Badgerdog Session C: 9AM Mythology (4th-6th grade)

What better than a child’s fairy tale? In this mythology workshop, we studied the Popul Vuh, one of the most important indigenous texts of the New World, along with classic myths from Ancient Greece and Rome. We read multiple versions of Narcissus, then wrote about a character who was too vain. We read a Norse myth with the trickster God Loki and one of my favorites: Orpheus and Eurydice. The campers used their own knowledge of Chinese myths, their experiences, and their imaginations to build incredible worlds ripe with magic, fairies and hilarious narrators. We also worked to listen constructively and provide feedback to each other’s writing. We aimed to make each other laugh, to inspire each other, and enjoy our time together. 

Rachel Gray

Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Jerry the Robot                       

Once there was a toy that every kid wanted. When kids have the toy they love the robot. It was a toy robot but over time there was new stuff coming out so the robot lost its popularity and it felt sad. But it became famous again because the robot had a jetpack and new attachments to it. Then at the year 3000 the world ended. The companies were so big it drained the oxygen from earth. There was too much co2 and it melted the earth.

Aidan Pierce

The Adventures of Mike the Monkey

Mike was shocked when the beam hit him. He wasn’t growing horns, he wasn’t transported inside a witch’s hut… What had happened? Had he received superpowers? 

Before I can tell you that, I need to go back an hour before…

This story begins with a man. He’s an average man, nothing too special. He currently doesn’t have a job, and he can barely pay the rent for his apartment…

Which somebody is trying to destroy to build a giant arcade.

He hears the noise, waking him up. “HEY, WHAT’S ALL THIS???” He shouted as loud as he could. But it was no use, because they couldn’t hear him over the noise.

In frustration, he quickly packed everything just in case, and went down to speak to 

the manager. But when he got there, they had disappeared!

He went all the way back up to his room and started hearing the noise yet again. He looked out the window and saw them there. “What…?” He said weakly, scratching his head. He walked out of his room… And the noise stopped.

Confused, he went back into his room, where the noise continued. He stuck his head back out of the room. Silence.

He continued by poking his head in, out, in, out, in, out.

He simply wanted to have a nap, so he moved his bed so that his head was sticking out of the room.

ZAP!

“What was that..?” He said, shaking. What was actually happening was that a UFO had punched a hole in his roof and was now zapping him with a beam.

Mike was shocked when the beam hit him. He wasn’t growing horns, he wasn’t transported inside a witch’s hut… What had happened? Had he received superpowers? 

He got out of his bed, feeling dumb. He found himself thinking that a simple equation like 1+1 was 11. “What…” He tried to say. Instead, a strange blurt came out. “AAH!”

In fact, everything he tried to say ended up coming out as “OOH OOH AHH AAH!”

He looked at his hands and screamed like a monkey. HE WAS A MONKEY. Being broke, he decided to steal things in monkey form. He robbed a bank, took some woman’s wallet, and even stole money from the cash machine at Pete’s Pets! (Poor Pete)

Lots of police cars chased him as he swung in the air. “HOW IS HE SHOOTING WEBS FROM HIS TAIL!?” One of the cops yelled.

That’s right… Mike wasn’t just any monkey… He was SPIDER-MONKEY! To be more precise, EVIL spider-monkey.

The cops couldn’t hit Mike with tasers, so they threw blades at him. One hit him on the head, knocking him out but luckily not killing him. He was put in jail, just where he deserved to be, and everyone lived happily ever after (except Mike.)

Brandt Eggers

The Man, the Town, and the Spring

Once, in the cold town of Nome, there was a hot spring.  It was the only way to get warm water, and it was how the citizens stayed warm during the winter. One day, a wealthy man came and said “I am the wealthiest man, so I am the leader of the town,and the spring is MY property. My first decree is making you pay taxes to use the water in the spring, and whoever objects gets thrown into prison!” Well, the townspeople didn’t like that. But they let it slide. But over the years, the man’s crimes were too great, so the townspeople began a revolution against the man. They stormed the mansion, threw the man into the damp, grim prison, and burnt down the mansion. When they found the money and gold, they donated it to the homeless and the needy. The next day, they celebrated their newfound independence by having a festival. Obviously, the central piece was the spring, which was now a fountain. 

Andrew

Rivers of Milk

Hot chocolate bombs,

bursting through rivers,

rivers of milk,

with a taste as sweet as silk.

Marshmallows love it, 

they say, “oh, this is the life!”

while exploding from the chocolate shell,

exploring their new home.

With the winter outside the window,

and no summer sun,

what could be better than the snowy fun!

Primrose

You notice a field

where flowers await

for the rightful time to stay awake.

A red robin beside me,

perched on a branch

stares at me with those hopeful eyes.

You notice the trees

against a brown and red fort

lay under it and old oak tree

expanding its roots under the primroses

and making the primroses as majestic as could be.

Isha Ladha

The Greedy Farmer

Once there was a farmer who was barely getting enough money to pay for food and shelter.  One day he went outside to pluck and replant the crops when he struck something hard.  The farmer dug around and pulled out a…. pot.   The farmer looked at the pot perplexed.  He finally went inside and put the pot down and headed off to the market.  At the market the farmer sold his crops for 51 gold coins.  The farmer was happy because for once in his lifetime he had some extra money.  

With his fifty gold coins he bought enough food until the next harvest.  The farmer went home and put the extra coin in the pot, had dinner, and went to sleep.  The next morning the farmer woke up, ate breakfast and then checked on the one gold coin.  But the one gold coin wasn’t in the pot, instead there were two gold coins in the pot.  Startled, the farmer took out the 2 gold coins and put them back in the pot.  The two gold coins clinked and fell in the pot where nothing happened.  The farmer had lunch, had a nap, had dinner, and fell asleep.  The next day the farmer woke up, had breakfast and checked up on his now 4 gold coins.  

This continued and at the end of summer the farmer had a vault of gold coins.  The farmer now had a mansion and servants to do everything he asked.  One day someone knocked on the door and asked to talk to the farmer.  As the person went in the farmer sat down on his chair and asked the stranger what he wanted.  The stranger sat down and then told the farmer, you know that you are stealing money right?” The farmer was confused.  All he needed was one gold coin and he could make as many as he wanted. The stranger explained that the pot duplicated the money by taking the needed money from other people.  

The farmer dismissed this and demanded the stranger get out of his house and go back to where he came from.  the end

Jahan Patel

Sonic Boom

A kid has seen a sonic boom on TV. He decided to search up Sonic boom. Here is what he learned: “Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of sound energy, sounding similar to an explosion or a thunderclap to the human ear.The altitude of the supersonic vehicle affects how far sonic booms can travel. They’re heard based on the width of the “boom carpet.” The width ends up being about one mile for each 1,000 feet of altitude. Most bullets make small sonic booms when flying through the air, which to our ears sound like a loud “crack!” For the special forces, that makes it hard to be sneaky about what they’re shooting and doing.The power needed to move an object faster goes up roughly as the cube of the speed – so the energy per-linear distance travelled goes up roughly as the square of the speed. That energy goes largely into the sonic boom; it will be louder when the object is faster.” He printed it out on the printer and computer and showed it to his friends. ”DID YOU GET THAT FROM THE INTERNET!?” They screamed so loud that the boy’s eardrums almost split in two!

John Kim

West-Field Meadow

Violet was reading in her normal reading spot in the west-field meadow, but today something felt different. Distracted by this strange new feeling she decided to go explore the meadow. She came across a pond with tadpoles, a patch of yellow and pink flowers but nothing out of the ordinary. 

Then suddenly she saw a beautiful tree with golden leaves and next saw a pink light blink, then purple then yellow! She tried to chase one of the lights and suddenly came to a patch with tiny little mushroom’s.

She looked closer and realized that those mushrooms had tiny little windows and doors inside. She peered inside the small windows and saw a fairy cooking what looked like tiny pasta! She took a peek into the next fairy house and saw tiny fairies reading tiny book’s! It was a fairy book club! She looked into the next mushroom and saw a fairy’s ballet studio with lots of little fairies with tulip tutu’s! She took a glance into the next mushroom and saw fairies having a tea party with a purplish-blue tea! “That must be bluebell tea, not sure how good that would taste though.’’ She then saw tiny dragonfly cars with fairies driving it and hopping from one mushroom to another!

She couldn’t believe her eyes. She was enchanted and entranced in this new world. Then she heard a zap and felt her eyes get heavy, and suddenly she fell to the ground and hit her head. When she woke up it was dark outside and she was back at her usual reading spot under a big oak tree. She was very confused. Was the fairy real or was it all just a dream? 

Misha Patel

2173 MEGA MAC SCANDAL

The year is 2173 and McDonalds is going crazy. They released the mega mac and the ads made it look like the best triple-triple burger ever made although the burger in reality is a squashed piece of garbage. McDonald’s scheme has worked and their goal is to scam people. But, the angry populus stopped buying McDonalds and went to buy other fast food franchises. McDonald’s bought Culvers and Sonic is going SSSSSPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEDDDDYYYYY their delivery is transferred via quantum tunneling. So Wendy’s buys Sonic and In-N-out but McDonalds is broke from so much scamming and Culvers becomes itself. Also since Sonic is 2fast4U Sonic also becomes itself. How many kingdoms? Count them; 1, 2, 3. 3 kingdoms but they’re not kingdoms they’re fast food franchises (idea from oversimplified.) The war of fast food has begun. For 35 years nothing happened until Sonic did an invasion of Culvers which fell in 20 years then they renamed it to sulvic and invaded Wendy’s and did it successfully and reunited the food franchises. Just remember this all happened due to Mega-Mac :). 

Thomas Gong

Badgerdog Session C: Novel Writing (5th-8th grade)

My first novel was printed in a mix of purple and blue ink. It was forty pages long and bound with a three-hole-punch and a plastic school binder. I was ten years old, and I still remember the title, The Dreamers, and the dream-world I created. After that, I was hooked. I never stopped writing stories, and it became my fiercest passion.

These workshops were filled with young writers who share this passion, and it was an absolute honor to help on their paths as novelists. Writing a novel is truly a feat, involving loads of planning, time, revisions, perseverance, and imagination. We spent these workshops discussing the journey a book takes to get published, how to build complex characters, where to get ideas, creating in-depth story outlines, and writing compelling opening scenes. The results are some truly un-put-downable stories, found below, (not to mention an amazing poem sprouted from our free-writes). I applaud these writers for accepting this adventure, much in the way our protagonists must accept their calls to action. I hope that these writers all have smooth sailing along the way as they continue these works-in-progress (but that their characters have a difficult, stressful time full of high-stakes and unfortunate twists)!  

Marissa Macy

Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Terror’s Throne

Karina shifted uncomfortably on the chestnut wood chair, stood up, and perched on the window seat of their penthouse in Maine, watching her mother walk into the door. Minutes later she heard the sound of high heels clomping up the stairs.

“Hi,” Karina answered absentmindedly, the click of a doorknob interrupting the silence.

“Working on a test?” Chloe Chen nodded at her daughter’s papers.

“Yep.” 

“Well, remember. Never give up, that is the worst thing you can do. The fears you don’t face become limits,” her mother encouraged. Karina rolled her eyes. When did Chloe become such a poet? 

Hours later, Karina had finished dinner and was ready to go to bed. She went through the nightly ritual with her two brothers of praying for their father, who had disappeared on a so-called job interview and never came back. 

“Pleeeease,” Kevin whined. “Daddy gets us ice cream. Mommy never lets us have ice cream cones.” 

Joshua scowled.  “Whatever. Wish for something real.” 

As she fell asleep, she felt something change. She wasn’t in her own bed anymore but somewhere else. A dark room with a dim light. And in the light was her father. She couldn’t see anything but the back of his head. “Father,” Karina called faintly, her voice echoing off the walls. When the figure didn’t move, she tried again. “Father!” 

A bright light blinded Karina’s eyes. She blinked a few times, rubbed her eyes, and woke up in a cold sweat, her pulse quickening. “Hmm,” she murmured, looking around the room and finding herself still in the safe canopy of her own bed. The numbers on her alarm clock read 4:04 AM. The error number, she thought. Odd. She then turned to the window and saw a faint light glowing from the Chen Lighthouse as the numbers switched to 4:05. 

“Huh…” Karina began when reality sunk into her. 

Her father was trapped in the lighthouse. 

#

The next morning, Karina woke to the sound of her mother talking quietly. She got up, still dazed from the night before and took her time going down the elaborate stairway and down to the kitchen.

“Hey, honey, sleep well?” 

“Um…” Karina knew better than to bother her mother with nightmares. “I guess,” she finally answered. “And, Ma ma, can we please visit the lighthouse? Pleeease?” She gave her mother her best puppy eyes. 

Her mom didn’t answer immediately. She exchanged glances with Aunt. 

“Please can I?” Karina added. 

Instead of answering, Chloe just muttered something about it being too dangerous. Karina narrowed her eyes and squinted at her mother, confused. Normally, being the older one between her and her younger brother, she was allowed to do as she pleased.

#

RING! RING! RING! The sound of her alarm clock pierced her ears. Karina snapped awake and snuck out of the warmth of her covers. She snuck downstairs and opened a window, avoiding the security system, and tiptoed out, hoping the light was still there. And there it was. At the very top of the lighthouse, that dim, purplish glow, after her family name. She should be allowed to go. Chloe just wasn’t being fair. 

But still, Karina had made it. She ran over, opening the door to the lighthouse, which, to her surprise, was unlocked, stepped inside and climbed up the tower, following the glow. As she got closer, she felt a certain pulling as if telling her to come closer, almost as if the wall itself were whispering, come, come. Come closer, my little girl. Karina yelped, bounced back, and rushed down the stairs in terror, shoving the door of the lighthouse behind her and jumping into the window of the penthouse in record time. 

“I was scared this time,” she whispered.  “But I’m coming back no matter what Ma ma says.”

#

The next morning Karina woke up to the sound of someone coughing. She ignored it and felt for the first time an urge to go to school, to escape the horrors of home. 

For the rest of the day, she couldn’t sit still, but she immediately perked up when she heard the front door creak open. Instead of coming upstairs to greet her, though, her mother stayed downstairs. All Karina could hear was the hushed whispers between the two women. 

“We have to go,” she heard her aunt say. “There’s not enough money in the bank for this.” 

“The children will worry. They shouldn’t,” her mother said firmly from downstairs. Even though Karina sensed the tension in the room and knew that they were trying to be quiet, the echoing was unavoidable. She glanced at her brother to see if he was listening. 

“I know, I know,” her aunt prompted. Karina imagined her flapping her hand. “But the fortune isn’t going to keep up, even with both of us working. And with Carter gone, we have much less income.” 

Karina sighed. It was true. Their aunt had fortune from decades ago, but it was running out and everybody knew it wouldn’t last. Closed-door conversations came up much more often than before. And even without a fortune teller, she knew that if she didn’t do something, they would be in trouble. 

To be continued…

Angelina Wang

The Twists and Turns of Tala Reyes’ Life

I rode my bike home from a dull Friday at school with my best friend Amelia. We were riding on the Callaway nature trail. One time when we were riding, Amelia’s bike glided through a puddle, and she was caught off guard. She steered into the bushes. That is where we found the perfect place for a treehouse. My brother Asterio promised to help build it, but he hasn’t done it yet.

“Are you doing anything this weekend?” asked Amelia. 

“I was thinking we could work on the treehouse,” I said. 

“Maybe? Well, I’ll see you later.” 

The trail split, and I went right, and Amelia went left. 

Let me introduce myself. I’m Tala Reyes. Before I was born, my mother and father lived in the Philippines. That’s where they were from. And then my parents got married and moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming. My mom gave birth to Asterio, my older brother. Then six years later, right after I was born, my dad died of a heart attack. My mom moved back to the Philippines out of sadness, and our Uncle Buwan takes care of us. I’ve never even talked to my mother. I’m ten now. Asterio is eighteen. 

I looked forward on the path. I quickly stopped my bike and looked in front of it again. There was a nice big toad. I picked it up. “Hey there buddy!” I said to the toad. I looked at his foot. I screamed. I recollected myself and picked up the toad. Yep. It was missing one of its feet. It looked gross, but the poor thing needed help. I put the toad in the basket attached to the front of my bike. I started to cycle home.

#

I walked inside and immediately put the toad in a terrarium, next to other animal rescues I have proudly done. I have toads, frogs, voles, and mice. I turn on my MP3 player. Taylor Davis. I was in the middle of playing along to “Starfire” on my violin when my brother walked into the room. I stopped my music quickly and put my violin in its fire/waterproof case. I am embarrassed by my violin. I know it sounds silly, but it’s like singing a solo. 

“You know you shouldn’t hide talent, Star,” he called me Star because, in Filipino, Tala means “goddess of stars.” I tried to look innocent. I’m not that good at acting though. 

“I couldn’t care less about the violin. Really!” 

Asterio looked doubtful. “So, what’s up?” 

I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know. I feel like I don’t belong. Cheyenne is great. I’m not good enough.” 

Asterio thought. “Maybe you’d change your mind if people noticed you more.” He held up a flyer for a music contest. 

“A music contest and concert in front of the whole city? No one would pay a nickel to see me play! I don’t think so.” 

“Please? For me? And for yourself? Pakiusap?” 

“What does that even mean? You know I don’t speak Filipino.” 

“It means please.” 

I sighed. “I dunno… I’ll think about it.” 

Asterio smiled. 

“Now out of my room!” I ordered. Asterio walked out.

#

“Kids! Come here!” yelled Buwan. Asterio and I came into the living room. 

“What’s that?” asked Asterio pointing to something Buwan had in his hand. He answered. 

“It’s a letter from your mom.” 

“Wait, what?!” Asterio shouted. We were astonished. We hadn’t heard from her in ages. She was practically a stranger to me.

“What did it say?” I asked boldly. 

Uncle Buwan read the letter. “Well, looks like you two have a new baby sister.” 

Asterio and I looked at each other. “What does that mean?” 

I wondered that too. 

“It means we are going to the Philippines.” 

To Be Continued…

Calla Snyder

The Incredible Adventures of George The Pigeon

CHAPTER ONE

“And Pigeon 520 takes the lead!” the announcer screamed as Pigeon 520 flapped his wings harder and harder until he pushed ahead of his opponents.

Captors could understand the excited announcer, (waving their money in the air in excitement, for they had all placed their bets on Pigeon 520; even the likes of nuns who never gambled) but not Pigeon 520. All he knew was two things: 

  1. Pigeon 520 was not his name. He went by George, thank you very much. What a boring name his cruel captors had chosen for Pigeon 520 -Sorry, George. How horrible George’s captors were, which led to…
  2. If George didn’t win this race, his captors would take out the feared rod of terror. It would boom loudly, and one of the deadly pellet shaped items would penetrate his feathers and his life would be over. (In fairness, George didn’t care much about his feathers. He thought his plumage to be too scrawny and light to attract Sally, his crush -much less, any pigeon. But he did care about his life.)

All those thoughts passed through George’s head, and he winced. George didn’t believe he could actually flap his wings faster than he was doing currently, but he put every ounce of energy that he had left in his body.

“And Pigeon 520 takes the cake -or rather the seed!” the announcer boomed. Perhaps you are wondering how the announcer manages to repeatedly say “and” at the beginning of his sentences, for it seems all captors learn as children that this is not alright to say and, but, or any short word at the beginning of a sentence (though now it is perfectly acceptable). But the truth is, acceptable or not, that it was simply in this particular announcer’s nature to talk loudly even at home and start any sentence with a short word. Anyway, back to George.

George squealed indignantly as the crowds roared with either excitement, disappointment, or a mixture of both, practically falling over each other to pay off their bets, or receive their gambling money (most likely the second, especially in the excitement department). George shook off the squeal, attempting to hide it in a cough. Of course, neither of those behaviors would catch the empty void of Sally’s attention. 

Sally was a fierce, female pigeon who he longed to have an alliance with, although in truth, George wanted far more than that. George had been in love with Sally ever since he set eyes on her at his first pigeon race, quite like every other pigeon in the world. But Sally could also give what no other pigeon could give George: freedom. Sally was the most gifted guide out there and lived a dual life: helping racing pigeons escape one day and coming second in races the next. She could help George escape the horrible life of stressful pigeon racing, though her help was controversial: more than a few times, she had dropped a pigeon in the middle of a mission to save her feathers (which, George noted for the billionth time, were quite beautiful). 

George wanted to go see Sally, but she was standing by her usual spot at the snack stand, where the ground was sodden with a captor’s version of pellets. Except George knew from a snuck bite that they were far more delicious, oily but not too oily and salty but not too salty. However, Sally was nonchalantly eating a French fry while pigeons gawked at her beautiful plumage. These pigeons just happened to be the ones who teased George for constantly winning races. Luckily, Sally was not paying attention.

So, George let himself be swept up by his captors, put in the large mesh carrier, and taken into the back of a rumbler. Though George had been in rumblers countless times, they never seemed less menacing as the putrid smell from the back of the rumbler, which made bile rise in his throat. George had to wrap his wings around him in an attempt to block out the growing rumbling sound. In the mesh carrier, he had no room to allow his wings to spread. Instead, George plopped down, curled his wings around his body, and attempted to fall asleep.

CHAPTER TWO

“Get out of my space!” Henry snapped, jabbing George with his wing. George winced and scrambled as far away from Henry as he could get, which wasn’t far, given the smallness of their cage. It was a traditional iron palace bird cage, and while it was tall, allowing George and Henry to flap their wings for a split second, it lacked in ground space. 

“Sorry, Henry,” George muttered and rubbed the spot where Henry had poked George. 

Henry was George’s cage mate. As far as looks go, he was average with the trademark smooth grey feathers on his body and head, while green and pink feathers were on his neck. A purebred Armando pigeon. Which was exactly why their captors paid half a million dollars for Henry. However, what they didn’t realize was that Henry was horrible at pigeon racing. More important to George, Henry was also a horrible pigeon. He bossed George around, made him give most of his pellets to Henry, and teased Maggie. How George longed for Maggie to be here right now. Maggie could tell George that he was okay, that Henry was simply jealous of George’s many wins, that he didn’t need to be worried about getting shot by the rod of terror. Except that Maggie had been shot when she stopped winning. It was only a matter of time until George’s winning streak would run out, he’d stop placing medals, and he’d meet his sorry end. He had to convince Sally to help him run away.

“Well, leave me alone next time,” Henry’s voice broke into George’s thoughts. “And give me your pellets.

GLOSSARY OF PIGEON WORDS

Captorhuman

Rod of terrorgun

Rumblertruck

To be continued…

Elizabeth Nation

The Intervals of Saira Mehra

Chapter One

“On your mark. Get set. BEEP!” The whistle blows, sending the swimmers off to compete in the 100 IM category. My kick is steady and swift. I’m working extremely hard to make sure my technique is on point. I hear faint cheers from my friends and teammates which immediately invigorates me to keep going. I’m almost there. Just a few more strokes and–

My phone buzzes. 

Monday mornings can be so vexatious, notably when you are absorbed in such a captivating dream. I come downstairs to have my breakfast. Mama made samosas, my favorite Indian chaat. My family is in the living room drinking chai and having a conversation. 

“Good morning Saira,” my mom greeted me. “Your samosa and chai are on the counter.” 

“Thanks,” I replied and went over to my backpack to pack up for the day. 

“Saira, have you completed studying for your science exam?” my dad asked. 

“Yes, I did it last night. Plus, my friends and I are going to review it together on our way to school.”

“Good. Best of luck.” 

“Thank you.”

I think I’ll do well on the test. Last night, I called my friends to discuss the test review with them, and we all felt prepared. My parents are always on their toes when it comes to my studies. My dad is a doctor, and he aspires for me to set myself in the medical field too. To be honest, I’m not passionate about medicine like my dad is. He has taught me some basic fundamentals about it, and based on that, I wasn’t intrigued by it. My dad told me to at least dip my toes in it before I make my final decision. I assured him I would, but I’ve already made up my mind. I aspire to be an athlete. My dream is to swim for the Olympics. 
To be continued…

Aradhana Arora

Untitled Novel

“We’re going to have to move to Los Angeles because I have a very big movie deal there that I can’t pass up. We should also get out of this small apartment and move into a bigger house,” said Dad. 

“If that is what you think is best for this family,” said Mom. 

“I think it is, what about you?”

“Well, Tate may not like it. Since this is like her favorite place to be, I guess it would be good for her to go to a new place. She could definitely use some more room to walk around and not be squished in her room all day. If you want to do it then I will do it”.

“Thanks!”

Tate woke up from her dream and was not happy that she was dreaming these bad things. “It can’t be true, I can’t,” said Tate. Tate went back to sleep, still hoping that it was just a dream and not real life. 

The next morning was a very nice day. The sky had lots of puffy clouds and the trees were moving in a little bit of a breeze. Tate woke up with a big yawn. She got dressed and went to the kitchen for breakfast. Today, the breakfast was toast with butter, one of Tate’s favorites. She ate up, hoping that today would be a better day, and it would not be one of those burnt toast days. “Oh, hi Dad. We’re having toast for breakfast. It is really good!”

“I bet it is…”

“I wanted to ask you something.”

“Oh sorry but I have a work meeting soon, but you could ask me later. Thank you, Sidney for breakfast!” said Dad.

“You’re welcome,” said Mom, as I called her, or as Dad called her, Sidney.

“Yes, thank you so much for breakfast Mom,” said Tate.

“You’re welcome, and come here. Can I have a favor from you? Can you walk down to the trash can and come back up,” asked Mom.

 “Sure!”

“Just make sure you don’t talk to anyone and come back up quickly please! Or then I will be worried and think you got lost”

“I will be back quickly, don’t worry.” I opened the door and went out as I was closing the door, mom had one of those faces that moms have when they are worried about their kids. But I am twelve, so I feel like I am old enough for her to trust me. 

I walk down to the trash cans and see someone else there too. But I remembered what my mom said about talking to people, but it was really hard because they looked like my age. My way of not talking to them was staring at the ground. Then, I opened the trash can and I saw like a thousand flies come out. They flew out really fast which surprised me a lot because normally none fly out or if some fly out it is normally like ten. I put the trash in the trash can. I started to walk back up the apartment stairs back to our apartment. But I can tell you that I definitely was not as fast as the flies flying out of the garbage. I was probably walking up to our apartment more like a sloth.

“Where have you been? I was starting to get worried about you. And what happened to your hair and clothes? They were all nice, but now they look really dirty. Did you have a fight with birds? Even if I did not tell you to not do it doesn’t mean that I wanted you to fight with them,” said Mom.

“No, I didn’t get into a fight with the birds. Flies started to fly out of the trash can like crazy when I tried to put the trash bag in the trash can,” I said. 

“Okay, well, maybe you should shower up and change into new clothes before doing anything else. Then after you do that, we can work on your school work.”

“Okay, Mom.”

I washed myself off and put on new clothes that my mom bought me. I went into the kitchen and found her reviewing my schoolwork. I was really nervous about doing school right now because I didn’t practice over the summer. My mom thought I did, so I am hoping school is not going to be too hard even though I didn’t practice through the summer.

To be continued…

Kaitlyn Dillingham

The Birthday!

In big bold gold

Not sounding like a scold

A letter addressed

Should I stress?

All that it says

Is “108 W Covington Street, Tuesday at 9 pm. Arrive on time”

It starts to form a rhyme

And I ponder until bedtime

All that is said is “108 W Covington Street, Tuesday at 9 pm. Arrive on time”

Arriving with the letter that contains the rhyme

A woman opens the door

And I see bookshelves galore

All I want to know is know who sent the letter

A bird comes in and starts to peck her

She motions over and walks away

Should I stay?

I walk into the house

And see a tiny mouse

And wonder who sent the letter, “108 W Covington Street, Tuesday at 9 pm. Arrive on time”

It’s Tuesday, and dark, so I can’t see the sign

I get bumped on the head

And realize I’m suddenly in a bed

The kind women questions

“Why are you in the wing for detention?”

And I realize why they sent the letter

It was for the one and only…Mr. Setter!

I realize it’s Mr. Setter’s birthday

Also New Year’s Day

After a final sprint for the staff room

All the students clap for you

You tell them it’s just you

And they make room

You see the birthday man

And he hogs up the fan

Watching the New Year’s Parade

After, you play charades

You eat the cake

Then line up to shake

And wish him a good birthday

He wishes that his birthdays would be like this day

Says “Farewell”

And rings a bell

Soon enough the party is over

And it’s the boring old staff room all over

You arrive at home

And don’t want to roam

And fall asleep

Kunal Khandhar

Superpower City

A long way away, every human has a superpower. Some speak to animals while others shoot lasers out of their eyes. No matter what your power is, it is unique and special.

Let’s take the whole world and zoom in on a little town called Griffinsburg. Here, a girl named July lives and has a wonderful life as a normal kid without superpowers yet. Her tenth birthday is coming up soon, as you may have guessed, it is in July. It is currently June 28th, and her birthday is July 9th. 

The thing is, when she turns ten, she goes to the magical judge and is given a brand new superpower that nobody has been given yet. 

“Daddy?” said July.

“Yes?” said her daddy.

“What superpower do you think I am going to get? I hope I get—actually, I don’t know what I want to get. I just don’t want a bad power.”

“Well, your guess is as good as mine. But maybe you could break the previous record and get the same as your mother or me. So levitation or super strength?”

“Maybe, but I kinda want to get something new.”

“I get it, so did I when I was a kid.”

“July! It’s time for flying skateboard club!” yelled July’s six-and-a-half year old little brother, Henry, from downstairs.

“Coming!” yelled July.

She tossed on her backpack, gave her daddy a great big hug, waved goodbye to her pet axolotl, Nebula, and went downstairs to walk Henry to his flying skateboard club. Henry was already holding his flying skateboard when she got down.

They closed the door and turned onto Maple Street, then took a left on Railway Road where there was the skate park. July hugged her brother, and then set off to her friend Poppy’s house.

Poppy was the same age as July, and she was about to get powers as well. July got to Poppy’s house, and they greeted each other with a big hug.

“I missed you! I haven’t seen you in so long!” said Poppy.

“Are you sure? We just had a playdate three days ago,” said July.

“I know, it seemed like an eternity. Right?”

“Good point.”

“Anyways come inside! My mama said we could make chocolate chip cooooookies!”

“How fun!”

July came inside, they got out all the ingredients and Poppy’s mama’s magical cookbook out. Then they began to bake.

“Poppy?” July asked.

“Yes?” Poppy answered.

“What superpower do you hope you’re going to get?”

“Oooh I don’t know, maybe levitation?”

“Poppy, that’s not possible, remember that is my mama’s superpower.”

“Oh right! I remember now!”

“Poppy, the question?”

“Oh yeah, right. I don’t know then? What about you?”

“I don’t know but I want something to shoot out of my hands.”

“That’s cool! I still don’t know what I want.”

They put the cookies in the oven and waited.

“What do you want to do while we are waiting?” asked July.

“We could play ‘Super Power Guess Who?’” answered Poppy.

“Sure!”

Once they got set up, they drew a card and began. July drew mind reading and Poppy drew super speed.

“You can go first,” said Poppy.

“Okay. Let’s see… Can yours help you see something you can’t normally see?” asked July.

“It cannot,” answered Poppy. July put down the no longer possible answers. “Can yours help you get to places quicker?” asked Poppy.

“Nope,” said July. Poppy put down the non-possible answers “Can yours help you get to places quicker?” July asked

“Yes,” answered Poppy. After July put down all the answers that couldn’t be possible anymore, she was left with two tiles: teleportation and super speed. “Can yours help you see somebody else’s thoughts?” asked Poppy.

“Yes,” answered July. There was only one1 that could do so she had one tile left. July had to guess the right answer this question or Poppy would win on her next turn. “Is yours… teleportation?” asked July.

“Nope! Yours is mind reading, right?” said Poppy.

“Yup. You won!” said July.

Just then, the timer for the cookies went off. Both girls ran downstairs as fast as their legs could carry them.

They enjoyed some cookies then July had to leave to go and pick up Henry. 

“Bye Poppy!” July yelled.

“Bye July!” Poppy yelled.

After July had picked Henry up and brought him home, she started something she had been wanting to do for a long time: fill out the form the magical judge had given her. There were a few simple questions about her personality.

The first question said, “What is your favorite animal?” July put down a sea turtle.

The second question was, “If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would those words be?” July wrote animal lover, fun, and patient. She hoped they would accept animal lover as one of the describing words.

The third and final question was, “Do you keep secrets?” July put down that she didn’t.

#

It is a week later, and now the date is July 5th. Poppy gets her power today. July went to her horseback riding camp then came home. After ten minutes, she heard a “knock, knock, knock,” on her door. She ran downstairs as fast as she could and opened the door to a smiling Poppy.

“Poppy!” July yelled.

“July!” Poppy yelled.

“What did you get as your superpower?”

“Drumroll please!” Poppy said excitedly, “Flower power!”

July was confused. “Flower power?”

“Yeah,” said Poppy, “the ability to make plants grow!”

“I guess that kind of makes sense given your name is Poppy.” 

“True. I never thought of it that way,”

“I can’t wait until I get my powers.”

#

Four days later, it was finally time for July to get her power.

Before July went to get her power, she said to Nebula, “Wish me luck!”

July walked into the room where the magical Judge was, with butterflies in her stomach.

The judge examined July’s form for a good few minutes, and then in the blank space at the bottom they wrote “water powers.”

Once they handed the form back to July, a dome of water covered July but didn’t get her wet. After a few seconds, the water turned into mist.

To be continued…

Lexie Yankeelov

Badgerdog Session C: 1PM Mythology (4th-6th grade)

In this one-week mythology workshop, students in grades four through six learned about tricksters, monsters, and constellations. We began by writing stories based on a “Merperson” selected from a collection of images. We then read and analyzed a prose poem by Matthea Harvey called “The Backyard Mermaid.” In Zoom breakout rooms, students worked together to identify vivid verbs, intriguing nouns, and points of symbolism in the poem. This led into the exercise of listing mythical creatures we know (and researching about some that we didn’t). Choosing from their lists, each student wrote a poem or a story about one such beast. We also responded to a prompt that had us creating unique animal-creature hybrids and writing about what would happen if these strange monsters met each other!

Our discussion of tricksters was fueled by two animal trickster myths: “Raven and the King Salmon” and “How Dog Won Fire.” In these tales, we saw how certain characters utilize intelligence and cunning to outsmart others—but, more importantly, we came to see that myths often tell about the earliest times and about how certain aspects of the world came to be. We had a chance to watch a video of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” being read aloud and followed along with the words on the screen. Although “The Raven” is not an easy poem to understand, we still garnered a lot of meaning from it, and it served as a great example of symbolism. Ravens, after all, are quite iconic in many cultures, and they are often found in myths. Exploring what the raven in Poe’s famous poem might represent was quite a treat. 

Rounding out the workshop was a lesson about constellations. We learned that two of the most known constellations, the “big dipper” and the “little dipper,” are contemporary names for what are also called “Ursa Major” and “Ursa Minor,” which translate to “greater bear” and “little bear.” We talked a little about the myth behind these nighttime outlines and how humans have always looked to the stars and wondered about what is above. We drew our own constellations, and then each student interpreted the drawing of a fellow workshop participant! Everyone was asked to imagine being an archeologist who was discovering the tomb of a lost civilization’s king or queen. If a peer’s constellation was found inscribed on the tomb’s wall, what story might explain the starry pattern’s shape? What might this tell us about what the lost culture valued most? 

It was a blast engaging with some diverse literature and sharing our own work with one another. Myths demonstrate one of humanity’s greatest truths: we tell stories to understand ourselves and the world around us!

Aubrey Ward
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

The Cyclops and the Monocle

A cyclops who lived on a deserted island lost his monocle. He searched the whole island only to find it broken. He was sad because he couldn’t read his favorite comic books.

There was no eye glass shop on his island, so he swam to a different island in search of a new monocle. Luckily, he found a monocle in a glasses shop. He needed money to buy it, so he offered to shine all the glasses in the shop for money. He could read his comic books again because he was able to buy the monocle.

Calum Haley

The Jungle Dragon

The Jungle Dragon flies across the whole jungle, spitting fireballs left and right, searching for something special. The Dragon has big, giant wings with very sharp claws. The land that the dragon lives on has cyclopes, goblins, and one dragon. His goal in life is to eat a golden grape to become immortal. The dragon fears humans because humans try to hunt him for his rarity. He flies away when he sees humans. He needs a type of plant to survive, but he hunts and searches for the golden grape. The plant is called the Japanese fire flower, and that’s where he gets his fire powers. Also, the dragon likes to collect shark teeth. When he was a baby, he was friends with a shark, and that is why he collects shark teeth. Would you like to meet The Jungle Dragon?

Ethan Chang

The Vark

The Vark would love to go to the surface, but he can’t. This is a Vark: half vampire, half shark.  The Vark is an agile swimmer, but he can’t see sunlight. If he does, he will DIE. Even at night, the moon is too bright for the Vark to swim up. This is why he has never been seen. He lives on the bottom of the sea. When there is a new moon, he is able to swim up to the surface and visit Poseidon. Poseidon loves when the Vark visits. The Vark is very funny. Whenever the Vark visits, Poseidon has to put a bite-proof vest on so that he doesn’t turn into a Vark. The Vark sometimes turns things into other Varks, but then mostly eats them. The Vark’s flippers are like a penguin’s. This is why he can surf with Poseidon. But, on October 3rd, 1865, Poseidon wasn’t there to greet the Vark. The Vark locked himself in the cellar of a sunken ship and was never seen again.

Ian Copeland

The Sharkefant’s Diary

Making storms. Punishment to animals. This is my daily life diary. Day after day, I do this backbreaking drudgery, becoming even more bitter than ever. This is all because I’m a sharkefant. I wish I weren’t. On the outside, we appear melancholy, furious, and like we have many other “down feelings.” It is very hard to find a hopeful or perky sharkefant because most of us have negative feelings. We sharkefants guard the Underworld of the Organisms. All living organisms except for gods and humans go to the storm clouds after they die. So, we have to see if they pass the badness test. Every time an animal or plant comes through the lightning gates, we stomp our feet onto the clouds, creating thunder, lightning, rain, blizzards, hurricanes, and even hail. I, however, don’t do that job. Since I am one of the youngest sharkafents working here, I have the job of punishing the animals that die mean and cruel. It’s a hard life, not at all like that of the gods who live on Mount Olympus. The storm clouds only pass by the home of the gods once or twice a month, you know. Why do I have to be a sharkefant? Why are we forbidden to go anywhere besides the storm clouds? Let me guess: just because of our smelly breath and the loud snarls we make? Snarls are an instinct; they automatically happen, just like breathing and blinking for humans. Why are we treated like prisoners because of our ugly looks and our swampy, slimy skin? Huh, a weird way to be treated. Today, my mom has grounded me in the bathroom, just because I felt sad for a rabbit that stole carrots from the wealthy to survive. That caused me to forget to make a hurricane and give the rabbit punishment! When this happened, the rabbit came back to life, and I got punished by Zeus. I don’t know why Zeus dislikes sharkefants 100%. Maybe he was the god who persuaded everyone to think that sharkefants are dreadful creatures. I am making my mission to convince Zeus that sharkefants can still be positive.

Madisen Kang

La Llorona 

A night

In Mexico

You should never go out after

Dark

The Warnings ring in your ears

The Stories

The Tall Tales

The Myths

The wind is wailing

Except…

That’s not the wind

You start to

Run

The trees are reaching out

Except…

That’s not the trees

The water is running towards you

Except…

That’s not the water

The cold wind chills your spine

Except…

That’s not the wind

Branches grab you by the shoulders

Except…

That’s not the branches

A dark veil of mist swirls around you

Except…

That’s not mist

In your mind, you start to disappear

Except…

That’s not just your imagination

The myths are true

The warnings are true

La Llorona has come

 For you

Olivia Rose Gonzalez Kraft

Monster Story

My monster sounds deep and dark. My monster looks like a wolf. My monster feels soft and smells like rotten flesh. My monster is Fenris wolf. Fenris wolf lives on the island of heather the flower. He was trapped by the Norse gods. Heather wards off evil, and Fenris wolf is surrounded by it. His greatest desire is to break free of the rope Gleipnir and start Ragnarok/doomsday. He is a son of Loki, and his brother is the world serpent.

Owen Schultz

Banshee

Banshee a haunted little girl who died of screaming

Banshee haunts churches making anyone inside them perish

Banshee sneaky as a black widow spider in the middle of night

Banshee her lost soul somewhere in the darkness

Banshee her looks are a girl with fierce red eyes pure white skin and hair like an albino

Banshee smells like a nice warm breeze victims clueless that it’s a trap

Banshee tastes so bitter that we start screaming in terror and pain

Banshee sounds like a soft breeze when uncovered sounds so terrifying you would turn to dust

Banshee feels like cotton candy but hands sticky like superglue something you can never get off

Banshee the one who haunts you

Saisha Singh

Alex the Cyclops

The cyclops named Alex was asleep in his cave. He opened his big yellow eye and stood up and tightened the rope around the waist of his tunic. It was a beautiful sunny day, but because he did not like sunlight, Alex put on his sunglasses to block the light. He then went to the heavens to see if he had a new mission. He was in charge of keeping other creatures safe. 

Alex talked to Hermes to see if there were any creatures that needed to be rescued. Hermes said that there was one dragon that was stuck in a cave and that the dragon’s wing was caught under a huge rock, so he was unable to fly away. Alex saddled up a griffin to fly to the dragon, and, using his extraordinary strength, Alex lifted the rock and freed the dragon. It had a broken wing, so Alex asked the griffin to call his flock to lift the dragon back to the heavens to get its wing fixed. 

After a long and exhausting day, Alex went back to his cave to eat his favorite meal of fruits and vegetables, brushed his teeth, and went to bed. It was really dark in his cave, so he fell asleep immediately.

Wynn Adame

Badgerdog Session C: Journalism (3rd-5th grade)

Once upon a time, my generation depended on a handful of media outlets to know what was happening in the world—Walter Cronkite on TV, the favorite rock ‘n roll radio station or the local newspaper. Now, we are bombarded with “news” from a variety of sources; oftentimes, reported by, literally, “the guy on the street.” So, how do we know what is factual and what is fake? “Journalism: Sleuthing for the Truth” allows students to delve into the world of interviews, research and writing to discover how to create news stories for print, podcasts, or play! For our final assignment, that is exactly what we did—had fun!  Two teams of journalistic detectives wrote and recorded their “fake” stories, adding sound effects and excited voices to share the breaking news with listeners. Enjoy these scripts and audio recordings.

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Pizza Town Strikes Gold!

Yuni, Anchor: Breaking News!!! The town has gone crazy! This is Yuni of the JUNGLE Explorers, reporting from Station Adventure. Today we found gold, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds in our Pizza Town! To share the background of this landmark day, meet my friends, a Parrot named Owen eats Pizza …

Owen: CAW! CAW! We found it! We found it!

Yuni: … and Hu-Die Peachy, an explorer in Pizza Town. Let’s go down into the cave.

Owen: BOOM! CRASH! RUMBLE!

Yuni: Hu-Die, tell us what happened today. How did this all come about? 

Hu-Die: Following up on the rumor about a mysterious cave, my team investigated it. Once we entered the cave, as far as we could see there were obstacles like quicksand and booby traps. By the time we finally made it through, it was almost midnight. The jewels glowed with an eerie light.

Yuni: We will share these riches with the whole community by putting it on a giant water fountain. See you later!

Owen Aslot

Yuni Lee

Hu-Die Patel

Raining Dogs (But no Cats)

Stella, Anchor: Hello, my name is Stella here on the streets of Austin, Texas. It started to rain dogs that came in all colors and sizes, both cute and mean! Let’s go to my weather woman Abby for more details.

Abby: On a sunny day, no clouds gathered but suddenly, it started raining dogs. (Woof! Woof!) But not one (Meow). Every time the lightning struck the ground, it turned into dog treats.

Stella: Now Alena, sports woman, will tell you about the recent games.

Alena: Hello, Alena here. Wow, what an amusing story! I also have some crazy news for you. True crazy news. Hey, did anyone watch the basketball game between the Longhorns vs. the Raptors last week? The Longhorns beat the Raptors by … get this … 163 to 24! Crazy, right? Honestly, I think the Longhorns are just purely super-human! Anyway, switching to football. The Seattle Seahawks beat the Miami Dolphins by 128 to 68. Seahawks, I have one question for you—what is the meaning of this? (Laugh) I mean, that was a huge beatdown you gave those flapping little Dolphins. I’m convinced that sports teams are now becoming superhuman! What do you guys at home think? Alena, sports news, singing out. Back to you, Stella. 

Stella: Well, thanks, Alena. The government has informed us that any animals stuck in trees will be brought down. (Woof!) That’s a signal to stop.

All:  Stella. Abby. Alena. The Magical World.

Stella Aguilar

Abby Guo

Alena Maryam Jaweed

Badgerdog Session C: Flash Fiction (7th-12 grade)

Our one-week Flash Fiction course went by in a flash! It was an honor to work alongside these eight students. This brilliant group of young authors possesses endless amounts of creativity and wisdom.

From our very first day together, I was blown away by these students’ careful consideration of our reading materials and by their eagerness to share their ingenious, entertaining flash fiction pieces. Their respect and admiration for one another and for our artistic space allowed them to explore endless amounts of both individual and group-cultivated creativity.

Throughout the week, these fearless writers explored the practice and benefits of writing for fifteen minutes each day, created complex fictional characters, and built animated worlds in under a thousand words.

I am incredibly proud and cannot wait for the rest of the world to read their dazzling and small but mighty creative flash fiction pieces.

Robin Bissett
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

The Dam

As he approaches the creek, he thinks about all the fun he’s going to have. “Oh boy!” he thought. When he gets there, though, he realizes that the water isn’t deep enough to play in. 

At first, he’s angry that he can’t play, but then he has an idea. I’ll just build a dam! 

So, with hours of work ahead of him he starts gathering materials. A couple dozen sticks, half a bucket of mud and sand, a few rocks and some leaves. Then after hard work he can finally enjoy the water. As time passes, the dam holds up, but the sun does not. He feels confident in the dam’s ability and starts to head back for the day. “I’ll come back tomorrow,” he thinks to himself. 

The beginning of the next day, he heads back to the creek and the dam. When he gets there, though, he sees a lot of fish swimming around the dam. He realizes that the dam prevents the fish from swimming down the creek. He immediately feels bad for the fish and starts to tear the dam down, then he stops. 

He thinks about what’s more important, the fish or swimming? The fish of course! Right? But I spent so much time! But the fish! But the dam! GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! He tried to tear it down a bit more but stopped again. He had to tear it down or the fish couldn’t swim! He tore it down and felt bad. 

He walked along the creek for some time. He then realized that the creek got deeper further down and so he started swimming again. He no longer felt bad, and he forgot about the dam.

Blaise Barbier

Lost Glasses 

Earlier today a man lost his glasses. He had searched every inch, every nook and cranny of his house, and was positive that he had not left them somewhere else. After searching for an hour straight, he finally asked his wife to help him find his glasses. His wife took one look at him and started laughing. When he asked her why she was laughing, she asked him how he could see so clearly, and that was when he realized where his glasses were the whole time: he was wearing them.

Darryl Tang

A House Has Gone Missing

Nobody knows where this house has gone, but at 2:00 pm on Sunday, an entire house went missing from News Boulevard. We are still unaware of its whereabouts, if someone just destroyed it, or how it was moved. Police are on the scene now. Jim, take it away. Thank you, Carol. I am here in the spot where the house disappeared. (Empty area behind Jim with police tape and several inspectors and police cars). Not even the inspectors have a clue on how it went missing, and back to you, Carol. Thank you, Jim. We will catch you up on any news about the house if any happens. Now onto our next story: Does the Queen of England actually have a secret area under the palace with clone pods, dimensional rifts, and Darth Vader? All that and more, after the break.

Eric Zolidis

Thoughts of a Dandelion Seed

An unread grammar book sat before me. I carefully opened it, scanning the first page, my eyes flitting from word to word. It was a dull, boring read – but I had to read it. It’s important! If you want to write better, you need to know grammar, my mother had said. But as the words slurred together, a blurry mess of black on white, I rested my head against my hand, my elbow against the table. I stared at the painting of the dandelion that adorned the left wall, my eyes staring at the slightest details – the shading of the clouds, the feathers of the dandelion seeds as they floated in the breeze. Reality faded away, giving way to the world of my mind.

I felt myself floating away in the breeze. A little, tiny thing in the universe, flying away. Flying away to an unknown place, with no way to control where I was going. Clutching onto the stem of the seed, I didn’t know where I would drift off to, just that it would be somewhere. Wherever I landed, I would try to sprout, I thought. If I was that dandelion seed, I would try to sprout. Be it in the desert, a rocky mountain, a beach, a meadow – I would sprout, and create seeds myself to be blown into the wind.

My eyes refocused, and my thoughts centered once again on the blue book before me. I blinked, the words clearing momentarily, before I lost myself again, my thoughts enveloping me. 

If I am just a little dandelion seed, then why am I doing this? Nothing I will do will change how I fly. I will never be able to control the breeze. Why am I doing this?

I set down the book and rested my head against the cold glass table, the crystal chandelier shining facets of light onto my face. I imagined myself in a different world. Here, I was the ideal version of myself – smarter, prettier, kinder. I imagined myself as this girl that wasn’t me – this girl I thought I could never be. 

Why couldn’t I be that girl? Nothing I could ever do would get me there. I was just a dandelion seed, getting carried on the wind, while she was a lioness, storming forward in a path that she set out for herself. I could never be a lion. How can a dandelion seed be a lion, after all? No matter how hard I could sprout, I would never be as strong or powerful as a lion. 

A tap on my shoulder jolted me out of my reprieve. It was my mother, and she stared at me curiously.

“Are you done reading or not?” 

I glanced at her a little shamefully. “No.”

“Well, what have you done?”

My ears turned red. “Nothing.”

“Well, hop on it!” 

I opened my mouth, hesitated, and then sighed. 

“Why, though?” 

“So that you can be who you want to be, of course!”

Liesel Park

The Language of Flowers


A girl of 14 ran every day. She ran away from the thoughts in her mind. Ran away from her home and her family. But in an hour, it would all be back again. She would live her life with the loud sisters and fighting parents. But for one hour, she could get away. 

Kayla Annaliese Stoll ran all the time. Running wasn’t her passion; it wasn’t something she had to do. She didn’t even have a desire to do it either. But she still had a reason. Her family. It wasn’t just her twin sisters. Genevieve and Liesel fought so much about every little thing. Their fights were loud. They threw words at each other as hurtful as the surface of the sun. But their parents didn’t care. Mom and Daddy would have serious, quiet hushed fights. They wouldn’t talk to each other for weeks at a time. They wouldn’t coordinate their schedules. They just simply would talk. At all. It made Liesel miss dance. Genevieve missed acting. But nobody had to worry about Kayla. All Kayla did was running and studying. 

Once, Kayla was taking a new route through her small town of Essex, Connecticut. Posted by an alleyway, a flyer for a free photography and cinema class at the Recreational Center. She grabbed her iPhone out of her pocket and called the number on the flyer. Anything could be better than hearing fighting all day and all night. 

The next day, Kayla walked to the Rec Center with nothing but her phone in the pocket of the red sweatshirt she was wearing. Once she reached the Center, she went straight to the classroom super quietly. She was good at being quiet. The class lasted the whole summer. Once a day from 9 to 4. Soon, Kayla fell in love with photos. She walked dogs for weeks to save up for a camera. Once she bought it, she wouldn’t put it down.

Kayla met people from all over her town. Sue Ellerby loved taking pictures. She would take them of her four kids and two cats and their birthdays and graduations-not the cats. Mr. Cobbleway loved posting pictures of what he cooked and baked on social media. And Everleigh, a college student on summer break, had a vlog about her life at Stanford, studying to be a surgeon. 

For the first time in her life, she had friends. Kayla wanted to be like these people. She wanted to vlog and cook, and most of all be confident, with self-belief. But she was still timid little Kayla when she was not in room 213 at the Rec Center. 

A couple weeks before class ended, there was a huge assignment. Making a movie. About something you loved. Sue was making one about her family. Mr. Cobbleway’s was about food. Everleigh’s was about her passion for medicine. But Kayla’s only passion was photography. And there were about 3 other students in the class already doing that. So, what did Kayla do? She ran. She went and sat in the big field of flowers. All kinds of flowers grew there.  And no one even owned the property! Kayla always made-up stories about who planted the flowers. Too bad I can’t make my video on these- wait, I can! Kayla spent the whole two weeks editing, filming, and brainstorming about flowers. On August 16th, she was finally ready to present. But there was one problem. The title. When everyone else was presenting, she thought and thought and thought. And she found the perfect name. 

That day, Kayla walked home proudly with her second-place trophy. Everleigh was first. Sue third. Mr. Cobbleway was fourth. She stopped short at the house. Would her family talk to her? Congratulate her? Be… Proud of her? So, she waited outside, by the stairs to the deck. 

To her surprise, one by one, each of her family members came by on the deck. They persuaded her to tell them about her class and her video. And Kayla didn’t hear a single whisper or scream. It was happy. She told them that the title and movie reminded her of them. It was called the Language of Flowers.

Neerja Bathla

The Final Piece

Expendable. Unneeded. Useless. Lost as water is lost in a rainstorm. Gone as fleeting moments of happiness are gone. Just one piece in a sea of many. Longing to be found. Longing to have a use, a purpose. The puzzle piece was left, forlorn in a drawer, a dark abyss devoid of positivity. Acceptance came quickly, like ants to sugar.

A glimmer. A small ray of light like a ray of salvation. Light flooded the cupboard like water pouring from a bucket, bringing a sense of importance. An object lowered into the box, grasping the piece, a feeling of newfound joy washed over the piece as a tsunami would wash over a city. It was lowered into its place, completing a stunning image. The moment lasted for eternities.

Nico Georg

Dream Wanderer

Lost. He was lost in a dream, and he couldn’t get out. He tried to jump off a building, but he opened his eyes, and he was standing on the ground. He tried to slap himself, but his hand just passed through his face. He tried to wake up for hours and finally after hours of failed attempts he was exhausted. He fell asleep and… woke up just as his alarm clock went off.

Ved Hoskote

Badgerdog Session B: 10AM Novel Writing (5th-8th grade)

Over the course of a single week, the seven young writers comprising this virtual Novel-Writing Workshop established a veritable laboratory of literary creation. They were faced right away with a daunting task: in five days, come up with a viable idea for a novel-length story, develop its characters, outline its plot, and write at least one chapter!  But these young writers dove into this challenge boldly. They followed the trail of whatever sparked their imagination and excited them the most, knowing that an ambitious commitment like a novel would require choosing a story they simply couldn’t resist telling—and these trails led them through wildly inventive, humorous, fantastical, and emotional terrain.

With numerous mentor texts to serve as inspiration—such as Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling, and J.K. Rowling’s handwritten plot outline for the fifth Harry Potter book—writers practiced creating multilayered characters whose deep motivations lie hidden in their pasts, building fleshed-out scenes that advance at a real-time pace, and constructing stories out of these scenes that are powered by the engine of their characters’ desires.  

In the stories below, you will discover a bumbling detective, a grieving fox, a bird who transforms into a girl, a mysterious lake, a brave orphan with a talking cat, and a note-passing cipher. Some writers chose to include just a “logline” (a very brief hook or summary) of their novel, others chose to include just a section of the manuscript, and some chose to include both. In all cases, these tantalizing excerpts hint at the thrilling stories these writers aim to keep weaving long after camp has ended. Their characters (and you!) have many adventures ahead….

Noah Weisz
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Case 452: The Case of the Unspeakable

Logline

In the little town where detective Aaron lived there wasn’t very much crime, it was just a small peaceful town until the day that Ms. Grin called the detective agency telling them that there was a robbery. Detective Aaron had never ever seen a robbery in the town and was shaking the moment she said robbery. Detective Aaron was one of the only detectives in the town meaning he was barely trained at all. Even with the horrible conditions detective Aaron feels he needs to solve the case proving that he really is a good detective, with his sidekick guy.  

Chapter 1: The Case Begins 

I’m detective Aaron and this case was the case that almost ruined me. 

I’ve been a detective for all my life but in the little town I lived in there weren’t many detectives to train me, and to be honest no crime either. So when I got my first case, I had no idea where to begin. My mind was racing as the phone rang not even a foot in front of my face and after five missed calls, I finally got to doing my job. The first call, Miss Trea from the elementary school, was just a missing dog call (which after all, it was just that her dog was left with her sister). And that’s the stuff that I really got used to. 

“DETECTIVE AARON MY PIE IS MISSING!” 

“Did the racoons take it again?” 

“Oh why yes they did, thank you.” 

“You’re welcome, okay bye.” 

That’s all I really got, just something small and I was right about every case. Almost every case. 

It was a late, cloudy morning with the birds chirping their signature song up in the cedar tree right next to the office. Their song was beautiful with long chirps and short ones, loud ones and soft ones, high pitch and low pitch, every beautiful chirp possible. I was just getting into work, late, and as soon as I walked into my office I heard the phone go off ruining the harmony of the birds. So, I sat in my chair, got comfortable and reached my hand out to grab the bright yellow cased phone on my desk. My hand was only an inch away when the buzzing stopped, it went to voicemail. I re-grabbed the phone and called the last number in missed calls, it was Ms. Grin. 

“OH OFFICER OFFICER I’VE SEEN THE MOST HORRENDOUS THING!” She went on, “This morning when I went to take the trash out I saw Mr. Banks’s house being robbed!” 

What? I think, there hasn’t been a robbery here in 27 years! 

“What do you mean, Ms. Grin?” I say. 

She goes on to add details of the robbers, “They were small, short. And they seemed to be wearing red shirts and some type of necklace.” 

“Hmm,” I continued, “any facial hair or tattoos? Possibly piercings?” 

“I was too far away to notice any key details.” Well of course, she’s 86, the last call from her was about where her glasses were (we had to send a team to her house to find that they were right on her bed where she had left them). “But I heard one of them say, ‘Boss is not gonna be happy.’ Oh and—” I hung up, I had never heard of these men before (or Ms. Grin’s deep “manly” voice, I mean she tried to sound manly, trying to sound like the robbers, but it took all my strength to not burst into laughter). I was trembling. A robbery is big, not what I’m used to. But I kept asking myself, why would they come here, after all the only thing we have is—bingo. 

 
Edin Carlin

Excerpt from an Untitled Novel-in-Progress

The rain pelted on my fur. My paws ached as I walked. The concrete below was rocky and stiff. I didn’t know what to do. I was wet and thin. I was cold and hungry. I smelled a piece of rotten chicken in a trash can. After I pushed the lid off, I reached in and ate it as quickly as I could. It tasted disgusting, but I had to eat it anyway if I wanted to survive. Even after eating, I still felt hungry. I scampered around from trash can to trash can, sniffing the air as I went. I found a couple of slimy carrots in one, before I finally got lucky and found a whole steak. The steak must have been new, because it was at the top of the can and didn’t taste too bad. Even though I still wasn’t satisfied, I had to seek shelter because I was tired. I couldn’t go on for much longer without sleep. I had a dream that night, the world was perfect in that dream.  I saw my parents, my mate, and my kit, lazing around in the sun. But it was too perfect, all of the joy was washed away by a flood of darkness. It swallowed everyone. I tried to run but I was soon swallowed up too. I woke up hot and sweaty, my heart beating faster and faster. I want them back, I thought, I really want them back.

Charlotte Covey

The Tale of the Blue Jay Girl

Logline: 

A curious bird, Avery Nightingale turns into a human after her family dies. She has to learn how to be a human and go to school to try to bring her family back in 1932.

Chapter 1: The Tragedy

Avery Nightingale, the Blue jay bird lived in a hollow tree. She lived with her mother, her father and older brother. Avery’s mother was always on time for feeding and was very protective. Avery’s father was an attractive bird fellow and was willing to take care of Avery and her brother. Avery’s brother was a funny bird, he loved to play with Avery, after all he was going to leave the nest soon. One Saturday morning while Avery was watching her older brother practice hunting she heard a noise. Avery froze hesitantly. As she slowly unfroze she heard it again. Avery stopped, looked behind her and saw a construction worker. For Avery this was new and new things were what Avery liked. Avery chirped and peeped at this new sight. The man had a silver colored flat smashing thingy, thought Avery.

When she asked her mother what it was she replied that it was a construction worker who used a hammer to build things. Avery was very fascinated by this. At night she went to sleep dreaming about it. She dreamed about being a construction worker using a hammer, although she still did not know what a hammer was used for. She dreamed that it was for smashing food and making music. Avery may never know that because everything is about to change. That day Avery woke up early in the morning hearing yet another new sound. As being Avery, this was exciting. It seemed to be a cutting sound coming from the bottom of the tree. Avery headed to ask her mother why it felt sideways for she was tilting.

When she got to her mother she was panicking. Avery opened her beak to say “Mother, what is that construction worker doing with that tool…” Mother stopped her and said, “Avery stay here on the nest tuck yourself in me your father and your brother are going to safety we will come back for you I promise.” With that said they flew off under the tree. It fell down. Avery patiently waited, nothing came out the other side. She looked around and saw nothing. Suddenly she realized she was on the ground. She jumped off with her little bird feet and saw the wing of her mother lying just by the side of the fallen tree. Avery found her brother’s wing and head smashed on the other side of the fallen tree then she saw her father’s wings next to her brothers. It took a few seconds to realize that her family was no longer here.

She let out a sad chirp. She looked up into the sky as she shed a tear and it ran down her face and onto a feather of her mother. With that her blue feathered head turned into a black streaked hair. Suddenly her face turned into a peach tone with rosy cheeks and hazel eyes. She was dressed in a blue silk dress that ran down her legs and a fine flowered satin hat with a puffed sleeved coat. She also had on the most divine pairs of slip-on satin shoes with lovely lace socks. Next to Avery was a luggage with two other dresses satin and dark blue, hair ribbons, a pair of tights, a puffy winter jacket, a sun and rain parasol. At the bottom was a packed quilted blanket of all the blue colors and textures, with a lace baby blue pillow next to a nice purse with 2,500 dollars in it. Avery lifts her legs as hard as she can and strolls away with vengeance on her face. Her fists together her hair in her face and her head in the sky as she looks up high wishing for her family.

Sara Dunlap

Shadows Lake and the Disappearing Girl 

Logline

One normal day in their little town of Oars Rest, three girls go down to Shadows Lake. They are allowed to do so, if they follow their parents’ one rule: Stay in the shallow end of the lake. Emily the daredevil of the group decides she wants to race to the other side of the lake, the side they are not supposed to go on. The other girls debate with her and tell her that they shouldn’t race, but obviously Emily decides to do it anyway. She dives in and the other girls follow her, but when she gets to the other side, something goes wrong and she is sucked down underneath the surface of the water. She has to find her way back to her family and friends, while reconnecting ghosts of the past.

Neve Jansen

Excerpt from an Untitled Novel-in-Progress

Logline:

When an adventurous orphan growing up in the 1800s who was abandoned at a young age is sent to live with her suspicious grandparents in their creepy house, she jumps at the chance to learn more about her mysterious parents, and how she can hope to find them.

Chapter 2

With the second jolt of arrival of the day, the carriage pulled to a stop. This time, Marie was awake, but Gracie wasn’t. She jumped up, claws extended, and hissed. 

“Would it kill the man to make this ride a little more pleasant?” she muttered, and retracted her claws. 

“Probably.” Marie noted. She gathered her items again, and waited for the man to open the door. She stepped out, and directed an awkward nod towards him. “Thank you, er…good sir.”

“Please, call me Davis.” Marie smiled at him, but he once again didn’t return the favor. “Being called sir for the rest of your life is such a derogatory term.” He closed the door and turned away from Marie as the smile slid off her face and turned into a frown instead of a cringe this time. As she turned towards the house, her facial expression changed once again to one of awe. 

The house was gigantic. It was white, with a large brick roof and trimming. It had what must’ve been eight windows down the front, each with two green shutters. There were flowers below every windowsill, and out front. It had a huge, bright green, well-taken-care-of lawn out front, and a cobbled path leading up to the large wood front door. She walked up to the house and tentatively stood at the doorway. She saw her future flash before her eyes. She could run, and get back to the orphanage somehow. She didn’t have to subject herself to this unknown and perhaps terrible place seeking answers from parents who clearly didn’t care about her enough all this time anyways. But this place was so beautiful, and it had people like her. Plus, she was pretty sure, not having even stepped inside the house yet, that it was big enough that she could just hide if she needed to get away from her grandparents or the world. Marie had already made her decision. She rang the doorbell.

Or wait. She didn’t. There was no doorbell. She fumbled for a second on how to approach this situation and eventually just knocked, folding her hands nervously. The door opened, and a woman answered it. Marie figured this was her grandmother.

“Hello ma’am!” She smiled. The lady smiled back and opened the door wider. 

“Come in! Mrs. Smith has been expecting you!” She held the door open for Marie. Marie blushed profusely and walked through. At least this meant she got another chance for a first impression. She decided she would go with semi-cordial. They weren’t best friends. Yet.

Mia Moylan

Excerpt from an Untitled Novel-in-Progress

Chapter 1

“Hey Alice, can we talk for a second?”

That’s what I called to Alice Oakton as I got off the school bus on Tuesday morning. Alice, a few yards in front of me, was chatting loudly with her friends, and didn’t seem to hear me. I tried again. She heard my voice this time, she turned her head in my direction, excused herself from the conversation she was currently taking part in, and walked over to me. 

There are two important things about Alice that you should know. For one thing, if you suggested playing a new game at recess, Alice Oakton would agree to give it a try, she’s always willing to try something new. She’s also friendly and thoughtful, which makes her liked, which pretty much means she has influence over our classmates. I figured those qualities would come in handy. She would try my idea because it was in her nature, and if she liked it she would encourage other kids to use it.

What is this idea I’m talking about? It’s a way of communicating, and also my ticket to finding supporting friends to help me get me supportive friends who will help me get through fifth grade. I’m not an outcast and I’m not one of those people in the dramas you see on television who has a ruined childhood and is lonely, it’s just that I haven’t really had someone who I count as a good friend since my old friend, Kimberly moved away.

Moving on from that matter, my idea for communicating is very simple, but it’s also fun. Imagine this, two people sitting at their desks, the person on the left scribbles something on a piece of paper, folds the slip of paper, and hands it to the person on the right. I’ve just described passing notes, which is not a very original idea, but what I left out was the person on the right opening the note. What they would find would be considered gibberish to the untrained eye, but it would actually be a cipher called Pig Pen. 

In my opinion my idea was pretty good, but I would soon find out, because Alice was walking my way.

“Hi Terra,” Alice greeted me. 

I said good morning in response, and then started explaining my idea (I had prepared a speech the night before):

“I want to ask for your assistance on a project I’m working on. If my project is successful it could be considered as an incredibly fun, yet useful form of communication, I want your opinion on it. I think it would be interesting to write notes in a cipher called Pig Pen. It might seem boring, but I think people would enjoy decoding messages, it could be like a game and communication system combined, and I think a lot of students would be fascinated with the educational chance, I mean ciphers have lots of history.” I had to lie through my teeth when saying that, I’m probably the only one in my class who gives an ounce about history. I’ve often noticed that I’m one of the only students in my grade who really likes learning about historical events, objects, or really anything historical. There’s a lot of yawning during history class. “So what do you think?” I finished.

“I think it’s a great idea,” was the reply.

“Can you try it out with me, sort of like a test run?”

“Sure.”

As soon as she said sure, I knew that my plan was going to at least have a chance at succeeding, and I was suddenly talking on and on making sure she heard every detail of my idea. I’m usually quiet, not loud and loquacious, but it was like someone flicked a switch and suddenly I was a different person. I was talking so fast, I barely stopped to breathe. That certainly was a change of personality, that was probably the first and only time I’d ever talk so much. We quieted down as we walked into the school, and we walked to our classroom in silence. Before we went into our classroom, I handed her a piece of paper. Here’s what it said.


June Pringle Rodney

Badgerdog Session B: Joy Seekers (4th-6th grade)

Joy! That’s what this group of five clever writers were seeking! Through memories, collaboration, connection, and of course, creative writing, I’d say we succeeded at finding an abundance of joy. In the last year and a half, where many of us adults found ourselves rediscovering simple delights amidst the difficulty, it seems these students were already connected with the pleasures so often taken for granted. The brilliance of mothers, the comfort of a restaurant where everyone knows you, the magnificence of nature—there was so much to praise this week! These students were striking writers and fierce in their joy! 

nicole v basta
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

The Eggs in the Nest

CRASH! BANG! CLASH! Those were the very first sounds of my large action thunderstorm happening in California. It was actually expected to happen because many wildfires were taking place in California, due to climate change. Large strikes of blinding yellow appeared repeatedly, almost making me jump. I ran as fast as I could to my parents room to see more of the exciting moment (I LOVE thunderstorms for some reason). I found my dad, wide awake, but laying in bed, turning away from the window. Thunder roared and made me jump up to look at the action again, but once in a while I had to blink and turn my head away from the blinding light to keep my eyes healthy. I saw that my sister and brother came too, they huddled in the corner of my dad’s room while I jumped off the bed and danced during the stormy event. My sister wanted to go downstairs to find my mom, so she eventually was able to drag me down the stairs. We hurried downstairs quickly to find my mom sleeping on the couch, we jumped onto her and my sister huddled under the blanket. I stayed awake to look at the really exciting event. Though, we weren’t the only people huddling together. 

 A mother robin was sitting in the bird feeder which was attached to the large window next to the sofa. I could barely make out a small nest with milky white objects with cracks under the mother robin, so I guessed that the father was looking for more shelter. I observed the birds, trying to ignore the strikes of lightning going on, so I could focus on the birds (even though I love thunderstorms and I wanted to dance, I think I like birds better). Eventually, the morning came and the storm was over. I could still see the mother sitting on the nest of pearly white eggs as I woke up from my 3 hour sleep after the thunderstorm, the window shutters were still blowing around like it did during the thunderstorm, it was still pretty windy outside. Now, it was over, and I had the baby eggs to observe for the weekend. The sun was slowly rising above the horizon as the colors of the sky turned from dark blue, to pink, yellow and orange, to a light blue. I knew the baby birds that came out of the eggs would be so fun to watch. 

Madisen Kang

The One Thunderstorm

Thunder

Volcano sounding thunder

Lightning

Shocking crackling lightning

Rain

Heavy rain

Super duper crazy humongous ton of heavy rain

Power outage

Power outage tons of times

Scary

Fear

Anxiousness

The thunderstorm that was the loudest one

And the scariest

And the heaviest

The thunderstorm…

The thunderstorm…

The thunderstorm…

Abby Guo

                  Ode to my Mom

Mom,

Beautiful,radiant mother 

Your kindness getting stronger and stronger every day 

My mom the sun of the universe  

Always willing to be there for her family

Your smile is bright as a sunflower 

Your laughter is like bells ringing softly and gently 

You’re more beautiful than a glamorous flower with pretty petals 

You mean everything to everyone 

Your kindness showers every minute of the day

“Mom” 

Prisha Prasanna

My Mother

My mom, a beautiful magnificent mother,

The sunshine of the world,

Bringing me happiness,

The one who took care of me when I was young,

She comforted me when I cried,

The one who put me to sleep in nights that were long,

She is very brave and strong,

She was the the person that gave me life when I was born,

and she is the person who loves me the most of all.

Chloe Duan

Praise the Comics  

Praise the comics. Giving us flowers out of fights. The X-men fighting the blob, wolverine, and vanisher, praising our hearts telling our smarts that if the X-men can fight evil forces so can we. Yes a lot of the time these super extraordinary, not so ordinary, people are not people at all so how can we look up to them? If you think this way I do not blame you, how could people look up to Loki, god of mischief, Thor, God of thunder, and mutants known as the X-men if they are not men at all? Let’s take a fall.

The Avengers are mostly mutants but Captain America, a kind person from the ’40s who took a super serum and fought in World War II, is human. Iron man, well known as Tony Stark, dogs would bark at him, and say a Human genius, Natasha Romanoff, no offs here human, Clint Barton, a human. 

4 people from the original 6 Avengers are no stranger to a human. Giving us a chance to say that we can do it.  Yes, our parents may be mad, and sad, but we will be glad to know that we will always fight evil forces,  make bold choices, let our hearts guide us through our weird days, and put aside the odd manners of why life brought us here and say cheers for our fight has been fought. Yes, our parents may be mad, sad, and nowhere near excited for that path of reading, about “Merzah the Mystic, a powerful empath and telepath who ran a Himalayan monastery,” and not going outside except to go to the library, and the bookstore.  

Thank you for reading.

Mary Hardesty

Badgerdog Session B: 2PM Novel Writing (5th-8th grade)

Every Tuesday afternoon this last week of June, I met with this group of dedicated novel writers and natural storytellers. I was repeatedly impressed by their insight and enthusiasm, and the humor and imagination they brough to the Zoom classroom and to the page. The scenes and sentences they wrote were full of beauty, humor, and depth. These writers wrote opening scenes, developed complicated characters, mapped out plot, and brought the landscapes of their novels to life. 

A testament to their hearts and imaginations, here we have excerpts from novels about families, dystopian futures, alternate realities, magical worlds, all of which seem to have a real knack for creating suspense and world-building. Most of all, I was been so impressed by the emotional depth of their work. These writers understand that the greatest books are the ones that make us feel deeply. I can’t wait to read what they dream up next! 

Mary Terrier
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

The Desert Sky

My dreams were the same. For the past few days, all of my dreams had been about the stars. 

The sky’s the best thing about The Desert, after all. It is always clear and fresh, no towns to ruin its beauty. During the day, it is always blue and warm. During the night, you can watch all of the stars in complete silence, while smelling the crisp, cool air.

Sohum Jain

Excerpt from The Twin Academies

The magical land of Eira consisted mostly of pastoral countryside, with the occasional walled fortress or snowy peak here and there. Villages sprawled, small against the fields. On the horizon rose two entwined stone towers that made up the Twin Academies. Every child in every village dreamed of going there, but the odds were so small, they might as well have spent their time on other things. Only two children—one boy and one girl, between the ages of five and thirteen—were taken every year, and they never returned. Despite this, excitement preceded every Enrollment Day, and disappointment followed it.

I didn’t bother myself with such things. I was called lazy, even unmotivated, because I spent my time reading for fun instead of sword-fighting or studying. Half the time, I never even bothered with my appearance. This particular late autumn day, I woke up with the seventh volume of Ria’s Adventures lying on my face. I slapped it off with some difficulty and sat up. The sun was already shining through the glass window, and I could hear the banging and clanging of pots and pans downstairs as my mother prepared breakfast. It smelled delicious, and I figured that I might as well go and see what it was.

Downstairs, my father was seated at our oak-wood dining table, drinking a mug of hot apple cider. Not an unusual sight, considering how chilly it was outside. My mother bent over the black iron woodstove, preparing something that was probably fried eggs traded from our neighbor. I sat down across from my father, enjoying the three seconds I had to relax until my mother noticed how unruly my hair and clothes were.

Her mother-sense kicked in, and she whirled around. “Tris!” she said, exasperated. “For heaven’s sake, you look like you’ve just wandered through a whirlwind on your way to breakfast! Do you want Kyla to see you this way?”

Well, okay, Mother, you’re playing the girlfriend card? “I was planning to wash up afterward.” Not a lie, of course. I was planning to do that.

She sighed. “Very well. But you had better make good on that promise. Oh, and don’t forget to do your chores.”

Ugh. Chores are the worst. 

“I do require some winter blankets from the attic,” she added. “Would you mind getting some?”

I nodded, and she served up breakfast. I stuffed my face with delicious, runny eggs, and then went back upstairs to clean up. I stood in front of the mirror and washbasin, wiped the egg off of my face, and combed and tamed my wild dark hair. Then I walked over to my wardrobe and selected a simple off-white tunic, light brown pants, and my dark brown boots. As an afterthought, I slung my sword over my back. I don’t sword fight for fun, but it felt good to have some kind of protection, even if my blade only ever saw pest-control duty.

I decided that I looked good enough, and climbed the rickety ladder up to the attic. It was cool and musty inside, a year’s worth of dust stirred up at my disturbance of their rest. I located the wooden crates labeled “Winter Bedding,” and strode over to them. As I moved, I disturbed a smaller box, but it wasn’t just square. It had a lock with a keyhole, but no key in sight. I might have kicked the box aside, but something in me said, This is important. Don’t just leave it. I decided to take the sheets down to my mother now, and later I’d search for the key. Maybe Kyla could help.

Miriam Haskins

Excerpt from Wisps of Smoke 

The green leafy branches dappled the bright blue sky. It was a chilly Thursday morning, on the 21st of February. Simon was fifteen years old. 

He had been kicked out of the house once again. This time, Simon had made too much noise coming down the stairs for breakfast. He couldn’t remember a day when he hadn’t gotten in trouble for some odd reason.

When he was ten Simon had discovered this clearing in the meadow west of the house. It felt magical to Simon, though his older sister had called him stupid when he had asked whether she felt the same. Simon dared not ask his younger brother.

 Simon wandered around the area while he thought. He wondered why he had been born to this family, when his Gold traits were so obviously opposed to the rest of the family. The Acriman line had been Sharp-minds for ten generations, as Simon was constantly reminded. 

In his family’s eyes, he had broken the streak of Sharps and ruined the family`s reputation in the Sharp government. Simon was a waste, a yucky piece of Gold-minded trash whose only purpose was to ruin his family’s lives. 

And the Acrimans treated him as such.

Michael Schwabe

Excerpt from Saving a Song

It started with scientist Cara Corelet. It was her discovery that changed the world. Destroyed it, you could say. The best in her field, Cara researched the workings of the human mind, specifically its process of emotion. She worked alongside the government and was considered one of the most important researchers of her generation. But from her genius, a kind of insanity was born. After losing her son in a dreadful accident, she began feverishly researching for a way to numb her grief. It became an obsession and the government, worried by her slipping grasp on rationality, stopped supporting her experiments. She was approached by a privately funded organization which offered to help her, but their motives were questionable. They were considered a dangerous and controversial group; well financed and powerful, but hungry for acclaim and control. No doubt, looking to use Cara’s research as means to gain both. However, Cara had been overcome.

She continued her research under an organization called X-Uncovered. They watched her constantly, often encouraging her to let the insanity fuel her work. After many months, she made a fateful discovery. A serum which could be injected into the bloodstream and cause the brain to dull all emotion. It was far from complete, but Cara could no longer continue her work. Her time with X-Uncovered had driven her to madness. Though much of it was due to their encouragement, the X-Uncovered organization had no use for an insane woman, scientist or not. They eliminated her and continued her research themselves.

The X-Uncovered organization had many scientists working for them, but none were able to perfect the serum. Perhaps, it simply could not be completed. After all, emotion is as difficult to control as the tide; headstrong and ever moving, changing. But X-Uncovered was not ready to give up yet. They enlisted the help of more researchers from institutions and organizations from all over. Until then, X-Uncovered had hidden Cara’s research, hiding it from the world. However, the researchers could not help without knowing what they were working on. X-Uncovered had no choice but to reveal the incomplete formula. A few scientists, upon learning the potential power of the serum, reported it back to their superiors. Soon, acquisitive eyes turned to X-Uncovered and their priceless serum and conflict began to stir. Jealousy, greed, and hunger for power and fame fueled the fire of inevitable war. X-Uncovered had no shortage of enemies and the list was growing. 

As the tension grew, X-Uncovered finally hit a breakthrough. It was not the ideal formula, but they had to take action. Armed with what they called “the dulling serum”, X-Uncovered flew straight into a war that consumed the world. They felt no guilt or compassion for anyone and their strategies were notoriously straight-forward and flawless. They bombed cities, sank ships, hacked satellites, and tore down laws and leaders. And as others retaliated out of anger, betrayal, and fear; the order of the world began to crumble. The Earth was destroyed and life was nearly completely wiped out.

Felicity Fok

Pray

Me and mom slam the cars doors and run inside the hospital.

“Where is he?!,” Mom asks the person at the front desk “My son, Harry! I was just called a couple minutes ago by this hospital saying that he’s in critical condition!”

“What was his last name?” The person asks

“Harry Anderson! He’s nine years old and 4 feet tall!” My mom yelps

“Ok she’ll show you the way” He says, pointing to a nurse

As we follow the nurse down to Harry’s room, we see lots of doctors and nurses rushing around.

“Harry!,” Mom bawls. “I was so worried!”

“He’s sleeping now” The nurse says, pushing me aside

“C-can I at least stay in the room with him?” mom says, trying to hold back a tear

“Sorry but no. His injury is very serious and we can’t risk any chances.” The nurse says, handing my mom a tissue.

“T-then can I sit outside?” Mom says, dabbing her eyes with the tissue

“Well you can sit downstairs.” The nurse says shrugging

Mom nods

Then, I hear a long beep.

“His heart stopped,!” The doctor shrieks “I need more help!”

A doctor rushes into the room.

I stare at mom’s face. It’s pale white

“…Mom? Are you okay?” I say, feeling worried.

“H-his heart stopped?” Mom suddenly shrieks.

“It’s ok they’ll take care of him.” I say trying to comfort her.

The nurses face turns dark and sad. “Time of death, 6:49 pm.” The nurse writes down on a piece of paper.

Mom falls on her knees.

“W-what are you talking about? This is the best hospital in town!” Mom cries.

I try to hold in my tears, but I can’t. A river of tears come out of my eyes. Mom holds me tight and I hear her whisper something.

Olivia Yan

Excerpt from The Caged Princess

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

The water stuttered as the drops fell down. I looked around, scanning the ill-lit halls of the catacombs. Nothing but halls of darkness only lit by one weak flame resting on a torch against the wall were ahead. I slowly started to walk through the halls, making my feet slosh in the dirty water below me. A tiny gust of wind passed through the catacombs making me shiver. But I continued to walk. It was quiet, so quiet you could hear the wind blowing. I didn’t like it, it was too quiet.

Then I felt something—something cold and sharp touching the back of my neck. I stopped. Then slowly moved my hand over to my dagger, and slowly grabbed it off the baldric. Then I sliced my dagger through the air, and then it hit something—the wall. I exhaled unaware that I had been holding my breath. If there’s nothing behind me, then what was touching the back of my neck? I thought to myself, and looked behind my shoulder, revealing nothing but the previously walked hallway. It’s probably me just being paranoid. I thought to myself. Then I continued to walk.

Though, as I walked, I realized that the halls got darker and darker, and darker as I got closer to my destination. Once I finally got to the catacombs tunnel system, I stopped and got my map from my bag. The map said to continue to go north, so I went into the tunnel on my right. The tunnel looked about the same as the one into the catacombs, but it had much more torches lighting my way. And, the floor didn’t have as much water as the other one. My shadow seemed to dance as I walked because the fire wouldn’t seem to stay still. I continued to walk.

And after walking for two hours in this dark and cold maze, I finally saw light come into my view. I dropped all my belongings and then ran right to it. It was beautiful. Green trees and green grass suddenly came to my eyes, and pink, purple, blue, and flowers of all colors too. I let out a sigh of happiness and joy. I finally escaped the awful unlighted halls of the catacombs. I felt happy to finally escape that place.

But my happiness didn’t last for long. Because soldiers in red and gold started to surround me. My happiness and joy immediately melted off my face and turned into a scarred face. One of the soldiers walked up to me, and then said: “Princess Anastazia Souliere of Aiwerinad you are under arrest for the murder of King Azar Souliere of Aiwerinad .” He nonchalantly said to me. “B-but I-I would never k-kill my own f-father.” I stuttered, trying to fight back my tears. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you in court.” He said, and then walked over to me and cuffed me with Valrite shackles. “No! You can’t do this to me! I screamed at the soldiers. I tried to escape their grasp, but it was too tight. I was going to die. And I would never see the beauties of the green trees and grass ever again. I felt hopeless. I felt powerless. And I felt stupid for thinking that I could run away. I shut my eyes tight, so I could think. I wish I could go back in time, I thought to myself. Then, when I opened my eyes, nothing happened. I wished for something that wouldn’t happen. How stupid of me. I thought in my head. I wouldn’t ever escape. I wouldn’t ever go back in time. What was done, can’t be undone.

Madelyn Yildirim

Excerpt from The Lost 

I wake up groggy, my head throbbing. I rub my eyes, slowly opening them to a beautiful, alive world, the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming. There are flowers of every color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. The sky is a beautiful shade of blue. The breeze runs through my hair, I think for a second that my life is perfect then I remember reality. I get up and the world seems duller. The plants look like they’re dead and the sky turns into the color of tears. I clutch my locket, the silver heart with a picture of my family before it happened. I pulled out my phone to take a picture. No reception, the screen says, I groan, Wondering where I really am. I quickly get up and walk to the closest place with people. 

I stumble into town, I am greeted with glares but I eventually see a friendly face. I start walking towards her as eyes are glued to me. I glance at the color stalls seeing every shade of colors that exist. I glance around me and see booths filled with fruits, another one filled with stuffed animals and another one filled with vegetables. I stop right before a booth selling glass animals, seeing a glass chicken with red, black, yellow, and gold markings. It’s so beautiful yet so fragile, yet despite this you don’t want to be called a chicken.  

“Hi” I say

“Hello, I’m Ava” the girl says then whispers as quietly as she can “my next victim” and chuckles. I don’t read into this as everyone stares at us. It’s like they want to tell me something but don’t. 

“Emily” I said as friendly as possible

“Oh I know” she chuckles.

I look at  any signs of why she would know my name then I see my face plastered against a building, the chocolate hair pulled back, my pale skin exposed with only a tank top and shorts and my green eyes glowing behind glasses. I look down realizing this is what I’m wearing, my pajamas. Then I notice something else, something strange, everyone has hazel eyes, the exact same shade of hazel.

No wonder everyone was staring at me I think to myself.

“Let’s go to my house,” Ava exclaims.

“Ok” I reluctantly said, Realizing I am breaking my mom’s biggest rule. Don’t trust a stranger but she already told me her name and she seems nice so I go along with her. She walks to a castle sized house and rings the doorbell. Her whole neighborhood has houses the size of castles. The same shade of grey and the same white, green, and blue flags. They are the exact same and have the same exact gates and plants.

Elise Yan

Dry Tears

I groan and check my watch. 3:45 AM. He should be here by now. I swing my bat over my shoulder, wincing at the sudden pain. A stifled laugh alerts me. I clutch my bat tight whilst squinting my eyes struggling to see through the dark. “Weakling” I relax and roll my eyes at the familiar voice. He emerges from the bush he was hiding in. “Says the person who was hiding in a bush like a coward.” I said, emphasizing coward. He just laughs. I roll my eyes again. “Stop, tell me what you found about him or her” I say, strictly. “Okay, Ms.Boring. But I take my payment upfront, you don’t pay me now, I won’t talk.” He spoke, stretching his arm forward, palm facing up. I sigh, take out the crumpled dollar bill from my back pocket and place them on his palm. “That should be enough” He looks at the cash and counts them, fingering through each of them. He clicks his tongue. “You’re a dollar short”. He said, smirking. “Whatever information you’re about to give me is worth however much I gave you, your skilless.” I snapped, wiping the smirk off and replacing it with a frown. “Fine, He is a powerful mafia. Mafia KING. I snuck behind his base area which is located near the abandoned bakery, off on Oaks Vill. It’s heavily guarded with men who are huge. Like 6 feet tall. He is an important guy after all. I couldn’t get any pictures of him but I have some of his base and men. Maybe you’ll be able to recognize them if they ever, you know, come around.” He mumbled the last part, I guess not wanting to give me ideas of doing anything stupid, but I heard it. “What was his relationship with my parents though?” I whisper, holding back my tears. He hung his head low. Anger rushed through my body. “They didn’t DO anything.” I said, raising my voice, causing him to look up. “Right?” Silence fell. We both stood there in the dark, our faces being lit up by the old ‘Gas ‘em up’ sign. The only sound was the occasional woosh of cars going past us. The strong smell of gasoline lingered in the air. Litter piled up in the corners and sprinkled on the ground.  I didn’t want him to feel bad or even comfort me, if he was even going to. So I secretly wiped the tears that escaped my eyes, cleared my throat that had been clogged with grief, and said. “Thanks, for the information. It was helpful. I’ll prepare tomorrow.” He looks up. “Yeah, yeah yeah yeah, of course. G-go ahead.” He stuttered with a tint of awkwardness in his voice.  And from there I walk away. My steps, slow. I turn back to see him do the same. Slowly walking away. Awkward.

Sriya Chakravarthy

Badgerdog Session B: Dystopia (7th-12th grade)

Ms. Katherine’s Dystopian Masterminds

It takes a very clever and persistent writer to create a new world, especially when that world is facing the injustice and danger of a dystopia. But my writers were happy to accept the challenge and create dystopian stories of their own. 

For a whole week, we studied all of the nitty-gritty of YA dystopian stories: the empowered heroines, the power-hungry villains, the showdowns, and all of the complications in between. 

And these brilliant writers had ideas of their own and worlds to explore. I am thrilled to present to you excerpts from their stories, which you may find leave you to shocking discoveries and cinematic cliffhangers. Enter if you dare!

Katherine Lamb
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Excerpt from “Angels of the Night”

Alaya

I walk down the cracked pavement under the faint flickering lights of the street. The concrete is damp, and weeds force their way through the cracks reaching for the sun. I smile to myself; it is night now and the sun has gone, what do the weeds reach for now? I draw my thoughts back to the current assignment. A relatively simple request; Find the man named Larvone, force him to surrender the whereabouts of his treasure, and then eliminate him. I do not know what his treasure is, nor did I bother to ask. That is not my job. I am an assassin, one of the best here in the dark ruins of what used to be New York City. I consider myself lucky to have such a providing job. There are so many fools in this place, willing to pay for the death of a hated enemy or even long-time friend. I run my finger over the gun strapped to my thigh. This will be easy.

Ivy

I scale the rooftops of crumbling buildings with ease. It has always been a special talent of mine and it gives me the perfect cover from anyone watching on the streets. I am on a mission. A mission to kill.

Evelyn

I have been working for Larvone as a secretary for two weeks now. Why? Because it is the easiest way to get close to him and learn his schedule without drawing suspicion. I have been tasked with extracting the code to a safe, hidden somewhere in New York. I have been told it contains a treasure of vital importance, though to me, that means nothing. All I care about is the pay. For two weeks I have not seen my younger sister Eva and not a minute goes by that I do not think of her. She is the reason I’ve put up with this vile man and I do not intend for it to be for nothing. I scan the coded paper in my hands once again; Larvone is in danger. Do not allow his death until the code has been received. Should you fail, no payment will be given. I do not care for this man and his death would not bother me, but my instructions are clear. Until I have secured my pay, I will allow no harm to come to this man.

Alaya

I stand in front of the darkened manor, hidden by the shadows of the trees lining the path to the door. Its walls are almost completely hidden by vines and I see no light coming from any of the many cracked, opaque windows. To a passerby, the manor would look abandoned. But I know better. I run and press myself against the vine-covered wall at the side of the house. I hear the faint sound of footsteps and draw my weapon but no one approaches. It may have been my imagination, though I highly doubt it. I have done this enough times to know this place is clearly hiding something. Once I get to a window, I peer through. The inside of the manor is barren and dark. No furniture, light, or people. But it is clean. I see no cobwebs or dust, and the walls are evenly painted. My eyes narrow and I get to work on the window. Locked as I suspected, but after a few minutes of twisting with my fingernail, I hear the latch click. I slide the window open and roll through the opening. 

To be continued……

Felicity Fok

Faelita Rising

Prologue 

 Drip…drip…drip. Outside, a light rain was falling, forming small puddles which reflected the silvery glow of the moon. The wind silently rustled the leaves nearby but cautiously so, as if the slightest disturbance would bring the Devine Spirit’s wrath upon it. Tonight was the Unbinding and every creature, entity, even Night was holding its breath in apprehension, fearful of the Faelita Destiny has chosen to release. 

Not far away was a towering gray castle, situated at the edge of a cliff. Its imposing towers seem to touch the clouds, creating the impression that it used to be lived in by royalty.  Worn-down stone steps leading towards the busted metal gate and crumbling walls suggests this castle was an ancient architecture bearing the mark of its suffering.

Right then, the sound of quiet footsteps broke the tense silence. Striding down a narrow path was a figure wearing an azure blue cape. As it got closer, his profile came into view. His features were exotic but no less attractive, with high cheekbones, sharp facial features, glowing amethyst eyes, and shoulder-length white hair so white it seems unnatural.  His face was unrevealing and stoic. Spotting the castle gate ahead, he hurried towards it as though on a mission. 

Finally reaching it, he soundlessly pushed open the gate and entered the grounds of the old dwelling. As he drew nearer to the grand doors, something must have occurred to him seeing as he soon started sprinting unusually fast towards it, already a blur. Then, he slipped inside and shut the door behind him. And all was silent once again.

. . .

The inside of the castle was nearly pitch-black, with only the dim candles flickering here and there to guide the white-haired fae. After criss-crossing through a series of hallways, he eventually stopped in front of an onyx marble door, decorated with gold symbols. Pushing open the door, he stepped inside. Seated all around the room was a court of 56 gorgeous looking fae, divided into 7 houses-Aqua, Aer, Ignis, Glacio, Terra, Umbra, and Lucidus-each having eight representatives. 

Acknowledging each of the leaders of the houses with a nod, he approached his own seat at the front of Glacio, but was interrupted by a voice filled with scorn. “Well, it seems as if Colden has finally joined us, what a surprise. Don’t you have better things to do as a prince, hm?” The speaker was equally alluring in his looks, but carried an air of darkness other fae did not. At that gibe, the white-haired fae whose name was Colden whirled around to face him. “I advise you to watch your mouth, Ryker, unless you have a death wish. I bet Lily wouldn’t want to see your deceased, bloodstained body show up on her front steps now, don’t you agree?” Colden retorted coolly. “Her name is Lula. L-u-l-a, not whatever ludicrous name you created for her.” Ryker ground out. Waving a hand dismissively, Colden sneered at him and stalked towards his seat. 

At this point, everyone was watching their altercation intently and the room had gone still. Irritated, Colden scowled, “Well, get on with whatever it is and stop wasting my time!” Glancing at one another, the leaders of each house motioned for Valen to start. “Right, so as you all know the Unbinding is happening tonight. And you know for the past few years the Faelita has been…quite destructive, to put it lightly. Our assumption is that Destiny might be lenient on us this time, but what if she doesn’t? We need a plan-” he was abruptly cut off by someone scoffing. It was Colden again. “Seriously, a plan? What are we gonna do, run to those simpleminded humans? We’ve got nowhere to go, much less a plan. Why don’t we just stick around and wait for the deaths of fae species, sounds like a pretty good plan to me.” he deadpanned. 

“Fine, if you’re so determined to die then go ahead, but we are NOT going to just sit here and wait for the worst.” Valen snapped at him. “And you have a plan that will work? I have to say I don’t believe that.” challenged Colden. Speechless, Valen struggled for words. “The least you could do is to cooperate though!” he said finally. “Yeah, yeah, sure whatever.” came the careless reply.

Visibly frustrated, Valen sighed. “Since Colden has been very helpful in cooperating, we should start thinking about the plan. Anyone have suggestions?” Nobody spoke a word. Cursing under his breath, Valen shook his head and gave in. Suddenly, melodious music sounded all around the room, filling the quiet place with an angelic tune. Everyone sucked in a sharp breath. It was time. 

To be continued…

Starla

Plutonians’ Revenge

“I hate flying to other planets, something bad always happens.” Shoko muttered to herself as she was getting ready to fly another mission. Shoko walked to her ship and turned the engines on. As she waited for the engines to warm up, she went to the back to make sure that her package was secure. She was supposed to deliver the package to her friend on Neptune where the skirmishes were happening. Actually, she wasn’t even supposed to be going anywhere near Neptune because it was on lock down, PLANETS orders. PLANETS was a group of council members who ran the solar system, they were like the leaders. When they deemed Pluto a dwarf planet because of its size, Plutonians retaliated and started to attack Neptune. If you weren’t a planet, then you were at more risk because no one wouldn’t really care about what happened to the other dwarf planets and asteroids in our solar system. The council passed a law that no one outside of Neptune was allowed to help because it would put their lives at risk, that they were needed on their home planet to provide supplies and that the PLANETS would supply them to Neptune. Everyone knew that the PLANETS cared about nothing but themselves. Most people would just keep their heads down and continue with their normal lives, but not Shoko, she disagreed with the council. She knew that Pluto was deprived of its planet title because they opposed PLANETS. Plutonians knew something about PLANETS. They were going to tell everyone, but PLANETS found out and they removed Pluto from its planet title, effectively removing Pluto’s rights to associate themselves with other planets. 

Shoko was what you would consider an outlaw, once you’re deemed an outlaw, you’re deprived of your planet. Shoko was an Earthian before she became an outlaw. She was transporting goods, weapons, and other supplies to Neptune to help Pluto. Her friend, Alijah was currently on Neptune, he would take the goods that Shoko brought and distribute them to Plutonians. Shoko was passing the asteroid belt when she saw a bright flash to her left. ‘Shoot’ she thought, ‘the PLANTEES saw me’ PLANTEES were loyal soldiers that served the PLANETS, once they found you, it was nearly impossible to lose them. Not for Shoko of course, she was a pro at this, also considering this was not the first time she was seen by the PLANETEES. Shoko maneuvered around the beacon light and flew onward past Jupiter. She continued to fly without any more disturbances. ‘Good’ she sighed to herself, ‘No more running’ Shoko really didn’t like running away. She had always thought that it was way too much work, like they had never caught her, so what’s the point in trying right? Shoko continued to fly and passed Uranus, ‘Almost there’ she reassured herself. When she reached Neptune, she saw Alijah waving to her with his arms, flopping around in the air. Shoko chuckled at his goofiness and landed her ship. Alijah was a Neptunian and his father was the representative for Neptune. Everyone would think that Alijah would be on his fathers side, but he also disagrees with their decision to remove Pluto from its planet title. Shoko chuckled at his goofiness and landed her ship. 

When she opened the back of her ship, Alijah went inside and started to remove the straps that were holding the package down. Shoko turned around and saw that he was struggling with the straps. She got up and pulled her dagger from its sheath on her thigh and cut the straps. “Thanks.” Alijah said. Shoko nodded in response and together they picked up the box and carried it out of the ship. “Hey, is this the last package?” Shoko asked. She had been delivering these packages for months now. Alijah had told her that Pllutonians were building something big to expose the PLANETS and to help them defeat the PLANETEES on Neptune. “Yeah, this is the last one. Now come on, Plutonians are gathering around to get the plan in action.” Alijah replied. Shoko followed Alijah, returning her dagger into its sheath. She had the package in her hands. They walked past a few buildings and rounded a corner into a dark alleyway where there was a hidden tunnel blocked by a rock. Alijah moved the rock and when they entered the tunnel Shoko heard the rock slide back into place. She turned around to see Alijah dusting his hands off and walking onward. They walked for another ten minutes before Shoko saw a bright light ahead. 

To be continued…

Sahasra Barre

Catnip

Chapter 1

The cat had laser eyes. Of course. Sorin didn’t know what else she had expected. How had the hunters even managed to catch this one? She was distracted by the cat turning, his (hers?) eyes glowing. She quickly dodged, throwing herself to the side as the lasers appeared again, this time slicing through one of the stone pillars that held up the compound. She groaned. Anymore of this, and the place would collapse, most likely killing the cats inside. And then she’d lose her job. She’d also most likely be executed. She had to calm the cat down. But to do that she had to lure the cat outside, where it could do as much damage as it wanted. She sighed. What she was about to do was one of the worst decisions of her life. She whistled, gaining the cat’s attention. They turned, charging, as their eyes started glowing, ready to fire their lasers again. She started running, and honestly, running was not her strong suit. Her strong suit was training the cats, giving them treats for their good work, and occasionally, sneaking some of their treats for herself to eat. It’s not like they would miss them. It’s not like she got much of anything else to eat. She quickly ran outside, the cat running after her. She quickly slid to a stop, throwing herself into a nearby bush, while the cat continued on, running into the brush. She sighed. The cat could go crazy in there, and calm itself down. It’s not like it had anywhere else to go. It was, after all, on an island. 

She walked back to the compound, to finish what she was doing before the hunters dumped the cat on her. Madame Meredith, the Lord’s bodyguard, had required mounts due to the fact that she was accompanying Lord on a diplomatic trip. She needed to finish saddling the steeds, horses and giant cats alike. Mercenary Country had amassed the most superpowered cats of any nation in the world, and that meant they had hundreds of giant cats. Giant cats were some of the most common mutations that cats acquired, and every fortnight, if the hunters returned with cats, they’d inevitably return with a giant cat. She quickly looped the reins around Ginger’s head. Madame Meredith had a reputation for having a nasty attitude, and Sorin hoped she would be happy with Ginger, one of the worst behaved cats on the island. But when it came to Lord’s cat, she paused. While she could get away with giving Madame Meredith Ginger (really, she’s fast and good under duress!), that wouldn’t slide with Lord. So she gave him Greg, a hulking beast of a cat. Greg had been named by one of the cook’s daughters, and it had just stuck. While he was slow, both in speed and in brains. He was incredibly resilient and could brave all kinds of weather. The exact opposite of Lord, she thought, snickering to herself. It was a common rumor that Lord, despite being a genius with no equal, was sickly and weak from surviving the Cat Flu, as the disease came to be known. His guards, the police force of the islands, the Lord’s eyes, ears, and mouth, had done their best to quell the blasphemous talk, but they could only do so much.

Her thoughts were interrupted by one of the guards running in. “Lord requires the steeds now!” He barked. Sorin sighed, waving her hand. “I just need to bring these two out to the back with the rest of them. You can follow me.” She replied. Quickly hanging the names of those who were to ride the two cats around their necks, she led them outside to where the rest of the cats she had saddled were. Lord famously kept a large entourage, to protect himself, and mask who he was. Wherever he went, guards, servants and others went too. In order to protect his identity, he wore a mask at all times. It was amazing his identity had been kept secret for the past 15 years. She watched as the guard clumsily herded the cats to the ferry. Ferries were used to transport people between the mercenary islands, and from the cliff the cat compound was on, it was easy to see what was going on down below. She noticed, with surprise, that Madame Meredith was on the ferry as well as other guards. She never came to pick up the cats herself. She never left Lord’s side. That meant- she quickly turned to look at the others on the ferry, searching for him. There, in the red cloak. A frown present under his half mask, the mask, predictably, fashioned to look like a cat. He looked just as scrawny as she had heard before, but even from this distance, she could tell he was tall, easily towering over his companions. Against her better judgement, she continued staring. And maybe he was magic, maybe he was part cat, because somehow, he sensed her staring, and turned to look at her. The frown slowly morphed into a grin as if he was amused. Startled, Sorin jumped off the rock she had been standing on, returning to the compound, startled. And then it hit her. That was Lord. She had seen Lord. She had a better description of him than most people in the world. Lord was not a merciful man. She could be killed for that! But still, a part of her felt the thrill of looking the man in the… not eyes, but looking at him! If she wasn’t killed for that, it would be a story to tell her grandchildren.


To be continued…

Yashoda Salamon

Badgerdog Session B: Journalism (3rd-5th grade)

We need to read more reporting by students. They don’t try to fool you with tricky rhetorical questions. They get straight to the heart of the matter and stick to the facts. It’s true that those facts can be silly, but who doesn’t love a good laugh? These eight star reporters in our summer journalism workshop were all set to ask the tough questions… and answer them. They wrote as roving journalists and the interesting people being interviewed. You will read the reporting of Saffron Prescott who, alongside her team of “famouse” journalists, covers the eruption of Mt. Mozzarella. You’ll head to the gym and meet a clumsy rock climber named Matt and then encounter Ms. Will, a multi-tasking woman who, for the 52nd time, has a broken garage door. You will be asked to contemplate the debatable question: Are dogs or humans better? Flip through the pages to find facts about the G.O.A.T. in gymnastics and a rap about presidential pets featuring Bob Dylan! You’ll find an article featuring the animals we love, the planet we live on, people we know, neighbors, friends and those experiencing homelessness. These journalists wrote compelling editorials. Alexandria shared facts about Austin’s vote on Prop B and her opinion, “It’s not fair for homeless people to be in jail. They did nothing wrong.” Colin made a dire plea for our environment writing, “Run, fish, run.” Using their wit and compassion, their intellect and bravery, these writers tackled some of the most important issues we face. Isha sums it up perfectly, “I enjoy being a journalist because it is the best job in my opinion.”

Jena Kirkpatrick
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Protect the Planet and Save the World

I hope that one day I can be a part of an animal care project. Because I think that animals should get the same care that humans do. So, what I think people can do is sign up and volunteer for animal shelters. I know a lot of people like animals. I love animals and some animals are scared. So, if you could help the environment you’re going to 

save those animals and if you volunteer at a place like an animal shelter then you can help. The animals feel scared by themselves; bunnies and cats want to have someone by their side. 

I love the planet and I know a lot of people do. And a lot of people don’t care. And if people don’t care this Earth is just going to get worse and worse and if it gets so bad at some point it’ll probably just blow up. And we don’t want that. If you like the Earth, you probably want to keep it a good place. 

Maybe you don’t like recycling. Maybe you can make yourself pieces of fancy art. Then you can take your recycling and now that doesn’t mean get a lot of recycling, it just means take the recycling that you have. Maybe make a planter and then you can buy real plants not plastic plants.  Maybe out of the recycling you can make a self-watering planter. 

Helping the homeless people. Since prop B has been voted on people have been suffering and people have been in jail. Some people are doing nothing to stop it and some people are encouraging it. Some people are taking action. But there are not enough people. If we can get more people to help the homeless, there will be no homeless going to jail. It’s not fair for homeless people to be in jail. They did nothing wrong. Even when people do nothing wrong other people think they’re doing something illegal. Donald Trump made the United States bad. But together we can make it good again. People are starting programs to make it so that the homeless people don’t have to be homeless anymore. So, if you don’t like the homeless you can join a program and there will be no homeless people begging for food and you won’t be annoyed.

Saving our parks and forests. Everybody needs parks and forests in their neighborhood. When there’s a good park that means a good environment. If you have trees and flowers the air will get better. If you have trees and flowers, the air quality is going to get better. When you have factories and lots of smoke in the air, you’re just gonna die. And if you have trees then you will have a better air quality and you will get a better and longer life. By planting trees you can help the environment.   

Alexandria Keith

BNN10

2021/7/1

Hello, I am Hydro with BNN10. Today, we will be going to a debate site and listening to a very interesting debate about what is better, dogs or humans! Now let’s listen in. Humans are cooler than dogs because they can do a lot more things like building houses and giving dogs what they want like treats and going outside and walks. Well, humans make oceans dirty and also they pollute a ton. Think about that. Well dogs can be very dangerous and also they poop on walks and no one likes picking up poop. And humans can get very mean and get people killed. Well, dogs can eat stuff they’re not supposed to and then puke or throw up in your room; how does that sound dog fans? Well, humans can be very dangerous too. Dogs can steal people’s food when they’re not looking. Humans used to be very mean to girls and treated them unfairly and they still do that. They also used to do that, I think, to black people and enslaved them and didn’t treat them too well.

But if you like dogs, dog people, you have to spend a ton of money for it them especially that the people that aren’t super duper rich. Like, if you don’t have a ton of money, dogs can be very bad things for you. Well, also you have to pay for your house and if you don’t you have to be homeless. You also have to pay bills and all sorts of stuff too. 

Well, a lot of dogs don’t like getting their nails cut, so you will have to try to cut their nails. If it’s your first dog, they will probably get out of your room and try to not get their nails cut, so then you’ll have to take them to a dog nail cutting place like Dogtopia. It’s spelled even more money. 

Humans can bully each other and be mean to each other too. Well, people take a career helping dogs and making sure they have good homes. Imagine that you’re going on a trip, but you need someone to take care of your dog. You either have to let one of your siblings come to your house and take care of your dog and risk something being stolen or drop off your dog at a dog hotel or dog camp until you come back. Well, that wraps it up for today. I’m Hydro with BNN10 out! 

Athan Siow

Greatest of All Time

Simone Biles won seven national championships and she won five Olympic medals. Want to know the fact that she’s 24?

She is a gymnast. 

She lives in Spring, Texas U.S.


Aubree Rivera

Twin Explained 

~Written by James the 559th and Catherine the 999th

Hi, this is James the 559th and my friend Catherine the 999th and we are here today because we took over the Twin Explained Talk Show. As you can see, Darcey and Kacey are tied to chairs in the audience. Well, today we will tell you about Bob Billing James the 559th; it’s Bob Dylan.

Wow, I’m surprised you’re still alive! How old do you think I am? Well, I was told that you were kind of a 50’s guy. Correct and I’m proud of it! But I was born on May 24th 1941. So when are we going to get to like all the stuff and how the kids near here created a new song that I’m supposed to sing? Yes, yes, in a moment right after this quick break. 

Two hours later… all right Bobby. My name is not Bobby it’s Bob. I prefer my name in all capitals like this BOB and please just call me Mr. Dylan. Than that settles it. Well Mr. Dylan, did I get that correct? Yes, you got it correct, now go on. So the kids wrote you a poem/song thing in the bobber that was involved with this White House dog article I thought it was really creative. Yeah, we’re gonna show you it. Be silent and don’t cheer or clap or do any beats. Just sit there and will tie you up and have you eat some popcorn. Don’t tie me up. OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, fine, you won’t be our prisoner! Thank you. Now let’s cut the chains.

Please silence your phones for this presentation (and iPads.) Well, listen to you! Here’s a story about five presidents and their pets and their pets were called first pets. That is the end of the rap part of the song. First, we have Barack Obama/ with a total of two dogs with no drama/ can’t wait to tell you more/ just listen up and be silent no s’mores/ and we’ll finish up/ now next up is President Bush/ with a total of three dogs and one cat/ well, that’s a lot of pets/ he went after his father in the presidency/ and was quite popular/ until Barack Obama came along/ now listen up/ this one’s about President Kennedy/ with a total of five horses, seven dogs, two birds, two hamsters, one cat and one rabbit/ that’s a lot of pets you’re thinking now but there’s even more/ let’s continue this western style song/ President Calvin Coolidge and his 12 buddies that are dogs/ there’s more and more and more and more that he has/ including two raccoons, seven birds, two cats and more/ last up is President Teddy Roosevelt/ with five guinea pigs, one bear, one lizard, one pig, one barn owl, a pony, one badger and more.

What did you think?

Mmmm mrp hhhhhhhhhh weewoo weewoo weewoo.

Oh, oops! This is Bob; I mean this is James the 559th and Catherine the 999th signing off.

Cecelia Siow

The Seas of Red Tide 

The river flows through the reef       

Where the red tide rushes out of control

Ruby red tide rages towards the fish 

Run, fish, run

Before the red tide gets you

Colin Keith

The Unexpected Event

I am Saffron Prescott, one of Geronimo Stilton’s all-time favorite helpers. He is one of my cousins, so I always keep in touch with Geronimo, Thea, Trap, and Benjamin. I enjoy being a journalist because it is the best job in my opinion.

One fine summer morning, I was fast asleep when all of a sudden I heard a boom! I woke up to see my family dressed in their best clothes. Geronimo urged me to change. I dressed up in a yellow frilled top and jeans. We rushed outside to find out that the noise was coming from Mt. Mozzarella.

Mt. Mozzarella was one of the safest mountains in New Mouse City. The reason was because it was said to never have erupted in the past century. Witnesses said they saw an asteroid falling from the sky and landing on the volcano’s top. We were all awestruck to see lava oozing down the side, and forming igneous rock.

After reporting that, we were all exhausted, so we settled down to watch TV. Even us journalists like watching TV after long days. We watched “The Adventures of the Stilton’s and Saffron,” which was based on us, famous or should I say famouse journalists. 

Isha Ladha

Oh Great

Ahhhh, hello and welcome to ANN 10. And it looks like Matt just fell from a rock wall. He just stated that he’s doing it without rope. Did you know?

  1. People climb without rope  
  2. People climb with only their hands
  3. And sometimes only with their feet

That goes to show that some people are really talented, but most are not. And then there are people like Matt. Despite how unfortunate that is. Although being a reporter I don’t rock climb, but Matt does. Don’t tell Matt I told you, but he once fell in ice cream. He, he, he, he. Wait ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Well, he just fell into a foam pit. Well, that’s unfortunate ahhhh ouch, bang! Well, that was more unfortunate. He just hit a gong, fell into a pole dancing at the bottom and fell out into the sand. Then he got pulled off a waterfall and got hit with a wrecking ball. Well, that was a lot for my poor head. 

The End.

Dun, dun, dun! Bang! OUCH BANG CRASH CLATTER AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I said the end!!!

OK, OK. Ahhhhhh, help, help. BANG, ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGG!!!

Why, why?

Niko Siow

The Garage

“How are you doing Ms. Will?” said the reporter. “I am doing fine” Ms. Will said. “I heard you broke your garage for the 20th time.” “I certainly did not!!! ” said Ms. Will in an angry voice. “Well, then how many times did you break it?” “52.” “Whoa” said the reporter. “This time it happened because I was texting, handling my dog, writing a script, calling my manager, playing a football match and needing to go to the restroom.”  “Wow, that’s a lot of things to be doing if you’re 98.” “Just saying, for the record, I am 72 and do you mind if I call you Chuck?” “Certainly not!” “Well, there you have it folks never text, handle your dog, write a script, call your manager, play a football match and need to go to the restroom. See you next time on Chuck News!”

Vihaan Chepudira