Forrest Preece Young Authors Award

15 Nov

Forrest Preece (middle) with award-winners Jason Luo (left) and Nitya Ganesh (right).

Each year, Forrest Preece and his wife, Linda Ball, honor two young writers from our Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp and recognize their work at our Illumine gala. Forrest and Linda read through a stack of several dozen impressive poems and stories written by our summer campers and somehow make a very difficult decision — choosing which two pieces will win the prize. (One award is given in the elementary-age category, and one to middle- and high-school students.)

This year, Forrest and Linda chose Nitya Ganesh’s poem “Joy” and Jason Luo’s poem “Fearless,” which are included here. This year’s runners-up are Keerthanyaa Arun for her poem “Meant to Be” and Kate Hirschfeld for her poem “The Kinds of People.” You can enjoy their work below. All winners receive a cash prize provided by Forrest and Linda. Both Nitya and Jason read their poems at the Illumine gala on Friday, November 11 — to much applause and fanfare!

Nitya told us it was an honor to receive this award. “I am grateful to my parents for providing me this wonderful opportunity at the Badgerdog Camp. I also promised my mom that I will thank her when I get any award, for always keeping my pencils sharp and ready for me. P.S. My mom did remind me about the last part.” Nitya also wanted to thank her instructor, Katie McClendon, “for encouraging me to try harder and showing me that writing is cool and fun.”

Congratulations to these four incredible and inspiring writers! And our heartfelt thanks to Forrest and Linda for their continued support of this special honor, one of few that recognizes young writers in our community.

Cecily Sailer
Library Foundation Programs Manager

Linda Ball and Forrest Preece with Nitya and her mom and dad.

Linda Ball and Forrest Preece with Nitya and her mom and dad.

Joy

Creeping
behind all the
sadness,
letting your anger
drift away like a
flowing stream,
letting your
depression scurry
away like a squirrel
with a nut,
shining through all the the
darkness like the
sun behind the clouds,
shining its way
through,
like the moon
in a dark sky floating
in the night
like a cupcake
behind plates
and plates
of broccoli,
when you have
it, joy spreads
like butter on
toast.

Nitya Ganesh
Forrest Preece Award Winner (Grades 3-6)

Fearless

The miniscule creature lays sprawled before my eyes,
its tissue paper wings extending awkwardly to both sides
of its fragile, emerald-dotted back
grounded on my palm.

Its small frame was etched with the exhaustion
of maintaining
her delicate,
brittle,
rapid-fire
soul.

But her eyes were alive with a different inferno.
In her dark eyes streaked the spark
of the insistence
to survive,
fearless
against all odds,
against all obstacles,
against the volatile world that doubted her so.
In her dark eyes streaked the spark
of the defiant hummingbird.

Jason Luo
Forrest Preece Award Winner (Grades 7-12)

Meant To Be

Sadly and slowly, the blue dolphin swims
through the deep blue sea.
As if it were meant to be.
The dolphin longs to feel that large, tall tree.
As if it were meant to be.
Every time I see the dolphin,
its eyes look like they are filled with pleas.
As if it were meant to be.
I long to see the dolphin happy,
so I bring it out to see the world it needs to see.
As if it was meant to be.
It looks at me, its eyes now filled with glee.
As if it was meant to be.

Keerthanyaa Arun
Forrest Preece Young Author Award Runner-Up (Grades 3-6)

The Kinds of People

Let’s go back
to when the days were counted not in numbers but in discoveries.
Small fingers outstretched to the sky, trying to get a grasp on this world
one experience at a time.
Asking questions without answers,
your favorite word was always “Why?”
Punctuated with intensely curious eyes,
your head cocked slightly to the side,
expecting a response even when there wasn’t one to give.
Minds full of fairy dust,
wide eyes of wanderlust,
never knowing what life had in store for us.

Back to when you had perpetually paint-stained hands,
dirt under your fingernails,
hair tangled by the wind,
mud stains on your new dress.
Don’t tell Mom, but you always liked it better that way anyway,
said it reminded you of chocolate milk.
And everyone knows there’s nothing on this earth better than chocolate milk.

Back to when we gazed at the stars so long our eyes themselves began to twinkle.
We took to staring contests during the day to share our galaxies.
We woke up early to watch the sun paint the sky like a canvas.
Call us crazy, but we thought it beat Cartoon Network any day.
We searched the sky for the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt.
They were the only constellations we knew,
but the way our eyes lit up when we saw them
made them the only ones we needed.

Back to when wonder was our only motive.
We dove in headfirst not because we had courage,
but because we didn’t know to be scared yet.

Back to when we rolled the windows down just to taste the wind,
and daydreaming was a common pastime, not a waste of it.
When we were more than just people…
We were heroes and wizards and pirates and royalty.
We soared through storm clouds and danced with dandelions.
Our heartbeats were the only music we ever needed
and every raindrop was proof that magic really did exist.
Bedtime stories didn’t seem so far off.

What happened between then and now?
How did magic become merely a device for Disney to make a profit?
And four-leaf clovers became so rare we stopped even bothering to look?
We stay up late but keep the curtains closed to the cosmos.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but it’s starting to replace it.
We shy away from opportunity because we finally learned what fear is.
We closed our fists and turned our eyes from the skies.
Your favorite word became “because.”

Except for a few.
Some people never stopped daydreaming.
They still wish on dandelions, though some may call them childish.
They wander forests in their free time because their curiosity surpasses their fears.
They smile at the sky simply because they can
and aren’t afraid to get wet if it means dancing in the rain.
They seek out the beauty in the extraordinary and the mundane.
They live to find stories and never stop looking.
Most of all, they still ask questions,
only now they search for the answers on their own.

Kate Hirschfeld
Forrest Preece Young Author Award Runner-Up (Grades 7-12)

Joyous and Playful

8 Nov

A joyous group of writers at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church greeted me on the first day, and they never stopped kidding one another (and me!) during our six weeks together. Mostly playful, sometimes serious, they wrote about the history of their names and the colors of their favorite seasons. Many of the boisterous writers then shared a memory recorded on the page before them—from horrors in the swampy jungles of Vietnam to decorating Christmas cookies with the family. I am thankful for my time with these adult writers of powerful poetry and nonfiction.

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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My Name

My name is John Paul Alexander. “John” was from my mother’s family—her brother who died early. “Paul” was my father’s name. My mom and dad both grew up in western Oklahoma and came from large farm families. “Alexander” carries a lot of baggage—first name, last name, and the famous, like Alexander the Great, Alexander Hamilton, and others.

I used the initials “JPA” a lot when I was younger. But, as an adult, it’s “John P. Alexander” and a variety of different IDs on the Internet. My primary one is “Hub Cap Dude.” Now, why would I do that?

  1. Probably not very common
  2. Has a story
  3. Starts conversations

“Hub Cap Dude” has a meaning—a lineage.

John Paul Alexander

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Season Favorites

Reds and golds of changing trees,
tumbling leaves.
Temperatures moderate.
Children home during school vacations—
Christmas Eve and church service.
Just enjoying the weather
and family and friends.

Ted Heydinger

 

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The Red Cookie Cutter

Small, shiny, and red,
waiting to be used.
Making five dozen cookies,
baking and decorating,
using red and white sprinkles.
To eat with family over milk or tea.
Enjoy and relax with family—
Christmas cookies.

Patsy Kilbane

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How to Write a Report

Grab a computer and sit down to start writing. Apply software to begin the report. The software takes the data and processes it into the report. Then the report shows you if there is anything missing or something that needs fixing so you can update it.

After the reprocessing, print out five reports. If there are no mistakes, and everything goes well, you have a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction with your report.

Fred Lucas

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Recipe for Singing

One of the ingredients for singing is the freedom of expression. Add a little bit of enjoyment and a knack for singing. Mix in the listener’s enjoyment and the performer’s gratitude for that. Happiness, importance, boosting my ego, feeling big and significant are all part of the beauty of singing—the beauty of creating pleasure for the people listening to me.

Carl Monnin

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The Colors of the Season

Purple, green, red.
Rain falling from the sky,
Flowing as if in a royal moat.
Sun setting,
Red flowers,
Camping by the fire in Colorado.
We went with two other families.
We all had tents.
Pretty,
Making fires.

Keith Peco

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My Name

I love my name. I haven’t known many others with my name. It always sounded like it belonged to me. I think of it as somehow being “steady.” It’s not real soft-sounding; it’s kind of balanced. It’s nice to be attached to your name.

I don’t know how I got the name Karen. I don’t have any relatives with that name. I was the oldest girl, with one brother and three sisters. I liked that we had a big family. I have always been a hard worker and enjoyed hanging up clothes. I loved school—being with my friends and learning. I eventually became a teacher.

Karen Smith

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Walter Boyd Spencer

I was named after my grandfathers, Walter Martin and Richard Boyd Spencer. Both had died before I was born. My parents thought “Walter Boyd” sounded better than “Boyd Walter,” but they always called me “Boyd,” after my father’s father.

Funny story: While an undergraduate student at Baylor, two friends and I took a week-and-half-long trip to Mexico City and Acapulco, driving an old VW Beetle. At about 11:00 p.m., a state trooper pulled me over for speeding. He asked for my driver’s license and asked, “Walter, you say you are from Waco?” My friends almost died laughing, as they did not know my first name. During the last two years at college, my nickname was “Walter from Waco.”

Boyd Spencer

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My Favorite Things

Reading
Lawn care
Movies
Eating out
Spending time with sons and daughters

Art Ulbrich

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Vietnam

I am walking through a jungle in Vietnam. My corpsmen are spread out in an arc. We watch for unexploded bombs. Slowly, we approach a soldier lying on the ground. Is it a Marine or a Vietnamese soldier? The Marines know my concept of care, which is, as a physician, that I take care of anyone wounded—South Korean, North Korean, man or woman.

Ahead, we see a Marine rocking back and forth, crying, with his wounded partner sitting next to him. My corpsmen quickly assess the damaged soldier—he has a wound in his leg. My men know the drill and expertly cut away the tissue, swap bandages, and put on the compression bandage. A medical helicopter soars above them, and the soldier is flown to the sanctuary six miles off shore. We start off again in the jungle and come across a wounded Viet Cong soldier, and my company of men again clean the wound quickly, and the helicopter whisks him away to the Sanctuary.

This is the drill we do for weeks and months at a time. What you remember most are the thousands of people, North and South Koreans and Marines dead or wounded, and nothing was resolved. We still have North and South Vietnam.

Charles Walker

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Family Gatherings

We arrived at my brother’s house on a cold Thanksgiving Day to spend the holiday together. A cold breeze blew, stirring the gold, brown, and red leaves. On a welcoming porch, my brother and sister greeted us. The beautiful leaves shifted in the wind and, now, red leaves appeared.

We all saw one another and rejoiced. We would soon be inside my brother’s warm house for another happy Thanksgiving enjoyed by the family.

Susan Warren

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Austin

Austin, my home town.
You nurtured me.
You educated me.
You inspired me.
You took me in and
sent me on my way
to a new life.

I’m all grown up, educated, and
looking over the edge of the future!
A future bright with colors,
full of beauty and wonder.

Carol Yacono

So Proud

8 Nov

Delightful WellMed writers
imagining wistful creatures of the sea
and afternoons with woodsy critters
hunting food for the family dinner.

So proud of their heritage, their freedom,
their ability to write special stories
and share their precious memories.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives
and your wonderful poetic works.

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Inspiring Objects

This colorful crab was given to me as a gift from a friend who had recently visited the beach. Looking at all the amazing colors made my day brighter. Even though it’s a wooden crab, it still made me smile. I think it was the eyes.

I had my best vacations at the beach. I loved to sit on the sand and watch the waves roll in. People-watching was also fun! I always loved the sun and just had to have a tan. Then it was a relief to get into the water and cool off. Thank you, Mr. Crab, for some fond memories.

Jane Baran

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Inspiring Objects

I am a doll made of wood,
with a dress of cream, red, and blue,
and hair black as coal.
I came from Mexico or Spain.

A surprise awaits you when you open me up—
tiny replicas of little people,
not from China, but Spain.

Mala Bhattacharyt

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Colors of the Season

A scene of trees, vacant piece of property,
vacancies of smooth water in the cool evening.
Summer is over, but the cold hasn’t quite arrived.
The grey clouds cover the sleeping scene
as the sun tries to peek through a few places.

The sun wants to come through—
it’s trying, but it may not.
Stillness.

Jennifer Martinec

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The Bobcat

I see a wild animal in the fall season, looking out for danger. There is a nice background of trees. The Bobcat in the foreground is looking for friends—perhaps a lady friend, who promised to stop by. The setting might be around Hutto, Texas, with its brushy creeks. There, I never saw a bobcat, but plenty of squirrels.

I was a young boy of eleven, just old enough to shoot a rifle with my father. He dropped me off and then headed to the beer joint. Until dark, I hunted squirrel for dinner. I felt excited and trusted by my father and was proud to help feed my mother and four sisters.

Jay Westmoreland

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The Flag

Red, white, blue.
The American flag—
Liberty, freedom, unity.
Freedom and honor.

Michael Serna

Rich with Experience

8 Nov

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

There’s no doubt the writers in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections program at Hope Lutheran have great stories to tell. This group of writers is as diverse as they are lively, having lived all over the world, from Tokyo to Texas. In their writing, you can feel their rich experiences culminate in the beauty of a simple line about the smell of autumn. The power of their struggle with memory loss is always present, just below the surface, as these writers bravely delve into their pasts to bring forth these poems. There is never a dull moment in this poetry, as it expresses the Hope Lutheran group’s bright attitude toward life and adventurous spirit, something that is truly inspiring to encounter. Their writing is lively, comical, tender, and honest. It is starkly sad and bubbling over with joy all at once. It rhymes, meanders, repeats itself. It goes into the RV to watch the Aggies game. It talks to nature, and to God. These poems are a pure expression of both the simplicity of life and its magnificent vastness, of which we are forever in awe.

Claire Bowman
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Fall Is Wonderful

Brown, brown, brown…
Showing up on our trees!
Yellow, yellow, yellow bushes,
those bright flowers on very green,
very tall bushes, waving in the wind’s arms.

Again, I go to the color yellow
found on the ears of corn sitting
on the kitchen counter.
Their taste, their crunchiness,
their bright and beautiful color
all make me happy.

I know corn comes in other
colors: white, red, or brown.
But don’t we all love yellow the most?

Pat Keen

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From April, May to June

The sun, everything is blooming.
Flowers are blooming,
The weather is beautiful.
Not too hot, not too cold,
Nice and cool and fresh.
You can enjoy walking in the evening,
Sitting in sidewalk cafés,
Enjoying the people-watching
And the fresh air of the evening.

I’m sitting in the sidewalk café
Where they make grilled shish-kabobs.
I’m drinking red wine with my vegetable salad —
Not too much, just enough
To enjoy everything there.
It makes me feel at home.

Sarita Mais

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Catching Trout in My Hometown Waters

I see a babbling stream of water
In my state of Wisconsin.
I hear the sound of the water rushing over
The rocks in the stream. Frogs croaking
And birds singing.
I feel a cool breeze.
I think to myself — how to plan
Catching a big trout under the water
Near the pine trees?
I wonder how many trout are available
Today. Should I cast closer to the shore?
I wait for a response from my cast.
Did I see one near my bait?
Try again and again until I get my catch.
Reel him in.

John Zimmerman

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Snow-Capped Mountains

I see wonderful shadows in the water
And blended colors that magnify
The beauty of colored images in the water.
I feel magnificent colored images defining
The images in the water.
I think to myself, “I want
To take in all of the images,
Including those in the water,”
And I wonder if the quiet beauty
Can be maintained with time.

Bill Hoisington

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Summer!

The sun is shining! Every day is an adventure. Should we go swimming? The joy of jumping into the cold water, knowing we shall go back out into the warmth and beauty of the sun. What a sensation and awakening to the joy of nature. The flowers bloom everywhere, sheltered in part by the glorious trees surrounding them. Life is good! Going home to dinner or eating a picnic on the beach, swimming and making sandcastles. Having an ice cream cone on the way home, licking it succulently, enjoying its cool flavour. Tired and satisfied, we go to bed thinking of the days to come!

We go out the next day to play with our friends, telling them about our journey, about visiting the fish-and-chip shop for lunch, a treat for all, including Mom, who didn’t have to cook. We meet friends on the beach and promise to see them tomorrow. Into bed, mother telling us a bedtime story or a poem she wrote several herself, which ushered us to sweet dreams of tomorrow, swimsuits and towels hung up on the clothesline to dry. Happiness and contentment abound. Everyone got up early the next day in anticipation of going again to the beach, a beach ball in one arm and towels in the other.

Audrey Krier

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Autumn

The crisp, cool air
The reds, the yellows
When walking on the leaves
The crunch, the burning
Of leaves, the fun of rolling
Through dry leaves, playing in the streets
The crisp, cool air, the leaves
Falling off the trees, the kiss
Of Autumn cool
The taste of waning
The laughter of adults
Do not attempt to change
The feel of Autumn.

Lyle Erickson

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Texas Longhorns

I see Bevo.
I hear thousands of people yelling at the UT Stadium.
I feel the UT band playing, my daughter Mary,
Who played in the Longhorn band for four years.
I think to myself of those wonderful days
Of football at UT, and I wonder
what it will be like in the years to come.

Lee Roy S.

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My Deer Love

A startled deer,
Fat and tender.
My little deer will soon surrender.
I hear only silence and stillness,
Quiet and peace—
Yes, a great big piece of juicy, tender meat!
In awe of the beauty, elegance,
And size of this creature—
I hope this bullet will go far enough to reach her.
I think to myself… I’m hungry.
I can’t miss.
This buck is toast!
And I’m sure this dinner
Is going to be a winner!
I wonder how long it will take
To dress her, and cook a little venison for dinner!

Rick Guilbeau

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The Winter’s Elk 

I see a HUGE elk standing so very still
In the white snow.
He is observing me, hopefully,
With great interest.
I smile widely, but don’t move.

I hear him give a snort.
Vapor comes form his nose.
I see him pawing with one great hoof,
As if sending a message to me.

I feel he’s as curious about my existence
As I am about his.
And I think to myself, “What if
I smile broadly, tilt my head,
And wink…”

I wonder what he will tell his family when
He gets home.
I know what I’m telling mine!

Jeanne Roden

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Winter Creation

I see a beautiful snapshot of Nature,
The cold water near the cushions
Of winter snow, and the tall stone-ledge
Mountains, now holding tiers of ice
And snow.

I hear in the still, quiet beauty — no
Sound, only beauty seen above and
Upon the surface, a Revelation
Of the cold, quiet lake.

I feel a still nothingness that holds me
As I gaze upon reflections of
The beauty and majesty that surrounds me.

I think to myself… This is a precious moment.
I must stop and be in this picture of Earth,
Of Creation.

I wonder if I will ever lose the wonder of this moment.
I think not.
It is a moment in eternity.

Elizabeth E. Flynn

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Autumn Mornings 

Crisp, cool sunrises
Coming over the mountain.

Orange, yellow, green, brown
Colors being blown around
In the fresh breeze.

Children high on the rocks
As the sun starts to lower in the evening.

We go into our RV to watch
The Texas Aggies game.

We enjoy the outdoors,
The coyotes howling in the mountains.
Now, let’s go to bed.

Bobby Pruitt

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Autumn (By Far!) 

Hot, humid summer is gone.
With less sweating, we can run!

Even in Texas, we have colors,
And it costs so few dollars!

Now that temperatures are lower,
We use much less of the mower!

Autumn has so much more food,
And everything tastes so good!

That we really enjoy life,
And again, again, I love my wife!

Manny Chavez

We, Not Me

8 Nov

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

I used to think writing was one of the lonelier activities one could endeavor to undertake. Not so. Even at this moment as I write alone in a small windowless office, I hear the voices of the workshop participants I shared Mondays with at the North Austin YMCA. I am reminded that writing is a means for regaining a sense of connectedness.

One memory in particular sticks out. I’d asked participants to come up with a short list of words of wisdom they’d either given or received at some point in their lives. To be honest, as one who falls (unwilling) under the umbrella of “millennial,” my own list included phrases such as follow your dreams, never give up, and do what you love. I was thrown for a loop when one participant, Eva, shared what were her most valuable words of wisdom:

  • Help those in need in any way you can.
  • Learn about the challenges of others and find ways to help.

I think my jaw fell open. I realized then that I’d become so entrenched in the daily to-dos of my life, that I was so focused on the “me,” I’d completely forgotten about the “we.”

While not everyone in our workshop was able to use the tools of writing (pens and paper) — the physical act of writing either too painful or too frustrating — everyone was able to enjoy and participate in a communal atmosphere of language, or “creative discussion,” as we called it. Words floating in the air are just as valuable as words pinned to a page. Living in the moment is just as important as recording it. Listening to each other’s stories is just as significant as telling stories of our own. And like water washing over stone, everything that we do changes us a little. I was changed. And I believe storytelling always gives back to the community, the “we” that is so essential to all of us.

Julie Poole
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Out My Window, I Remember

Mother red cardinal, dark red. I saw her bring stray leaves and sticks to make her nest. She’d been found nesting in another nest in my backyard, and her last family stayed nearby. When it came time to nest with a new generation of eggs, she made a new one in a tall shrub near my door. At the time, I was in the hospital after open heart surgery number two. I came by to pick up something to wear besides PJs. They were teaching the babies to fly. I don’t wear perfume, so they didn’t sense me nearby. I covered my mouth with a soft pillow and watched the parents teach the young cardinals to take flight.

On vacation, touring nine states to see state parks and watch the acid spring water blow from its geyser, I was awoken and saw the most beautiful view I have ever seen. The sky was so beautiful, with so many colors, in fact, that I momentarily questioned if the world was coming to an end. And God would be next.

Emmaline Jones

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Rabbit Ring

The object that means the world to me and is particular in its value of longevity is the ring I wear on the middle finger of my right hand. It is made out of unpolished silver and depicts a four-footed beast with two long ears, a tail, and four long feet, a rabbit given to me by a former boyfriend, who told me to always keep my eye on the rabbit, a reference to greyhound racing.

Marian Fleming

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My Desk

My hand-carved oriental desk, which belonged to my mother’s mother, Da, as we grandchildren called her. Mom and I were with her on our first trip to Hawaii in 1949. We visited a distant cousin of hers living in Honolulu. Aboard the plane, Da became ill, was given a blood transfusion — wrong type — so after the hospital stay, we lived in a typical neighborhood. There was a Dutch refugee family with a little girl who had several deformities due to the lack of protein in WWII; a Hawaiian family on the opposite side with several children; and, us, in the middle — a league of nations! Children just played, using simple toys we either shared or created — language was no barrier — children just play!

When I sit at this desk, corresponding with family and friends back in California, I have a space of my own, an area to touch back in time, an area to create in, an area that is all mine.

Helen G. Haynes

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Character Sketch

My lifelong friend, Kathryn Ruth, a.k.a. Kathy, has been in my life since third grade — this is equivalent to sixty-five years. In forth grade, we said goodbye. Why, you ask? Each family was leaving Ojai, California. How our mothers kept their secret was amazing, for we (young friends) were devastated by our loss. After our new home was ready to move in to, I found out that Kathy was merely four houses down the block from me.

Over the course of these past sixty-plus years, we’ve shared weddings, the births of our children, high school, and college graduations. Then came the children’s weddings — some in Ventura, California, one on the Big Island of Hawaii. And now we celebrate our grandchildren’s birthdays — all seven of them. My eldest, Sean, twenty-three, U.S. army, down to Paige and Andrew, nine; hers Ava, eleven; Elsie, nine; Vianne, eight; and Shepard, six.

Helen G. Haynes

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Out My Window, I Remember

Long ago, I lived on a farm in Ireland surrounded by many trees of different kinds, meadows with sheep and rabbits crawling around, an orchard with many kinds of apples, pears, and plums, and an avenue surrounded by moss weeds.

Eva Church

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My Husband

One object that means a lot to me is the photo of my husband. He gave it to me, and I love it a lot. In the photo, he’s twenty-six.

Heather H. de Loyo

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Sewing

My objects are useful… scissors for snipping fabric samples and a tape measure for knowing how much to cut out for sewing.

I don’t sew clothing for myself anymore. My shape has shifted!

But I now sew pig pillows, the first choice of hospital patients, requested by chaplains and Ouch Buddies for children at the Ronald McDonald House — squeezable when getting a shot. And pillows for those same children in bright colors.

Ruth Crowson

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Words of Wisdom 

Wait. Wait for beauty, for buds blooming out
of season. For secondhand gloves full of memories.
For music by piano and music by flute.
For looms weaving our loves. Beauty
in love, and love in beauty. Love in
music, and music in love.

Ruth Crowson

Badgerdog Book Crush at the Khabele School

26 Oct

When we read a book, what happens in our minds? This essential question guided us to the very scientific hypothesis: If we change the way we read, then we can change the way our minds works. Furthermore, if we change how we read, we also change why we read.

During the first week in August, the Badgerdog Book Crush experimented with this hypothesis by reading Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish nearly 100 different ways. We read backwards! We read by counting! We read by crossing out! We read by illustrating Suzy’s mind! We read by creating lies! Creating new words! We read the text over and over again, hopping through time and space, investigating the jellyfish in our minds as closely as Suzy investigates the mystery of what happened to Franny.

What is the thing about jellyfish? What is the thing about reading? Examine the evidence below to draw your own conclusions.

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Akhil, Nitin & Shaayan show off their work.

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Akhil shows off his creative interpretation.

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Akhil’s BOXIMUS DOUBIEES IPONE 6SE, a unique breed of anti-jelly jellyfish that bears a strong resemblance to an iPhone 6 SE.

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Akhil’s second piece, “How to Read the Proper Way,” is a guide for anyone who’s been reading improperly. As Akhil advises, “Go slowly to get a good grade.”

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Shaayan holds up his piece, “How Do I Read.”

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Shaayan’s “Jellyfish Story” is about a 12-foot-long, 7-foot-wide jellyfish — the largest jellyfish species in the world!

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Nitin showing off his “invented dictionary.”

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Nitin’s dictionary takes words from The Thing About Jellyfish and reimagines what those words might mean if we lived in an underwater world.

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Nitya, Raina & Sravya show off their work.

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Raina shows off the book she created, which answers the question, “What is the thing about jellyfish?”

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Here’s a closer look at Raina’s work, “About Jellyfish.”

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Raina’s diagram of jellyfish parts.

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Nitya displays her dream setting: Switzerland.

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Nitya worked tirelessly to create this timeline that tracks the book’s events in chronological order. The novel was not written chronologically, so this map required great study. Nitya went the extra mile and color-coded the timeline based on the main character’s (Suzy’s) feelings at different points in the story.

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Sravya’s jellyfish lives in a tank on top of a dresser. In the left drawer, you’ll find octopus food that her jellyfish eats. In the right drawer, some sea salt for the jelly’s water.

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Sravya does her teacher work! She made a quiz for everyone based on the book, and here she is with her grading pen.

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Rohit, Miette, and Piyali show off their work.

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Miette with her jellyfish inventions. One of these jellies is the upside-down “Couch” Jellyfish, who lets other jellies sit on him. Also note Miette’s very cool jellyfish/mermaid hair.

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Miette’s “Jellies of the Sea!” Can you find the Couch Jellyfish?

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Rohit shows off his “Lies About the Book.” To avoid a spoiler, we’ll only reveal the first line: “Hi, it’s me, Franny.”

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Rohit’s jellyfish comes alive with its saran-wrap glow. This drawing doubles as a comic, with the jellyfish lamenting, “… I am super lonely.”

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Rohit’s “Lies About the Book.”

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Piyali and her mind-map of Suzy’s brain.

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A closer look at Piyali’s mind-map of Suzy’s thoughts.

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Zach & Ava show off their work.

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Zach with his Jelly-Donut-Fish portrait and his bar graph charting word usage on page 70 of The Thing About Jellyfish.

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Zach’s Jelly-Donut-Fish. How many donuts do you see?

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Zach’s bar graph tracks the frequency of word-use on page 70 of “The Thing About Jellyfish.” This spawned many other conversations about language usage. Why do you think “the” was used most frequently? What does that tell us about Ali Benjamin’s writing style?

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Ava and her jellies: Sky, Sunburn, Bubblegum, and Starburst.

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Ava’s story about her jellies, complete with a jelly donut punchline.

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Ava’s hard at work color-coding her entire jellyfish story.

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The bright and brilliant Book Crushers with their fearless leader, Miss Katelin!

Badgerdog Book Crush at the O. Henry Museum

28 Sep

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

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

And here’s what they came up with!

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The Adventures of Timmy! by Timothy Guan

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

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

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

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

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‘Jelly’ Fish by Mason Tateosian

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Flying Jellyfish by Mason Tateosian

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Calvin and Jellyfish by Mason Tateosian

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Jelly Washington: The Jelly President by Beau Diede

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Jellyfish by Beau Diede

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Illyria Komljen with her character sketches.

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Illyria Kolmjen’s jellyfish illustrations

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

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

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

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