Posted in The Winners!

Kathy White’s FABO Report

You all deserve to be congratulated. You got this story-starter just before the school holidays. I gave you Dewey Decimal Classification numbers to decode. I also gave you an ethical dilemma – an animal rights Predator-Free dilemma – and left it up to you to decide what should happen to the last Trichosurus Vulpecula in New Zealand.

You decided that the creature in the box was a rather dangerous codswallop, a spider, a wasp, squirrel, brushtail possum, platypus, wallaby, kiwi, tuatara and moa.

One of these animals ate a growth pill and our librarians met an unexpected and untimely end (Charlotte Treadwell). Another Trichosurus Vulpecula was a genetically modified combination of three creatures, designed by humans to fix man-made problems (Rebecca Wilkins). Most of you decided to let this creature live, despite getting into trouble for it. I admired your boldness.

Some of my favourite thought-provoking quotes from your stories were:

Alannah Ward wrote “No sorry, this creature is more important than my play time, this could be the discovery of the century, I HAVE to investigate further.” He tried so hard, but he could not find anything, except that the government had made a rule that this species is a pest, and if found, you have to murder it! “What about the animal’s rights?” thought Katya.

Lola Hartingale wrote “Back in Russia my uncle was a fur farmer and he killed innocent possums just like this one for their amazingly soft fur,” commented Katya.

“You’re talking codswallop! No one would kill a creature as beautiful as this for its fur no matter how soft it is!” exclaimed Sarah.

Rebecca Johnson wrote “How is that beautiful? It’s a possum,” Todd said, looking at it weirdly.

Alexandra Bow: “It is a pest to New Zealand, it must be killed at once.” Sarah cried.

Corwin Heath-Cameron showed the Australian perspective of Trichosurus Vulpecula: “Like hell it’s nothing,” he chuckled. It was one of the airline ground staff. More friendly now, he asked “Were you going to let that possum out on the tarmac? It could get run over, or hurt. Give it to me – I live near the bush, I’ll let it out there.”

Cole Wescombe wisely said “Anyway, they hunted them almost to extinction right when the SPCA decided that just because they weren’t the best for the environment, they didn’t need to make them perish from the world ….”

Sarah Aitken wrote “Talk about animal rights, more like animal wrongs,” groaned Jessie.

Some of my favourite phrases and snippets from conversation were:

“Let’s get this animal into proper care. That boy is a true Russian Rascal.” (Great alliteration, Finn Wescombe)

“Mad!” Mr Johnson screamed. “Codswallop! Curse madness and bury clouds. Mad!” (Finn Wescombe)

“Your moo-ah ate my doughnuts.” (Alexandra Bow)

He wasn’t ordinary. He didn’t have a pesky bone in his body. (Sienna Mitchinson)

And there were some beautiful descriptions:

A spark had ignited in his very being, bringing with it, new courage to get back there …. A rush of adrenaline suddenly coursed through his bones. Wings he didn’t know he had surging with energy. The Kiwi almost bounded out the window, leaping onto Katya’s roof. With one last whoop of thanks the Kiwi channeled this energy and bounded off the roof. Without a second thought – as if by some primordial instinct – the Kiwi flapped and soared gracefully through the air, magnetic fields materializing in his vision. He turned towards a pulse. “Home!” Thought the bird with joy. He flew with even greater speed past the town, past the mountains, past the port and out towards his island. (Nathan Stacey)

It was a strange sight. Its yellow stripes stood out garishly against the ebony darkness that covered its thorax, where a wasp’s razor sharp stinger sat. Its small, fluffy limbs dangled uselessly in the air and its face was a squirrel’s face, with a butterfly’s tongue, and beautiful ethereal butterfly wings covered in iridescent blue powder. (Rebecca Wilkins)

A great ending

And that brings us to the end of our story. Casper lived on for eight years, helping young children learn to read at the school library. Sarah, Katya, Jessie and Todd never forgot that special possum. (Sienna Mitchinson)

Tatiana Austin caused chaos in Australia, through Mr Creech and Katya returning a possum with a green-tinted tail that was immune to snake venom.
“A tv’s headlines read “Australian Possums Are Taking Over Australia.”
As Mr Creech swung his bat and grumbled curses, a slightly green tinted tail blurred the television screen before the possum they had spared went off to take over Australia.”

The Winners

Your stories were so much fun to read. It was extremely difficult choosing a winner because you all did different things well, so I have two winners. The first, Corwin Heath-Cameron, wrote a well-rounded and balanced logical story, with great dialogue and description. I also loved Corwin’s solution to the dilemma. The second, Lola Hartingale, has a lovely writing style and a great twist to her story. Congratulations, Corwin and Lola. Please write and let me know where I should send your prizes.

Kathy’s Story Starter

“Not again!” Sarah grumbled. She picked up the apple she’d left on the library bench and pointed to the bite marks. “This isn’t a joke anymore. Who’s been eating my lunch?”

The four school librarians looked at each other and then focused on Todd.

“Not me,” he shrugged. “I only steal chocolate and chips.” He glanced at the boy next to him, who was wearing an enormous mustard-coloured raincoat that stretched down past his knees. “Katie looks like he needs a feed though.”

The small boy scowled. “My name is Kat-ya.”

Sarah sighed. “He’s Russian, Todd. Doesn’t speak much English, remember? Leave him alone.”

She looked at the empty space on the front counter and gasped. “There’s no number.”

Every day for the last week, they had found a number – a dewey decimal classification number – scrawled on a paper star, on the front counter. Mr Johnson, the librarian, hadn’t said anything about it, and because he’d been acting so strangely lately, no one had wanted to ask.

“Do you think we’re going to be tested on it?”

Everyone pulled a face.

“Maybe it’s a treasure hunt.” Jessie looked hopeful.

Katya pulled a scrappy piece of paper out of his pocket and flattened it on the counter. All of the numbers were listed in the order they had found them.

179.3
599.2
363.78
333.95
636.8
027
675.2
634.11
994

“994 is the number for Australia,” Jessie said, pointing to the animal poster on the wall above 994 in the geography section. It had AUSTRALIA emblazoned across the top, with photos of a snake, Huntsman spider, crocodile, bilby, numbat, wombat, kangaroo, and koala. Underneath the poster sat a cardboard box.

“Oh no, please don’t let it be spiders.” Jessie groaned. “I’d just die.”

Todd lifted one of the flaps with a ruler. Claws scuffled inside the box, making everyone jump.

Sarah leaned in for a closer look. “Oh my God. I haven’t seen one of those in years,” she said.

“That’s because New Zealand killed them all back in 2017. The year of the big cull. My parents protested about it.” Todd looked into the big eyes of the creature looking back at him.

“What are we going to do with it?” Jessie whispered. “It’s just a baby.”

“It’s also a Biosecurity Code Red,” Sarah said. “Perhaps we should give it to Mr Creech.”

No one said a word. Mr Creech was the caretaker. He kept a cricket bat on his wall for taking care of the things he classed as pests.

Katya lifted the frightened animal out of the box, stroked it and slipped it inside his jacket. “Bee-YOU-tee-ful,” he murmured.

Winner 1: Corwin

Corwin Heath-Cameron (aged 12), South Wellington Intermediate continued:

“It was eradicated for a good reason. Trichosurus vulpecula. Also known as the common brushtail possum,” said Sarah. “We should probably turn it in”.

“Codswallop,” said Todd, “it’s only a baby”.

“I wonder what these other numbers mean” said Jessie.

“Guys, whoever left them was trying to leave a message for us. 179.3 is animal rights, 599.2 is marsupials, and 363.78 is…”.

“What is it Sarah?” asked Todd.

“It’s pest control”.

“Oh”.

“What about the other ones?” asked Jessie.

“Well, I don’t know everything do I?” said Sarah.

“I was just saying – let’s go look”.

They spread out to search.

Soon Todd called out, “found one, 333.95 is biodiversity”.

“636.8 is cats, which were one of the possum’s only predators in New Zealand” said Sarah.

“675.2 is leather technologies. I guess that makes sense because weren’t possums introduced to New Zealand for the fur industry?” Jessie said.

“And 027 is… general libraries? Sorry guys, I can’t fit that in,” joked Sarah.

“Apples” said Katya.

“What?” asked Todd.

“634.11. It’s apples”.

“Maybe they like to eat apples or something?” tried Jessie.

“We need help to work out what to do. How about Mr Johnson?” Sarah suggested.

“He was probably the one leaving us these clues,” said Todd.

“No. If he was leaving the clues and handing it over to us I do not think he will be able to help,” said Katya.

They thought for a while.

“You know, I’m going on holiday to Australia in the school holidays, which is only a few days away” said Jessie. “I could take it with me”.

“Will it get through customs?” asked Sarah.

“Maybe? They won’t be looking for it at our end. I’ll let it out as soon as we get off the plane, and since they are still protected in Australia, it will run free.”

Todd shrugged, “I can’t think of anything better”.

*****

They were the longest days of Jessie’s life. A distraction at customs helped her sneak the box through, and she thought she’d faint when the possum stuck its head out of the box as a flight attendant went past, but somehow, they made it.

When she was finally there she hustled out of the plane and opened the box to let the possum out. Suddenly someone said “Hey you! What do you think you’re doing?!”. Panicking, Jessica said “Nothing”.

“Like hell it’s nothing” he chuckled. It was one of the airline ground staff. More friendly now, he asked “Were you going to let that possum out on the tarmac? It could get run over, or hurt. Give it to me – I live near the bush, I’ll let it out there”.

“Oh thank you so much!” said Jessica.

“Well hello there,” the man said, as he popped an apple from his pocket into the box.

It was at that moment that Jessica realised that it was the baby possum that had been eating Sarah’s apples.

“Ha!” she thought, “I’ll have to tell her when I get home”.

Winner 2: Lola

Lola Hartingale (aged 9), Motupipi Primary School continued:

The baby possum looked up at Katya with beady black eyes.

“How has a possum got into New Zealand?” Asked Sarah in a questioning tone. Everybody was clueless.

“Maybe it could have been smuggled here.” suggested Todd

“What do you think Jessie?”
Jessie didn’t answer, she was on the other side of the large library at the computer table staring at a computer. She had the tatty slip of creased paper with the Dewey decimals on it beside her. Sarah, Todd and Katya walked over to her and seated themselves comfortably on the plastic school chairs next to her. They peered at the computer screen.

“What is on that piece of paper ?” Asked Sarah

“Look.” whispered Jessie. “All of these Dewey decimals represent something, don’t they?”

Everyone nodded. “I have found out a few of their meanings… for example, 179.3 is animal rights, 599.2 is marsupials, 363.78 is pest control and the other meanings I wrote on this paper.”

The other words scribbled on the piece of paper by Jessie were: Biodiversity, Cats, Library’s , home tanning and leather craft, Apples, and Australia.

“These Dewey decimals were on the paper, right?” Asked Jessie without waiting for a reply. “We got them off Mr Johnson’s desk. They must have been on there for a reason. This might have something to do with the possum.”

“Back in Russia my uncle was a fur farmer and he killed innocent possums just like this one for their amazingly soft fur.” commented katya
“You’re talking codswallop! No would kill a creature as beautiful as this for its fur no matter how soft it is!” Exclaimed Sarah

“They…” Katya was just about to retaliate when he was interrupted by Jessie, she was pointing at the computer screen, “Oh my gosh!” In the corner of the website on the computer they were looking at a gray advertisement streaked with black and white and had these words on it…

“Jolly Johnson’s gloves!
Made with the softest Trichosurus vulpecula fur
By the warm-hearted Mr Johnson “

Everybody was startled. They peered over to Mr Johnson’s desk. They stared at his softest furry scarf and at his gloves with a fur lining laid neatly on his desk. They then swiveled their heads to peek over at his winter coat. Fur was poking out of the sleeves and it had a fluffy collar. The children were startled. They gaped at each other, then peered down at the creature nestled safe and sound in Katya’s coat pocket. It never knew what nearly happened to itself, and if it found out it would have been horrified …

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Posted in The Winner

Maureen’s FABO Judge’s Report

Wow! There were some very imaginative stories! I had to do two rounds of judging! They were so good.

I was amazed at all the different things that could have come out of the shed….
Skunks as pets….
Escaping bunnies
Phoenix….
Pet mutant chainsaws…. (Ummm) and there were even enchanted chainsaws!
Monkeys
Evil chickens
Black panthers
Pedigree leprechauns…
Mutated fries…(I’m never eating McDonalds again…)
Pigs
Countless dogs…
Dragons…
Justin Bieber tickets…
Alligators…

The best lines made me snort with laughter.
Tobey imitated a fish and held his breath by Finn Wescombe

He was like a supermarket, never closing at night by Dihini Thasanga

A wild clatter of rubble sounded from within the carnage by Maia Bird

There was a long silence, where Mary gripped her floral dress tightly, Jim stared into space and Daniel picked a scab by Molly Dowling

“We’re going to die like the floral shirt trend did in the late 1990’s.” by Jake Earnest

There were 67 stories including some from India and Australia.

A lot of writers had fantastic situations. This is fine if the events leading up to them occur logically. If a giant dinosaur comes out of nowhere and eats the shed… and then just fades out of the story, it leaves a lot of questions. You have to wonder where the dinosaur came from? Why anyone didn’t spot it, as it’s so big and what happens next? So try to be logical in your fantasy.

It is great to see punctuation and attention to spelling. This showed attention to detail which helped lift a story into the second round.

The stories that made it into the second round were stories that had a logical ending after a well thought out middle.

Great attention to detail, Sky! I never thought of Pedigree™ Dog Treats! (Warning always look closely at the back of the pack.)
Lily likes the spooky touch with possible haunting of the school by a lady in a floral dress. (Hmmmm.)
Jake was on the hunt for an amazing antidote…
Jess had the amazing prized pink pedigree poodle….(Go on say that 5 times fast…)
Molly had the giant caterpillar… (I am now carefully inspecting the garden…)
Cole- The science club has a nuclear powered rocket? (It’s amazing what you learn in schools…)
Anna was fascinated with time capsules.
Nathan had the shed avenging caretaker with the time machine.

The winner is Cate Tipler from St Cuthberts. Cate, can you contact us with an address, school or home so we can send a prize out to you.

Thank you to all the lovely people who want to be Beta Readers for me. I will be contacting you in a few days to let you know what I want you to do.

Maureen

Cate Tipler’s Story

The school caretaker looked at the remains of his storage shed. “What a mess.” He shook his head. Scientists were calling it a localised earthquake. There was the heap of rubble in front of him.
Very localised, he thought. Just his shed.

The principal patted his arm. “I’m sorry. The insurance company is calling it an Act of God so they won’t pay out any money to help us rebuild it.”

“All my tools were in there,” the caretaker sighed. “The school tractor is under there and the mower…. All the paint and the pool chemicals are in there too….”

There was a slight shifting in the bricks and dirt then a slide of debris cascaded down.

The principal backed away quickly.

The caretaker stared in horror. “Oh no! I forgot I left….”

The school caretaker looked at the remains of his storage shed. “What a mess.” He shook his head. Scientists were calling it a localised earthquake. There was the heap of rubble in front of him.

Very localised, he thought. Just his shed.

The principal patted his arm. “I’m sorry. The insurance company is calling it an Act of God so they won’t pay out any money to help us rebuild it.”

“All my tools were in there,” the caretaker sighed. “The school tractor is under there and the mower…. All the paint and the pool chemicals are in there too….”

There was a slight shifting in the bricks and dirt then a slide of debris cascaded down.

The principal backed away quickly.

The caretaker stared in horror. “Oh no! I forgot I left: Charity in there!”

A school student was leaning against a wall reading a book. She lifted her head to nod at her friends. and then she noticed Frank and the small group of children around him.

“I’m going to go see if Frank’s okay.” The student said to her friends.

“Hannah and I want you to decide now. Is he your brother or not.” Alicia’s friend Lavender winked overdramatically.

“Yeah Haha and stuff.” Alicia replied.

Alicia stood up, her cheeks bright red and her dark brown hair blowing against her pale face. As she walked off she could hear Hannah yell behind her “We’re only kidding!”

“WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED!” Frank quickly turned around, stubbing his toe in the process.. Alicia stood tall towering over him, her icy grey-blue eyes pierced Frank’s hazel eyes menacingly. “MUM IS GOING TO KILL YOU!” Alicia whacked Frank in the head a couple of times with the big ‘Amazing Creatures and where they lurk’ book she was holding.

“No offence but I’ve got bigger problems like maybe the fact that Charity was in there!” Frank looked dramatically at the shed, his face red and his pale fists clenched.
Alicia knew that Frank was DEFINITELY dead now. When she didn’t get a place at Harvard who could she blame but the principle’s daughters cat? A CAT had stopped her from going to University. A CAT!

Frank started digging some rubble. “Well the cat might be alive….”

Half-heartedly Alicia started pulling away bits of the shed.

Alicia and Frank lost track of time, two boys came up and started helping them. The boys went by the name “The Pedigree Gang” She hoped they were joking.

Shortly after that the principle came by, she was wearing a floral top and persuasively gliding round the school convincing in her usual snobby manner that the insurance people should pay for a new tennis court. Spring flowers danced behind her to the rapidly picking up breeze. Heavy charcoal grey clouds were approaching. There was going to be a storm and soon.

Alicia turned around the playground was a ghost town. Lunch must be over. The two boys saw she noticed and smiled at her. “We only came because it would give us an excuse to miss learning about Supernova’s at class!”

Suddenly, Modesty walked past. She was Charity’s owner. She looked worried. She was snuggling a grey kitten with smoky grey feet. The cat was purring powerfully. “Ummm just before this happened I took Charity out so she is well…”

“Not dead!” One of the boys screamed cheerfully. Modesty nodded solemnly. Alicia sprinted up and embraced Modesty so awkwardly she almost barrelled Modesty over.

The principle practically danced over to Alicia. “Good news, the sheds being rebuilt, turns out it’s a fault in the tractor!” Everyone laughed nervously as they were so frightened about what the principle could of said.

“Why do you all stink of dust and old shed parts?” The principal asked.

“Long story!” Frank stated, feeling relieved.

By Cate Tipler.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Michele’s FABO Report – The Winner!

Wow, you see a teacher with spikes and you guys go nuts! ☺ Congratulations on having such fantastic and vivid imaginations all of you. There were flame dragons, fat dragons, and lots of teachers with tails. There were disappearing schools, fish, giant hedgehogs, tuatara teachers, mind controlling phones, centaurs, thunder cookies, sugar-free lollypop-spikes, mosquitos, lots of aliens and deadly green desk melting acid. An honourable mention goes to Montana Harper for the way she both packed soooo many creatures into her stories, from Medusa to Skin Walkers!

What impressed me the most was the complex sentence structure that many of you are using, making your writing “voice” really clear and original. Keep that up. And there was a great understanding of the power of metaphor and simile too. An honourable mention has to go to Victoria Guo with her masterful use of description, I loved the line “The windows were cracked like his broken knowledge” very evocative. To Lily Bond, for her vivid descriptions of the strange things going on in Neal’s new town. And to Ashton Cook for giving his teacher’s once shrivelled arms a big enough work out that they became “muscular as if he had been bench-pressing for the last fifty years.”

I also really liked the use of dialogue. Some of you made excellent use of it to keep up the pace of your story and to draw us in to the action. Well done. A special mention for that goes to Zennah Shin-Kelso.

A quick note to keep in mind for next year. Remember punctuation. Most of you have done a great job with your sentence structure, but commas and full stops can mean the difference between a long string of ideas, and a great story that takes the reader on a journey.

There were so many great entries I have to give out places to some of the truly fabo stories that were so close to taking out the big win:

Second Runners Up – Holly Druce (Upper Moutere School), Kyra Laing (Kingsway School) and Kowhai Mokaraka (Glen Eden Intermediate)

First Runners Up – Finn Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School, Hannah Mangnall from Tasman School and Bessie Martin, from Houghton Valley School, one of the youngest entrants in the competition!

School Award: Massive round of High Fives to everyone at Upper Moutere School (including your teachers), there were so many of you who entered and your efforts were fantastic. Great job.

But there can only be one winner and this week it’s Louie Morris from Upper Moutere School, who proves you don’t have to have the longest entry to win. This was a great entry with lots of action, which kept the pace up and descriptions that took us along for the ride. Congratulations Louie, a prize will be in the post to you when you let us know your postal address.

Winner: Louie Morris (Upper Moutere School)

And not even in the metaphorical way. Neal had noticed that his finger-pads were strangely long and sharp, almost like claws. But everyone in this school was strange. Just last week, the principle had opened her door and shouted “FLABBERGORF!” Neal didn’t know what to make of this, so he hurried on his way.

He was roused from his dreamlike state by the lunch bell’s “dingdong”. The teacher muttered something incoherent, turned away from the class and laid his hands on the desk. As Neal filed by with the rest of his classmates, he saw deep gouges in the desk, and wood splinters all over Mr. Mcully’s shirtsleeves. Neal looked up into his teacher’s face and gasped. Mr. Mcully’s eyes were as white as milk. Not a drop of colour in them. His face was a mask of dark spikes, drifting about like nettles in the wind, searching for something. But just as quick as he had seen them, His teacher’s pupils rolled back into place, the mysterious feelers dissolved and he blinked. Neal did his best not to scream and ran from the classroom. He sprinted round the corner, and crashed into a student carrying an enormous stack of papers. They flew everywhere. He stumbled blindly through the hailstorm of white, groping for something, anything. His hand nudged a doorknob and he wrenched it sideways and promptly fell down two flights of stairs, knocking his head on the way down. He rolled to a stop, and felt the dark fingers of unconsciousness reach for him. He slept.

He awoke warm and groggy. His vision cleared, and he found himself lying at the bottom of some stairs. He stood up and winced. His ankle was definitely twisted, and his entire body was covered in bruises. He took a step forward and bit back a scream. Lances of dagger-like pain shot up his leg, making his eyes sting and his teeth clench. He looked around, and saw a part of the school he had never visited before. The walls were pitted and scarred, and a strange purple light illuminated the walls. Neal limped forward, over the craters in the floor. The light grew stronger and stronger, until he rounded the corner and nearly fell over again. There stood Mr. Mcully, in all his spikes-and-no-eyes glory. The purple light was coming from enormous tanks filled with a gelatinous liquid. Inside those tanks…were his classmates. Neal emitted a high girly scream and tripped over himself in his haste to exit that horrible room. But Mr. Mcully clearly had other ideas. Excitedly, he curled into a bristly ball and rolled across the room. Faster than Neal could blink, Mr. Mcully was beside him. He grabbed him by the neck and marched him over to one of the tanks. Neal was thrust into the liquid. He struggled to hold his breath, his lungs burning. He breathed in…And fell asleep.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Johanna’s FABO Report!

Thanks for your entries, everyone! I loved reading your stories, and was thrilled by how many different types of popcorn accidents you managed to dream up.

Winner 1:
I’ve chosen the story by Abigail Shin-Kelso (Glen Eden Intermediate School) as one of the winners. Abigail had a great idea and wrote a tight, dynamic story, with well imagined scenes, where no detail was irrelevant or out of place. Her dialogue gave the reader important information and moved the plot along, but at the same time, sounded perfectly natural and in character. Everything led up to the wonderful ending, and there were no loose ends left hanging.

Winner 2:
Also a winner is the story by Laylani Wendt-Fa’apoi (Glen Eden Intermediate School). This is a beautifully written and paced ‘slice of life’ story – where the sometimes antagonistic, but ultimately loving friendship between a brother and a sister gradually unfolds.

Runner up 1:
Another story I loved was Montana Harper’s (Greenhithe Primary School). Listen to the satisfying rhythm of this paragraph. It’s great to read aloud:

She looked everywhere, under the stove, in the oven, then stopped as she heard a strange popping sound. Pop, pop, pop. She moved around the kitchen. The sound got louder and louder. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. She stopped in front of the microwave. The popping was the loudest there. Carefully, she peeked through the tinted glass and gasped. Before she could open her mouth to scream, the microwave exploded.

There are three characters in the story – all beautifully drawn – and what I especially liked about this story is the ending.

Runner up 2:
The story by Benjamin McQueen (Kohia Terrace School) is the second runner-up I’ve chosen. This is a long, detailed, complex story, full of great ideas and enjoyable characters, and set in a really well-imagined place. I get the feeling this could be developed into an even longer story! (And I have to confess – this reminded me of elaborate, ambitious stories I wrote when I was at school.)

Special mentions:

Madeline Renner-Daun’s creepy demonic popcorn princess sent a shiver up my spine. (Birkdale Intermediate School)

Paige Cusiel’s story is a beautiful depiction of sibling relationships, and showed some wonderful psychological insights. (Remarkables Primary School)

To the six of you above, a prize pack will be heading your way soon! I’ll be in touch with you to get your postal addresses.

Once again, thank you to everyone who entered. I genuinely mean it when I say I was impressed with so many of them.



Winner: Abigail Shin-Kelso

Bryn turned, and started to walk down the stairs of the small building they called home. They had been living there their whole life, but every time there was a full moon, since the beginning of their lives, the next morning a mess of popcorn awaited them at the front of their house.

Cilla followed Bryn down the stairs anxiously, and out to the front of their house. Popcorn was everywhere. It was strewn across the grass and rolling off the roof onto the small lawn which was overgrown and wild.

Bryn opened the door, with Cilla following close behind, and stepped onto the front porch.

When they walked out, they triggered an explosion. Beneath their feet, popcorn flew out of nowhere, whacking them in the face, and raining down on them.

“How do you stop it?” Cilla yelled in the direction of where she last saw Bryn.

“You get on the grass, I think!” Bryn yelled back through the mass of popcorn.

Cilla struggled through the flurry of popcorn, and fell onto the grass. “Freedom at last!” she announced, sighing with relief.

A minute later, Bryn waded out of the cloud, and sat down beside her.

“Let me guess, you ate some popcorn,” she assumed.

“Well… Um… Maybe I guess.”

Cilla rolled her eyes. Obviously her brother ate some. He loved popcorn.

“It tasted really nice,” he tried to justify. “Like butter.”

“Whatever. We need to find out why there is popcorn everywhere.”

“Well… It could be a Were-popcorn.”

“Really?”

“What? I’m just suggesting.”

“I know!” Cilla excitedly exclaimed, “We could stay up tonight and see.”

“Ok.”

Later that day, at around eleven at night, Cilla crept into Bryn’s room to wake him up. But there was no one there.

“Maybe he’s waiting for me outside?” she voiced aloud, and crept out to the front door. Outside, it was silent. She walked softly to a nearby bush, and hid behind it.

She waited in the dark night for about ten minutes, then a rustling came from the bushes opposite the one she was hiding in.

A giant kernel of popcorn walked out from behind the bushes, and started throwing popcorn everywhere.
Cilla froze, confused. This was what attacked with popcorn every night. She turned, about to whisper something to Bryn, but realised he wasn’t there.

A stray kernel of popcorn flew over the bush she was hiding behind, into her hand, and she placed it in her mouth. As she ate it, a buttery taste appeared in her mouth, and she realised something.

Bryn, her brother was the giant kernel of popcorn.

She was shocked, but it made sense. His love of popcorn. Why he wasn’t in his bed when she looked earlier. Why he always seemed tired the morning after a full moon.

Cilla walked bravely out from behind the bush, and spoke. “Bryn?” she called softly, “Is that you?”

The giant popcorn turned to face her, and walked over.

Cilla cowered slightly at the size of it, but continued talking. “If it is you, please, stop attacking with popcorn. Just maybe leave a little bit.”

The popcorn nodded, like it understood everything she said.

“Thanks,” she concluded. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She walked back over to the house, and collapsed on her bed. The next morning, Bryn woke her up.”Sorry I didn’t come with you last night. I can’t remember a thing, and I’m so tired,” he explained. “How was it?”

“Good,” Cilla replied with a knowing smile. “Nothing interesting happened.”

 

Winner: Laylani Wendt-Fa’apoi (Glen Eden Intermediate School)

Bryn cringed. “You really aren’t going to like it.”

Cilla raised her eyebrows. She didn’t believe that it could be ANY worse than last time. “That’s what you think. After last time, I’ve seen everything.”

Bryn put his hands up to his face again.“No.” His voice sounded muffled. “You really aren’t going to like it… Oogh I really don’t want to show you this.” Bryn covered his face with a bright Christmas scarf from around his neck.

Cilla crossed her arms and tapped her heavy Doc Martens down on the lino floor. “Just show me already.” She rolled her eyes and tied her hair up, as if she was a warrior. “I’m ready.” She chuckled as she followed her little brother’s small footsteps.

Bryn’s hand shook as he turned the handle. He turned and faced Cilla. “Don’t kill me,” he whispered, and backed into the corner and huddled his knees to his face, rocking back and forth.

Cilla stared, shocked by the things she saw. “MY CLOTHES!” She contorted her face into a small frown. “WHAT did you do!”

Bryn shook, scared to speak. “I was making popcorn in your room with your popcorn maker and it was hot but I touched it and… It tipped over and scorched through your clothes.”

Cilla held her head in her hands. “Mum and Dad are SO NOT going to get me another new one. UGH you’re such a little brat!”

Bryn shivered. The words ran down his spine and chilled him giving him goosebumps. He stood on the balls of his feet and cringed. “I know what you’re going to do…” Bryn cringed again, this time, he felt worse.

Cilla clapped her hand against her knee. “I almost forgot! Thanks for reminding me, now for the torture.”

After two hours Bryn was a fully-fledged makeup guru. Ombré lipstick, cat eyed eyeliner and even contouring. He was wearing Cilla’s favourite pink dress, now ripped in awkward places and also her white leather Jimmy Choo high heels from their rich grandma.

“Don’t forget, I still have more makeup, despite the amount you MELTED.”

Cilla grabbed her iPhone and opened up the camera. She giggled, “Say cheese!!” She laughed as she thought about the blackmail she could do with it.

Bryn raised an eyebrow while wiping his face with his hand. “Yeah okay I get it, but how on earth do you get this stuff off? You didn’t really do a good job…”

Cilla smacked his leg playfully “oh hush up! Here.” She handed him a makeup wipe that removed the grunge from his face with ease. “And by the way, my makeup skills are better than yours, you wouldn’t have even guessed to use the lipstick to help your olive complexion shine!”

Bryn muttered while wiping his face down, “ugh, girls.”

He shoved off the clothing and laid on her bed. He was wearing truck boxers and a white shirt. On his way out, Cilla chuckled. What he didn’t know is that he’d laid on the melted makeup that was open. He walked out with makeup all over his back, and a note saying ‘BEAUTY GURU’.

Cilla covered her mouth with her hand, shielding her smile from him, “that’ll teach him to mess with my stuff.” She laughed and then tripped up on her dress, showing a note: ‘Shame on you, I’m wearing your only good shirt.’

Cilla ran down the stairs and wrestled her brother in the kitchen.

Exasperated, Bryn blurted out, “sorry, not sorry!”

Cilla laughed and ruffled his hair, “I guess this is how it is to have siblings.” She rolled her eyes and laid her back on the ground.

“I love you Brynny.”

“Love you too, Cils.”

 

Runner-up: Montana Harper

… 10 minutes later, they were standing at their door. “This better not be like last time Bryn, if it is I’m not helping.” Cilla stared at him, he was looking devastated. “Really Bryn! I thought you would have learnt from last time!”

“I forgot.” he said sheepishly, looking down at his toes.

“You always forget! Will you just go away so I can sort this out!” she shouted.

“O.K. Cilla” Bryn looked down, and shuffled off breathing short and sharp. She immediately felt guilty, but she had to do this herself, without her little brother.

Bracing herself, she walked into the kitchen. It was spotless. “Huh?”

She looked everywhere, under the stove, in the oven, then stopped as she heard a strange popping sound. Pop, pop, pop. She moved around the kitchen. The sound got louder and louder. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. She stopped in front of the microwave. The popping was the loudest there. Carefully, she peeked through the tinted glass and gasped. Before she could open her mouth to scream, the microwave exploded.

One huge popcorn piece leapt out of the microwave and called in a strangely deep voice, “fill her mouth comrades!” He waited a few seconds and sighed, remembering that he had swallowed them all to make himself giant. “Ooops?”

Suddenly a bark sounded from outside, and Cilla had a lightbulb moment. Carefully, she jumped up and walked slowly towards the verandah door.

“What are you doing beast!” screamed the popcorn.

“I’m… oh I don’t know but it isn’t good for you. Holly! Come girl I have some dinner for you!”

The popcorns eyes widened “No!!!”

 

Runner up: Benjamin McQueen (12), Kohia Terrace School

They entered the theatre where a screening of ‘Gemma Danger 2: The Truth About Lies’ had ended just a few minutes earlier.

Bryn, the cleaner, had already experienced many messes in the theatre, including a couple of days back when he found popcorn EVERYWHERE! Literally everywhere, all over every seat and under them. The special lazyboys at the back where the adults sit and drink wine were absolutely covered in popcorn! Crushed popcorn, half eaten popcorn,popcorn butter wiped everywhere. It was a nightmare and it took just under an hour to clean up.

When Cilla walked in she was expecting the worst. As the manager and owner of the RedMoon theatre, the only theatre in the small town of Tirau, near Matamata, with only a couple of small auditoriums for the screenings, she had quite a stressful job. Especially because of one boy that came to almost every screening Cilla was proud that in her theatre she never showed any movies above the rating of M), called Roger (Rog for short) Macfarson, who could not sit still and would always throw around his food when the credits rolled because he wanted to watch another movie. Thus he was the official ‘messmaker’ of the RedMoon Theatre.

Cilla just shuddered at the thought as she prepared to enter the dim auditorium. She looked at her feet as she entered and managed to muster up the courage to look up. She was surprised to see that everything was quite clean. ‘Hahaha! Very funny Bryn!’ she said sarcastically.

He didn’t reply, he was hardly even paying attention to Cilla whatsoever. He was looking up, to where the projector was. Cilla dared a look up. She was shocked with what she saw. The projector was ruined, along with the window that separated the projecter room from the auditorium. It was cracked and part of it smashed out, and the projecter hanging half in half out through it, its long black reels of tape hanging out and dangling down, almost touching the floor below. (Cilla could not afford a new age projector yet so she relied on an old one).

‘How can popcorn do that?’ she asked Bryn.

‘Actually it is a bad coincidence really. When Rog had his usual tantrum after the screening, there was popcorn everywhere and with popcorn comes butter, and with butter comes grease, with grease comes slipperiness and of course that causes a trip hazard. And one of the viewers slipped and her coke bottle that she was holding that she hadn’t drunk through the movie and was planning to save for later fell to the ground. You know what fizzy drinks are like and this particular bottle had been shaken around quite a lot already and the bottle cap had been twisted around as well (this viewer got scared quite easily), so when it hit the ground it reached it’s limit… you can probably guess the rest.’

‘You’re really telling me that a fizzed up coke bottle really had the power to just shoot up and do… that?!’ She asked, disbelieving.

‘Yes, unfortunately.’ Bryn replied.

‘Wow… just…wow. Well, we might as well go up and take a look at the state of the projector room! If it’s as bad as it looks from down here then I’m going to have to ask Rog’s parents to donate some money and maybe we might have to ban him from the theatre if he disbehaves.’

So they made their way out of the auditorium and up into the projector room. Sparks were flying as they entered. There was coke everywhere, fizzing all over the equipment and on the floor. Cilla noticed that the flying coke bottle had turned the projector completely around and it was now facing them, a faint glimmer in it’s lenses.

Suddenly, almost as soon as they entered there was a bright flash and Bryn and Cilla were temporarily blinded. When they managed to regain their sight the found themselves standing before a strangely familiar figure. ‘Gemma?…Gemma Danger? In real life? I must be dreaming!’ Bryn exclaimed.

Cilla just stared.

‘You are not dreaming!’ she said. With her flaming red hair and her blue eyes, her blue fedora tipped up at an angle, khaki shorts and her brown leather jacket covering a plain green T Shirt, Gemma Danger looked quite marvelous (maybe due the fact that there were sparks flying all around her in the background like one of those action movies).

‘B-but…how?’ Cilla asked her mouth gaping.

‘To be honest I have absolutely no idea whatsoever and I don’t even know where I am. All I know is one minute I’m being chased by Doctor Raskar and his army of Egyptian assassins through a pyramid and then suddenly… I’m here!’

‘Which means somehow you got transported through that projector from the movie world and into the real world and it must have something to do with the coke…’ Bryn said thoughtfully.

Suddenly there was another flash, this time brighter and more powerful, so powerful that the force of it almost pushed them all down the carpeted stairs. And from inside the ball of light a strange figure appeared, he wore a midnight black cape with silver lining and black pants and a black shirt with an intimidating silver pattern on the torso. He hair was also black and stood up menacingly on his head, he wore a monocle and had a scar from his emerald green eyes down to his scraggly chin.

Gemma gasped. ‘Doctor Raskar!’

He laughed menacingly. ‘You really think you can escape me, Gemma Danger! And who are these people? Your new friends? Hahahaha, all the more to destroy!’

Bryn and Cilla were terrified. ‘Run!’ Gemma said, grimly.

They quickly ran down the stairs and made their was down the corridor as fast as they could. Cilla heard the slide of metal behind her, and she turned around to see Raskar with an unsheathed rapier that had been hidden behind his cape in one hand, and a revolver in the other hand. He cackled loudly as they rounded the corner and down another flight of stairs to the small ground floor. And they dived down behind the snack bar, Gemma toppling over a coke bottle which spilled its contents onto the floor.

Bryn jumped as someone gasped behind him, right beside his ear. He turned around and saw Gemma staring at her fingers in shock. All five of her fingertips had disappeared!

‘Some spilled coke splashed on them,’ she explained.

Suddenly Bryn had an idea. He got the half empty coke bottle and held it ready like a weapon. Suddenly a shot rang out and one of the glass fridges shattered. ‘Whatever you’re planning, do it now!’ Cilla whispered.

Bryn stood up. ‘Come on you coward, come over here and fight me, man to man!’

‘Hahahaha! You’re hardly a man but I’ll take it!’ He threw his revolver and rapier to the ground and bunched up his fists, advancing towards Bryn. He didn’t seem to notice the coke bottle in Bryn’s hand or what it was about to do.

Suddenly he threw himself forward and poured the coke all over Raskar from head to toe. At first he just spluttered and shook himself then suddenly he started to disappear. ‘What th-!’ Sparks suddenly burst out of him and he vanished into thin air.

At that moment Cilla heard a strange noise and turned to see the glass fridge repairing itself. ‘So the coke sends them back to the movie world and fixes what they did in the real world.’

She turned to Gemma who was eyeing another coke bottle nearby. ‘Well thank you my friends, but I must be going. I need to catch Raskar before he escapes.’ She grabbed the bottle and popped of the cap. ‘Farewell… I never learnt your names!’

‘I’m Cilla’

‘And I’m Bryn,’ they replied.

‘Good to know, goodbye Cilla and Bryn, I hope to see you again soon!’ And she poured the contents all over herself. Just as she was about to vanish Cilla and Bryn heard her say, ‘Why does this soft drink have to be so sticky?!’ And then she was gone, and the coke spills automatically repaired themselves.

Cilla and Bryn sat in silence, letting the past 10 minutes sink in. Then Bryn said: ‘We still have to clean up the theatre!’

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!, writing tip

Kathy White’s FABO Judge’s Report

It’s been a lot of fun reading your stories about Aunt Lillian and that poor kid who’s bleeding on the rug.

What I loved most was that every single one of your stories was different. Madeline’s slug was sucking the colour out of the room, which was a very clever idea. Some of you turned Aunt Lillian into a hero, others turned her into a villain, and one fed her slug soup (Tingmeng, St Cuthberts). Some brought out bazookas (Skye, Waipahihi School), slingshots, and massive quantities of salt in the battle against vampire snails (Finn, Aidanfield Christian School), a ‘summoning animal’ (Katie, Waipahihi School), aliens looking for a host body (Peter), a shapeshifting slug on the rug (Skye), and a creature that burrowed its way through the skin, breaking bones as it went (Bridget, Milford School). Jared’s main character metamorphosed into a slug. YUK! Some of you made it mega-YUKKY by replicating the single slug into hundreds when you tried to destroy it. I like this concept of trying to fix something and inadvertently making it worse (it happens to me all the time!) I’ve always liked tall tales and this story starter allowed you to take it to the extreme if you wanted.

Two bits of advice for improvement in future stories – remember to stay focused on telling THIS story. Don’t dilute it by trying to include another story idea if it doesn’t fit well with the logic of your main idea. If you made this a thriller, you’d focus mainly on the unknown and frightening bits. This story was told from inside the main character’s head, which meant you had access to all their thoughts and fears. Having said this, you could just as easily turn this story into a hilarious tall tale with one disastrous thing happening after the other. Some of you did this brilliantly. And as a general rule, if you choose to tell your story in past tense, stick to it.

There were so many great things about your stories. Here are a few highlights.

Best twist in the middle of the story (going from something that was frightening to funny) – After what seemed like forever I saw pale light encasing me from corners of my eyes, then what seemed like a muffled giggle escaped from under the bed. Then there came a howling of laughter. I dropped to the floor and there was my little brother- Andrew, squirting the tomato sauce bottle as hard as he could, his slime still sitting there – the so called slug was unmoving as it wobbled back and forth for eternity. Meanwhile the sauce soaked into the rug. I knew Aunt Lillian would kill Andrew but not before I had my payback …. (Henry, Milford School)

Best beginning – You know when you flip a ladybug onto its back and it waves its little ladybug legs around, stranded… that’s probably what I looked like right now, add in a Tasmanian Devil scream to the equation and BOOM! You’ve got my current situation. (Pip, Mahana School)

Fabulous imagery – The blood kept on pouring out of my leg like a massive, never-ending waterfall (Ben , Reignier Catholic School), Susan screamed and shouted but nothing came out. She was a remote controlled car and was helpless (Jared, Milford), My brother was in his room, mucus pouring out of his nose, a river cascading into the sea of tissues at his feet (William, Milford), and … blood gushing down my leg like an exploded pipe! (Katie, Mahana School).

Top marks to Bessie from Houghton Valley School for a smooth blend of action and description – I groped for a weapon. My hands hit a white table lamp. I smacked the slug…it burst with a loud comical pop like in a cartoon. The next bit was not cartoonish. As I wiped slug juice from my eye a bloody torrent whipped through the air. MY blood! It gathered in the empty slug skin and then the skin merged together. A new cricket-bat sized slug!

Rose (Vardon School), and Zoey (Waipahihi School) wrote great dialogue. Kyra (Kingsway Christian College) was exceptional at showing her character’s thoughts and fears and used evocative language. All of the children at Willowpark School did a good job with descriptions, and deserved top marks for their use of the words pulsating, exsanguinated and mucus.

Some of you, like Madeline of Birkdale Intermediate and Matthew of Tawa Intermediate just wrote really well in all sorts of ways that deserve applause. All of you did something well. That made it incredibly difficult to choose winners. But I have.

Tatiana Austin is the winner and Pip Coakley and Jessie are highly commended this week. I loved Aunt Lillian as the unexpected hero, but the thing I loved most was the way she used the first person point of view to tell her story, displaying all her main character’s thoughts and fears and sense of humour. It was just fabulous from beginning to end – a great overall story.

As for Pip’s entry, I fell in love with her voice and writing style. At times her cautionary tale is funny, and other times, it’s thought-provoking. She focused on the positive side of the situation, which was unique. Leeches do have medical benefits, and I liked the way she stretched the idea into something fantastical, ethical and philosophical.

And Jessie, you made me cry. You took it as far as it can go and yet kept it all so real. Well done, everybody.

Tatiana, Jessie and Pip, can you super cool kids please email me your address so I can send you a little something.

WINNER – Tatiana Austin, Amberley School (aged 11)

What the…?

I stared at the blood that slowly dyed the white rug red, trying to figure it out. That’s when it dawned on me that the ‘slug’ wasn’t on the rug anymore.
It was up my leg.

But it wasn’t a slug. Slugs don’t have razor sharp teeth on the bottom of their slimy bodies. Slugs don’t rip through human skin, pushing their teeth until they reach the pulsing veins. All in all, slugs AREN’T vampires.

But this one was. And I didn’t like it. I grabbed one of the white cloths hanging in the corner of my room. I wacked the filthy creature again and again, but the only thing I gained was blood marks and slime.

The slug didn’t like being wacked. No… Not the slug.

The slime. The slug was slime.

The slug slime thing deformed to its natural state. Now slime doesn’t sound like the strongest substance on the planet. But what people don’t know is that slime is tough. That slime is strong.

Slime is liquid steel.

Well, a gooey version of liquid steel.

It slithered around my leg, tightening its grip. It placed its blood-sucking fangs inside the wound, and bit.

I aimed, and plunged with all my might at the slime.

However, you can only do so much with a cloth. The slime fled from the smack of the cloth. I ended up smacking the injury, blood suddenly flowing rapidly from the wound. I screamed in pain, dropping the cloth. The slime slithered back toward me in hatred.

Oh yeah, how do you know if a ball of vampire slime is happy and is angry? Well, look at its teeth. Usually, their teeth would be nothing but helpless shards of stones, only glistening jewels stuck in muck. But when he is enraged… Well, it wasn’t pretty. His teeth sprouted, teeth curving wickedly to form daggers. A transformation. That’s all you need to know.

I backed into the corner, so close to the door. If I got out, I’d be safe. Safe…

I reached over to the white fabric, the cloth, gripping it like it was my last chance.

The slime followed my path of blood, sucking up every last drop. At least Aunt Lilian won’t notice the new red dyed onto the rug, however she would still scream at me for the slime that had replaced the marks… Aunt Lilian!

My mind tried to push the words out of my mouth with all my might, but I only squeaked it.

“Aunt Lilian…” the words were nothing but a wisp of a whisper.

The slime went up to me, and dug its jaws into my wound. I slammed the cloth again and again, but the slime didn’t stop. I wanted to scream, I wanted to dig my fingernails into the living goo’s back. Wanted.

I lost feeling in my hands and legs. But I still had some control in my mouth.

“Hell! Go move your slimy butt to hell!”

Now, I know that was kind of a lame thing to say, but I’m not a person who curses other lives and other people. What did you want me to say to the vampire slime slug? THANKYOU?!

That did it. My vision drained away from my eyes, my mouth struggling to breath. And then I knew. I knew that the slime had exsanguinated me. Then the slime opened up its mouth, rising to my face…

The door slammed open. I felt the wind from the door in my face, and you would think that when you are about to die, everything would be faint, blurred. But oh no, the wind smacked me in the face, and it smacked me hard. Painfully hard.

The figure stood silhouetted in front of the opened door, like a person on the top of a mountain, a person on the tallest tree in the forest, a super hero arriving at the fight-scene, or, in my case, an aunt standing tall in front of my bed room door.

I felt my heart start pumping again; the slime fell back, away from my face, away from me. Breath rushed towards my mouth in short sudden gasps.
Aunt Lilian’s piercing voice cut through the air at me.

“I keep telling you, Rachel, DON’T go out to the waters. Slugs and slimes, REMEMBER?!”Aunt Lilian shrieked.

Aunt Lilian was wearing gloves, gumboots, and in her right hand was a witch’s broom, and in her left hand, a bottle of spray-able vinegar. The outfit oddly suited her, Aunt Lilian had always been one of those ‘clean clean clean’ aunties. Oh yeah, and the gloves and gumboots were all clean and polished, with a spray of vinegar. I knew because the smell of vinegar flooded my room. Ugh.

The slime began to shrink, squirming and slithering to the rug, where it could flee and escape. Aunt Lilian was quicker.

“AND WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR GOING?!” Aunt Lilian roared at the slime, chasing after it. The slime shrank some more, allowing it to move more quickly. Unfortunately, for the slime, Aunt Lilian was quicker.

She smacked the broom onto the slug with such force I knocked back, too. Then Aunt Lilian switched to her vinegar, and sprayed. Sprayed like a skunk, I tell you. I swear I saw a puff of green squirt out from the bottle. It landed onto the slime. It withered and squirmed madly. And then the slime died.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Aunt Lilian whipped around, her hawk-eyes narrowed as she looked me over.

“What are you going to do with socks like THAT?!” she shouted, her finger almost sticking to my sock.

Busted.

But I wasn’t thinking about all the scrubbing I was going to have to do, as punishment. I had seen toads, fish, and slime, even a platypus family.

But before I went back to New Zealand, I needed to see a crocodile.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Pip Coakley, Mahana School (aged 12)

You know when you flip a ladybug onto its back and it waves its little ladybug legs around, stranded… that’s probably what I looked like right now, add in a Tasmanian Devil scream to the equation and BOOM! You’ve got my current situation.

I grabbed my selfie stick and cautiously approached the foul beast. As I crouched beside it, I noticed the mucus spilling out of the slug like creature. Its skin was bumpy like a snail’s and stretch marks were evident on the middle part of the body. Reaching out, I gently pushed the pulsating lump with the picture taking device that was in my hand.

Stirring, the creature makes a strange noise.

“Shebang I am!”

Confused I poke it again, this time it says,

“Shebang I am, Shebang is here to help Georgia!”

I guess I was puzzled, or maybe it was the shock, but I spoke back!

“W-w-what do y-you help with?” I stammered.

“I h-help you t-to be h-h-healthy.” Shebang mocked me.

Taking a deep breath, I tried to calm myself down. This slug thing, that was sucking my blood, was helping me?

“How?” I enquired, my voice sounding much more confident than I felt.

Shebang shook his head. “When I suck your blood I take out all the mucus in your body, and if you are mean, deceive or back-stab, I will magically disappear” He replied. I peer apprehensively at the remains on the floor.

“Yes, that’s your gunk.” The Miniature Thrasher Whale next to me explains, seeing my stare.

My sight was suddenly shrouded by black dots and I was getting increasingly dizzy.

▴ ▴ ▴ ▴ ▴

All was calm in Aunt Lillian’s house, the birds chirped, people laughed. Shebang sat peacefully in his tank. Suddenly the door opened, a girl strolled in, following her were flashing cameras, journalists and microphones. The girl grins and leads them over to the tank at the side of the room, trying to show them the rare species that supposedly sits there. But it’s too late, Shebang is gone, his trust destroyed by the traitorous girl. Georgia stares in disbelief. Realising her mistake she quickly ushers the people out of the house. The journalists, thinking Georgia wanted publicity, begin to hit Georgia, until all that remains of her, is a beat up piece of worthlessness.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Jessie, St Cuthberts College (aged 12)

I thought nothing of it as Aunt Lilian rushed to tend to the cut. After all, it didn’t hurt and there wasn’t even that much blood. Aunt Lillian thought that I was too frail, so she made me sit down and read my comics while she scrubbed hard at her rug.

Little did I know that, that would be the last day of truly feeling at peace.

The cut was much, much more than what Aunt Lillian and I had thought. I remember the way Aunt Lillian screamed in the morning. Her newly bought, crisp white sheets had been soaked with my crimson red blood. Head pounding, fingers trembling and my entire leg red I had tried to get up but my efforts were useless. As Aunt Lilian bundled me up in the sheet, she whipped out her cellphone and called Mum.

Honestly, the memory of Mum’s crying resonated with me the most.

The next few days I don’t recall. Apparently, after being rushed into the Emergency Hospital, the doctors and nurses all panicked, but Aunt Lililan told them to shut their faces and help me. This made me laugh. According to Aunt Lilian, the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me, So they rushed me to Starship Hospital in Auckland. In a blur of ruby lights, wind whistling and several white figures, we boarded a helicopter.

Arriving into the hospital seemed quite effortless, almost as if I had just woken up there. Aunt Lillian didn’t tell me but it was pretty obvious. They had clearly knocked me out with some gas and chemicals. I didn’t get why everyone was treading so carefully around me. I remember thinking that teenagers don’t need chemicals or gas. After all, being almost 11 years old is basically almost a teenager. Aunt Lilian said I had “undergone a very serious and sore surgery”. Soon after that “sore and serious” surgery, I recall Mum dashing in like there was something really important.

“Oh God. You okay? Are you hurt? Were you any trouble for Lilian? Oh talk to me Josie!” cried Mum with every single bead of spit she could utter.

“Geez Mum, I’m fine. Really” I murmured awkwardly. There were plenty of people staring. Good thing I was being whisked away before Mum had anymore saliva to drizzle.

Now as I think, I really should’ve said something like, “ I love you,” or “Don’t worry Mum, relax” but I guess there’s no time for that. I’d been furiously trying to remember what happened in the last few weeks of my life. So that when I’m reborn, I’ll remember Mum and Aunt Lilian. What were the chances that, that little bloodsucker was an endangered and highly poisonous African leech. Disgusting, filthy little slug.

I know you’re probably wondering why the doctors would tell me “You’re going to die”. Well, I’m smart. Words like ‘amputation’ and ‘internal infection’ mean that I’m gonna die.
To whoever who reads this, just remember Josie Linn, was a super cool kid.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Elena’s Fabo Judge’s Report

Wow! What a wonderful lot of imaginative stories came flooding in last week. They featured everything from riddles and magic spells, through to time travel and black holes. All kinds of amazing creatures appeared as well. My favourites were Neve’s rampaging fluffy pink unicorn, Lily’s screeching Crat (a cross between a crow and a rat) and Eden’s spine-chilling creature without a name.

Phoebe, I loved your description of the principal’s spell misfiring. Your story was very close to being one of the winners.

“But what was most astonishing was the chalk blue rooster pecking impatiently at the teacher’s desk. ‘Principal Lancelottus,’ Oliver muttered inaudibly although somehow Lydia heard and answered.”

Best beginning goes to Owen. There was some excellent use of dialogue in your story, and I was also very impressed with your description of Oliver’s magic potion …

“Oliver rushed to the science lab, grabbed a Bunsen burner, a glass container and started on his project. … While he was pulling the slime of a slug out of his pocket, Lydia walked into the room.

Rose, I liked the new school subject you invented, sciegic.
“It turned out that science was magic and magic was science, what a strange school.”

And Brianna, you included some great descriptive sentences in your story.
“Wispy smoke and foul smells were a speciality of Principal Lancellotus.”

My favourite simile goes to Jess.

“I need a volunteer.” Mr Lancellotus’s voice filled inside Oliver’s head like someone pumping up a bike tyre so much it would explode.”

Tiffany, I especially loved your description of Lydia being inside the principal’s brain.

“Her mind felt like some massive being, stretched across the world.”

Best use of the bonus word “evaporated” goes to Maggie.

“What is happening to that boy! He’s evaporating into thin air!” Lydia screamed. And it was true, for the boy had evaporated straight into thin air, as if he was never there at all.

With so many good stories, it was a difficult decision to choose a winner, so in the best Fabo tradition I have chosen two winners …

Julia from Willow Park Primary and Isha from Rodney College.

Julia, I liked the way you used the letter from the story starter as a link into your story, and the great mix of humour and suspense. Also, it was a masterful touch to end your story back with the long suffering caretaker.

Isha, your story really drew me in and I loved the characters you created.

Congratulations!

Could you please use the CONTACT US form on the website to send in your address, and I will post you out your prizes.

Julia’s Story

Oliver peered over her shoulder and dropped his letter from shock. A girl his age was growing, not just taller, but wider as well. She was filling up the whole classroom, and quickly.

“AAAgaahhh!!” Kids were going frantic, and running around screeching.

“Planko dokado!” The tall, plump man who Oliver thought must be the Principal was muttering strange words, pointing a stick at the growing girl and doing the stupidest dance in the world. It was clear Oliver’s Principal was crazy. Or maybe just drunk.

“I meant big as in famous! Not big as in giant big!” The growing girl was booming over the petrified screams of her classmates.

“Sorry. I got your wish wrong!” the Principal squeaked.

The already pushed to the limit classroom was going to explode any second.

“I can’t stop her growing!” the Principal shrieked.

“GET OUT OF THE ROOM!” Lydia yelled.

Oliver gazed at Lydia admiring her beautifulness and bravery, although she hadn’t really done anything brave.

“AAAAhhh!!” Kids squeezed themselves outside the squashed classroom yelling, “The Principal’s in there!”

Lydia cried, “I’m going to get him”

“No!” Oliver ran after her but it was too late. She was already squeezing herself around the edge of the class trying to get to the Principal. Oliver dashed inside the class just as Lydia collapsed.

“No!” Oliver wailed. He felt his breath bring sucked out of him as he shoved his way past the girls’ expanding body to reach the Principal. Anger burned inside Oliver. This magician had ruined his first day and hurt Lydia. In his rage of fury he reached the Principal quicker than expected. “Grrr! You hurt Lydia!” Oliver screamed and lunged at the Principal magician. SNAP! In a quick movement Oliver had snapped the wand in half.

Pfffffhhhhhh! The girl deflated like a balloon. Poof! The two half’s of the wand in Oliver’s hands evaporated. Oliver ran over to Lydia. Luckily he could hear her heart beating.

Curious kids filled the classroom. One telephoned an ambulance. Soon Lydia was being whisked away to hospital and so was the Principal. The other kids all went to different classes for the day. The classroom was well… damaged you could say.

After everyone had left the poor old caretaker trudged in, took one look around and grumbled, “And I just fixed this class last term!”

Isha’s Story

Oliver stared up at the thin windows and grim, brick walls of Eel Creek School. He shivered. Even the motto above the school’s arched doorway was creepy … BE PREPARED. Gripping the letter from his previous school in a sweaty hand, he stepped into the dimly lit, high-ceilinged foyer.

An arrow on the wall pointed towards the principal’s office. But before he could head that way, a voice behind him said, “You must be the new boy. I’m Lydia, your buddy for the day. Come on, hurry up, or we’ll miss it.”

“But …”

“I’ll explain as we walk.” Lydia strode ahead up a flight of stairs.

Oliver had no choice but to save his questions for later and run after her.

“Our teacher, Miss Green, is on leave, and Principal Lancelottus is filling in for her,” Lydia called back, as she climbed the stairs two at a time. “Mum says, before he came to Eel Creek, he used to be a magician. So when he teaches a class, instead of ‘show and tell,’ he performs a few magic tricks every morning.”

Oliver started to feel a bit more cheerful. Maybe this school wouldn’t turn out to be so bad after all.
Lydia stopped in a corridor, at the top of the stairs. “This is our class,” she said. A burst of bright, white light flashed through the gap under the closed door, and the smell of gunpowder wafted out.

“Rats! We’ve missed the beginning,” Lydia whispered, opening the door gingerly.
Then Oliver saw her face turn white.

“Oh no, I was afraid this might happen,” she said. “Sometimes the principal’s magic tricks go wrong … very, very, wrong.”

Lydia grabbed his wrist and pulled him into the classroom. She scanned the room. Ten or more kids were cowering at the back of the room. A short, fat, middle-aged man stood at the front. Oliver guessed this was the principal.

Then something in between the kids and the principal, something Oliver had missed, stirred and raised its head. Lydia’s grip on his wrist became tighter and he winced and pulled his hand away.

A shout came from the group of kids. “Get help!” Get help. It was the sensible thing to do, but his feet seemed to be glued to the floor. Lydia grabbed his arm once more and pulled him out the door.

They ran down the hallway and burst through the next door they saw. “The principal! His magic trick! It went wrong! There’s a monster thing on the ground!” Oliver and Lydia gabbled. The teacher, whom Lydia later told him was called Mrs. Callister, told them to calm down.

“What on Earth are you talking about? I can’t understand a word you’re saying.”

Oliver took a deep breath. “We think the principals magic trick went wrong. There’s something in the classroom. We were sent to find help.”

Mrs. Callister still looked a little puzzled but she followed them to the classroom anyway.

There it was, on the floor, about the size of a soccer ball. It was green and oozey and covered in warts. Jagged fangs dripping with saliva lined its mouth. It growled and moved closer to the students.

Mrs. Callister fainted.

“Wow, she was helpful, wasn’t she?” Oliver whispered to Lydia, but Lydia wasn’t there. He turned around to see her sprinting down the hall. “Hey!” he shouted, “Don’t just leave me here!”

But a minute later she was back, this time with two long metal javelins.

“Got it from the gymnasium,” she panted, “we were doing javelin just the other day. Thought it best if we were armed.”

“Wha- you mean we’re going in?”

Lydia motioned to the teacher lying on the floor. “I think we have to.”

Reluctantly, Oliver took a javelin and advanced into the room.

Immediately the creature turned to face them. It bared its teeth and growled. Oliver felt his heartbeat quicken. Lydia waved her hand at the students and pointed at the emergency exit.

“Go!” she mouthed. When they were safely out of the classroom Oliver and Lydia crept closer, brandishing their javelins. Just when they were about to stab – “STOP!”

The principal. He lept over the desk with surprising ease. “Drop the javelins!”

Lydia shook her head at Oliver.

Principal Lancelottus walked over to the creature and patted its head. “There, there, sweetie, I won’t let them hurt you.” Sweetie?

“Principal Lancelottus-” Mrs Callister had resumed consciousness. Oliver jumped at the sound of her voice. “-are you aware that that creature… thing … is dangerous for the children here?”

“Dangerous for the children…” the principal mocked.

Mrs Callister put her hand on her chest in shock. “Sir, I must-”

“SHUT UP, SUSANNA!” he roared. “I need to get out! If the kids are mysteriously killed… I won’t have to deal with them anymore!”

“Er… you know you can just quit, right?”

The principals face turned a nasty shade of purple.

“QUIT!” he roared, “QUIT? You think I just… just up and leave, do ya? Well not if my great great grandfather has anything to do with it!” Mrs Callister tried to stutter an apology but he was on a roll now. “This WRETCHED school has been passed down for generations. My father, my great grandfather and my great great grandfather would roll in their graves if I just quit!”

“Like they wouldn’t be rolling now.” Lydia muttered to Oliver.

Principal Lancelottus grabbed the creature around the waist. He ran to the window and leapt out. “I’m leaving this school for good! I can’t stand it here anymore!”

There was a stunned silence. Oliver, Lydia and Mrs Callister stared at each other.

“Well that sure was odd, wasn’t it? What a first day!” Oliver laughed. The other two laughed too and soon there were tears running down their faces.

“Come on then, you two. We’d better take you to my classroom.”

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Sue’s FABO Judging Report

Fabsters, I am so impressed with you all! I was hoping for a bunch of stories that gave me the creeps, and you rose magnificently to the challenge. You had me looking over my shoulder and jumping at the slightest sound, just like Jack the caretaker.

As the entries came in I made a “possible winners” file on my computer, and it grew and grew like a monster in a science lab. Many of you made the connection between green smoke and Miss Green (extra points!). There were also mentions of rats, and Merlinsky and Lancellotus put in an appearance. I love how we seem to be on our way to an entire novel (possibly horror) about this school … which still needs a name. Something to think about? It was also great to see the bonus words used in such inventive ways.

Choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. Before I tell you who are my awesomest of the awesome this time, here are some honourable mentions:

In Noah Fifita’s (Ardgowan School) Jack cleverly defeated a dragon, turning it from fearsome and magnificent into “embarrassed and soggy”.

In Jess Hudson’s well-written story (Remarkables Primary), the smoke became a “thought reader” with Miss Green’s voice. I loved this line: “Jack, I assumed you would have realised by now that I wasn’t my usual self. Green smoke, Miss Green. It connects.”

Deanshi Mani – great writing, but you can’t leave a story without an ending: “He finally got a glimpse of the figure and immediately recognised what it was, and what he saw was unbelievable…” YOU LEFT ME HANGING!

The creepy little boy in Sanjana’s (Marshall Laing Primary School) story sent shivers down my spine.

In just a few paragraphs, Frances from Newtown School managed to write an awesome epic fantasy complete with demons and an entire army. Frances you ALMOST won, but there is clearly a Part 2, so it didn’t really have an ending. FABO stories need endings.

Felicia Chen from Milford Primary School, I loved your happy-memory-eating ghost.

Madeline Renner-Daun from Birkdale Intermediate School, thank you for these two memorable lines, “An indistinct figure, just a flitting shadow in the dark night,” and “Rowan won science fair, and it wasn’t long until the Tim Tams and tea came back.”

Joshua Napier, from Adventure School (this is an actual school name? How cool is that!), your story about blue, green and purple men had me chortling.

Charlotte Sutton’s descriptive writing blew my socks off. The potion in the bottle had a skin on like “gravy left unstirred for too long”. You also mentioned master of the macabre, Edgar Allen Poe. Clearly you know your spooky stuff.

Bessie Martin from Houghton Valley School, your story ticked all my boxes – well written, great ending. You were a very-nearly-winner. So close!

Stella Peachey from Te Mata School, I LOVED this line: “His personality would have run and hid under the bed, and that’s what it did. But Jack’s brave side stayed and studied the lab.”

Grace Gardner’s story (Te Mata School) was also a very-nearly-winner. It featured two monsters, a bomb, a great conclusion, and used all the bonus words in clever ways.

Emma McLagan (Te Mata School) – your descriptions of the night outside the school window were beautiful, and I’m wondering if I can borrow them for my next ghost story. “It looked as if somebody had thrown a handful of salt into the darkened night. Stars danced among the moving clouds. The moon shone like a glowing orb. The trees whispered to each other in the silence.”

Vanessa Dang Nguyen (Mission Heights Primary) featured in her story a creepy little doll that demanded, “Play with me.” When Jack doesn’t, she banishes him to a place with nothing but books. But Jack loves books (of course!). So she sends him to clean a dungeon for the rest of his life. Brilliant story, Vanessa.

Katie from Te Mata School’s story was beautifully written, and I loved the phrase “little licks of quantam flew out.”

And so to the winners. I couldn’t choose between these two so you both are my FABO champions this time.

Joshua Roberts from Adventure School (another Adventurer!) your story about Donald Trump had my whole family crying tears of laughter, and making people laugh is a great thing to do. On top of that, your story was well-written. Congratulations!

And Finn Wescombe, from Aidanfield Christian School, whose story featured not one but two Jacks, a parallel universe, clones, orbs, and quite a lot of science.

Congratulations everyone, and Finn and Joshua, contact me via the FABO website and I’ll send you both an autographed copy of “The Ghosts of Tarawera”.

Joshua’s story

Jack walked silently as a mouse over to the bench. The green gas smelt like stinky socks and Jack started to feel dizzy. He stopped again and said, “Who’s there?”

A head popped up covered in what looked like a ginger cat from behind the bench. Guess who it was? Jack was surprised to see Donald Trump on the other side of the bench.

“Hey, what are you doing?” said a shocked Jack.

Donald Trump coughed and cleared his throat and said, “I am making obeying potions to force people vote for me, so I can be the President of the United States.”

Jack replied, “It’s not fair to make people vote for you. They should vote for who they want to.”

Donald Trump looked cross and said, “They have to vote for me because I want to be President.”

Jack quickly and carefully picked up the beaker and emptied the green stinky sock-smelling potion into the sink before Donald Trump could reach it.

“Hey, that’s my obeying potion!” shouted Donald Trump.

Jack replied, “The people need to like you to vote for you. You are a silly man with ginger cat hair. Go back home and stop making obeying potions in school science labs.”

Donald Trump picked up his bag and walked out, never to be see again. Jack picked up his mop and bucket and continued to wash the floors, knowing he had saved the people of the United States from Donald Trump.

Finn’s story

The sickly green mixture frothed, rising until it began to seep over the top of the bottle. The drips sizzled as they collided with the heat mat and began to burn a hole. Acid, strong acid. The liquid was rushing down the bottle, searing it, but not breaking its HARG (Heat and Acid Resistant Glass) frame. The bench was slowly but surely disintegrating.

Without hesitation, Jack grabbed an oversized HARG beaker, and handled thick tongs to unceremoniously dump the bottle into it. He sighed with relief and watched the disappearing bench, knowing he could not save it. However, there was still the mystery of the person or thing that had set it up. And why. It would only destroy the workbench and a small section of the floor. There had to be more …

Jack suddenly heard an angry shout and turned to see what seemed to be his own reflection glaring at him and hurling custom swear-words at him. Jack screamed in terror and his copy seemed to notice there was another Jack around. Soon both were striving to calm down, taking deep breaths.

The other Jack began furiously, “You imposter! You come in here, impersonate me, and ruin my window cleaning mixture!”

Jack’s temper wasn’t an improvement. “Some cleaning mixture! Look at that work bench! What a mess!”

“It was an experiment!”

“That’s no excuse for hiding! I was cleaning! This is my job, see!”

“Your job! I was going to make a revolutionary cleaning mixture that disintegrates everything unclean, and I was startled and dropped my tongs when you entered – that’s not hiding!”

“Everything’s unclean, nitwit! Why are you impersonating me?”

“Oh look who’s talking!”

Jack fumbled for words. All he could come up with was; “Stupid.”

“Pardon? Wouldn’t you like the new ‘Perfectly-Clean-Window-Wiper-Stuff’?”

“Stuff?”

“Yeah, stuff.” The reflection turned away and stormed off to the cupboard with the bottle to create another PCWWS mixture.

Jack called after him, “Anyway, you aren’t even Jack!”

The reflection halted abruptly and turned, his face a mask of fury. “Oh I am. My parents are Lancellotus and Merlinsky!”

Jack frowned. “Those aren’t my parents, and the principal isn’t married… oh no, clones loose in the public!”

“I’m not loose, I work here! You’re the imposter!”

Jack scowled. This thing was exactly like him, just with a different background. In books he had read about “parallel universes” where the same people lived with different backgrounds and different decisions. If one where “he” was the son of the principal and librarian had collided with his own, things could get wacko!

“Get lost wayward universe, you’re trespassing on ours! Leave me alone.”

True to Jack’s nature the reflection couldn’t bear seeing someone with a mental breakdown. He started to clean as a coping mechanism. “Look, we can work together. We can return each quantum of this school to brand new, starting with that orb over there.” He gestured to a grimy globe. Jack grinned and began to polish Earth.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Maureen’s FABO Judge’s Report

Every day I looked at my inbox and there was a trickle of Fabo stories…. and then there was a flood… they were like rats… I started having nightmares.

Funnily enough the stories were similar… there was a trickle of rats and then a flood.

They didn’t have to be rats… they could have been small furry intelligent aliens from another dimension… but mostly you all picked… RATS!

One of the reasons I picked four tricky words for you was to stretch your creativity.

When you box a character in a story… or set yourself some high walls to climb over to achieve your story goal, your brain starts getting a workout. The stories become more imaginative. Your brain pops and fizzes and so do your stories.

When writers are stuck in a story, sometimes they throw more obstacles at their main character to see what their brain might come up with. This shakes up the story and the writer often finds a way to get un-stuck.

Most of you gave the story starter a good shake and I got lines like…

‘The rat had a twinkle in its eye.’ from Tsehai.

‘I let out an eldritch scream,’ from Genevieve.

‘He also drank a lot of Quaff’- from Miranda

‘Hubba Twinkle Weedle’ from Sarah

‘… quaffing up rainbows’- from Peyton

‘The library was flooded with eldritch souls.’ from Daniel

‘A mini blanket sewn from old pieces of string.’ from Danielle

‘To celebrate Jack decided to throw a quaffing party.’ from Emma

‘He cursed the eldritch piper.’ from Alice

‘Its tail slithered across the room like a slimy piece of string.’- from Rika

A lot of stories became episodes with a definite horror feel. I started looking for stories that definitely finished. (Mostly because I didn’t want any more nightmares.)

I was really impressed with the effort everyone made to work those words into the story with the right meanings.

These winning stories had me thinking beyond the ending so WELL DONE Daniel, Rebecca and Rosa!

Could you please use the CONTACT US form on the website to send in your address, and some goodies (Not Rats!!) will be on their way to you.

– Maureen Crisp

—————————————————————————————————————–
Daniel Wilson age 8 from Fendalton

…HIS CAT JERRY!!!so that night he brought Jerry to the library and lowered him from the roof with some string while the principal was quaffing beer down and thinking of the rats. Jack was checking if Jerry was eating any rats but he wasn’t so he pulled Jerry up and called the exterminator. He came and after that he said “it’s all clear.”
The next day in the library the librarian got bitten by a rat and she grew a tail and started to twinkle and turned into a rat lady. After that she fought crime all around the world and the library was flooded with Eldritch souls.
The end

Rebecca Wilkins age 11 from Northcote

If only he had his teddy bear to cuddle, then he’d be alright. Even though he was 32, he still couldn’t get to sleep without Tatty, his bear. Oddly, he still found it soothing to clutch Tatty in the darkness of the night.

Like Tatty, Jack was a big softie. And they both hated rats: once Tatty had almost been eaten alive by the rodents. And then there were the dreams, the Pied Piper, the rats and Tatty, every night he watched Tatty being murdered by the rats. He would wake up, trembling, only to realise it was just another nightmare.

An ear-splitting, squeaking sound that could only have come from the rat’s claws echoed through the library. Jack began to cower and shake, wishing he had a shell as protective as a tortoises that he could retreat to as a last resort. Be brave, he told himself. But he did not move.

As the sun went behind a cloud, Jack noticed the books (bathed in dust) and the cobwebs covering the ceiling. The library, normally a light and airy place, was eldritch, terrifying.
Jack couldn’t take it anymore. He curled himself up into a ball and attempted to wish himself away into fairyland, like the girls in the Year 1 class did.

He wasn’t surprised to find that this didn’t work.

What he needed was a drink. He thought longingly of the spinach juice at home, wanting to quaff it all down. That would make him strong. Tatty liked spinach juice too, she had a little green patch on her fur from the time when she’d attempted to ‘drink’ it.

Spinach. He suddenly remembered the rat catcher, Margaret Spinach was her name. Someone had told him about her. He looked her phone number up in the phone book, it was there! And before he knew it he was hesitantly dialling her.

He waited.

Finally, someone picked up the line at the other end.

“Hello there. Margaret Spinach the rat catcher speaking. How can I be of any help?”

Jack explained his story while Margaret patiently listened.

“Sure. I’ll come around now,” she said, and the line went dead.

Soon a neon pink van pulled up. It was the Spinach Rat Catchers and Co official van.

Margaret swept out of the van, her fiery curls tied up with multi-coloured string. She had twinkling eyes, a cheery smile and a Barbie doll strangely strapped to her belt. Jack liked her instantly.

She was very strong and soon prised the desk open effortlessly. She wasn’t afraid of the rat inside it. Jack peeked around the corner of a bookshelf.

Inside the desk he didn’t see a rat. Instead he saw Fluffy, the librarian’s beloved cat. Mrs Merlinsky walked in right at that moment.

“Fluffy darling!!!” screeched Mrs Merlinsky as Fluffy scampered up to greet her.

From that day on, Jack didn’t have a single dream about the Pied Piper. But he did dream about Margaret. And he still slept with Tatty…. just in case.

Rosa Martelletti age 8 from Newtown

If only Jack had some string. He could have easily got anything with that. But unluckily that was all the way down in Mr Lancelottus’s office. Lancelottus would have definitely caught him there.

Jack sighed. He kicked the box one more time, just to make sure. Yep, there was definitely a rat in there.

He took the energy drink off the table. It said “Drink this and you’ll never be scared again”. Jack quaffed it down quickly. He didn’t feel any braver than usual.

Then something occurred to him.

“What is this rat like?” he thought “Will it hurt me?”

He tried to push the doubts out of his mind. Jack decided that if he got bitten, he wouldn’t have to be the caretaker anymore. With that happy thought in his head, Jack opened up the desk. But what he saw gave him a big surprise.

He saw a dead rat, yes, but there was also a live one as well! Jack thought the live one looked friendly. He touched it. It didn’t move. He very slowly patted it. It still didn’t move. So, very cautiously, Jack picked up the rat and slowly moved towards the corridor.

When he went in the corridor, he went past Ms. Joris’s room, Mr Brooke’s room, and Ms Eldritch’s room into Ms Green’s room.

Jack turned to Ms Green. “I heard about Tina’s show and tell, miss, so I thought I’d give you this.” he showed Ms Green the rat.

“Oh my goodness.” exclaimed Ms Green. “What a lovely rat!” Then she turned to the class and asked them “What should we call it? “Twinkles!” everyone shouted. So once he made sure that Ms Green had got hold of Twinkles, Jack turned and walked out of the class. “Well,” he thought “ I may have not been able to get a break from my job, maybe even quit it, but at least I met the friendliest rat in the whole wide world!”

And with that happy thought, Jack continued to walk up the corridor.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kyle’s Fabo Judging Report

 We had a flood of entries this week. So many entries, in fact, that if stories were zombies the human race would now be doomed. Well, maybe just New Zealand …

It took a lot longer than expected to read all 245 entries. So apologies for being late with my report. Unfortunately most of the stories were really exciting, so I didn’t want to miss a word. A lot of stories went very close to the 500 word limit, too. And I suspect Genevieve from Hadlow School could have kept writing for another 5000 words.

Trying to pick a winner was incredibly difficult. Judges are like readers. Each judge looks for certain things in stories, and gives high marks for those stories that contain them. In my case, I like stories with a real surprise ending and writing that’s original and colourful.

There were a lot of stories with really interesting ideas that ended up being “just a dream”. I’m always disappointed with dream endings. So if you wrote a story like that, maybe next time try to come up with a different, more original, ending.

There were lots of original ideas with robots, candy prisons, clones, enchanted lands, portals and time machines running on rosehip oil. Sammie went to Book Town where famous authors hung from cables writing their bestsellers, while McKenzie had a tree that grew books for libraries. There were some amazing secret organisations, too. From Connor’s Teacher Superhero Service to Tara’s Stop the Bullies service with their terrible fart guns. While Ted’s Sectretum Magica was “the only group of magicians who use their powers for evil.” (Though I’m not sure why they needed an accountant.)

I enjoyed Rebekah’s story with the genie taking a shower and laughed at Aurora’s “cute, evil rabbits”.

There were also some great surprise endings. In Stacey’s story the Hulk had come to give Jake a message about his mum dying. Beth decided Mrs Merlinsky was The Hulk. And Charlotte let our hero meet a rather gruesome end – He turned back around, he saw a gleaming pair of eyes, yellow teeth in a mouth where there was more gum than teeth, a hunched black, and an arm holding a gleaming knife with blood dripping off.

But most excitingly, the writing in so many stories crackled and fizzed with energy. Though watch out that you keep the same tense (past or present) and perspective (I/he) throughout your story. Swapping between them often makes the story a bit confusing.

There are so many entries worthy of special mention, but there’s only enough space to mention a few favourites. (BTW I really love clever similes.)

Allicia – Terror drove him forward. The stairs were covered in dust and the intricate torches which had once lit up this gloomy staircase were out and filled with dark ash.

Gemma had some lovely similes (eg Spread-eagled like a starfish, Jake held his breath.) and I enjoyed her fairytale references – “I’ve got you now, Cinderella,” he growled, stepping into the darkness.” “There goes Alice… down the hole.”

Alex – Jake stared down in shock, his eyes the size of golf balls, his mouth hung open like an unhinged door. The inky darkness clutched his heart, squeezing out a good portion of his courage, he felt as though a thousand tiny scorpions were crawling up his legs, and spreading along his body.

Luca – The strange man stomped off as if he had farted in front of the whole world.

Rebecca – Old people tend to tell you everything, Jake thought. The walls had emerald green moss covering them which seemed to glow in the dark. Glow worms clamoured for space on the ceiling. Stalagmites covered the caves floor.

Eden also had some lovely writing, but the rules of FABO require you to complete Jake’s story. Here’s a sampler of Eden’s writing – I walk down the lonely track, crisp golden leaves fall around me landing softly on the rusty train line, I breathe the cool morning air and exhale intricate swirls of steam.

Thanks for sharing your favourite words, too. What a variety! Everything from squelching to nonchalantly, bemused to squirt, effervescent to sparkle. And most of you used the words cleverly in your story. But in the end I’ve chosen Sam Ridsdale who is home-schooled and whose favourite word is gadget. It came in handy for his story about the Anti-Bullying Corp (ABC) with its chili hot toilet paper and laxative chocolate. If you email your address, I’ll send a copy of my latest Dragon Knight story to you.

So job well done, team! But in the end there can only be one winner – Finn Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School. The story is well paced with some great similes, funny dialogue and an ironic twist. Great work, Finn. So please email your address and a copy of Dragon Knight will be on its way.

Keep up the great writing, everyone.

Kyle

Finn’s story

Jake heard a surprised yell, followed closely by thumping as the Hulk charged, his tree-trunk arms extended. He hesitated a second too long, and just as he leaped down the first step, he was yanked back. Jake found himself staring the Hulk straight in the face. True to his nickname, the Hulk was literally a giant, or more precisely, an ogre. Jake was hit with a wave of the worst breath ever, a combination of rotting teeth and tuna sandwiches. Gross! Don’t bullies ever brush?

Jake squirmed in the Hulk’s vice-grip, trying desperately to avoid the smell. He wished the Hulk would hurry up. His right arm was going numb as the Hulk’s hand cut off the circulation. His arm burned. “So this… is… you’re not hurt… hurting much?” Jake struggled to say.

“Yeah,” the Hulk said it with as much sympathy as a rat gives to a piece of newspaper. He tightened his grip. Jake did his best to scream as loud as he could but his Larynx had gone on strike.

Jake stared at the gaping hole before him, unable to think up a plan. He strained to think of a way to get in there other than being dropped in by the Hulk. Suddenly The Hulk grinned and released Jake allowing him to fall to his doom. Or if not, to end his life in misery. The Hulk turned to the desk and began to fiddle with the drawers trying to close off the hole, trapping Jake.

Oof! Jake landed on something soft. Too soft for the bottom of stone stairs. He stood and looked down, and in the faint light from above he could make out pillows all around, obviously placed to soften a fall. He decided against exploring for fear of being trapped, but he wanted to find out more about this secret cellar. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he could make out the outline of a king-size bed, a playstation, table-tennis table, eating table and a tiny kitchen. Jake was bemused. Who would live down here? He didn’t want to stay to find out. The sound of opening drawers echoed around the room, and he realised that the Hulk was trying to close off the hole. In a panic he started up the stairs, quickening his pace and hoping the Hulk would not see him.

The Hulk didn’t need to think as Jake emerged from the hole; he instinctively reached out and snatched Jake off the ground, grinning triumphantly. But when Mrs Merlinsky climbed the stairs, the smile faded from his lips.

The Hulk fled, dropping Jake. The librarian approached and assured Jake that she would deal with the Hulk. She gestured at the hole. “It’s a refuge for the bullied. You’re in!”

Suddenly Jake realised the irony of the situation. He guffawed, laughing uncontrollably until tears streamed down his cheek.

Mrs Merlinsky frowned questioningly.

“It’s just… the bully was trying to trap me in the refuge!”

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Fabo Challenge No. 1: Judges Report by Melinda Szymanik

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story Starter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Winning Entries

Name: Montana Harper

School: Greenhithe School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

”I think we could do it.” Tina said.

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

“3,2,1,GO!”

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

“Whew!” Everyone gasped with relief,

“That was close!”

Brriinng! “Morning tea time!”

__________________________________________________________________

Name: Ayeisha Beadsmoore

School: Matakana Primary School

Finish the story here: RRRRRRRRRRRRR! The bell rang.

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

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

“Oh No!” Rudy said.

But when Tina clapped her hands all was normal.

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

“C-C-C-Cold!” they said.

Tina clapped her hands and everything was normal.

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

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

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

Tina clapped her hands and all was normal.

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

Everyone played party games and ate party food.

Suddenly Tina clapped her hands and everything was normal.

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