Posted in The Winner

FABO Story Report judged by Kathy White

Thanks to everyone who answered the Fabo call and sent in a story. A special high-five goes to Mr Clarke’s class at Hoon Hay School, who worked on Fabo Story as soon as the new term started. It’s great to see  new faces, but it’s also nice to see the keen writers from last year back again. 

I got excited by YOU using your imagination and seeing all the different directions you took this Stewart Island adventure. 

Having a word limit can be difficult, but you’ll get better with practice. You need to choose a story that you can tell within that word count, that will have a beginning, middle and end.

If you only wrote a few sentences, you probably didn’t win the competition this time. If the story you wrote wasn’t closely connected to the story starter, or if you didn’t finish your story, you probably also didn’t win the prize, even if the writing was AMAZING. And some of you DID write amazing stories that didn’t finish. Some stories are simply too big to tell within 500 words. If that’s the case, you need to rethink the size of your plot and make it a short story rather than a novel. Make it simpler.

Here are some of the entertaining things you DID include in your stories this week.

I liked it when you thought about who the rat was,  the qualities of the heroes and villains in your story, and what they wanted most. 

Bill Kelly said: “I am Bileford, the son of the Great Rat of Rakiura, and I wish to unite the warring tribes of this island.”

Natasha said: “It is foreseen that a child of Willow the patron of the kiwi will free the kiwi birds of their worst enemy the rats” whispers the voice again from the shadows. “You think its me?” I reply suddenly. “Of course” the rat whispers. 

Ava Schaumann’s fantails had a very specific goal: “Ridding Stewart Island of ALL humans that infest it!”

I liked it when you painted a picture with both actions and descriptions so I could see the scene in my head. 

Juno Ireland said: I start running. Without even a glance back at the lonely, rickety toilet on top of the hill, I sprint down the other side of the slope. Remy’s tail thumping against my neck as our torch light shadows chase us. As the star-encrusted sky turns an inky indigo, we approach the gnarly trees that mark the beginning of the bush.

Bill Kelly said: Ensuring I have my torch secure in my pocket, we set off, trudging into the darkness of the bush. We pass towering podocarps, that make elaborate patterns overhead with intertwining branches and flowering rātā. On the forest floor in the low growing ferns, creatures rustle and the ground seems alive.

I loved the language you used.

And when you used sight, sound and smells in your descriptions.

In the dark outside, the whistle tastes of magic, of old things, rust, and sea salt …. (Indigo Tomlinson).

I liked it when you were funny. 

Stella Johnson said: “Bristle you’re back!” An older looking creature scurried to greet the rat. Bristle must be her name, I thought. There isn’t one bristle on her rat-pelt. I think these creatures need to choose more appropriate names for their family.

Juliet Young’s spooky story about ghosts had its funny moments: Feeling the crescent-shaped whistle in my palm, I put it to my mouth and heave a deep breath – difficult when surrounded by ghosts, you could easily swallow one ….

Indigo Tomlinson’s main character used the magic whistle to change the diet of rats, and inflict a bit of torture on her brother Sam at the same time. She wrote: “What’re we gonna eat now?” asks one. There is a clamour of concerned voices. I smile wickedly,
“Well, if you go over to the North Arm Hut, there’s a boy there who really needs someone to clean up his toe jams.”

I liked it when you surprised me with a twist. 

Katy McLeod wrote about a rat that gave a series of instructions, then blew the whistle and shrank until he was invisible. You might think the main character would have followed the rat, but did she? No. She didn’t want to shrink, so she “betrays the trusty rat” and instead tricked her brother into blowing the whistle.

I wasn’t expecting that.

I loved it when you captured something special about the characters in the way you made them speak and interact.

Ridima wrote: The rat bowed down and said, “I am Prince Templeton Augustine Willis the Fourth, raised in the palace of Rattingburgh.” Reading the expression on my face, he said, “Just call me Tom.”

And I loved it when you logically tied together all the elements from the story starter and included a beginning, middle and end.

That’s why my winner this week is 12 year-old Anwen Davies. Congratulations, Anwen. Your plot pacing, your descriptions and your dialogue were good, and you even managed to weave the football theme further into your story. We’ll be in touch to organise your prize soon.

Adventure on Stewart Island

Photo by the Graf boys

“This place is pure magic,” I whisper. I’m watching a white-tailed deer amble past the North Arm Hut. She stops next to the picnic table and bends down to nibble at the leaves on the ground. Right where we had lunch today. Behind the hut, I can hear two possums squabbling and then a thump as one of them falls out of a tree onto the corrugated iron roof.

This natural magnificence all happens as the sun goes down, painting a rosy glow across the bay, and it all would be perfect … except Dad and Sam haven’t noticed any of it. They’re still talking about football. Unbelievable.

I glance over at them drying the dinner dishes. “Hey, are we still getting up early to look for kiwi?”

“Absolutely,” Dad says. “How about I wake you at 4?” He winks at me.

“No way, José. We’re on holiday,” Sam says, flicking his tea-towel at Dad. “I’m not going anywhere before lunchtime.”

Photo by the Graf boys

Dad shrugs at me as if to say there’s nothing he can do. I know he likes sleeping in as much as Sam, and Sam is the laziest brother a girl could have.

“This IS MY birthday present,” I remind them. “And I want to hear and see a kiwi. It’s all I want.” But Sam’s already back to talking about Ronaldo and his famous free kicks, and why he thinks he might be talented enough to be Ronaldo the Second. Right now, I’d like to give him a famous free kick of my own.

I flop onto my bed in the bunkroom and reach under my pillow for the treasure I found earlier. It’s a golden crescent-shaped whistle. The initials KW are scratched onto the back of it, which is kind of freaky because those are my initials and it even looks like my writing. But it’s not mine.  I try blowing it again for what must be the 6th or 7th time today but there’s still no sound coming out. Not even a rattle. Perhaps I need to give it a good blast.

I tuck it into my swanndri pocket, grab my torch and a roll of toilet paper, and slip out the back door. It’s a bit of a hike up a steep hill to the toilet, and you do have to check the seat for spiders, but it’s the only place for a girl to get privacy here, and even then you have to put your foot against the door to stop annoying brothers from barging in.

I’m just about to drop my pants when a small voice squeaks. “I’m so pleased you called. It was so faint, I nearly missed it.” In the halo of my torchlight, I see a young rat perched on the edge of the basin. “Are you ready to go? Do you have your whistle? We don’t have much time.”

Anwen’s Winning Story…

Never in my life had I ever felt so frightened. My whole body shook and I started to feel that the toilet seat might start talking to me. “Who are you”

“No time, do you have the whistle?”

It takes me a while to click, does the rat mean the whistle I found earlier?

“Well” Squeaked the rat sounding a little impatient.

“I, I have it here” I utter, fumbling for it in my Swanndri pocket.

“You ready?” He says enthusiastically.

“Where are we go-”

“Just trust me and come” he interrupted, “Come.”

Reluctantly but with excitement I followed the rat into the thick undergrowth of the native bush, breathing in the cold, thick night air. I wondered where we were going as we start to quickly head down hill. For the rat it was easy as he scuffled over the leaves where a path his size seemed to have been made. But at my height, I was having a real fight with the bracken and ferns, not to mention the spiders webs.

The wind howled and twisted through the branches. I shivered. It started getting more exposed now and as the trees opened up ahead, we came into a clearing.

I squinted, then gasped as I looked down in front of me. It seemed that I was about to enter a football pitch. Not any old pitch, but one the size of a table with fern fronds for goal posts. What stunned me most of all was that the players were animals – big, plump rats and little stubby kiwis.

“What’s going on” I burst out. The rat glared at me, then he suddenly smiles. “ I suppose I better explain. All the rats and kiwi’s living on Stewart Island meet on the full moon for a game of football – forest style.”

“Why am I here?” I asked, still puzzled.

“Well, the reason you are here is this.”

The rat explained that every ten years they assigned a new referee for their game, and this time I was the chosen one – me, Katie Walker.

“You are KW – Katerina Whites daughter”

I nearly fainted for the second time that evening.

How did the rat know my mother, Katerina White?

My mother who had left me when I was 2 and who died 10 years ago of cancer. The rat seemed to read my mind and responded straight away. “Your mother, used to be our referee, many full moons ago. That was her whistle, the whistle you will blow tonight”

I nodded, barely able to take it all in. There remained one question for the rat.

“This whistle doesn’t seem to work” I mutter.

The rat pauses then replies;
“Yes, you are right, it only works in the correct light – moonlight from a full moon.”

As the rat nods at me, I fish the whistle out of my pocket and blow. But it doesn’t sound like any whistle I’ve heard before; It sounds like music, a lullaby perhaps. The game begins. I don’t know how, but I just seem to know the right time to make a call, to blow the whistle.

Well, maybe Dad and Sam’s obsession with football wasn’t for no reason after all.

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 10 judged by Jane Bloomfield

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

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

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

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

My highlighter jumped on the following passages:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane’s Story Starter: Pearl and Golden Apples

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

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

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

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

“Nonsense,” said Ma.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaux Astrid Detera’s winning story:

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

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

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

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

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

25 years later…

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

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

After work and school.

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


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


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

Congratulations, Olivia and William!!

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Melinda Szymanik.

Melinda’s Story Starter: A Very Unexpected Experiment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The oven timer went ding.

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

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

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

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

Juliet’s story

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

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

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

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

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Elena’s FABO Story Judge’s Report

I’ve been super impressed with the quality of the entries that have come in over the last couple of weeks.

There were some wonderfully detailed descriptions which really created a picture in my mind of the worlds Anneke and Nikau found behind the double doors.

Georgia (Palmerston North Intermediate): A sea of stars spread over the ceiling, people walking around in the strangest outfits Anneke had seen! Shapes twinkling in the walls like diamonds in the sun … An old woman with wire-like hair that fell down to her bony knees, gnarled up fingers from work and a hunched back, muttering deliriously to herself in too small overalls and sandals tinkered about with a small wooden horse.

Sylvie (Rototuna Primary School): At first they were blinded by the blue and purple shimmers and silver stars on the walls and roof, but as they got used to it, they could see by the light of a few twilight bulbs and squares on the roof that there was a huge conference table in the middle, surrounded by ten violet and turquoise bean bags.

Sasha (Marina View School): There were signs in different spots saying “Don’t Touch.” Everyone was squished into a tiny room.

I also loved the imaginative and inventive products that popped up in the Comet store.

Portable spaceships in bulging bags and dark matter bubble gum, which was later used to encase the baddie in a bubble. Maddie (Te Huruhi School)

Dark matter Oh My Stars glitter eyeshadow palette, able to literally transport you to a different world. Daisy (Discovery School)

Neisha (Tauranga Intermediate) had my mouth watering with her space-themed candy descriptions: Star Sherbert (turned your mouth from pink to a silver star colour, Asteroid Lollipops (made your mouth swell up with candy flavoured ulsors) to Universal Chocolate (never ran out).

Some superb characters came to life on the page.

Bob the Blob:
At the exact time, a bizarre creature consisting mainly of a green slimy and liquidy blob with an eye smack bang in the middle came and said, “Hullo there, my name is Bob the Blob. It is quite the pleasure to meet you mod dom. How may I help you?” Reinhelda (Palmerston North Intermediate)

I also liked the way this idea was carried over into other areas of the story with a “blob jumping” competition, followed by Anneke and Nikau exiting Comet with hands full of “thingamabobs.”

Byron (Te Huruhi School) made excellent use of dialogue, in his funny and fast-paced story, to create a likeable alien character.
“Wait you’re just going to go without me?” asked a quiet voice. They turn to see a small alien man about the size of a small book case.

Other stories impressed me with the creative way they used language.

Madeleine (Marina View School) made Comet an acronym.
“Cooperation of meteorite engagement team … C.O.M.E.T. plans to destroy the earth with a big meteorite!” Anneke explained.

Mia (Te Huruhi School) created a new word for her story’s space creature pet – a flirkin.
“Flirkin Food! Why Flirkin Food?” spilled the shopkeeper.
“We have a flirkin … obviously,” Nikau said.

Daisy E. (Rototuna Primary) included some wonderful similes in her story.
It was like sprinkles being sucked up a vacuum cleaner! …The children landed on a moist, fuchsia-coloured field. The surface of it felt like a damp sponge.

Jerry’s (Greenhithe School) story began with a clever simile which linked in nicely to the story starter:
The swinging entryways opened essentially smoother than the female voice.

Best Endings:

Aiesha’s (Marina View School) story ended on a memorable and unusual last image.
They trotted down the road as the horizon lay upon them.

I also really liked Jacob’s (Glen Eden Intermediate School) understated ending which echoed the story starter:
They made it but they were 13 minutes late.

Isabella’s (Discovery School) story took an interesting twist when Comet turned out to be a computer game (Comet the Unicorn). Her story’s ending included some beautiful imagery:
The unicorn gestured them onto her back, so they climbed on. Comet lifted off into the sky with icy wind blowing past their faces.

Special mentions:

Aden (Te Huruhi School) wrote a great fast paced story, which skilfully built up the tension:
“This ship has a rusty engine, low fuel and you say this is my fault. I’m trying to fix it not make it worse.”

Olivia (Fenwick Primary) created an impressively eerie and evocative story.
Both children could immediately hear a well-oiled mechanism click, and they jumped back in surprise, while a low hiss was heard and slowly, the huge, heavy doors slid open.
Great writing Olivia!

Erin’s (Te Huruhi School) story included two of my favourite lines:
“Calm down, Nikau. We’re still in the Milky Way. There is nothing to panic about,” Anneke said …
“I know a device that can teleport a building anywhere in the Universe! We need the dust of a newly dead star and an old robot,” said a rather elderly lady.

The following stories made it into my shortlist:

Ava Lister’s (Tokomaru School) atmospheric and very spooky story stood out because it was almost entirely dialogue, which I thought was very clever and gave it a unique tone.

Isabella McGregor (Tokomaru School) wrote a wonderfully accomplished and surreal story that skilfully took the reader through a number of alternative scenarios.

Indigo Tomlinson’s (Whakatane Intermediate) story combined excellent world building, evocative description and great characterisation with a clever story arc.

And the winner is Kate Barber (Oroua Downs School). I loved your circular plot with its clever twist at the end and am impressed by the way you managed to draw me in with a mystery and then resolve it, all within the word count.

Elena’s Story Starter

Even though it was only just after 5pm, the misty mid-winter drizzle meant it was already getting dark by the time Anneke and her younger brother stood waiting for the pedestrian light at the bottom of Queen Street. They had plenty of time. She and Nikau had managed to catch the earlier express bus into town – it was at least an hour before their robotics workshop was due to begin at the library.

De-de-de-de-de-de-de … The pedestrian signal went. She and Nikau wove their way through the flow of people crossing the road in the opposite direction. Someone, she didn’t see who, pushed a flyer into Anneke’s hand.

“Hey, what’s that?” said Nikau, once they’d reached the other side. He pointed to the stylised image of a comet streaking across the outside of the leaflet.

Anneke shrugged. “I dunno. Probably a new electric scooter or something.”

“Can I see?” Nikau grabbed it. A handful of glitter stars fell out into his hand. “Wow! Listen to this.” He moved into the nearby entrance of a brightly lit food hall to read it.

COMET is here!

For a limited time only COMET, the most famous and fabuloso POP UP SHOP in the universe, is orbiting into your galaxy right now!

If you can imagine it – we have it! Gazillions of prizes and give-aways, the very latest inter-galactic games and absolutely astronomical opening specials on all – yes, all – of our signature range, dark matter make-up!!!

Entry by invitation and in the allotted time-slot only:

17:13 local time

Strictly no late entries. Present this ticket at the door. Valid for 2 customers.

Make sure you don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity! COMET will not be popping up in your galaxy again for another hundred light years.

Snooze and you lose! Be there or be E = mc2! Find us at Queens Rise (2nd floor) right now.

“Did you hear that? Free stuff,” said Nikau. He took a few steps back and looked up at the sign above the food hall entrance. “Woah! Queen’s Rise. The store’s right here. Can we go?” said Nikau. “Please, Anneke.” He stuck out his lower lip and made pleading puppy dog eyes.

Anneke sighed. It did sound fun. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to have a quick look. She checked her phone – 5:10pm, or 17:10 using a 24-hour clock. They had exactly three minutes before their time-slot.

She and Nikau bounded up the short escalator to the first floor two steps at time. Once at the top they hurried past a circle of busy restaurants to the next up escalator. This one was much longer and steeper. The noise of the first floor faded away. Anneke checked the time on her phone. 5:12pm. Nearly at the top now. She reached back for Nikau’s hand and they stepped off. In front of them was a large solid double door. Scrawled across it in purple neon was the word, COMET.

The digital clock above the door flicked from 17:12 to 17:13. A green slot lit up and blinked.

Welcome universal shoppers – said a smooth female voice – 17:13 time slot customers may now scan tickets for entry.

Kate’s Winning Story

“I’m so excited,” Nikau grinned his face spread in a wide smile. I squeezed his hand and exchanged a smile. Slowly the crowd started to move forward. Up ahead a curly brown-haired female staff member was at the front of the line taking the tickets. A phone in her hand, her eyes fixed on the screen. Her golden name tag flashed Jane.

When we got close to her she mumbled “Ticket please,” Reaching into my jacket pocket I produced the ticket. Quickly she glanced up and checked the ticket over before giving it back.

“Name,” she asked still looking at her phone.

I replied back “Anneke Thompson and thi-” Jane interrupted me.

“Wait your Anneke Eva Thompson,” she questioned, her blue eyes staring at me. I paused, how did she know my middle name. This was weird.

I waited for a moment until I spoke again.

“Yes I’m Anneke Eva Thompson,” I said uncertainty echoing in my voice. Immediately I regretted it. You don’t tell strangers your personal details.

“Oh my gosh.” she blurted. ” I am honoured to be in your presence. The work you do is incredible.” My heart leapt in my chest. I glanced at Nikau, his brown eyes filled with fright.

“What do you mean,” I asked trying not to let my nervousness show. Jane stared at me a puzzled expression plastered on her face.

“Are you Anneke Eva Thompson,”

“I am,” Silence. For a moment everything was quiet.

“Then why don’t you tell me about your great inventions.” Jane accused, her voice rising. Slowly I backed away pulling Nikau with me. Terror filling my body

“What about your Time Retract ball.” She takes a step towards us. My mind races, what to do, what to do.

“Answer me,” Jane shouts. Nikau cowers behind me. Heart leaping in my chest.

“Who is making all that ruckus,” An angry voice grumbles from behind me. Startled I turned around and saw a burly man with brown hair and a thick beard. His mouth twisted into an angry snarl.

“Jane what did you do,” he continued. Jane crouched down in fear. I stood still frozen in shock. What was happening?

“I’m sorry sir,” Jane apologised. “It’s just this is Anneke Thompson.” The burly man looked me over before speaking.

“You silly girl. There’s a time difference here in Earth. Anneke isn’t even over fifteen. And now I’ll have to sort this out” Still angry he reached into his pocket and pulled out a strange-looking device. It was circular with bright lights spinning around inside. On the base was a silver metal label that said A.T company.

“Bye, bye,” he said. I gripped Nikau’s hand even tighter. Then….De-de-de-de-de-de.

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Suzanne Main’s FABO Judge’s Report!

My 15-year-old labrador recently died and the antics of our mischievous new puppy have been making me tear my hair out, so I had dogs on my brain when I wrote this fortnight’s story starter. There were a lot of high-quality entries – I read snappy dialogue, humour, fresh description, clever simile. Well done everyone! I’ve mentioned some of the authors of these great stories in my comments below. The winner and runners-up are announced at the end.

The story starter had a few elements for you to work with: siblings who don’t always get along; a missing dad; a busy, overworked mum and an abandoned puppy who has gone missing. There are a number of ways you can go with a story like this. Your imagination is the only constraint.

The story starter was pushing you toward a heart-warming ending – and lots of your stories tugged at my heart strings. Thanks to Olivia P, Daisy G, Vienna, Hannah J, Emy, Amelie, Sa, Cullen J, Anya, Jemma R, Millie B, Isabelle P, Louise D, Isabella F, Mikayla, Sarah P, Lucy K and Julia M for the happy moments your wonderful stories gave me.

BUT just because the story starter pushes you one way, doesn’t mean you have to go there. And lots of your stories headed off in a completely different direction. And did so very well!

Indigo T submitted a heart-thumping adventure story involving scary dog-nappers. Awesomely done.
Another direction you could have taken was comedy – hats off to Louise D for a hilarious description of Lyra tearing up the neighbour’s garden. Seohee had very funny dialogue and puppy antics. Sarah A’s incy-wincy anti-gravity puppy that climbed onto the roof cracked me up!

You could have also taken the story into a fantasy realm. Sebastian took me on a journey to another land. Lily M showed fantastic use of imagination with a shape-shifting puppy and a funny ending. Great work Riley turning Lyra into a piano-playing fox!

Perhaps the least obvious path for this story to take was horror. Some of you went there and did it exceptionally well. Samith took me to a scary alien dog experimentation lab. Layla P turned that hole in the shed into something far worse. Isabella M’s very well-written story had a surprise stomach-turning ending and was a strong contender!

But sadly there can be only one winner (and a couple of runner’s up!)… THE WINNER IS…

STELLA from Roseneath School. I love the imagination Stella has used and the way she resolves all the story elements in a unique, interesting and funny way. The dialogue was snappy bringing the characters to life for me.

The runners up were…

EDEN – this story had great structure. It lulled me into thinking things were going to work out for the characters, then dropped to a sad point, before bringing home a happy ending. Again, using excellent dialogue.

SARAH P – I admire the clever solution that Sarah’s characters devised to find Lyra, and also the banter between the characters.

Stella’s Winning Story

“Lyra!” “Lyra!” we whispered frantically.

We ran around the shed and lawn checking every nook and cranny.

“This is all your fault!” Danny hissed.

“What? How is this my fault?”

“You didn’t give him his food today.”

“Oh my g- that’s not a reasonable explanation.”

Mum noticed we were home.

“Oh-no!” Danny winced.

Mum came outside. “I saw you two looking for something. Is everything alright?”

“Yup!” I said before blabbermouth said anything stupid. “Danny just lost his…“

“My pencil case!” Danny butted in.

“Don’t be too long!” She wandered back to the house.

I glared at Danny.

We turned around to look for Lyra. It was then that we both noticed the fence. It was a swirling mess. I looked at it open mouthed, The swirl was growing bigger, tearing up the fence. Suddenly, a cloud of dust spun around our house making it almost impossible to breath. It abruptly stopped, sending us flying. I found myself on the ground. I got up and dusted myself off.

“W-what is that?” I stared at it opened mouthed.

Danny looked at me. “A portal.”

I opened my mouth to say something but no words came out. Mum noticed the commotion and bolted outside.

“Don’t go in!” she screamed.

We scrambled back to the house but the portal was sucking us in. I took a last look at Mum.

Then, we got sucked in.

I squinted. All of a sudden – woosh – we fell to the ground. I was bleeding. Danny was unconscious.

Danny woke up, he was gasping for air. Everything was so colourful it looked like someone had painted a rainbow across the sky.

Suddenly we heard a voice: “Is that.. really you?”

I almost jumped out of my skin.

“D-dad? “ Danny looked amazed.

Dad ran and hugged us. I started crying. “ Mum told us you moved away with a new family…” my voice muffled into his coat.

I stepped away.

“How could you? You left us! “

“Look, I didn’t leave you. “ He sighs, “I mixed some different paints when I was painting the fence. They reacted and I got sucked into this portal. I’ve been living in this empty rainbow place for years.”

“Aarph! “ We saw a bundle of fur behind Dad. “Lyra!!“ We both yelled at the same time.

“Now, how do we get out?” Danny asked.

“You can’t, “ shrugged Dad.

“What???????” We both screamed.

“Arph!” Suddenly the portal opened up as Lyra ran towards the rainbow coloured fence.

Then we realised that the only way the portal opened was because of Lyra.

She had rust on her, it must have been the secret ingredient we needed.

“Ok, that was simple.” Dad muttered

We landed on the muddy grass. Dirt squelched into my face.



Mum and Dad hugged each other.

“I missed you so much” they said to each other.

After today’s madness I’m just glad everything sorted itself out.

“Aarph!” Lyra the magic puppy agreed with me too.

Posted in The Winner

Fabo Story Report For ‘Weird Tuesday’ by Jane Bloomfield

85+ writers, aged from 7 to 13, had a jolly good crack at helping Mark outsmart his dastardly older brother Raymond. Yay! I loved seeing the nice-guy winning. Good-versus-evil is a very handy plot device to keep in your writer’s toolkit. It’s especially handy to keep this type of conflict in mind when you’re planning your story. Because you cannot write a good story without conflict.

But before we get down to the nitty-gritty, a gentle pat on the back for the following writers who took the time to file a story (old journalist term for completing a writing assignment.) Max S.S, Charlie, Gabbie, Sharon, Jasemehar, Anya, Lily, Nicketa, Scarlett, Sarah, Emerald, Maya, Cullen, Bethany, Aiesha, Marcus, Louise, Zoe, Treeshula, Leilani, Flynn, Holly, Vaibhavi, Emily, Nova, Isla, Tess, Nathan, Chiara, Nadia, Narmeen, Layla, Sofia, George, Anya, Indigo, Naomi, Lola, Chloe, Ryder, Isabella, Olivia, Joshua, Elvin, Alice, Marama, Eliza, Kristen, Kat, Amelia, Emily, Matilda, Willow, Nahee Kim, Taylor, Eva, Niamh, Stella, Michelle, Lorcan, Indi, Charli, Brennan, Diontay, Ruby, Eviana, Jessica, Katie, Jaimie, O’shynn, Leah, Sasha, Lucy, Rebekah, Richard, Maryyum, Maia, Chloe, James, Patrick, Tommy, Nella, Olivia, Grace, Julia, Grace.

After posting ‘Weird Tuesday’, I was really looking forward to reading what you put inside the mysterious brown paper package. And believe me, your package-contents did not disappoint.

You unwrapped some very curious, and innovative creatures along with quite a few fluffy puppies and kittens needing homes. (I think there are a lot of children throughout New Zealand who’d like pets, but aren’t allowed them?!) I discovered: Phoenix (more than three) a ghost, a squirrel, a mechanical spider, a violet dragon, a malfunctioning robot, a million baby snails (the average garden snail has 14,000 teeth, arranged in rows on their tongues – thanks Bethany!)

A fire-blowing-dragon, a slimy frog, a goat, a teddy bear with magic Raymond shaming powers, vomiting fish, air tickets to Los Angeles, mermaids, a Grimlock, a bird with a unicorn horn (birdie-corn,) snakes, a feathered dragon-dog, a teeny tiny miniature elephant, an evil puppy, a birdbutterflywormflyspidercat, a magical music box, a guinea pig named Tinker, a hat that makes the wearer invisible (brilliant!), a white owl, a white toy cat with red eyes and hypnotising powers, and a glowing-pink-furball spewing kitten. Phew! What great imaginations!

There were also, lots of the-most-disgusting-creature-I-have-ever-seen. Next time, describe what the-most-disgusting-creature-you’ve-ever-seen looks like. It’s more interesting for the reader if you’re specific, like the list above.

I think my favourite package contents would have to be Indi’s, 10, Point Chevalier Primary, A Beastly Broth to Banish Brutal Brothers! Indi’s funny, well- written story also received a Highly Commended badge. Unfortunately, Indi, you went way over the 500 wordcount so I had to mark you down for that. Chiara, 11, Carmel College, also received a Highly Commended badge for her heartwarming story. Inside Chiara’s package was Brownie, Mark’s cousin’s chocolate labrador sent to rescue him. If I was a professional editor preparing this story for publication, I’d have to point out that Mark wouldn’t be able to carry a full-sized lab into his bedroom. Labs are heavy! A lab puppy would have worked. I also want to mention, Matilda Rennie, 10, Grey Lynn School. I really liked how your ‘air-creature’ read Mark’s thoughts and acted immediately. However, your ending let you down. This was a perfect opportunity to play a funny prank on Raymond. Sometimes it’s hard to be even a little bit mean to characters, (if you’re a super kind person, I used to struggle with this.) However, drama always makes a more exciting story.

Before I announce the winner, the winner, chicken dinner, I’d like to give a shout-out to Diontay, 9, Moanatairi School with this great imagery of Catatonia: There were cats driving cars, cats riding bikes and dogs running up trees. The trees were as blue as the sky. (Plus cats in sunglasses talking.) And to Narmeen, 9, Orakei School. There were trees made out of lollies and a river made of pink milo and giant s’mores for the boats. Describing the setting helps the reader put themselves into the story.

And the winner is … Indigo Ciara Tomlinson, 11, Whakatane Intermediate School. Congratulations, Indigo! Indigo set up her story well, detailing Mark’s emotional struggle at being the downtrodden younger sibling. Her positive- mood-altering elephant was a very mature way to stop Raymond’s bully-boy behaviour. Well done, Indigo!

Jane’s Story Starter: Weird Tuesday

This is how weird Tuesday began …

I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating my usual breakfast of Fruit Loops with milk. My big brother Raymond, as per, had helped himself to two-thirds of the box, leaving me with only colourful crumbs. The crumbs floated on top of my bowl of milk like a pixellated rainbow. I spun my spoon round and round, swirling the colours together. My stomach rumbled. I reached for the perfect banana from the fruit bowl, but not before Raymond jammed his fist down hard onto its blunt end.

‘You love smashed banana don’t you, midget-person?’ he said, and laughed. Milk dribbled down his chin, tracking past his volcanic pimples. I had to look away.

Right then, there was a loud rap on the front door. I instantly stood up from the table to go and see who it was. But Raymond did too and we collided at the kitchen door. He held me against the frame. I raised my hands in surrender and let him go in front of me.

On the front steps was a medium-sized brown paper parcel tied with white string. Raymond picked it up, then he shoved it at me and stomped off.
The package was addressed to me:

“Mark Malcolm-Jones”

The writing was green and wild and swirly like seaweed washed up on the beach. The postmark was a place I’d never heard of before. Catatonia. The package had an interesting smell. I couldn’t make it out.

Cinnamon perhaps? Or turmeric? It felt warm in my hands. I tensed a little.

Then the package started to squirm.

Here is Indigo’s Winning Story

I let go of the parcel, and stepped back as something strange emerged from inside. I felt a scream building in my throat. I hated slimy things. I hated creepy crawlies. This was something Raymond had used to his full advantage on more than one occasion. I shuddered remembering the worms covered with a puddle of tinned tomatoes. (Pretty sure Mrs Twits lawyer tried to sue.) Was this another of his dastardly pranks? I took another step back and prepared to bolt as the creature came fully into the open. An exhale of air whooshed from my body and I sagged a little, like a worn out balloon. It was an elephant. A teeny tiny miniature elephant. It blinked, bemused, then looked up at me, sending a small squirt of water into the air with its trunk. It fractured into hundreds of shimmering diamonds and just for a second, it felt like the world was bathed in rainbows. Curiously, I bent down and shook the package out. A scrap of paper fluttered to the ground. I took it in my hands, examining the curling emerald green scripture, and my eyes blurred. I read with my heart in my mouth, a sense of bitterness rising within me like a coiling serpent. At the last line I felt the metaphorical snake send a stab of venom deep into my heart, adding to the peppered assortment of half-scabbed over holes that were already there.

Happy Birthday love you’re turning ten! What a big moment! Hope you like this miniature elephant – they’re everywhere in Catatonia.
Love Mum

I seethed. Mum. She wasn’t my mother. She never had been. A real mother would have remembered that my birthday is in August, not November. My chest simmered with resentment like the disgusting fish stew she used to try and make me eat. Still, at least I’d got something.

I bent down and picked my gift up, cradling it close to my chest. Suddenly a jolt of colour rocked the world and everything looked different. It was like I was seeing the world through a camera filter. Or maybe my life had been tinted slightly grey and only now had that been removed. I felt like I’d put on a pair of rainbow sunglasses. This is going to sound corny, but the sun was brighter, and the grass was greener. Strange. Experimentally, I put the elephant down. The world suddenly felt grey and heavy. For some reason the elephant was making my life feel brighter. I considered what else it might be able to do. Hundreds of magical possibilities flowed through my mind, like a multicoloured staircase of wonders. An idea popped into my head.

I went back inside and up to Raymond’s room that smelled of sweaty teenager and old deodorant. Raymond was sitting on his swivel chair poking cautiously at a bubbling pus ball. I raced in and shoved the creature into his arms.

His eyes glazed over. He smiled. ‘’Hey little bro. Wanna go out for ice cream? On me.’’

ps. A note for all young writers. Be careful not to over do adjectives. Use strong verbs instead. If Raymond is ‘munching away at his fruit loops’ we know he is shovelling them into his mouth and chewing noisily. You don’t need to say ‘greedily munching’ because munching on its own is explaining how he’s eating.
Equally, instead of saying: ‘Drearily, I got up from my bed.’ It’s stronger to say, ‘I dragged myself off my bed.’

Thanks for all your stories!
Keep writing!
Jane xx

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Judges report and winning story May 12th 2019

Welcome back to FABO for 2019.

Crystal thrones… Strange giant birds… prophecies… Birds that can speak… tell stories or mimic class members. New lands… extinct birds and lost children filled the bush at every turn. Mrs Fraser will need therapy or at least a good lie down after going on a class trip.

The adventures this class had in the bush kept me on the edge of my seat… what will happen next?

Sadly many stories started out full of action and adventure and then the main characters woke up and it was all a dream.

A little bit of brainstorming at the beginning could have saved some great stories.

Sometimes writers start out writing hoping to find out what happens next. We can often write ourselves into a hole and not know how to get out. It is perfectly fine to stop in the middle and do a quick brainstorm on how to end the story. Then you leave the reader with a satisfying end.

Many entries were stuffed full of long words. Long words are fine to use if it is the right word. Sometimes writers can reach for a long word thinking that it will make the story better. The best stories keep the reader hooked into the story all the way through. If the reader has to stop every second sentence to figure out what a word means, it slows down the story for the reader. At the end all they can tell you about the story is that it had a lot of LOOONG words.

The winning story managed to have action, the right words, Jody becoming a legend…and the discovery of a mythical bird. Although I think Mrs Fraser still would have needed therapy.

So the winner this fortnight… is Bailey McC from Remarkables School.

Bailey McC’s Winning Story

We all held our breaths in anticipation. Mrs Fraser started to jump up and down on her tiptoes in excitement, we all looked at each other, holding in our laughter. She whispered “ok class, we’re going to get up and start to walk quietly to the source of the sound, If you have cameras get them out!”. After what felt like hours, everyone was deflated as we didn’t discover the mysterious sound.

Before long, we came across a rickety bridge. We were all walking across it when we heard a squeal, followed by a splash! Everyone froze. we looked down, Jody had fallen in AGAIN…”Help!!” he cried in fear. Just then the sound of a crack fell upon us, CRABANG! The bridge collapsed beneath our feet. With the sounds of screaming, we hit the water with a splash into a fast flowing, deep river. I started to dip in and out as my head was forced underwater. I saw people attempting to clamber out but the walls of dirt were too high and slippery, hindering our escape. I started to think of the worst outcomes ,my clothes were dragging me down, we were either gonna drown or drown!

I saw Jody trying to swim towards something. I couldn’t see what it was until I got closer … a massive log! But it was too far away, he was never going to reach in time. Just then we heard a familiar cry that blocked out all the hysteria. It was a majestic sort of sound, in fact, that was the cry that lead us to be here. It drew closer and closer. “Eeeek!” Mrs Fraser cried as a burst of colour came into view. It was the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen! It swooped down and opened its gigantic claws and grabbed onto the log. It flew towards Jody within a matter of seconds and dropped it right into his reach, then it swooped around and winked at Jody before swooping off. Jody acted fast.

“Everyone grab on!” he yelled. Everyone swam towards the only sign of hope. When I reached the log and clambered on, Jody manoeuvred it sideways so it wedged up against both sides of the mossy dirt wall creating a perfect dam. “Quickly everyone, stand up and um, Mrs Fraser you won’t mind us standing on your head to get out?”. Mrs Fraser carefully stood up and leaned against one side on the dirt wall, “quickly now kids!” she yelped in fear.

One by one every kid scrambled onto Mrs Fraser’s head and out of danger. Eventually we all got out and hauled Mrs Fraser up. “Oh my! That actually just happened!” Mrs Fraser said covering her mouth with her trembling hands.

Jody had just saved everyone’s life! We all gave Jody a round of applause. Just then we heard a cry, the mystical bird circled above our heads. We finally found what we were looking for, if only we had our cameras! What a legendary trip!

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Elena’s Judge’s Report!

Thank you to everyone who entered FABO and for all the wonderfully creative and imaginative stories you gave me to read. It was great to see entries from Australia and Norway too.

Lots of you had researched the story of the Pied Piper and although many carried on with the fairy tale theme, some of you chose to give your story a mystery or fantasy twist, or some comic or horror elements instead.

There were many wonderful takes on what might have happened to the mural, most involving various characters coming to life, from the Pied Piper to imploding eggpizachickensausagethings (Joseph Surrey), deadly doodles (Iibby Hayvice), Banana Man (Michael) and dinosaurs (Kezia Vaz)

Some of your Pied Pipers were out and out villains, whereas others were more three dimensional. Kiara’s Piper, who is looking a bit miserable, finally confesses, “it’s just I don’t want to be stuck in a painting and just standing there doing a pose.” Whereas Kate’s Piper hates fame and wants to be painted out. As it turns out, his replacement, Cinderella, is a much better dancer anyway.

Thank you Kate for making me laugh out loud: “Where are we, what happened?” Ana said drowsily as she rubbed her eyes and collapsed onto the ground. Luckily this time she had something to break her fall.
“Arg!!!” Niko coughed out loud. “Get off of me Ana!” he said as he attempted to sit himself up.

And I was impressed by your ingenious MacGyver type solutions Aanya: “Let’s use the sap from the tree (as a substitute for glue) to stick a bunch of grass onto a large piece of wood and connect that onto this bendy piece of bark to make some ear muffs …

Some of my favourite beginnings were:

The wall was tearing away with a rending sound and had somehow acquired a felt hat, mouth, flute and hands, along with a couple (okay loads) of legs. (Sarah Aitken)

The mural had literally come to life!
“Niko, what are we going to do? They’re walking away and when I say they, I mean a fairy, seven dwarves, a wolf, Little Red Riding Hood and a whole lot more!” said Ana. (Peter Browne)

“There,” Ana said, as she stepped back and admired the gorgeous blue rivers and the bright red sunset and the elegant trees. (Samantha T.)

Niko’s eyes were glued to the mural they had painted on the prefab classroom. The Piped Piper’s pipe had thick black music notes of all different sizes coming out of it, flowing towards Ana and Niko. (Maddie Mitchell)

There was also some excellent dialogue, which perfectly captured the character’s different voices:

The Pied Piper looked up to see Ana eyeballing him. “Hello, dear lady. Were you admiring my wonderful flute playing?”
“Ummmmm yeah, I guess,” Ana said.
“Well then, my fine maiden, I must ask you a favour. I seem to have fallen out of my mural. Would you mind singing the Pied Piper song to get me back in?” (Gina Field)

The mural had vanished!!!!!!
“But how could this happen,” cried Ana.
“You said it sister,” said Niko … (Ana was not his sister but he often said this). (Isabella Bamford)

And wonderfully original expressions and evocative descriptions:

Ana glared at him, barely able to control her anger, as she simmered like a sausage and fumed like a 1920’s car, all while tears of relief streamed down her face like they were skydiving. (Finn Wescombe)

“Niko and Ana stood there with their mouths hanging open like well-oiled doors …” (Sarah Aitken)

… Two tall legs appeared in front of them. They both glanced up to see their magnificent painting of the Pied Piper. He played a quick, short tune and said, “Masters, you have freed me from inanimation …” (Cameron Cross)

The judge strode in. She resembled a ghost – she had a white, long, pale face with glasses so thick that no happiness could be seen. (Charlotte)

When Ana woke up she was in a horrible place – children stumbled everywhere crying for their mothers and fathers, others sat down with a look of lost hope on their face. (Emily Bird)

All around the children were dancing. The Pied Piper was playing and of course everyone was happy, just like they thought it would be, but in the corner … stood a little girl who looked lonely and shy. (Habiba Haitham Khalil)

It was the same lullaby being played over and over again in their ears. The same dance being danced over and over in the same steps. (Kate Carter)

All around the Pied Piper was lush green grass and there were big, tall, strong mountains in the distance. (Jayne Ewart)


Happy endings, with Ana and Niko winning first prize for their mural, were popular. But below are some not so happy endings which I thought stood out:

Jett McKelvie had Niko and Ana receiving second place, which was a nice touch.

I liked Annie Cheng’s understated ending. “What type of dinosaur did you want to paint again?” Ana said, with a grin.

And Gabriella Rusk’s: Ana blew her last note and as she did so a single ray of sunlight shone on her …
“It’s a good thing I didn’t paint that dino,” Niko said.
“Because then we would have had to get rid of a T Rex!” Ana added.
The dark clouds moved away as the sun illuminated the sky.

Bridget managed to combine a nice mix of creepiness and comedy in her conclusion. (The inspector’s) skinny finger rubbed up against Ana (who is frozen in the mural) as if she could not believe that you could paint such intricate little humans – they looked almost like real people. If Niko and Ana knew they would be stuck in a painting forever, I think they might have brought earplugs.

Kezia pulled off the classic horror story ending: Anna laughed. “Must’ve had a bad dream in your sleep silly.”
Niko’s ears pricked up. Ana and Niko stared at each other. A soft flute tune was playing getting louder and louder …

As did Ember: “My job is done,” the porcelain doll screeched … “For now.”

And Chevy: And how to get rid of the Pied Piper who controlled us for the rest of his life, dancing in bed, in the shower, at the shops. Where ever we went, he was one step behind us …

Natalie Lamb even managed to include some Fabo references: “Do not say the Pied Piper!”
Only, of course, everyone did … And that was how Fabo Primary School ended.

As always, it was really hard to decide on a winner from my shortlist:

Sasha – I loved the mystery you set up and the details you included, which gave your story a sense of place.

Alexandra – I was very impressed with your codes and rhyming riddles.

Ysabelle – What a great idea to have your Pied Piper play off key and need to have flute lessons.

Finn – You’ve written some excellent dialogue, created really believable characters and it felt like you had a lot of fun writing this. Your story came very close to winning.

But the winner is Nathan Stacey from Churton Park School

Nathan, your story drew me in, building up suspense with a nice mix of dialogue and description and action, and had an equally strong beginning, middle and ending.

Please let me know where you would like your prize sent to.

Elena’s Story Starter

Ana dabbed the very last splodge of bright red paint on the outside of their prefab classroom.

“High five,” she said to Niko. “Bet we win best mural prize for this.”

The two of them had been working on the mural every day after school for what seemed like years – at least a week anyway – and now they were finally finished.

“You should have let me put that dinosaur in,” grumbled Niko, “then we’d beat the other classes for sure.”

Ana rolled her eyes. “The theme of the competition was fairy tales, remember. Since when did you ever see a dinosaur in a fairy tale.”

Both of them stood back and admired their line of brightly painted children, dancing along behind the Pied Piper. Even though it had been a bit of a squash, all the students of Room 11 were represented. They’d even put everyone’s names underneath, so they’d be immortalised forever … or until the school was repainted.

“Come on, Niko” said Ana, “let’s go home.”

But no sooner had they turned away, than Ana heard flute – or was it a recorder – music coming from behind them. Strange, there weren’t usually any after school music lessons on a Friday.

“That’ll be the Pied Piper trying to lure us away,” Niko joked.

Ana laughed. “Yeah, sure.”

Only all at once, she found she didn’t want to leave … the music was so beautiful … so sad. She simply had to turn back …

What she saw made Ana freeze in her tracks.

“Niko, look at the mural!”


Winner: Nathan (Age 10)

But there was no mural to stare at.

Twelve people stood in the courtyard, one held a flute and was blowing into it, the others were dancing along. The children stood mouth agape. The one with the flute noticed the children and beckoned for them to come join him. Niko and Ana went to obey but clumsily tripped over each other’s feet and came crashing to the floor. Ana’s vision went fuzzy and she stopped hearing the music. When she struggled to her feet she only heard the faintest wisp of music and sight of the last of the children dancing around a corner.

“Uh Niko” said Ana “They’re getting away!”
“What does it matter?” said Niko “What’s he gonna do?” “Make rats bite the principal’s toes? That’s all he does, control rats! Right, Ana?” said Niko. “Am I Right?”
But Ana was dead still, her eyes filled with terror. “No” said Ana after a while. “No, that is not all that he does.”

Ana ran into Room 11 and threw her hand into her bag, rummaged around and pulled out a book.
“What are we doing?” asked Niko sceptically
“NO TIME FOR CHIT CHAT!” yelled Ana, tearing through the pages until she found the right one. “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” Ana read aloud. “Once Upon a time, the town of Hamelin was ravaged by a plague of rats. They ate food, sickened people and stole. On one particularly bad day a man showed up with a flute. He played a sweet tune and led the rats out of town.”
“Yeah,” said Niko “And they all lived happily ever after. The End.”
“Shut up!” yelled Ana. “And keep listening …

“But when he came back, the mayor refused to pay the man, so the man vowed to return and get his revenge. And so one day the man returned and played a tune. He led all the children of Hamelin out of the town and into a cave and they never returned. Only two children were unaffected” Ana finished her story. “Now do you see the gravity of this situation?”
“Oh God,” said Niko, “I do now.”

Niko ran outside and round a corner, Ana trailing him.
“Where are we going!” she yelled.
They rounded a corner and came face to face with a construction site, where the builders had gone home for the night. Niko leapt over the safety barrier and started to climb the ladder.
He was stopped by a hand on his ankle.
“This is crazy!” said Ana, glancing around nervously.
“Do you want to save our friends?”
Ana gulped and finally gave a small nod.
“Then get up here”
Ana clambered reluctantly up the ladder and followed Niko onto the top of the hall.
“Now what?” asked Ana, surveying the surroundings.
“We look for the piper” said Niko
“Over there,” said Ana, pointing to just in front of the hall, where the piper was hurrying the children inside just like the cave from the book.

Suddenly, without warning, Niko went bonkers.
He acted like a monkey, then an owl and then a frog.
Ana wasn’t pleased but she trusted Niko and followed his lead pretending to be an ostrich.

What first started as a smile on the piper’s face turned to a giggle and then a fully blown laugh. He laughed so much that he dropped his ornate flute on the ground. The flute shattered upon impact. Immediately the glassy eyes of the kids changed back to their normal colour. The piper didn’t notice what happened next as he was still laughing like mad. The piper started to dissolve. At first slowly but getting faster and faster until nothing was left but some puzzled children who didn’t know what had happened.

Ana and Niko hugged each other. They may have saved their school, but they still had a mural to repaint.