Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 10 judged by Michele Powles

Wow! Who knew there could be so many options for the contents of a fridge? Lockdown has not dulled your imaginations one bit. Well done everyone! With over 130 entries, anyone who gets a mention really stood out because there were some fantastic efforts, definitely some future novelists in the group here!

There were some common themes that emerged this time – crazy magical food, portals to another dimension, monsters, slime and witches all appeared in more than one story. I particularly loved Ruby Shepherd’s broccoli monster, Aria Llewellyn’s carrot nosed giraffe, Kaydee Marsh’s jelly trampoline and spaghetti rescue rope, Jonah Hinds epic food battle with carrot daggers and onion swords, and Janna Chans’ possessed Buddha hand – one cool looking piece of fruit (google it if you haven’t heard of it).

There were a lot of other types of monsters too, particularly blue and green, gooey and goopy ones. The slime is strong with all of you. Oh, and a fair few fluffy creatures in the fridge too. Possums and chinchillas were a fave, who turned out not to be quite so fluffy and cute, even if they did like eating cheese.

There were some truly wonderful descriptions. Congratulations on bringing your work to life with such vivid images and a really great understanding of metaphor and simile. Impressive! Special mention for descriptive prowess goes to Gracie Moodie, Arshiya Tuli, Sophie Vincent, Elsa Hurley, Bella Chen, and Gracie (from Bethlehem college, not sure of your last name).

A few special mentions. For pure creativity: Emma Herrett, loved your top tips, who knew you could google how to remove a strange creature that looks like your teacher from your fridge and find a good answer. Javhan Eka, I enjoyed your Dr. Wondertainments Magical Meat horror movie twist, it made me wonder what you’d been watching this lockdown, and Lennox of Epsom Normal Primary School managed to pull off a great twist on the “it was all a dream” narrative that we generally encourage writers to stay away from. Paige from Helensville Primary, making your story work within Prodigy game play was particularly clever, well done.

I also wanted to reward spine tingling tension. Bill Kelly from Brookland Primary school, you had me squirming as the kids dragged their lizard to the bathroom. And Beni T, your dismembered clown is going to give me nightmares.

And now…drum roll please, the runner up this time is Indigo Tomlinson. A wonderful story, rich with descriptions like “fantastical ribbons of green and purple, unspooling across the night like ribbons” and an emotional edge that made for a really satisfying read. It was a very close result this time around.

But the winner of a $20 book voucher, is Taylor Goddard from Lincoln Primary School! Congratulations on delivering a really fun, well thought out and structured story with a particularly good use of dialogue.

Well done to all of you who entered, keep up the great work!

Michele’s Story Starter

“Nothing has miraculously appeared since you last looked!”

Tor swung the fridge door closed and sighed at his mum. “But I’m hungry.”

Mum patted him on the head distractedly as if he was a puppy. “I’ll make lunch once I’m off my next call and you’ve finished your math. I have to go, don’t come downstairs.”

Tor picked up his iPad and looked at the 20 math questions his teacher had set. Fractions were his least favourite thing. Okay, that wasn’t true, class Zoom calls where everyone had to share were his least favourite thing, but fractions came in close. Lockdown was laaaaaame.

“Done and done.”

Tor looked up at his brother Duncan. “You are not.”

Duncan wiggled his eyebrows. “Level 39.”

Tor snorted. “Prodigy doesn’t count as school work.”

“Does if you’re in Miss Morelli’s class.”

Tor shuddered. Miss Morelli might set the least amount of home-schooling work, but she was creepy. End of story. When she looked at him with her dark, flashy eyes, Tor always got a sucking sensation like she was trying to pull his brain out through his eyes.

Tor grabbed his brother’s iPad. “You’ve still got this task to do.” He clicked on it:

Lockdown Life Lessons

Share a story and snapshots of life in lockdown. Things you’ve seen on a walk, things you’ve grown, creatures from your fridge, silly tales about your pets or family.

Weird. 

Duncan cleared his throat; it was a sort of strangled sound. “Ummmmmm, I thought you said there was nothing in here.”

Tor looked up, and saw Duncan bathed in the light from the fridge, his face twisted in a strange expression…

Taylor’s Winning Story

Tor could swear he heard angels singing, like in those movies when an incredible thing was about to happen and the camera zooms in on someone’s shocked expression.

It was exactly like that but with no camera and no movie.

And with a chipmunk in the fridge.

“It’s so beautiful!” Duncan said tears welling up in his eyes.

Tor looked from his brother to the chipmunk then back again.

“Have you had a knock to the head?” Asked Tor, genuinely concerned for his brother’s health. “Or is it the lack of chocolate biscuits in your diet?”

“I had three biscuits this morning,” replied Duncan without taking his eyes off the chipmunk.

“Duncan,” Tor treaded carefully towards his brother, not wanting to be caught in the chipmunk’s cute but deadly gaze. “You need to step away from the chipmunk. And eat less biscuits.”

Duncan took a couple paces back, until the golden light coming from the chipmunk couldn’t reach him. He shook his head then rubbed his eyes, trying to grasp onto what had just happened.

“We have a chipmunk in the fridge,” Duncan said.

“Oh really? I didn’t notice,” Tor muttered under his breath.

“Go talk to it.”

Tor looked at Duncan like he was mad, but there was a chipmunk in the fridge and that problem had to be dealt with first. He would worry about his brother’s sanity after.

Tor walked to the chipmunk.

“Good afternoon, err, chipmunk.”

“Good afternoon,” the chipmunk replied.

Tor blinked twice in astonishment.

“What… um… may I ask what you are doing in our fridge?”

“I was looking for a face mask.”

Tor wasn’t quite sure what to say.

“In the fridge?”

“Yes,” the chipmunk nodded. “You humans always look in the fridge before you put a face mask on to get food so I thought they would be in here.”

“Oh. We keep our face masks in a drawer,” Tor said, grabbing out a blue one and showing it to the chipmunk. “You can keep it if you want.”

“Thank you,” the little animal grasped the face mask in it’s paws and hopped down from it’s perch. “If you are having trouble with dividing numbers I always use short division. Search it up.”

And with that the chipmunk scampered away.

Tor and Duncan stood where they were, bewildered by what transpired. Duncan was the first to recover from his shock.

“Well,” Duncan said, brushing his hands together, like he was pretending to get rid of dust. “I have a Lockdown Life Lessons story about a chipmunk to start. See you at lunch.”

Tor took another couple minutes to calm his confused brain. He then took a big breath and laughed.

There had been a talking, magical chipmunk in their fridge who had wanted a face mask.

What are the chances?

He heard Mum come up the stairs.

“Almost ready for lunch?”

“Yeah,” Tor smiled. “I just need to learn short division.”

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the ninth FABO Story competition judged by Michele Powles!

★ The ninth FABO Story competition for 2021 has started and author Michele Powles has written a story starter. Finish the story your way and enter now!

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

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

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

4. Send your story to us by 7pm Friday September 17th (NZ time).

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

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

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

8. The winner will receive a mystery prize donated by the judge.

Michele’s Story Starter

“Nothing has miraculously appeared since you last looked!”

Tor swung the fridge door closed and sighed at his mum. “But I’m hungry.”

Mum patted him on the head distractedly as if he were a puppy. “I’ll make lunch once I’m off my next call and you’ve finished your maths. I have to go, don’t come downstairs.”

Tor picked up his iPad and looked at the 20 maths questions his teacher had set. Fractions were his least favourite thing. Okay, that wasn’t true, class Zoom calls where everyone had to share were his least favourite thing, but fractions came in close. Lockdown was laaaaaame.

“Done and done.”

Tor looked up at his brother Duncan. “You are not.”

Duncan wiggled his eyebrows. “Level 39.”

Tor snorted. “Prodigy doesn’t count as school work.”

“Does if you’re in Miss Morelli’s class.”

Tor shuddered. Miss Morelli might set the least amount of home-schooling work, but she was creepy. End of story. When she looked at him with her dark, flashy eyes, Tor always got a sucking sensation like she was trying to pull his brain out through his eyes.

Tor grabbed his brother’s iPad. “You’ve still got this task to do.” He clicked on it:

Lockdown Life Lessons

Share a story and snapshots of life in lockdown. Things you’ve seen on a walk, things you’ve grown, creatures from your fridge, silly tales about your pets or family.

Weird.

Duncan cleared his throat; it was a sort of strangled sound. “Ummmmmm, I thought you said there was nothing in here.”

Tor looked up, and saw Duncan bathed in the light from the fridge, his face twisted in a strange expression…

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 3 judged by Michele Powles!

Wow. The tale of Briony and Jeremy’s online zoo visit really got some imagination juice flowing this week. There were close to 250 entries, and every time I thought I’d found the winner, another fantastic story appeared on my screen. To say choosing who to select was as difficult as grabbing a penguin by its shadow is an understatement!

You came up with a HUGE range of possible intruders into the penguin and puffin enclosure. There were a lot of bad-dads, supervillain-mums and dodgy uncles, robots, aliens and deadly ninjas, but there were also spies, teachers and a dastardly famous author, giraffes, gorillas and tigers, an elephant, a rival zoo owner and hypnotised guinea pigs! I also particularly liked Floyd Palmer’s giant evil marshmallow! The police were very busy in the majority of stories.

There was a lot of thought, creativity and skill in every single one of the stories and you all impressed me with your descriptive powers, understanding of metaphor, simile, dialogue and punctuation. Well done. A small note that might be useful for next time is to think about tense. If you start your story in past tense: he went, she was, they thought, stay in the past tense unless there is a clear time change in your story. There were quite a few stories that leapt into present tense: he goes, she is, they think, part way through an otherwise truly excellent story. Sometimes I could tell that you’d just got so involved with the story telling that you’d simply forgotten what tense you were in (I do this too!) so remember to read your story through a few times before you submit. This last proof read will pick up lots of these sorts of annoying details. Because the entries are JUST SO GOOD though, little things like this make a difference to who is named the winner in the end.

Also remember to read the details of the story carefully. Jeremy and Briony were watching the online live stream of the penguins and puffins at Saint Louis zoo. The zoo is in Missouri in the United States of America so unless you located your characters in America (which some of you did, well done particularly to Anika Myers for her descriptions of the endless streets of Missouri) it was going to be pretty difficult for them to pop down the road to the zoo. But there were plenty of ingenious ways you got around this issue: magic spears, teleportation potions and shapeshifting laptop screens, even magic crystals and a lightning fairy.

There is a long list of honourable mentions this week because, well, so many of you deserve it.

For cracking dialogue Ria Nielsen from Albany Junior High School, Frida Peltzer from Springston School, Aisha Gemala from Parnell District School, Olivia Morriss from Oamaru Intermediate (who also managed to showcase her ability in French), and to Surina Ranchhodji from Ponsonby Intermediate for her lovely penguin lullaby.

For great descriptions, a wow to William Kelly of Wellington, Charlotte Howell from Island Bay School, Samantha Muirhead from Kenakena School, with great lines like, “Glowing saggy skin was surrounding small opening on its face”, and also Isobel Knowles from Glen Eden Intermediate School, with lines like “The man’s face was distorted, with an ugly scar running from his nose to his chin.

For lively onomatopoeia and disco drones, a huge shout out to Cate Ambury, and to her younger brother Tom for his brilliant and very current lockdown story complete with the cancellation of the Animalympics.

For wonderful action sequences, well done to Taylor O’Reilly from Carmel College, Madeleine Lucas who is homeschooling (even before lockdown), to Megan from Bohally Intermediate School for making a great anti-villain who made an antidote to a deadly virus, and to Chiara Hogan-Seijo from Huirangi, who’s hero rescuing the penguins and released them back into the wild.

I also have to give a special mention to seven-year-old Elise de Moulin from Bethlehem College, this week’s youngest competitor, who gave the older writers a serious run for their money with her story.

But we have to choose the top stories, so, to the runners up. Molly McAra from Raumati South School, only just missed out with descriptions like: “Gaunt and waxy, his skin was pale and his dark hair fell over his eyes, which were black pools of menace.” You also had a strong narrative and great grasp of characterisation, how are you only 11 Molly?

Cecilia Lin from Kristin Middle School, was also tantalisingly close with her cracking action sequences, well structured story and ending with a great twist. This was a really great story, Cecila, you should be super proud.
Arshiya Tuli from Queen Margaret College you also deserve huge praise and to recognise what a great writer you are. Great dialogue and pacing in your story.

There can, however only be one and this week’s winner had not only great skill with descriptions, pacing and dialogue, but also created a story that kept me excited all the way to the end. A huge congratulations to Chloe Morrison-Clarke from Papanui High School.

Eileen Merriman, Penguin author of A Trio of Sophies read Chloe’s entry and commented “This week’s winning entry had me hanging on the edge of my seat. Great imagery and a masterful way out of a sticky situation – loved that last line too.

Well done everyone! Thanks for entering and we hope to see more entries from all of you this week!

X Michele Powles

FaboStory starter – Michele Powles

Jeremy Walker reached for the laptop. “It’s my turn to choose, and I say tigers.”

His twin sister Briony was too quick and pulled the computer into her lap. “We watched the tigers at San Diego Zoo yesterday. All they do is sleep or stalk about. It’s depressing. I want to see more Penguins.”

“Birds? Boring,” said Jeremy.

Briony ignored him, her brown eyes already darting over the screen. “Saint Louis,” she said triumphantly. “They’ve got a Penguin and Puffin live stream.” The twins were going on an online tour of the world’s zoos each morning. Mum had complained they were spending too much time online but Briony had argued this was educational and if they did it at ten o’clock, they’d be quiet for mum’s Zoom meeting. Briony was excellent at getting her way, which was annoying, but sometimes very useful.

CLICK. The screen was suddenly full of birds. Black and white, yellow and orange, beady little eyes and snapping beaks. Jeremy sat back as the noise spewed out of the speakers. It was a clattering, raucous muddle as the Puffins and Penguins chatted, argued and maybe even sang to each other. They were all on the rocks of the enclosure, the water an empty blue pool below them. Jeremy waited for something to happen. Something. Anything.

He yawned. “At least tigers roar every now and then.”

SPLASH. As if it had heard him, a penguin dived into the water. And another and another. Like living torpedoes, the penguins and a solitary puffin arced through the water leaving long lines of bubbles in their wake. Jeremy wasn’t about to admit it, but it was cool. Underwater, the birds stopped being kooky and became graceful dancers.

“Hey, that’s not allowed.”

Jeremy tore his gaze away from the underwater disco and looked up to the top of the screen where Briony was pointing. A figure, dressed in black and holding a giant bag, was clambering over the enclosure wall. The intruder’s face was out of shot. “Maybe it’s a keeper?” suggested Jeremy. But as he said it, the shadowy figure bent over, and Jeremy’s breath rushed out of him in a startled gasp. That was no zoo keeper…

Chloe’s ending

The wizened face seemed to stare right into the camera. Jeremy’s scream pierced the air. Briony flung her hand to her lips, as though clamping a wound.

Where the woman’s eyes should have been were sunken holes, covered by thin, dry patches of skin that stretched over the sockets. They both sat in stunned silence as the woman swept the bag over a little blue penguin which squawked in innocent surprise, having waddled up to her in hope of snaffling food before the others.
Jeremy was the first to recover.

“See Briony, that’s what happens when you’re too greedy.” He tried to laugh unconcernedly, but all that came out was a high pitched squeak.

“What are we going to do!?,” said Briony. “The alarms must have been turned off, but surely someone will come? ” She stared, transfixed in horror at the screen as the woman bagged another penguin with apparent ease.

A hailstorm of feathers was whirling the enclosure into a cyclone that blotted the camera, but they could still hear the cries and angry snaps of the penguin’s steely sharp beaks. Jeremy pounded at the volume control.

“Okay, Briony, calm down. I have a plan.” Briony tore her gaze from the screen to give him a look of scorn.

“And when have your plans ever worked before?” she snapped.

“Just listen. Okay? You could hack into the zoo’s system and set off the alarms. The penguins are in a soundproof enclosure, which is why no one has come running yet.”

Silence.

“Look, those penguins are being stolen! Don’t think I don’t know how many awards you’ve won for your hacking and coding. It’s the first thing mum tells everyone, how amazing you are.” He took a deep breath.

The woman was now extracting pocketfuls of fish from her baggy sweatpants and laying them on the ground.

“No,” groaned Briony, her head in her hands. A few seconds passed in silence. Finally, she twisted around to look at Jeremy, giving a small nod, before bringing up her code.

Her fingers tap danced on the keyboard, language exploding into the screen. Jeremy watched with the fascination of an amatuer seeing a master at work. Ribbons of meaningless symbols fluttered, settling into something apparently comprehensible.

Briony muttered to herself, her lips curling around the instructions she was writing, groaning whenever the word ‘error’ appeared in bright red. Jeremy fought the rising wave of panic in his stomach.

“I’ve done it!” Briony shouted after several long minutes.

“3, 2, 1…” She tapped the enter button. Jeremy crossed his fingers. On the zoo cam, the woman froze. Beams of red light circled the enclosure and a wail ripped the air apart. Penguins voiced their distress as keepers came running, caught sight of the woman, and started frantically talking into their radio’s.

Jeremy and Briony smiled at each other. The silent truce hanging in the air, Briony clicked off the zoo cam and deleted her code.

“So, Jeremy. Do you still want to see the tigers?”

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the third FABO Story Competition Now!

The third FABO Story competition has now opened for entries! It will be judged by author Michele Powles.

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

2. Your story should be no more than 500 words (not including the story starter).

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

4. Send your story to us by 7pm Saturday April 18th.

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

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

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

8. The 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.

Michele Powles’ Story Starter

Jeremy Walker reached for the laptop. “It’s my turn to choose, and I say tigers.”

His twin sister Briony was too quick and pulled the computer into her lap. “We watched the tigers at San Diego Zoo yesterday. All they do is sleep or stalk about. It’s depressing. I want to see more penguins.”

“Birds? Boring,” said Jeremy.

Briony ignored him, her brown eyes already darting over the screen. “Saint Louis,” she said triumphantly. “They’ve got a penguin and puffin live stream.” The twins were going on an online tour of the world’s zoos each morning. Mum had complained they were spending too much time online but Briony had argued this was educational and if they did it at ten o’clock, they’d be quiet for mum’s Zoom meeting. Briony was excellent at getting her way, which was annoying, but sometimes very useful.

CLICK. The screen was suddenly full of birds. Black and white, yellow and orange, beady little eyes and snapping beaks. Jeremy sat back as the noise spewed out of the speakers. It was a clattering, raucous muddle as the puffins and penguins chatted, argued and maybe even sang to each other. They were all on the rocks of the enclosure, the water an empty blue pool below them. Jeremy waited for something to happen. Something. Anything.

He yawned. “At least tigers roar every now and then.”

SPLASH. As if it had heard him, a penguin dived into the water. And another and another. Like living torpedoes, the penguins and a solitary puffin arced through the water leaving long lines of bubbles in their wake. Jeremy wasn’t about to admit it, but it was cool. Underwater, the birds stopped being kooky and became graceful dancers.

“Hey, that’s not allowed.”

Jeremy tore his gaze away from the underwater disco and looked up to the top of the screen where Briony was pointing. A figure, dressed in black and holding a giant bag, was clambering over the enclosure wall. The intruder’s face was out of shot. “Maybe it’s a keeper?” suggested Jeremy. But as he said it, the shadowy figure bent over, and Jeremy’s breath rushed out of him in a startled gasp. That was no zoo keeper…

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Wild, Wet, Willa: FABO Story Report by Michele Powles

Wow, you guys are amazing. Your stories are getting consistently better and there are more and more of you entering all the time. From all across the country, some wonderful stories wriggled their way out of more than 100 brains this week. There were SO many entries, and SO much great writing. Congratulations to everyone who entered, you really are all improving and writing some incredible work!

I’m super glad that David and Willa’s story inspired such a range of ideas for you all. A few themes popped up, with magic being the favourite. A lot of you used the fact that Willa was steaming and turning red to great advantage, having her change David and all manner of objects into other things.

Cats were popular, and Sarah Park from Te Uku School gets a special mention for her wonderful cat descriptions. Other transformations included turning Willa into dragons which Taylor Goddard from Lincoln Park did so well that there’s a highly commended award for her, and werewolves…wow. Chloe Morrison-Clarke from Casebrooke Intermediate, your werewolf was particularly terrifying and gets you a highly commended badge too! I also loved Sarah from Waikowhai Intermediate’s idea which took things even further, having Willa being taken away to a special magic school in handcuffs.

The other super popular theme used the real life setting of the story to talk about self-responsibility, stranger danger and emergency services. There were ambulances, Willa rushing about trying to get help, and some very smart kids looking out for each other. Maggie Thompson from Roseneath school was a standout with this theme along with Daisy from Rototuna Primary.

There were a few new schools to join the Fabo Family this week and an incredible effort from some schools in particular. Outstanding entries from Discovery school all round, especially Isabella F, a highly commended badge for you. Glen Eden Intermediate too had a big range of great entries, with particularly good work investigating description. Saint Clair School, you guys are just amazing. So many entries! It’s awesome to see how you’ve embraced Fabo and it captured so many of your imaginations so vividly, even sending the story back in time to World War II. A highly commended badge to Lucy Carrington too for your cloud castle puppet master story.

A final mention to some other stand-out stories. Gayathri Dinesh from Glen Eden Intermediate, I’m not sure what Willa ended up turning into but I’m terrified by your description in the best possible way. Highly commended. And Stella O’Brien from Roseneath school, I may have nightmares now, you created great suspense throughout your whole story, highly commended to you! Also, a highly commended badge to Maia O’Callaghan from Carmel college for your body swapping story and to Catherine Mcleod from Pillans point primary school for your incredible shrinking science project mishap, and to Frances Nawoo Gregory from Hukanui Primary School for your stormy sequence.

A quick reminder that stories should be less than 500 words, this took some of you out of the running for the top prize. It’s also totally fine to ask an adult to help with checking over spelling if you’re using words that are tricky. But do remind your helpers that this is your story not theirs, we love to hear from you all.

While many of you did an amazing job of creating a world for your story, some of you ended with “it was all a dream.” This can be useful, but if you can find a way to keep us in your story world it’s often even more exciting.

One quick technical tip because some of you are writing at such a high level: try if you can to keep your story in one character’s point of view or if you change it, be aware of the shift. So, if we’re reading about what is happening for David, hearing his thoughts, describing what he is seeing, then stay with him, rather than suddenly being inside Willa’s head. While it’s great fun to hear what all your characters are thinking and seeing, it can sometimes be hard to read if we thought we were with one character and we suddenly change.

Now, to those that did everything right! I had to invent a new award this week for best sentence because it was just so great. Best sentence award goes to eleven-year-old Indigo Tomlinson from Whakatane Intermediate. “The rain pelted harder, dark clouds bulging like an old man’s belly, restrained by a too-tight belt.” Amazing.

Runners up to the top prize are twelve-year-old Isabel Calvi-Freeman from Roseneath School and Julia Moffitt from Hauraki Primary School. Your stories were wonderful, with lots of care and attention to technical detail, as well as imaginative ideas. Great job.

But finally, the winner this week is from Pt Chev Primary. Ten-year-old Indi Taylor, your use of language is amazing. Keep up the great work. Thanks for letting me read all your stories everyone!

Michele’s Story Starter: Wild, Wet, Willa.

“You said you had it in your pocket!” Willa’s face was twisted into angry creases as she hissed at David.

“I didn’t,” David replied. “I said I thought I had it.”

Willa closed her eyes for just long enough to make David hope she’d forgotten she was yelling at him. Then she opened them again and wiped rainwater off her face. “You. Were. In. Charge. Of. The. Key.”

David shrank. It was true. Mum had put him in charge of the house key, and now that they were standing on the doorstep, in the pouring rain, he couldn’t remember what he’d done with it.

The school holidays had sucked, big time. One of David’s fish had floated to the top of its tank and gulped its last gulp. Someone had driven into Mum’s car and busted it up so they’d had to cancel their trip. All David’s friends were away and there was nothing to do. Oh, and it had rained. Every. Day.

Standing outside as his hoodie turned into a soggy, skin-sucking mess without any way of getting out of the cold, was the icing on the sucky-holiday-cake.

Willa folded her arms, her wet hair plastered to the sides of her face. “Let’s go next door for a while, you said. It’ll be fun, you said.”

David looked at the skin on his thumb and pulled at a loose bit near his nail. “It was fun. Sort of. And anyway, why didn’t you take the key? You’re the eldest.”

“Mum said I needed to stop doing things for you. You’re eleven.”

“Eleven and a half,” David muttered and knew, immediately that it was a mistake to mutter anything while Willa was in this sort of mood. The concrete thudded wetly as she stamped her foot. She pointed her finger at him and her face started going red.

“It’s okay. I’ll find the key, promise,” David said, frantically digging in his pockets.

Willa opened her mouth and looked down at her body, her eyes growing wider and her face getting steadily redder.

Uh oh. “Take a breath. You can do it,” David said desperately.

Willa gasped and managed to squeak out, “You said this wasn’t going to happen again.”

“I didn’t think it was. Quick, think about kittens. Puppies. Sunshine.”

Willa’s whole face was now the red of overripe tomatoes. Red, and starting to glow. Her eyes started changing colour and as she glared at David, a loud whooshing noise rushed into his ears and made him feel woozy….

Indi’s Winning Story

Abruptly, clouds of steam hissed from fissures that appeared in Willa’s sides. Her hair extended to the ground in scraggly streams, while rapidly turning a fiery red-orange hue. Bubbling on the circumference of her head were small pustules; some of which burst and spurted a boiling, molten liquid onto David. The air around her was suffused with a hot red light. There was no question about it. Willa was a human volcano.

David inched backwards, watching Willa’s face contort before she erupted with an angry shriek.

“AAAARRRGGGHHH! You told me everything was fixed. You told me I wouldn’t do this anymore. You told me I was fine!” she spat, aiming the words towards her sibling.

“Keep thinking about…” David looked around. “Rainbows, chocolate, theme parks.“

Rushing towards the door to the house, David lifted the corner of the polka-dotted doormat up for the umpteenth time. It still revealed an empty space where the spare key usually sat.

They were both startled by lightning that blanched the sky above, followed by an almighty clap of thunder. A heavier shower of rain pelted down, making Willa’s flowing lava simmer and sizzle in a furious hum. Where had David left the key? Willa was howling insults at her brother, but they had no effect. David knew the only way to stop her angry stampede was to find what she needed. A key that not only opened the door, but Willa’s peaceful side, aswell.

Pouring down in buckets, the rain seeped into fractures that had cracked in Willa’s outer layer. This temporarily plugged the sluice of lava that gushed from her top. David studied the way the water stuck to the oozing liquid; how it created a sort of cement. An idea formed in his head.

To create a deluge of water, David wrenched Mum’s pansies from the nearby pot. He grappled fistfuls of dirt and threw them onto the driveway. When it was free from soil, David held the container underneath the leaky drainpipe on the side of the house. He could hear the water collecting in it, and he knew his plan was working.

When the overflow of water started dripping onto him, David stumbled (carrying the heavy pot) over to where Willa was fuming, and tipped. The rivulet splashed into Willa’s open top. It hardened within moments. The torrent of lava that had been brewing inside of Willa was suddenly replaced by a stone-like substance. Her body twisted back to its normal shape, her face colour changing back to its original, pale tone, and her hair was stripped back to the brown bob that reached her ears. Willa was back.

“Ow.” Willa squeaked. “Something hit me.” Her fingers fumbled around in her matted locks, before bringing out a thing made of metal. The key!

“Must’ve been in the pot plant!” David cried, incredulous about the discovery.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

A New FABO Story Starter By Michele Powles!

A new FABO Story competition has started! Author Michele Powles 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 August 2nd.

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

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

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

Michele Powle’s Story Starter: Wild, Wet, Willa.

“You said you had it in your pocket!” Willa’s face was twisted into angry creases as she hissed at David.

“I didn’t,” David replied. “I said I thought I had it.”

Willa closed her eyes for just long enough to make David hope she’d forgotten she was yelling at him. Then she opened them again and wiped rainwater off her face. “You. Were. In. Charge. Of. The. Key.”

David shrank. It was true. Mum had put him in charge of the house key, and now that they were standing on the doorstep, in the pouring rain, he couldn’t remember what he’d done with it.

The school holidays had sucked, big time. One of David’s fish had floated to the top of its tank and gulped its last gulp. Someone had driven into Mum’s car and busted it up so they’d had to cancel their trip. All David’s friends were away and there was nothing to do. Oh, and it had rained. Every. Day.

Standing outside as his hoodie turned into a soggy, skin-sucking mess without any way of getting out of the cold, was the icing on the sucky-holiday-cake.

Willa folded her arms, her wet hair plastered to the sides of her face. “Let’s go next door for a while, you said. It’ll be fun, you said.”

David looked at the skin on his thumb and pulled at a loose bit near his nail. “It was fun. Sort of. And anyway, why didn’t you take the key? You’re the eldest.”

“Mum said I needed to stop doing things for you. You’re eleven.”

“Eleven and a half,” David muttered and knew, immediately that it was a mistake to mutter anything while Willa was in this sort of mood. The concrete thudded wetly as she stamped her foot. She pointed her finger at him and her face started going red.

“It’s okay. I’ll find the key, promise,” David said, frantically digging in his pockets.

Willa opened her mouth and looked down at her body, her eyes growing wider and her face getting steadily redder.

Uh oh. “Take a breath. You can do it,” David said desperately.

Willa gasped and managed to squeak out, “You said this wasn’t going to happen again.”

“I didn’t think it was. Quick, think about kittens. Puppies. Sunshine.”

Willa’s whole face was now the red of overripe tomatoes. Red, and starting to glow. Her eyes started changing colour and as she glared at David, a loud whooshing noise rushed into his ears and made him feel woozy….

Click here to finish the story…

Posted in The Winner

The Winners Of The FABO Story Competition: 11 – 22 June

Wow what a huge bunch of amazing entries! I’ve been writing and judging fabostory for six years now and I can honestly say that it’s getting harder and harder to pick a winner each year. There was an amazing array of imaginative interpretations for this story. There were pick-pockets with circus intrigue, jewel headed boys and a lot of razor sharp realizations that future and past David and Ella shouldn’t have been meeting in such odd circumstances.

I have to say Happy Birthday to Amelie Espagnet who described her orb headed boys with wonderful clarity and entered on her birthday.

A special mention goes to Marina Showers from Sunnynook Primary for her wonderful creative language and to Ruby from St Cuthberts for the whiplash fast change in your time frame from the future with clockwork boys, to being in a contemporary movie, to being thrown adrift in time by the bracket after All! Phew.

Ashleigh Bernacchi’s scales and dark shrivelled hands had me shuddering, and Hayley King’s world made of mars bars was a close call to taking out the top spot.

A quick note to remember that tense is so important to your writing. Quite a few amazing pieces slipped between tenses and it made an otherwise stand out story a little confusing, especially when were already dealing with time travel.

We have a broad range of ages who enter Fabo but one of our youngest entrants, Anna Walker from Hutt Central School’s feathered crocodile almost got my winner’s vote this week. Amazing work Anna. But the overall winner this week is Sienna Williams from St Kentigern College. You did a great job setting the scene straight away and keeping up the tension right till the very end. Congratulations!

Sienna’s Winning Story

David and Ella stared after them with a look of despair, searching frantically for Ratty in amongst the bustling crowd of bubble-headed children. More had started to congregate in a circle around them. David and Ella shivered with fear as they stared at the expressionless bubbles in front of them. Two of the bubble-heads stepped forward and simultaneously chorused in a robotic voice, “we will take them to the principal’s office.” One of them reached into its pocket and sprayed a foul-smelling gas into their faces.

When they awoke they were slumped in two uncomfortable chairs in the school office. Ratty was there snoring noisily. Ella stole the bracelet and slipped it into her pocket. Two scary bubble-headed office ladies sat at the desk typing away. When all of a sudden one stopped and in a harsh, cold voice rasped, “enter the principal’s office now.” They creeped towards the heavy ebony door barely daring to breathe.

The principal cloaked in shadow seemed to stare disapprovingly in their direction. “Execute them,” he growled. Two guards moved out of the darkness and pulled a leaver. Beneath their feet the floor opened up to reveal a gaping chasm. Then with no warning the sissy hologram blurted out, “15 minutes until detonation.”

The principal motioned for the guards to stop and said, “I will let you live if you give me this sissy hologram 7.3.” They accepted the offer enthusiastically and the principal ordered “take them to the dungeon.” The guard dragged them out the door and across the hallway.

David stared at the bland stone prison bars of his cell. Suddenly out of the corner of his eyes he saw movement. He stood up startled and asked his voice trembling, “whho’s there.” “Only me,” a sweet silky voice whispered. A person wearing an auburn cloak emerged from the darkness. “How did you end up here?” questioned David. “And why aren’t you a bubble-head?”

“My name is Princess Amaya. Previous ruler of planet earth. Many years ago, Earth was a peaceful place where every being lived in harmony. Then one dark day the evil king of the bubbles invaded our planet. He came with his army of bubbles and we were no match for him. He imprisoned all human beings. The bubbles are parasitic creatures and live off the people whose planets the invade. The latched onto all of the heads of my subjects. They controlled them by thought and there is only one thing in this universe that can bring an end to them. It is the ancient’s bracelet.” “I know where that bracelet is!” shouted David excitedly and he pulled the bracelet from his pocket. Ella was now awake and was startled to see the stranger in the cell opposite. David threw the bracelet to princess Amaya. She pushed a button on it that they had not noticed before, then suddenly the security guard snoring in the corner next to them turned human again. David and Ella had saved the human race!

Posted in Enter Now

Ready for a new FABO Story Competition?

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

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

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

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

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

4. Send your story to us by 8pm Friday June 22.

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 Four

David had never spent much energy thinking what falling through time would feel like. He’d never considered the way it might steal the air from his lungs, the water from his eyes, the lunch from his stomach…

“That’s gross,” Ella said as David finished hurling in the bushes.

“That was the worst trip yet,” said David when he was finally able to talk. “I thought the first one was bad, and the second was worse, but coming to the future rather than the past is like…” he vomited again.

“Detonation will commence in nineteen minutes and four seconds.” David swung his glance to the hologram floating above the bushes he’d just vomited in. The Sissy version 7.3 looked normal enough: straight blonde hair, freckled skin, but there was an emptiness in her brown eyes that was creepy. She definitely looked like something that wouldn’t think twice about blowing them all up. “We’ve got to get that bracelet back.”

“Absolutely,” Ella replied. “I was thinking of asking those guys if they could take us to Aramaya Abalonia’s house to return the bracelet, but now I’m not sure I want to.”

David looked over to the edge of the sports field she was pointing at. Or rather what would have been a sports field if they weren’t in the future. There were no nets here, no trees, just the scrubby bushes like the ones they’d landed in, and beyond them, glistening buildings that looked like they might take off any minute. Ten boys stood in a semi-circle wearing a weird version of his usual school uniform. Same shorts, same shirt, but instead of shoes they had silver boots and instead of hats on their heads, well, they didn’t have heads. They had silver glinting orbs on their shoulders, no eyes, no mouths, nothing but a weird shifting shimmer that made David’s eyes water after looking at it for five seconds.

“Are they aliens?” he whispered to Ella.

“I guess so. This must be what school looks like in the future. Although I don’t see any teachers and those classrooms look all kinds of wrong.”

The boys started walking towards them and with every step they muttered Strangers alert, stranger alert.

“Detonation will commence in Eighteen minutes,” the hologram said.

“Gee thanks,” said Ella. “This place is full of great choices, stay put and get blown up, or chat with creepy alien blob-heads who don’t seem to want us here.”

David ignored her. “Where do we take the bracelet?”

The Sissy Hologram pointed directly at the boys. David gulped. But just then Ratty the rat jumped from where he’d been sitting on David’s shoe, snatched the bracelet from Ella’s hand and started sprinting towards the no-head-shimmer boys…

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Michele’s FaboStory Judge’s Report

Nice work Ninja netters! This week there were some stand out entries purely based on the level of description you guys are all working with. Paying attention to details really brings life to a story so well done. Special mention for this goes to Sienna Maia Smith for “the breeze closed the door behind us” and Catalina Addis for your “steel lion knocker made a thump as it hit the vintage wood”, Finn Wescombe of Aidanfield Christian School for his beetroot allergy details and Evie Wilkins from Woodland’s Park School, because, puppies! You all brought me into the scene of your story and made me believe I was there.

A huge shout out to all the entries at Saint Kentigern College in general this week. You all gave great attention to detail and made some seriously great ninja netting attempts. I particularly enjoyed how Holly Huges solved all the mysteries in the story starter and gave us a sense of place with the creeping cold of night. A big thumbs up to Saint Francis de Sales school too, particularly Jack Townsend for his awesome Ninja 101 dial up story. And finally great work to Island Bay school too, particularly Helena R, some fantastic entries this week.

One thing to remember is to pay attention to tense and point of view. There were a few stories that started out in present tense and then shifted to past tense – (I am catching the ninja – present tense) would change to (and then the ninja was caught and our jobs were done – past tense) for example. And there were a few where your narrator would start out in first person (I am going to catch a ninja) and then end up in third person (he crept up on the ninja and wrapped him with a net).

But this week’s overall winner was Larry McMyler! Larry, could you please contact Michele using the Contact form on this Website? You get to choose a book from this year’s New Zealand Children’s Book Award Shortlisted titles. You can all check them out by clicking here! Some of our Fabo Judges are among the shortlisted authors. Yay!

Larry did a great job of creating tension, pace and a setting that brought the story to life. Congratulations to everyone! A ninja job well done!

Michele

Read Larry’s story here

“Ninja net it is,” Ivan agreed. And so we began. Weaving, cutting, tying, we knew it would take time and hard work, but we believed it would pay off. And it did. Because after many hours, sitting out on the cracked, weed-strewn patio, we had ourselves a decent net. Now I say decent, not amazing, because sure, it would hold together, but maybe not under the strength of a fully grown man who has spent his whole life training in a secluded Ninja Dojo, hidden in a remote mountain range in Tokyo, training under the guidance of a 90 year old man who can arm-wrestle anyone into the ground. But yeah, decent enough. Once we had finished the net, Ivan decided we should scout out our target first. But first, we needed camouflage. So after a few minutes of searching the Invention Potential Pile, we had found two beanies which were long enough to cover our faces. We then cut three holes, two for the eyes, and one for the mouth.

“Tonight, at seven, we will disappear into the night, and our target will be in our sights,” Ivan said in a deep, raspy voice. Then he pulled his makeshift mask over his face, and dived behind the couch, knocking over the reading lamp.

“Alright, Batman,” I said, rolling my eyes.

So that night, after a lot of explanation to my parents, we met up at the letterbox at the end of Mrs. Gilinsky’s driveway. Mrs. Gilinsky, our neighbor, always kept her dog inside its enclosure, for fear of people feeding it anything outside its strict diet of only the best dog roll. The dog, a cocker spaniel with long silky fur, attracted a lot of attention with the local children.

“So did you bring the net,” Ivan inquired.

“Sure did,” I answered, producing the net from my schoolbag, “Where will we hang it?”

“From the tree by the doorway,” came the reply after much consideration. And so we fastened the net so that it hung from a branch of the Pohutukawa that stretched across the yard.

“And now we wait,” I said, once the job was done.

“Yup.”

We waited for about ten minutes patiently, then just as we were about to pack up and head home, a figure leaped over the fence. We retreated to our hiding place, behind the recycling bin, and watched the mysterious trespasser. The child, he or she was definitely a child, and was, by an estimate of height, about the age of eight. They seemed to be walking gingerly towards the dog kennel. But just before they could make it to the kennel, they got caught up in the net. A voice, the voice of a young boy, cried out in shock.

“Benjamin?” I called out to my brother, revealing our hiding place.

“George!” Ben replied. A light turned on in the house, Mrs. Gilinsky must have heard us.

“Come on guys!” Ivan whispered, pulling us behind the bin. And just in time as well. Mrs. Gilinsky was just opening the door. She spent some time looking out onto the yard.

“Pesky possums,” she said in a shrill voice.

When we made it back home, we took off our muddy shoes and went into the living room.

“Where have you lot been?” said Mum.

“Ninja hunting,” I replied with a smile.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter The New FABO Competition!

Judging the next competition is author Michele Powles. To enter the competition, just finish her story in 500 words or less and submit it using the online form. Good luck!

Instructions

Read Michele’s story starter and then finish the story any way you like. Your entry must be submitted by 8pm Friday 23rd June. No late entries will be accepted.

Michele’s Story Starter

Ivan and I had planned to make a net after school. We hadn’t been able to agree what it would be for, but we had agreed that making a net was the best use of the ten balls of orange and red yarn that we’d found in the cupboard under the stairs.

“You asked your mum if we could use it?” Ivan asked me for the tenth time. His mum keeps everything, like Every. Thing. They even have a pile of stuff in the corner of their lounge that they all call the Invention Potential Pile. It’s cool, even if it’s a bit weird. I mean, I don’t know what you would be able to turn broken dolls and an old fan into, but that’s what’s at the top of the pile at the moment.

“She said it was fine,” I said to Ivan. Actually, she said, “knock yourself out.” But I didn’t say that to Ivan. He takes things literally and I didn’t want to answer endless questions about how we were supposed to knock ourselves out and still make a net.

“Cool,” said Ivan. “So, a fishing net, or a ninja net?”

“Definitely a ninja net. There aren’t any fish in the river at the moment.”

“There aren’t any ninjas either,” said Ivan. It was true. We had been hunting ninjas for the last term and hadn’t found any. But I was sure there were some in our neighbourhood. Who else would be leaving muddy footprints on Mrs. Gilinsky’s door step every Thursday night? Or taking all the black socks from Mum’s washing line each week?

“We’re making a ninja net,” I said with a sharp nod of my head. “Fishing nets are too easy.”

Finish the story here!