Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

FABO Story Report for competition 12 judged by Kathy White

Thanks to everyone who sent me a story in the My Life as a Roach competition. This story starter made you step out of your own skin and pull on an exoskeleton – and you did it with a huge dose of enthusiasm.

Your stories displayed all the great elements of storytelling – heroes, villains, conflict, love and loss, kindness and even a little redemption. Plus a lot of lemon curd, which is good in any story 😄. You also invented some magnificent characters – the burglar and the cockroach army (William), Jazzy the Poodle (Alexa), the Bug-Sucker-Upper (Evelyn), Hurricane Charlotte (Olivia), a murderous Cairns Birdwing Butterfly (Grace), Dr Roach von Trap (Nina) and an aerobatic cockroach (Sayu).

Another thing I loved was your HUMOUR. Here are some moments that made me smile.

(Ysabelle wrote) Squinting, I try to remember if she mentioned meeting up with a male relative or friend today, when I realise they all passed in the Dishwasher Incident of November 2019. Rest in pieces, guys.

(Evelyn) But the lemon curd! Oh snap out of it you fool, roomba wants to abduct you and take you into the beyond.

(Alina) I do a little poop. It’s a very nice present for the boy with the fly-swatter.

(Blake) A pair of mint green undies with brown stains were lying in the hallway. Mmmm, chocolate.

(William, referring to a door) It swings open and I slam-dunk the trophy upon the large white flushable object, where many a good cockroach has been lost in the murky brown water.

Heh, heh, heh.

Another thing I love to see in stories is natural-sounding DIALOGUE. It always makes a story come alive.

Marcus hit the nail on the head with his thoughts, dialogue, and action combo.

“Jane!” he shouts. “There’s a blimmin’ cockroach next to you!”
The woman wakes up and says
“Roach! There!” he repeats, pointing at me.
She whips around and stares at me like I’m a bug. Which I am. Then she screams so loud I nearly go deaf. I’m not scary. I’m just a cockroach. We roaches don’t scream when we see humans-with their hairy heads, hairless arms, and ugly, pink-

A lot of you worked hard on your IMAGERY, choosing descriptive words and sounds that help the reader to visualise people, places, and things.

William did this with his description of a bathroom door, which was a huge obstacle for a tiny cockroach.
It stands like a tall sentinel, strong like a giant redwood.

(And from Indigo) There is a pneumatic hiss from behind me, and I scuttle under the couch cushions, catching a glimpse of humongous sagging jowls and rubbery lips as a can emblazoned with the words: Cockroach Killer appears in my field of vision.

All stories need something surprising, something unexpected. Sometimes that comes in the whole idea, as it did when William turned his cockroaches into an army of heroes, battling a burglar. Sometimes that comes when a cockroach’s romantic dreams are shattered (Ysabelle) and sometimes, when it seems that all hope is lost, it comes in the form of a kind young girl’s ability to see a cockroach as something beautiful and wondrous (Indigo).

Suddenly a small hand scoops me up.
“Got it Dad!” a high-pitched voice calls,
“Kill the darned thing!” comes the growly voice. Kill me? KILL ME! I think not! I begin to squirm, kicking my legs in a pitiful attempt to escape the clutches of the child.
“Yes Dad.” But the girl does no such thing. She gently carries me to the pot drawer, and deposits me next to a quivering Lucinda. “There you go little cockroach. Safe and sound.” I am SAVED! SAVED! Hallelujah! She giggles and strokes my shell, “You’re pretty.” See! See! It’s not just Lucinda! I truly am a very attractive cockroach! She leaves after that, but the next day, I find a dollop of lemon curd especially for me, smeared on the handle of the pot drawer.

Compassion is a beautiful thing. That ending moved me. I even started to see Gisborne cockroaches in a new light after reading stories like these, and although I’d still prefer it if they stayed in the shed and compost rather than sneaking in through the old and worn cracks in my wooden French doors, I promise you that I will catch-and-release them outside in future.

I whittled my longlist down to three writers who ticked all the boxes – William Kelly, Ysabelle C and Indigo Tomlinson. All three understood the personality of the main character, but they still managed to use their own writing style to make him come to life. They had action sequences, great dialogue, and a plot with a twist. The story was well balanced from beginning to end, and they used the story starter well. There was nothing missing.

Our junior prize winner is William, and our senior prize winner is Ysabelle (with Indigo highly commended). I’d like to congratulate you and thank you all for entertaining us with your stories throughout the year.

This is what DAVID HILL, author of numerous Puffin books for children, said about your stories.

William – “A brisk and lively story, with clever use of questions and doubts to keep the reader involved. I like William’s use of inventive humour through the events, and his clever wordplay. Nice mixture of thoughts and events, so we meet both the internal and external worlds.”

Ysabelle and Indigo – “I found it hard to separate the stories by Ysabelle and Indigo. Both are very talented writers, who I hope continue to enter competitions during their high school years. I enjoyed Indigo’s pace and inventiveness, her technical skills and her cockroach heroine! In the end, I’ve picked Ysabelle, for her excellent use of dialogue (a great tool for authors); the sustained speed and clarity of her story; the nice sly humour, and the very effective build-up to the amusing climax. I’ll also note that her use of different-sized paragraphs which make her story LOOK interesting on the page is a useful technique.”

For those who thought FaBo was over for 2020, we are responding to a plea from fabo fans, and we are doing one last poetry challenge. So keep writing. Believe in yourself. There is nothing better than a good story (or poem).

Much love


Kathy’s Story Starter: My Life as a Roach

You cringed when you read that, didn’t you? It’s okay. We Gisborne cockroaches have broad shoulders. I can handle disdain. Negative thoughts bounce off me like … crikey, is that child with the fly-swat running towards ME?

Time to drop into the trenches. Fortunately I have a bit of pizza down here, wedged between the floorboards. A rather posh thin-crust one with blue cheese, pear and walnuts. My sweetheart Lucinda would love to get her gnashers stuck into this, but she’s over there hiding in the pot cupboard with the pots, and I’m here hiding in the floorboards with the pizza. What a dilemma. Crunch crunch nom nom nom crunch crunch, belch.

I poke my antennae up to see if the coast is clear. Last week, the demon cat with the dirty ginger coat ripped every single hairy leg off my cousin Dennis and then used him as a tooth-pick. That was not a good day.

And the next day my Aunt Helga got caught up in the towels and ended up as confetti after an extra-hot spin in the clothes-drier.

Life is a battlefield. No doubt. I think someone even wrote a song about it. But I mustn’t get downhearted. I will find sweeties to take back to my lovely Lucinda.

The house-owner is asleep on the couch, cavernous mouth open, doing the most epic snoring. Is that doughnut cream I spy on her chin? And is that … oh my goodness, it’s LEMON CURD. My joy is unbounded!

Just call me Robo Roach! I’m off up the wall and running along the back of the couch as fast as you can say Drymaplaneta semivitta or Spheniscidae.

The smell is divine, but I can sense something else. Danger with a capital D.


William Kelly, age 8, Brooklyn Primary

There is a loud rumble, a gargantuan smash and then a thump. I had better investigate… whatever made that noise might hurt Lucinda, right?

As I scuttle back into the other room, I look for clues. What could the sound mean… fly swat kid? No, it’s staring at a screen. A spider invasion? No, spiders are too sneaky. The postman? No, posties are too friendly. What’s that?

Crouching under the window is a human: tall, thin and dressed all in black. Wait, I’ve heard about these – they are dangerous, devious and devilish. The three Ds. This is a burglar.

Maybe I can distract it and trap it in the bathroom, well it’s worth a try. What do humans like? ah yes, SHINY STUFF! I head straight for the house-owner’s Cross-Country trophy which glistens like one thousand stars. No sign of speed today, just snoring! I can hardly move it but then it is huge, brass and heavy and I AM a cockroach.

Eventually after what seems like years of endless suffering I reach the bathroom door. It stands like a tall sentinel, strong like a giant redwood. It’s the only thing between the bathroom and me.

“Right, door, we can do this the easy way or the hard way” I shout as I battle-ram the door…. Splat! Well that was NOT a good idea, let’s do it the easy way and before you can say Formidulosus Ruptor I scuttle up and turn the door handle. It swings open and I slam-dunk the trophy upon the large white flushable object, where many a good cockroach has been lost in the murky brown water.

Surely the human must see it. Now let’s hide. Here he comes….

With a swift leg manoeuvre the bathroom door slams shut and I slide the lock across. WHAM! Trapped!

What shall I do now?

My Plan: I will set my friends on him; I suck in my thorax and then squat. … Paaaaaaarrrrrppppp – Ahhhhh, the ancient cockroach tradition of the call of the foghorn. The waft of blue cheese pizza mixed with an extra serving of cold baked beans summons the Brown Coats. Do you know what this means? War! An intrusion of gnarly, reddish brown cockroaches appear from every nook, cranny, floorboard and even the cupboard under the stairs.

My Orders: Defeat the human. The platoons march, ten by ten, through the gap under the door, their armoured exoskeletons clinking as they pass, antennae to the ready. I hear the human scream, the door opens, and it runs out, purple-faced with eyes boggling, and flees the house.

Slowly my army disperses; soon they have vanished entirely. Hidden from view, their work done. The house-owner stirs, grunts and then the gentle hum of snoring starts up again.

It’s been a long day, Lucinda is safe, and I think you will all agree I’ve earned a reward… So if you want to find me I will be on the chin, having a tasty refreshment.



Ysabelle C, age 13, Baradene College

In fact, danger spelt in all caps. Landing on the epic snorer’s cheek, I scour the area for any potential enemies, ones that could kill me or take my food or both. (Which, by the way, happened to Great Aunt Mary, who was ambushed in the Pizza Hut Box. I vow to never try fresh pizza.)

But I digress. This battlefield has no place for tangents. Lucinda is counting on me, and I’m planning to use that lemon curd for dessert when I propose to her this evening. It’s a shame I haven’t got a ring more splendid than the one Robert got for Tina. That stinky roach manages to upstage me in everything!

Yet I digress. Again.

Suddenly, something shifts. I need to act fast. I take quick leaps up to her chin, where I scoop up the curd and escape without a hitch. Taking a quick taste of the cream, I deem it perfect for the evening and tuck it away. But there’s still danger- no, wait, Danger- hang on, DANGER lurking, biding its time in the shadows instead of roaching up and facing me. Then I feel a featherlight touch brush my back. Whipping around, I ready myself for an ambush.

A lone dust bunny sadly drifts back under the couch. Must be sad it’s single.

Still on red alert, I travel to the pot cupboard. Carefully I avoid the child, who is engrossed in drawing some ghastly portrait of their equally ghastly cat. Entering the cupboard, I flash a grin to Stuart and Ricky, who wave from their pop-up cafe, then I make my way to lovely Lucinda.

“Lulu!” I greet her. Then I see it.

She’s sitting with a man. Squinting, I try to remember if she mentioned meeting up with a male relative or friend today, when I realise they all passed in the Dishwasher Incident of November 2019. Rest in pieces, guys.

“Quentin!” she says, getting to her feet. “How was your day?” I notice her strained smile.

“I got us dessert for tonight,” I test, seeking a reaction from the guy. Sure enough, his face goes blank.

“That’s fantastic, I’m excited about our dinner,” she says. I note the absence of any excitement and open my mouth when-

“Do I know you?” says the guy-roach finally. “Cindy, who is this?”

Lucinda’s tight smile grows even tighter. Something clicks. Is this the danger I felt?
“Who is he, Lucinda?” I ask.

“Cindy, why’s he asking you who I am? Obviously, I’m your boyfriend.”

The world stops.


“Quentin,” Lucinda says softly.

That’s it. “I don’t want to hear it. Here’s the dessert-” I dump the cream onto her- “and here’s the ring-” I gently place it on top of the cream- “and here’s goodbye.” With a slam, I leave the cupboard.

I find myself moping under the couch. While I sit (and cry, but don’t tell anyone), I notice the dust bunnies travelling to the exits. Suddenly, I’m being sucked towards the light with them. Sigh. Us Gisborne roaches can never catch a break. Not even after a break-up.

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 10 judged by Jane Bloomfield

I wanted to try something a little different with my story-starter this time round. To take you keen young writers out of a contemporary setting and put you into a fantastical, historical one. With witches! As a child, I spent many a happy, weekend morning in bed with my Mum reading fairytales. Some really worried me. The foolish emperor running around town in the nuddy, in The Emperor’s New Clothes. Some made me quite sad. Rapunzel locked in the tower by the wicked sorceress, only able to be rescued if she let down her rope of golden hair. (Thank goodness for the prince riding past.) The boastful miller in Rumplestiltskin sending his daughter away to endlessly spin straw into gold for the greedy king.

Thankfully in fairytales, more often than not, good eventually overcomes evil. With Pearl and The Golden Apples, ‘greed shall not be rewarded’ was a recurring theme in the many entries. For example:

Khloe Demetriou, 12, Highlands Intermediate’s witch encouraged Pearl to try a golden apple, then turned her into a kitten and warned, “From this day on you will not eat another golden apple, if you do I’ll turn you into something you won’t be happy with.” The golden apples were too tempting. “Her hands were small, slimy and the colour of seaweed … Oh no, I’m a frog.”

I loved all the wicked crones with their debilitating powers, and the magical apples (especially the apples with gold seeds!) along with the tales of intrigue you wove into your stories. But hocus pocus, stir the witches brew, it was hard to pick one winner. Many many stories were well imagined, original, descriptive and often spooky.

My highlighter jumped on the following passages:

Naomi George, 10, Thorndon School described the noise Pearl heard as, “It sounded like thunder had tried to be sweet and failed.” And her aptly named witch, Autumn Hallow “had blazing red hair, twisted into a long plait that fell over her shoulder.”

Olivia Morriss, 11, Oamaru Intermediate also had a “copper-red” haired witch with glowing, reddy-brown eyes. “As the woman moved closer her large cognac eyes could be seen, taking in the sunlight, shining golden.” Brilliant!

Alexandra Cavanagh, 11, Thorndon School had a “forest demon” … “standing in the moonlight was a tall, skinny woman with grey-white skin grey-black hair, long, sharp fingernails and red-brown, bloodshot eyes.”

Claire Tisdall, 10, Strath Taieri School. “Green, mist soon whirled out of the sack. It had a wisp of a voice, but it was very, very, deep. I thought everyone knew about the curse of the Golden apple tree…”

Indigo Tomlinson, 12, Whakatane Intermediate. I loved Indigo’s enchanting but dangerous faeries. “A circle of tiny people, with butterfly wings that caught the light and shimmered like iridescent opals. The voice flowed from them like nectar and Pearl found herself enchanted by their otherworldly looks.”

Elaine, 10, Thorndon Primary. “Pearl turned around and saw something like the wendigo, the deer head and boney body with the dull and neverending eyes.” FREAKY.

Lily Dawson, 13, Stonefields School. “Are you here to take my apples?” It asked. Pearl reached for Darcy’s reins. Before she could grab them the tree’s branches reached down and lifted her into the air.” Argghghghgh.

Charlotte Barr, 12, Balmacewen Intermediate. “The voice continued to sing, “A witch with a nose, two eyes and three warts, one whose skin is the colour of quartz!”

In fact, it was a story with a catchy verse, great pacing and an excellent final, double twist that is my chosen WINNER. So without further a do, Margaux Astrid Detera, 10, Thordon Primary, take a bow. Congratulations, Margaux!

** Eileen Merrimen, the author of the award winning YA novels, Pieces of You, Catch Me When You Fall, and Invisibly Breathing, is our guest Penguin judge this week. Here are Eileen’s comments on Margaux’s winning story:

“A vivid story with wonderful imagery and pace. The verse near the start really caught my attention. Loved that twist at the end.” Eileen Merriman

And to all the other fantastic entrants, you’re cool! Keep writing!
Jane Bloomfield

Jane’s Story Starter: Pearl and Golden Apples

“Rise and shine, sleepyhead,” said Ma, tugging back Pearl’s quilt. “I need you to ride over to the old miner’s place and collect some golden apples.”

“Golden apples?” said Pearl warily. She lifted the sack curtain over the window above her bed and peered out. Sunlight danced on the tall poplar tree that stood like a giant sentinel beside their tiny stone cottage. An invisible breeze carried three yellow leaves; they fluttered down towards Pearl like corn-coloured butterflies.

Ma was stirring porridge at the coalrange. She slapped a bowl down on the table, startling Pearl from her reverie.

“Shall I just get blackberries, Ma? Folk say that apple tree belongs to a witch who puts curses on the children who pick ’em!”

“Nonsense,” said Ma.

“So why are the apples gold, then?” asked Pearl.

“Because they’re Golden Ambrosia apples, silly-billy. No one’s lived there for years. Don’t dally, the weather’s changing.”

Pearl pulled on her woollen riding habit and slowly laced up her leather boots. Her porridge tasted like dust.

Darcy, her big black horse, was waiting at the gate. He whinnied, hello, flicking his head. Pearl whispered to him, “You wouldn’t be acting so fresh if you knew where we’re headed.”

Darcy munched his oats, while Pearl brushed him down and plaited his long forelock. She buckled on her largest saddlebags and slipped her tin whistle in one and a crust of bread wrapped in muslin in the other. She grabbed her shawl and the pair trotted off.

By the time Pearl had played all her tunes and eaten the bread, they arrived at the golden apple tree. Without daring to scout around, Pearl rode Darcy right up beside its laden branches and started picking. She’d almost filled one bag when Darcy snorted and started jigging. All the silvereyes darted from the tree and Pearl heard a strange voice …

Margaux Astrid Detera’s winning story:

“wHo dArE EnTeR mY fOrEST!” Pearl’s eyes widened! Her blood rushed down quickly to her legs, making her tremble. She looked at Darcy terrified, observing his every move… He was looking behind her. Pearl shut her eyes, starting to feel the tears bubbling… As every single teardrop splashed onto the ground, she slowly turned around, and opened her eyes… Her vision wasn’t clear, because of the burning hot tears, but from what she could identify:

A black pointy hat
A broom with a cat
A smug little grin
With a long pointy chin
A black lace dress
With potions for a mess
And a pretty big wart
She cackled and she snort

It was pretty clear to Pearl that what she was looking at was an evil cackling witch. “I-I’m sorry! I must be on my way!” Pearl pleaded for her dear life, “Oh no! It is a weekend after all?! I insist, please stay…” The evil witch smirked at her own statement. Pearl laughed nervously and dashed terrified towards Darcy, the evil witch laughed once again “You can’t escape me child, I’ll always be, just behind your shoulder!” The evil witch cackled as she snatched her broom and tapped it onto the ground three times, she then disappeared… Pearl leaped onto Darcy’s back, then galloped away, horrified.

Once Pearl had got home, she called out to her mother, “MA! ARE YOU THERE?” no response… Pearl knew that her mother was getting a bit old so she took a long time to get to the door, while she was waiting, she gazed in amazement at the outstanding view. She was flabbergasted that an ugly witch like the one she just encountered, could live in a world as perfect as this! “Pearl! What are you doing here back so early?” exclaimed Pearl’s mother, “Ma, I-i saw a witch!” Pearl stuttered “Nonsense! I have not seen those golems in centuries!” Ma said confused.

“WELL THEY ARE STILL VERY REAL! AND SHE THREATENED ME, THAT SHE WILL ALWAYS BE BEHIND MY BACK!” Pearl yelled with frustration, her mother just couldn’t understand! Unfortunately, Pearl’s mother never understood. So she had to grow up with the thought that in any second, an evil witch could snatch her life away…

25 years later…

“Bye honey! Bye children! See you all after work and school!” Pearl called out happily, “Oh I must freshen up before I cook!” Pearl said to herself. After she was done drying her face with a towel lying around, she looked at herself in the mirror… But standing right behind her was the same terrible witch she saw 25 years ago…

That was the last person she saw until she dropped into this strange spiral.

After work and school.

“Hi mummy!” exclaimed Pearl’s children “Hi honey!” said Pearl’s husband sweetly. “Hey guys!” the evil witch smirked.


2nd place goes to Olivia Morriss, 11, Oamaru Intermediate


3rd place goes to William Kelly, 8, Brooklyn Primary, Wellington

Congratulations, Olivia and William!!

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Kyle Mewburn’s FABO Story Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, keep writing!!

– Kyle

Kyle’s Story Starter

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

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

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

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

“That’s not much fun, Pip.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archie smiled as if it was a compliment.

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

An ear-shattering shriek split the night.

Pippa and Archie bolted upright.

“What was that?” asked Archie.

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

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

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

Chloe’s Story

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

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

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

And that was when they plunged into terrifying darkness.

‘What do we do now?’ inquired Pippa.

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

‘What was that?’ whispered Archie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indi’s story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in The Winners!

The Winners Of The FABO Story Competition: 28 May – 8 June

Wow! I have enjoyed reading so many different and imaginative visions of the future. I was looking for stories with imagination, clever problem solving (how David and Ella would stop Sissy 7.3 from detonating), and with that X-factor (be it humour, strong voice, fiendish plotting, colourful characters or a particular combination of these) that elevate the story from competent into a prize winner.

Please also pay attention to the word limit which is 500 words. Most writing competitions have strict limits and stories exceeding the limit are automatically disqualified. I was a little more lenient than this but there were a couple of great stories that were unfortunately way too far past the word limit to allow (it isn’t fair on the other contestants who completed their stories and had less words to play with).

If you look back to the instructions at the start of this year’s Fabostory competition you will see that we are writing a serial story which means your story should end in a cliff-hanger. I haven’t penalised anyone who didn’t do this – but don’t forget for next time 😊

The following nine stories made my short list:

Caila (Saint John Bosco School) – good use of vocabulary and imagination. I enjoyed the political aspect to this story.

Charlotte (Pinehurst School) – a future in which giraffes have grown tired of the humans and taken over the world. That made me laugh.

Anna (St Columba’s School) – one of the youngest contestants – for a complete story culminating in a cliff-hanger ending.

Harry (Tauranga Intermediate) – the only entry where a future version of one of the kids is utilised. Good thinking!

Ruchi (Pinehurst School) – wonderful humour and a strong voice.

Lucy (Te Mata Primary) – short, punchy sentences kick the story off into a terrifying vision of the future and a heart-racing ending.

Hazel (Turitea) another of our youngest contestants with a complete story leading to an unexpected ending.

Carter (Discovery School) – super dialogue in a complete story which contained humour and tension that grew to the climactic ending.

Georgia (Bethlehem College) – great use of vocabulary and tight writing.

And the winner is… CARTER!

The runner up is LUCY.

Well done everyone and thank you for sending through your incredible stories. Congratulations to my winners I will be in touch to arrange the prizes.

– Suzanne Main

Carter’s Story

“Whoa, look at this place,” Ella said in awe.

“I feel sick. I’m gonna puke” David moaned.

Ella stood there staring into the future… Literally. David stood bent over with his hands on his knees.

“Is that a hover-board?” Ella asked.

“I think so” David replied. “Anyways, we have to go and return this to that Aramaya Abal-whatever.”

“Okay” Ella agreed. They jogged off with Ratty trailing behind. The first person they saw looked old, maybe around 70-75.

“SIR! Please, tell me do you know someone name Aramaya?” David questioned.

“Ummm, yeah quite a few of em'” The old man said.

“The Aramaya that has one of these.” David said confidently, as he brought out Sissy Version 7.3.

“Ohhhh, you mean ALL of them eh” The old man laughed.

“What do you mean” Ella asked.

“Everyone has one, kid” The old man Scoffed. David and Ella didn’t reply, they turned around and left.

“That was rude” The old man mumbled. David and Ella ran around trying to find Aramaya. They looked left and right, up and down. They could not find anyone named Aramaya, and they were running out of time.

“What are we going to do?” Ella asked David.

There was one thing I noticed” David emphasised.

“What?” Ella wondered.

“How everyone has a name tag!” David yelled.

“I never paid attention enough to notice that” Ella said. David laughed. 5 minutes left. They paid attention to all the name tags. Mike, Daniel, Ashton, Emma, so on, but NO Aramaya. They take out Sissy Version 7.3 and ask it what to do.

“I can find where Aramaya Abalonia is” Sissy Version 7.3 said in a robot voice.

“Why didn’t you say this earlier” David screamed.

“You didn’t ask” Sissy Version 7.3 said annoyingly.

“YES! DO IT, NOW!” David howled. All his anger rushed into that one sentence. David was scared. So scared that he was sweating.

“Aramaya is in the… Real life Cinemas.” Sissy Version 7.3 said.

“The what, um. Where is the Real life Cinemas?” David asked.

“The directions to the Real Life Cinemas are two rights then one left” Sissy Version 7.3 said. They have 1 minute. David and Ella sprinted so fast when they got there the people didn’t even notice that they broke into the movie.


“5 seconds until detonation” Sissy Version 7.3 said.

“HERE THROW IT!” Aramaya Abalonia yelled.

David couldn’t throw so he gave it to Ella, but Ella can’t throw either. Ella had to take her chance and threw it. It went nowhere near Aramaya, but Aramaya jumped.

“PLEASE DON’T DETONATE!” Aramaya yelled while in the air.

What will happen… She caught it!

“Hello Aramaya.” Sissy Version 7.3 said.

Ella sighed. “Let’s go home” Ella said. They went to the Cane Hoop, to leave.

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 fabo story, The Winners!

Fabo Judges Report from Maureen Crisp

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was looking for stories that did just that.

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

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

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

Their stories are below.

Rebekah Lile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It talked” said David

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

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

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

“Oh what beautiful names” said Charlotte

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

Piper Matchett

“Get back into the hoop!” David yelled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Kathy’s FABO Judge’s Report!

I don’t think I’ve ever read so many great ideas and well-rounded stories. Talk about making it difficult for the judge to do her job!

There were some exceptional ideas – using sticky tape on small hands to climb the walls, using lego pieces to spell out messages to classmates, and gigantic rats and spiders lurking in the back room. Some cockroaches morphed into humans and merged with human society. I particularly liked the rebelling mutant cockroaches who turned out to be badly-behaved kids, and Mr Lewis’ wife who had been trapped in the cockroach jar for 17 years! (Sian)


I liked the way you played with language and used it to create memorable pictures of characters and ominous places.

The kids slowly sunk to the dusty floor like ice melting in the sun (Daniel);

Before the trio could speak, they had shrunk to the size of a child’s pinky finger and formed the shape of a crunchy little cockroach (Daniel);

The three kids became “the bugskiteers” (Sarah).


Some of you thought carefully about the detail in who the characters were and how they behaved differently.

“Frankie landed neatly. Tyler sprawled and Brendan crashed into painful splits.” (Bessie);

Mr Lewis was beaming, and you could see all his cavities, silver teeth, and remnants of the burrito he had had for lunch earlier that day. (Indiana)


So many of you wrote great dialogue that I can’t mention you all. The best bits sounded really natural, with small pauses. For instance Kate wrote about how horrified the kids were when they found out that Mr Lewis didn’t know how to reverse what he had done.

“Scared that they won?” one of the boys shouted.

Mr Lewis shook his head.

“I don’t know how to reverse it,” he quietly sputtered.

The whole entire class gasped. You could hear a pin drop.

“Why, did you do this to US,” Frankie exploded.

In fact, Kate and Indiana had two of my favourite philosophical questions:

“Insects are a part of the circle of life. Do you like destroying the circle of life?”

“What is wrong with not making cockroaches’ legs twitch?!”


I like the way a lot of you played with words and used humour in your endings.

(After having been shrunk and re-sized)

3:30 at Tyler’s House.

“How was your day Tyler,” Tyler’s Mum asked.

“I have little to say about it,” Tyler replied. (Kate)

“Mr Lewis got fired, and now lives in his mother’s basement, trying to be a half-decent citizen.” (Jeremy)

Frankies eyes went blank. Her mouth was dry. “If this is a spider web, then where is its maker?” Eight eyes glowed red as Mr Lewis opened the cage behind them. (Indiana)

However I had the biggest chuckle with this from Daniel:

Mr Lewis came bursting in, Jason tackled him down like an ALL BLACK. Hurling him onto the red dot he commanded Brendan to press the button.

The evil teacher shrunk down to a cockroach. Wondering what the commotion was about, massive Mrs Watson quickly waddled in. Seeing the ugly insect on the ground she crushed it under her large shoe.

“Do you think Mr lewis is okay?” asked Frankie

“No guarantees” replied Jason.

You’ve made it particularly difficult to choose winners this time because

(1) you’re all talented;

(2) You’re getting better at delivering a well-balanced story (with surprises) in terms of a beginning, middle and end;

(3) You cleverly used details in the story starter and built on that story, making it something that was uniquely your own.


I’m not joking when I say that so many of you were in my shortlist, so thank you to all of you for making me laugh and think. Congratulations to Indiana Taylor (age 8) and Daniel Morrison (age 11) who are my junior and senior prize-winners this week for being good at so many things, and because I loved the way you put your words together.

If I had highly commended prizes, I’d be giving them out to Bessie Martin and Kate Barber plus several others for doing particular things exceptionally well. Unfortunately, I’ve only got two prizes so I’m sending the rest of you a virtual high five. Indiana and Daniel, can you please email your addresses through the Fabo story website, so I can send you a prize.

P.S. My story starter was based on a real one. When I was 13, I stood up in my science class and told my teacher, Mr Lewis, that I wasn’t going to cut up the dead lamb on my workbench. Kids were firing body parts around the room and I found it upsetting. My friend Dinah joined my protest, and we both had to scrape chewing gum off school seats for a week as punishment. It was the first time I protested about something that mattered to me; I’ve done it many times since. ☺

– Kathy White

Prize-winner: Indiana Taylor, Pt Chev Primary

Something from above shot down at them, and cloaked all three in a sticky, tough, strong material. They were trapped. Goners. Doomed.

“Ughh… I read a book on spiders yesterday,” Frankie shivered. “And gathering all the facts together, this is a spiders w..w..web!” Frankie screamed as a small prod in the back occurred.

“It’s all right.” Tyler whispered. ‘We are going to be fine. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO US MR LEWIS! WHAT IS WRONG WITH NOT MAKING COCKROACHES LEGS TWITCH?!”

He continued. “Well, you’re not bugs, are you? Your sign only said no bug experiments. Or am I mistaken, are you a bug, and I should switch you for these cockroaches.” Mr Lewis smirked.

Tyler struggled to find his sign so he could change what it said. “Looking for this?” Mr Lewis was beaming, and you could see all his cavities, silver teeth, and remnants of the burrito he had had for lunch earlier that day.

Brendan thought back to all those missing children from room 5. Tyler probably was right with assuming Jenny didn’t go on holiday so suddenly, and for such a long time too. That was over 2 and a half years ago. And maybe Jack really didn’t switch schools without telling anybody. Maybe Mr Lewis had been up to his experimenting for some time.

Frankies eyes went blank. Her mouth was dry. “If this is a spider web, then where is its maker?” Eight eyes glowed red as Mr Lewis opened the cage behind them.

Prize-winner: Daniel Morrison, age 11, Te Mata Primary

It all happened within a second, lasers shot out illuminating the mysterious room with colours, the kids slowly sunk to the dusty floor like ice melting in the sun.

Before the trio could speak, they had shrunk to the size of a child’s pinky finger and formed the shape of a crunchy little cockroach.

Mr Lewis gathered them up, walking them into the classroom he locked the back-room. With a little giggle he informed the kids in the classroom that he had found a few new cockroaches in the backroom.

Mr Lewis poured them into the jar on his desk and Tyler tried to escape but it was no use, they were trapped.

And then…


“Hey… You three, can you guys get me out.”

“who are you?” Asked Brendan sounding confused.

“I’m Jason.” he answered.

“Jason Greene?” asked Brendan.

“Yeah,” he told them.

“You kicked the football through the window last term, Mr Lewis told us you were expelled” exclaimed Brendan.

“He turned me into an ugly six legged pest and has kept me in here for weeks!” Yelled Jason frustratingly.

“So who are all these people with you?” asked Tyler.

“Oh no these are just normal cockroaches” he said with a short smirk.

Everyone muted, the same thought locked inside everyone’s head. How to get out? Finally the silence broke.

“We could play dead!” screamed Frankie.

“Yes, and we run on three!” “Agreed Jason.”

The four insects faced their shiny backs to the ground and just laid there waiting. Just as they had hoped, a large boy from their class walked by noticing the four seemingly lifeless cockroaches laying in the jar. Out of curiosity he slowly lifted the lid up and Jason signaled

“3,2,1 GO!”

The pocket sized pests all scattered out of the jar within a second which made the poor lad embarrassingly scream his head off.

Tyler directed the three roaches to head under the back room door, they quickly followed. Frankie then got an idea.

“We could use those Lego pieces on that shelf to make words to tell the other kids to press the red button and turn us back.” she insisted

“Great idea” said Brendan, and quickly the insects formed the words.

Immediately a kid ran into the room with bug-spray in hand. Surprised by the Lego message, he pressed the button reluctantly. Again the room filled with light. Instead of shrinking, they grew from the red spot on the cold flooring, transforming back to their human form.

Mr Lewis came bursting in, Jason tackled him down like an ALL BLACK. Hurling him onto the red dot he commanded Brendan to press the button.

The evil teacher shrunk down to a cockroach. Wondering what the commotion was about, massive Mrs Watson quickly waddled in. Seeing the ugly insect on the ground she crushed it under her large shoe.

“Do you think Mr lewis is okay?” asked Frankie

“No guarantees” replied Jason.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Sue’s FABO Report!

Thank you, Fabsters, for revving up your imaginations to finish the story starter. I was intrigued to see what you thought might happen when a lady in a funny old toy shop in a weird town told you to spin a globe which was clearly not going to be a normal globe. Where would you end up? The jungles of Africa? A Himalayan mountaintop? In fact, many of you ended up on desert islands with soft sandy beaches and turquoise sea. Could that be because we’re in the middle of winter?!

BUT, we also had: a planet where everything was the same yet different (Ella Stewart), Antarctica in the future (Finn Wescombe), inside the globe (Fatima Lefale), Dunedin in 1948 (Emma Shepherd), olde-worlde England (Maddie Mitchell), back to childhood (Mackenzie Carkeek), and the Titanic (Keziah). Oh yes, and Cole Wescombe landed on an island with a herd of buffalo, and also named the ‘weird’ town as Napier ☺.

Well done to those of you who included elements from the story starter in your writing. The toy shop owner, the sea serpents, Easter eggs and even pies were featured. Lucy Eastwood’s sea serpent appeared as a turquoise snake with curly horns, called Clarissa-Genevieve-Margaret-Elizabeth-Mary-May, and Indie Cowan’s was Falkor, the Luckdragon of Fantastica. I also liked Maia Wenham’s creepy button-eye dolls. Charlotte Rodgers-Foran gets an special mention for her truly scary and revolting serpent.

There was plenty of great descriptive writing. Keira Auden’s story featured an old lady with hair in “an unnecessarily tight bun”. Keira – I think I might just have to steal that for my next book! And Jade from Tauraroa School had the awesome line “Fairy tales go wrong” – but Jade, your lovely story was 1,348 words long. Hint: read the instructions!

Beginnings And Endings

A word about beginnings and endings. Your beginning needs to hook the reader in, and most of you nailed this. Straight into the action! Two fabulous beginnings were from Chelsea Young, whose story began: “I don’t know why I did what this woman told me to, it was a stupid idea. Maybe 13 is the age where you begin to do stupid things.” And Tatiana Austin, whose story began: “OK, so at first it sounds like a really idiotic thing to do, to spin a weird looking orb because a weird woman in a weird store in a weird town told you to. Man, I wonder why the result was weird.”

Now to endings. One of my favourite last lines came from Mackenzie Carkeek: “Well everyone must be a child one last time.” But, there were some riproaring stories that just fizzled out. Fabsters, we’ve told you before, we really like to know what happens in the end! How can you do this to us! Take a look at the winning entries to see how they have rounded off their tales. And something else we’ve mentioned before. Try and avoid the “Oh, it was a dream!” ending. Aim to be original. And think – if you got to the end of Harry Potter and found it had all been a dream, wouldn’t you be disappointed? The FABO judges are the same.

The Winners

And so, to my two winners! Yes, although I do have an overall winner, it was so close that I’m giving a second prize too.

The second prize goes to Peter Browne, from Otumoetai Primary School in Tauranga, whose spinning globe releases the serpents into the town, and he has to use his wits to outsmart them. Excellent beginning, plenty of action, a great ending and dollops of humour. Love it!

And the overall winner is … wait for it, wait for it … Mika, from Thighes Hill Public school, whose story had it all – superb descriptive writing, really creepy, and a great twist at the end.

I will email you two to let you know about your prizes.

Here are the two stories:

Mika’s story

The light was inexplicable. It tore away everything, blocking out all sound and vision. My throat was raw, my limbs paralyzed. Terror took hold of me, gripping my heart with icy fingers. I screamed, willing my legs to move, but nothing would come.


Something solidified under my feet. Solid ground. The earth beneath me was hard like rock, and had a strange, foreign feeling underfoot, almost bouncy.

As the vision returns to my eyes, I hear a raspy, terrifying voice choke out a feeble sentence, “But… Where… no…” My hand flies to my throat as I realize the voice was my own.

The scene around me is both horrifying and stunning. The land is perfectly flat, covered in long, wavy grass that goes up to my waist. To my left the land slopes downwards and meets the waterline. The waves soar above my head, crashing just metres away from me. I catch the salty spray on my tongue and pull away, scrambling into the grass. Briefly I remember the strange creatures that roamed the water on the globe. The sun suddenly becomes unbearable. The heat pelts down on the land. Sweat breaks out on my brow and I cringe. I raised my head and stared upwards. My heart skips a beat.

Above me, the sky is curved upwards, forming a glassy dome above me.

And behind the dome is the face of the store owner. Her grey hair surrounds her laughing face like a hood, her eyes peeking out from under her fringe of curls.
I am trapped, gone.


Peter’s story

As it spun, the brownish land and sea turned green and blue suddenly the sea serpents grew bigger and bigger and BIGGER! Finally, the serpents came to life! The serpents slithered out of the toy shop.

“I have to save Easter from the serpents, otherwise they’re going to wreck it!” I thought.

I sprinted out of the toy shop and into the town that really wasn’t a town. The serpents were already heading into a café. If I didn’t stop them the people in there would die then I would die to. I ran down the street and into the café.

When I reached the café the serpents had almost eaten their first meals! I needed to distract them. I grabbed the door and started swinging it open and shut. Well that got their attention, it worked really good … a little too good – now the serpents were after me, not the café people! I ran for my life (and for Easter).

I wondered about the old lady back in the toy store. Did she want this to happen? If she did then she’s going to pay for it.

“Snap out of it” I said to myself “Stop thinking and start running!”

Finally, I had an idea. If the sea serpents came to life when I spun the globe right, if I spun it left the sea serpents would go back in. “I’m a genius,” I thought, but did I spin it left or right? I’d forgotten. Well, I did just randomly spin it.

Suddenly I remembered that it was Easter! I ran down the road and into another café. Sure enough there were Easter eggs everywhere! Lucky me, I thought, so I asked the counter person if I could have some eggs. She said no, but when the serpents came in she gave me them all. I was chocolate rich, but this wasn’t for me it was for the serpents.

I ran out of the café holding the Easter eggs in my hand and screaming at the top of my voice. “Come and get it, you slimy sea monsters!” They soon followed me at supersonic speeds. If I couldn’t outrun them I’d have to outsmart them. So I dodged, jumped, and swerved until I’d almost tired them out. Finally, I could run to the toy shop.

When I reached the toy shop I found the lady asleep on the counter so I walked over to the globe. “Here goes nothing” I thought, and spun it … Sure enough the serpents got sucked back into the globe.

As for the old lady, she got sent to jail for the rest of her life. And, I was interviewed for breaking news on Channel 3.

Posted in Prizes!, The Winner

Melinda’s FABO Report For The Competition Ending June 9

It is wonderful to see so many of you participating in Fabostory, even from as far afield as Canada (Hi Ella!). We received 67 entries for this challenge. Wow! Good effort, people!

It was really interesting to see several of you take the story in an Alice in Wonderland direction with cakes saying ‘eat me’ and drinks saying ‘drink me’ and odd doors and special keys.

There was some terrific writing although sometimes it was let down by the lack of an ending. It is true that good endings are hard to come up with, but there are other ways to finish a story in a satisfying way, even if you can’t figure out a resolution. Please, please make sure you check your story for mistakes, correct punctuation (are there enough full stops and commas), consistent tenses and that it is complete before you submit it. Some wonderful stories had too many mistakes which meant I marked them down.

There were many lovely images and ideas – like this from Maddie Mitchell at Raumati Beach School, “Great,” I thought. “Now I have a chance of getting strange-looking-vine-from-tree-o-thermia.” And Fear hung in the air like a thick mist from Maia at Carmel College. My feet vacuumed me down like I was getting pulled down a plug hole, by Maddie at St Cuthberts and Jake Richards at Upper Moutere wrote – the forest had eaten us.

I liked Vaya and Laela’s (Sunnynook Primary) idea of the children being in a video game. Charlotte Ng Waishing from St Cuthberts created a very interesting world of sweets trapping Maria and her friends. It was cool how intasab Zohra from Sunnynook Primary linked this story with the previous challenge, and how Natalie Lamb from St Cuthberts wrote the story as a police procedural.

Rosie Shiu from St Cuthberts had an interesting approach with the forest having a Dark Side and a Bright Side. The story by Indie Cowan from Cambridge East School was well paced and had some great action. Amber Wastney from Upper Moutere had a fresh, original idea for her story using mirrors.

Alex B from St Cuthberts had some lovely language – My heart was pounding like a piston, and, I blow the evening zephyr a kiss.

I loved these lines from Mackenzie Carkeek from Carmel College – ‘Are​ ​we​ ​seriously​ ​going​ ​to​ ​do​ ​this​ ​you​ ​know​ ​how​ ​it​ ​always​ ​ends​ ​in​ ​action​ ​movies’​ ​said​ ​Josh​ ​in​ ​a worried​ ​tone, and, ​the​ ​air​ ​was​ ​still​ ​a​ ​nose​ ​burning​ ​stench.

Jade from Clevedon School had a really intriguing story with chapters. And I loved the idea that the world was ‘degravitised’ in Leah Joy Werner’s (Upper Moutere School) story.

I liked Julita Seumanutafa’s (Carmel College) use of ‘voice’ – All these questions popped up in my head like, “What was I supposed to tell her parents?, especially her mum she would probably bite my head off.

If I just told her that Maria’s feet just disappeared, she would have asked me if it was her daughter’s feet that had vanished or whether it was my mind that I had lost.
And also Lola Wood at Raroa Normal Intermediate – Crawling through talking bushes isn’t exactly where I excel…

Grace Chisnall and Rosa Kelly both from Upper Moutere School had some great over all writing as did Annabel O’Rourke from Carmel College, Rebecca from Northcote Intermediate, Julia Wilkins from Willow Park School, and Cole Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School.

My runners-up for this challenge are Ella Ava Bruce Sievert from Verran Primary, Nathan Stacey from Churton Park School and Finn Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School. Great writing folks!

I have a special prize this week for Marlow Cornish from Taupaki School who is new to the story writing business but who impressed me with his vivid and cool ideas. Well done Marlow! Keep up the good work.

And finally, drum roll please …. The winner of this challenge is Anita Lese from Ellerslie Primary with great poetic language and a smart twist. You can read her story below. Congratulations Anita!!

Marlow, please could you email your postal address to me at so I can send out your prize (or I can forward it to your school if you prefer). Anita, Tania is going to send your prize and has already emailed you.

Anita Lese’s Story

Her shriek morphed into a nail, and drilled itself into our memories. We retreated as a pack, shins scraping against bare bush, hearts pumping under our blazers. With our fear came sweat, penetrating the safety of our group.

I struggled forward searching for any changes to the scene. A puddle of dry mud encasing a pair of sneakers met my eyes.

A rustle of dead leaves reminded me of my companions. As if acting to cue, a hand squeezed my shoulder. I turned my head and saw the worried face of my friends. “Are you going in?” Rosie questioned, voice crackling with fear. The crackles turned into a roaring fire. The squeeze of my shoulder was a way of releasing nerves. I am the brave one. They are a shaky building, and I am their supports.

With new authority I nodded and threw my now undesirable bag over my shoulder, along with my strangling tie which flew through the air, then nestled around my discarded bag. One by one they followed suit. “You don’t have to.” I said. “We know.” Replied Charlotte and they continued to copy me.

Panting heavily in anticipation, we jumped into the great unknown. Our brains were radios all tuned to the same station. The ‘Save Maria’ station.

Everything was dark. Our eyes drifted around, searching left, right and centre. Searching for clues. Maria. Light. There was nothing.

Suddenly a light formed and slowly grew into a sun, we laid back relying on the sun’s familiar rays to calm us. A burning sensation in every spot the sun touched us was our repayment.

Faster than a wink something was sprouting from our shoulder blades and spreading to our fingertips. Wings.

The fear was back, eating our insides. Coursing through our blood. Lungs yearned for air, but mouths wouldn’t open. Once again, the fear led to sweat. It was sliding sloppily down my brow.

Animal like whimpers escaped Charlotte and Rosie’s mouths. Their worries gave me strength, reminded me I was the supports. I must stay calm. I pointed to the sun, then indicated my wings. Luckily they understood my wild gestures and each clasped my hands.

With that simple act our lungs opened, letting in fresh oxygen. Clearing our minds from any worry. We rose up, uncertainly flapping our wings. Could we trust these wings? With everything that had happened would this be a blessing? A curse?

The air was alive with the sound of our flapping wings. We were doing it, soaring high above the ground towards the sun. The wings were trustworthy, no hoax.

A sneaker patterned limb waved in front of my face. Maria. I clutched her leg and pulled her along with us.

“We escaped. We survived.” I tell the teacher. But she doesn’t believe me, she just gives me the knowing look only a teacher can give. Maybe that excuse was a little too crazy. Next time I’ll just do my homework.

Or stick with the classic, “The dog ate it.”

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 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.