Badgerdog Summer Camp: The Wrath of Ms. Lily Swamp

T8WOW of Session C, Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp, would like to introduce a
tale of hilarity and mischief, of heroism and magic! It is a collaborative project written, in-full, by a group of students who are as daring and unique as the characters they wrote into a fairy tale never before imagined… click here to experience “The Wrath of Ms. Lily Swamp”!

Loan Tran
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Badgerdog Book Crush: Session C Song for a Whale

The Mighty Hamburgers summer campers took a deep dive into Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly, searching for insight and inspiration. They experienced the sense of connection that emerges from reading a book together.

With an appetite for adventure, these campers closely read the text to discover characters, plot and setting, while drawing parallels with favorite books. Reading propelled the campers into writing their own stories, poems and puzzles filled with adventurers, aliens and dogs. Plenty of dogs.

The Mighty Hamburgers also got an ocean of insight from author Lynne Kelly when she visited with campers.

She answered questions about her journey to becoming a published author and shared her research about whales that went into writing the book. She also talked about how her work as a sign language interpreter influenced her to create a deaf protagonist.

The Mighty Hamburgers leapt off the page to create projects related to Song for a Whale. Deven used stop-motion animation to show the introduction of Blue 55, with the whale song of the 52 Hertz Whale as a sound track.


Ivy created a model of an antique radio and wrote a poem on the back.


Mishika created a book trailer that evokes the setting and emotions of the book.


Sophia baked cupcakes inspired by Song for a Whale, with Blue 55’s tail showing just before he dives.


Ainsley made a short play including key points from Song for a Whale.


Kate baked cupcakes with blue icing to symbolize the ocean, sprinkles to symbolize the water, and a lone whale on each cupcake to show how alone Blue 55 feels.


Caroline used styrofoam to create a whale sculpture. It includes a water spout coming from the whale’s back. Water spouts are one way whale watchers and scientists identify whale species, since each species produces a unique water spout shape.


Suhan made a model of the cruise ship Iris and her Grandma take on their journey to meet Blue 55.

Badgerdog Mythology and Poetry Workshops


The Fox And The Hunter

—a short myth

Once upon a time, there was a fox that lived in the deepest part of the woods. One day, a wandering hunter stumbled into the meadow where the fox was napping.

“Halt! Who shall you be?” The fox bared its sharp teeth at the strange human.

“Please! Do not hurt me, dear fox! I mean no harm!” The hunter pleaded.

“All right. I will not hurt you, on one condition. You must give me your torch,” The fox sat back on its hind legs and pointed at the billowing flame.

“Of course!” The huntsman thrust the flaming wood into the animal’s paw.

“Thank you. I shall one day return your generous favor, sir.” And just like that, the fox scampered away, the torch wrapped in its mouth.

One day, years after the man encountered the fox and returned to his village, an old fox stealthily slipped into the village’s main church and dropped a small chest on the floor.

“This is your returned favor, kind man,” After it murmured those words, its spirit drifted out of its body, into the chest, and the old fox transformed into a gnarled old tree, to forever be a symbol of wisdom.

The next morning, the villagers found the fox’s chest and opened it, receiving its powers.

S. The Jeff
4th – 6th grade Mythology Workshop


The Story of the Trickster Country

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, there was a war between two countries. It all started when two brothers were born, one blessed with strength, and one blessed with intelligence.

Over time the brother with strength was using his strength, for robbing people. The brother with intelligence had to put a stop to it. The brother with strength said, “Let’s battle each other to see who gets to do what they want. The losing side has to leave.” I’m stronger so I’m going to win, he thought to himself.

They both waited and trained their many sons and daughters, each sibling trained their children with their own talents. The strong brother’s children became the Youks, and the stronger brother became king. Of course, his people were very strong and brawny fighters. There were the Olks, trained by the brother with intelligence, and he became the Supreme General. Just like their father they had intelligence and speed.

On the day of the first full moon of the year, the war had started. During the first three days of the battle the Youks invaded the Olks. The Olks did everything they could to hold the Youks back, but they didn’t use their intelligence, in the heat of the battle, they forgot they were smarter than the Youks. Many Olks were killed in the battle.

The war council of the Olks met up and decided that the Youks were, much too strong for the Olks to fight them with brute force. They knew they had to use speed, intelligence, and trickery to defeat the Youks. The people devised a plan. They knew that the Youks didn’t have a good defense. They would move their camp, so when the Youks attacked they wouldn’t find them and the Youks would be confused. There would be spies looking at the Youks and when they were confused, the camp would be alerted. Then, half the camp would create a diversion to lead the remaining Youks away. After that, the other half of the camp would attack the King of the Youks.

They executed their plan and it worked until they had to capture the King. It turns out that the King wanted to see the Olks get defeated, and gloat, so he was at the camp, not in the castle. They rushed back to the camp and hid and waited until the King was looking for signs of the camp. They made fake tracks, so the King would follow the tracks to where they were hiding. Once he was close enough, they ambushed him, and the Youks surrendered.

The Youks left the galaxy, and the Olks lived happily for the rest of their lives.

Prahalad P.
4th – 6th grade Mythology Workshop


My Mermaid

My mermaid’s name is Pearlett. She lives in Shellyton, Oceana. She is a fork mermaid. Fork mermaids are very rare, so she catches attention very quickly. She loves meeting new people and exploring the ocean. She has many animal friends including dolphins, sharks, whales, crabs, starfish, seahorses, and many more!

Her mom’s name is Coraleef, an environment mermaid, and her father’s name is Eracnics, a clock merman. She loves adventures and often rides on Crystal, her dolphin friend. If she needs to go somewhere, she sits in a mer-car pulled by Crystal, Delphine, Bubbles, Star, Buddy, and Summer (all dolphins). She has two siblings, the older one is her sister named Devinafe, a nail mermaid and the younger one is her brother named Dean, a saw merman. Devinafe loves reading while Dean loves playing video games In her opinion, they are both really annoying.

They live in a tiny cottage made out of shells and coral. She is a poor mermaid despite all of the attention she gets. She is most afraid of fishers, for many mermaids and mermen have been victims of them. They would get caught in the net, and when they pull them up, they don’t let them go; they sell them to aquariums so that they can make money. She also is afraid of Sevil, the evil mermaid witch. Sevil can curse anyone, even the most powerful person in the sea, the king of Shellyton!

Actually, she also has a curse from Sevil. Most merpeople get a real tail after they turn 16 years of age, but when she was born, Sevil came in and cursed her that she would never get a real tail. One year ago, on her sixteenth birthday, instead of getting a regular tail, her fork tail became bigger, which has never happened before. She is an out-of-the-ordinary mermaid!

4th – 6th grade Mythology Workshop


Cerberus The Dog

Cerberus the dog
Was guarding in the fog
When he saw the outline
Of a woman with shining eyes.

Next thing he knew
He couldn’t smell the dew!
He was sitting in a store
With many pets galore!

This three-headed dog
Was not guarding in the fog,
But was taken to a place
Which wiped the smile off his face!

It was known as home.
It was shaped like a dome.
It had two doors
And sparkling floors.

Everybody thought this dog was unique
The owners bragged about him every week!
The Owners also thought this fierce dog was smelly.
Unfortunate for him, he got baths daily.

Oh how he hated baths
And his new home “Rats!”
When he used his powers
His owner scolded him for hours.
Now his only goal
Is to escape from these foul
People who keep him
From doing his thing.

This ferocious three-headed dog
Now is not guarding in the fog.
He’s now a housepet living with some people
Who groom him, clean him, and feed him kibble.

He needs some things that he doesn’t get,
But every month he goes to something called “the vet”!
He has a strong desire to be free,
but he knows he cannot flee!
Then something very magical happened:
The owners turned into his god friends!
They told him it was all a test
And took him to his place to rest!

Thanking them he did his job
guarding the underworld in the fog!

4th – 6th grade Mythology Workshop


How the Trisidon Constellation came to be

This constellation is called Trisidon. It is shaped like a trident. Why is it in the sky?

The legend is…Poseidon, the god of the seas, was in a war along with Zeus, Hades, Hercules, and all of the other gods. He was fighting a villain but was not succeeding. This mighty villain was so powerful that even the mighty Poseidon could not beat him!

Suddenly, in the distance, he saw the outline of his wife, Amphitrite, coming towards him. “I brought you food!” she told him.

Poseidon tried to tell her that it was not the time for it, but she wouldn’t listen. Poseidon became distracted and the villain knocked Poseidon’s trident out of his hand.

It flew into the sky but would not come down—for it was stuck! Amphitrite got mad at the villain and somehow managed to defeat him!

“Girl power!” she exclaimed.

Poseidon then asked her to get his trident down from the sky, and Amphitrite reluctantly agreed. She flew into the sky and tried to take it down. But it would not budge. Thus, she pulled and pulled and finally got it to come down. But it had been stuck to the sky so tightly that the marking of Poseidon’s trident was still there. And up till today, we still see the outline of Poseidon’s trident in the sky.

4th – 6th grade Mythology Workshop


Dogs only🐶!


Oh humans🧔. Such a confusing species😕. Why can’t it just be dogs🐶? Our humans🧔 won’t let us sniff the same tree🌲 two trillion times but they expect us to behave. We will disobey and pee on there furniture🛋 ! We will rip up there clothing and barf on their pillows! We are dogs🐶! We are dogs🐶! We are dogs🐶! We are dogs🐶!

No humans I say🚫🧔! No humans! Just kidding I love all humans🧔. Well, actually just a few. But we all like humans🧔. We all don’t like humans🧔. We are dogs🐶! We are dogs🐶! G’bye, for now, I must now go see my friends Ivan and Ruby.

Yours truly,
The One And Only Bob🐾

Sawyer Stimpert (from a dogs🐶 point of view)
4th – 6th grade Poetry Workshop

Badgerdog Dystopia Workshop


Emotion Was a Tricky Thing

I reached my arm deep into my pockets and closed my hand tightly around the smooth purple lump inside. It’s color shone bright against the breathtaking blackness of my beige cargo pants. I shivered and wrapped my jacket closer around me relishing the heat it emitted. My chip buzzed and I scowled as it stripped me of my cold.

Emotion was a tricky thing. The Grand Triad didn’t take it lightly. I for one liked emotions. They made me feel real. My scowl pressed harder onto my face, threatening to stay and my knuckles closed tighter around the tinged apatite in my pocket. I felt like a depressed lost pig, walking around the streets at 4 in the morning. I grumbled. And I probably looked worse than I felt too.

I got out my keys and opened the door to my small apartment. I kicked off my shoes and headed to my bedroom. I didn’t bother changing, since I only owned one pair of clothes anyway so instead, I fell back onto my bed and did nothing.

Unfortunately, my chip didn’t seem to like that very much and bombarded my brain with random thoughts. I groaned and got up. The room seemed to jump at the sound before returning to a calm silence. On my bedside table was a lamp and a single chest. I walked over to the chest and ran my thumb against the familiar pattern. I reached into my pocket and took out the purple rock inside.

This rock was called apatite, originated from the Greek term ‘to deceive’ I slid the rock open to find a thin copper key inside. I took the key and put it in the keyhole of the copper chest on my bedside table. It opened it up to find a slip of paper.

The note was from my mother who had given it to me before she left. My dad had died by then and we needed money so she took up a job working for the Grand Triad. I missed her greatly but whenever I was having a bad day, I looked at the paper note and immediately felt better. Paper was a very expensive and rare thing to find these days and knowing that I meant so much to someone made me feel happy.I set an alarm on my phone for 7AM, took my tablets, and I whispered goodnight to the darkness before dozing off to sleep.

My chip burned in my neck and I shot awake. I was late. I jumped out of bed, took some breakfast tablets, and sprinted outside. I made it all the way to school before realizing that I forgot my shoes. Not wanting to deal with any Detentions today, I pulled up my hood and walked into the tall gray cement building with my eyes trained on my bare feet.

I walked into room 284B and glanced up. While the front of the room was clean and lit, the back was showered with cobwebs and was dim at the most. Three other people sat in the room, a buff blond dude with soft blue eyes, a short-looking brown haired girl with eyes that gleamed like gold, and another girl with jet-black hair and brown eyes. They all sat in the middle row and seemed close to one another. I sat down next to the black-haired girl and stared at my reflection in the shiny computer screen in front of me. My brown hair fell in bangs across my dull green eyes. My face screamed ‘sleep deprived’ and though I was on the thin side, I wasn’t scrawny. My skin was a washed-out caramel color and faded freckles dotted my cheeks. A blank expression settled on my face and I felt a headache starting to appear. The computers powered on and the word “Begin” formed on the screen in white font.

A wire ejected from the side with a plug at the end. I took the plug and put it in my chip. A steady stream of information started to make its way into my brain and this was only the beginning of a grueling day. After an hour-long period of history, I had math, followed by science, ending with physical training. For now, I sat back in my chair with my eyes closed while useless random facts made their way to my hippocampus.

The world war III of 2038…
The invention of dyglencium and fretencium, food and water replacements, in 2087…
The extinction crisis of the 3000’s…
The discovery of matallum in 3019…

The list went on and on getting bigger and bigger, as did my headache. Up to the point where I fainted in Physical Training class. That’s right. I fainted, I actually fainted. What kind of doofus faints on their first day of highschool? Apparently, I do. I woke up to an old lady with a kind face and grey eyes. She gave me a warm smile as I sat up.

“Ugh, what happened?” I mumbled.

“You sir, haven’t been taking your tablets. If you do not eat properly your chip won’t have enough energy to intake all this information and keep you conscious at the same time.”

She went on to lecture me about how dyglecium and fretencium were made to act as water and food for the body and how they implanted chips in the necks of humans so that we could breathe toxic air without dying and whatnot. I nodded every now and then so that it seemed like I was listening and I felt bad to ignore her but I really wasn’t in the mood.

I left for home early that day and watched random stuff on Youtube all day. Youtube was a really old software and when I say really old, I mean really old. It had taken a whole week, just to get the app downloaded on my iPhone 17C.

Around 3AM, I heard a crashing sound and I woke with a start. My phone was still playing what looked like a video of a singing gummy bear. Weird. Around me, almost everything looked exactly as I remembered, except for one thing. A single plastic star sat on my bedside table. It was placed right where my chest was before. Keyword: was.

My eyes shot open at the sight and my body went still. My chest was missing. I scoured my small apartment for any clues, anything at all but all I could find was that stupid gold star. I was sitting on my bed staring at the star when someone knocked on the door. I ignored them the first three times until I decided that it was probably important. I winced in pain when I got up and dug my nails into my skin. Ever since the break-in, I hadn’t taken my tablets so I was pretty weak. There was something else too, but I wanted to tell my mom about it before telling anyone else.

I opened the door and there she stood. My mom. Her hair was down and her brown curls were cut at her shoulders. Her eyes were emerald-green, not unlike mine, which looked like carbon copies of hers. She wore a navy blue uniform with gold stripes going down the sleeves. She was shorter than me by now, though not by much, and a few of her hairs had gone gray, but her smile hadn’t changed one bit. I enveloped her in a huge bear hug as my eyes started to tear up. No, you will not cry in front of her. You’re stronger than that. I wasn’t stronger than that. Tears escaped my eyes and I smiled big. From lack of practice, my jaw tired quickly from the gesture but I couldn’t stop. She pulled away from the hug and I guided her to the bed. Neither of us had said a word yet but the silence was endearing. The first thing I asked was, “How long are you staying?”

Mom’s smile quivered a bit at this but nevertheless, she responded, “Only for a day. I heard about the break-in so I was granted leave to make sure you were okay.”

I nodded. I intended to use the time I had well.

“So, are you okay?” Mom put her hand on my shoulder, concern shining in her green eyes.

I nodded again. Apparently too vigorously because my neck flared and I bit my lip from the pain.

This didn’t go unnoticed and my mom looked at me questioningly, like moms do, and pried with a stern tone, “Drake?”

My shoulders slumped and I broke. I told her about the chest missing and she nodded sadly, but like she knew there was something else, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she did. When I finished she looked at me for a second with her eyebrows furrowed as if to say What aren’t you telling me? I sighed deeply and straightened, ignoring the pain in my neck.

“There is something else…”

She motioned for me to go on.

“During the night of the break-in, the robbers left a plastic star on my table. On the back, it had an address. So I went to the address and ended up at a local Grand Triad business building.

(Drake now somehow gets hurt and his chip is damaged.)

My mom’s face flickered with emotion and I looked down. I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned to face my mom.

“Sorry,” I mumbled.

She shook her head and chuckled, “You have nothing to be sorry for. Tell you what, why don’t we have a movie night tonight. I’ll extend my leave and since your birthday is coming up, we can pick out a nice gift.”

I smiled in agreement.

Shloka R.


How the Past Is

“Everyone lookout, she’s gonna blow!” It was the town herald, again. He was a very good herald don’t get me wrong but he was a worrywart. If one, just one, rock skids down the canyon, he will order an evacuation of the entire area.

I rolled my eyes and shifted to look at the forms of my half-awake siblings. Still half asleep, I complained drowsily, “Say aye if you want to strangle him.”

“Aye,” chimed my brother Augustus.

“Aye,” repeated our baby sister Margeret.

“That’s not very nice,” reprimanded my older sister Irene.

“Nobody asked you,” retorted Augustus.

If you’re wondering, Augustus is 3 years my senior, and Irene is 20 years old but an old maid. My baby sister is 3 years old and doesn’t understand much. What she does know is that the herald is bad because of the number of times we curse him. Our parents died in a landslide 2 years ago when an earthquake destroyed 2 feet of cliff, plunging anyone on it to their death. The incident left everyone on high alert and in panic-whenever-the-herald-announces-evacuation mode. Our next-door neighbor burst in screaming her head off. “Get up lazy children! We need to evacuate.

“Yeah, whatever,” agreed Augustus.

“Pathetic excuses of humans” cursed the neighbor while running out the door and down the lane to join the rest of the village on top of the medium-sized hill 1 mile away.

“Well, everyone let’s go,” Irene ordered. Then she got up from the room that served as the bedroom and walked into the kitchen that had barely any tools. Just a fireplace and some rather large jars to store food and liquids. Our door remained open from when the neighbor flung it aside so we sprinted out and —carrying Margaret— climbed the hill where the rest of the village was located.

“It was a false alarm,” declared the herald.

“Thank you for warning us well ahead of time,” the mayor said with worry in his tone.
While walking home from the emergency gathering, Augustus was having a total tantrum about not getting enough sleep and the durned herald which I have to say I agree with. I was just about to enter our house when a piece of paper came flying out of the canyon and caught a breeze blowing into our house. Irene caught it and read out loud,

“Your presence is requested at the Initiation Ball and Ceremony commissioned by the Remember.”

“What on earth does that mean,” asked Augustus.

“Canyon,” Margaret blurted out.

“She might be right,” I acknowledged.

“Okay everyone, here is the plan”

In the dead of night, we all took some essentials and grabbed a sled made out of iron to resist the rocks and the plants. Approaching the edge, we tied the materials to the second sled and mounted the first one with Irene in the back and me in the front. After three pushes, the sled started a steady descent from the level ground by the edge to a small slope to a solid freefall into nothingness. After about a minute of falling, we landed on something impressively soft and blacked out from the impact.

Opening our eyes, we were in a very fancy room. Like one made for a king. The room was huge with several doors branching outward to several other rooms. Paintings and elaborate curtains framed the walls and huge beds were lying around with lace canopies hanging from the bedposts. I sat up immediately and searched quickly for everybody else. Thankfully, they were all there. Noticing an open wardrobe, I walked over and peeked inside. There were 4 white and blue suits. One for Irene, one for Augustus, one for Margeret, and one for me. With a smile on my face, I changed into the ultra-soft, very flexible piece of clothing with a free hood. It felt so comfortable that I kinda wanted to flip in it so I jumped and leaned back at the same time and next thing I knew, my feet landed perfectly on the ground. I just randomly did a backflip without any experience. After a quick victory dance, I heard a groan. It was Augustus.

“Flipping pancakes cause they’re snacks. What?! Where?! Who are you?!”

“Dude it’s just me.”

“Oh okay. Mind passing me that suit.”

“No problem.”

Irene woke up shortly after with Margeret sleeping next to her.

“Where are we? What is up with the suits?”

“Question 1, don’t know. Question 2, they are super comfy, and over there,” answered Augustus.

After Irene had changed, the door mysteriously opened revealing two people in solid black suits standing there with glasses on and some long contraption that had a trigger. It gave me the creeps.

“Follow me.”

“Creepy,” Augustus whispered.

“Yeah,” I agreed.

After several turns down a surprisingly plain passageway, we reached a ginormous pad with several winged things (later known as jets) and sleek small things with four thick wheels (cars). We were boarded on one of the jets and flown downward into the canyon before turning sharply and entering a tunnel carved in the rock. After a few more minutes of silence, the jet slowed down and used more machines to land slowly onto the platform. We were ushered out by those men in black suits into a building with many other young children all wearing the same suit. They gave us weird looks when we passed but didn’t come closer because of the men in black. After climbing several flights of stairs, we reached an office. The door automatically opened and we were shoved in.

We were standing in front of a desk that was white, scratch that everything was white except the man in front of us who looked a bit too orange for my taste. But then, he spoke!

“Have a seat, my dears,” he drawled.

“My name is the Remember,” he continued.

“I have invited you here because you have special gifts that are very useful. Irene can charm people into doing what she wants. Augustus is a master at stealing. You, Winifred, know parkour and Margeret is omniscience.”

Just then Margeret let out a scream. “He destroys! Bombs!”

Irene stared at Margeret then turned around to face the Remember. She smiled a very, very beautiful smile and said, “Spill.”

And that is what the Remember did. He talked about how he is from the future and he wanted to rule the world by wiping out all old humans and once kids complete their training they get brainwashed for life and non-important stuff. Once Irene stopped smiling though, he was instantly alert and started trying to find out how much he had told them but thankfully they were out of the room by the time he realized he had told them everything.

“Guards, arrest them.”

They took off and ran through the school trying to find an exit. Failing because the school was bigger than they thought so they “gently persuaded” someone to escort them out.

Apparently, Augustus stole some blueprints that illustrated the bombs and their targeted explosion points.

“Where to now,” asked Irene.

“Look, that cave, it has some interesting things located in it,” Augustus pointed out.

“Guns,” Margeret said.

“Weird child,” I mused.

“Winifred, stop stalling and get us some guns,” ordered Irene.

If I’m forced to… Well alright. I ran and flipped onto the next platform while kicking some black suit guy in the process. Just keep running and flipping was all I told myself. After landing, I ran inside to a door guarded by two men. They just looked at me like I was a weakling.

“Why hello there,” I drawled sassily.

Alright everyone, the show is over. Nothing to see here folks. Go home. Or maybe…
I walked out carrying approximately 10 guns, a few long cylinders and small circle things with tabs. Margaret was staring at them for about 2 minutes before walking over and picking one up.

“No, no, no, no drop it, drop it now,” Augustus started sputtering.

But then she pulled the tab and threw it and it exploded and almost made the ledge we were standing on break.

“Mental note: those things do that,” I commented.

“Welp, rrrruuuuuuunnnnnn,” came a random voice (just kidding it was Augustus who spotted the security behind them.)

We all took off and sprinted in the direction of the tunnel’s exit but it was a bit farther than we thought. “We need a lift people’s,” came a panicked Augustus.

Irene thought for about ten seconds before turning to one of the guards.

“Excuse me, sir, can you pilot a jet for us,” she said while batting her eyelashes.

“Sure miss,” the guard answered.

“Disgusting,” protested Augustus.

“Agreed,” I acknowledged.

“But we got a plane, so no complaints, am I right,” I fired back.

“Yeah,” agreed Augustus.

Doing a 180 and running backwards to the launchpad and with a charmed guard guarding us courtesy of Irene. Hopping on the “borrowed” jet and flying out of the canyon tunnel to quickly put an end to the plans of the dictator and world-domination.

Landing the jet on the edge of the top of the canyon, we all scrambled out and ran to the village. Not a moment too soon though because we saw everyone staring skyward at giant carriers with their flaps open ready to drop the bombs worldwide.

“We need to go to the control center to shut down the planes,” I realized.

“Everyone, let’s go,” commanded Augustus.

So we backtracked to the edge of the canyon again but realized we couldn’t get down.

“Platform,” Margeret squealed to answer our question.

To the left of us was a floating platform (Augustus stared at it for 5 minutes trying to figure out how it was floating) containing a blue cube in the center on top of a pedestal that was aiming laser beams at the floating ships. The laser beams were pulsing at several intervals, almost like a code. No matter, we had the guns we needed to blast the guards and the cube. Running and shooting simultaneously to try to reach our destination. (Sidenote: only I made it to the platform.) Skimming across the cool, white tile, I took aim and was about to destroy it when a sudden flash blinded me and made me stumble. The Remember was in front of me and holding control. I realized that it controlled the platform and that he wasn’t actually here.

“Your time is up,” the Remember said ominously. He pressed a button on a thin metal sheet and the platform started plummeting with me on it. Panicking, I shot and broke the cube causing all the planes to stop working and fall, crushing the bombs and anything under it. My siblings jumped and landed safely on the falling area but with no way to save ourselves, we continued falling and falling and falling until we hit rock bottom and our vision bled red until there was nothing left.

Ten years later…

“That was the story of Winifred and the Remember. How did you like it?”

“Mommy, was it true?”

“Well, yes it was true. The society exploded along with the cube. We have all of this metal and these memories to prove it,” she said gesturing to the very futuristic house of the shiny stuff metal.

“But never, do you hear me, ever investigate the remains.”

“Yes, mother but no promises.”

Inara Woodrum

Badgerdog World-Building Workshop


The Brightest Star in the Sky

Her wings glittered in the moonlight; that’s what I remember best from the night we met.
She had recently moved to our district on an educational scholarship, bearing none of the signifying marks of glowing flyxin so common among the upper class. My parents told me that those without light are without worth, but her kind smile shone brighter than any crystal badge.

We both attended a study group every sixth day. For the past semester, we had mostly
been working on our group projects where we did a report on the life on a planet of our choosing, but we always made room for a calculus review before each test. She was in my project group so we always worked together, often interjecting our academic conversations with jokes or anecdotes. We often sat alone and exchanged brief, personal words afterward, but no more since we had to get home quickly before the sun rose. Whenever she gave me a final hug goodbye, my translucent wings fluttered slightly, and my heart did as well.

But, last time was different; she handed me a note, telling me to meet her on top of one of
the towering farm buildings that walled the outskirts of the city from the world outside. I vaguely mentioned my mother that I was going out to meet someone, knowing she would assume that I would be meeting with some nice rich boy like most other girls my age, before soaring out into the cool night.

I looked down at thousands of small lights; they came from sky-facing windows, jet-cars,
and each shard of flyxin, but none of them were the ones I was looking for, the most beautifulshine of all. Soon enough, I came to the roof of the sky-farm we had agreed upon and gently  landed, sitting next to the spot where she had waited for me.

I reached for one of her hands as she wrapped a few of her other arms around me. We
simply sat together; it was just her, me, and the sky. Her wings glittered in the moonlight.

Eva Schwarm
8th – 12th grade Workshop



Jax had a problem.

Warning lights illuminated the inside of the ship in a ghostly red and a speaker overhead reported yet another damaged system.

“Breach detected in sector 9, oxygen levels at 54%.”

Panic rushed through his body as he twisted around to examine the damage. Twisted chunks of metal and loose wires protruded from a rip in the metal hull, exposing the ship’s smoking innards. Jax fumbled with the toolbox at his waist and pulled out a roll of handy duct tape. As he tried to peel off a strip of tape with his gloves the system reported another update.

“Oxygen levels at 34%.”

With an alarmed grunt, Jax quickly stretched the duct tape over the gap, sealing it shut. Just to be safe, he wrapped another few layers of duct tape over it. Sticking his hands into another hole, he let his hands do the familiar habit of repairing The Kestrel, his ship. Finishing, he wrapped that hole in duct tape as well.

“Oxygen levels replenishing.”

Sighing with relief, Jax collapsed onto the floor.

Jax and his crew were scavengers, making a living off stripping old, abandoned ships for valuable parts. The area around the planet was bountiful with wrecked ships and floating debris and provided money for scavengers. However, competition was fierce, and recently they had earned little money. Jax’s job was to suit up and manually search and collect the parts, most of the time he liked the calm and quiet out in space, but there were much too many of those near-death experiences than he would have preferred. Just like now.

Another missile rocked the ship, making yet another huge flaming crater in the hull. Jax cursed beneath his breath. This was definitely not worth the scrap.

A few months ago, while searching the interior of a ship that had belonged to some space pirates, Jax had found a crumpled piece of paper that someone had hastily scribbled two words: “Reinforcements Needed” along with a set of coordinates. Jax had shown the strange note to Lux, a friend in the crew that he could trust with his life.

“I wonder what meaning those coordinates have,” Lux had said. They searched it up on their ship computer, but all it said was that it was a restricted area.

“Gee, I wonder why nobody enters the restricted area,” Jax thought now as laser blasts bombarded the Kestrel. The system listed out crucial warnings one after another, which didn’t improve the situation.

“Oxygen levels at 62%”

“Shields down”

“Weapons durability at 89%”

“Energy generator failing”

Jax watched as The Kestrel returned fire. It was pointless. They were fighting against, or more correctly, desperately trying to run away from a Federation Cruiser. Jax had no idea why a thing like that would be in a field of metal ship skeletons and drifting debris. iIt was three thousand tons of might, a warship designed to annihilate anything that got in its way. The laser cutter and the small blaster equipped on The Kestrel barely dented it’s shields. Jax could only look on helplessly as a nuclear warhead raced towards the ship and hit.

Blake Zhang
8th – 12th grade Workshop

Slam I Am: Badgerdog Slam Poetry Workshop


My Russian Dolls

My first layer is painted yellow,
A bright yellow, like the vibrant petals of a sunflower.
My outer layer too is like a sunflower:
Unfurled and facing the Sun,
Tall, lanky, and climbing,
A bit frayed around the edges, with imperfect cuts.

My second layer is painted grey,
The kind you find in seafoam on the crests of surging waves.
Waves that worry the beach constantly,
Weathering the rocks,
Pinching the sand.
It comes from the vast sea of blues and greens,
Where the water runs for hundreds of miles, without

The Sea is vast, limitless, immortal.
It coats the globe as my sea coats my world,
I feel it’s strength and suffocation,
But I also feel it’s liquidity.

Another shell in and you find indigo,
A shade one might use to paint the
Midnight sky in the background of a
More lit, lively cityscape.
The color lays easily overlooked on the painting,
Partially covered by the more eye-catching,
Irritable oil paints
At the foreground of the artwork.

This rich color is melodic and gentle,
It’s voice rolls over you like a warm breeze on a
Cold fall night,
The temporary, timeless calm in
Prolonged moments of anxiety.

My final layer is green.
Green like the scent of fresh-cut grass.
Green like the edges of my mother’s eyes.
Green like the first buds of infant leaves in the spring.

This layer is the most powerful of all my shells.
It is solid, unlike the previous hollow ones.
It is the core of my existence,
Like the iron center of a burning star.

It is dense,
Dense like the canopies in the lush rainforest,
Dense like the thick volumes I read so greedily in my youth,
Dense like my biggest dreams, with their same weights of

and Love.

My past, present, and future
Are expressed in these hypnotic swirls of green.
Onlookers would see different shapes and edges
In my rounded doll,
As they would connect differently to my experiences.
This minuscule piece of my collection is special this way,
Iridescent to separate souls, and the
Eyes that enclose them.

This centerpiece is painted green,
The serene shade of life.
It is my core,
It is my heart,
And I will protect it with my life.
So if I should lose it,
As others have lost theirs,
I will lose myself as well;
And what is the point of living if I become someone unrecognizable?
What is life but the test of someone’s self-truth?

By Lyssa Lashus
7th – 12th grade Slam Poetry Workshop



They bring you out of your self-condemned
Mind-prison that was
Filled with the distractions and worries of the world.

The droplets fall, small and light,
Veiling the upcoming streets and houses that you walk towards
In a translucent sheet of white,
Bringing shrouded mystery into the otherwise
Pleasant neighborhood.

Your skin is kissed by the water from Heaven,
And as the corners of your mouth are
Graced by the presence of these drops,
The corners of your mouth
Grace your face with a carefree smile,
The most genuine you’ve had in months.

The smell of rain alone brings a feeling of contentment,
You inhale and recognize the scent without hesitation or doubt,
It’s just one of those things in life that you know by heart;
Like the scent of freshly baked cookies or the salty ocean wind.
You can identify the unique earthiness of rain on a deeper level than sight.

The sound is magical as well,
The birds and insects quiet,
And the faster-falling raindrops baptize the Earth,
Momentarily cleansing the wake of humans in a rhythmic river of
Patters and pitters,
Like the bare-footed running of happy children.

Just as the water washes away pooling gasoline on the asphalt,
It washes the tension from your mind and thoughts,
Leaving you abnormally clear-headed and joyous.
“If the sky can run free, I can too.”

You slip your slick flip flops off and
Sprint down the asphalt with a spring in your step as the raindrops
Gain speed and size.
You’re headed home, in more ways than one.

Lyssa Lashus
7th – 12th grade Slam Poetry Workshop



Our earth
A giant volcano,
Has erupted
Once again,
Perhaps the largest yet.

We came to face this disaster
As helpless
Like a vulnerable prey
In front of the vicious predator.

Our lives were forced to a “new normal”,
Hanging on to purell like crazy for every step we take.
Vocation was thrown behind centuries ago,
And meeting friends became a luxury.

The disaster is also the thing that made us all equal,
No matter what schools you went to,
Everybody was going to “online school,”
No matter where you went for vacation,
All you can travel now is to your own kitchen.

The most terrible unfortunate in history,
Was also the thing that united us all.
It is the perfect time for us to all hold hands,
And walk through the storm,

Linda S.Z
7th – 12th grade Slam Poetry Workshop

The Great Subway Adventure!



The following is a Choose Your Own Adventure story written by the participants of the Badgerdog Summer Camp’s Interactive Fiction Workshop (Session B). This story was written collaboratively by Aanya Palan, Boone Elliott, Elizabeth Alpatova, Elsa Hung, Evan Kim, Max Mariani, Ninaad Arjun, and Peter Worrall.

At the end of Part One, click on the link to follow your story! (Note: You will be redirected to a Google Doc full of more choices and adventure.)


The Great Subway Adventure: Part One

It had just stopped raining (like an hour ago), and the sun had made its way back out from the clouds. You feel the steam coming up from the pavement, and off the grass and trees of the Capitol. The air itself is heavy and sticking to your skin. You feel the sweat rising up to meet it. It’s almost like swimming, you think, but not as fun. You wish you could go swimming—but the cast on your wrist. That makes it harder. 

You had to break your wrist in the summer. 

Good news, your mom had told you, you’ll be able to get the cast off just in time for school!

“Great!” you had said. And, …Great, you had thought as well, but with a different tone, your mom wouldn’t have been so pleased with. 

It was going to be a long summer. 

Your mom asks you to hold the handle of the stroller while she takes a picture of a particularly shiny grackle. 

Your mom ruffles her hand through your moppy hair. 

“Someone needs a haircut,” she smiles as she takes the stroller back, your baby sister giggles and bubbles spit from inside. 

“Hungry? Let’s get some lunch!”

You are hungry. And quietly excited. You’re at the Capitol building—which, as luck would have it, is very close to your favorite place for lunch. 


And not just any Subways, the one two blocks down from the Capitol on Congress. 

They make the best meatball subs, and cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, and ham sandwiches and even one time this cool kudzu sandwich! … and things that aren’t sandwiches, too! Like soups! And cookies! And chips… and you could talk about Subway forever if someone let you….

“How about that burrito place?”

Oh no!

“Or the noodle place?”

Oh no! 

“I know where you want to go.”

Your mom smiles, and you two walk, pushing the stroller toward Subways. 


You, your mom, and your baby sister enter your favorite Subways Sandwich restaurant. 

It smells like baking bread and turkey. The air is cool and dry after the hot humid outside. You feel almost cold, but in a good way—the sweat drying off your shirt and forehead. 

You look at the wall with the photos of the employee of the months—and as always—one picture is repeated again and again Timmy Bob James your favorite Sandwich Artist. Timmy Bob James has been working here forever.  Timmy Bob James knows exactly the right amounts of lettuce and honey mustard to put on your sandwich. Timmy Bob James never skips on the pickles either. 

And there is Timmy Bob James behind the counter, in his stiff Subway shirt, apron, and chefs hat. 

“Well, we haven’t seen you for a minute! You want your usual order?” Timmy Bob James asks your mom. 

“How have you been?’ asks your mom, “Is your mom still doing good?”

“She’s doing great,” he replies. 

But at that moment, something weird happens…

The glass front door opens and slams shut! The lights go real weird and blue — and then a tile in the ceiling you never noticed before pops open like a door.

And out drops something that looks like a very real bomb! But not like real-real, like one out of an old cartoon or video game. Round and black with a wiggly burning fuse. 

Timmy Bob James yells, “Get down!” and you do.

There is a loud bang, and the room fills with weird green smoke. And the smell of bread and turkey turns funkier…

Like straw and musk and…

It smells more like the zoo than your favorite sandwich restaurant. 

The foggy smoke clears a little, and you look around.

The room is full of eggs. Like a lot of eggs. Eggs of every color and size. But not like easter eggs. Not painted. Just lots. And different.


Beyond the eggs—you are alone.

Where did your mom and sister go?

Where is your favorite Sandwich Artist?

You notice the trap door on the ceiling again, it would be just big enough to crawl through—and reach if you stood on one of the tall backed stools by the wall. 

Also though,

The door to the “Employees Only” area is cracked open too. 

You think you should probably go through one of those doors. 

You pull over the stool to climb up through the trap door.

You go through the door to the Employees Only Area. 

Badgerdog Book Crush: Cryptic Cryptids

The Cryptic Cryptids Book Crush summer campers loved debating books and writing about creatures that may or may not exist. While we didn’t reach a consensus on the existence of Bigfoot, we certainly had fun playing Jeopardy-style trivia based on the book.

During the three-week workshop, we explored characters, setting, plot, tension, and other writing elements using the novel Uncertain Summer by Austin author Jessica Lee Anderson.

A highlight of the workshop was a visit from Jessica Lee Anderson who talked about how she became a writer.


Everyone had a chance to ask Jessica questions and gain insight into her writing process.
She also shared research she did for the book, including this map of Bigfoot sightings in Texas.


In addition to writing exercises, the Cryptic Cryptids stretched their creativity off the page by creating projects based on Uncertain Summer.

Advik programmed each of the main characters in Minecraft and recreated scenes from the book.




Valerie created a diorama including several scenes from the book.


Adheesh illustrated nine different scenes from the book and drew a map of Caddo Lake State Park.



Vishnu created a diorama of the first time Everdil sees Bigfoot, when she’s in a boat on Caddo Lake for her birthday. She tries to take a picture of the creature, but it doesn’t turn out.


Saisha used a different perspective to illustrate the same scene.



Caroline created many elements from the book in origami.


Ishaan drew scenes of Everdil and Shawna being chased by the wild boar.

And when Emmett thinks he is bitten by a copperhead snake, but it turns out to be a stick that cut his leg.



Ari created a sculpture of the Bigfoot costume stuffed with slaughtered animals that fooled a few folks into thinking they’d shot the creature. 


All Write: Circles of Community Online II


Over the past few months, we have entered a new realm of normal filled with many challenges. This blog post serves to honor those young writers who have risen to the challenge of staying healthy at home while also staying creative at home and inspiring at home—and, yes, courageous at home as they traveled through their imaginations, inventing new worlds and novel ideas about our world.

These young writers shared their work with one another, but they also shared their laughter, their smiles, their virtual backgrounds, and their hopes for the future. Their voices echoed across the Wi-Fi and broadband cables—and here is where the magic really happened. These young writers transformed the square of a screen into a circle of community. They now invite you into that circle to join in a celebration of all things.

The pieces below prove that despite storms rumbling heavy above us, there is a deep joy ringing underneath. Welcome to that joy.

Kate Kelly
Programs Manager
The Library Foundation



The people asked for their fauna back
but it was too late.

The people asked for their stars and moon back
but it was too late.

The people asked for their mountains back
but it was too late.

Everything that they heard of in their histories
—small feathered animals chirping,
colossal forking structures with green needles jutting from their branches,
huge forms of rock that pierced the sky,
and glimmering bright points in the night—
are words and distant memories of smoke and dust.

A barren mother of ghosts.

Ari Firsching


My Tree

William's Tree

I am a beautiful tree. A good tree
Not a
GOOD tree just a normal good tree

I seek low I see high to see high to
see the forests right behind
I am a beautiful tree.           Tree

I am smart I am braveTree
I am good
I am a

I am
good for
-ing. Not
like so
good but
Just good.
I am a beautiful tree.

I am a unique, beautiful, caring,
Friend, silly, fun tree.

William Kim

William Kim


Pandemic Pantoum

There are fewer cars on the road
I notice the beautiful flowers more
We ride our bikes more often
I notice more smells than before

I notice the beautiful flowers more
It’s getting hotter out
I notice more smells than before
I am getting more cuts and bruises

It’s getting hotter out
The sink is getting worn out because we are at home more now
I am getting more cuts and bruises
I notice less trash on the street

The sink is getting worn out because we are at home more now
We ride our bikes more often
I notice less trash on the street
There are fewer cars on the road

Stella Mendoza


The Invisible Thing That Connects Us
—a blind collaborative poem

And the birds barked and the dogs sang,
The hermit crabs shift shells behind my back, growing up so fast.
And then the typewriter spoke to me!
I would say “magnanimous” and you would say it too.
You could make this place beautiful.
It amazes me that people keep being born—
that we welcome and say goodbye so often.
I don’t understand…
A rose-studded rainfall of regret.
The zoom box is the techno proscenium; shared time but in virtual space—
An empty chest, filled with green leaves.
Welcome, catastrophists, anxious strivers, and know-it-alls.
And we knew, dancing starless and untethered like this,
the seaweed pulling at our wet legs.
But, of course, she drank the fetid brew.
Whose onion is this? My mistake, it looked familiar.
Imagine the germs hiding in the bowling ball,
Tell the myth I pivot and claim as my own.
The night hangs like a pregnant pause,
I wandered away for awhile.
Glowing red eyes stared through the window:
When it’s time to meet the sky again, I promise to kiss the earth.
The fear of slipping like a door that closes but never locks.

The 2020 Badgerdog Summer Camp Teaching Artists

All Write: Circles of Community Online I


Over the past few weeks, we have entered a new realm of normal filled with many challenges. This blog post serves to honor those young writers who have risen to the challenge of staying healthy at home while also staying creative at home and inspiring at home—and, yes, courageous at home as they traveled through their imaginations, inventing new worlds and novel ideas about our world.

During the weeks of March 23-April 3, 2020, hundreds of young writers gathered in small workshop groups to read, write, and share what they were creating on the page. Despite the restrictions of working online, these writers remained fearless in their commitment to creation. They wrote poems, short stories, and interpretations of strange symbols! They painted watercolor with language! They wrote odes to their dogs! The dove deep into dreams! They made friends with merpeople! They transported fairytales into reality! They wrote lyrically and declared—here’s where I’m from!

These young writers shared their work with one another, but they also shared their laughter, their smiles, their virtual backgrounds, and their hopes for the future. Their voices echoed across the Wi-Fi and broadband cables—and here is where the magic really happened. These young writers transformed the square of a screen into a circle of community. They now invite you into that circle to join in a celebration of all things.

The pieces below prove that despite storms rumbling heavy above us, there is a deep joy ringing underneath. Welcome to that joy.

Kate Kelly
Programs Manager
The Library Foundation


I am From

I am from red and white diner booths in my homey kitchen, from cats dozing on the couch, and a cabinet full of fragile teacups.
I am from the small, cozy cottage of a sort of watered-down green color.
I am from a city that has bright blue skies and barely ever snows. I
am from the rosemary and chives that line my stone sidewalk, and the beautiful trees swaying all around.
I am from an amazing neighborhood in which all of your neighbors know you and always say hello when you pass by.
I am from the shouts and praises of the nearby people spectating soccer matches, and from the burnt orange flags lined up neatly next to the Texas ones at the basketball stadium.
I am from a hot summer sun beating down on my back, and cold watermelon slushies that my family and I make every year.
I am from my church family singing and laughing while we swim and kayak on the Frio River.
I am from lots of playdates and family gatherings, but most of all, I am from the smiles of all of the people that care and love me.

Ruby Airhart
5th + 6th grade Workshop


The Ways of Basketball

Hands up, bottom down,
Hear the squeaky shoes all around.
Eyes focused on the dribbling opponent,
Defense, defense you’ve got to own it.

Fast paced pounding down the court,
Running sprints, this is my kind of sport.
Zinging the ball left and right,
We can do this, we can fight.

Ruby Airhart
5th + 6th grade Workshop


Dr. Seussland

Snow clings to the trees,
Ice to the tall grass and leaves,
A new world is created as the sun winks off of the ice,
A land of Dr. Seuss trees,
A land of diamond Truffula trees.

Breath in the cold crisp air,
Winds wrap around children and run around with them,
They jump and skip,
Laugh and fall,
They desperately grab at the necks of children,
The wind just wants to be a part of the joy,
It just wants to run up and hug the child that is sitting in the snowdrift under the tall white trees.

The snow falls like so many unique skydivers,
Each flake its own little world of magic,
Each flake its own person,
This one, well, she is an energetic social butterfly,
A second is a bully knocking into every other flake disrupting their path to the crunching floor,
Another one an introvert trying to stay away from every other one,
A fourth one, he is just looking for a friend,
And a fifth who is just believing that the universe will bring her where she should go.

Each snow-covered cattail like a single mini whiteTruffula tree,
Each bent tree like the Cat in the Hat’s hat reaching down to tap you on the head,
And sometimes when the wind rustles through the trees a lump of snow does tap you on the head.

The waves of the lake crash against the cement walls,
Each wave a smaller kid being crashed in the lockers by a bully,
Each wave the bass drummer just wanting to be heard in the marching band,
Each wave bringing a frothy white cloud,
And when you look around you are surrounded by the genius of Dr. Seuss and are welcomed into the magical wintery Dr. Seussland.

Conor McClellan
High School Workshop


Fall: poem and watercolor 

Bronson's poemThe laughing
dressed up in their
carnival clothes

their leaves
about the earthy hues of the
they are proud
strung along the trees’

as the festivities
the fresh air
of the earth’s aroma
the smell of
h o m e

Bronson Wang
7th + 8th grade Workshop


Black and White

Black and White
Dark and Light
Sure to help you
See gray as a sight

Black marker on a paper
Fingers running across the keyboard
Pandas whisper like water vapor
And Yin and Yang where we are heading toward

Josephine Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop



Red, hot, a fiery sea
Eating the grass, and all it sees
It screams out loud and ashes up the air
It bursts and pounds just to scare

But sometimes it’s nice, even if it is hard to believe
It doesn’t erupt or perish, just somewhere in between
It is sleeping, it is resting from the anger it shows
But again, one day it will scream and throw

Josephine Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


The Mountain Girl

The mountain tells us when bandits are here
It shakes and rumbles when trouble is near
We pull out our mallets, our hammers, and our swords
And they see us as roses with our sharp needle thorns

Other times we are happy, working in the quarry
We smile and we laugh for nothing else is so merry
There is nothing we fear as long as our mountain is here
We are birds flying high in the sky

Even though lowlanders have more land
Even though we can never go to the beach to see sand
The mountain is our home
The only place to play and roam

Josephine Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


This Way or That Way: an exploration of symbols


The arrows represent everybody in the world. As you notice, all the arrows are different in colors, patterns, and sizes but they are still all arrows just like all humans are humans but not all humans are exactly the same. Even identical twins are not the exact same. The arrows are all pointing into different directions like people’s interests may vary or people might just have a totally different background than others.

Valerie Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


If I Were in a Picture of Arrows

I am bold
She is yellow
He is blue
They are dotted
Her structure is quite full of lines
The unique one over there is dotted and lined

Why am I stuck here in a museum next to the useless brass
Why am I just sitting here in melancholy
Blankly pressing my rounded tip against the glass
Why are we even here if we don’t make the visitors any more jolly
This museum doesn’t take out the trash
So they are always leaving us to smell the horrifying stench
And you know what? They still pay their workers with cash
Outside our window there is a little bench
Where I always wish to be
I wonder if I will ever get out there,
To the world of wonders
It is always either this way or that way

Valerie Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


Ode to Banjo

Banjo is a little bundle of joy,
But he is also loud.
He wakes everyone with his barks
Of the mighty West Highland White Terrier.
The dog has a little wet nose and tongue to kiss us with.
The mighty dog has a big look so we are scared of him.
But who would be scared of a little white puppy named Banjo?
The fuzzy little dog has a little fear over the fearless ant!

Lucas Xu
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


The Dream Catcher

Late at night, when almost
nothing is in sight, when your
eyelids flutter, when dreams
Are like a memory you’ve always
Known. When nightmares become visible,
When you seem to know nothing
But dreadful places or harmony.
When you know that your
Dream time is going out.
Your dream time going to
An end no one wants.
Your smile is a frown,
And your eyes squeeze shut
Even tighter and when you realize
That a dark shadow is hovering
Over you. The Dream Catcher
Itself it swoops down from above
And catches your miraculous
Dream with a laugh and a
Shout and possibly a cackle,
As it sashays
Away into another house—
Into another dream.
You’re wide awake now,
Eyes wide, mouth open
But the Dream Catcher is in its new
House. Dream Catcher sleeps
In your attic/basement
Curled up in a shadow,
Grinning to itself under
Your old shelf or your
Sister’s old toys. He curls in
A ball in a dark corner full of
Cobwebs, dust, and spider webs.
There the Dream Catcher is
In your very own basement,
Frowning and squeezing its
Eyes shut even tighter
And realizing that his time
In his miraculous dream is over,
When he realizes that a
Shadow is hovering over him,
When he hears a shrill cackle or a
Laugh from up above,
Then he sits up, eyes wide
Mouth open.

Angelica Xu
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


The Curious Mermaid

          —after Matthea Harvey’s “The Backyard Mermaid”

Adrianna was a curious mermaid. She realized that someone or something was up in another world up there, possibly the world her parents have been warning her about—Human World.

Human World is a terrible world where humans make fools of themselves.

She told her relatives and everyone that lived in the mermaid area, but they gawked at her or with a swat of a hand, replied, “Honey, all this-nonsense! Maybe the talks you’ve been in have addled your brain, dear. You need a hobby. You know that?”

Then they would swim away or turn their eyes back to the magazine they’d been reading or turn their backs and continue the chat they had going on. Adrianna didn’t care one bit, for she would swim away with a sway.

One day she’d had enough—not of the excitement on the surface—but enough of the swatting hands and the ignorance people have been giving her. She swam up to the surface persistently and knocked hard on the surface, over the noise of girls giggling and laughing and jumping.

Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock!

Adrianna’s knocking startled the girls and everything went quiet up above.

You could hear a pin drop. Adrianna knew it! Things were up there.

“What the heck is down there? A witch?! I am so scared! Ha, Ha!! Right girls??”

A harsh sound of flip-flops echoed throughout the deck. “Girls? everything okay? You’re so quiet!! Avery has never had a quieter birthday party. Oh-a-ha!!”

“Mom!!!! Ugh!! Stop now!! I have had a quieter party!” the girl named Avery said.

For some reason, I broke the surface and hid my tail swiftly.

“What the heck?!” the girl who asked the same question earlier, Darby, says.

“What is this creature?! Definitely not human. We don’t swim underneath the pool. If you are human, I’m asking, how did you get down here?”

Ugh. I hope it’s clear enough for her to see that I’m a mermaid. Though, truth be told, I never intended to show her my delicate appearances. Adrianna thought to herself.

Adrianna never needed to hide her appearance, well, mostly because she’d never faced the challenge of humans before. But she hid her tail under a seeking turtle, which very un-helpfully swam away to reveal the appearance of a tail.

“OMG!! She is a-a-a mermaid!!! Really, you guys, come look, guys!! She has a tail!!”

“Ugh, she has a tail, big deal. Who cares? Come on, guys. I’ve got a new collection of toys to show you.”

Adrianna clabbered her way down. Unfortunately clabbering down cannot be done unless you stick your tail up in the air, about just in human eyesight.

Adrianna disappeared in a broad vail of seaweed coral, along with fish. She didn’t want to end up like in those stories Pa told her: a little girl gets put in a net by humans, they took her life because they wanted her tail. She was a mermaid, and this rumor is very famous according to mermaid folk.

A bird named Cannadrien, Avery’s pet, swoops down from the nest above and plucks out some of Adrianna’s wet hair.

And from that day on, whenever Adrianna peeks at Human World, Cannadrien swoops down from her nest to examine Adrianna and her hair, possessions, and items.

Angelica Xu
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


Good Morning!

Once when I got out of bed
My head was very red.
“I don’t know why” I said.
So I got out on the floor
Then walked and closed the door. Then
I walked on my feet
I was ready to eat.
I was gonna get some food
Cause I was really in the mood.
I pulled some cake
But It was fake, and it was gonna take a while to make.
So I got some tea
It was right for me.
Then I had some pea porridge that was 500 years old—
It was very very cold. Then I turned on the light
It was very very bright
Like a bright bright flight.
Then I watched my TV.
I found a show that’s right for me.
It was about a bear, and he had long hair
But I didn’t care. It was about bears.
But who cares?
I flipped the channel to see a car driving near
A tree. It was a documentary. They had a car and it was at night under a big bright star.
My TV was very fun
And now I’m done!

Nolan Benestante
High School Workshop


Clean That Room!

If I didn’t clean my room
It would be such a mess.
My stuff would block my dresser,
so I could not dress!!!

My toys would pile up on my bed,
so I could not sleep,
And to get to my bookshelf,
I would have to leap!!!

Then when I opened the door,
my stuff would come out.
Into the hallway through the house,
then my family would start to pout!!!

Out the door,
onto the street.
Aren’t you glad you kept your room neat??

Calla Snyder
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


The Photographer

Everyone has a story. Whether it’s about mermaids or dinosaurs. Elephants or zebras. Well, you get the point. My story though is fiction. You’d think at least.

“Sarah! Wake up it’s your first photoshoot!” my mom hollers.I’m already up, but I give her some slack anyway. To be honest, I don’t want to do this photoshoot. But, my mom is really looking forward to this so I guess I’ll try. My family has a reputation for photography, and I don’t want to let them down.

“Coming!” I yell back.

I see my dad and mom sitting at the table waiting for me.

“Hungry?” my dad asks.

“No. I already ate an hour ago before you were up.” I answer. He nods back and my mom smiles.

“Oh, my baby is all grown up!” she squeals as she squeezes me tight.

“Let’s just go. We don’t want to be late.” I say.

About half an hour later we arrived at a beach.

“A beach?”

“Your clients wanted their photograph in the ocean because it makes it easier for them,” my mom smiles.

“We packed a swimsuit in the trunk if you’d like,” my dad says as he rubs my back.

“This is not what I expected,” I mutter to myself and carry the swimsuit from the trunk before walking toward the public bathroom.

I take my shoes off and dig my feet in the grindy sand. The warm sand takes over my cold feet, and I feel wind blow my short dirty blond hair in my face. I walk into the water. I think my camera is waterproof, but I don’t overthink it. My red bathing suit with white polka dots gets soaked and a cold shiver runs through me.

I’m in shock. I must be seeing things, but I see mermaids with tools instead of tails. Tool Mermaids. Of course. They’re known for attacking tourists at the beach and fisherman. They tell us that for some reason Tool Mermaids have a tradition of getting their picture taken once they turn eighteen. I do my best to proceed with the process just as I’d do if I was doing this with a human.

The lady has a saw for her tail, her hair up in a ponytail, and some hair next to her face.

After the photoshoot my mom and dad help me edit the pictures, and we have a nice lunch together as a family. Like I said, my story seems fiction. But that’s up to you to decide.

Autumn Wallace
5th + 6th grade Workshop


All Around Me

I see a tree elegantly swinging its leaves in the motion of the wind with a lilac-colored purple flower that seems to have bloomed in the early Spring in the shape of grapes.

I see my dog Levi chasing after a dog toy that looks almost like a football with his ears flapping in the wind.

To the right of me, I see my younger brother trying to scrape the leaves out of the pool, making the job more difficult and rougher than it already is.

I see little bubblers in the pool causing ruffles ruffling across the shore of the pool.

I see that now my brother has put his hands behind his back, making Levi sit and making weird, funny, and stern faces at Levi.

In the pool, I see a white black and blue cleaning machine we call Shark Dog cleaning the surface and sides of the pool.

To the left of me, I see an oak tree growing a bright green moss and dropping saplings that will soon also be oak trees.

In the distance, I can see foggy wide hills flooded with trees, lights, and houses. Even further on the second hill, the sky looks slanted and the top of the hill is touching the sky.

Next door, I can see our neighbor’s back yard with bright green oak trees and some flowers.  There are also bird feeders hanging from the trees and beautiful flowers blooming in every color.

I see swings on the playground still swinging from whoever was last on them, giving the effect as if someone is on them.

Autumn Wallace
5th + 6th grade Workshop