The remarkable thing about the stories Ms. Martinez’s writers have crafted is that I believe just about every word of them. Even though a pitcher of orange juice spouts prophecies, a giant milkshake wishes he were creepy, and snow never stops falling in Mexico, I believe these things to be true in the world of the story. The characters here are extraordinary and ordinary. They yearn for friends. They can’t make up their minds. They must choose between the things they love. They fight to stay in their homes. And when writing as themselves, these second-graders are just as compelling. They delight in skyscrapers and color and cherries eaten right off the tree. They fill the room with happiness and wonder, and they are true ladies and gentlemen. How I loved to sit in their midst. How I already miss them.
Badgerdog Teaching Artist
The Colorful Restaurant
I’m a colorful restaurant, and a little mouse eats somebody’s food, and people get scared of the little mouse. They throw food at the walls, and the mouse eats it off the walls. The color of the walls is pink, the color of the tables and chairs are purple, and the roof is green with yellow stars on it. I like being the colorful restaurant because I have colors on my tables and chairs.
The Bored Lifeguard
Once, there was a bored lifeguard. He never got to save anyone. All he wished was that one day there would be a dangerous creature in the sea so he could save lots of people and everyone would think he was an awesome lifeguard. (The beach had dangerous creatures, but they never showed up.)
One day, a boy was surrounded by a shark. The lifeguard punched the shark and quickly grabbed the boy and swam fast, away from the shark.
Everyone yelled, “You are an awesome lifeguard!”
The lifeguard said, “Thank you.”
After that, the people gave him a gold trophy. He was very pleased.
John Martín C.
—inspirado en The Cotton Pickers, Texas Department of Corrections, Ferguson Unit, Texas, por Danny Lyon
Pienso que soy los esclavos, y necesito trabajar por los blancos y estoy arrancando las plantas blancas y estoy pensando que nunca les voy a trabajar para las personas blancas. También me parece que soy las flores, y los esclavos me están arrancando y estoy pensando que ni me arranquen las personas. También pienso que soy los árboles, y estoy mirando a los esclavos. Pienso que soy la tierra, y puedo sentir que los esclavos están trabajando. Pienso que soy el cielo, y estoy empujando a los esclavos.
—insprired by Danny Lyon’s The Cotton Pickers, Texas Department of Corrections, Ferguson Unit, Texas
I think I am the slaves, and I need to work for the white people, and I’m picking the white plants, and I’m thinking that I’m never going to work for white people. I also think I’m the flowers, and the slaves are picking me, and I’m thinking that people should not pick me. I also think I’m the trees, and I’m watching the slaves. I think I’m the dirt, and I can feel the slaves working. I think I’m the sky, and I’m pushing the slaves on.
Mi brillante lugar
Si yo fuera un lugar, sería una cascada rodeada con pasto. El agua es brillante y huele a los aguas refrescantes. Muchos pájaros cantan y todo está en paz. Hay muchos peces dorados en las cascadas. Veo dientes de león, girasoles, y tulipanes amarillos. Hay cerezas en cada árbol que se pueden comer sin lavarlas. Y hay mariposas monarcas. Aquí, es un buen día de picnic.
My Shining Place
If I were a place, I would be a waterfall with grass all around me. The water is shining and smells like cool, refreshing waters. Many birds sing, and everything is peaceful. There are many golden fish in the waterfalls. I see dandelions, sunflowers, and yellow tulips. There are cherries in every tree that you can eat without washing them. And there are monarch butterflies. Here, it’s a good day for a picnic.
El jugo y las frutas
—inspirado en Still Life (Composition with Vegetables), por Arshile Gorky
La taza de jugo de naranja estaba hablando con las frutas. Les decía que un día, ellos se convertirían en jugo como él, que primero era fruta y ahora era un jugo de naranja. Pero nadie agarraba las frutas porque todavía no estaban listas para poderse comer, y no les pasaba nada. Pero el jugo de naranja todavía se sentía igual, y les contó a las frutas en que se iban a convertir: Dijo que el limón se iba a convertir en limonada, la manzana se iba a convertir en jugo de manzana, y el chile se iba a convertir en salsa con chile. Las frutas tenían miedo y se fueron porque ellos no querían que les pasara eso.
Pasaron por muchos jardines, pero un día regresaron a la casita. Eran adultos. Habían pasado meses y años, pero no les había pasado nada. Y se les resolvió el problema porque las personas ya no vivían en la casita, y las frutas vivieron felices para siempre en su casita.
The Juice and the Fruit
—inspired by Arshile Gorky’s Still Life (Composition with Vegetables)
The pitcher of orange juice was talking to the pieces of fruit. He was telling them that one day, they would become juice like him—that he was once a fruit, and now he was orange juice. But nobody came for the pieces of fruit because they weren’t ripe yet. Nothing happened . . . but the orange juice still felt the same way about it, and he told the fruits what they’d turn into: He told the lemon that he’d turn into lemonade, the apple that she’d turn into apple juice, and the chili pepper that he’d turn into chili sauce. The fruits were scared, and they left. They didn’t want that to happen to them.
They passed through many gardens, but one day they returned to the little house. They were adults now. Months and years passed, but still nothing had happened to them, and they ended up solving their problem because the people didn’t live in the little house anymore. The fruit lived happily ever after in their house.
Los colores que miro que son fantásticos
—inpspirado en Elysium, por Hans Hofmann
Miro diferentes colores en el papel. Se mira como hay una estrella de color rosita. En la caja azul hay unas letras y unos lentes que son negros, pero les falta la otra rayita. Hay una mariposa que es de color azul, como de bebé, y un círculo que es de azul y está bonito. Miro otra mariposa que es de color rosita y es una bebesita. Miro una niña que tiene el pelo rojo y los ojos son de color rojo como su pelo. Yo miro demasiados colores en la tarjeta. Miro una cosita que está muy chiquitita—es un perrito que está corriendo. Miro una puerta que está abierta que es de color blanco. Miro una niña que está abrazando a un niño pero está muy chiquito. Miro un palo que está parado, y una puerta, y creo que se está cambiando. Miro unas luces que son de color rosita y amarilla que brillan mucho. Miro un caballito y sus ojos son de color negro y hay unos cangrejos, y un caracol que está arriba de los cangrejos.
The Colors I See Are Fantastic
—inspired by Hans Hofmann’s Elysium
I see different colors on the paper. It looks like there’s a pink star. In the blue box there are some letters and some glasses that are black, but they’re missing one of their little arms. There’s a butterfly that’s blue, like baby blue, and a pretty blue circle. I see another butterfly that’s pink and is a little baby. I see a girl with red hair, and her eyes are red like her hair. I see too many colors on this postcard. I see a little thing that’s super tiny—it’s a little dog that’s running. I see a door that’s open and white. I see a girl who’s hugging a boy but he’s very small. I see a stick that’s standing up, and a door, and I think they’re changing places. I see some pink and yellow lights shining bright. I see a little horse, and its eyes are black, and there are crabs, and a snail is on top of the crabs.
Mi perrita Princesa y yo
Un día, mi perrita me dice que quiere ir a otro mundo, como a Nueva York City, y me pregunta que si podría comer comida de verdad. Entonces, le doy coquetas de perro. Luego, ella quiere explorar más sobre la ciudad de Nueva York. Ella a veces me dice que quiere descansar. A veces me dice que quiere dormir en Nueva York City, y ella se duerme. A la mañana siguiente, vamos a explorar sobre el puente de Nueva York City. Unas veces, ella me dice que quiere bañarse. Un día, ella quiere ir de compras, y yo le digo que sí, “pero no hasta que acabes de comer toda tu comida.”
My Little Dog, Princess, and I
One day, my little dog tells me that she wants to go to another world, like New York City, and she asks me if she can eat real food, so I give her dog treats. Then she wants to explore the city some more. Sometimes she tells me she wants to rest. Sometimes she tells me she wants to sleep in New York City, and she falls asleep. The next morning, we’re going to explore the New York City Bridge. Sometimes she tells me she wants to go in the water. One day, she wants to go shopping, and I tell her, “Yes, but not until you finish eating all your food.”
Las cosas maravillosas de México
Las rocas de mi lugar en México serían de chocolate para que se las pueda comer del suelo. No habría nada de animales. Todos los helados serían de chocolate. No serían de vainilla ni de ningunas de las otras nieves. El piso de la casa sería rocoso y de oro y si lo limpiáramos sería más brillante de todos los otros pisos. La nieve sería dura y siempre estaría cayendo la nieve, todos los días no paran de nevar. Todas las personas siempre estarían jugando snowball fights. En el patio habrían plantas y unas se podrían comer y otras no. Unas serían de dulces y otras de bombones y otras de uvas. El patio estaría muy grande y las pelotas de fútbol muy grandes también. Todos los perros se llamarían Cuchicuchi. Unos serían chiquitos y otros muy grandes. Habrían uvas en los árboles.
Mexico’s Marvelous Things
The rocks in my place in Mexico would be made of chocolate so you could eat them off the ground. There wouldn’t be any animals here. All of the ice cream would be chocolate. There wouldn’t be vanilla or any other kind of ice cream. The floor in our house would be rocky and made of gold, and if we cleaned it, it would be shinier than all the other floors in the world. The snow would be hard, and it would always be falling—everyday it won’t stop snowing. Everyone would always be having snowball fights. There would be plants on the patio—some you could eat and others, no. Some would be made of candy and other ones of marshmallows and others of grapes. The porch would be very big, and the soccer balls would be big too. All the dogs would be named Cuchicuchi. Some would be really small and others really big. There would be grapes in the trees.
Si yo fuera otro mundo
Si yo fuera un lugar, sería así: No hay muchas cosas, y la ciudad es mía—no es la ciudad de otros, es mi ciudad, y puedo mandar a todos en el mundo y puedo hacer que algo como un árbol de chocolate se haga vivo como magia y se mueva a otras partes del mundo. Las tablas aquí se pueden comer y saben a espagueti y el piso sabe a bombón y el agua sabe a salsa.
If I Were Another World
If I were a place, it would be like this: There aren’t many things, and the city is mine—it’s not anyone else’s city, it’s mine, and I can tell everyone in the world what to do, and I can do things like make a chocolate tree come alive and move all around the world like magic. You can eat the boards here, and they taste like spaghetti, and the floor tastes like marshmallows, and the water tastes like salsa.
The Giant Mouse
Once upon a time there was a giant mouse who hated bananas. She just liked Takis and any kind of Cheetos—those are the only things she liked. One time, the giant mouse tried a banana, and she liked it, so now she hated Cheetos, and bananas and fruit were her favorite foods. She was going to eat bananas her whole life. Then she ate Cheetos and bananas at the same time, and they were delicious, and she had so, so many friends because her friends liked bananas and Cheetos, too, and for lunch they always ate Cheetos and bananas.
The Disappointed Milkshake
Once upon a time there was a milkshake who was alone and wished for friends. She was very good, but the other milkshakes didn’t like her because they weren’t as delicious. Then one day, she got ugly. She had been waiting too long, and while she was waiting so long, she got ugly. The ugly milkshake looked like strawberry ice cream, but tasted like socks. And the other ugly milkshakes liked her. She was so glad that she showed a smile.
Si yo fuera un loro
—inspirado en The Silent Seasons—Fall, por Will Barnet
Si yo pudiera ser el loro verde, yo cantaría con mi pico y volaría y cosería para que les ayude a otras personas pobres. Volaría con otros loros y mis pajaritos, y agarraría dinero y colgaría más y ayudaría más a las personas pobres, y sería la amiga de una persona. No voy a nadie que me va a robar. Salvaré a todos que me necesiten o si no, agarraré a una persona para que me salve. Nunca voy a hacer cosas que no se debe hacer. Cuando nacen mis pajaritos, no quiero que hagan cosas que no tienen que hacer. Encontraré a una niña que me cuida y encontraré a más dueños que me cuiden y nunca me pierdo de mi familia de loros.
Un día, veo a una persona—es la niña ya creció como yo, y aplaudo.
If I Were a Parrot
—inspired by Will Barnet’s The Silent Seasons—Fall
If I could be the green parrot, I would sing with my beak and fly and sew to help other poor people. I’d fly with other parrots and my baby birds, and I’d get money and hang some more and help poor people some more, and I’d be someone’s friend. I won’t go to anyone who’s going to steal me. I’ll save everyone who needs me, and if not, I’ll get someone to save me. I’m never going to do things I shouldn’t do. When my babies are born, I won’t want them to do things they don’t have to do. I’ll find a little girl to take care of me, and I’ll find more owners to take care of me, and I’ll never lose my family of parrots.
One day, I see someone—it’s the little girl, grown now like me, and I clap for her.
Funny Giant Mouse
Once upon a time, there was a funny giant mouse. He was very big and giant, and he liked eating everybody’s houses, and he did not behave very well. He was also very funny. He was always telling mama jokes with his friends.
The funny giant mouse’s problem was that he always was on red or yellow and could never play in the park.
His solution was that he was never going to eat houses and tell mama jokes again. But he missed those things. He liked them so much, and they made him happy because he thought they were so fun. Still, he said sorry to all the people whose houses he had eaten.
José Otoniel N.
Las plantas y el viento malo
—inspirado en Celia Thaxter’s Garden, Isle of Shoals, Maine, por Childe Hassam
Hay unas plantas y un viento malo que quiere que las plantas se vayan volando a otra parte donde ya no se las puede ver, y las plantas dicen que no porque no se quieren ir a otro lado que no conozcan. Un día, el viento sopla fuerte y las plantas se asustan porque el viento dice que se van a ir al otro lado donde sean desconocidas. Ellas dicen que no porque en el otro lado, no van a ver las cosas que siempre han visto.
The Plants and the Bad Wind
—inspired by Childe Hassam’s Celia Thaxter’s Garden, Isle of Shoals, Maine
There are some plants and a bad wind who wants the plants to fly away to some other place where no one will be able to see them anymore, and the plants say no because they don’t want to go somewhere they don’t know. One day the wind blows hard, and the plants are frightened because the wind says that they’re going to go someplace where they’ll be strangers. The plants say no because in that place, they won’t see the things they’ve always seen.
The Colorful Mouse
There was a mouse who wanted to make a wish because he liked blue and green and red. He liked the colors of the rainbow. But the mouse thought that the others would laugh because they did not like the colors. One day the mouse’s wish came true, and the others did not laugh at him because they thought that he would laugh at them, too.
José Rafael Q.
En el agua nadando
—inspirado en Untitled, por Jackson Pollock
Miro plantas y flores. Soy un pez. Miro el agua y una cueva. Luego miro muchos animales. Miro un monstruo y un numero—es cuarenta. Miro un nombre en el dibujo, el autor del cuadro. Es chiquito el nombre, es tres palabras. Miro comida. Hay otro numero—es diecisiete. El pez grande se mira como si tiene muchos dibujos de colores.
In the Water Swimming
—inspired by Jackson Pollock’s Untitled
I see plants and flowers. I am a fish. I see water and a cave. Then I see many animals. I see a monster and a number—it’s forty. I see a name in the drawing, the painting’s author. The name is very small, it’s three words long. I see food. There’s another number—it’s seventeen. The big fish looks as if it has many colorful drawings on it.
The Great Painting
—inspired by Jackson Pollock’s Number 28
Almost everybody was staring at the painting.
In the painting, I see the number three, and I see a dragon and a beautiful butterfly. The painting is beautiful. There’s a cool star in it.
There were people who said that the painting was scary because it was scary at night. But the painting is not scary at all.
En el espacio
En este lugar en este planeta, estás cerca del sol, y está muy caliente para que tú vivas aquí, y habrá truenos, y otras cosas, y te puede pasar un accidente, como caerte y marearte, como si dieras vueltas, tú solo. El sol va a oler a flores bonitas. Los rayos del sol van a hacer flores como rosas y dientes de león y girasoles, y por eso el sol va a oler a flores.
Pero si yo fuera un lugar, ese lugar sería un río. El agua va a oler a dulces, como paletas de chocolate, y habrá rascacielos bien bonitos para que nos imaginemos que estuviéramos con ellos, y tomáramos fotos para que se las enseñáramos a mi mamá. (Ella estaría trabajando.) Yo y mis hermanos y la esposa de mi hermano mayor tomáramos fotos chistosas, con caras feas o chistosas, para que todos tuviéramos las fotos para siempre.
In Outer Space
In this place on this planet, you’re close to the sun. It’s very warm so that you’ll live here, and there will be thunder and other things, and an accident can happen to you, like you can fall and feel dizzy, as if you were turning around in circles by yourself. The sun will smell like pretty flowers. The sunshine will make flowers, like roses and dandelions and sunflowers, and that’s why it will smell like flowers.
But if I were a place, that place would be a river. The water will smell like candy, like chocolate popsicles, and there will be beautiful skyscrapers so that we can imagine we’re there with them, and we’ll take pictures so that we can show them to my mom. (She would be working.) My brothers and my oldest brother’s wife and I will take funny pictures (with funny or ugly faces) so that we’d always have them.
There was a girl who was drinking a giant chocolate milkshake. The milkshake wanted the girl to stop. He wished he could be creepy. He wished he had sharp teeth and poison, and he became so creepy. When the girl came home, she got scared of the milkshake, and the milkshake ran away from her house. The girl was so disappointed because the milkshake ran away from her, but the dog made another giant milkshake.
The milkshake took his poison out and then drank himself, because he was in the desert.
The girl took the dog out for a walk in the park with her new giant milkshake. The new giant milkshake loved when people drank him.
And they all lived happily ever after.
—inspirado en The Stevedores in Arles, por Vincent van Gogh
En mi cuadro pienso que están escapando de los blancos los esclavos y yo estoy en la ciudad y arriba de la gran torre hay un cohete subiendo porque va a explotar. Hay pequeños patos en el océano. El niño está leyendo.
—inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s The Stevedores in Arles
In my painting, I think the slaves are escaping from the white people, and I am in the city and above the big tower there’s a firework climbing up into the sky, because it’s going to explode. There are little ducks in the ocean. The boy is reading.
The Colorful Lifeguard
There was once a person who decided he wanted to be a lifeguard because he liked to swim. This lifeguard was very popular, because he was unique. He was not like the other lifeguards. Whenever somebody was going underwater, he went to save them, but since he was the colorful lifeguard, he turned the water into colorful colors.
This turned out to be a problem, because wherever the colorful lifeguard went, all of his fans were waiting for his autograph. He was growing tired. He wished he weren’t so popular.
There must have been a shooting star when the colorful lifeguard made his wish because the next morning, he wasn’t so popular. People didn’t ask for his autograph, and this made him so happy. He had solved his problem, but he was still a little popular and still colorful.
El lugar colorado
Este lugar es caliente y el piso es suave y el viento sabe a chocolate. Este lugar es colorado, y si hay algo feo, como una araña, las personas se lo desaparecen. Hay árboles que tienen puros pájaros y unos son cafés y rojos y las flores son muy grandes. Las personas tienen cuatro ojos o más—cien ojos o doscientos ojos. Una persona tiene tantos ojos como años—si tienes nueve años, aquí tienes nueve ojos.
The Colorful Place
This place is warm, and the ground is soft, and the wind tastes like chocolate. This place is colorful, and if there’s something ugly, like a spider, people make it disappear. There are trees that only have birds in them, and some are brown and red, and the flowers are really big. People have four eyes or more—a hundred or 200 eyes. They have as many eyes as years—if you’re nine years old, here you have nine eyes.
The Two Best Houses
Many years ago, there were two best friends who were houses. They lived in a beautiful garden. The houses’ names were Cruncher The Metal House and Crunch The House. They were very friendly. They were twins, too.
When they were playing one day, they were surprised by a super giant pizza with pepperoni. His name was Mansion. Mansion took Crunch the house.
“Let down my friend, Mansion,” said Cruncher The Metal House.
“No. He is my friend now,” said Mansion, the super giant pizza.
Mansion, the super giant pizza, took Crunch The House all the way to Mansion’s house.
Cruncher was alone. He was sad, too. Then he started thinking that he needed to save his friend from the giant pizza. He went all the way to Mansion’s house.
When Cruncher entered Mansion’s house, Mansion said, “Well, well, well. You again.”
Cruncher ate a piece of the giant pizza.
“It tastes delicious,” said Cruncher. Then he ate all the pieces of Mansion.