Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story Judge’s Report From Melinda Szymanik

Wow. A lot of you were inspired by the scary story starter and we received around one hundred and twenty entries. There were some wild and crazy ideas and some very inventive thinking and writing. There was a lot to enjoy and I giggled and gasped at the things you came up with, so thank you!

There were a few common mistakes that I saw coming up again and again. One was changing from third person (speaking about Isabelle) to first person (writing as if you were Isabelle, using “I”). The best idea is to follow on from how the story is started (third person in this case). Another problem was not putting your story into paragraphs. If something changes (the person speaking, the action, a new scene, etc…), start a new paragraph. It makes your story so much easier to read and understand.

A lot of you also had Isabelle waking up to discover it was all a dream. Most of the time this is not a very satisfying way to finish a story as it means you don’t have to work out a resolution for your plot and it takes all the excitement out of the story. However a couple of you did find a way to make a dream a good resolution to your story, so it can be done (compliments to Lucy Kennedy at Balmoral Intermediate and Jason Figgitt at Epsom Normal for achieving this). And lastly some of you had wonderful ideas which you set up beautifully and then the story stopped. I wanted to know how things worked out but you left me dangling. Resolving your story will always win you extra points.

So in no particular order the following writers get an honourable mention for some pretty smart/cool ideas and/or clever twists – Fleur Pedersen from Matamata Intermediate (a talking dog!), Samuel Anderton at Marina View School (the horror!!), Grace Howard from Beckenham Te Kura O Puroto, Zara S. (Vampires!), Hector T. (Skeletons!) and Matheus Z. (creepy doll!!) all from Remarkables Primary, Libby Namana at Whangarei Intermediate, Niamh Murray from Churton Park School, Arshiya Tuli at Queen Margaret College, Heidi from Fairlie Primary School (Go Mrs McGreevy!), Sharon Jones at Te Mata Primary in Havelock North (future Isabelle!), Julia Moffitt from Hauraki Primary, Aleisha Skinner at Saint Kentigern College (the phone calls!), Salina at Carmel College, Tash Dellabarca from Moanataiari School (it’s a stick with attitude!), Margot Wilson at Maungawhau School (a sand witch!), and Eliza Carter from Moanataiari School who turned Mrs McGreevy into Mrs McGreedy.

And some of you blew me away with your lovely lyrical or funny use of words. Honourable mentions go to Nadia from Saint Kentigern College, who included one of the truest lines, “Through the darkness she saw the shadow of a person with a hunchback. Something just out of the horror film that every young person feared to watch, and when they did they regretted it.” Nadia, I’ve regretted every horror movie I’ve ever watched!

Alantis James at Westport South School wrote “the sky stopped dropping its forks of lightning and clapping the clouds together” which is a wonderful image.

And a very special mention for Niketa Fernando at Carmel College for sentences like “Her breath broke the silence, like dawn breaking darkness. Isabelle was a small fly, in the midst of a spider, searching for its prey.” “Even though a tiny whisper floated out of her mouth, it danced its way through the house until it reached the ears of the intruder.” And “Thunder crashed, like band, who had not rehearsed its music.” Niketa that is some beautiful writing. Keep up the great work.

I ended up with three favourites, all good stories with original ideas and good writing, and it was a tough job to pick a winner. Maia O’Callaghan from Carmel College, and Sarah Aitken at Broadfield School, I really enjoyed your stories and I hope you keep writing (and entering Fabostory).

And my winner for this challenge is Chloe Morrison-Clarke from Casebrook Intermediate. I loved the simple, elegance of the idea and the writing. It was well constructed and felt fresh and satisfying.

Melinda’s Story Starter: Once, on a Dark and Stormy Night

Every light in the house was on, but the darkness outside still forced its way in through the windows, and past the curtains. Except when lightening blazed jaggedly through the sky, momentarily lighting everything up with a shocking whiteness, like a camera flash.

Sitting in the lounge downstairs, Isabelle counted the seconds between the flare of light and the crash of thunder. Only two. Two measly seconds. The storm was almost right overhead.

Why did they have to live at the end of a long, long driveway? On the very furthest edge of town? Why did both her parents have to go with Jojo? They didn’t want to wait for an ambulance when her little brother fell out of the biggest tree in the backyard. That tree was evil. Isabelle and Jojo both knew it. They never clambered up through its branches, or lay beneath it, even when the shade beckoned them during the hottest summer months. And they both refused to sleep in the middle upstairs bedroom where the branches clawed at the windows, even when there was no breath of wind. Isabelle didn’t even know why Jojo had climbed the tree that afternoon. Or if he even had.

He’d looked so pale lying in the grass, his eyes closed, his body limp.

Dad said, “I’ll drive,” and Mum said, “I’ll sit with him in the back and make sure he’s okay.”

“Don’t worry Isabelle,” Dad said. “I’ll ring Mrs McGreevy and get her to mind you.”

And Isabelle said the words she now deeply regretted and would never forget. “I’m fourteen now. I can mind myself. But call me as soon as you get to the hospital.” She’d smiled bravely then, and waved as the car pulled away, throwing up dust as Dad put his foot down.

Now she was alone in the house at night, with a storm raging all around.

BOOM! An almighty clap of thunder shook the house.

All at once, every single light went off. Everything went dead quiet.

And in the dark Isabelle heard a determined tapping sound coming from upstairs. And then she heard a new sound. A voice. Rasping, and low.

“Let me in.”

The winning story by Chloe…

Her body seized up, every muscle was under the control of some unknown enemy. Isabelle felt glued to the chair, her only conscious thought being, ‘ I’ll never complain about having Mrs McGreevy mind me ever again…’

“Let me in!” the voice sounded higher than before.

Isabelle suddenly felt a burst of courage. She thought she heard a note of desperation- or was it sadness – mingling with the anger in the strange voice. Could it be a creature in need? (Isabelle was passionate about saving animals in need.)

Her soft steps echoed up the landing as she tiptoed to the source of the sound. Her mind overflowed with horror scenes as she crept, thinking of the tree out in the garden, it’s bare, pointy branches slamming her brothers body to the cold Winter ground, of the spots of blood on the lawn.

Her skin seemed electrified, any small noise and she would jump and shake uncontrollably, fighting the urge to run, hearing the rain beat on the window like a drum band. Lightning flashed, but Isabelle had given up counting the seconds.

Finally, the velvety curtains concealing the window hung in front of her.
“Please, please, Let there be nothing there…” she begged the universe. It was in the moment of hesitation she noticed her surroundings. Her feet were firmly planted on the dusty, unused surface of carpet in the middle upstairs bedroom.

“Oh no.”
Silence reigned. Dust settled. The room held its breath. The tense knot in Isabelle’s stomach grew.
Her shaking hand swiped at the heavy curtain and it sprung aside.

“AHHHHHHH!!!” she screamed.

The most beautiful face she had ever seen stared back at her.
Long locks of hair hung in curved tendrils of her head. Her curving figure was covered only by wisps of leaves and branches; the ballgown of a tree.

Her full lips turned down at the corners, in her wide brown eyes tears welled and slowly fell back to earth.

Isabelle fumbled with the latch and opened the window. She leapt back as the beautiful woman glided into the room.

She spoke. Her voice sounded like music, rushing rivers, leaves rustling in the wind.

“I am the Dryad of the tree you despise. What have I ever done to hurt you? Your brother struggled as I tried to lower him, he broke of my branch. I couldn’t catch him. He was distrustful of me.”

A minute elapsed.

“I long to be a welcome beauty in your garden, to be climbed, for you to lay beneath me and appreciate the gloss of my leaves in all seasons.”

The Dryad waited for Isabelle’s shaky nod before smiling, and fading back to the tree she belonged to.

Each time Isabelle went out to the garden after that, she (and Jojo, who fully recovered) would sit underneath the tree she now recognised for its beauty, and stared into the branches. Once or twice, she even thought she saw a beautiful face with full, glossy lips gazing back. Smiling.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Ready to write? Melinda Szymanik has a new FABO Story Starter!

Another FABO Story competition is here! Author Melinda Szymanik has written a story starter. Now 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 June 21st.

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.

Melinda’s Story Starter: Once, on a Dark and Stormy Night

Every light in the house was on, but the darkness outside still forced its way in through the windows, and past the curtains. Except when lightening blazed jaggedly through the sky, momentarily lighting everything up with a shocking whiteness, like a camera flash.

Sitting in the lounge downstairs, Isabelle counted the seconds between the flare of light and the crash of thunder. Only two. Two measly seconds. The storm was almost right overhead.

Why did they have to live at the end of a long, long driveway? On the very furthest edge of town? Why did both her parents have to go with Jojo? They didn’t want to wait for an ambulance when her little brother fell out of the biggest tree in the backyard. That tree was evil. Isabelle and Jojo both knew it. They never clambered up through its branches, or lay beneath it, even when the shade beckoned them during the hottest summer months. And they both refused to sleep in the middle upstairs bedroom where the branches clawed at the windows, even when there was no breath of wind. Isabelle didn’t even know why Jojo had climbed the tree that afternoon. Or if he even had.

He’d looked so pale lying in the grass, his eyes closed, his body limp.

Dad said, “I’ll drive,” and Mum said, “I’ll sit with him in the back and make sure he’s okay.”

“Don’t worry Isabelle,” Dad said. “I’ll ring Mrs McGreevy and get her to mind you.”

And Isabelle said the words she now deeply regretted and would never forget. “I’m fourteen now. I can mind myself. But call me as soon as you get to the hospital.” She’d smiled bravely then, and waved as the car pulled away, throwing up dust as Dad put his foot down.

Now she was alone in the house at night, with a storm raging all around.

BOOM! An almighty clap of thunder shook the house.

All at once, every single light went off. Everything went dead quiet.

And in the dark Isabelle heard a determined tapping sound coming from upstairs. And then she heard a new sound. A voice. Rasping, and low.

“Let me in.”

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

The Winners Of The FABO Story Competition: 14-25 May

First off a little reminder – the competitions close 8pm every second Friday. If you send your entry after then it won’t be judged, so make sure you get your stories in on time.

Like Maureen, I was thrilled to see some familiar names from 2017 competitions among the entrants, and so pleased that you have returned for another year. One of the best ways to improve your writing is practice and it is one of the reasons we run Fabostory.

There was some wonderful storytelling, some fresh new ideas and a few confusing ones as well. I gave extra points if you structured your sentences well, and had a story that felt complete before sending Ella, David and Ratty off on their next adventure. I also gave extra points for including some mention of the World War One setting.

I loved this line in the story written by Hazel and Sarah from Laingholm Primary – ‘The time travel ring was trying to teach them about how their world was shaped and how they can begin to appreciate everything they have today.’

Lulu Marty from Maungawhau School put David in a gym smock (as did a few other writers) and then used this in an interesting way in her story. Some excellent dialogue there too Lulu.

A number of you hid Ratty in the socks being knitted which I thought was rather fun and clever. I really enjoyed the stories by Cole Wescombe (Aidanfield Christian School), Lucy McLagan (Te Mata Primary), Ricco Howarth (Verran Primary), Ysabelle C (Ellerslie School), Anna Turingan (St Columba’s Catholic School) and Junna Wong (Kingsway School). There was some great writing there – keep up the good work!

My runner up is Anna (home-schooled) whose entry contained some wonderful polished writing, and my winner is Chelsea Young from Tighes Hill Public School. Chelsea’s story was well written, had some fresh, interesting language, used the World War One setting, and felt complete, taking us back to the shed for the next adventure. Well done Chelsea. I’ll be in touch with both of you to arrange your prizes.

– Melinda Szymanik

The Winning Story by Chelsea Young

“Wow,” David muttered under his breath as Ella snuck out of the sports shed and ran silently after Ratty. “What are the odds that we’ve traveled back in time, and a rat could be the cause of our problems.” Shaking his head, he slinked out of the dingy, dark shed after Ella. He hoped he could catch the rat before Mrs Satterworth or any of the other students saw it. But it was too late. The girls were shrieking and the boys were trying to thump it with sandbags. Above all the chaos, Mrs Satterworth’s voice could faintly be heard, trying unsuccessfully to restore order. David shook his head and tried to slip into the crowd unnoticed. That didn’t work. He was worried that he would might be beaten, or punished in some other horrific way, but all Mrs Satterworth barked was
“You’re late!”

“Yes, Miss,” David replied sheepishly.

“Well, catch the rat and set it free, our boys in Gallipoli don’t need to see rat guts on the sandbags.”

Ratty was darting around the girls ankles, and avoiding the grasp of some of the older boys. David leant down and swept him up, much to the amusement of the boys who had failed before him. Ratty buried his head in David’s hands, as though it would protect him from the mean kids and heavy sandbags. He saw Ella poke her head out from behind a wall, and he put Ratty on the ground. Ella scooped him up in her hands, and hid back behind the wall. Mrs Satterworth kept encouraging the children to do their best work for the brave boys in Gallipoli, but David was distracted by a soft rumbling that began to get louder. Mrs Satterworth noticed it too.

“Bomber planes!” She yelled. “Everyone get into the shelters!”
There was hysteria all around, but not from David and Ella. Seizing their chance, they bolted for the sports shed. Mrs Satterworth ran after them, yelling out to them. Ella knelt down and held Ratty in her hands.

“Ratty please take us to our time.” She said. They both jumped inside the hoops. The shed was modern and machinery was flying around.

“David…” Ella said cautiously. “I think this is after our time.”
David looked at her.
“You’re saying this is the future?”

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the new FABO Story Competition Now!

The second FABO Story Competition for 2018 is here. Award-winning children’s author Melinda Szymanik has written a story starter and she wants you to finish the story.

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 25.

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

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


Illustration by Ronja Schipper

Lost in the PE Shed Vortex: Episode Two

“Whew!” David exclaimed. “That was a lucky escape.”

They’d made it back to the shed. David held a squirming ratty firmly in his left hand.

“All we need to do is step back through the hoop,” Ella said, chewing at her bottom lip nervously. “Folk dancing is the worst. I thought I was going to die of boredom. And …. that person you were partnering with for the Hokey Pokey…”

“You mean Karen? She seemed really nice. And it’s the Hokey Tokey,” David corrected.

“That person you danced with, is my mum,” and Ella burst in to tears.

“Eww!” David twisted his mouth in a grimace. “Gross!”

“Don’t say that! Let’s not talk about it,” Ella sniffed. “I just want to go home.” And she grabbed David’s right hand because the thought of going alone frightened her more than the thought of holding his hand, and stepped into the circle of the hoop.

ZHOOP!

“We’re still here,” David said.

“No we’re not,” Ella said, pointing at the black gym smock now hanging from the hook on the back of the shed door, her eyes wide.

David swallowed. He looked around at the uncoloured, leather rugby and netballs done up with laces like a boot, at the metres and metres of thick ropes in snaking coils, and the pile of hoops just like theirs, but made out of bamboo cane, stacked in a tangle in the corner.

Ella stepped towards the door and opened it an inch peering out onto the court. David joined her and they goggled at the two rows of children standing out on the asphalt, the girls in gym smocks and the boys in grey buttoned down shirts and black shorts.

“What are they doing?” David asked. “Is … is that Mrs Satterworth?”

“It can’t be, can it?” Ella breathed.

They both strained to hear what the lady in charge was bellowing at the students.

“Our brave boys are fighting for our freedom in Gallipoli and across Europe, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing for us to do here. First, some marching to warm us up. Then boys, you will be filling sand bags and girls, you will be knitting socks.”

“It must be World War 1,” David said. “Hey!” he exclaimed. Ratty had bitten his hand and David let go, the animal popping out onto the floor and scurrying out the door. “Hey,” he said again. “What are you doing?”

Ella was pulling the gym smock on over her head. “I’m blending in. We have to save ratty. Maybe he’s the key to all this.” And she stepped through the doorway.

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in The Winners!

Melinda’s Judge’s Report For The Fabostory Challenge Ending May 26

Wow, thank you for all your wonderful stories – 59 in total. There were all sorts of weird and wacky solutions to dealing with the terrifying Miss Fox and rescuing the other students from their shrunken state.

Fynn Whittle from Sunnynook Primary sorted out Miss Fox with the help of Spongebob and krabby patties, and Katie Heays-Wilson also from Sunnynook had a taniwha save the day.

Gabriella Rusk from Churton Park School took Miss Fox’s name literally and expanded on the idea with Mr Wolf turning up as the replacement teacher. Zach from Sunnynook, using a mirror, and Emma Anderson from Carmel College using a whiteboard, both cleverly deflected Miss Fox’s spells and turned them back on her. Oliver Stacey from Churton Park distracted Miss Fox with donuts. Catherine Sole from Carmel College, had the fresh idea of yoghurt being the cause of Miss Fox’s strange powers.

Some of you opted for the classic ‘it was all a dream’ ending, but in most cases this doesn’t really provide a very satisfying ending to a story. Some of you had amazing ideas but let yourselves down by not reviewing and editing your work. Editing will always be an essential part of the writing process. With two weeks to write your story there should be enough time to go over your work and make any corrections needed before submitting.

Well done to Finn Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School, who had some great writing and an interesting twist.

Nathan Stacey from Churton Park School also had some great writing with lots of action.

A blast from Miss Fox narrowly missed Cassie’s head and now her hat was a plaything for Miss Fox’s toys. This time Cassie did scream. Morgan clamped her hand over her friends mouth even though she wanted to scream too. Morgan flipped their desk on its side and ducked under it, dragging Cassie with her. “What do we do!?” whispered Cassie, terror in her voice.

Minty from Waiheke High had some great descriptions.

Cassie stood up with a yell, her chair scraping across the floor of the classroom.
She didn’t care much for Dan but Mrs Fox was creepy!!

Dan was now a miniature version of himself, squirming in Mrs Fox’s iron grip.
Morgan’s eyes were staring at the hobbit version of her classmate, hand over her mouth in a silent scream.

And I liked that Cole Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School thought about things from the perspective of a miniaturised person.

Suddenly it dawned on her. She was hit by one of those ‘bullets’. She looked around to confirm it. There’s the field, look at the size of the grass! She turned to look at the classrooms. She could barely see the top of them they were so tall!

Then the bell went. Morgans first thought was, “How is the bell so loud now?” Her second thought was “Oh no, recess!”

And finally, drum roll please …. I have two winners this time with two fantastic stories filled with wonderful language and terrific ideas. Congratulations to Ysabelle C from Ellerslie Primary whose story was well-crafted and very funny, and Briana Wells from Carmel College with great language and a smart twist. You can read their stories below. Congratulations Ysabelle and Briana!! Please email your postal address to me at melinda@tale-spin.com so I can send out your prizes (or I can forward them to your schools if you prefer).

Ysabelle C’s Story

Wiremu quit laughing and asked, “Is there anything wrong, Miss?”

He got his own beam, and he was suddenly in Miss Fox’s hands. The girls tried to sneak under the table. But Miss Fox saw them and shouted, “Get back into your chairs!” Miss Fox rarely shouted though.

She sat down, smiling at the nearly empty classroom. “Class,” she started. There was a tiny squeal from her palms. She continued. “We are,” she stopped again. “Why is my class empty?” she said sarcastically. “Oh, because I turned them into tiny humans!”

Morgan screwed a finger into the side of her head when the teacher wasn’t looking. “She’s gone loopy.”

Perhaps Miss Fox heard this because her eyes started to glow a dangerous red. “Are you two wondering why I haven’t gotten you yet? Because I save the best, for last!”

That was old Miss Fox’s saying. This new version used it very scarily.

She stood up, bent her head, and shot beams at them.

Morgan shrieked. Her call echoed down the hallway and it brought Vice Principal Bentley.

“Miss Fox, why isn’t your class here?” he asked sternly, but kindly. He had a big crush on her.

She batted her eyelids and said we were doing independent fitness outside. Vice Principal Bentley smiled sweetly and strode off.

“Now my evil plan will work! First, I need to grab some COFFEE!!” said Miss Fox.

Coffee possesses adults. A lot.

Cassie found the others in a small pile. “Hello! Are you guys ok?”

“Yes,” they chorused.

“What happened to Miss Fox?” Morgan asked.

“I don’t know,” said Florence. “We were all crowded around this box that Seth brought, and it was from his dad.” Seth stood in the middle of the crowd on the desk and he shrugged.

“Dad said to never open it. I kinda wasn’t listening.”

Cassie and Morgan looked at each other. “Typical Seth. Never listening.”

“So…” Morgan started.

“What was in the box?” asked Cassie.

“It was something small,” said Florence

“That turned the teacher crazy?” asked Cassie.

“I guess so.”

Morgan told him that they needed a good plan. There was an inscription on the side of the now huge box saying, “Whoever opens thee, shall be cursed, take heed.”

“How exactly are we able to do this when we are way-way smaller than our teacher?” asked Dan.
Florence read it and smiled. She muttered her plan and everyone thought it was a good idea.

When Miss Fox came back, she sat down, plotting.

Florence counted them down and they all shouted, “Deeh ekat, desruc eb llahs, eeht snepo reveohw!” (That was the inscription backward.)

It worked! Miss Fox rubbed her eyes and looked at the class, who was back to their normal size and piled on her desk.

“What are you silly billies doing on my table? I have good mind to punish you by making you do PE!!”

Everyone laughed, even the Vice Principal who was outside, wondering why they weren’t actually doing fitness.

Briana Wells Story

Wiremu’s smile turned into a grimace.

“Yes, this is the real me! Iniquitous, sinister, venomous, malicious and vile! Feel the burn kids, feel the burn!”

“Anyone think that are teacher could be slightly delirious?” Cassie asked.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN SLIGHTLY DELIRIOUS? OUR TEACHER IS OBVIOUSLY DOWN RIGHT MAD! THAT’S MY FRIEND SHE’S TURNED INTO A RATTY LITTLE FIGURE!” Mordan shouted. Possibly a bit too loudly. Mrs Fox looked outraged. ‘Zap!’ Morgan was now a wriggling ‘ratty little figure’ like Dan.

“Shoot, now it’s only me and you,” Wiremu whispered to Cassie.

“What are we going to do?” Cassie looked ashen.

“Find our way out of course,” Wiremu’s eyes scanned the room and he caught sight of something…. A possibility if they are careful.

“Cassie, do you think we could climb through that-” Mrs Fox cut him off.

“You not planning an escape are you? As your teacher, I wouldn’t advise it. As an evil assassin, it would make an interesting scene. Much more fun to catch you.”

“I agree with Morgan. Mrs Fox is unhinged. We should get help.” Cassie seemed concerned about the lady who had turned all our classmates into lego pieces.

“Oh yes, I’m sure that would work, you know, Mrs Fox would definitely appreciate sitting down with a councilor and discussing WHY SHE TURNED OUR CLASSMATES INTO MINIONS!” Wiremu’s patience was wearing. They had to get out and they had to get out fast! Luckily Mrs Fox didn’t appear to hear his outburst. She had returned to her desk and was now placing her students in a domino line.

“Oh, what a shame, just not enough. Fortunately I have you two. I might keep you average sized for a little while longer. Draw out the tension, you know?” Mrs Fox said. Time was running out.

“The air vent!” Wiremu whispered desperately to Cassie. Cassie nodded. “Three, two, one, go!” Wiremu ran like nothing could stop him. Mrs Fox looked up with red hot lasers shooting out of her eyes. Wiremu ducked and felt her glare singe his hair.

“You won’t get away!” Mrs Fox sounded like a villain in a cheesy action movie. Wiremu grabbed the metal grate and pulled. Mrs Fox was shooting them with her laser eyes, but fortunately she didn’t have very aim. He doubted that she was a champion thrower in her school days.

“Cassie, help me! The grate’s not coming off!” He yelled. Cassie grabbed the other side and they pulled. ‘Pop!’ The grate came off. Cassie scrambled through, Wiremu following her pursuit.

“I’ll catch you!” Wiremu heard a yell and looked behind him. He saw that Mrs Fox was running towards them. Luckily for them Mrs Fox ran a bit like a hippo, slow and clumsy.

“Not much of an athlete is she?” Cassie chuckled. They moved quickly, and were soon to a dead end, another grate.

“Should I pull this open?” Cassie asked.

“Yeah,” Wiremu replied. He heard another pop as it opened.

Then he heard cheering. “Congratulations, kids, this is going to make excellent tv! It was definitely worth the money we spent on those 3d projections and that actor!” A guy with a t shirt that had ‘director’ on it said.

“So this whole thing was fake?” Wiremu could hardly believe it.

“Yup!” The director said.

“Well that explains a lot!” Cassie exclaimed with a grin on her face.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

A New FABO Story Competition To Enter!

Authors Tania Hutley and Melinda Szymanik will be sharing the judging duties for the next competition. To kick things off, Tania has posted a new FABO Story starter. To enter the competition, just finish her story in 500 words or less and submit it using the online form. Good luck!

Instructions

Read Tania’s story starter and then finish the story any way you like. Your entry must be submitted by 8pm Friday 9th June. No late entries will be accepted.

Tania’s Story Starter

After school, a group of us usually walk home together. Usually we go straight home, but that day for some reason, we decided to head down to the river.

It’s quite a walk to get there, so we don’t often go. And it’s a bit spooky. The trees are so tall, it’s always dark and muddy. There’s no sunlight, but somehow the plants still grow so thick they can trip you up. I’ve seen spiders there as big as dinner plates.

That day, a couple of us were throwing stones into the river when I heard Maria yell from a little way off.

“Hey, come here, you guys. I found something.”

We had to push through a patch of thick bush to follow her voice, and almost went right past her.

Then we saw her feet sticking out of the ground.

“Maria,” I gasped. “Are you okay?”

Her voice was muffled. “You’re not going to believe this.” Then she gave a little shriek and her feet disappeared…

Finish the story on the FABO Website now!

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

A New Story Starter By Melinda Szymanik

Here’s a brand new story starter for May, and judging the competition will be children’s author Melinda Szymanik.

Instructions

Read Melinda’s story starter and then finish the story any way you like. Your entry must be submitted by 8pm Friday 26th May.

Melinda’s Story Starter

Cassie hung her bag up alongside all the other bags outside her classroom. She unzipped it and pulled out her pencil case and homework, zipped it back up and walked into the classroom. Her teacher, Miss Fox, sat at the front of the room, hunched over something on her desk.

“Hey,” Morgan said.

“Hi,” Cassie replied, smiling as she slid into the seat next to her best friend, near the back of the room. “Are we early?” She glanced around at the other seats, empty except for Dan and Wiremu sitting near the windows.

Morgan checked her watch and shook her head.

Cassie thought about all the bags hung up in the corridor. Where was everybody?

Miss Fox looked up.

“She looks different,” Cassie said.

“Are her eyes glowing?” Morgan asked.

“And her skin? “Cassie replied nodding slowly. “That’s a weird colour.”

“I know, right?”

The two girls leaned closer together.

“What’s that on the desk? Is that a pile of little lego people?” Cassie whispered.

“They’re moving,” Morgan whispered back.

“Are … are those … are they … is that the rest of our class?” Cassie breathed. “Morgan. We have to do something.”

Suddenly Dan burst out laughing. Wiremu grinned at his mate.

Miss Fox rose slowly to her feet. She stuck out her arm, her open hand facing Dan. She bent her head towards him. A beam of light shot from each of their teacher’s eyes, blasting Dan. In an instant he was a tiny squirming figure clutched between her fingers.

Now go here to finish the story.

Posted in The Winner

Melinda’s FABOstory Judge’s Report

Fabostory Challenge 6th to 17th March 2017

I had great fun reading your stories about what happened to poor Tom the dog/boy, and I was mightily impressed to see how many of you managed to include the bonus words. Well done! There were 53 stories in total from all over New Zealand and a few from Australia as well.

It was a popular idea to have Tom cured by the same box that had turned him into a dog in the first place and I was amazed and amused to see how many of you had the students hijacking a car. The quality of the stories was generally very high and there was some wonderful polished writing. It was great to see so many well-constructed sentences and lots of correctly used punctuation. Even the best story ideas won’t get far without these.

Well done to Jess Hudson who seemed to pick up on the joke in Ivan’s name and make good use of it – “Ivan,” Maria said calmly in this not at all calm situation. “Ivan Eyedea. You are the smartest kid I know. Come on, you need to think of something,”…

And to Chloe Mann who came up with a great name for Tom’s condition – dogoitis.

A shout out also to Katie Lye and Finn Wescombe for ‘best use of the word hijack.’

When they went to the counter to pay for the goods Maria said, “hijack” and the salesman said, “how did you know my name?”
“It’s on your badge”.
“Oh”, Jack said.   (Katie)

And – I laughed at her, took charge of the hijack-in-the-box and took care to lock the lid. (Finn)

For a sentence that just made me laugh out loud thanks to Ella GrayThey popped into the library to get a book that Maria needed for school. It was called ‘I just want to hijack a car.’

And William BattenWhen we finally got home, puffed, we gave the antidote to Tom, he ate it suspiciously, but ate it anyway because he’s a Labrador and they will eat anything.

Special mentions for well written, well thought out responses to the story starter go to Jess Hudson from Remarkables Primary, Kelly Zhang and Emma Ying from St Cuthberts, Corwin Heath-Cameron from South Wellington Intermediate, Zoe Churm from St Cuthbert’s College, Finn Wescombe and Cole both from Aidenfield Christian School, and Ava Schaumann from St. Francis Xavier School.

And the winner of this challenge is Matteo from St Peter’s Catholic School, whose well executed story had energy, and a truly fresh and imaginative spin on Tom’s transformation. You can read it below. Congratulations Matteo!! Please email your postal address to me at melinda@tale-spin.com so I can send out your prize (or I can forward it to your school if you prefer).

– Melinda Szymanik

HERE, BOY!

Our teacher, Mr Dart, said it’s rude to listen in on other people’s private conversations. And he said eavesdropping can often lead to trouble.

I wasn’t sure what he meant. I didn’t think it was all that bad. After all what kind of thing could kids my age be talking about that was so secret. Or so dangerous.

Of course Mr Dart was right. And I found out the hard way. It all started the day Maria Aches, Tom Bowler and I (Ivan Eyedea, but you can just call me Ivan) were having lunch under the willow tree. The tree doesn’t grow on school grounds but its branches hang really low over the fence. Some other kids were having their lunch just beyond our hiding place and we could hear them talking.

“Don’t worry. It’s behind the caretaker’s shed,” one said.

“Are you sure no one will find it?” another said.

“They’d better not,” the first one said. “I buried it pretty deep. It should be safe.”

We met behind the shed straight after school, and soon found the patch of freshly turned earth. Maria handed out scallop shells she’d borrowed from the art room and we started digging. The dirt was pretty loose and we made quick progress.

Clang!

“It’s some kind of box,” Maria said excitedly as she scraped more earth away.

“Do you think it’s treasure?” I asked.

“I could buy a new bike,” Tom said.

He pulled the box up and lifted the lid. Rays of light shone out from inside. Tom leaned in closer and that’s when it happened. The light focused itself on Tom and held him in its beam. Then it threw him backwards onto the ground where he lay twitching, arms and legs sprawled, eyes blank and staring.

“Tom? Tom, are you okay?”

“Woof!” Tom said. “Woof, woof, woof.”…

Matteo’s Winning Story

Liv

Liv Eurtreets was hungry. Liv Eurtreets was cold. She was also angry.

Angry at the world. Angry at the horrible humans who had hijacked that car that was to take her home to a family – and tossed her out, onto the streets.

Eight days now it was; eight days since she had escaped the cold, hard, caged environment that was the pound. She’d been looking for a home – a place of comfort, hoping she might finally find one…

She had however, found something different….Something very different. Something even worse than her caged kennel at the pound. Having escaped the animal control, Liv had stumbled into the hard reality that was the backstreets. Again.

Two men – thugs, walk past. They’re talking in low tones. Liv cranes her neck round to overhear.

“Third alley, at the back.”

“Sure they won’t find it?”

The conversation fades away.

Third alley Liv thinks. She knows that place. It’s a frequent source of food, if mainly consisting of rubbish.

She thinks, and barks in recognition; she remembers.

The freshly turned dirt at the back…

Tom

I’m a superhero. Weeeeeeeee! Fun! Except kind of not fun.

I’m flying. Though a multi-dimensional cylinder – like the one in RUN, the game.

Except real. REAL. Of course I’m not scared. Only marginally freaked. (Okay, maybe a little. Or maybe more than that.)

What if I’ve been scared the whole freakin’ time this has been going on: Box – light – Boom! Noooooooo. Totally not.

If this is the kids’ secret then it’s worth keeping.

I spin and turn and flip – like the ball in that game I can’t remember the name to.

I think I might be slightly enjoying this. Slightly.

Liv

Liv’s paws plod along the wet concrete of the big city’s sidewalks. She is silent.

At least her body is. Her mind is not. It is furiously pumping away:

Sidewalks, I must be quiet, treasure?, HUNGRY, back of the alley, what could it be, HUNGRY, treasure?

She turns right. Spins her head round to look and creeps forward.

Plod, Plod, Plod.

And then she stops. Frozen.

“Ha, stupid stray!”

A guard; they have posted a guard. He picks up a broomstick and runs forward.

“Get out!”

The thug lunges, clumsily forward, bringing his wooden broom down.

Liv darts to the side, her wet coat shaking water droplets out into the dark alley and her tough, calloused paws pounding on the ground.

The thug trips and curses. As he hauls himself up, Liv races to the end of the alley, slides to a stop and spins. The small lump of fresh soil is there.

The thug stumbles forward.

Liv’s legs are a confused bundle of limbs and dirt as she paws the ground, then her sharp claws scrape against something. She uses her muzzle to push it open. Almost…

The guard stumbles closer and closer. He raises the broom.

The box opens, light streams out..

Liv feels sucked in.

Blackness surrounds her, and then light, in all colours streaming around her. A black object zooms towards her. Then as it nears she sees a human child. There, and then gone. More light follows; then blackness again.

Tom

It goes black and I stop moving. When I open my eyes I’m a dog. A dog? And I’m in a dark alley. And –

Thwack!

Liv

Liv is still. When she opens her eyes, two gasping human children stare down at her. Except it’s not her – not her body anyway. She cannot stay silent any longer.
“Woof” Liv says “I’ve an idea!”

Posted in Enter Now

Enter The First Fabostory Competition for 2017!

Prize-winning children’s author Melinda Szymanik has written a fabo-ulous story starter. Now it’s up to you to finish the story. Enter the first Fabostory competition for 2017 now!

How To Enter

  • Read the story starter on the website. Then finish the story in 500 words or less and submit it using the online form.
  • Entries close 5pm Friday March 17th. No late entries will be accepted.
  • You will get bonus points if you use all of the following words in your story – kennel, liver treats, hijack

Melinda’s Story Starter: “HERE, BOY!”

Our teacher, Mr Dart, said it’s rude to listen in on other people’s private conversations. And he said eavesdropping can often lead to trouble.

I wasn’t sure what he meant. I didn’t think it was all that bad. After all what kind of thing could kids my age be talking about that was so secret. Or so dangerous.

Of course Mr Dart was right. And I found out the hard way. It all started the day Maria Aches, Tom Bowler and I (Ivan Eyedea, but you can just call me Ivan) were having lunch under the willow tree. The tree doesn’t grow on school grounds but its branches hang really low over the fence. Some other kids were having their lunch just beyond our hiding place and we could hear them talking.

“Don’t worry. It’s behind the caretaker’s shed,” one said.

“Are you sure no one will find it?” another said.

“They’d better not,” the first one said. “I buried it pretty deep. It should be safe.”

We met behind the shed straight after school, and soon found the patch of freshly turned earth. Maria handed out scallop shells she’d borrowed from the art room and we started digging. The dirt was pretty loose and we made quick progress.

Clang!

“It’s some kind of box,” Maria said excitedly as she scraped more earth away.

“Do you think it’s treasure?” I asked.

“I could buy a new bike,” Tom said.

He pulled the box up and lifted the lid. Rays of light shone out from inside. Tom leaned in closer and that’s when it happened. The light focused itself on Tom and held him in its beam. Then it threw him backwards onto the ground where he lay twitching, arms and legs sprawled, eyes blank and staring.

“Tom? Tom, are you okay?”

“Woof!” Tom said. “Woof, woof, woof.”

Now Go Here To Finish The Story

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Fabo Challenge No. 1: Judges Report by Melinda Szymanik

Fabo 2016, Challenge No. 1
Judges Report – Melinda Szymanik

We had a huge flood of entries and I was very excited to see so many of you are so keen to take part in Fabo this year. Congratulations to every one who entered – well done!

And what a fantastic collection of stories you sent in! Skunks and dragons were a popular choice for what lurked inside Tina’s box. I was impressed that most of you included the required key words, and did so in really thoughtful, clever ways. Good work! There were some very bloodthirsty stories, and I found it very interesting that many of you had the school catching fire and burning down ☺. I was pleased to see that at least one writer had a phoenix as Tina’s show and tell.

There are just a few things I recommend for next time. When you are writing your entry, don’t forget to follow on from the story starter. Do remember to reread your story before you send it in so that you can fix up any mistakes or long sentences that might need an extra full stop or two. All writers edit their work before they send it in. Do make sure you stick with the same tense (past, or present, but not both) in your story, and the same point of view (for this challenge you could be Tina, or you could be observing Tina, but you couldn’t be both).

There were many great stories with good plots, and some really lovely writing. Keep up the good work people.

Special mention goes to Charlize Ebert from Greenhithe School for a fun story (and the only use of an octopus I think) and this most excellent line – “Suddenly he lifted his tentacles and violently sucked onto Ruby’s face.”

My runners-up are (in no particular order) Jaclyn from St. Cuthberts School, Emily Bird from Hukanui Primary, Sarah Aitken from Broadfield School, Rebecca Wilkins from Northcote Intermediate, and Amber Sowden from Greta Valley School.

And my winners are Montana Harper from Greenhithe School, who used fresh and imaginative language and had a smart plot with a clever resolution, and Ayeisha Beadsmoore (the youngest entrant at 6 and a1/2 years old) from Matakana Primary School, whose story was simple yet rather magical and a little bit poetic. Please contact me at melinda@tale-spin.com to claim your prizes.

Story Starter

The box on Tina’s desk shook. She pressed down on the lid to keep it still. Ruby glanced nervously at her, but Tina just smiled.

“What’s in the box?” came a voice from the seat behind.

“It’s my show and tell, Brandon,” Tina replied.

“Yeah, but what is it?” he asked, leaning over the back of her seat to get a better look.

“It’s a surprise,” Tina said. “You’ll find out soon enough.”

Everyone in the classroom heard the strange noise, and wrinkled their noses at the smell.

As 9 o’clock approached, Tina walked to the front of the room and placed the box on Miss Green’s desk, making sure she kept one hand on top of it at all times. She glanced at the clock on the wall. Only a few more seconds and the bell would go and Miss Green would ask her to lead today’s ‘Show and tell.’ Tina had been waiting days for her turn. Boy were they going to be surprised. They had never seen anything like this before. Little did they know how much danger they were in…

The Winning Entries

Name: Montana Harper

School: Greenhithe School

‘Brriinng!’Miss Green hurried into the classroom minutes later. Tina grinned politely up at her, ’’May I start my show and tell now Miss?’’she asked.

With a nod to Tina, Miss Green smiled and said, ‘’Of course you may start, Tina.” Tina gingerly started to open the mystery box.

”My show and tell is…”Tina was cut short as the box burst open. The stench of whatever was inside was horrible, and smelled like old cafeteria food. A flash of bright burning light had blown the box open. The burning hot flash of light scorched the maths homework that Miss Green had just printed out.

“Yay?”said Brandon weakly trying to be funny.

“No maths homework?” Another burning inferno shot through the side of the box. A menacing yellow eyeball with a slit of midnight black slashed through it peered out. Crackle, crackle.

“The maths homework has set Miss Greens desk on fire!” screamed Ruby. All of a sudden the fire alarm started to screech deafeningly. The burnt, blackened, crackling remains of the homework was flaming, smoke rising off it. The class started to rush towards the door; but a burning, white-hot fireball flew towards the metal doorknob, welding it to the wall. Another five red hot fireballs welded all of the windows shut. Tina yelled over the fire and the wailing alarm,

”What do we do now?” Brandon suddenly yelled.

“What’s that coming out of the box, Tina?”. Tina swung around, to see a small, scaly, mythical creature with an impenetrable shell of armour rising out of the box.

“My show and tell” said Tina ,“is a dragon, its only weakness is boiling water.”

Miss Green exclaimed suddenly, “We have all the water in our drink bottles and we have that small science pan from yesterday afternoon that we could use, as well as the flames from the dragon, I just don’t know how to get the dragon to heat it up, without it burning somebody in the process.”

”I think we could do it.” Tina said.

“Here’s the plan: Brandon, you sneak up behind the dragon and push it back into the box, Ruby, you put the water into the pan, then, once Brandon has gotten the dragon into the box put the pan on top, trapping the dragon in the box, then we will all hold the pan down until the water boils with the flames that the dragon will blow upwards, when the water boils we will tip it into the box and onto the dragon.”

“3,2,1,GO!”

Everything worked exactly as it should have, until we poured the water onto the dragon. It only looked up at us and croaked, about to fire us all into oblivion. Then, when all hope seemed lost, the dragon dissolved before our eyes as well as every piece of evidence.

“Whew!” Everyone gasped with relief,

“That was close!”

Brriinng! “Morning tea time!”

__________________________________________________________________

Name: Ayeisha Beadsmoore

School: Matakana Primary School

Finish the story here: RRRRRRRRRRRRR! The bell rang.

“Now Tina will lead today’s show and tell.”

Tina took her hand off the box and out flew some fire and burnt the Maths books.

“Oh No!” Rudy said.

But when Tina clapped her hands all was normal.

Tina took her hand off again and out flew snow and covered everyone.

“C-C-C-Cold!” they said.

Tina clapped her hands and everything was normal.

Tina took her hand off the box again and out flew some fireworks.

One burst like an enormous shell and everyone’s eyes shot upwards.

Ruby said, “I hope they don’t set off the fire alarm!”

Tina clapped her hands and all was normal.

Tina took her hand off the box one last time and the room became a party.

Everyone played party games and ate party food.

Suddenly Tina clapped her hands and everything was normal.

‘Well done Tina,” said Mrs Green, “you made everyone happy!”