to be quiet so that the birds we had come to see would come closer. Everytime a bird swooped down there was a squelch from Jody’s shoes and it flew away again. You could see Mrs Fraser was trying not to get angry at Jody.

When we came to a clearing Mrs Fraser asked us to sit quietly and maybe the birds would come to us. Jody sat on a rock and opened his schoolbag. He pulled out his Aquaman lunchbox which was full of water and tipped his soggy sandwiches on the ground. We all sat in a circle trying to be quiet and feeling sorry for Jody. But he ended up having the best day ever and the island trip became a school legend.

The bush surrounding us was cool and dark and shady from the hot sun. In the distance we could hear a weird cry. We looked at each other, wondering what type of bird made such a cry. Mrs Fraser looked excited and put her finger to her lips. The sound came closer…

Now it’s up to you to finish the story!

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Fabo Judges Report from Maureen Crisp

We are off to a cracking start in 2018. It was great to see such a range of schools from all over the country and even an entry from Australia.

Clearview school sent in the most entries… followed closely by View Road school. Hmmm I wonder what they have in common, aside from great storytelling. It was also nice to recognise familiar names from last year. *waves*

I am always interested in how many minor characters appear in stories. Giant slugs, cats, evil principals, dinosaurs, ghosts, rat children, teleporting machines, Helpbots, talking rats and Krispy Kreme donuts made their appearances in our exciting PE Shed Vortex story. And it wouldn’t have been a Fabo story without a zombie apocalypse. (No- we don’t want any more!)

This is a serial story. That means that you need to use cues from the starter for setting and possible crisis situation for your characters to deal with and then leave everything on a cliffhanger. (This term came from stories that literally left their characters hanging off a crumbling cliff so that the reader had to turn the page to find out what happened next.)

A cliffhanger ending sets up the next episode, so agreeing never to talk about the adventure again is not a good ending.

There were a few stories that ended with jumping into the hula hoop vortex. This ending doesn’t really set the stage for the next episode as it finishes on a soft stop. If you add one more line… setting up a setting scene and problem then the serial story continues.

I was looking for stories that did just that.

There were many fine attempts at telling a serial story. Poppy, Georgia, Cherry, Natalie, Cole, Kate and Roxy had stories that came close.

But the winners for Round One are Piper Matchett and Rebekah Lile

Both their stories ended in the best cliffhanger tradition after a great scene buildup.

Their stories are below.

Rebekah Lile

“We could always try to jump back up the vortex” suggested David.

“I mean what else could we do? Any ideas?”

“No” sighed Ella. So without further ado they jumped up and into the vortex. There were lots of loud noises on the other side, SPLASH!! David and Ella fell into a lake. “I don’t think this is the PE shed OR school” grumbled Ella.

Suddenly they heard a loud roar and a strange bird circling them from above. “What is that?” questioned David as they scrambled out of the water. “

Dinosaur!” cried Ella “I’ve only see pictures, but I know a pterodactyl when I see one.” Ella was dinosaur crazy and all of her friends were dinosaur crazy too. They knew everything there was to know about dinosaurs.

Then quick as a flash the pterodactyl swooped into a dive. It scooped up David in one claw and Ella in the other. The pterodactyl dropped the two children into a nest beside a cliff. The first thing they noticed was the egg shells.

“ummm, does that mean… you know…” started David

“Baby dinosaurs? Yes.” Interrupted Ella “It’s fine, pterodactyl’s are piscivores”

“What does piscivore mean?” asked David. Ella rolled her eyes and sighed “Piscivores are animals that only eat fish, for example: dolphins, they are piscivores”

“Ok, ok don’t need to go on and on about it” muttered David

Ella and David looked around “are those baby pterodactyls playing hopscotch?” David asked “No, that can’t be right, I must need my eyes checked”

“I’m just as confused as you” said Ella “I know dinosaurs were… I mean… are intelligent but I never knew human games were created by dinosaurs!” Just then the pterodactyl came back and sat in the next. “Hello little dinosaurs” said the pterodactyl. The children jumped with surprise. “I saw that you two were looking lost and so I brought you here” continued the pterodactyl.

“It talked” said David

“Should I be scared?” asked Ella talking to no one in particular.

“No, no dear” exclaimed the pterodactyl “and by the way, you can call me Charlotte. And those are my children over there. The light green one is Elma, the turquoise one is Daniel, the blue one is Oceana and the dark green one is Gorse. So what are your names?”

“My name is Ella and this is David, my friend” said Ella, frightened.

“Oh what beautiful names” said Charlotte

“Can you help us to get home please?” asked David. Ella and David told Charlotte everything. But when they got to where the vortex was before it was gone!

Piper Matchett

“Get back into the hoop!” David yelled.

The beefy kids were nearly there, and David did NOT under any circumstances want to pick a fight. The painful outcome would probably result in them getting dragged to this weird school’s dusty office. It would be hard to explain getting warped through time by an old cane hoop.

“It’s not there!” Ella shrieked. She was right. It wasn’t.

“Where the heck did it go?!” David wondered.

“How should I know?” Ella snapped. “Scatterbrains probably set this whole thing up.”

Where did that wild theory come from? David thought. The broad-shouldered kids had caught up. David raised his bat.

“Hey, put that down! We just wanted to ask you whether or not it was you who let that rat loose,” one of the kids said.

David tried to answer. “We were just- uh- w-what rat?”

The smaller of the two (And only smaller by a few centimetres) narrowed her beady eyes like a hostile cat. Somehow. “We know you saw it. And you also seemed to be looking for something. You two were arguing about time travel or something like that, and she looked out the door to see where it had gone. We were watching you,” She snarled.

Ella glanced at her. “We don’t want any trouble, we’re just looking for a cane hoop.” Ella soothed. She was clearly trying the passive voice she uses when she’s trying to convince someone something. It hardly ever worked. But this time it did.

The taller kid stepped on the cat-like girl’s heavy-looking foot. He said to her, “Come on Kimberly, let’s just go. Let them get in trouble,”

She glared at him. “Fine, Chuck, but if we see them again…” She trailed off with a nasty hiss.

David had found the idiotic cane hoop. He motioned to Ella, who pointed off into the distance. “Rat!” She sang convincingly.

Kimberly and Chuck ran off, fighting as to who would step on the poor rodent first. Together, they both dove into the hoop…

It took a lot longer this time, but luckily they came out the other end. The entire P.E shed was gone. They were in a… construction site?

“I think the school is being built!” Ella cried.

“We have to get out before we get seen!” David yelled.

They ran through the maze of rubble. They were running under a crane carrying a heavy load of sharp bricks in a see-through crate. The chains snapped. Clay bricks went flying down, straight towards them…

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the FABO Story Competition Now!

The first FABO Story Competition for 2018 is here! Children’s author Maureen Crisp has posted a story starter.

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 May 11.

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.


Illustration by Ronja Schipper

Lost in the PE Shed Vortex: Episode One

The back of the P E shed was like a black hole, dark and filled with the unknown. David suspected monsters but he wasn’t going to let anyone know he was scared. He hovered near the front of the shed waiting for the end of lunchtime when all the play equipment taken out by the students at Rottcliff School had to be returned.

His shed monitor partner was late again.

There was a rustling in the back of the shed. David clutched a bundle of skipping ropes hanging on the wall.

Come on, Ella.

He knew the bell would go soon, and they hadn’t started the clean up. He didn’t want to get into trouble.

The rustling happened again.

Rat, he thought. David grabbed a cricket bat for comfort, and practised swinging it.

Ella came around the corner. ‘What are you doing?’

‘Nothing.’ David swung the bat again and tried to look nonchalant. It was a word his mother always used. ‘Stop looking so nonchalant… and do something!’

He leaned against the skipping ropes. They swayed under his weight.

Ella sniffed. ‘Why haven’t you started cleaning up?’

David clutched the bat tightly. ‘Why should I be the one to start? You always get here late. This is a shared job, you know.’

Ella crossed her arms. ‘I was at choir practice and then I had to run messages for Scatterbrains.’

David’s eyes widened. She’d just made fun of the principal, Mrs Satterworth. He glanced around, hoping there wasn’t a teacher anywhere near.

The rustling happened again.

Ella frowned. ‘Did you hear that?’

‘Yes,’ said David, trying for unconcern and missing. ‘I think it’s a rat.’ He wondered what Ella would do. Would she scream? He hoped so. He was tired of her bossing him around.

Ella threw a flat netball into the dark area where the rustling had come from. ‘Come out rat! Here ratty, ratty,’ she sang in a sing song voice.

David edged away from her. The stacked mats started slipping.

‘Must be a big rat,’ said Ella. She moved to the back of the shed.

David knew he had to follow. His fingers started to cramp around the cricket bat. An old large hoop rolled out from the dark. It clattered to the floor.

‘Hey, look,’ said Ella. She leaned over the hoop. ‘I can see a picture of the school.’ She reached out to pick up something from inside the hoop. David bumped into her. Ella fell forward and disappeared.

David blinked. He looked at the hoop. It looked normal, just an old cane hoop lying on the dusty floor of the PE shed. ‘Ella, stop mucking around.’

A hand reached up from inside the hoop, grabbed his ankle and pulled. David slid down a dark tube. Lights sparkled ahead of him. The tube slide deposited him in a heap at Ella’s feet.

Ella looked down at him. ‘Did you have to bring the rat?’ David rolled and tried not to yell. He still had the bat, but it’s hard to swing a cricket bat at a rat when you are lying on the floor.

The rat backed up and then sprang over David, past Ella and around the door of the PE shed. David scrambled up. Ella ran to the door to see where the rat had gone.

‘Where are we?’ Ella said, stopping at the door of the shed.

David looked out. The familiar school playground had disappeared. In front of him was the old school block, but there was no playground only a large concrete area where a large group of children were trying to do folk dancing. An old-fashioned record player was perched on a chair. The music scratched and groaned through a speaker.

A teacher in a mini dress and white boots was encouraging the children to dance together properly. ‘Hold hands everybody,’ she called out. ‘Girls, the boys won’t bite.’

‘Who’s that?’ said Ella. ‘I thought I knew all the teachers in this school.’

David looked up at the P.E. shed notice board. There was timetable pinned to the cork board and a sheet of paper with a list of names and classes headed 1970 Term Two Folk Dancing.

‘I think we’ve gone back in time,’ said David.

Ella glared at him. ‘That’s the most stupid-’

David interrupted her. ‘I’ve never seen any of those kids before, have you?’ He waved a hand at the class in front of him.

Just then there was a high-pitched squeal from the teacher. ‘A rat!’

The children screamed. Folk dancing was forgotten. Everybody was running away. A couple of big kids were running towards them.

Ella’s hands were clenched. ‘What do we do now?’

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Maureen Crisp’s Fabo Judges Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maureen’s Story Starter

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

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

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

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

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

It wasn’t even my fault!

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

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

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

Ava’s Winning Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things weren’t so bad after all.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Maureen Crisp’s FABO Story Starter!

Children’s author Maureen Crisp has posted the start of a new FABO story. She’d like you to finish the story in 500 words or less and submit it using the online form. Entries close 8pm Friday September 8th. No late entries will be accepted.

NOTE: This is the final FABO competition for this term. Whether there will be more competitions in 2017 is currently being determined (our author volunteers are checking their schedules). Please keep an eye on the website for updates.

Maureen’s Story Starter

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

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

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

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

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

It wasn’t even my fault!

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

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

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

Finish the story on the FABO website now!