The fifteen rising seventh- and eighth-graders who comprise the Magical Murdering Unicorns brought tremendous energy, humor, and talent to our Badgerdog Camp at the Magellan International School this year. No matter what I threw at them, they handled it with hilarity, thoughtfulness, and imagination. They wrote ekphrastic pieces in response to classical art; they wrote stories and poems based on a series of emojis they’d created themselves; they authored tales imagining the end—or the beginning—of the world; and they crafted monologues from real and fictional characters.
They even played a group-wide game of Exquisite Corpse, a sort of Mad Libs game in which we created sentences word-by-word without seeing the previous word—and then wrote pieces explaining the crazy sentences that ensued.
These campers at the Magellan School always surprised and delighted me, and often knocked me out with their insight and descriptive power. The week flew by. I bet you’ll see a few of these names on the covers of books one day.
Badgerdog Teaching Artist
It was too early to be at school.
Beep • Beep • Beep
Goes the broken alarm.
The smell of smoke and metal fills the hall.
I can feel his presence behind me.
He’s gurgling, ready to pounce.
I could stand here and let him kill me
Or run, but eventually be trapped.
I wasn’t scared, I couldn’t be.
Drip • Drip • Drip
The blood pooled in his mouth slowly dripped off his chin, and fell to the floor.
He was always so persistent, no matter
Where I ran to.
The alarm stopped.
Now, I could clearly hear his fingernail-like claws clacking on the marble floor.
Now it was just me
Something wet touched me.
I looked down
Deep crimson blood, sticking to my bare feet.
He was closer now.
I turned around and yelled through gritted teeth,
“LEAVE. ME. ALONE!”
But there was no one there. . . .
I leap over a boulder and land running. The creature is still chasing me. I push things behind me to slow it down. I can see the exit up ahead. I reach my hand out and push the door open, run through, and slam the door. I hear the creature bang its body against the door. The cold, bitter winds stab my face like needles.
My horse, Frost, a pure white horse with white eyes, stands waiting for me. I hurry over to her and mount. I ride all the way to Whiterun. I am on a mission for the Jarl of Whiterun. I open my bag, and the small moonstone with something in the center seems to look up at me. It looks a lot like a cat’s eye. I close my bag and ride on.
I leave my horse at the stables and follow the path up to the gates. Since it is night, the guards unlock the gate with a key. I walk up to Dragonsreach when a man stops me.
“Have you seen this man?” he asks, holding up a sketching of a man.
“No,” I said. “But I’ll keep an eye out.”
I continue on. I open the doors to Dragonsreach and close them behind me. I walk up to the throne.
“Do you have it?” Jarl Balgruuf asked.
“Yes,” I said, reaching into my bag and pulling out the moonstone.
– an exquisite corpse piece
The awesome library murdered the mourning noodle. The headlines were everywhere. The assassination took place when President Ned Noodle was getting a book called Suicide: A Wonderful Thing. The library then started to launch books, computers, CDs, and chairs at him. One of the CDs sliced him in half, and he died.
Everyone thought of the library as a hero; in fact, he didn’t even get arrested. Everyone loved Ned Noodle when he was first elected, but then his wife and kids died tragically. He became angry because he knew they had been murdered but did not know who had murdered them. Ever since then, he hated everyone and everything, so he made a bunch of terrible rules that affected the people greatly. So when they found out he was going to commit suicide, they were all excited. They had been waiting for days, then weeks, then even a few months.
They found out he cancelled the suicide because he missed his wife’s funeral. He sat at her grave mourning for three weeks. He finally left, and went to the library to get a book about suicide. Even the library was tired of him because he made a rule that you were allowed to talk in libraries. The library noticed that Ned Noodle was checking out a book about suicide, so he decided to get the job done.
The library is now a hero. He is known as the most awesome library that ever lived.
My Day in Emojis
– after an emoji collage
As I did a handstand, I smiled fakely, sad my crush hadn’t come to the party. My friend told me a joke, and I smiled, still sad. I looked toward the door—there he was.
My heart surged with joy and happiness! He was sticking out his tongue and winking at me? No, at his girlfriend. I wish I was her, I thought. As he walked over, my heart burst out; my eyes became little hearts. I looked down as he passed with his dog . . .
Then I wished that I was a magical sea unicorn with a glittering horn, more beautiful than everyone. In my fantasy, my crush’s girlfriend was a devil. I laughed so hard at this that a tear ran down my face. I saw my friends making funny faces, sticking their tongues out and squinting their eyes.
Suddenly, Death-Devil Girl left my crush. He walked over and brought me a Topo Chico; I took it shyly, my eyes being hearts, golden ears on my head… He asked me out. With a huge smile, I said yes, not caring that his girlfriend had just left him.
The Mother of Stars
– after an etching by William Blake
In a clearing between two trees, the Mother of the Stars sits with her arms outstretched. The tangle of branches above her forms the platform, and the thick, luscious green canopy forms the ground.
The Star Children play in this world above ours. Orion and Taurus fight in the inky blue heavens. Virgo and the Seven Sisters dance through the curtains of the sky while, down below, Old Father Time sleeps unawakened in a deep slumber. His hand on his scroll, surrounded by the living dead, a ribbon of frolicking spirits.
A book older and frailer than the Web of Life sits upon an oaken chest, just as aged, illuminated by the radiant glow cast by the Mother of the Stars. A lamp that never burns low reveals a text that no mortal man can read and would retain all the knowledge in the world if he did. Golden crocuses give the space a warm presence, and the whole scene is covered in the cloak of darkness.
This Is the Way the World Ends
This is the way the world ends, vacuuming the light out of an old, pasty sky, pasty because it was sick of looking at the same plastic world, fake and scripted. The women are in gray dresses, pristine with no stains, and the men walk beside the women wearing stern expressions only of important business. And the children never shine with joy, are just obedient and fake.
The sun gives up shining slender beams of joy to a fake prison of a world, and the moon quits showing soothing-shaped light on the silver mist. They are no longer needed. Although the world has not ended and there is no slavery here, the universe has given up on our plastic, scripted lives. It seems all the beings have been handed to us and all the beings on the planet have been stolen from—their joy and happiness gone, just gone, as a fox takes eggs from a loving mother hen. Gone, never to return. And this seems to me like the most pain injected into all of our Barbie-like bodies, as the world has ended—shut off from life, real life, a loving life, joyful life.
The Sun by herself got lonely, so she turned space into its canvas. Using a brush of life, she painted stars like herself. The stars danced, sang, and laughed with each other, later returning to their own space in the universe.
The Sun got lonely again. She took a brush and painted unique new objects, nothing like her. Some were small and rocky, others were large. They didn’t dance, sing, or laugh. They walked around the Sun, watching her every move, never to leave.
The Sun got bored, so she got her brush again; she painted trees with leaves of dark green. She painted water that glistened and glowed under her watchful eye. Then she made animals, some big, some small, some red, some blue. All were different. Then she made all the foods.
Finally, she made us: eyes to see with, mouth to talk with, hand to hold, feet to kick, and a brain to think with. Now we sing, dance, and laugh with Sun watching us all for eternity.
I was in the middle of dismissal when I heard a loud bang. Everyone from my class looked outside. There was a man outside with a shining sword connected to his back and two giant guns in his arms.
I started running back to my house from school. As I was running, I saw all of the brick houses with creepy dolls sitting on the doorsteps. All the dolls with the long hair and ragged clothes were staring at me. It seemed as if they were looking straight through me.
I started sprinting down my street up the hill, past the dark, mysterious cul-de-sac, all the way past my creepy neighbor’s house to my house, home sweet home! I was back at my house, the white house that was almost at the top of the hill. Being home made me feel safe from all the chaos that was behind my back.
This is the end
I’ve dreaded this exact moment
The more I think
The faster I forget.
The more I look
The less I see.
This is the end.
Naomi Melina Raab
My feet dangle in the water,
My fishing line waiting for a bite.
The trees sway with the wind,
The sunset’s rays illuminate the pond,
The smell of fresh pine fills the air.
I close my eyes,
Slowly falling asleep,
All is calm.
I awake with a flash,
Unable to breathe.
I look up,
The sun’s rays shrouded by murky water.
I’m drowning, I realize,
My instincts kick in,
I arise to the surface.
My grandpa’s laughter
Echoes across the pond.
The End of the World
This is the way the world ends… As I wake up, I feel a cool breeze of frost, but why? It’s summer. A feeling of loneliness sinks in slowly, like black ink sinks into my skin. As I walk outside, all I see is dust, with ashy grey skies and trees all burned into sharp ridges. No one outside. You may yell, but it only echoes back.
I run inside to seek help. No one. It’s pitch black inside the house with no electricity. All the water is cloudy grey. No food to feed my starving bones. So I lay quietly on my hard bed, slowly sinking into darkness.
The Glittery Zebra’s Revenge
– an exquisite corpse piece
The glittery zebra honestly killed the poopy unicorn. The glittery zebra was glittery because he ran into the poopy unicorn. The poopy unicorn farts rainbows and poops glitter. They were both in the forest and the zebra was walking behind poopy unicorn, and… well, you can guess what happened. The zebra’s least favorite color was glitter (who knows when he became such a cold soul?), and he was really angry at poopy unicorn. The glittery zebra was so mad that he drowned the poopy unicorn in the glittery lake.
I have a dark confession. I have had a huge lie—I have lived a huge lie. No one knows what I really am. I was born on the beautiful planet Earth, in the Milky Way, not on Krypton. I was born with abnormal abilities. My parents put me with my adoptive family because they had sheltered Superman before and wanted me to have a good life that they could not provide.
They told them I was from Krypton, that I was an alien. They told me that, too. Always, deep down, I knew that I was different, but overall I was the same.
I have been fearing this day my whole life. But I never imagined that I would ever care for my family and friends so much, that there would be so much at stake.
Now, I am asking you, please help me figure what I am, who I am. I need to know. If you guys don’t ever want to see my face again, just say it and I will disappear.
I am just Kara. Being Supergirl is part of me, and I can’t, and won’t, stop doing what I am doing. I just want you to know I am still me, Kara Danvers, and that, my friends, will never, ever change.
The Giant Octopus
The Giant Octopus had giant teeth,
Also big chompers on his four feet.
To defeat it was a huge feat.
Huge flames out of its arms,
It can do you great harm.
The Giant Octopus was so great,
But it was evil and got lots of hate.
It is evil because it was raised in the fiery pit of a volcano.
Luckily, it doesn’t have a bow.
And the evil octopus couldn’t grow.
This is the Way the World Ends
This is the way the world ends. I see the flash, brighter than the sun, that lasts long into the night, then more—the terrific burning. I see these things from space, because I am an astronaut on the ISS. Asteroids are killing our planet, like bullets to a human heart.
The Earth starts to crumble, then splits. I can see the lava spilling out onto the surface of the Earth.
Then, like a bomb, the Earth explodes.