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Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Ready to write? Melinda Szymanik has a new FABO Story Starter!

Another FABO Story competition is here! Author Melinda Szymanik has written a story starter. Now it’s up to you to finish the story.

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

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

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

4. Send your story to us by 8pm Friday June 21st.

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

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

Melinda’s Story Starter: Once, on a Dark and Stormy Night

Every light in the house was on, but the darkness outside still forced its way in through the windows, and past the curtains. Except when lightening blazed jaggedly through the sky, momentarily lighting everything up with a shocking whiteness, like a camera flash.

Sitting in the lounge downstairs, Isabelle counted the seconds between the flare of light and the crash of thunder. Only two. Two measly seconds. The storm was almost right overhead.

Why did they have to live at the end of a long, long driveway? On the very furthest edge of town? Why did both her parents have to go with Jojo? They didn’t want to wait for an ambulance when her little brother fell out of the biggest tree in the backyard. That tree was evil. Isabelle and Jojo both knew it. They never clambered up through its branches, or lay beneath it, even when the shade beckoned them during the hottest summer months. And they both refused to sleep in the middle upstairs bedroom where the branches clawed at the windows, even when there was no breath of wind. Isabelle didn’t even know why Jojo had climbed the tree that afternoon. Or if he even had.

He’d looked so pale lying in the grass, his eyes closed, his body limp.

Dad said, “I’ll drive,” and Mum said, “I’ll sit with him in the back and make sure he’s okay.”

“Don’t worry Isabelle,” Dad said. “I’ll ring Mrs McGreevy and get her to mind you.”

And Isabelle said the words she now deeply regretted and would never forget. “I’m fourteen now. I can mind myself. But call me as soon as you get to the hospital.” She’d smiled bravely then, and waved as the car pulled away, throwing up dust as Dad put his foot down.

Now she was alone in the house at night, with a storm raging all around.

BOOM! An almighty clap of thunder shook the house.

All at once, every single light went off. Everything went dead quiet.

And in the dark Isabelle heard a determined tapping sound coming from upstairs. And then she heard a new sound. A voice. Rasping, and low.

“Let me in.”

Now You Finish The Story…

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Posted in The Winner

FABO Judge’s Report: Kathy White

A cat ban. A mother with a secret. And a phrase – They Are Us.

I’m stunned that you imagined so many different types of stories based on this dilemma. A loved cat’s life could have ended. And how did you respond?

There were over 100 entries in total. You had a lot of ideas, from the mother being half-cat, a were-cat, the hulk, a witch, an ogre, GreenBlood, shapeshifter, secret service agent, alien and just a loving, determined mother who was willing to fight for what is right.

Cats were hidden in the cellar, the attic, a portal and even the planet, Kirilia. Cats were rescued in backpacks. Humans transformed into cats and went to war. Kids scaled parliament walls and blew up parliament, and some simply used the lovable nature of cats to persuade Jacinda Ardern to reconsider her attitude to pests. A few of you even got the government to decide that cats are actually great animals, but dogs should be eradicated instead. What a twist to the story! Rita did a bit of mind-control with mist. Kendall’s trick went horribly wrong, and the mother turned psycho. Ayden said cats were only the start; Humans were next. That was a very sinister thought.

Some of my favourite lines?
It’s almost as if without cats, the world is dying (Edie).
If you knew about this, you would have told everyone because that is just what teenagers do (Alivia).
Finally there was a pop and I became a big, fluffy Birman (Samuel).
“Your mother treats cats like kings and queens” (Katherine).
“Every night your mother creeps out of bed and brings home in the morning, a dead fish” (Harry).
What if it is our job to keep all the cats safe? (Claire)
I returned to my bed with droopy eyes and legs like overcooked spaghetti (Rita).
We are as silent and as swift as snakes (Paige)
“Is Gwandad my Fwankie?” (Chloe)
She is the government (Charlotte).

Great characters and natural dialogue:
Chloe, Ruben, Kyla, Sylvie, and Neisha.

Some of my favourite endings?
Dad also cried a little bit of joyfulness (Michelle).
Craters were scattered everywhere – and there was Frankie, slinking through the variant aliens, releasing a loving mew from her jaws (Niamh).

Maia O’Callaghan had a fabulously clever bitter-twist in her ending. When the police turned up to arrest her mother for being a shape-shifting GreenBlood, Josie gave up Frankie, saying he was her mother.

The Winner

The winner this week is Chloe Morrison-Clarke of Casebrook Intermediate, who wrote a well-balanced and well-paced story with a mix of logic, surprise, and a funny ending. Congratulations, Chloe. You did a fabulous job, but I still want to know what happens to Fwankie AKA Gwandad. Please use the Contact Form on the website to let me know where I can send your prize.

A high five to all of you for entertaining me with your lovely and lively writing this week.

Chloe’s Winning Story

I sucked in my cheeks. A flurry of emotions swirled up in my chest as I mulled over the rather interesting idea that my mother ( who, by the way, recently inflicted untold embarrassment upon her poor, unsuspecting daughter by informing her school principal that her skirt was too short) might actually be hiding a deep, dark secret …

My eyes fell upon Tim, who met my gaze with the same suppressed excitement I felt pumping through my veins. We simultaneously flopped onto the scratched couch and were quiet, eager to hear more.

Dad took a huge breath like he was about to blow up an enormous balloon, snuck a sidelong look at mum, then began.

“The reason we are NOT going to give up Frankie to those … cat killers, is because … Frankie is your grandad.”

“WHAT?” I exclaimed.
“Is Gwandad my Fwankie?” asked Tim, desperately confused.
I snorted.
Dad had obviously lost his marbles.

“Tim, Josie, Your mother is a witch,” he continued.

My freshly plucked eyebrows skyrocketed and I bit back a wide grin.

Mum stared down at the bowl of untouched dinner and I noticed it had gone cold. Tim was staring at the fluffy cat in his arms.

“It happened one day while your Grandad was helping your mum hone her powers. They were working on ‘the ability to transform humans with irreversible spells,’ and your mother, who – while looking sideways at Mum as though hoping to score what parents called ‘brownie-points’ – was always an excellent student, did it first try, though instead of directing it at her beetle… she hit your Grandfather. And er, turned him into a cat.”

I looked down at the striped cat now slinking in and out between Tim’s outstretched arms. I blinked and stared closer. It was just for a brief moment, but I swear and always will; that cat/Grandad smiled.

I was convinced. Why wouldn’t you want to believe your crazy parents telling you that your mum was a witch? Heck, think what that could mean… No more homework… exciting adventures involving changing your family cat back into your Grandad to escape newly imposed ‘Cat Bans… ‘ just punishment for school bullies… There were endless possibilities…

That was the moment I knew that, one, we were going to win the war concerning the definition of the word ‘pest,’ and two, never again would I shove poor Frankie/Grandad out in the cold on Winter mornings.

Later on, I asked Dad what he meant when he said ‘I know who the pests are, and it’s not the cats.” It turns out he was still grumbling about yesterday when he had strolled out to the back lawn to check on his cauliflower garden. He was eager to see if they were ready for the vegetable growing competition.

There were no cauliflowers. Just bits of shredded leaves and six enormous, fat and satisfied looking caterpillars.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Sharpen your pencils for a new FABO Story competition!

Are you ready for another FABO Story competition? Author Kathy White has written a story starter. Now it’s up to you to finish it off.

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

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

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

4. Send your story to us by 8pm Friday June 7th.

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

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

Kathy’s Story Starter: They. Are. US.

The headline on the news said it all. CAT BAN BEGINS.

“The government says the new Cat Eradication law comes into force from the 1st of June,” the newsreader said. “All cats must be surrendered to the Department of Conservation or council office in your closest town before the 1st July. Anyone caught with a cat after that date will pay a $50,000 fine or face five years imprisonment. The War on Pests is ramping up.”

“I know who the pests are, and it’s not the cats,” Dad muttered. He pushed the button on the TV remote. The screen went black and silent.

“They can’t take Fwankie,” Tim sobbed, squeezing Frankie hard against his chest. “Fwankie’s my fwend. My best fwend.” Frankie poked his furry ginger kiss-coloured head out from between Tim’s chubby fingers and smiled at everyone. He clearly didn’t understand his days were numbered.

“What’s wrong with these people?” I asked, pointing at the TV. “Frankie’s part of our family. What makes them think it’s okay to kill our pets?”

Dad gave a deep sigh. “The only difference between a pet and a pest is the letter S,” Dad said. He always comes out with random and profound philosophical statements at times of family stress.

Mum plonked a steaming bowl of spaghetti bolognaise on the table. “Its not okay,” she said, slamming the knives and forks on the table. Her hands were shaking with rage. “Frankie … is … us. Do you understand? It’s not okay.”

I frowned (although I’d plucked my eyebrows so much this afternoon, that no one could tell I was frowning). Mum’s eyes seemed to be glowing in the dim light, and her skin was turning a pale shade of olive green. “Are you … okay, Mum?”

“We love him. We feed him. We worm him. We take him to the vet.” She looked at Dad defiantly, clenching her greening fists, like this was his fault. “He wears a bell so the birds know he’s in the garden. He’s a good cat and this is a BAD law. We’re NOT giving him up.”

Tim climbed off the couch. “We’re not?”

Mum put her hands on her hips. “We’re not.”
She was now as tall and wide as the Eiffel Tower and Tim was dancing around her.

She made me think of that moment in The Lord of the Rings when Gandalf slammed his staff into the ground and bellowed at the balrog “You shall not pass.” It was scary when it was my own mother. I mean, this woman puts gummy bears in my lunchbox.

Dad took a deep breath: “Josie, Tim … there’s something we’ve never told you … about your mother ….”

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Sue Copsey’s FABO Story Report

Excellent work, Fabsters! I have so enjoyed reading your stories and finding out what that “Russian satellite” really was: a dragon (popular choice), an asteroid/meteorite (often containing something sparkly like a crystal or diamonds), a stag (unexpected!), colourful worms (love it), zombies (quite a few of those), an alien spacecraft (top choice), zombie dogs, and … a man-eating sloth (terrifying).

There were more than 120 entries in total. Thank you ALL for using your imaginations to such great effect. As soon as I started reading the winning entry I knew this was the one, but before I share it with you, a few honourable mentions:

Alantis James of Westport South School imagined an ‘Everything Machine’ that produced the perfect breakfast buffet, while Olivia Edhouse of Remuera Primary imagined that the thing that crashed to Earth was the lost Mars Rover, Opportunity.

Hats off to Jep Donaldson of Moanataiari School for turning the story on its head by making the humans the troublemakers with their horrible polluting habits, and the dragon who crashed to Earth just a poor creature trying to protect his home.

Angi Li of Remuera Primary School – you have a great future as a writer of horror stories. I thought your ending was clever.

Jordan Hawkes of Marina View School, your use of descriptive language was great, and your story cracked along at a great pace. Your ending wrapped the story up beautifully. Top marks!

I also loved Matthew’s story (Discovery School) in which lots of versions of himself emerged from the spaceship. Beautifully written, and a great ending too.

Rose Curley of Churchill Park School wrote a bonkers story about a piglet with a unicorn horn and fairy wings. I’m a big fan of bonkers – well done!

Indigo Tomlinson of Whakatane Intermediate – I loved your story, the beginning hooked me in immediately and the ending was satisfying too.

Ava Howard of Beckenham Te Kura O Puroto also demonstrated a lovely use of language, and Isabella from Ellerslie – I loved the twist at the end of your story.

Maia O’Callaghan, the ending to your story made me laugh out loud.

Arwen Dove of Ellerslie School had Disney princesses emerging from the crashed spaceship. I love it when writers mash up themes like that.

A special mention for Treehula Turnull of Ellerslie School for the Star Wars-themed story, especially for the line ‘Although he looks more like a Noah than a Luke’. I was so impressed with this line I tweeted it!

Zara S from Remarkables Primary School wrote this awesome last line to her story: ‘The creature lived happily never after because he was dead.’ (I tweeted that one too!)

Erin from Tighes Hill Public School, some fabulous description in your story. Well done!

And Indi Taylor from Pt Chevalier Primary, your story was a close contender for the winning spot. I liked how you used your senses in your descriptive writing: ‘The aroma of feijoas hung around the substance like a low-hanging cloud.’

And so to the winner! Many congratulations to Niamh Murray from Churton Park School. Your story about astronomer zombies had it all. An intriguing start that hooked me in, well-written in short snappy paragraphs, well punctuated, spelling and grammar all excellent. And that ending! So very clever. Niamh I will email you for your address so that I can send you your prize, and once again well done, I knew your story was the winner as soon as I started reading.

Niamh Murray’s Winning Story

We sidled closer and gazed at a bedroom-sized building that looked like a white globe, with silver letters inscribed on it: ASTRONOMER GRAVEYARD. A shimmering golden door hung below the words, and without thinking twice we barged through.

Limp, lifeless bodies lay all around the room, with somehow familiar names embroidered on their flowing academic gowns. Then, to our horror, they slowly stirred and murmured monstrous language, their eyes rolling uncontrollably in their clammy heads. They stretched their arms toward us, and one – labelled: GALILEO – tossed a green bottle toward us. Shocked, I unscrewed the cork hesitantly and read the letters inscribed in black, spidery ink on the parchment inside, ‘I have cloned the dead astronomers! – Vera Rubin.’

We observed the swarm of astronomer zombies as they towered over us intimidatingly. They trotted outside, their eyes darting up many a time to the crescent moon, while we attempted frantically to herd them back.

We barely glanced at each other, too focused on the zombies, who advanced toward a log cottage, and we buried our faces in our sweating palms, pacing around and waiting for the zombies to enter. A moment later we heard a muffled scream, and a lady with round glasses burst through the door, but pulled to an abrupt halt when she saw us.

‘I’m Vera Rubin,’ she sobbed. ‘The one who cloned them. Sorry, I didn’t mean for them to come to Earth…’

We gripped her trembling hand, and she led us to a white hall, oodles of zombies following.

‘The Wellington Authorities… live here, with me, coz they… my friends,’ she panted, and tapped her knuckles against the polished door. A moment later there was a commotion and a troop of authorities bustled into the night, where they turned a deathly, ghastly white, and gaped at the oncoming assault of clones, some dropping into unconsciousness.

People were scattered in various places, hurling things toward the zombies, but the zombies only made deafening, satisfied chuckles.

Then one authority, Officer Matt, sighted a glimmer of hope.

‘Astronomers hate magic things,’ he muttered. ‘They like scientific theories. I have “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”, which is a book to do with magic, and if I throw it at ‘em I bet they’ll go back.’

So he braced himself, and catapulted the faded book into the jet-black sky.

As hoped, the hideous beasts fled back to the mystical object they had come from, letting out high-pitched screams, and the authorities slammed the door firmly.

‘Connor,’ hissed Officer Matt to me, ‘Here are the keys to my police car, which is parked there on the driveway of the hall. Get the gun and shoot the… you know, the thing the zombies came out of.’

The resounding BANG boomed around the district while the vibrant moon and radiant stars hung in the sky.

The next day, many folks claimed that a gunshot had echoed through the suburbs at exactly 3:42 in the morning. But that is a secret.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

A New Fabo Story Competition Is Here!

A new FABO Story Competition is here!

Author Sue Copsey has written a story starter. Finishing the story is up to you!

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

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

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

4. Send your story to us by 8pm Friday May 24th.

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

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

Sue’s Story Starter

Did you see that story in the news back in January, about the meteorite or broken Russian satellite or whatever it was that loads of people in New Zealand saw? What do you think it was? Most people seemed to swallow the Russian satellite story – they got scientists to say that was what it was. THEY being the people who wanted to keep the truth a secret. The Authorities. I bet they paid that Auckland University physics professor to say it was a Russian satellite.

Me and my friend Archie know what it REALLY was. Because we were there when it landed.

We were at a campsite on the East Coast, and we’d been playing football on the beach. It was about nine o’clock at night, and everyone else had gone back to their tents. Me and Archie were just leaving when it appeared in the sky – a really bright light with a long tail. It flew straight for a while, then it dipped towards the earth. It came pretty close to where we were. It disappeared behind some trees, and then we heard this dull thud, and the ground shook a little. We set off running for those trees, and soon saw a column of grey smoke, so we made our way over to that and … wow. You wouldn’t BELIEVE what we found!

Now You Finish The Story…

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 Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the first FABO Story Competition for 2019!

Are you ready for the first FABO Story Competition of 2019?

Author Maureen Crisp has written a story starter. Finishing the story is up to you!

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

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

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

4. Send your story to us by 8pm Friday May 10th.

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

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

Maureen’s Story Starter

The class trip had started off badly when Jody fell in the water getting off the boat. Everybody had laughed. But he did look funny as he clambered out of the water onto the sand. Byron fished his bag out of the sea. ‘Lucky we’re only here for a day,’ he said handing the dripping bag over to Jody.

Jody squelched along behind us on the island trail. We were trying our best to be quiet so that the birds we had come to see would come closer. Everytime a bird swooped down there was a squelch from Jody’s shoes and it flew away again. You could see Mrs Fraser was trying not to get angry at Jody.

When we came to a clearing Mrs Fraser asked us to sit quietly and maybe the birds would come to us. Jody sat on a rock and opened his schoolbag. He pulled out his Aquaman lunchbox which was full of water and tipped his soggy sandwiches on the ground. We all sat in a circle trying to be quiet and feeling sorry for Jody. But he ended up having the best day ever and the island trip became a school legend.

The bush surrounding us was cool and dark and shady from the hot sun. In the distance we could hear a weird cry. We looked at each other, wondering what type of bird made such a cry. Mrs Fraser looked excited and put her finger to her lips. The sound came closer…

Now it’s up to you to finish the story!