I’m honored to introduce you to a group of creative and passionate young authors, who call themselves “The Sixteen Musketeers.” Like the musketeers in the famous story, each of these writers represent an essential part of this collective whole—a group that worked hard over the course of a week, encouraging each other, cheering for each other, laughing with each other, learning from each other. But each Musketeer is also an individual, with a distinct writing style and a powerful voice.
During our week together at the Magellan International School, these students wrote stories and scenes of dialogue that starred a talkative fisherman afraid of cats, a mysterious young girl with wings, a bus driver who borrows a time machine, and a host of other fascinating, complex characters. Yet most of the pieces collected here—the writing that these students most desired to share with the world—are poems or nonfiction passages that focus on transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, through the precision and magic of language.
These students are determined to report on life as they see it, and to share their passions—for violins and videogames, for starry nights and storytelling—with their readers. I was inspired this week by the imagination, intelligence, and playfulness of these young writers. I hope you, too, find inspiration in these pages.
Allison Grace Myers
Badgerdog Teaching Artist
Ode to my Pencil Case
As I open my pencil case,
Little opportunities sprout legs and escape the dark pouch.
A pencil for making the opportunities
And an eraser for cleaning the messy ones up.
This case isn’t the kind that holds books or scrolls,
But the one that holds the tools to make them.
Inside there is a place for everything to go in.
It is so packed up and works very hard,
But it tries not to complain.
The pencil case says,
“My zipper isn’t stuck, and I’m right in front of you,
So open me up.”
Henry the Dragon Slayer
My name is Henry. I am a dragon slayer.
I was found in a river, adopted by one of the King’s ministers. I am now the dragon slayer, and I am one of the best in the profession, but there is yet one dragon that remains. We all call him Scaly. He has eaten all our dragon slayers. He is the fiercest one of them all, so my job was to kill him.
One day, I set out on foot, because no one was willing to come close to the dragon. I would love to say I reached the cave and heard the dragon snoring and chopped off its head, but that’s not what happened. He was torching the cave. I walked into the cave. It was around 100 degrees Celsius. (Talk about turning up the heat!) Yet I was determined to kill him. I charged in and fought the dragon. It was a short fight. I died.
I am dead now, as I tell this story.
As the sun sets over the mountains
And cast shadows in my room,
Colors spread across the sky—
Red, orange, yellow, pink.
I gaze in awe at the setting sun
As bright as the opossum’s yellow eyes—
The scene that gives all artists inspiration
To draw, to read, to paint, and to write.
Spiders are very ugly and scary, and you can’t really change that, but I’ll try:
Their eyes are an okay color?
Maybe they cannot bite you when they’re in a good mood?
Well, bottom line: They’re TERRIBLE!
With their eight eyes and eight legs, it’s hard not to flip out around them.
You have to admit, when you see a spider, it’s like you’re King Kong.
It’s disgusting when their webs won’t come off your skin.
But I have to make them cute,
So they’re CUTE.
I know I throw you off the bed every night, and my butt lands on your face when I’m doing gymnastics, but you’re a pillow—do you even feel pain?
Okay, you definitely had something to say about that.
Okay, okay, you have feelings too, I get it.
But, I’m sorry, I mean, I bought you so I could have pillow fights, a fort, and something to rest my head on, not really for a friend.
Oh, I do need you a lot.
I guess I owe more to you than I think I do.
Silence, almost, as
The stars flicker
Like diamonds in sunlight
Further away than the sun
But we’ll reach them
Sooner or later.
Ode to My Violin
Seven years ago, my mom bought me a violin. In my free time, I like to practice. I go to camps, clubs, orchestra, and a middle-school competition orchestra called All Region. My violin is brown, except for the neck, pegs, button, and chin-rest, which are black. The body is rough, like half-sanded wood. It is very comfortable. My violin sounds like an oboe if I play properly. If not, it’s like someone snoring. Without you, violin, I would be bored every day.
A New World
I get inspiration from my imagination. Whatever comes to my mind, I write it down, and instantly I get transported to a world of magic and wonder. I write my thoughts down, and a story comes to life, until soon I am pouring my thoughts onto the paper. I pick a tiny piece of my writing and move it around, only to pick it up again and piece it with another sentence. My thoughts and feelings are my inspiration. I find a thought in my brain, and a new story is born—a new world in which I am engulfed, a new place to go, a new place to see, a new place that will inspire me.
Full of power supplied by the sun.
They patter in the rain and
Wither when they’re done.
Colored with Beautiful shades
Of red, white, and blue,
Depending on the seasons
They might not catch the flu.
Flowers are for everyone,
Whether you’re sunny or dark.
If you want to be at a golf-course, or when
Batman leaves his bat-cave
Right after he sees his mark.
Flowers are more ancient
Than the human race itself.
They make sure to stay living
Either in the garden or on the shelf.
Clowns haunt you instead of making you laugh.
Their lipstick looks like blood and scars, like a knife digging in every day. Clowns are becoming scary and dark, and they are making horror movies about clowns named It. There are clown gangs attacking people. What is the world coming to? What next — the Joker coming to life?
The world will come to an end, knowing we will all die of clowns. They are as scary as a dark hooded man coming up from your bed, and pulling you under.
Where I get inspiration is when people complain. I write about what is bothering them, or unfair to them, or to the team, so people can notice their mistakes. And, after that, they need to talk to the person and explain why they were doing this bothersome thing and try to fix it, or tell the person what to do so it will stop. It’s like when you order a hamburger with everything, and they give you nothing on it.
I like baseball, because I’ve played it since I was three. I hit the ball with force. I like the stripes on the baseball. They are red like fire. I like that there are different types of bats. I have four metal ones and one wooden bat. The bat has a vibration when I hit the ball. I like when I step on the plate—it gives me a great feeling. Baseball is a fun sport to play in the fall and the summer. It’s hot in the pants.
Ode to Tiny (Yorkie Puppy)
Mommy got me my sweet, tiny Tiny,
My smidgey puppy.
His honey-brown eyes
Are melted Hershey bars.
He looks for me to play.
He nuzzles closer to me.
When hearing the flow of piano,
Tiny naps in my lap
Like a mini bear hibernating for winter.
He lifts me up when I’m down
And turns a frown upside down.
I don’t know where my joy would be
Without my little Tiny.
In a videogame shop, there is a game. It is a very special game. When you play with four players, you each pick a character, and then you’re sucked into the video game, and you are trying to get off the island before it sinks into the ocean. But don’t worry—you will go back home.
There are enemies that smell like garbage that will try to kill your character. The jungle on the island has plants and trees that smell moist. Everywhere it smells like a very real island, and everything looks like what it is supposed to in real life. Rated M: It is called “Run!”
The Secrets of the Spider
Spiders are hairy, big and small, black and ugly, but their webs hang majestically from the ceiling. Sparkling dewdrops hang on the web in the mist.
The black widow’s hourglass sits proudly on its back, gleaming with pride in the rain.
Spiders are masters of the shadows. Scuttling quietly in the darkness, they spin their prey into blank paper-white cocoons.
In the end, a female spider has hundreds of tiny spiders, and ideas. A new generation of spiders float in the wind, carried by silver lines, but all in all, only a few survive.
Ode to the Clock
The shiny circle on the
wall, with numbers up
to 12, hands that move
around the circle of
numbers, 1:37 to 12:59,
lots of numbers to tell
the time, my mind and
my eyes say it’s 9:45,
it’s 1:00, ZAP,
Time goes past in a blur,
One red hand goes
second to second, fast,
BOOM, it’s 2:30, BAM,
3:20, Ding Dong Ding
Dong, it’s midnight, Ding
Dong Ding Dong, it’s mid-
day, tick tock goes that
circle with the time,
the clock was red,