Badgerdog Book Crush at the O. Henry Museum

28 Sep

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It began with a book. And nine young readers. And Ms. Tricia.

Each in their own way, the nine bright minds pictured above stepped into the story of a girl wanting answers that might have something to do with a jellyfish (The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin). They read the novel separately, in their own homes, in the backseat of their family cars during summer vacation, in their favorite reading nooks or thinking hideaways. And then they stepped into the same room together and began to read again — not just from page 1 to page 343, but jumping around, mucking about, imagining the what-ifs, trying to better understand the characters, tracking how the novel feels and plays and changes each time you read it.

And here’s what they came up with!

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The Adventures of Timmy! by Timothy Guan

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Just one of Tiffany Guan’s many jellyfish hero comics, Fire and Ice.

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William Osborne showing off his piece, Mixed-Up Words.

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Front cover of Cynthia Cui’s cut-out flip book.

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Page 2 of Cynthia Cui’s cut-out flip book.

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‘Jelly’ Fish by Mason Tateosian

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Flying Jellyfish by Mason Tateosian

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Calvin and Jellyfish by Mason Tateosian

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Jelly Washington: The Jelly President by Beau Diede

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Jellyfish by Beau Diede

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Illyria Komljen with her character sketches.

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Illyria Kolmjen’s jellyfish illustrations

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If Suzy Went to Australia: An Alternate Tragic Ending by Evita Ravet

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Luca Leone in his jellyfish costume, sharing his comic The Thing About Jellyfish and Toasted.

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The first panel in The Thing About Calvin and Toasted (1 of 2) by Luca Leone

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The first panel in The Thing About Calvin and Toasted (2 of 2) by Luca Leone

Children of Elnard

7 Sep

These works (from a group of high school writers who dubbed themselves “Children of Elnard”) demonstrate a remarkable range—haunting descriptions of creatures, lyrical dips into the cosmic, wryly comic scenes of the absurd, suspenseful tales of action. But regardless of their varying literary inheritances and moods, all of these six pieces boast the unique imaginations of their authors. This collection, which shows only a slice of what these young writers are capable of, vibrates with confidence and vision.

Taya Kitaysky
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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The Black Turtle

If you have somehow managed your way through the vast maze of trees located on the edge of the Unknown Continent, you may at some point come across a peculiar cave on the other side of the forest where no light penetrates. In this very cave dwells the Black Turtle. A creature might be intrigued by this fact and dare to enter the cave.

Upon entering the cave, the Black Turtle will be triggered awake and proceed to emit a sudden, high-pitched screech. If the visiting creature does not heed this warning, it will hear three more screeches with each consecutive screech increasing in intensity. A creature that continues its way into the depths of the cave despite these warnings will soon witness two gleaming yellow dots as bright as the sun fade into appearance. As soon as the creature has been blinded and entrapped by the radiant eyes, the Black Turtle will reveal itself and attack.

Right before its demise, the creature will notice the Black Turtle, alight by its brilliantly glowing eyes. Amongst the darkness of the cave, it will discern a plethora of razor-sharp teeth residing in a mouth, an elongated neck plated with scales, a dull metallic shell, some curved claws planted on —

The Black Turtle stares at its latest victim then proceeds to drag the carcass backwards towards its collection. After it has finished disposing of the body, the Black Turtle climbs up its collection into the nest of corpses and closes its eyes.

Amy Min

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SEEK_

There is a gazelle leaping through the sky.
Tufts of nimbus clouds dance around his hooves.

Each star,
a stepping
stone.

Only time guides the everlasting river below, as he carefully stops to drink from its healing waters.

His stripes are a swift sight,
bold shimmers of gold blinding men who seek wealth.

A dragon hiding among the child’s gentle eyes.
Upon delicate snow he rests, in the lonely mountain tops he wails
with twisted horns of guilt. Sleep never favors
such a wondrous beast.

Grace Xiaoyao

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Memory Lane

Red walked discreetly through the woods, clutching her neatly woven basket closely. Her long, red hood hung lightly over her face, covering more than half of it and concealing her in darkness. It cast a shadow over the eyes, enveloping Red with a mysterious aura. The edge of the hood grazed the fingertips of the grass as she peacefully walked around, stopping now and then to pluck flowers from the open. The hood was the most distinct feature of this plain girl. Because of the constant habit of wearing the red cloak, the kingdom villagers had given Red the nickname Little Red Riding Hood.

It was once as red as blood. Woven from the finest of all threads, it had an extremely silky feel. Being as old as it was, though, it had become slightly battered, with several rips and tears scattered miserably. The years of constant weaving, washing, and sewing had downgraded the once beautiful, bold object to a significantly different looking thing with faded colors and patches sewn all over, leaving it looking quite mangled. The hood was incredibly dense and compact, weighing about fifteen pounds. The once-braided gold thread used to fasten around her neck had been reduced to a thin, frail piece of string, which was barely able to support the heavy weight.

People had constantly asked why she never bothered to purchase a new hood, or even ordered the finest weaver in the land to duplicate it. She could surely afford it; she was a princess and daughter of King Jack II. It was because the gift had been given to her by her late mother, whom she had deeply loved. To answer them simply, she always replied that it contained sentimental feelings. Red knew the idea of clutching this sad hood was silly and would never bring back her mother. But after she passed, Red had become the mirrored image of the hood — melancholic, pitiful, and frail, her once joyful aura destroyed for what everyone thought to be forever.

Zoe Min

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Bland Subconscious

There once was a large praying mantis sitting in a church.
He was big, green, praying, and mantis-y.
For many hours, he sat under the church’s vast roof unnoticed.
Sort of.
After the service finished, everyone stood up.
Except for him.
Now he had been noticed.
Unreasoned terror ran through the church.
Children cried.
Adults screamed.
He was stomped at, and people crowded in, forcing him out the old wooden door.
What happened that day, we are still unsure of.
All he was doing was taking a nap.

Kate Strelzick

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A Story On Paper

– an excerpt

All I can remember are lines. Lines left imprinting wherever we went. I once asked, “Mother where are we?” And she replied, “Darling, we live in a world of pictures and sketches. We live like ghosts of paintings. We live on paper, at the mercy of the wavering lines from a pen.” The thought of being out of control and helpless terrified me so I never asked her again.

That morning, it was darker. The lines traced long shadows and shaded the white away. Graphite dust littered the house, so we decided to do some early spring cleaning. Afterwards, we sat down at the crudely drawn table and ate our breakfast. Mother wanted liver for dinner, so I went out to fetch some. On my way back from the market, I noticed something new. A rustic booth with delicately crafted light surrounding the archway. I don’t remember this being here, I thought to myself

When I was a child, all the other children nicknamed me “Nosy.” First, because I had a cartoonishly large nose. and second, because I was curious. I would listen to fragmented conversations and peek into closets in search of treasure. Mother said I always had an adventurer inside me. I guess the name suited me after all, because when I saw the booth I immediately felt the need to inspect the place.

I was peering into the heavily shaded opening trying to make out its contents, when all of a sudden I realized someone was inside. Jumping back, my breath caught. I was contemplated running away when a woman stepped out of the shadows and said, in a voice that sounded like a creaky floorboard, “Looking for someone, Deary?”

***

“Max! We’re going to be late, again!” The dark-haired, clean-shaven man sprinted down the stairs. “Max!” he bellowed again.

“I’m coming! I’m coming!” said the voice from upstairs in an exasperated tone. A boy of about ten or eleven hopped down the stairs. He wore a T-shirt with a drawing of Batman on it, red Converse, and a slight boyish smile.

“All right. Let’s go, kiddo,” said the man, as he ruffled his son’s sandy blond hair. “Wait!” said Thomas, stopping in the doorway. “Do you have your sketchbook?”

“Of course I do, Dad! Do you really think I’d forget something that important?” Max replied lightheartedly.

“OK, Mr. Smarty Pants,” Thomas chuckled.

“Can you put on the radio?” Max asked.

“Sure thing.”

Thomas guided the steering wheel parallel to the bright yellow lines on the road, and tapped the dashboard in beat with the music as he drove. Max took his sketchbook from his backpack and opened it carefully. On the page, in the middle of the thick white parchment, a booth with the window had been drawn. Lights adorned the frame of the single  window, and an old woman’s face peered out of the darkness, looking at a spindly drawn girl with a big nose.

“How’s the story going?” asked Thomas.

“Great. I’m about to get to the good part!” said Max, grinning happily. He picked up his inky black pen and began shading the landscape with quick slender strokes.

Marielle Glasse

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Tomorrowland’s Hero

Alessia was a hunter, a swift, lean being who stood only five foot two but could slam you into the dirt at any given moment. She was one who believed in superstition and witchcraft, in bad omens and black cats, cracked mirrors and clovers. So, when she found the wild crystals protruding out of the smashed-glass soil of Tomorrowland, she was overjoyed. They were a rosy pink, a color known to represent friendship, affection, harmony, inner peace, and approachability, and they stood out from all the other rubble; the demolished windows and skeletons of old buildings were the only proof that a war had been waged on America — a story for another day. Tomorrowland was what the survivors had built out of nothing, named after a section of a former amusement park.

Alessia nudged the crystals with her foot, jostling them. She was well out of Tomorrowland town limits, so putting down her gun might be a risk. But she did so anyway, looking down the barrel and pulling the lever to take her gun off safety, then storing it securely between her legs. She pulled at the crystals, unearthing them with a cloud of dust and a tinkling of shattered glass. Alessia turned the crystals around, examining them until she noticed the carving on the other end, the crystals neatly filed into the figurine. Slowly, she spun the object in her hand and brought it close to her face to look at it, the gun on the ground forgotten.

A detailed skull had been clearly carved out of rock. Its hollowed-out eyes seemed to stare into her soul, and the mouth was curved, teeth bared in a mad grin. Alessia looked at it in wonder, then caught a flash of silver in the skull’s eye. Passing it off as a figment of her imagination, she started to think. She knew skulls were a bad omen and wanted to drop the crop of crystals right where she’d found them. Yet she was compelled, almost by a haunting, disembodied voice, to keep looking. She finally tore her eyes away and gave a violent shudder, dropping the skull crystal and reaching down for her gun.

But another hand beat her to it. She whirled around to see a man dressed in black, a lazy grin on his face as he twirled her gun through his fingers. Alessia was up in a flash, kicking and choking and biting the man, forcing him to drop her gun with a thump onto the ground. She picked it up and pointed it at the man, finger on the trigger, one eye closed for a precise shot.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill you right here, right now,” she commanded, staring the man down fiercely.

The man chuckled. “Because, sweetheart, there’s someone else behind you.”

This did not startle Alessia. Being a hunter, she had expected something of the sort. Without even taking her eyes off of the man, she rotated her gun so it was pointing the opposite way, shot in the direction of the sound of stealthy footsteps, and heard a low voice scream “Ow!” followed by a heavy crash.

The man now looked scared, because Alessia had not been the defenseless little girl he had expected. The girl in question took a step towards him, cocking her gun, one long finger reaching towards the trigger. She looked into the man’s fearful hunter green eyes with her own fiery brown ones. She thought she felt the ground shake, but couldn’t be sure. The man also seemed to sense it, she noted. Just as she was about to pull the trigger, one ear-shattering explosion to end his life, a deep, commanding voice issued from the ground directly beneath their feet. It shook the ground, sending vibrations all around them.

“Never disrespect the sacred skull.”

That sentence was all Alessia heard before she dropped her gun, collapsing to the ground, her mind turned to an inky black.

Sachi Kulkarni

The Crazy Purple Pandas with Toasted Marshmallow Jelly Beans and Limes, a.k.a. the Pencil Movers

4 Sep

Here it is! The end of summer! But don’t fret just yet; here are some wild and amazing stories, plays, and poems from my Badgerdog kiddos during the July session at the Khabele School. These eleven young writers are true connoisseurs of play, preferring games and activity-based writing prompts, such as drawing characters first or mistranslating poems from other languages, to more school-like lessons. What a joy to work with them! What pleasure to read these fine pieces!

Tyler Gobble
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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The True Story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Characters: Goldilocks, Mom Bear, Dad Bear, Baby Bear, Narrator, Wolf

Setting: House

[Bears, Mom, and Dad cooking food.]

Mom Bear: Let’s go for a walk.

Dad Bear: Great idea!

[They walk out the door with Baby Bear and forget to turn off the stove.]

Wolf: I’ll knock down this door and steal all their stuff!

[Wolf knocks down door and goes inside. Goldilocks smells smoke from outside and rushes inside.]

Goldilocks (worriedly): Is that smoke?! Hope it’s not a fire!

Wolf (panicking): Oh, no! Someone’s coming!

[Wolf hides behind a curtain.]

Goldilocks: Oh, it’s just the stove.

[As she turns off the stove, she hears wolf breath and runs upstairs.]

Goldilocks (fearfully): I heard a wolf!

[Goldilocks faints on Baby Bear’s bed. Wolf picks up stuff and puts it in a black bag.]

Wolf (fearfully): She heard me. I’ve got to get out of here fast.

[Wolf dashes toward the door, but trips over Baby Bear’s chair and breaks it.]

Wolf (painfully): Ow!

[Meanwhile, the bears are walking home and hear screams.]

Mom Bear (worried): That came from our house. Do you think everything is okay?

Dad Bear (panicking): I don’t know. Let’s check!

[The bears rush home and find Goldilocks laying on Baby Bear’s bed.]

Baby Bear (angrily): Someone’s on my bed!

[Goldilocks wakes up and finds the bears looking at her.]

Dad Bear: Who are you?

Goldilocks (frightened): I’m Goldilocks.

[Goldilocks explains what happened and gets out of the bed.]

Mom Bear: Let’s go look for that wolf!

[They go downstairs, split up, and look for the wolf.]

Mom Bear: Where can that wolf be?

Goldilocks (excitedly): Look what I found!

[Goldilocks picks up a piece of wolf fur and follows the trail. They find the wolf trying to sneak out of the window and Dad Bear calls 9-1-1.]

Joy Zhou

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How To Avoid Getting A New House

  1. Fight It: Before you go to the next step, try to talk your parents into not getting a new house.
  2. Start Moving: Print a four-by-two inch sticker that says SOLD, then run to the house your parents want to move to and put the sticker on the sign that may say FOR LEASE.
  3. Rip Up the Contract: If your parents have signed the contract already, ask if you can see the contract then take it out of their hands, go to your room, and rip it up.

Sudeep Tatineni

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I’m Twenty Feet Tall!

So, I wake up, and I’m twenty feet tall. I have to build a huge house, so I do not have to duck all the time. I have to make super-huge clothes, cars, planes, etc. I got this way because I had a dream and it came true. I fly to Africa with lots of resources, so I can help build homeless people some houses. Then I build a lot more huge houses and invite all the other homeless people to live in them. One problem is the food, so I have to make something that will make the food really big instead of small. Finally, I go home and relax on my big bed.

Kai Benton

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Chipmunks

– after Nicanor Parra’s “Mummies”

One chipmunk nibbles
on nuts.
Another chipmunk does
cartwheels.
One chipmunk scurries
everywhere.
A few chipmunks fly
in the air.
One chipmunk hides
in the corner.
A couple chipmunks
roast marshmallows.
Almost all climb trees.
One plays in the snow.

Julia Klima

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Friends Are There to Help: Chapter 2

I just remembered: It’s Maya’s Birthday. I got her a present. When I get there, she finds berries and nuts. I, on the other hand, can only find, well, you can guess, grass. I need to move in with Maya. She has a tiny hut made out of bamboo and straw.

I don’t know if Prickles and Chunky (her squirrel) are going to get along. I so have to move in with Maya. I ask Maya and she says yes. I am like OMG right now. Oh… She made her den three times bigger.

Anais Moreno-John

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The Ring Box Fairy

– after Matthew Harvey’s “Backyard Mermaid”

The ring box fairy waits to be fed. Just as she thinks she is going to die of hunger, the strange giant fairy that doesn’t have wings comes and feeds her candy. When the ring box fairy is about to thank her, the giant wingless fairy disappears. The ring box fairy sighs and starts to eat. Then she hears a click and the wingless fairy is gone.

The ring box fairy flutters out from her “home” and searches for the twentieth time for a pair of pliers. She searches each room for two hours until she sees a door she has not noticed before. She flies through the keyhole and almost faints when she smells the room. It is very dark and smells of car oil and dust. Dust bunnies, she thinks and shudders, zipping back to her box. She takes out her wand. Then she flies back to the room. When she finds the switch, she nudges it with the wand. The lights turn on.

The room, she learns, is not a room at all. It is more like the car’s medical room and home. Car guts are scattered everywhere. The ring box fairy scans the room. Tools! She looks carefully and finds pliers. They are too heavy for her. She drags them towards the door. Then she gives the door a shove with her wand. Knowing she cannot use the pliers, she considers how to get her plan to work. Then an idea forms. She drags the pliers onto the table. She leaves the parts of her necklace nearby, hoping the wingless fairy will understand.

Later that night, the fairy returns. Startled, the ring box fairy wakes up with a jolt when she hears the door slam. Then she hears several sighs and then something hits the table. The fairy remembers her plan. Hiding in the keyhole, she watches as the wingless fairy discovers her necklace and the pliers. The wingless fairy suddenly laughs. She fixes the necklace and leaves it on the table.

In the morning, she finds her necklace laid casually on the table. She touches the necklace to make sure it’s real. The necklace was golden with a blue diamond gem. She put it on and tapped it with her wand. Then she tried to open the door.

Hannah Kim

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Inside My Heart

– after Zoie Ryder White’s “Inside My Heart”

There is…
One smelly potato
Two rotten bananas
Three hopping fish
Four talking waves
Five people blabbering
Six pouncing humans
Seven hundred peculiar sharks dancing to music
Eight hundred great white sharks
Nine hundred pizza stands
One thousand suns talking to the hot dog stand
Two thousand off-pitch singers
Three thousand crazy birds talking about going poo on everyone
Four thousand birds going poo
Five thousand smelly people farting
Six thousand hot dog stands running
Seven thousand sharks bugging me like bad guys
Eight thousand birds die
Nine thousand yummy pizza slices
Ten thousand weird people screaming
Ten million people surfing
One hundred million people slipping
One billion people getting pizza
Ten billion people eating sharks

Shrey Jha

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The Daily Lives of Lions

– after Nicanor Parra’s “Mummies”

One lion protects her baby cub
Some lions cook birds
A couple lions hunt for giant zebras

All lions roar loudly to scare leopards
Most lions rest in tall dry grass
Many lions eat big zebras

Almost all lions wear fancy ties
Nearly

Cody Chang

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A Tiring Day

On a nice summer day, I went to the candy store and bought some candy. I hated the sight outside the window. I got out of the candy shop. I quickly ran to my house, not to eat my candy but to not see such a horrible sight. Instead of doing nothing in the house, I decided to watch a movie right away in the theater and drive there in my car. Before the movie, I bought soda and, of course, popcorn. The movie took four hours and thirty-five minutes. It was named “The Rainbow of Heart.” It was about a girl who lost her parents. It was rated PG-13. I loved it. After I watch a movie, I usually go to another one, but I wasn’t in a mood for that. I just wanted to go home and sleep. Okay, so that’s it. I drove back home. I immediately went to my bedroom. I didn’t even stop for a drink of water. I rolled on the bed. I thought of plans for the next day, but I was too tired. I slept for five hours. It was a tiring day. Just a tiring day. Exactly a tiring day.

Samriddhi Garlanka

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Three Little Sea Otters

Characters: Sea Otter 1, Sea Otter 2, Sea Otter 3, Farm Boy, Narrator

Narrator: It was a sunny day.

Otter 1: Well, now let’s build a house, guys!

Otter 2: Yes, all together.

Otter 3: Okay, I want a brick home.

Otter 2: No, straw!

Otter 1: No, We all know twigs are good.

All (except Otter 1): No!

Otter 3: Let’s do all our ideas.

[They swam to the surface and asked someone for supplies, like wood and hay and bricks.]

Otter 3: Can we have some bricks?

Otter 1: Also, some hay?

Otter 2: And twigs?

Farm Boy: You guys are in luck! Take this whole bucket.

Otter 2: Thanks. Just leave.

Otter 3: Sorry. She’s rude. Yay! We got more supplies.

Otter 1: Well, we should all start building.

Narrator: When they were done, there was a wood room, a hay room, and a brick room.

All: We’re done!

Otter 2: Well, let’s move our stuff.

Narrator: They all moved their stuff.

Allison Mehl

To Be Fearless

9 Aug

Athena confronts the idea of fear in this reflective vignette. She offers commentary on an imagined reality in which one is free of social pressure or distractions. Her writing cleverly balances the daily fears we might carry alongside the freedom of relinquishing these anxieties. Her final lines ring with confidence and challenge her readers to explore this question for themselves. What would you do if you had no fear?

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Shadows

What would I do if I had no fear?

I would skydive from above cotton candy clouds, and I would swim side by side with dolphins against the harsh waves. I would trek through a mossy rainforest and ski down the steepest slopes. I would shout my beliefs to the world.

And I would do so without having a sinking feeling in my stomach, without having slippery palms.

I would do everything I want, and there would be no looming prospect of death, no possibility of humiliation shading my vision.

I would have the ability to live in the moment as it is, instead of feeling flames tickling my cheeks. I would feel brave and alive. I would feel adrenaline coursing through my body, and the claws of a strong wind digging into my face.

If I had no fear, I would be free to accept my life as it is laid down before me.

Athena Luo
6th grade

Journey Through Time

9 Aug

Pooja was born in the winter, a fact that guides her exploration in this haiku sequence. Each poem assigns a signature sonic quality to a season, allowing the reader to move through a full year of silence and echo. The imaginative qualities of these poems open up spaces for reflection, experience, and humor as Pooja gives us a forecast for the seasons yet to come.

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Haiku Series

Beautiful crystals,
memories drift leaf by leaf,
cold, dead, brisk, damp blow.

Someone screwed-in rain,
purple majesty mountains,
sunny meadow glow.

Hot, sizzling, zzzz,
bacon burgers taste my mouth.
Hot air surrounds me.

Shady and chilly,
leaves fall in many piles,
partly cloudy skies.

Pooka Kulkarni
5th grade

All the Many Greens

6 Aug

Ava gives us a meditative glimpse into the history of the color green, after Linda Hogan’s “History of Red.” Ava tracks the color green from its primordial beginnings to its outer space mysteries, then back down to earth to make poignant commentary on how we have misused green with our commodified greens and polluted greens. If the dinosaur didn’t know its fate, do we? Ava’s poem inspires us to consider the circular and all-encompassing nature of green.

Katrina Goudey
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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The History of Green

Sometimes I look back
At my brother’s glossy book,
And large teeth bare before me,
Snapping down to reveal thick green scales.
They cover a restless predator
Lurking within the bright green leaves:
The Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Does he know his fate?
And how does a green cloud of pain mist her eyes as the world falls?
Much later, a vision reveals itself,
Haunting, green.
The aurora borealis shimmering and flickering, green
Against twisted trees of lost time.
Time passes through the years
Yet the green grass is always there.
Hands work hard to fly, leaving this,
This green grass.
Rings of Saturn glowing, exotic colors, but the base
Is always green, the rocket light years away.
A green-haired girl walking, green phone case,
Black lipstick, and piercings.
She does not see the vibrant green around her,
Her phone blocking it all out, green polluting,
Shooting into the sky from the nearest factory.
Look at this green; is the wild dinosaur destroying Earth’s beauty?
Time has changed our green.

Ava Masterson

Poem of Many Questions

3 Aug

Julia’s call-and-response poem is truly a haunting echo. Originally inspired by an image of a dolphin, the poem now omits the nature of the subject and object, and what began as dolphin becomes universal memory. This poem could be about any person we once knew and once questioned, or it could be the voice in our mind, speaking to our own lost inner self. Julia’s poem “Why?” leaves every possibility open, allowing the reader to see what this mirror shows them.

Katrina Goudey
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Why?

Why do they treat you that way? Why? Do they do it on purpose?
Why do you hide your feelings? Why? Are they the reason for that?
Why do you let them treat you that way? Why? Do you want to be treated like that?
Why have you become like them? Why? Was this your goal the whole time? It’s better to be hated than loved for what you’re not.
Why did you choose them over me?
Why?

Julia Cramer