Good vs Evil

This week on Unbound, we’re proud to feature a graphic story authored by one of our younger writers, Victor, who’s participating in Badgerdog’s Creative Writing Summer Camp at Hope Presbyterian Church. In Victor’s high-stakes tale, “Bomb Bill,” the hero, a heavily armed do-gooder, tries to keep his cool and put an end to The Bad Guys using trickery and explosives. The vision (and artwork) infused in the story should keep you on the edge of your seat; you’ll be thrust you into the sky at lightning speed, watching as rockets and jets zoom past you, waiting as Bomb Bill, we hope, emerges victorious.

“Bomb Bill” by Victor Yu


“Hi! I’m Bomb Bill.”

“I have four fingers on one hand, I don’t have ears, and I even wear a tie.”

“I’m different in every picture, but I always have a blinking bomb.”

“That is the end of the introduction. It’s time to fight!”

Chapter 1

[Bomb Bill went into his Robo Cannon 2000.]

“I’m going to go fight. Bye!”

“This is fun!”

“What’s that?”

[Lazer Cannon/Bad Guys]

“Uh oh!”

Chapter 2

“I’m bald! I’m going to get you for this!”

“That’s better.”

[Trampoline: $9,000,000}

“I got my own jet!”

“Ha! Ha! Ha!”


Chapter 3

“We need to repair now!”

[24 Hours Later]

“We did it!”

“Let’s destroy Bomb Bill!”


“Uh oh! At least I have a bomb.”

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” [Bad Guys]

[To Be Continued…]

Victor, fourth grade, Ms. Joanna’s workshop



Sound and Light

To define the self is an endless and ever-changing proposition. We have many faces, many moods, a million stories that cast us in a thousand different lights. And yet, we try. The search (and discovery) is mostly for our own sake, but what good are we if the world can not see us? This week, we feature a stunning poem, in which the author, Ryann, defines herself in ways that conflict, subvert, and dance. She gives us her light, her speed, but also the sides of herself so many of us try to hide. Congratulations, Ryann, on a tremendous poetic achievement. (We’re even told this poem was used in a college classroom to help slightly older writers better understand the power of imagery and the ability of metaphor to leave us speechless, to send our minds reeling.)


Ryann Finell is a taco.
Ryann Finell is a fly on an apple core.
She is a smudge on a wall.
Maybe she is a witch.
She is a whale’s song, speeding through
the water at a million miles per hour.
Ryann Finell is an empty, crunched soda can.
She is toilet paper in the toilet.
She is a praying mantis, waiting for her next victim.
The floors look up to her, grinning.
Ryann Finell is a mushroom who
grows as slow as a snail.
She is nothing, a blank on a paper,
a gap of space, waiting right behind you.
She is a golden star on a Christmas tree.
Ryann Finell is a knob on a door,
waiting in vain for the dead owner
to turn her. She is a hole in a shirt,
getting bigger every day.
She is the letter X, doing a cartwheel.
Ryann Finell is a crab, scuttling
on the ocean floor, waiting for
a mine to blow up. She is a noodle
in a bowl of Progresso soup. She is
a sound, trying to race against her friend, Light.

Ryann, sixth-grade, Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp

How Come?

Ms. Tricia’s summer camp workshop is on a tear, appearing first on Badgerblog just days ago and now gracing the virtual pages of Unbound. These writers are zooming, synapses firing, writing, writing, writing, delivering line after line of poetry and prose, shooting their hands up when Ms. Tricia asks, “What just happened in this Calvin and Hobbs scene?” Answer: He’s just imagining it all. (And thank goodness he does!) This week, we return to this lightning-speed group of 5th and 6th graders who remind us, in their aptly titled collaborative poem, why it is we write. Go, Random Pink Super Fluffy Bunny Little Buster Space Unicorn Poem People! (I can’t wait to meet that mascot!)

Why We Write

To get your feelings out
To keep in touch
For fun!
To spread news

To pass time

To express yourself

Because you want to
Because your parents make you
Because your teacher makes you

To expand your ideas
Because I feel like it
To correspond
To save someone
To express yourself
Because we have to
I’m good at it
Encourage someone
I love it
Non-fiction writing

I want to
To help people
Fiction writer
To tell a person Thank you
To let us explode ourselves
Because you want to
To ENTERTAIN others or yourself

To spread information
To give information
Because you want to give more information
Because our teacher says
Why do we write?
To express ourselves
To learn about other people
To talk about news
To entertain people
To tell facts
To create an Image, paint a picture

To put Down Thoughts
Write a personal letter
To console someone
I have a story that NEEDS telling!
To communicate what we feel with others

The Random Super Fluffy Bunny Little Buster Space Unicorn Poem People (a.k.a. Owen, Ananthi, Gatienne, Evalyn, Samantha, Cara, Gracie, Nikita, Bodhi, Sofia, Winston & Hannah)

Perfect Strangers

With our second session of summer camp kicking off this week, nearly 100 new writers and their 11 instructors were faced with the task of discovering one another. Who is this person to my left? they asked themselves. And that person to my right? What does she call herself? Is he shy or outrageous? A poet or storyteller? Possibly both? Is he afraid of flying? Will she someday run for office?

There are a zillion ways to better understand those around us, but in Ms. Colleen’s workshop at The Girls’ School of Austin, metaphor became the vehicle for knowing the new writers in our midst: When Caleb (above) says he is a can of aerosol and a tornado and a box, we can see he’s a little ostentatious, out of control, but sturdy and able to fill himself with possibility.

Today, meet two more of our new writers, Anesh and Kyla, and let them introduce themselves, the people they’ve become… and are still becoming.


What kind of person are
you? I asked myself. I am
somebody who has the bones

of a human and the attitude
of a hawk. I am not flat
and not weird,
but my mind is free.

Anesh, fourth grade, Badgerdog Summer Camp

I Am

I am the man
who would rule the
world I’m the girl
who would demand
to be queen I’m
the dad who would
have a million dollars I’m
the mom who would
own a zoo I’m
the friend who
would own a mansion.

Kyla, third grade, Badgerdog Summer Camp

Dancing is Like Real Life Poetry

We were so lucky that Ballet Austin opened their doors to our first session summer campers. Inspired by the dancers, our writers wrote about their “almost wings,” about how the dancers were “like a perhaps goats” doing kung-fu in the air, and about so many other graceful movements they observed. Their words remind us of the intricate connection between arts are–or, as one middle school writer said it best, “Dancing is like real life poetry!”

The Swan Dance

The bend of the arms
similar to the arching
neck of the swan’s
the pirouette like the
from the water
their strong legs in the air
almost wings spreading wide
their toes resemble
the beak of a head pointed
the dancers more
like swans
that sweep themselves
up and off the water
on the floor feet are close
much as the swan’s wings
are folded on the water.
arching backs
arching bodies
like wings flapping in the flights
elegantly powering through
like the dancer

Evelyn, middle school summer Camp writer

Ballet Is Like a Perhaps Smoothie

—after E.E. Cummings’s “Spring Is Like a Perhaps Hand

Ballet is like a perhaps smoothie
(which comes from a smooth, delicious fruit)
dancing gracefully like a soft drink
(while spinning and turning, leaping and jumping)
twirling like a straw mixing in the cup.
Ballet is like a perhaps smoothie
(carefully finishing the dance, carefully taking the last sip)
without a choreographer or blender.

Olivia, upper elementary summer camp writer

The Silent Dances

The dove twirls in the water,
arching her neck amidst the glittering droplets.
She is repetitive, patient;
Her movements smooth as pink silk.
The dove’s flight is ethereal, spectral.
She is a character from a fairy tale,
with her feathers dancing in the wind.
Her torso twists elegantly in the autumn breeze
Swift, fast-paced, lithe.

Her eyes dart to and fro,
her face on of tight concentration.

A white fairy poised and ready.
The dove’s wings flex against the current
and her soft sigh melts with the air.

Vanessa, middle school summer camp writer

The Graceful Strength

They seem to know one another
as if old friends reuniting,
live day by day, side by side

Two different realms
and I in-between them,
the one I know best I behind me,
elegantly bending
I hear laughter
echo through the glass
the lone girl on the barre
she brushes her pink silk toe
against the silver with a swish

Elizabeth, middle school summer camp writer

Ballet Is Like a Perhaps Wind

—after E.E. Cummings’s “Spring Is Like a Perhaps Hand”

Ballet is like a perhaps wind
(which brushes gracefully against the dancer)
carrying the spirit of ballet in its breeze
(while dancers dance, spirit of the perhaps wind moving in their bones)
moving and making ballet graceful.
Ballet is like a perhaps wind
(carefully back and forth swirling gracefully)
without destroying the spirit of ballet
(which it carries with its wind).

Maya, upper elementary summer camp writer

The Shoes

The shoes that are quiet,
new in their wrapping
An enthusiastic dancer
slips them on
She twirls,
a blend of color
The dancer and the shoes
in perfect harmony

Emma, middle school summer camp writer

A Ballerina Is Like a Perhaps SnakeFlake

—after E.E. Cummings’s “Spring Is Like a Perhaps Hand”

A ballerina is like a perhaps snake
(which slithers across the ground)
lifting its head high
(while gracefully twirling, circling)
bending itself into shapes.
A ballerina is like a snowflake
(carefully leaping to the ground)
without hurting itself.

Celina, upper elementary summer camp writer

Music Box Dancers

Music box dancers
like captive tropical birds
in a dim gray lab

Eliza, middle school summer camp writer

Ballet Is Like a Perhaps Goat

—after E.E. Cummings’s “Spring Is Like a Perhaps Hand”

Ballet is like a perhaps goat
(which is flapping in the air)
swimming in the air
(while shoes whisper to the air)
kung fu-ing the air.
Ballet is like a perhaps goat
(carefully bouncing in the air)
without any gravity.

Saketh, upper elementary summer camp writer

We Sing Songs, We Contain Multitudes

I Am

I am Thomas Jefferson.
I am Benjamin Franklin.
I am John Adams.
I am George Washington.
I am George III.

I am an inventor.
I am a president.
I am a man who has heart cancer.
I am the first president of the United States.
I am a man from England.

I am Meriwether Lewis.
I am Dolly Madison.
I am James Madison.

I am a slave.
I am a blind woman.
I am a very particular woman.

I am George the dog!
My tail flies out when I
hit the ground.

 Lauren, soon to be 6th grader, Badgerdog Summer Camp Writer


The Origin of a Poem, of a Life

During her three-week Badgerdog Summer Camp workshop at The Waldorf School, Novuyo Masakhane asked her high school writers to seek out their origins. One writer, Lauren, who was born with cerebral palsy, had never talked to her mother about the day she was born, about her arrival in the world. After interviewing her mother about that day, Lauren wrote this beautiful epistolary poem.

Dear Mama

Now that we’re here,
can I tell you something?

I’m sorry about that.
I never meant to scare you.
I guess I just wanted to make an entrance.

I know you didn’t get to see me today,
but I saw you.
You are very beautiful, Mama!

…even when you’re crying.

I hope I got your eyes.
I did tell them to tell you not to worry about me,
but I guess they didn’t listen.
They told you I might not make,
didn’t they.
But trust me,
I know how strong you are.
I’ll be as strong as you.
This kid’s not going down without a fight.
Come on.
You didn’t think you’d get rid of me that easy,
did you?
I decided
I’m going to stick around for awhile.
Because lets face it Mama,
and I hope I’m not saying this too soon,
but I’m kind of in love with you already.

I know you don’t want to go home without me,
but hey,
I’m given you one more night’s sleep before
I wake you up at two AM for six months.
So go home.
Get some sleep,
and we’ll see each other in the morning.
I promise.
Your baby girl

Lauren, age 17, Badgerdog Summer Camp Writer

Pigs and Zip-Lining

Pigs escaping onto Mopac Highway, zip-lining through Lake Travis, taking trips to Colorado, learning how to do a back hip circle, and secret lock boxes—these are some of the fascinating details that encompass the lives of Ms. McLelland’s class at Highland Park Elementary School. What they wrote during their Badgerdog workshop, “Writing Personal Narratives,” reminds us that every experience is a new adventure that will never be forgotten; and more importantly, that any adventure can be turned into a work of art.


We went camping this weekend. Yesterday, I saw a jackrabbit while hiking. We saw butterflies too. While we were going home, my mom and dad saw a grey squirrel. I did not. We passed it. Too bad. We got to swim in the lake, though. It was fun. We saw a waterfall. It went “rrrrrrsssssshhhhhh.” I loved it. We got to eat s’mores. S’mores are two graham crackers with marshmallows and chocolate in between. You roast the marshmallows over the campfire. I hope we go back one day. The s’mores tasted so yummy.


The Idea

In Language Arts class I could not think of an idea. I thought and thought, but I still had no idea. Then I got an idea to write about this problem. Am I still writing? Problem solved! I was worried that everyone else was doing fine, but after working my hand felt like it was glued to the paper because I couldn’t stop writing. The weird thing is that everyone else is writing about something outside of class and I am writing about right now. I really have another problem. My brain feels like a rock because I can’t think of any similes. Wait! I’m brainstorming. I need another simile. I thought of one then I forgot it. I’ll go back to the drawing board. I found another idea! This is so fun. Writing is like playing video games.



I wanted to go to a restaurant called Maggiano’s, so I asked my mom if we could, but she said it was too expensive. So I asked again another day, then another day and another day. I said please, and I begged but the answer was always no. Then, when my report card came, my brother and I both got all A’s, so my mom said we could pick a restaurant to go to and we picked Maggiano’s. It was one of my favorite meals. In fact, my brother, my mom, my dad and I all loved it. We got ravioli, chicken parmesan, salads, and I think we got spaghetti and meatballs. I don’t even remember what we were talking about during dinner because we couldn’t stop eating.


The Un-Beach Trip

One day my mom woke me up early in the morning and said it was time to go to the beach. I’d been counting down the days and I was so excited. I was going to meet my best friend Sarah there. We had already planned out everything we were going to do. First, we were going to go surfing. Next, we were going to go boogie boarding. After that, we’d go swimming in the hotel pool, and for dinner that night we’d go to our favorite seafood place called Snoopy’s. After dinner, for desert, we’d go to the ice cream place in Snoopy’s called Scoopy’s! But then that morning, my brother Jack got sick, and we had to cancel the beach vacation. I was so disappointed that we couldn’t go to the beach, but I learned that family is more important than fun. Also, at least we got to play our family’s favorite board game, Monopoly, and then we ordered pizza for dinner and we ended up having fun anyway.


My Lock Box

I was surprised when I tried to open my lock box. The box wouldn’t open. It was red with flowers all over it, and it had a cat on it. There was a glass ladybug inside. I figured out that I wasn’t using the right key. I searched all over the house. I asked my brother Diego (who is five and usually steals stuff) if he had it, but he said “No way!” and pinched me. It hurt, but not too much. I decided to go look outside and dig a hole. I saw something … but it was just a shiny twig. I decided I would retire looking for the key and just use bush clippers to open the lock box. But then my mom came outside and said, “What are you doing?” I said, dramatically. “I am looking for the key from my lock box.” Then my mom ran inside, then zoomed back out to me. She had something in her hand. She said, “You mean this key??” “Yes!” The thing in her hand was the key. So I zoomed around my backyard then went in my room and I opened my lock box and I got my glass ladybug.


Mang and Henry

One thing that really means a lot to me is Mang, my giant stuffed elephant. I love him. I’ve had him since I was born. When I came home, he was waiting for me. My old dog, Henry, was also there with my uncle and grandmother. Henry also means a lot to me. He was my dog before I got Rusty. When I was four, I had to put him down because he was old and if we’d kept him any longer he just would have been in pain. I was really sad. We went about a year without a dog and then I got Rusty. One night, my dad came home with him! We were all surprised! My dad had Rusty on a leash and he was already enjoying his new home!



When I was four years old, I started horseback riding. I loved it as much as I love my mom. I kept riding, and when I was seven I leased a horse named Dr. Pepper. He was white and grey. When it was summer, I left Dr. Pepper. When I came back, I found out that the owner needed money and had sold Dr. Pepper. My parents felt bad for me, so they bought me a horse. I was so happy. They bought a horse named Elle, and she was a Grand Prix horse so I could go to the Olympics when I grow older.


A Challenge

When I was eight, I went to gymnastics. I was trying and trying so hard to do a back hip circle. Then I saw my friend Anieca from second grade, and she did it perfectly, so I asked her if she could teach me how, and she said sure. She said, all you have to do is cast three times, then tuck your body under the bar and pull up, and always look at your stomach. So I tried what she told me, and I did it! I was so surprised. I thanked her and have been able to do a back hip circle ever since she taught me. I’m so happy that Anieca is on my gym team.


The Time I Went to Colorado

One time I was going to Colorado, and it took about sixteen hours. My family was going to a cabin, and it was super cold at night. We didn’t do much. We found a burned cabin next to our cabin. It was burned years ago. I thought the trip was going to be awesome, but it turned out to be pretty boring. I also found out why I didn’t go to sleep the whole drive. It was because I drank a sip of Red Bull, so I was really, really hyper. We watched movies at our cabin, and I accidentally stayed up way too late. It smelled like fresh air outside, and it smelled like a lot of trees. We took a long hike. Our cabin was pretty cold. We tried to make popcorn, but we couldn’t, because we didn’t have the supplies we needed, or a microwave, so we made it old-fashioned-style. We had tinfoil, and we put it on top of the kernels and turned on the stove and it popped! We finally had popcorn. It was so good. Then we watched a movie ,and it was really fun. I don’t know why I thought Colorado was so boring? But then when we had to leave the drive was boring again. It took sixteen hours! We got back home and I saw my cat and now I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to go back because I don’t want to drive sixteen hours again! In the beginning, I didn’t know how fun the trip would be yet. In the middle, the trip was fun because in the beginning, as I said, I didn’t know yet how much fun it would be.


Weird Me

Hello, my name is Anna, but some people call me Banana, and I don’t like that because bananas are my friends, and if I eat one, I would be a cannibal. But I do like raisins. I like to eat raisins because one time I was at the zoo and I saw a monkey eating a raisin, and then I said “Mom! Get me a raisin now!” And she said, “Darling, please don’t demand things.” I said “Mom, I can do whatever I want to do because I can smell the raisin.”

I will tell you a little about myself. I have dirty blonde hair, I have 20/20 eyesight and hearing, and I love sushi, and I love hedgehogs. I even have one! I am not kidding. My hedgehog eats cat food and hedgehog food, and at night I just hate him because he has a wheel and he’s nocturnal. He feels like a hairbrush but a little bit softer.


The Time I Went to the River Walk

I was disappointed when I went to the river walk in San Antonio. When we got to the river walk, my sister and I thought it was going to be a blast. Bug guess what, we were wrong! It was boring like doing nothing. There was a boat ride, and the only purpose of it was to learn history about the river walk. We stayed there all day. I got really warm near the end, and it was super boring when we were about to leave. When we left, I was so glad. It took two hours to get home, and once we finally got back ,I wanted to stay up, but my mom made me go to bed.



I was excited that I was going to Colorado! But after my family got there we had to drive for three more hours. I asked my mom how much we were going to be driving, and she said “a lot.” I was even more disappointed. The next day I had to get in the car. When we had been driving for an hour, I was so board and grumpy. I asked my parents how much longer we would be driving, and my mom said “three more hours,” and I decided this wasn’t the dream vacation I had hoped for. After a few minutes, I got my Legos out and played with them, and then I tried to take a nap. I was really starting to miss my best friends Samantha and Sophia, but we finally got there. Apple Tree Inn was awesome! The owner had a dog that had lost his leg. The dog’s name was Cody. I liked it there. We had to go to dinner, but first we stopped at a gift shop. I picked out an adorable elephant named Peanut. But the next day meant more driving time! We drove to Santa Fe and stayed in a house, and then we drove to the airport. After we got home, I was so relieved.


My Problem

When I was at the end of the school year party, I was in the lake playing with my friends Grace and Isabella. We were on rafts playing for hours, until we went out on the zip line. We had to wait a while, because there was a big line, but then it was our turn. The line was totally gone, and we went about six or seven times until I fell off and broke my arm. I started to scream and Bella and Grace took me to my mom and she made me a hamburger and we went to Dell Children’s Hospital. There I was in a wheelchair (which was weird because I had a broken arm!) and I went to my room.

They did four x-rays then put in my IV (it really hurt!). They gave me root beer anesthesia, which was perfect timing because, right at that moment, my aunt came, and I can’t even remember seeing her. The thing I do remember is that she gave me a stuffed animal dog, and I got my St. Bernard right before I broke my arm. Then they put my cast on, while I was asleep from the anesthesia. My cast was blue, and they gave me a huge squishy thing on my arm. After two months, we had to change the cast. We changed the color to neon green with neon yellow stripes. The doctor gave me two popsicles and she told me to get chocolate cake. That night I was out of the hospital. My best friend Scarlett was a really big help, and my other best friend Sophia helped also. Then, two months later, I had my cast removed.



It was really hard for me when I was learning how to play piano. Reading music was confusing sometimes because there are many different types of notes and signs. One day we planned to go visit my cousin in Brownsville. Days past, and we drove the six hours to Brownsville. When we go there, it was very late so everyone went to sleep.

I played video games, went to the beach, and just played around. I was walking down the stairs, and I heard my cousin playing piano. She was very good at it, so I walked in and sat down on a couch, which smelled like the nice smell of paper. I just sat there watching my cousin play piano. I guess she got pretty bored just sitting there, knowing I was watching and listening to her play piano, so she asked me in a bored tone, “Do you want to learn how to play piano?” So I said yes.

She taught me a small song that I didn’t even get down until I got back to Austin. In Austin at my house, I didn’t even have the book to read the music. So I had to figure out the notes myself, which was as boring and hard as lifting boxes full of iron and lead. But eventually I found out the notes and I practiced and I showed the song to my piano teacher. After that, he showed me more advanced songs, and now, because of that song, it’s gotten a lot easier to play and read notes.


The Challenge

One day, my friend Crystal challenged me to a tennis game. At first, I didn’t know how to play tennis.
Crystal showed me how to play, but when I tried, it was hard. I kept losing. So, the next day, Crystal took me to tennis practice.

Crystal taught me how to hold a tennis racket, when to hit the ball, when the ball’s out of bounds, how to move my feet quickly, how to serve, and how to jump to catch the ball. Then, one day, I was very good at tennis, and I loved it!

The tennis court had a cool breeze that felt like smooth butter. It was an awesome experience to play tennis. Now I play like a professional—but not exactly.



Hi. My name is Isabella Katherine Russo (Bella for short).

I have a German shepherd. She is a lazy teen and calls herself Piper. She talks a lot and so do I. I have hair that’s the color of the skin on an almond. It also has little flecks of gold in it. At home (if I am home), you could find me reading, eating, sleeping, drawing, or watching TV. Now that it’s summer I love to shove my face into a fan’s wind, to eat lime popsicles, and to listen to music. I am very funny. My brother even says that I should be a comedian, and I think that would be fun. At school we have this fun lady come to teach us how to write personal narratives. I like it OK, but I think I am more of a fiction person. I love to write stories and plays, but I have never ever been in one. When my friends come over ,we like to do little skits. I think I was a merchant in one of them. As I said before, I have never been in a real play, but I have seen some.


The Games

One time, my sister kept stealing my DS games without telling me. I tried to take them back, but when I snuck into her room, her room smelled like roses and I coughed and she woke up and caught me. She told my mom and I got in trouble. My mom said I was grounded and I was forced to go to my big, smelly room. So then I tried asking my mom about my games, but she wouldn’t listen to me. I was mad that I didn’t have any games, so I went to my sister for them again, but she said she didn’t take them. I knew she was lying. The next day I asked my dad. He believed me, and he said that he would ask my sister, but I explained that she would say no.

My dad said that I just wanted to get her in trouble. I did not. Or did I? And then it hit me—I could get her in trouble! Or not. My dad, the only person who might believe me that I wasn’t lying, left. What was I going to do? I told my friend Devon the story, and he agreed to get my games back. So the next day, Devon and I snuck into my sister’s room. This time, I got all my games back, but I accidentally took one of my sister’s games too, and guess what happened?


The Adventure of Zoot

I was surprised when my pet pig was missing. I had no idea where he was. I checked his room, then the yard, and then I told my dad. We walked around and across the block. This had happened before, so we checked across the block, but saw nothing. Then, my dad heard some grunting across the fence (pigs actually grunt, they don’t oink). I saw that Zoot was on Mopac, and there were police!

We drove onto Mopac with a crate. I was worried that we might get a ticket! Then I realized that my shoes were mismatched. The police were nice. They gave us the pig. He was fine, probably just bored, so he broke through the fence. The police were just glad there was not a traffic accident. We put the pig inside the crate. The pig was so nervous that he went to the bathroom in the crate, and it smelled like rotten eggs.

Hopefully he does not do that again!



My name is Taft, and when I wake up, at 5:00, I meditate for one hour. The cave I meditate in is as quite as a library. Then I come home and eat breakfast. But one morning, when I came back into my room, my bed was gone! My dad said we needed room for his new guitar. I said that he could put the guitar in the basement, but he said that my brother plays down there. I was very angry because my brother just plays down there with socks. So I went to confront my dad. I said, “My brother only plays with his own socks.” So dad put his guitar in the basement. Dad moved my bed back into my room and told me he had made a wrong decision.

Five days later, it was Mother’s Day. My dad went to get a cowboy hat for my mom. We wrapped it up and then tied a ribbon around it, and we also gave her breakfast in bed. I wrapped up my clay gargoyle and put it in the present pile. Dad got her a blender too. Then finally she opened all her presents. That was a good month.


The Sour Tortilla

First, there was the story by Badgerdog writer Michael, from Metz Elementary. About a tortilla. Who was sour. Who just wants to enjoy his life.

And then, there was Amy Butcher’s recording of “The Sour Tortilla,” which brings to life the voice, the lightness, the hopes of Michael’s tortilla, and that place where discarded things don’t ever have to be lonely: the dumpster.

The Sour Tortilla

People didn’t want to eat the sour tortilla because he is sour.

Now he’s lost in the desert. A buzzard is on his trail, and he doesn’t want to get eaten, so he runs. He used to be at a restaurant. But he was rotten, so they threw him in a dump in the middle of the desert.

He doesn’t want to be eaten by the buzzard—he wants to enjoy his life by being a sour tortilla in the dump with all the other lonely, sour tortillas from the restaurant. He won’t be lonely anymore. They’ll play with the toys people have thrown out.

Michael, Metz Elementary School


Amy Butcher is a recent graduate of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa and will join Colgate University this fall as the 2012–2013 Olive B. O’Connor fellow. She’s the managing editor for Defunct Magazine ( and her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Indiana Review, the Colorado Review, Brevity, and Hobart, among others.

Michael was in Ms. Heimsath’s fourth grade classroom at Metz Elementary. The entire class participated in a year-long Badgerdog workshop lead by Cara Zimmer, which lead to the publication of the students’ poems and stories in our annual print anthology for elementary writers, Rise.

Badgerdog runs workshops in schools and in the community. To learn more about us, check out our website, or to contact us about in school programs or having your young writer join our Creative Writing Summer Camp, contact Cecily Sailer at cecily.sailer (at) or (512) 538-1305, ext. 102. If you are a writer or artist and would like to participate in this series of responses to Austin’s youngest authors, contact Jess Stoner at jessica.wigent (at)

No Boundaries

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a place of your creation? Or wondered about the images sounds produce in our minds? For Ms. Golliher’s class at Highland Park Elementary School, the answer is yes. They create places such as Kids Land, where money grows on trees and there are such things as cookie mountains; Baseball Land, where the air tastes like chocolate and the fans are constantly screaming; or Main Fun, where everything is free and you walk on trampolines. The poets imagine pies that win talent shows by dancing to Michael Jackson, colossal pies that only grow in Austin, and pies that have pickles as their best friend. Death sounds black, concerts sound like rainbows, and airplanes and laughter sound blue. These poets take in sights and sounds around them and create something magical: poems that know no boundaries.

Kids Land

If I were a place, the place would be a piece of land where animals live, like horses, cats, and lions, and there would be a cookie mountain and money trees everywhere and lots of toy stores. And for the boys, I would put a soccer place there. The air tastes like cotton candy and pizza, and there’s a giant spring on a cloud that you can jump on. And there’s a fair that’s so big, you’d think it was the biggest thing in the world. And there is TV Land. But girls, there are no boys unless I say they can come! When it snows, it snows snowflakes and hearts. When it rains, it rains jellybeans. The place is calledKidsLand. You won’t have to buy a basket to pick money from the money trees.KidsLandis the best place in the world. Wait! I forgot the best part—free video games! No—I think the best part is that we give out puppies for free if you want to adopt one.



It was a silver sound. It smelled like burnt shotgun shells. It felt like a burst of wind pushing me back. I was shooting clay plates with my friend’s shotgun. I got to fire the clay plates out of the warehouse.


The Airplane

It sounded blue. The sound felt sharp and ragged. I was in the airplane, buckling my seatbelt. The sound of it tasted like calamari. I was thinking of what the flight attendant and captain would do with me. I was going toHoustonby myself.



The Place Called Baseball Land

If I were a place, it would be Baseball Land.

It would feel like grass and dirt.

It would smell like all kinds of smells, like cinnamon and mint.

The air would taste like chocolate.

It would look like baseball fields with designs, like a polka-dot outfield and a glitter infield made of dirt.

It would sound like fans screaming and bats smashing.

And that’s the place I would be.


Flying Tree

Once upon a time, there was a tree. He was all by himself in a boy’s front yard. The boy climbed on him and picked his leaves. The tree was tired of it. That night, he saw a shooting star and wished he had wings. The next morning, he woke up and had wings, so he went off toHollywood.


Colossal Pie

Pie was very lonely. He thought that people would like him because he was cherry, but it turned out everybody but one hated him, and that was his best friend, Frank the Pickle.

Frank had a wonderful idea for everybody to love pie—he got an air pump and made Pie into Colossal Pie. He’s faster than gunshot cherries! He’s stronger than stale crust! He’s Colossal Pie! He’s saved the world three times with his sidekick, Frank the Wonder Pickle! (He’s actually saved the world four times!)

Coming soon to a school near you. . . .


The Pie Tree!

The pie tree grows a lot of pies! It feels soft, like a pillow. It tastes magnificent. It smells very good. The pie tree grows 999,999 pies in a day—it grows pies very, very, very fast! There is only one pie tree in the world. It is inAustin,Texas. The pie tree is tremendous! The pie tree lives a very long time.


A Russian World

If I were a place, it would be Russia.

I see people walking by in their pajamas. It’s 1:30 a.m. People are walking to the church. It’s 2:30 a.m. now. The priest walks out on a balcony. Suddenly, it’s quiet. Nobody makes a sound for an hour. 3:30 a.m. Finally, the priest says, “Christos voskres.” It means, “Christ has risen.” Then the people say, “Da,” “Yes.” I run home and get my mom and sister for the giant feast. 4:30 a.m. Finally, they wake up. They are as slow as a turtle. 5:30 a.m. We are there. It smells delightful.

Then I wake up in my bed. It was a dream!

Naeda C.

Bored Lady

It was a cool morning. A bored lady sat in a lone house on the prairie. She thought to herself, I feel as if I were a rock. There is a bird over there and I am just right here. . . . Wait! Wait just a minute! I can blow bubbles so that the bird can pop them!

So, the lady got her bubbles. She started to blow, and the bird started to pop the bubbles. Yay! she thought. Now this is fun!

            After 5,600,700 bubbles, the lady was bored again. Wait a bubble-popping minute! she thought. I will feed him walnuts!

So, the lady got the walnuts and started to feed the bird. The bird hated the walnuts, but he was hungry, so he ate the lady’s hair till she was bald! No! thought the lady. You rotten bird. Well, I will just get a wig.


The Food Island

If I were a place, the place would be raining ice cream. There would be no girls allowed! I would only let my family and my friends play. It would smell like bubble gum. You would see kids playing onDonutIsland. The air would taste like Coke. The bushes would grow sodas so you wouldn’t have to waste money. You could go fishing in the gummy pond. You could play baseball in the clouds. There would be money trees. When we had a tornado, it would be made of Jell-O. The place would sound like root beer being shaken. The best part is, you get free video games and video game consoles, but only if you are a boy.


The Super Duper Annoying Sound!

Hudsonwas scratching the chalkboard. It was an orange sound. The sound felt like chocolate and chicken on my skin.Hudsonwas playing on the chalkboard, and on accident, he scratched it. The sound tasted like chocolate chip cookies and milk. I was in Mrs. Golliher’s class, thinking of a screeching sound. I wish he hadn’t scratched the chalkboard.


My Dog Henry

It sounded black. My dog Henry was about to die.

“Does he have to go?” I asked.

I was going to miss him. We couldn’t let him go, but we had to. Some of his organs were failing. He wouldn’t have made it anyway. He misses me a lot. I miss him more. We were sad to see him go. He was the best dog I ever had. It sounded like a baby crying. I was crying. He was struggling. I was very, very sad.


The Ladies

The ladies stick together.

They both lost their jobs. The city people didn’t like them. They didn’t want them around. They lit the ladies’ houses on fire after the ladies packed their bags. They had to leave and they knew it. They walked and walked for hours. They looked back at their smoldering houses. It was hard to breathe. The air was thick with smoke. Everything was trashed up, like a tornado had gone by. They looked at the oil rigs. They were crying. They liked their houses and the city, but they kept walking. They stopped at the bus stop and put their bags down. There was nothing living around. The plants were dead. No animals, no plants, no people, and most of all, no buses in sight. The ladies could barely breathe. It was as if the smoke was going to follow them until it wiped out the world.

They saw a little smoke from the bus.

“Oh phew,” said the lady in the black dress.

They got on the bus. They were so happy. They thought they would die. They sat down and left all their worries and sorrows behind. They were going to start again in anew city, with a new life.



It sounded blue. The sound felt warm and soft. I was at the park. Children played all over. I heard laughter all down the road. Children laughed and babies snug in their cribs giggled. People told jokes to one another. Children tickled other kids. My parents saw some babies and smiled dreamily, like they were thinking about my life as a baby. The sound of the laughter tasted like chocolate milk. I thought about my childhood and all of the fun and exciting things in my life and I started to laugh.


Dreamy Ice Cream

Dreamy Ice Cream loved ice cream, only he was blind, so he used two of his other senses, smell and taste. He also had no arms, so he went to the great, best, and powerful genie. The genie would only grant you wishes if you brought him ten bags of Doritos. And so, off Dreamy Ice Cream went. When he got to the genie, he gave him his ten bags of Doritos and told him his wish.

“I want arms,” Dreamy Ice Cream said.

With a poof, he had arms. Now he could go back to his house and tell his family. He felt as happy as if he lived in a mansion.

One day later, they came up with a new flavor of ice cream—peanut butter Cheetos. Dreamy Ice Cream felt so great he sent the genie a thank-you card for his arms. And his whole entire family lived happily ever after.


The Talented Pie

There was a talented pie. He was unique because he was a talented pie. The talented pie’s problem was that everyone wanted to eat him. The talented pie wanted everyone to like him.

One day, at his school, he heard that the talent show was coming up. His whole life, he’d been dreaming about winning the talent show. So, he signed up and he decided he was going to do a Michael Jackson dance.

Finally, the night of the talent show came, but when it was his turn, the talented pie was really scared. Then he had an idea—to pretend the audience were the rubber duckies from his bathroom. He danced awesome, and he won the talent show.

(By the way, the talented pie was so talented because his dad was Michael Jackson.)


The Concert

It sounded like a rainbow. It was a BIG sound. The sound felt happy and jumpy on my skin. I was at my very first concert. I was there to see Taylor Swift. I was singing along, dancing and jumping like a MANIAC. The sound of the concert tasted like my favorite ice cream, chocolate chip cookie dough. When I was leaving the concert, I was thinking about skipping school the next day. And I did.


Dorky Dunt

Picklepiecupcakeswiedorkydunt Corpysmell.

He smells like barbecue. I call him Picklepie for short. Just in case you walk by him, ask for his address: 508 The Pickles He Ate. I know what you’re thinking, because yeah, I know, he’s a dork. But he’s from outer space. I bet he’s just shy if you talk to him. Picklepie is made out of chocolate cupcakes—I know, right!

Well, that’s the story of Picklepiecupcakeswiedorkydunt Corpysmell.


Main Fun

If I were a place, it would be Main Fun in 1999 with no air conditioning (because everyone would be running around so fast) and bowling and rock climbing, and it would be on the ocean. You can see sharks, a money tree with millions, laser tag like in the Hunger Games arena. All-you-can-eat cotton candy and other food. The air smells like bubble gum. You walk in a ball pit with spikes that blow up. And there’s skydiving and hang gliding and zip lining. Everywhere you walk, there’s a trampoline. Free anything! It’s free for boys and girls.