Posted in Poetry, The Winners!

Fabostory Poetry Challenge Report! 

Judge’s Report by Melinda Szymanik

Wow! Just like last year, we had a lot of entries so Elena De Roo and I divided them up and judged half each. It was wonderful to see the poems that emerged from all the different prompts we offered in this last challenge for 2021. I read ice cream poems and monkey in hot pool poems, turtle poems and climate change poems, cloud poems and quite a few haiku.

Make sure with your haiku that you have counted your syllables and have the right number, as this is one of the most important rules for this type of poetry. My favourite haiku included those by Elsa Hurley from Katikati Primary, and Rubina Kim, Ryan Stuckey and Xavier Turner (the first haiku), all from Long Bay Primary. Well done! Haiku may look easy to write, but they definitely aren’t.

I wished fervently that some of you had let your poems rest for a day or two before you revised and submitted them. They had such lovely ideas inside them but they needed a little more work. Poems can be like that – like a block of marble that you need to chip away at carefully to find the sculpture inside.

And I’m sad to say some of the poems submitted were plagiarised. It was disappointing to see that a few of you chose to steal someone else’s work and submit it under your own name. Please don’t do this. I would much rather read your own poetry, and give prizes to those folk who have done the hard work and created their own poem.

I really enjoyed Grace Evans’ Friendship Recipe poem which was well thought out and quite delicious, and Amy Gilbert’s poem about the monkey in the hot pool which included some lovely descriptive language. Aveline Forsyth also wrote about the monkey in the hot pool, using great rhythm and with a powerful ending which reminded me of the Lion King. All three poets were from Selwyn House School.

Olivia Morriss from Oamaru Intermediate wrote quite a dramatic and unusual poem about climate change which I found intriguing, and Grace Moodie from Bethlehem College wrote a very clever poem using colour and the senses in a really interesting way, including the very cool following line which made me feel like I could hear it –

It sounded like gold
The symphony of a rising sun

The science geek in me really liked these lines from the second half of Maria Bereto-Walker from Ilam School’s poem –  

When this generation is over
The next will come
By forming

from the dust
Of the stars

Ben Cranwell’s (Long Bay Primary) second poem about the Last Polar Bear was short but very moving. Amelia Mackenzie from St Joseph’s Whakatane wrote a long, fun, slightly nonsense poem which had lots of lovely rollicking rhythm and rhyme. And Zoe Rive’s (Long Bay Primary) poem about eating an ice cream had me wishing I was eating one too.

I loved this line from Michael Brown at Long Bay Primary – Fluffy clouds were as orange as the hair on a fox – and these lines from Arlo Brooker, at Verran Primary –

He sounds like a piggy in mud  
He shakes the tv with his grumbles

Sophie Danaher from Marist Catholic School Herne Bay used a different poetry style, writing it as a paragraph, which worked really well with the lockdown theme she wrote about.

I thought Cooper Gallagher’s (St Andrews College) entry, which could also be turned into a short story or flash fiction, was clever and very funny. So Cooper, along with Samantha Muirhead from Kenakena Primary who wrote a wonderfully evocative poem, are my runners up.

The Grumpy Ape by Cooper Gallagher
First off I am NOT an ape!
I am a monkey,
A Japanese Macaque to be precise.
I am also known as the snow monkey, but I don’t like that name much
I HATE the snow!
My family all say “oh it’s not that bad”,
But they are wrong snow is TERRIBLE
They all sit in the hot pools and relax
But I sit and brood
I don’t care if they say I’m “being difficult” it’s just too cold!
When I try to sit in the hot pools the snow settles on my head
Then if I sneeze it comes tumbling down on me and that’s even worse!
I wish I could go to the rainforest with my cousin Gary
But he always says I’m to young to go with him
And that my home is here not halfway across the planet
But I don’t care they’ll come around eventually
Right?

Samantha Muirhead’s Poem

Wild animal beneath me
Ocean washes away sparkling gold
Pounding hooves a drumbeat
A glorious sight to behold
Wind whipping through my hair
Imprints whispering the way
The gentle warmth like a hug
The sea sends a teasing spray
My toes curl against her sides
Encrusted with sand
She flies on heart, not hooves
I speak to her by hand
Dune grass sings to the breeze
It smells like green
The lullaby speaks to my soul
The water tantalisingly gleams
Plunging through the waves
I trust her to lead
Fingers entwined in mane
Frothing water with her speed
Awash in golden glow
Lying side by side
As quiet as the tiniest whisper
“Girl, wanna go for a ride?”

And my winners (drum roll please …)
 … Vitek Mencl with this wonderful poem, which is short but full of meaning, a quiet confident rhythm and lovely imagery. Vitek is 7 and goes to Ilam School.

The last polar bear
slid into slowly rising water
to catch a seal.
A pack of kind orcas
sneaked up as quiet
as the heart of the sea
to help him catch his dinner.

And my other winner is Holly Fraser from Selwyn House School with this beautiful, quietly confident poem which also has terrific rhythm, simple yet haunting imagery and packs a powerful punch.

The earth silent
 A small room
as blank
as a piece of paper.
Natural light fading
the paint peeling
like a grater
has just stripped
the walls.
A lonely table
perched in the middle
of the room.
A cup
of plain words
swirled inside
waiting to be sipped
of its knowledge.

I will be in touch with my winners via email to arrange for your prizes to be posted to you. 🙂

Judges Report by Elena De Roo

As Melinda said, we divided the poems up between us. There were over a hundred each to judge, and what an imaginative and impressive collection they were, using a wide range of different prompts. A special shout out to the young 7 and 8 year old poets from Verran Primary, whose poems featured strongly in my list.  

Rhyme — one thing I noticed in general was that many poems included words just because they rhymed.  Every word counts, so make sure the choose ones that are a good fit for your poem.

One of my favourite poems that used rhyme and rhythm to good effect was the poem On My Plate by Megan Liew from Kingsway School. Your poem rolled along effortlessly and I could really visualise your plate full of way too many veggies! It had an excellent last line too, which isn’t easy to do!

On My Plate

I sat right down, glanced at my plate
Then soon realised my awful fate:
Spinach, carrots, peas galore
Beetroot, onions, and there’s more
Eggplant, turnip, chopped and cut
A giant chunk of who knows what
I picked it up; it smelled of green
So then I placed it in between…
Two brussels sprouts I’ll never eat
Finishing this will be a feat
Everything, without a bite
But then I saw a glistening sight:
My favourite cake, so sweet, so dear
Plate of veggies, disappear!

Another poem that had great rhythm and rhyme and transported me straight to summer was from Amber Miller, age 7 from Verran Primary:

Beach Days (Amber Miller)

Hot sun, sea air,
waves crashing, salty hair.
Ice cream melting in my hand,
sprinkles dripping on the sand.
Licking, crunching, cooling me down,
ice creams on beach days are the best around.


On titles — make your poem’s title work for you. It’s a bonus line — you might be able to use it to add something that wouldn’t otherwise fit in your poem, or to give us a clue as to what the poem is about. The title of Aria Rajendran’s (from Buckland’s Beach Primary) poemtells us what its subject is without ever mentioning it in the poem. Here’s the first verse:

THE ADVENTURE OF AN OWL

I climbed until the sky turned inky blue.
The colour gently pulled me through.
I flew and glided without a care.
Midnight bliss, stars amiss.

Some poems felt closer to stories than poems. A poem usually has a sense of rhythm and musicality to it and often uses lines in a different way to prose. By reading lots of different sorts of poems you’ll soon get a feel for how they look and sound.

Owen Alvarez, age 7, Verran Primary cleverly experimented with line-breaks, and played with the shape of one of his words to mirror its meaning in his poem

Dinosaur Battle

One time a Stegosaurus
was having
a battle with a Tyrannosaurus
and the moon
f
e
l
l
on the Stegosaurus
so
the
T-rex
won.

I also loved Cece’s (Buckland’s Beach Primary) surreal melting poem which cleverly used repetition to create a strong rhythm.

Everything is Melting!

Pick up an apple,
it melts,
pick up a peach,
it melts,
pick up a T-shirt,
it melts,
pick up a pair of shorts,
it melts,
pick up headphones,
they melt,
look down at your feet,
they are melting,
look at your legs,
they are melting,
turn around,
no one is there,
just puddles,
you grow shorter,
you can’t think,
you are no more,
you’re melted!

Tip If you can, leave your poem for at least one night before submitting it, so you can look at it with fresh eyes. Often, you’ll find there are words you want to change.  

Luca Delonge’s (Bucklands Beach Primary) poem began “Scuba diving in my lava-orange suit” and featured a different colour in every line which I thought was a clever idea and gave the poem a clear structure.

Ada Calveley, 8, Gladstone Primary created some beautiful images in her lines:
The swaying of the silver grass
I whistled as the sky turned from white to silver blue

Ayla Chapman, age 8, Verran Primary – Nice use of the “marble” prompt in your Lockdown poem.

My whole class is a marble
Even Mrs Wilkins and me.
And Charley is a rainbow
And Lily is a star
And Amber is a love heart.

Sophia Brown (Albany Junior High School) wrote a poem full of delicious summery images called Summer & ice cream. Here is the first verse:

a pool of sticky sweet heaven rests on my tongue,
a cloud of whipped cream floats at the top of my mouth,
as the summer breeze blows by.

Arshiya Tuli ‘s (Queen Margaret College) poem (or is it an anti-poem?) had a wonderful strong last verse, which was full of energy and almost a complete poem in itself.

That is why I will not write a poem. You can not make me.
I will not. I have never written a poem in my life.
And if I do, you will never read any of my poems.
Ever. Goodbye.

Special Mentions go to:

Elsie Dickson, age 7 (Verran Primary) for her lovely, and very funny poem, My Poppa. I really enjoyed reading it and especially liked the lines, “He will make you laugh like Pinkie Pie,” and “He has a cucumber coloured tractor that he keeps in a barn near a chicken coop.”

Sophie Kirkov, age 8 (Verran Primary) for her poem, A Pair of Pears — I loved the image created by your lines:

A thousand reasons why
they should be dancing at night.
But instead I hear them chatting.
I wonder what they say.
Do they think they will live another day?

Bella Chen from St Cuthbert College who wrote a very controlled and accomplished poem, full of the imagery of spring and rebirth. Here are the first two verses:

Nature emerging slowly out of the past
Spring winning the battle against Winter at last

Blossoms bringing back colour to the earth
From the ruins of 2020 begins a new birth …

Now to my shortlist:

I found it really hard to choose between these four poems as they’re all so good but also so different from each other. However, after much deliberation, I decided that my two runners up would be:

Quinn Dixon, age 7, from Ilam School, with his evocative polar bear poem, which I think really captures the feeling of being the last polar bear.

The Last Polar Bear

The last polar bear
On Earth
Standing there
As white
As a cloud
It dived
In the ocean
To get fish
It was wet
And soggy
And lonely

And Sophias Wright  (AGE School) who sent in a beautiful lyrical poem, full of movement and sweeping images.

The Wind

Gracefully dancing through hills and valleys
Stirring up waves
Twisting round birds in flight
Murmuring in my ear as quiet as the tiniest whisper
Setting autumn leaves afloat
Swirling past mountains and forests
Playfully puffing at cotton candy clouds
Skimming the surface of the lakes
Cooling down a hot summer’s day

Well done Quinn and Sophias!

And my two winners were:

Joona Zaza, aged 7, from Verran Primary who wrote a tiny but pitch perfect poem about a turtle

A baby turtle
crawling to the sea
Tomorrow I wonder
where it will be.

And Indigo Tomlinson (Hunaui College) whose poem on the moon painted a beautiful and timeless image, with its perfect simile.  

The moon was a frown, upside down,
It made a slice of silver
On the early morning sky,
Like the scale of a fish
That jumped so high,
It landed among
the stars.

Congratulations to both of you! I’ll be in touch by email soon to find out where to send your prizes.

Posted in Enter Now, Poetry

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

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

Pop-up Poetry Challenge

With Elena de Roo and Melinda Szymanik

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

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

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

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

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

You can enter TWO poems (at most).

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

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

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

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

Send Us Your Poem Here…

Posted in Junior Winner, Senior Winner, The Winners!

FABO Story Report judged by Melinda Szymanik

First of all, congratulations to everyone who entered – great work people – writing a story isn’t easy. As the previous judge Kathy mentioned, it’s important to make sure you have a beginning, a middle AND an end in your story. There were some wonderful beginnings that stopped half way through the middle and a couple that stopped just before the end. Endings ARE hard to write but they are super important if you want to make the story work as a whole. An important part of writing is learning what to leave in and what to leave out. If you leave out things that aren’t important to the story (even if they sound really cool) you have more words to use on the things that do matter.

I also think punctuation and paragraphs make a big difference. Start a new paragraph whenever someone new starts speaking, or if you change scene, or something new is happening. These things make your story easier to read. Also if the story is in third person (I wrote about Jodie), it felt strange if you switched to first person (you wrote as if you were Jodie saying ‘I did this’, instead of ‘Jodie did this’).

Using vines like ropes to rescue Ben was really popular, and a number of the stories that did this were well written, but the ones I liked best were the ones that took an unexpected route to the ending or surprised me in a good way. My compliments to Jos (Whangamata Area School) who included time slip in their story. I loved that Hannah Howis (Fendalton Open Air Primary) realised that Jodie was lost and it wouldn’t be easy to find her way back to the farm. And to everyone that included Pippi and Barney – good work! They were extra options already included in the story that could help solve the problem that Jodie and Ben were faced with.

I enjoyed the writing in the stories by Radha Gamble (St Andrews College), Grace Evans from Selwyn House School, Adele Stack from Geraldine Primary and Theo Eulink from St Andrew’s College. Also Olivia Morriss (Oamaru Intermediate), Grace Elizabeth Russell from Enner Glynn School, Johnna Zixu from Roydvale School, Aanya Jayaweera (Home School) and Amelia Hopoi from St Therese Catholic School.

There were some great lines that made me laugh:-

Siona Sircar (Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School) with – She pulls a knife out of her dress (who knew dresses had pockets?)…

Lucy Bevin (also Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School), with –  Somebody wanted Ben dead, not Mrs Winch, no offence to her but she can’t run that fast so she’s off the table

And Teia Clark with this absolute gem – Then grandad hopped out of his wheelchair, jumped off the edge, smacked his elbow in mid air and K.Oed Ben off the branch to the both of their doom. (Haha sorry here’s the real ending).

Then there were also some wonderful descriptions:-

Zak (Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School) wrote – The darkness soaked up all the light left in the blue sky…

And this – Ben clung desperately to the side of the cliff. It was pockmarked with scars from the driving assaults of centuries of wind and rain, but the area directly above Ben was smooth and sheer, like a woman who’s had too many botox injections – from Indigo Tomlinson at Huanui College.

And my winners, who both tried something a little fresh and different with their stories and included some great descriptive writing, are …

Melinda’s Story Starter: Trouble at Winch Farm

They’d got a bit lost.

They’d never had a farm holiday before and everything was strange and new. Jodie and Ben had been shocked at how early everyone got up. It was weird eating breakfast while the rest of the world seemed fast asleep, the darkness of night still asserting itself over everything.

But riding pillion on the quad bikes – ‘Yes you do have to wear a helmet,’ Mrs Winch insisted – was huge fun and they both loved the cows and Mr Winch’s dog Barney and the farm cat Pippi. They’d done their best to help where they could and stay out of the way when things got tricky.

And on the third day when they’d finished their chores and dinner was still hours away, Mrs Winch said, ‘why don’t you go for a walk. If you follow the driveway past the house to the gate and go through into the bush there’s a terrific track down to the beach.’

‘That sounds great,’ Jodie said. ‘We’ll be back by four thirty so we can help with dinner.’

They’d headed along the driveway and clambered over the gate and soon were deep in the bush on the narrow little trail. Until Ben saw something. ‘I think it’s Pippi. Maybe she’s lost. Or hurt. ’ And he was off before Jodie could say ‘Stop!’ She heard him thrashing about, the sound getting fainter as the distance between them grew.

‘Come back!’ she yelled, before plunging off the track and into the bush after him. She did her best to follow the noise but no matter how fast she went she couldn’t seem to catch up. And then she heard the sound no one wants to hear. A sharp, anguished cry and then a piercing scream. ‘Ben!’

Pushing through the tangle of scrub and trees as fast as she could, Jodie nearly stepped off the edge of the cliff herself. She looked down before fear stopped her. Below, half way down the sheer face of stone, Ben perched where a small ledge jutted beside a crooked tree growing out horizontally over the drop. Was that blood on his forehead?

‘BEN!?’

Junior Winner – Bill Kelly (9 – Brooklyn School)

Bill’s Winning Story

Overcoming her fear, Jodie peaked over the cliff edge again. Below the ledge was an endless sea of sharp rocks extending out from the headland, a white froth surrounding each one of them. ‘I wonder why they called this Smugglers Cove’ thought Jodie ‘Those smugglers must have been gutsy to land here.’
  
Jodie made eye contact with Ben, hanging on to the ledge with one hand and struggling to keep something in his jumper with the other. She could see the beads of sweat trickling down his forehead, his face as pale as death itself. Behind his glasses, Ben’s eyes were wide with panic, twitching, as he swung helplessly from side to side.
 
‘HELP ME!”
 
Protruding from Ben’s jumper was a thin, tortoiseshell tail, “Pippi”, Jodie exclaimed. Pippi hissed, fighting to get out of Ben’s grip. Knowing she had to help them, Jodie yanked off the pink merino scarf Granddad gave her last Christmas and tried to lower it down to her frightened brother and the runaway cat.
 
‘It’s no good, it will never reach.’ Jodie’s heart sank, ‘What if Ben fell … it would all be her fault. Should she run back to farm to get help? It would be too late, Ben couldn’t hold on.’
  
Dejected, Jodie leant back against the Pohutukawa tree hanging from the cliff, its twisted roots digging into the dirty yellow rock. The tree was a mass of red flowers shimmering like burning stars, with a long crooked limb which stuck out over the cliff like a diving board. Suddenly Pippi made a lunge from Ben’s arms like a speeding silver arrow, she only just caught onto the branch with her sharp claws. As Pippi scrambled from the tree, Jodie ducked to avoid her and felt a cold, sharp, cog graze her side.

Jodie’s trembling hands ripped at the bark to expose twisted metal and part of a chain. “BEN! I’ve found some sort of crane … I can try and reach you”. She started to pull the old winch from its hiding spot as Barney sprung out of the bush howling furiously. The dog pulled the chain out of Jodie’s hand, gingerly trotted along the branch, and hovered over the cliff. 
 
Jodie dug in the dirt and loosened the rest of the chunky metal contraption while Barney dropped the chain from his mouth into Ben’s waiting hands. The rusty iron chain sliding into a set of parallel grooves marked on the branch.

“Hurry .. I can’t hold on much longer”, whimpered Ben.
  
‘This might just work,’ thought Jodie. Her hands, wet from sweat, slipped as she began to turn the handle, the sharp metal digging into her palms but that just made her grip tighter. Encouraged by the excited barking of Barney, Jodie pushed through her fear and with all her strength, heaved. The chain coiled around the tree, gave a loud creak, and moving slowly, Ben was hoisted up the cliff face.

Ben collapsed on the grass at the edge of the bush, colour slowly returning to his cheeks. “That was intense.”
 
He turned to Jodie and giggled. “If Mrs Winch asks what we did today, we can just say we were hanging about by the beach!”
 

Senior Winner – Indigo Tomlinson (13 – Huanui College)

Indigo’s Winning Story

Jodie looked down and gulped, bile rising in her throat as Ben clung desperately to the side of the cliff. It was pockmarked with scars from the driving assaults of centuries of wind and rain, but the area directly above Ben was smooth and sheer, like a woman who’s had too many botox injections.
 
Without warning, a savage gust of wind tore Ben’s cap from his head, and sent it spinning out into the ether.
 
Oh no. Jodie thought, as she watched the cheerful yellow cap begin to tumble down towards the hungry waves. That was Ben’s last present from their father. Before he left. As Jodie stayed where she was, rooted to the spot by fear and indecision, Ben made a desperate lunge for the spinning hat. But as he did, his foot slipped on the edge of the narrow ledge. His arms windmilled, mouth forming an elongated ellipse of shock as he too began to fall.
 
Ben tumbled slowly as though falling through layers of liquid glass. Yet with every blink Jodie took he seemed to get closer and closer to the lunging spindrift and closer to the convulsive grasp of the desperate sea. In some ways, the ocean reminded Jodie of her mother. The way she wouldn’t let them speak to their dad after he left, and the way she clutched them jealously if someone so much as dared to mention his name in passing.
 
Ben hit the water.
 
In a flurry of small bubbles he sank beneath the surface. An echoey boom resounded out over the ocean as storm clouds congregated in the distance. To Jodie it sounded like a death toll. But it started her into action. She turned and raced back down to the beach as fast as she could.
 
 
When Jodie reached the narrow strip of rocky shore directly beneath the clifftop she didn’t hesitate. Ben was out there. He was a strong swimmer. They both were. She could save him. There was still a chance.
 
Tearing off her t-shirt and shorts, Jodie stood shivering before plunging into the sea. The cold was a shock. She went to inhale, but stopped herself just in time. Striking out into deep water, Jodie kept her eyes open beneath the surface for any sign of her twin.
 
But there was nothing. She remembered a game they used to play when they were little, imagining they could hear each other’s thoughts and use telepathy to communicate.
 
“Ben?” she tried in her mind,
 
“Jodie?” came a whispered reply, but it was faint and fuzzy like a badly tuned television.
 
“Ben! Don’t worry I’m coming!”
 
She saw him. A small figure sinking beneath the waves. Jodie dived. With a desperate hand she grabbed Ben’s wrist and pulled him to the surface. He was a dead weight.
 
Jodie swam for shore.
 
She heaved her exhausted body onto the rough rocks. Shivering she tugged Ben to dry land too. She shook him, as hard as she could. No response.
 
“Ben! I know you’re in there! Please!” She was crying now. He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t.
 
Then, with a sudden start, Ben’s eyes flew open. He coughed up a lungful of seawater and gave her his usual charming grin,
 
“Hey Sis; did you grab my hat?”
 

Well Done!! I will be in touch with you both regarding prizes 😃

Posted in Uncategorized

Enter the second FABO story competition!

★ The first FABO Story competition for 2021 has closed and author Kathy White is reading the entries. The winner will be announced in the next few days.

★ The second FABO Story competition for 2021 has now started and author Melinda Szymanik has written a story starter. You can enter the competition 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 May 28th (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 Melinda!

Melinda’s Story Starter: Trouble at Winch Farm

They’d got a bit lost.

They’d never had a farm holiday before and everything was strange and new. Jodie and Ben had been shocked at how early everyone got up. It was weird eating breakfast while the rest of the world seemed fast asleep, the darkness of night still asserting itself over everything.

But riding pillion on the quad bikes – ‘Yes you do have to wear a helmet,’ Mrs Winch insisted – was huge fun and they both loved the cows and Mr Winch’s dog Barney and the farm cat Pippi. They’d done their best to help where they could and stay out of the way when things got tricky.

And on the third day when they’d finished their chores and dinner was still hours away, Mrs Winch said, ‘why don’t you go for a walk. If you follow the driveway past the house to the gate and go through into the bush there’s a terrific track down to the beach.’

‘That sounds great,’ Jodie said. ‘We’ll be back by four thirty so we can help with dinner.’

They’d headed along the driveway and clambered over the gate and soon were deep in the bush on the narrow little trail. Until Ben saw something. ‘I think it’s Pippi. Maybe she’s lost. Or hurt. ’ And he was off before Jodie could say ‘Stop!’ She heard him thrashing about, the sound getting fainter as the distance between them grew.

‘Come back!’ she yelled, before plunging off the track and into the bush after him. She did her best to follow the noise but no matter how fast she went she couldn’t seem to catch up. And then she heard the sound no one wants to hear. A sharp, anguished cry and then a piercing scream. ‘Ben!’

Pushing through the tangle of scrub and trees as fast as she could, Jodie nearly stepped off the edge of the cliff herself. She looked down before fear stopped her. Below, half way down the sheer face of stone, Ben perched where a small ledge jutted beside a crooked tree growing out horizontally over the drop. Was that blood on his forehead?

‘BEN!?’

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in Poetry, The Winners!

FABO Poetry Challenge report by Melinda Szymanik and Elena de Roo

Melinda Szymanik’s Report and Winners

Crikey! We had a fantastic response to the Poetry Challenge we set. Not just a terrific number of entries but of a very high quality as well. You are a talented bunch of poets! As we had close to 200 entries we decided to divide them in half between us and I judged the first 93. Here is what I thought.

Wowsers, what wonderful wordsmiths you all are. I laughed, I cried, I gasped. Some of you wrote thoughtful clever poems, some of you wrote heartfelt laments, and some of you wrote funny twisty poems. I found it really, really hard to pick. I thought many of your poems were very good.

In no particular order I especially enjoyed the poems written by Mia Holtom from Epsom Normal Primary, and Sienna Brits and Emily Fotheringham, both from Balmacewen Intermediate. Also poems by Phoebe Smith from A.G.E. (The Bench in the Corner), Eliana Gibbons from Fendalton Open Air (Swirls of Rainbows), and Lincey Jiang from West Park School with her clever limerick. Poems by Rose-Lynn Wen and Claytin Su, both from Epsom Normal Primary, Natalia from St Joseph’s Catholic School in Takapuna, Reka Lipoth and Clare Hourigan (with another limerick) both from Carmel College, and Vicki Murdoch from Point Chevalier Primary. And William Kelly of Brooklyn Primary, and Violetta Dacre, Lillie Walsh, Anika Makle, Hazel Hall, Lily Fowler (with a great environmental message) and Alice McDonald (The Feathered Saviour) all from Selwyn House School also impressed me with their poems.

My runner up was Amadeia from Kaurilands Primary with her poem ‘The Beach.’ I particularly liked the ending:

And the shells that washed ashore,
Are pulled back into the sea
Like a mother taking care of her babies.

My junior winner, with her poem ‘The Hedgehog in My Basket,’ is Holly Delilah Brown, 8, from Westmere Primary. This poem shows good control of the rhythm and rhyme, humour, and a well-structured idea. There is some lovely language, and technique shown. Great work Holly.

The Hedgehog In My Basket

On one Sunday morning,
I heard the rooster shout,
I was lying in my bed when I thought
I might as well get out!

I slipped my fluffy slippers on
And went to check the time,
My finger lifted my peeper lid
But slipped and poked my eye!

I went to do my washing
But the machine was already full,
I put the clothes in a basket
Then out I saw it crawl!

That little snout was the first thing out
Then the spiky ball,
It paused when it saw me and then before me,
It positioned against the wall!

But a leg was lagging, the tiny foot dragging
So I took him to the vet,
And never has anyone in the world
Had such a lovely pet!

And my senior winner is Sam Smith, 13 from Awakeri Primary School. I love the repeating yet varying refrain of ‘the clouds began to cry’. I love the language – ‘tussock twisted sharp as bone’ … ‘The horizon burnt with autumn’ and ‘The moon disappeared with a sigh’. This poem feels epic and yet also personal – well done Sam.

The sea withered below me,
I fell as far as the sky,
The tussock twisted sharp as bone,
And the clouds began to cry,

The horizon burnt with autumn,
A treasure to the eye,
A landscape picturesque,
Til’ the clouds began to cry,

The trees rose tall and mighty,
The moon disappeared with a sigh,
Awakened was our silent sun,
Then the clouds began to cry,

Opened were the heavens,
And forever your peace may fly,
Tears were rolling down my cheeks,
As my clouds began to cry.

Elena de Roo’s Report and Winner

I read the last 93 poems to come in and I too was blown away by the wide range of imaginative and accomplished poems you entered. Some made me laugh, some made me cry and some transported me with their beautiful imagery. Others rolled off the tongue or delighted me with their perfect simplicity.

Also in no particular order, here are some of the poems that stood out for various reasons:

Best last line from Puffin in the Storm by Trelise McEwan (Selwyn House School) “I catch my lunch from the lulling sea.”

Other noteworthy last lines: Saskia Fitzgerald (St Andrew’s Preparatory) “Tick tock tick tock, the hedgehog runs up the grandfather clock!” and from Aneel Bartlett (St Andrew’s College) “Hedgehog, Oh hedgehog, don’t get squashed!”

Best titles:

Lingering Lollipop Lines – Maddy (Paparangi School). I love the way your whole poem skips along with alliterative energy. You use some great metaphors to describe the lollipops in your poem too, like “twisty serpents” and “eye popping snails”

A Place to Sleep – Juliet Grey (Selwyn House School). I like the way the title adds to the poem , also that you never tell us directly the what the subject of your poem is, leaving us to guess from clues – “sand dune sized blanket,” “spiky barricade” and “wrinkles of light pink flesh.”

Best structured poems: Chelsea Brown (Carmel School) who wrote a reverse poem with a thought provoking environmental message. Also Grace Plummer (St Mary’s College) and Lachie Hackston (Fendalton school) who both used a repeated structure, slightly changing it each time, to build up to some excellent last lines.

Best similes: Cy Finnemore (Epsom Normal Primary School) Up in the tree tops – reading your poem I can really picture the sights, smells and sounds of the jungle – “Emerald treetops like bunches of parsley” “Muddy rivers looping around the forest like jungle vines” “Leaves sway side to side like a hip hop dancer”

Best beginning: Maanvir Chawla (Papatoetoe Central) – “I swallowed a cloud, When I wasn’t allowed”

Excellent Rhythm and rhyme:
Hannah Howis (Fendalton Open Air School) Puffin Lunch – great opening lines where rhythm and rhyme come together to create a sense of movement, “Swooping and swerving come puffins in twos, screeching and squawking out of the blue”

Sam Smith (Awakeri Primary School) Up in the treetops – near perfect rhythm and rhyme create a musical poem that sings.

Prompts:
Ariana Kralicek (Balmoral School) – I like the way you’ve taken the alliteration of the prompt and run with it, especially the line “Now, nicely nick a nit from your cousin’s scalp,” and also the way you’ve played around with the shape of your poem to match the words.

Mia Douglas (Selwyn House School) – “Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! Frail rocks crumble under my feet”

Emma Van Schalkwyk (Selwyn House School) – The Song of the Moon – “I swallowed a cloud as I was lifted gently through the setting sky.”

There were so many excellent poems it was very hard to choose a winner. I read them all and then left it for a few days to see which ones lingered in my mind.

Special Mentions:

Maddix Smith (St Clair) – for a clever poem that made me laugh out loud.

Sivakami S (Selwyn College) – the magical images in your poem spirited me away to another world.

Trelise McEwan (Selwyn House School) – Puffin’s Lunch paints a beautifully vivid picture of a seabird diving for a fish.

Runner Up:

Lillie Walsh (Selwyn House School) – your powerful poem about home sickness spoke from the heart and really touched me.

Winner:

Hedgehog by Vitek Mencl (Ilam School) – was a tiny but perfectly formed poem. It had a lovely flow and rhythm to the words, an unexpected last line, and the image it made in my mind stayed with me. Congratulations Vitek!

Hedgehog

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

Posted in Enter Now

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

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

Pop-up Poetry Challenge

With Elena de Roo and Melinda Szymanik

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Send Us Your Poem on the FABO Website

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 11 judged by Melinda Szymanik

Well, that was a wild and crazy ride. There were 58 entries and so many dinosaurs and skeletons, and ‘it was all a dream’s, it was incredible!!

Some stories kind of forgot about the story starter and went off in totally unrelated directions. Some of you forgot to check your stories for spelling mistakes. Some of you had one big chunk of writing instead of dividing your story into paragraphs. These made some stories a challenge to read. It is really worth fixing these issues before pressing send.

But there was also a lot to like. I loved this descriptive line in Cathy Zhang’s (Campbell’s Bay School) story – “This farm’s too quiet, I could almost hear my blood running through my veins.” This one from Indigo Tomlinson (Whakatane Intermediate) – The girls suddenly became aware of an ominous yet discordant ticking, like a group of old ladies all knitting at once. And this one – “If mum was here, she would have found it in an instant” added Isla. They both laughed – from Siena Hays (Campbell’s Bay School). Mothers are indeed famous for finding things when no one else can. I loved the name William Kelly (Brooklyn Primary in Wellington) came up with for the bone whistle – a bazoothesizer!

I really enjoyed this last bit in Vicki Murdoch’s story (Point Chevalier Primary), which made the most of Willow’s comments in the starter –

“Willow. You were so rude to me, and made me feel insecure in myself. Although I wasn’t the prettiest person ever, does that matter? No! I don’t accept your apology.” Willow’s crying features hardened immediately.

“You…” she seethed defiantly. But Isla was having none of it.

“Goodbye. And it’s foraging, NOT fossicking.”

And I laughed out loud at Jessica Alexander’s opening line (Matamata Intermediate) – “Maybe if we ignore the problem it will go away?” Willow said in a shaky voice. If only!

Some writers came up with surprising and entertaining reasons for why the bone whistle changed everything, including Michael Jackson and the song Thriller in one case ( Elena Louise McCrossan from Berkley Normal Middle School), and penguins in another (Yuki Nishimura from Campbell’s Bay School). Grace Downie (Clearview Primary) did some great work continuing to develop the characters of Isla and Willow, building on the story starter. Taylor Goddard’s story (Lincoln Primary) created a new riff on Greek mythology involving Apollo and Orpheus. I enjoyed the stories written by Lyndey Jiang (West Park School), and William Kelly (Brooklyn Primary), and the twist at the end of Carys Silva’s story was chilling (Stonefield’s School). Vanessa Leong (Remuera Primary) drew on Alice in Wonderland in an interesting way for her story, and Indigo Tomlinson (Whakatane Intermediate) wrote a beautifully crafted Dali-esque tale.

It was difficult to pick a winner. A bunch of stories had fun clever ideas that I really liked. There was some wonderful strong writing. There were some cool twists. But these didn’t always occur in the same entry. Ultimately though, I loved mythology when I was at primary school myself, and the one story that stood out to me as having an interesting idea based on the starter, a well thought through story structure, and good writing was the entry from Taylor Goddard (Lincoln Primary). Congratulations Taylor!!

Our guest Penguin author, Chris Mousdale, award winning illustrator of picture book, Brodie and writer of the novel, A Place of Stone and Darkness, had this to say:

Some lovely words to roll around the mouth: “Fossicking”, “Foraging”, “Galumphed”. Melinda’s story starter begins with the mundane and ordinary; a day out, playing in the woods. But – as is so often the case – from play comes the unexpected and the extraordinary.

Taylor installs a cast of Greek monsters and demons and we’re instantly amongst them. There’s a chase and nail-biting action. Our protagonists are in a tight spot – how will they react? The two girls fall back on their education. Knowing who Apollo was and what he represented they formulate a plan – to communicate, in a language the enemy will understand.

In this case the language is music and, to paraphrase Congreve, “the savage breast is soothed”.

Taylor’s story is brisk with an exciting momentum. The music is evoked with a water simile: it “flowed over them…like a stream bubbling in a forest,” bringing us along for the action with the characters, then delivering us back home, safe in a peaceful resolution.

The dialogue is truthful, the interaction between Willow and Isla well observed. This is good writing – a story based on truthful character allows us to travel into far-fetched and fantastic worlds and to believe them.

Melinda’s Story Starter: The Wrong Note

Willow and Isla had been mucking around in the woods on the hill above their town all day.

Willow called it fossicking.

Isla called it foraging.

“It’s only foraging if we can eat it,” said Willow.

“Humph,” Isla replied.

“This is definitely a fossick,” Willow went on, holding up the bone she’d just pulled from a hole at the base of a tree trunk.

“That’s disgusting,” Isla said.

“It’s NOT!” Willow insisted. “It’s super old. It probably hasn’t been alive for like a hundred years. I mean look at it.”

They both peered at the bone, almost like a shin but not quite.

“There are holes in it,” breathed Willow. And before either of them could think, she raised the bone to her mouth and blew in to the largest hole at the top. A single long note.

The noise was sweeter and deeper than they expected. A shiver crawled down their spines. The ground seemed to hiccup, the sunlight swelling in a terrible, brilliant way, and then everything was normal again. Nearly.

“I think we should go home,” Isla said.

“Yes, lets,” Willow agreed. She let the bone drop to the ground.

They held hands as they galumphed down the path between the trees, hopping over the twisty vines and slippery rocks in their way. They emerged out of the bush near the bottom of the hill, just as the sun began to pull the horizon up over itself.

“My goodness!” Willow gasped.

“Oh Willow, what did you do?!” Isla squeaked, her eyes wide at the sight before them.

Where had everybody gone? And what were those frightening things that had taken their place?

Taylor Goddard’s Story

Terrifying creatures replaced the humans. One looked like a dragon, except it had thousands of necks leading to heads that spewed poison. Others looked like demons with flames for hair and blood-red eyes that seemed to whisper “death, horror and despair.” Thousands of the creatures were too horrible to describe. Isla stared at them, her eyes wide with terror.

“Those,” she said her voice trembling, “are from Greek mythology.”

“Don’t be crazy,” Willow whispered.

“YOU DARE PLAY MY INSTRUMENT?!” A voice boomed.

There was a blinding flash of light and a figure appeared, it towered over them, casting shadows across the fields.

“I SPENT YEARS TRYING TO FIND THE RIGHT BONE TO CRAFT THAT INSTRUMENT AND TWO MORTALS COME AND TRY IT! YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS, YOU WILL SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IN FEAR OF THE CREATURES FROM TARTARUS!”

In a flash, the figure was gone. Willow and Isla had no time to contemplate what happened, a monster that was half man and half bull had noticed their presence. The creature roared and charged at them.

“RUN!!!” Willow screamed.

They sprinted away, they knew they wouldn’t outrun the monster, then Willow had an idea.

“The tree!” Willow pointed to a large, old eucalyptus.

Isla reached it first, she scrambled up it, grabbing onto bits of bark that sometimes ripped off under her weight. Willow came after her, she could hear the monster’s feet thudding heavily against the ground. Isla grabbed onto a branch, pulled herself onto it then bent down to help Willow. Suddenly, the tree shook, Isla looked past Willow and saw the creature ramming its horns into the tree and roaring up at them. Finally Willow was beside Isla, they were both breathing in small, difficult gasps.

“That… was too… close,” Willow panted.

All Isla could do to reply was nod.

The girls waited for the monster to leave.

“That was Apollo,” Isla said.

“Don’t be silly.”

“It was.”

They were silent for a while, finally the monster lost interest and left.

“How do we escape this… whatever this place is,” Willow said quietly.

“I don’t know, Apollo is the god of music right?”

Willow nodded.

“When Orpheus played Apollo’s lyre, Apollo was going to punish him.”

“But he didn’t,” Willow smiled, remembering the story of how the musician got his lyre, “because Orpheus played so beautifully, Apollo spared him, and gave him his lyre.”

“Exactly,” Isla said.

“So you want me to play that instrument? What if it makes Apollo angrier?”

“D’you have a better idea?”

“Well… no.”

So Isla and Willow timidly got down from the eucalyptus and found their way to the instrument. Willow picked it up and put one of the holes to her lips, she gently blew out and music flowed over them. It sounded like a stream bubbling in a forest, and made them feel like they were in a sunlit field of flowers. Willow started to play and after a few minutes Apollo appeared and listened. When Willow was finished Apollo sighed,

“Keep it.” He smiled and nodded at the instrument, “I can make another one someday. You can go home now.”

The ground shuddered and the world was normal again. Isla fell down to the ground, exhausted. Willow smiled then continued to play her new instrument.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the 11th FABO Story competition!

The eleventh FABO Story competition will be judged by author Melinda Szymanik. Enter below!

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 July 31st (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.

Melinda’s Story Starter: The Wrong Note

Willow and Isla had been mucking around in the woods on the hill above their town all day.

Willow called it fossicking.

Isla called it foraging.

“It’s only foraging if we can eat it,” said Willow.

“Humph,” Isla replied.

“This is definitely a fossick,” Willow went on, holding up the bone she’d just pulled from a hole at the base of a tree trunk.

“That’s disgusting,” Isla said.

“It’s NOT!” Willow insisted. “It’s super old. It probably hasn’t been alive for like a hundred years. I mean look at it.”

They both peered at the bone, almost like a shin but not quite.

“There are holes in it,” breathed Willow. And before either of them could think, she raised the bone to her mouth and blew in to the largest hole at the top. A single long note.

The noise was sweeter and deeper than they expected. A shiver crawled down their spines. The ground seemed to hiccup, the sunlight swelling in a terrible, brilliant way, and then everything was normal again. Nearly.

“I think we should go home,” Isla said.

“Yes, lets,” Willow agreed. She let the bone drop to the ground.

They held hands as they galumphed down the path between the trees, hopping over the twisty vines and slippery rocks in their way. They emerged out of the bush near the bottom of the hill, just as the sun began to pull the horizon up over itself.

“My goodness!” Willow gasped.

“Oh Willow, what did you do?!” Isla squeaked, her eyes wide at the sight before them.

Where had everybody gone? And what were those frightening things that had taken their place?

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Melinda Szymanik’s FABO Story Competition Report: The Winner of the first FABO Challenge!

I was blown away by the response to our first Fabo challenge for the year. I received just over 200 entries, with many wonderful examples of good writing and fantastic imaginations. Many of you had me laughing out loud. I want to acknowledge everyone who entered and say Good Work!! All of you!! All writers know that the more writing practice you get in, the better your writing becomes. Just remember though, only ONE ENTRY per person please. If you do hit enter by accident on a half-finished story let us know and we’ll read your preferred entry only.

There were some incredible transformations that poor Mrs Jamie endured – from monsters, goblins, werewolves, dragons, witches, and rabbits, to yeti, orangutan and even a chihuahua. Many of you gave her red eyes and facial warts. There was often a lot of magic involved, or the decision to cook the opposite of the first meal to effect a cure. Having the food reveal ‘Mum’s true form’ was also popular. There was some great writing but a number of you had undercooked plots. Remember to figure out what the problem is in your story and how it should be solved, and include these in your story.

Please make sure, before you press enter, to read through your story one last time. Some of you switched point of view which was confusing, and there were some missing full stops and tricky spellings which always makes things harder to read. With so many entries the judges will love your stories even more if they have good punctuation, good spelling and consistent point of view. I also find it easier to read stories with paragraphs. Start a new paragraph a) when someone new starts speaking, b) when you change to a new location or, c) when something new happens.

I want to give a shout out to some excellent lines that caught my eye.

Taylor Goddard (Lincoln Primary) had strong writing and this great line – She turned the tap on with her teeth, lifted her hoof up and pushed Oliver’s head under the cold water to clear his thoughts.

Evelyn Darwall (Moanataiari School) – Oliver was down stairs playing with his favourite cooking spoon when he heard a big noise.

Isabella Bwayo (Little River School) had some terrific writing – Oliver stood there in the kitchen, his mouth open so far you could fit a tennis ball inside. “Do I have something on my face Oliver? Are you staring at my face because of my good looks? I get that a lot with the ladies, but then you’re not a lady”. “Or are you?” Grylls looked at Oliver suspiciously.

Charlotte Hogg (Witherlea) – he turned back and there sitting in the sink was his mum, with her bed head hair all covered in the slimy mess. “Oh Oliver, what happened?” she said. “Oh Mum, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Shall I just say we had a go at cleaning out the pantry” said Oliver.

I loved this from Sofia Stojko (Tighes Hill Public School) – seconds folded into minutes.

Niamh Murray (Churton Park School) – had some great writing in general but I especially loved the line – Oliver was stunned into silence. “Man,” he murmured. “I was hoping for some really dramatic solution with me as the hero.”

I loved Caitlin Collins (Carmel College) simile …jumped back like a cat next to a cucumber.

Emily Feng Yi Ng’s (St. Joseph’s Papanui) idea was very appealing – a tiny bottle of taniwha tears. (Which were very tricky to obtain, and the quest Oliver had to go on to collect them was very long, so he had to take frequent pavlova breaks).

Livy Urquhart (Silverstream South) had this cool description – It looked like a hairy, slimy slug, its eyes poked out of its head like baseball bats sticking out of mud.

And this line from David Akuhata (Nelson Intermediate) made me laugh – You’re the Huia bird! That’s the rarest bird in New Zealand. If I turn you in we will get 10,000 dollars, well mostly me but I’ll buy you a better kitchen” laughed Oliver.

Special mentions for great writing in general – Nadia Isaacs (St Kentigern College), Pippa Rogers (Tawa Intermediate), Sylvia Kingston, Nelima Bwayo (Duvauchelle Primary), Neve Overend (Queenspark Primary), Freddie Read (Middleton Grange School), Grace Tomson (Hobsonville Point Primary), Peta Byers (Westshore School), Timothy Hall (Bellevue School), Ariana Miller (Saints Peter and Paul School), Caitlin Lees, and Kardelen (Gordonton School), Cate Crutchley (Cambridge Middle School). Charlotte Cook (Matua School), Nathan Lu (Knighton Normal), and Tali Whiteridge (Kelburn Normal).

Kerala Beard had a cool twist, as did Olivia Morris (Oamaru Intermediate). Hana Smith (Dunedin North Intermediate) had a very original take as did Aisha Gemala (Parnell District School) and Juliet Grey (Selwyn House School). Drew Kenny (Maungatapu Primary)had some great writing and a very fun idea. Kiki Timlin (Stella Maris) had the best ingredient list. I liked Kate Pointer’s (Maraekakaho School) tiger idea. Olive Aitken Gunner’s (Parawai School) ending was fab. Mattie Lang (Nelson Central) wrote a very original tale with Weka’s, and Charlie Bint’s (Loburn School) included pirates.

And jeepers people, in the end you all made it very, very hard for me to pick a winner. My finalists were – Evie Drazevic, 11 (Nelson Intermediate), Rita Treadgold, 9 (Newtown School), Brenna Johnson, 12 (Hawera High School), Juliet, 9 (Queen Margaret College), Indigo Tomlinson, 12 (Whakatane Intermediate), and Adele Stack, 9 (Geraldine Primary).
And my winner is Juliet from Queen Margaret College. This story is a clever, surprise take on the story starter, with an unexpected ending. It does a lot in just a few words, and it made me laugh every time I read it. Wonderful work Juliet.

– Melinda Szymanik.

Melinda’s Story Starter: A Very Unexpected Experiment

Oliver Jamie had been keen on cooking from an early age. Perhaps it was the fun of making Yuck Soup as a toddler, with water from the hose, dirt from the garden, daisies plucked from the lawn, and all kinds of date-expired pantry items provided by his mother.

Now he loved to experiment, and unusual ingredients were his specialty.

‘What’s on the menu today?’ Mrs. Jamie asked her son as she padded into the kitchen, wearing bed hair and her fluorescent pink dressing gown. It was the first day of the school holidays and yet Oliver had been up since the crack of dawn. In the kitchen. Measuring, sifting, and mixing.

‘It’s a secret,’ he said. ‘But it’s nearly done. And you can be the first person to taste it.’

His right arm was a blur as he whisked a thick, orange fluid in the mixing bowl.

‘It’s an interesting … colour,’ Mum said. She didn’t comment on the smell. Partly because she had no words to describe it.

Oliver bustled around the kitchen. Pinching spices and chopping herbs his mum didn’t recognize. Stirring and straining. Opening and closing the oven door. Mrs. Jamie poured herself a coffee.

The oven timer went ding.

‘Voila,’ Oliver said, handing his mum a plate filled with knobbly orange blobs, flecked with green. He handed her a fork. ‘I’ll be back in a jiffy,’ he said. ‘Start without me.’

Mrs. Jamie scooped some of the food with her fork, and pinching her nose closed, opened her mouth and took a bite.

Oliver didn’t notice the flash of white light in the kitchen behind him as he dried his hands in the bathroom. He didn’t notice the deep silence as he made his way back to his favourite room in the house. And nothing could have prepared him for what he found sitting where his mum had sat only a few minutes earlier.

‘Mum,’ he croaked, trembling. ‘Is that you?’ …

Juliet’s story

There she was. Sitting on the chair where his mum should’ve been was…. a toad. It gave a feeble croak and hopped off the chair. Oliver noticed her dressing gown, draped on the floor. Though he had never liked the colour, he felt a pang of sadness for his mother as he looked sorrowfully at it. The toad had now hopped over to the kitchen bench.

‘Well, at least she doesn’t have to do her hair any more’, Oliver thought. The toad hopped up onto the marble bench and, with ‘her’ long tongue, caught a fly that had been buzzing around the kitchen. Oliver had a sudden idea. This could be the perfect time to set up his own restaurant- Mum had always frowned upon this and exclaimed, “You’re too young! You need to get a proper job, like your father, and have a proper family!” Even better, Mum the toad could catch the flies that were buzzing around his restaurant- and he wouldn’t have to pay her! The temptation was so great, he ran to the phone and rang the government. “Do you have any spare plots of land?” he asked. “I’m looking to set up a restaurant!”

“Yes,” came the reply. “Only there is a lot of bugs in that area, due to the fruit trading that goes on around there. I wouldn’t advise it if I were you”.

“Perfect!” replied Oliver. The official on the other end of the line pulled the phone away from his ear, confused. “I’ll buy it tomorrow!” And so he did. Over the next few years, Oliver’s Restaurant became very famous for its absence of bugs. And it was all down to Oliver’s love for cooking, his Yucky Soup, and his amphibian mum.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

FABO Is Back! Are You Ready To Write?

The FIRST FABO Story competition for 2020 is here! Author Melinda Szymanik 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 April 10th.

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 prize for the winner of the current competition is shown on the sidebar of the website.

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

Melinda’s Story Starter: A Very Unexpected Experiment

Oliver Jamie had been keen on cooking from an early age. Perhaps it was the fun of making Yuck Soup as a toddler, with water from the hose, dirt from the garden, daisies plucked from the lawn, and all kinds of date-expired pantry items provided by his mother.

Now he loved to experiment, and unusual ingredients were his specialty.

‘What’s on the menu today?’ Mrs. Jamie asked her son as she padded into the kitchen, wearing bed hair and her fluorescent pink dressing gown. It was the first day of the school holidays and yet Oliver had been up since the crack of dawn. In the kitchen. Measuring, sifting, and mixing.

‘It’s a secret,’ he said. ‘But it’s nearly done. And you can be the first person to taste it.’

His right arm was a blur as he whisked a thick, orange fluid in the mixing bowl.

‘It’s an interesting … colour,’ Mum said. She didn’t comment on the smell. Partly because she had no words to describe it.

Oliver bustled around the kitchen. Pinching spices and chopping herbs his mum didn’t recognize. Stirring and straining. Opening and closing the oven door. Mrs. Jamie poured herself a coffee.

The oven timer went ding.

‘Voila,’ Oliver said, handing his mum a plate filled with knobbly orange blobs, flecked with green. He handed her a fork. ‘I’ll be back in a jiffy,’ he said. ‘Start without me.’

Mrs. Jamie scooped some of the food with her fork, and pinching her nose closed, opened her mouth and took a bite.

Oliver didn’t notice the flash of white light in the kitchen behind him as he dried his hands in the bathroom. He didn’t notice the deep silence as he made his way back to his favourite room in the house. And nothing could have prepared him for what he found sitting where his mum had sat only a few minutes earlier.

‘Mum,’ he croaked, trembling. ‘Is that you?’ …

Now You Finish The Story On The FABO Website…