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Posted in Poetry, The Winners!

FABO Poetry Challenge report by Melinda Szymanik and Elena de Roo

Melinda Szymanik’s Report and Winners

Crikey! We had a fantastic response to the Poetry Challenge we set. Not just a terrific number of entries but of a very high quality as well. You are a talented bunch of poets! As we had close to 200 entries we decided to divide them in half between us and I judged the first 93. Here is what I thought.

Wowsers, what wonderful wordsmiths you all are. I laughed, I cried, I gasped. Some of you wrote thoughtful clever poems, some of you wrote heartfelt laments, and some of you wrote funny twisty poems. I found it really, really hard to pick. I thought many of your poems were very good.

In no particular order I especially enjoyed the poems written by Mia Holtom from Epsom Normal Primary, and Sienna Brits and Emily Fotheringham, both from Balmacewen Intermediate. Also poems by Phoebe Smith from A.G.E. (The Bench in the Corner), Eliana Gibbons from Fendalton Open Air (Swirls of Rainbows), and Lincey Jiang from West Park School with her clever limerick. Poems by Rose-Lynn Wen and Claytin Su, both from Epsom Normal Primary, Natalia from St Joseph’s Catholic School in Takapuna, Reka Lipoth and Clare Hourigan (with another limerick) both from Carmel College, and Vicki Murdoch from Point Chevalier Primary. And William Kelly of Brooklyn Primary, and Violetta Dacre, Lillie Walsh, Anika Makle, Hazel Hall, Lily Fowler (with a great environmental message) and Alice McDonald (The Feathered Saviour) all from Selwyn House School also impressed me with their poems.

My runner up was Amadeia from Kaurilands Primary with her poem ‘The Beach.’ I particularly liked the ending:

And the shells that washed ashore,
Are pulled back into the sea
Like a mother taking care of her babies.

My junior winner, with her poem ‘The Hedgehog in My Basket,’ is Holly Delilah Brown, 8, from Westmere Primary. This poem shows good control of the rhythm and rhyme, humour, and a well-structured idea. There is some lovely language, and technique shown. Great work Holly.

The Hedgehog In My Basket

On one Sunday morning,
I heard the rooster shout,
I was lying in my bed when I thought
I might as well get out!

I slipped my fluffy slippers on
And went to check the time,
My finger lifted my peeper lid
But slipped and poked my eye!

I went to do my washing
But the machine was already full,
I put the clothes in a basket
Then out I saw it crawl!

That little snout was the first thing out
Then the spiky ball,
It paused when it saw me and then before me,
It positioned against the wall!

But a leg was lagging, the tiny foot dragging
So I took him to the vet,
And never has anyone in the world
Had such a lovely pet!

And my senior winner is Sam Smith, 13 from Awakeri Primary School. I love the repeating yet varying refrain of ‘the clouds began to cry’. I love the language – ‘tussock twisted sharp as bone’ … ‘The horizon burnt with autumn’ and ‘The moon disappeared with a sigh’. This poem feels epic and yet also personal – well done Sam.

The sea withered below me,
I fell as far as the sky,
The tussock twisted sharp as bone,
And the clouds began to cry,

The horizon burnt with autumn,
A treasure to the eye,
A landscape picturesque,
Til’ the clouds began to cry,

The trees rose tall and mighty,
The moon disappeared with a sigh,
Awakened was our silent sun,
Then the clouds began to cry,

Opened were the heavens,
And forever your peace may fly,
Tears were rolling down my cheeks,
As my clouds began to cry.

Elena de Roo’s Report and Winner

I read the last 93 poems to come in and I too was blown away by the wide range of imaginative and accomplished poems you entered. Some made me laugh, some made me cry and some transported me with their beautiful imagery. Others rolled off the tongue or delighted me with their perfect simplicity.

Also in no particular order, here are some of the poems that stood out for various reasons:

Best last line from Puffin in the Storm by Trelise McEwan (Selwyn House School) “I catch my lunch from the lulling sea.”

Other noteworthy last lines: Saskia Fitzgerald (St Andrew’s Preparatory) “Tick tock tick tock, the hedgehog runs up the grandfather clock!” and from Aneel Bartlett (St Andrew’s College) “Hedgehog, Oh hedgehog, don’t get squashed!”

Best titles:

Lingering Lollipop Lines – Maddy (Paparangi School). I love the way your whole poem skips along with alliterative energy. You use some great metaphors to describe the lollipops in your poem too, like “twisty serpents” and “eye popping snails”

A Place to Sleep – Juliet Grey (Selwyn House School). I like the way the title adds to the poem , also that you never tell us directly the what the subject of your poem is, leaving us to guess from clues – “sand dune sized blanket,” “spiky barricade” and “wrinkles of light pink flesh.”

Best structured poems: Chelsea Brown (Carmel School) who wrote a reverse poem with a thought provoking environmental message. Also Grace Plummer (St Mary’s College) and Lachie Hackston (Fendalton school) who both used a repeated structure, slightly changing it each time, to build up to some excellent last lines.

Best similes: Cy Finnemore (Epsom Normal Primary School) Up in the tree tops – reading your poem I can really picture the sights, smells and sounds of the jungle – “Emerald treetops like bunches of parsley” “Muddy rivers looping around the forest like jungle vines” “Leaves sway side to side like a hip hop dancer”

Best beginning: Maanvir Chawla (Papatoetoe Central) – “I swallowed a cloud, When I wasn’t allowed”

Excellent Rhythm and rhyme:
Hannah Howis (Fendalton Open Air School) Puffin Lunch – great opening lines where rhythm and rhyme come together to create a sense of movement, “Swooping and swerving come puffins in twos, screeching and squawking out of the blue”

Sam Smith (Awakeri Primary School) Up in the treetops – near perfect rhythm and rhyme create a musical poem that sings.

Prompts:
Ariana Kralicek (Balmoral School) – I like the way you’ve taken the alliteration of the prompt and run with it, especially the line “Now, nicely nick a nit from your cousin’s scalp,” and also the way you’ve played around with the shape of your poem to match the words.

Mia Douglas (Selwyn House School) – “Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! Frail rocks crumble under my feet”

Emma Van Schalkwyk (Selwyn House School) – The Song of the Moon – “I swallowed a cloud as I was lifted gently through the setting sky.”

There were so many excellent poems it was very hard to choose a winner. I read them all and then left it for a few days to see which ones lingered in my mind.

Special Mentions:

Maddix Smith (St Clair) – for a clever poem that made me laugh out loud.

Sivakami S (Selwyn College) – the magical images in your poem spirited me away to another world.

Trelise McEwan (Selwyn House School) – Puffin’s Lunch paints a beautifully vivid picture of a seabird diving for a fish.

Runner Up:

Lillie Walsh (Selwyn House School) – your powerful poem about home sickness spoke from the heart and really touched me.

Winner:

Hedgehog by Vitek Mencl (Ilam School) – was a tiny but perfectly formed poem. It had a lovely flow and rhythm to the words, an unexpected last line, and the image it made in my mind stayed with me. Congratulations Vitek!

Hedgehog

Around the corner
in my bedroom
a hedgehog
is sleeping
so hard
he dreams
of being on the beach.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

FABO Story Report for competition 12 judged by Kathy White

Thanks to everyone who sent me a story in the My Life as a Roach competition. This story starter made you step out of your own skin and pull on an exoskeleton – and you did it with a huge dose of enthusiasm.

Your stories displayed all the great elements of storytelling – heroes, villains, conflict, love and loss, kindness and even a little redemption. Plus a lot of lemon curd, which is good in any story 😄. You also invented some magnificent characters – the burglar and the cockroach army (William), Jazzy the Poodle (Alexa), the Bug-Sucker-Upper (Evelyn), Hurricane Charlotte (Olivia), a murderous Cairns Birdwing Butterfly (Grace), Dr Roach von Trap (Nina) and an aerobatic cockroach (Sayu).

Another thing I loved was your HUMOUR. Here are some moments that made me smile.

(Ysabelle wrote) Squinting, I try to remember if she mentioned meeting up with a male relative or friend today, when I realise they all passed in the Dishwasher Incident of November 2019. Rest in pieces, guys.

(Evelyn) But the lemon curd! Oh snap out of it you fool, roomba wants to abduct you and take you into the beyond.

(Alina) I do a little poop. It’s a very nice present for the boy with the fly-swatter.

(Blake) A pair of mint green undies with brown stains were lying in the hallway. Mmmm, chocolate.

(William, referring to a door) It swings open and I slam-dunk the trophy upon the large white flushable object, where many a good cockroach has been lost in the murky brown water.

Heh, heh, heh.

Another thing I love to see in stories is natural-sounding DIALOGUE. It always makes a story come alive.

Marcus hit the nail on the head with his thoughts, dialogue, and action combo.

“Jane!” he shouts. “There’s a blimmin’ cockroach next to you!”
The woman wakes up and says
“Huh?”
“Roach! There!” he repeats, pointing at me.
She whips around and stares at me like I’m a bug. Which I am. Then she screams so loud I nearly go deaf. I’m not scary. I’m just a cockroach. We roaches don’t scream when we see humans-with their hairy heads, hairless arms, and ugly, pink-
WHACK! WHACK!

A lot of you worked hard on your IMAGERY, choosing descriptive words and sounds that help the reader to visualise people, places, and things.

William did this with his description of a bathroom door, which was a huge obstacle for a tiny cockroach.
It stands like a tall sentinel, strong like a giant redwood.

(And from Indigo) There is a pneumatic hiss from behind me, and I scuttle under the couch cushions, catching a glimpse of humongous sagging jowls and rubbery lips as a can emblazoned with the words: Cockroach Killer appears in my field of vision.

THE TWIST
All stories need something surprising, something unexpected. Sometimes that comes in the whole idea, as it did when William turned his cockroaches into an army of heroes, battling a burglar. Sometimes that comes when a cockroach’s romantic dreams are shattered (Ysabelle) and sometimes, when it seems that all hope is lost, it comes in the form of a kind young girl’s ability to see a cockroach as something beautiful and wondrous (Indigo).

Suddenly a small hand scoops me up.
“Got it Dad!” a high-pitched voice calls,
“Kill the darned thing!” comes the growly voice. Kill me? KILL ME! I think not! I begin to squirm, kicking my legs in a pitiful attempt to escape the clutches of the child.
“Yes Dad.” But the girl does no such thing. She gently carries me to the pot drawer, and deposits me next to a quivering Lucinda. “There you go little cockroach. Safe and sound.” I am SAVED! SAVED! Hallelujah! She giggles and strokes my shell, “You’re pretty.” See! See! It’s not just Lucinda! I truly am a very attractive cockroach! She leaves after that, but the next day, I find a dollop of lemon curd especially for me, smeared on the handle of the pot drawer.

Compassion is a beautiful thing. That ending moved me. I even started to see Gisborne cockroaches in a new light after reading stories like these, and although I’d still prefer it if they stayed in the shed and compost rather than sneaking in through the old and worn cracks in my wooden French doors, I promise you that I will catch-and-release them outside in future.

MY SHORTLIST
I whittled my longlist down to three writers who ticked all the boxes – William Kelly, Ysabelle C and Indigo Tomlinson. All three understood the personality of the main character, but they still managed to use their own writing style to make him come to life. They had action sequences, great dialogue, and a plot with a twist. The story was well balanced from beginning to end, and they used the story starter well. There was nothing missing.

Our junior prize winner is William, and our senior prize winner is Ysabelle (with Indigo highly commended). I’d like to congratulate you and thank you all for entertaining us with your stories throughout the year.

This is what DAVID HILL, author of numerous Puffin books for children, said about your stories.

William – “A brisk and lively story, with clever use of questions and doubts to keep the reader involved. I like William’s use of inventive humour through the events, and his clever wordplay. Nice mixture of thoughts and events, so we meet both the internal and external worlds.”

Ysabelle and Indigo – “I found it hard to separate the stories by Ysabelle and Indigo. Both are very talented writers, who I hope continue to enter competitions during their high school years. I enjoyed Indigo’s pace and inventiveness, her technical skills and her cockroach heroine! In the end, I’ve picked Ysabelle, for her excellent use of dialogue (a great tool for authors); the sustained speed and clarity of her story; the nice sly humour, and the very effective build-up to the amusing climax. I’ll also note that her use of different-sized paragraphs which make her story LOOK interesting on the page is a useful technique.”

For those who thought FaBo was over for 2020, we are responding to a plea from fabo fans, and we are doing one last poetry challenge. So keep writing. Believe in yourself. There is nothing better than a good story (or poem).

Much love

Kathy

Kathy’s Story Starter: My Life as a Roach


You cringed when you read that, didn’t you? It’s okay. We Gisborne cockroaches have broad shoulders. I can handle disdain. Negative thoughts bounce off me like … crikey, is that child with the fly-swat running towards ME?

Time to drop into the trenches. Fortunately I have a bit of pizza down here, wedged between the floorboards. A rather posh thin-crust one with blue cheese, pear and walnuts. My sweetheart Lucinda would love to get her gnashers stuck into this, but she’s over there hiding in the pot cupboard with the pots, and I’m here hiding in the floorboards with the pizza. What a dilemma. Crunch crunch nom nom nom crunch crunch, belch.

I poke my antennae up to see if the coast is clear. Last week, the demon cat with the dirty ginger coat ripped every single hairy leg off my cousin Dennis and then used him as a tooth-pick. That was not a good day.

And the next day my Aunt Helga got caught up in the towels and ended up as confetti after an extra-hot spin in the clothes-drier.

Life is a battlefield. No doubt. I think someone even wrote a song about it. But I mustn’t get downhearted. I will find sweeties to take back to my lovely Lucinda.

The house-owner is asleep on the couch, cavernous mouth open, doing the most epic snoring. Is that doughnut cream I spy on her chin? And is that … oh my goodness, it’s LEMON CURD. My joy is unbounded!

Just call me Robo Roach! I’m off up the wall and running along the back of the couch as fast as you can say Drymaplaneta semivitta or Spheniscidae.

The smell is divine, but I can sense something else. Danger with a capital D.

JUNIOR WINNER

William Kelly, age 8, Brooklyn Primary

There is a loud rumble, a gargantuan smash and then a thump. I had better investigate… whatever made that noise might hurt Lucinda, right?

As I scuttle back into the other room, I look for clues. What could the sound mean… fly swat kid? No, it’s staring at a screen. A spider invasion? No, spiders are too sneaky. The postman? No, posties are too friendly. What’s that?

Crouching under the window is a human: tall, thin and dressed all in black. Wait, I’ve heard about these – they are dangerous, devious and devilish. The three Ds. This is a burglar.

Maybe I can distract it and trap it in the bathroom, well it’s worth a try. What do humans like? ah yes, SHINY STUFF! I head straight for the house-owner’s Cross-Country trophy which glistens like one thousand stars. No sign of speed today, just snoring! I can hardly move it but then it is huge, brass and heavy and I AM a cockroach.

Eventually after what seems like years of endless suffering I reach the bathroom door. It stands like a tall sentinel, strong like a giant redwood. It’s the only thing between the bathroom and me.

“Right, door, we can do this the easy way or the hard way” I shout as I battle-ram the door…. Splat! Well that was NOT a good idea, let’s do it the easy way and before you can say Formidulosus Ruptor I scuttle up and turn the door handle. It swings open and I slam-dunk the trophy upon the large white flushable object, where many a good cockroach has been lost in the murky brown water.

Surely the human must see it. Now let’s hide. Here he comes….

With a swift leg manoeuvre the bathroom door slams shut and I slide the lock across. WHAM! Trapped!

What shall I do now?

My Plan: I will set my friends on him; I suck in my thorax and then squat. … Paaaaaaarrrrrppppp – Ahhhhh, the ancient cockroach tradition of the call of the foghorn. The waft of blue cheese pizza mixed with an extra serving of cold baked beans summons the Brown Coats. Do you know what this means? War! An intrusion of gnarly, reddish brown cockroaches appear from every nook, cranny, floorboard and even the cupboard under the stairs.

My Orders: Defeat the human. The platoons march, ten by ten, through the gap under the door, their armoured exoskeletons clinking as they pass, antennae to the ready. I hear the human scream, the door opens, and it runs out, purple-faced with eyes boggling, and flees the house.

Slowly my army disperses; soon they have vanished entirely. Hidden from view, their work done. The house-owner stirs, grunts and then the gentle hum of snoring starts up again.

It’s been a long day, Lucinda is safe, and I think you will all agree I’ve earned a reward… So if you want to find me I will be on the chin, having a tasty refreshment.

Slurp!

SENIOR WINNER

Ysabelle C, age 13, Baradene College

In fact, danger spelt in all caps. Landing on the epic snorer’s cheek, I scour the area for any potential enemies, ones that could kill me or take my food or both. (Which, by the way, happened to Great Aunt Mary, who was ambushed in the Pizza Hut Box. I vow to never try fresh pizza.)

But I digress. This battlefield has no place for tangents. Lucinda is counting on me, and I’m planning to use that lemon curd for dessert when I propose to her this evening. It’s a shame I haven’t got a ring more splendid than the one Robert got for Tina. That stinky roach manages to upstage me in everything!

Yet I digress. Again.

Suddenly, something shifts. I need to act fast. I take quick leaps up to her chin, where I scoop up the curd and escape without a hitch. Taking a quick taste of the cream, I deem it perfect for the evening and tuck it away. But there’s still danger- no, wait, Danger- hang on, DANGER lurking, biding its time in the shadows instead of roaching up and facing me. Then I feel a featherlight touch brush my back. Whipping around, I ready myself for an ambush.
“GAHAHAHAHAHA!! I CAUGHT YOU I CAUGHT YOU I-”

A lone dust bunny sadly drifts back under the couch. Must be sad it’s single.

Still on red alert, I travel to the pot cupboard. Carefully I avoid the child, who is engrossed in drawing some ghastly portrait of their equally ghastly cat. Entering the cupboard, I flash a grin to Stuart and Ricky, who wave from their pop-up cafe, then I make my way to lovely Lucinda.

“Lulu!” I greet her. Then I see it.

She’s sitting with a man. Squinting, I try to remember if she mentioned meeting up with a male relative or friend today, when I realise they all passed in the Dishwasher Incident of November 2019. Rest in pieces, guys.

“Quentin!” she says, getting to her feet. “How was your day?” I notice her strained smile.

“I got us dessert for tonight,” I test, seeking a reaction from the guy. Sure enough, his face goes blank.

“That’s fantastic, I’m excited about our dinner,” she says. I note the absence of any excitement and open my mouth when-

“Do I know you?” says the guy-roach finally. “Cindy, who is this?”

Lucinda’s tight smile grows even tighter. Something clicks. Is this the danger I felt?
“Who is he, Lucinda?” I ask.

“Cindy, why’s he asking you who I am? Obviously, I’m your boyfriend.”

The world stops.

“Boyfriend?”

“Quentin,” Lucinda says softly.

That’s it. “I don’t want to hear it. Here’s the dessert-” I dump the cream onto her- “and here’s the ring-” I gently place it on top of the cream- “and here’s goodbye.” With a slam, I leave the cupboard.

I find myself moping under the couch. While I sit (and cry, but don’t tell anyone), I notice the dust bunnies travelling to the exits. Suddenly, I’m being sucked towards the light with them. Sigh. Us Gisborne roaches can never catch a break. Not even after a break-up.

Posted in Enter Now

Enter the Pop-up Poetry Challenge with Elena de Roo and Melinda Szymanik now!

There’s a fun new competition to enter on the FABO website!

Pop-up Poetry Challenge

With Elena de Roo and Melinda Szymanik

Using any of the starters below, or one of the pictures as inspiration, write a poem no longer than 25 lines. (It can be as short as you want). It’s okay to be inspired by a picture and use one of the starters.

Have fun – there are no rules in poetry! Your poems don’t have to rhyme but they can if you want them to. They don’t have to tell a story or even make sense, unless you want them to. You can have long lines or lines that are just one word or something in the middle. You can even make up new words just because they sound good.

Read your poem out loud — listen to the words and the rhythm they make. How does your poem make you feel? What shape does your poem make on the page?


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

Send your poem to us by 7pm Friday August 28th (NZ time).

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

Here are some poetry prompts to get you started on your poem – they could be the title, the first line, the last line or somewhere in the middle.

• Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!
• Up in the tree-tops
• I swallowed a cloud
• Silent as a supernova
• Around the corner
• It smelled like old socks
• Prickles, pickles, pumpernickel
• I fell as far as the sky

You must:
1. EITHER use one of the poetry prompt lines somewhere in your poem,
2. OR write a poem using one of the pictures on this page as inspiration.
3. OR you can use BOTH a poetry prompt line and a picture to inspire you.

Send Us Your Poem on the FABO Website

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 11 judged by Melinda Szymanik

Well, that was a wild and crazy ride. There were 58 entries and so many dinosaurs and skeletons, and ‘it was all a dream’s, it was incredible!!

Some stories kind of forgot about the story starter and went off in totally unrelated directions. Some of you forgot to check your stories for spelling mistakes. Some of you had one big chunk of writing instead of dividing your story into paragraphs. These made some stories a challenge to read. It is really worth fixing these issues before pressing send.

But there was also a lot to like. I loved this descriptive line in Cathy Zhang’s (Campbell’s Bay School) story – “This farm’s too quiet, I could almost hear my blood running through my veins.” This one from Indigo Tomlinson (Whakatane Intermediate) – The girls suddenly became aware of an ominous yet discordant ticking, like a group of old ladies all knitting at once. And this one – “If mum was here, she would have found it in an instant” added Isla. They both laughed – from Siena Hays (Campbell’s Bay School). Mothers are indeed famous for finding things when no one else can. I loved the name William Kelly (Brooklyn Primary in Wellington) came up with for the bone whistle – a bazoothesizer!

I really enjoyed this last bit in Vicki Murdoch’s story (Point Chevalier Primary), which made the most of Willow’s comments in the starter –

“Willow. You were so rude to me, and made me feel insecure in myself. Although I wasn’t the prettiest person ever, does that matter? No! I don’t accept your apology.” Willow’s crying features hardened immediately.

“You…” she seethed defiantly. But Isla was having none of it.

“Goodbye. And it’s foraging, NOT fossicking.”

And I laughed out loud at Jessica Alexander’s opening line (Matamata Intermediate) – “Maybe if we ignore the problem it will go away?” Willow said in a shaky voice. If only!

Some writers came up with surprising and entertaining reasons for why the bone whistle changed everything, including Michael Jackson and the song Thriller in one case ( Elena Louise McCrossan from Berkley Normal Middle School), and penguins in another (Yuki Nishimura from Campbell’s Bay School). Grace Downie (Clearview Primary) did some great work continuing to develop the characters of Isla and Willow, building on the story starter. Taylor Goddard’s story (Lincoln Primary) created a new riff on Greek mythology involving Apollo and Orpheus. I enjoyed the stories written by Lyndey Jiang (West Park School), and William Kelly (Brooklyn Primary), and the twist at the end of Carys Silva’s story was chilling (Stonefield’s School). Vanessa Leong (Remuera Primary) drew on Alice in Wonderland in an interesting way for her story, and Indigo Tomlinson (Whakatane Intermediate) wrote a beautifully crafted Dali-esque tale.

It was difficult to pick a winner. A bunch of stories had fun clever ideas that I really liked. There was some wonderful strong writing. There were some cool twists. But these didn’t always occur in the same entry. Ultimately though, I loved mythology when I was at primary school myself, and the one story that stood out to me as having an interesting idea based on the starter, a well thought through story structure, and good writing was the entry from Taylor Goddard (Lincoln Primary). Congratulations Taylor!!

Our guest Penguin author, Chris Mousdale, award winning illustrator of picture book, Brodie and writer of the novel, A Place of Stone and Darkness, had this to say:

Some lovely words to roll around the mouth: “Fossicking”, “Foraging”, “Galumphed”. Melinda’s story starter begins with the mundane and ordinary; a day out, playing in the woods. But – as is so often the case – from play comes the unexpected and the extraordinary.

Taylor installs a cast of Greek monsters and demons and we’re instantly amongst them. There’s a chase and nail-biting action. Our protagonists are in a tight spot – how will they react? The two girls fall back on their education. Knowing who Apollo was and what he represented they formulate a plan – to communicate, in a language the enemy will understand.

In this case the language is music and, to paraphrase Congreve, “the savage breast is soothed”.

Taylor’s story is brisk with an exciting momentum. The music is evoked with a water simile: it “flowed over them…like a stream bubbling in a forest,” bringing us along for the action with the characters, then delivering us back home, safe in a peaceful resolution.

The dialogue is truthful, the interaction between Willow and Isla well observed. This is good writing – a story based on truthful character allows us to travel into far-fetched and fantastic worlds and to believe them.

Melinda’s Story Starter: The Wrong Note

Willow and Isla had been mucking around in the woods on the hill above their town all day.

Willow called it fossicking.

Isla called it foraging.

“It’s only foraging if we can eat it,” said Willow.

“Humph,” Isla replied.

“This is definitely a fossick,” Willow went on, holding up the bone she’d just pulled from a hole at the base of a tree trunk.

“That’s disgusting,” Isla said.

“It’s NOT!” Willow insisted. “It’s super old. It probably hasn’t been alive for like a hundred years. I mean look at it.”

They both peered at the bone, almost like a shin but not quite.

“There are holes in it,” breathed Willow. And before either of them could think, she raised the bone to her mouth and blew in to the largest hole at the top. A single long note.

The noise was sweeter and deeper than they expected. A shiver crawled down their spines. The ground seemed to hiccup, the sunlight swelling in a terrible, brilliant way, and then everything was normal again. Nearly.

“I think we should go home,” Isla said.

“Yes, lets,” Willow agreed. She let the bone drop to the ground.

They held hands as they galumphed down the path between the trees, hopping over the twisty vines and slippery rocks in their way. They emerged out of the bush near the bottom of the hill, just as the sun began to pull the horizon up over itself.

“My goodness!” Willow gasped.

“Oh Willow, what did you do?!” Isla squeaked, her eyes wide at the sight before them.

Where had everybody gone? And what were those frightening things that had taken their place?

Taylor Goddard’s Story

Terrifying creatures replaced the humans. One looked like a dragon, except it had thousands of necks leading to heads that spewed poison. Others looked like demons with flames for hair and blood-red eyes that seemed to whisper “death, horror and despair.” Thousands of the creatures were too horrible to describe. Isla stared at them, her eyes wide with terror.

“Those,” she said her voice trembling, “are from Greek mythology.”

“Don’t be crazy,” Willow whispered.

“YOU DARE PLAY MY INSTRUMENT?!” A voice boomed.

There was a blinding flash of light and a figure appeared, it towered over them, casting shadows across the fields.

“I SPENT YEARS TRYING TO FIND THE RIGHT BONE TO CRAFT THAT INSTRUMENT AND TWO MORTALS COME AND TRY IT! YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS, YOU WILL SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IN FEAR OF THE CREATURES FROM TARTARUS!”

In a flash, the figure was gone. Willow and Isla had no time to contemplate what happened, a monster that was half man and half bull had noticed their presence. The creature roared and charged at them.

“RUN!!!” Willow screamed.

They sprinted away, they knew they wouldn’t outrun the monster, then Willow had an idea.

“The tree!” Willow pointed to a large, old eucalyptus.

Isla reached it first, she scrambled up it, grabbing onto bits of bark that sometimes ripped off under her weight. Willow came after her, she could hear the monster’s feet thudding heavily against the ground. Isla grabbed onto a branch, pulled herself onto it then bent down to help Willow. Suddenly, the tree shook, Isla looked past Willow and saw the creature ramming its horns into the tree and roaring up at them. Finally Willow was beside Isla, they were both breathing in small, difficult gasps.

“That… was too… close,” Willow panted.

All Isla could do to reply was nod.

The girls waited for the monster to leave.

“That was Apollo,” Isla said.

“Don’t be silly.”

“It was.”

They were silent for a while, finally the monster lost interest and left.

“How do we escape this… whatever this place is,” Willow said quietly.

“I don’t know, Apollo is the god of music right?”

Willow nodded.

“When Orpheus played Apollo’s lyre, Apollo was going to punish him.”

“But he didn’t,” Willow smiled, remembering the story of how the musician got his lyre, “because Orpheus played so beautifully, Apollo spared him, and gave him his lyre.”

“Exactly,” Isla said.

“So you want me to play that instrument? What if it makes Apollo angrier?”

“D’you have a better idea?”

“Well… no.”

So Isla and Willow timidly got down from the eucalyptus and found their way to the instrument. Willow picked it up and put one of the holes to her lips, she gently blew out and music flowed over them. It sounded like a stream bubbling in a forest, and made them feel like they were in a sunlit field of flowers. Willow started to play and after a few minutes Apollo appeared and listened. When Willow was finished Apollo sighed,

“Keep it.” He smiled and nodded at the instrument, “I can make another one someday. You can go home now.”

The ground shuddered and the world was normal again. Isla fell down to the ground, exhausted. Willow smiled then continued to play her new instrument.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the FINAL FABO competition for 2020 now!

The twelfth FABO Story competition is the FINAL COMPETITION for this year! It will be judged by author Kathy White.

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

2. We prefer your story to be 500 words or less (not including the story starter). Stories over 550 words will be disqualified.

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 7pm Friday August 14th (NZ time).

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

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

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

8. The winner will receive a Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!

*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.

Kathy’s Story Starter: My Life as a Roach


You cringed when you read that, didn’t you? It’s okay. We Gisborne cockroaches have broad shoulders. I can handle disdain. Negative thoughts bounce off me like … crikey, is that child with the fly-swat running towards ME?

Time to drop into the trenches. Fortunately I have a bit of pizza down here, wedged between the floorboards. A rather posh thin-crust one with blue cheese, pear and walnuts. My sweetheart Lucinda would love to get her gnashers stuck into this, but she’s over there hiding in the pot cupboard with the pots, and I’m here hiding in the floorboards with the pizza. What a dilemma. Crunch crunch nom nom nom crunch crunch, belch.

I poke my antennae up to see if the coast is clear. Last week, the demon cat with the dirty ginger coat ripped every single hairy leg off my cousin Dennis and then used him as a tooth-pick. That was not a good day.

And the next day my Aunt Helga got caught up in the towels and ended up as confetti after an extra-hot spin in the clothes-drier.

Life is a battlefield. No doubt. I think someone even wrote a song about it. But I mustn’t get downhearted. I will find sweeties to take back to my lovely Lucinda.

The house-owner is asleep on the couch, cavernous mouth open, doing the most epic snoring. Is that doughnut cream I spy on her chin? And is that … oh my goodness, it’s LEMON CURD. My joy is unbounded!

Just call me Robo Roach! I’m off up the wall and running along the back of the couch as fast as you can say Drymaplaneta semivitta or Spheniscidae.

The smell is divine, but I can sense something else. Danger with a capital D.

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the 11th FABO Story competition!

The eleventh FABO Story competition will be judged by author Melinda Szymanik. Enter below!

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

2. We prefer your story to be 500 words or less (not including the story starter). Stories over 550 words will be disqualified.

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 7pm Friday July 31st (NZ time).

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

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

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

8. The winner will receive a Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!

*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.

Melinda’s Story Starter: The Wrong Note

Willow and Isla had been mucking around in the woods on the hill above their town all day.

Willow called it fossicking.

Isla called it foraging.

“It’s only foraging if we can eat it,” said Willow.

“Humph,” Isla replied.

“This is definitely a fossick,” Willow went on, holding up the bone she’d just pulled from a hole at the base of a tree trunk.

“That’s disgusting,” Isla said.

“It’s NOT!” Willow insisted. “It’s super old. It probably hasn’t been alive for like a hundred years. I mean look at it.”

They both peered at the bone, almost like a shin but not quite.

“There are holes in it,” breathed Willow. And before either of them could think, she raised the bone to her mouth and blew in to the largest hole at the top. A single long note.

The noise was sweeter and deeper than they expected. A shiver crawled down their spines. The ground seemed to hiccup, the sunlight swelling in a terrible, brilliant way, and then everything was normal again. Nearly.

“I think we should go home,” Isla said.

“Yes, lets,” Willow agreed. She let the bone drop to the ground.

They held hands as they galumphed down the path between the trees, hopping over the twisty vines and slippery rocks in their way. They emerged out of the bush near the bottom of the hill, just as the sun began to pull the horizon up over itself.

“My goodness!” Willow gasped.

“Oh Willow, what did you do?!” Isla squeaked, her eyes wide at the sight before them.

Where had everybody gone? And what were those frightening things that had taken their place?

Now You Finish The Story…

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 10 judged by Jane Bloomfield

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

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

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

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

My highlighter jumped on the following passages:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane’s Story Starter: Pearl and Golden Apples

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

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

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

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

“Nonsense,” said Ma.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaux Astrid Detera’s winning story:

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

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

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

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

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

25 years later…

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

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

After work and school.

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

(end)

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

&

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

Congratulations, Olivia and William!!

Posted in fabo story, The Winner

FABO Story report for competition 9 judged by Kyle Mewburn

It’s always very exciting to be the judge of a Fabo round. It’s also a bit nerve-wracking because it’s generally so hard to decide on just one winner. This round we were absolutely inundated with lots of great stories with imaginative plots, clever characterisations and some fantastic writing.

So many entries were brimming with imagination. Rutendo of Tokoroa had Lucy battling an evil puffin group. While Harman of Ormiston went one step further with a puffin CEO of a secret world government.

Lucy of Balmoral had the fictional Lucy meeting a wizened old woman with a weird collection of stones. Her story was full of lovely similes – the stone was warm, like hot chocolate on a winter’s morning.

Khloe of Highlands decided to go to Narnia with some great descriptive writing – She glanced up, to see a white tree, covered in crystalline snow, with a kiss of falling leaves, slanted in between the parted hedge.

Juno of St Dominic’s had many wonderful descriptions as Lucy was given a tour of the monster zoo by a man with “a fluffy moustache, like a storm cloud” and met the neanderthal giant whose “face was like a big map, with wrinkles as routes, joining everywhere across it, and a chin like an upside-down mountain.”

Indigo of Whakatane took us to Fantasia with some very clever scene setting and characterisation – Ignoring dotty Mrs. Plummer pottering around the hedge, muttering to it as though it were an old friend come to tea.

Evelyn of Clearview had a scary encounter with zombies. Anika of Thorndon had an eerie encounter with the Grim Reaper. And in William of Brooklyn’s story, Lucy met the fabulously eccentric Sir Albert Von Albatross.

It was almost impossible to choose a winner. It was SOOOOOO close. But if you’ve been paying attention during the competitions, you might have realised every judge has a different set of judging criteria – things which especially tickle our fancies.

The winning story ticked so many of my personal judging boxes. A storyline sparkling with originality, a strong writing voice and loads of fantastic similes. This was also a story with a lot of heart.

This week’s winner is Juno Ireland of St Dominic’s Primary School.

And this is what our special guest Puffin judge, Heather Haylock – author of the wonderful Granny McFlitter series – had to say about Juno’s winning story.

“This story holds some powerful imagery. I love the idea of the monster’s face being like a map, with wrinkles as routes and a chin like an upside-down mountain. The writing flows naturally and cleverly packs a lot of information about the setting and the characters into a small space. I like Lucy’s immediate emotional connection with the captive creatures (“their eyes said it all”), and the light dusting of humour (I wonder what a Monster Vanquisher 2000 does?). Juno’s story certainly gave Lucy the beginnings of the exceptional day of her dreams. I want to know what happens next!”

CONGRATULATIONS! If you message us we’ll tell you how to claim your special prize.

To everyone else, keep on sending in those entries!
Kyle

Kyle’s Story Starter

As Lucy heaved her way through the dark hedge, her imagination whirled like an out-of-control merry-go-round. There could be anything waiting on the other side. A TOP SECRET government spy base patrolled by snarling watchdogs. An evil puffin’s secret hideaway rimmed with laser detectors and booby traps. Or even a whole other world, like in the Narnia stories she’d just finished reading.

Not that she really, truly expected to find anything exciting on the other side. Stuff like that didn’t happen in real life. But after a week of boring school holidays she was desperate for just a scrap of adventure. It didn’t even have to be an actual adventure. If she found anything even mildly interesting, her imagination could do the rest. Then the day would be exceptional.

Lucy barged ahead in a fury of flailing arms like she was swimming against a twiggy tide. Or wrestling a woody sea serpent. When the hedge suddenly parted, she sprawled forward into sunshine.

But the sun quickly vanished as a shadowy shape loomed over her…

Juno Ireland’s winning story

Lucy peered up at a tall, bulky man. He had a fluffy moustache, like a storm cloud, a cream shirt, sunhat and a nametag reading: Paul. Complete with his kind smile, Paul had the resemblance of a zoo keeper.

“What brings you here today?” he asked, blowing his moutache upwards as he spoke. Lucy hesitated, but before she could reply, Paul said “Ah yes, a free tour of the Italian dragons, deadly kitties and the Neanderthal giant. Right this way”. He beckoned towards a high iron gate, almost as unpleasant as the idea of giants.

Lucy shuffled backwards, alarmed. “What’s in there?”. The man looked astonished, then confused, and then chuckled. “Why, the Zoo of Monsters” he said. And with that, he began walking forward, gently guiding Lucy to the heavily armed threshold.

Desperately thinking, Lucy imagined escaping, but then the reassuring sun reappeared, brightening her mood. She was curious after all. Slowing to a halt at the gate, she noticed that it was flanked with burly guards, each possessing an enormous gun with the words: MONSTER VANQUISHER 2000.

Lucy shuddered. Surely monsters weren’t real? However, as the guards swung open the gates, terrifying monsters stared back at her. In fact, their captivating gazes were so utterly hard and sad that she found herself looking away to avoid their monstrous expressions.

Spiky, scaly, fluffy creatures were sprawled over scorched terrain. Some monsters’ main features were sharp, jagged teeth, or great bundles of fur, or sleek glimmering scales, which made them look content and simple, but their eyes said it all. They missed their homes and the discouraging brick walls between them weren’t helping.

Lucy turned to protest on their behalf to Paul, except he handed her a map. A path with enclosures on either side snaked through the zoo. “This way to see the Neanderthal giant” he announced, strolling down the path. Eventually they reached the enclosure which absolutely stunned Lucy.

The most immense, caveman-like figure towered over them. His face was like a big map, with wrinkles as routes, joining everywhere across it, and a chin like an upside-down mountain. His heavy brow gave him the ultimate Neanderthal effect, forming a ridge over his eyes.

Lucy’s breathing turned shallow. Many unanswered questions swam in her head. Suddenly a huge gnarled hand gently grabbed Lucy’s waist and lifted her up and up. Her map fluttered down like a dove. She had second thoughts about the giant. He was probably just as lonely and desperate as the others. Still, it was so nerve-wracking being whisked into the air as Paul turned ant-sized below.

Soon Lucy was face-to-face with the giant. She tried a soft approach, touching his face. Hi grinned impishly, which looked terrible with his wrinkles and eyebrows. Then he turned and lowered her into another enclosure next to his. Lucy lay dazed on a rocky surface, and looked around.

The enclosure was barren with heaps of barbed wire around the edges. Hearing an abrupt rustle, Lucy turned. An exquisite thing stepped forward. With gleaming feathers the shades of sunset, a powerful orange-scarlet glow, and graceful legs the colour of golden wheat, the creature of myths stood before her. The phoenix!

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the 10th FABO Story competition!

The tenth FABO Story competition will be judged by author Jane Bloomfield. Enter now!

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

2. We prefer your story to be 500 words or less (not including the story starter). Stories over 550 words will be disqualified.

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 7pm Friday July 3rd (NZ time).

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

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

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

8. The winner will receive a Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!

*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.

Jane’s Story Starter: Pearl and the Golden Apples

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

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

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

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

“Nonsense,” said Ma.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now You Finish The Story…

 

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter the ninth FABO Story competition!

Enter the ninth FABO Story competition judged by author Kyle Mewburn now!

Instructions

1. Read the story starter and continue the story.

2. We prefer your story to be 500 words or less (not including the story starter). Stories over 550 words will be disqualified.

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 7pm Friday June 19th (NZ time).

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

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

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

8. The winner will receive a Puffin book of their choice* and their story published on the Penguin NZ website!

*book must be $25 or under, book must be in stock, book will be delivered post lockdown.

Kyle’s Story Starter

As Lucy heaved her way through the dark hedge, her imagination whirled like an out-of-control merry-go-round. There could be anything waiting on the other side. A TOP SECRET government spy base patrolled by snarling watchdogs. An evil puffin’s secret hideaway rimmed with laser detectors and booby traps. Or even a whole other world, like in the Narnia stories she’d just finished reading.

Not that she really, truly expected to find anything exciting on the other side. Stuff like that didn’t happen in real life. But after a week of boring school holidays she was desperate for just a scrap of adventure. It didn’t even have to be an actual adventure. If she found anything even mildly interesting, her imagination could do the rest. Then the day would be exceptional.

Lucy barged ahead in a fury of flailing arms like she was swimming against a twiggy tide. Or wrestling a woody sea serpent. When the hedge suddenly parted, she sprawled forward into sunshine.

But the sun quickly vanished as a shadowy shape loomed over her…

Now You Finish The Story…