Posted in The Winners!

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

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

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

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

The following nine stories made my short list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the winner is… CARTER!

The runner up is LUCY.

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

– Suzanne Main

Carter’s Story

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

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

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

“Is that a hover-board?” Ella asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean” Ella asked.

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

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

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

There was one thing I noticed” David emphasised.

“What?” Ella wondered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“5 seconds until detonation” Sissy Version 7.3 said.

“HERE THROW IT!” Aramaya Abalonia yelled.

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

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

What will happen… She caught it!

“Hello Aramaya.” Sissy Version 7.3 said.

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

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Melinda Szymanik

The Winning Story by Chelsea Young

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

“Yes, Miss,” David replied sheepishly.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Fabo Judges Report from Maureen Crisp

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was looking for stories that did just that.

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

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

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

Their stories are below.

Rebekah Lile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It talked” said David

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

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

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

“Oh what beautiful names” said Charlotte

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

Piper Matchett

“Get back into the hoop!” David yelled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Kathy’s FABO Judge’s Report!

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Mr Lewis shook his head.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

(After having been shrunk and re-sized)

3:30 at Tyler’s House.

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

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

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

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

However I had the biggest chuckle with this from Daniel:

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

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

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

“No guarantees” replied Jason.

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

(1) you’re all talented;

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

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


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

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

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

– Kathy White

Prize-winner: Indiana Taylor, Pt Chev Primary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then…


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

“who are you?” Asked Brendan sounding confused.

“I’m Jason.” he answered.

“Jason Greene?” asked Brendan.

“Yeah,” he told them.

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

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

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

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

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

“We could play dead!” screamed Frankie.

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

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

“3,2,1 GO!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No guarantees” replied Jason.

Posted in 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.


“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”.


“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 …

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.”


“What? I’m just suggesting.”

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


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.


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, Junior Winner, Senior Winner, The Winners!

FABO Winning Stories!

Here are the two stories Melinda picked as the winners of the last competition. Congratulations again to Charlie and Isha!

By Charlie O’Connell from Greytown Primary School

‘Who goes there,’ boomed a large man with an equally large British accent. ‘The museum does not allow trespassers.’ It was a cleaner named Jeffrey, Russell could tell from his museum uniform. He stood there as stiff as stone, then backed away slowly- “Crash!” Russell whizzed around. Broken glass lay scattered across the floor, the ship lay, “capsized” as well as all the passengers. They both gasped, Jeffery caught his eye and he bolted, Jeffery right behind him. Russell couldn’t believe this was happening he was a good boy, well apart from the time he broke a priceless museum artefact, half a minute ago! Russell turned to get to the main entrance, he had lost the cleaner, but he didn’t know if he could get out of here alive. Russell turned the next corner, the main entrance should be up ahead, but it wasn’t. He was in some kind of corridor. Russell looked around trying to find a museum map somewhere on the wall. He span round to see a sign above the doorway, “West Corridor”, it read. Russell gasped, the main entrance is the East Side, so that meant- ‘Hey!’ Russell turned around, Jeffery was back but he now had two security guards tagging along with him. ‘You won’t get away this time.’

‘I wouldn’t count on it.’ Russell replied and took of in a rush.

‘Come back you little troublemaker’ Jeffery shouted, he wasn’t running but the security guards were. Russell turned left at the next intersection and sprinted off back down to the Hall of Pacific. But he caught his trousers on a doorway that was open ajar. Russell stumbled, hitting the ground in a massive “Thud”! He started rolling of to the other side of the room. There was a big caveman exhibit he was about to crash into. Russell closed my eyes and braced for impact, but nothing came. He felt himself fall through the floor, had he come across a loose floorboard, or was he just dizzy. Russell opened his eyes, he was falling through the bottom of the whole museum. Russell saw the guards run over his head just as he fell into darkness…

Russell pulled out his phone, no signal. How long had he been falling for? Surely he had to hit the bottom soon. Russell saw a light up ahead. “Freedom”, he thought, the light started glowing brighter. Too bright to be moonlight, I must be heading to some secret cave Russell thought. ‘Oomph’ he muttered as he hit some kind of landing area. A big, bright, red X lit up the ground. Russell could see a small village nearby. He got up and tried to see how far up the museum was. Suddenly a big, red helicopter blocked his view and he scampered out of the way. ‘Greetings’ yelled a voice from up in the vehicle. ‘What brings you here?’ He was an elderly man, about in his 50’s, who was wearing ragged, servant clothes.

‘Well’, Russell began. ‘I was in the museum and I fell through the floor, and I’m just trying to get back home.’

‘Home!’ he bellowed. ‘I don’t know what you’re playing at boy, but if you think you’re going home you’ve got to be out of your right mind.’

‘What do you mean I can’t go home,’ he replied. ‘You have a helicopter that could take me up there as quick as a bird!’

‘He knows too much,’ replied the helicopter guy. ‘Feed him to the Landger.’ A crowd quickly gathered around Russell as helicopter guy dragged him towards the end of the landing area. The ground ahead of them sloped downward into nothingness. Russell gasped, was he going to go down there. Suddenly a giant, ragged dragon erupted out from the edge of the landing area, that must be the Landger thought Russell. A burst of fire exploded from it’s mouth, Russell felt like he was in a Hobbit movie. The Landger suddenly flew towards Russell and he knew he was going to die. But the creature avoided him and shot a fireball at helicopter guy. All the other civilians fled, but Russell stood frozen there. The Landger turned to him and made a gesture like he was offering a ride. Russell didn’t say no, he didn’t even say anything, all he did was get on the Dragon and ride to freedom.

Beep, Beep Beep, rang Russell’s alarm clock. He banged it furiously. ‘Morning Russell,’ yelled his Mum from the Kitchen. “Better get ready for your museum trip today.” Russell got up, really tired. He had a late night yesterday, planning his overnight museum trip with Michael Brown. He couldn’t wait for it to all go down.


And by Isha Walker

Russell gasped, then quickly covered his mouth. The last thing he wanted was to be sent home just as his adventure began! He had to hide.

He scampered as silently as he could up the hallway. He went around some corners and down more corridors until he came to a door.

Slowly, he opened it. A cloud of dust escaped out of the room. It looked like no-one had been there for a veeery long time.

Russell heard a noise from behind him. Footsteps! He didn’t think twice. Through the door into the musty smelling room.

It was full of boxes that were all different sizes. Most of them had been damaged, probably from age. The stale brown cardboard of the box he was sitting next to had sunk into itself at the top. A black figure of a cat poked through the lid as if it just popped out to see what was going on. Russell pulled the cat from the box, unleashing a big cloud of dust. He stifled a cough.

Where had the cat came from? Was it Egyptian? He knew from reading a book about Egypt in his school library that they were crazy about cats.

From what he could see in the darkness, the cat had markings carved into the bottom. He couldn’t see what they were but he was now sure that it was an Egyptian cat. What was those carvings called again…. hiero- hierogl- hieroglyphics! Thats it. Hieroglyphics were what ancient Egyptians used to write with.

Suddenly the door flew open. Russell froze with the cat locked in his grasp. A burly watchguard peeped his thick red face around the door.

“I can’t see anything, Bill. Ya must’ve bin hearin’ thin’s again.”

“I swear to ya, Jon! I heard something.” Bill said exasperatedly.

Jon snorted through his bristly beard and slammed the door shut. Russell could hear them arguing as they walked up the hallway. He breathed a silent breath of relief.

All too soon, as we often do.

The last thing that Russell saw was a huge pile of boxes laden with precious objects tumbling through the air toward him.

Then everything went black.

Russell groaned. Where was he? Then it all came flooding back to him.

That’s why his whole body was feeling like it had been sat on by an elephant. Slowly, he cracked open his eyes.

Why was he on the front steps of the museum? It didn’t make any sense! The early morning sun was shining straight into his eyes. It made his head sore.

Russell shook his head. What was that in the window display? The ancient Egyptian cat!

The light seemed to be bouncing off the steps and dancing around his head. I must be concussed from those boxes, he thought, my mind’s going crazy!

He decided to go back to sleep.

“Russell, wake up! Russell!”

Russell opened his eyes.

“Mum…?” he mumbled. “Is it time to go to school?”

“No, silly, it’s Mrs Fry. We’ve been looking all over for you! Where were you!”

Russell looked up at the cat in the window. It was probably just his mind, but he could have sworn that it winked at him.

“Oh, I… I got lost. It’s okay, I just slept in the foyer on one of the big couches. I’m fine.”

“Okay then… If you say so. Anyway, we have to get you back home, your mum’s been worried sick about you!”

Russell sneaked one last good look at the cat and hopped into the car.

And off they went.