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Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Kyle Mewburn’s FABO Story Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, keep writing!!

– Kyle

Kyle’s Story Starter

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

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

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

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

“That’s not much fun, Pip.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archie smiled as if it was a compliment.

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

An ear-shattering shriek split the night.

Pippa and Archie bolted upright.

“What was that?” asked Archie.

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

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

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

Chloe’s Story

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

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

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

And that was when they plunged into terrifying darkness.

‘What do we do now?’ inquired Pippa.

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

‘What was that?’ whispered Archie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indi’s story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the final FABO Competition for 2019 now!

The LAST FABO Story competition for 2019 is here! Author Kyle Mewburn has posted a story starter and 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 September 27th.

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.

7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.

Kyle’s Story Starter

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

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

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

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

“That’s not much fun, Pip.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archie smiled as if it was a compliment.

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

An ear-shattering shriek split the night.

Pippa and Archie bolted upright.

“What was that?” asked Archie.

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

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

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

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Elena’s FABO Story Judge’s Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some superb characters came to life on the page.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Endings:

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

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

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

Special mentions:

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

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

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

The following stories made it into my shortlist:

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

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

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

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

Elena’s Story Starter

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

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

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

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

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

COMET is here!

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

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

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

17:13 local time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kate’s Winning Story

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

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

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

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

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

I waited for a moment until I spoke again.

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

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

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

“Are you Anneke Eva Thompson,”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the new FABO Story competition now!

A new FABO Story competition is here! Author Elena De Roo 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 September 13th.

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.

7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.

Elena De Roo’s Story Starter

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

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

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

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

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

COMET is here!

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

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

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

17:13 local time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Helen Vivienne Fletcher’s FABO Judge’s Report

Gosh! There were so many fantastic stories this fortnight, it’s been a really hard decision whittling them down to a winner. Jodie and Arlo were taken on a huge range of adventures. We had visits to Candyland, the Hall of Daydreams and portals to other universes. There were appearances by unicorn-goats, clones, dinosaurs, werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters, aliens and more. We had happy endings, scary endings, and a few “it was all a dream” endings. Everyone who entered should be really proud of the stories they created.

One thing I’d like to note is that we had several entries where the point of view in the story changed from third person (Jodie/her/she) to first person (I/my/me) and then back again. In most cases, a story should be consistently one or the other. If you were one of the people who switched part way through, don’t worry, I didn’t mark you down for it, but it’s something to look for when proofreading your stories. Remember to read through your work a few times before you send it in, or try reading your story aloud, to make sure you catch any errors like this.

Now on to the top stories.

First up, some honourable mentions. Niamh Murray had some beautiful descriptions in her story and tackled a heavy subject. Bethany from Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School had a really exciting start to the story and some great tension building up – I hope you keep going with this one, Bethany, as it seems like it could be the start of a much longer story. Ella Stewart had strong dialogue and great characterisation – I felt like we really got to know Arlo and Jodie in your story – plus I wouldn’t mind a drop of your speed potion myself! Ria Nielsen’s plot was really unique, with a tiny door in the alleyway, leading to a button that ended the universe. Chloe Hourigan had fantastic world building in her story – I loved the idea of stepping through to a world where dinosaurs had survived. Well done to all of you for your fabulous stories.

But now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The runner up is… Indigo Tomlinson. Indigo’s story had fantastic descriptions, a great beginning middle and end, and a little bit of a moral too. Well done!

And the overall winner… Lucy Kennedy. Lucy’s story had a great mix of description and action. She had natural-sounding dialogue, and her story flowed well with a satisfying conclusion. Congratulations, Lucy!

You can read Lucy’s story below. Indigo and Lucy, check your email for a note from me about your prizes.

Finally, a clarification of one of the competition rules: unfortunately, we can only accept one story per author per fortnight. If you submit multiple stories, we will only be able to judge the first one, so take your time and submit the best story you can. If you’ve got lots of different ideas, that’s okay! You can still write all of them as practice, then send us just your favourite one. Remember, there’s a new story starter each fortnight, and you can enter a story every time, so even though you can only enter one story for each story starter, there are still plenty of chances to be in to win.

Helen

Lucy’s winning story…

Jodie hesitated, would it be dangerous? She glanced back at the track, which was looking more hot, sticky, and uninviting by the second. As Jodie followed Arlo into the cool shade, she noticed that the bright light was retracting slowly towards the end of the passageway. “Umm… Arlo?”, whispered Jodie. She wasn’t sure why, but for some reason she felt like she should whisper in this new, slightly unsettling place. “Yes Jodie?”, said Arlo. “Where are we going?”, she questioned him. “You’ll find out”, he answered. Finally, they reached the end of the alley. There was a tall blue brick wall and it seemed that the light so – bright now it was almost blinding – was pulling itself inside the gaps between the bricks. In the middle of the wall was a dark red wooden door with a golden handle and a little silver nameplate that read:

SICK OF RUNNING?
SICK OF SWEAT?
COME THROUGH THIS DOOR AND DO NOT FRET!

Jodie noticed a small wooden crate next to the door. It was filled with dirt and had a flower in it that looked like a sunflower but was, for some reason, purple. That’s weird, thought Jodie. She decided that she liked it. Then Arlo grabbed the stem of the rare-looking flower and pulled it out of the ground. Jodie was about to protest and yell at him when she noticed two things: one, another flower had already grown in the first one’s place; two, attached to the roots of the flower was a key. Arlo plucked the key from the roots and turned to Jodie. “Are you ready?”, he said. “ Yes”, said Jodie.

Arlo put the key in the door and turned it. The door opened with a satisfying click and they stepped through, onto the other side. Inside was a room that was seemingly made of light and glitter and… magic. Jodie looked at Arlo, scarcely believing what she was seeing, and he grinned at her. “Its crazy, right?”, he said. “Definitely crazy!”, she agreed. He yelled “Come on!”, then ran straight through the wall. Jodie gasped and went up to the wall. She put her hand through the shining golden wall, which, upon touching felt like dust. She shut her eyes tight and stepped through.

Suddenly she was falling, falling so fast, the ground was getting closer and closer, bigger and bigger and then somehow, she slowed. She opened her eyes to see that an assortment of colourful butterflies were carrying her down to the ground! She gasped again, this time out of amazement, and laughed out of shock, relief, and happiness. It was only when her feet touched the ground that she realised where she was. The finish line! So Arlo had known a shortcut… a magical, wonderful, secret one! She raced up to Arlo and smiled. Maybe cross country wasn’t so bad after all…

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

A New FABO Story Starter By Helen Vivienne Fletcher

A new FABO Story competition has started! Author Helen Vivienne Fletcher 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 August 30.

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.

7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.

Helen Vivienne Fletcher’s Story Starter: The Shortcut

“On your marks … Get set … GO!”

Two hundred pairs of feet pounded out of the school gate onto the cross-country track. Jodie had managed to position herself in the middle of the group, but lots of the other kids were overtaking her. Soon she would be at the back, coming last like always.

She started to puff, out of breath already, and she could feel her cheeks turning an embarrassingly bright shade of red.

Oh, how she hated cross country!

It wouldn’t be so bad if there was something interesting to look at, but it was just the same streets and houses she saw every day on the way to and from school.

Jodie wished she could stop for a rest, but teachers lined the course, encouraging everyone to keep running. At least the crowd was thinning out, as more and more students sped off, racing towards the finish line.

Jodie bent down, pretending to tie her shoe, so she could catch her breath. When she stood, she noticed something strange up ahead. One of her classmates, Arlo, had wandered off the racecourse. He glanced around, then ducked between two houses.

Did he know a shortcut?

Jodie checked to make sure none of the teachers were looking, then stepped off the pavement, following Arlo.

There was a narrow alley way running between the houses. How had Jodie never noticed it before? She walked down this street every day. The passageway smelt of mould, and she could hear a repetitive plink, plink, plink noise like water dripping. Jodie couldn’t tell where it was coming from, as the walls of the houses towered above her on either side, blocking out the light.

Jodie stepped forward, peering into the darkness. “Arlo?” she called.

“You shouldn’t have followed me, Jodie.” Arlo’s voice echoed, bouncing off the buildings around them, but she couldn’t see him in the gloom.

Suddenly, the passageway filled with a bright light.

“What is that?” Jodie asked.

Arlo stepped out of the shadows. “Come on. I’ll show you …”

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Suzanne Main’s FABO Judge’s Report!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The runners up were…

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

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

Stella’s Winning Story

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

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

“This is all your fault!” Danny hissed.

“What? How is this my fault?”

“You didn’t give him his food today.”

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

Mum noticed we were home.

“Oh-no!” Danny winced.

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

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

“My pencil case!” Danny butted in.

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

I glared at Danny.

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

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

Danny looked at me. “A portal.”

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

“Don’t go in!” she screamed.

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

Then, we got sucked in.

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

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

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

I almost jumped out of my skin.

“D-dad? “ Danny looked amazed.

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

I stepped away.

“How could you? You left us! “

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

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

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

“You can’t, “ shrugged Dad.

“What???????” We both screamed.

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

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

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

“Ok, that was simple.” Dad muttered

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

“Emily?”

“Mark?”

Mum and Dad hugged each other.

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

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

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