Badgerdog Book Crush: Hello, Universe

Hello, Universe

In this year’s delightful Book Crush novel, Hello, Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly, the point of view alternates between four young protagonists (Virgil, Valencia, Kaori, and Chet) to tell a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant story of harrowing adventure involving astrology, bullying, a snake bite, a lost (and found) guinea pig, a boy trapped in a well, and a triumphant coming-together of three kids whose friendship is “meant to be.”

Our twelve Badgerdog Book Crushers were keen to share their observations and ideas about Kelly’s novel. Throughout our week of reading, discussing, writing, and art-making, we explored the book through several lenses. We read:


  • as detectives, following the characters’ movements through their neighborhoods, then making maps of those journeys
  • as artist-poets, using scissors and glue or markers to create art and poetry from the author’s words
  • as illustrator-designers, examining how the book cover advertised the themes of the novel and intrigued readers without giving too much away, then designing our own
  • as astrologers, assigning character names as new “signs” with a list of their characteristics and even creating new constellations
  • as writers, penning the next chapter of the book, text messages between characters, or persona pieces from a pet’s perspective
  • as teacher-students, creating study aids in the guise of fun guessing games that reiterate the relationships between characters, their traits, and actions
  • as observers of our own lives, taking charge of our destinies by noting how “It doesn’t take many words to turn your life around”
  • and we read for fun, with our eyes closed, just listening, on the floor or under a table, just because we could

All in all, it has been an inspired week of creativity, crafting, self-direction, and exploration that transformed reading from what is a traditionally solitary and passive activity into one that was social, creative, and dynamic—a lesson that should stay with the members of this group for years to come. These projects reflect that feeling—that a book can be more than words on paper, that, in its pages, we can find lessons and friendship and our own way through the world.

Tracey Lander-Garrett
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Daniel’s Matching Game


Daniel Alpatov


Universe Entry # 3879

Protection Against Chet

When approaching a feral Chet, you want to make sure to bring a big dog. Big dogs scare Chet—tiny dogs will not suffice! Chet fears big, slobbery, beastly dogs. If you do not own a dog, a snake might work. After a bad encounter with snakes, we suspect that he fears them.

Ideal Locations

A great location to find Chet is his house. You may spy him shooting hoops in his driveway. He mainly stays on Elm Street, his habitat. He roams the street sometimes, and if you are really, really quiet, you can hear his dribbling. If you hear dribbling behind you, it’s probably Chet “The Bull” Bullens. He might be force to leave his territory and venture to purloin freely at the… supermarket! If found at the Super Saver, he might be in the chip aisle scouring for his father’s favorite chips, Doritos.

Weapons Against Chet

If Chet approaches in a fowl mood, your best weapons are your words. You could shame him about his irrational fear of dogs or that he never made a sports team. This will either anger him or make him go away.

Sylvestre Molina


Choose Your Own Character Adventure

Nancy Lu


When They Are at Virgil’s House
—an erasure poem

A spy-going

Knock on
the door.

Giggles behind her hand,

“I’m serious
he’s one of us—

Adele LeFlore


Study Guide for Hello, Universe

Lincoln Evans


Symbol Search & Erasure Poem


Katherine Cui


Falling Down the Well & Other Adventures

Cynthia Cui

Cynthia Cui


Mapping the Story


James Zeng


Valencia’s iPhone Messages


Zachary May


Going Underground
—an illuminated text


Linda Liu


The Hello, Universe Board Game


Marcelo Molina


Hello, Characters!


Laura Xue


Presentation Slideshow

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Badgerdog Book Crush: Me and Marvin Gardens

Inspired by the novel Me and Marvin Gardens, this year’s Book Crushers wrote letters to Governor Greg Abbott urging greater environmental protections from lawmakers.

In this year’s wonderful Book Crush novel, Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King, eleven-year-old protagonist Obe Devlin tells a surprising and multi-layered story about the Pennsylvania acres that were once his great-grandfather’s farmland, one hundred years ago.

During one jam-packed and exciting week of reading, writing, discussing, and art-making, we explored the book’s characters and themes through many different lenses. We read:

  • as detectives, searching for the secrets everyone keeps in the story and the unsolved mysteries beneath the surface
  • as actors, acting out dramatic scenes from the book, improvising new ones, and writing our own
  • as architects, examining how the design and form of the novel connect with its themes
  • as historians, imagining the history of the land our houses were built on and asking parents and grandparents what our own great-grandparents were up to one hundred years ago
  • as scientists, making our own observations of the natural world and imagining what innovations the future could bring
  • and as citizens, putting the book’s messages into action by writing letters to Texas Governor Greg Abbott about the environmental topics that mattered most to each of us.

The nine amazing Book Crushers also tried out one of Obe’s favorite pastimes—picking up trash. Over the course of three days, they collected a large trash-bag’s worth of litter from the grounds of the Carver Museum, and then turned it into their very own Garbage Gallery: a series of sculptures and collages made from found objects. They attached “found poetry” collected and clipped from Me and Marvin Gardens to their art pieces as well, and the result was a powerful exhibit of artwork about pollution. As you’ll see, it really captures the spirit of both the book and the Book Crushers—passionate, a little wild, and full of hope.

Noah Weisz
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


One Hundred Years Ago

One hundred years ago, my great-grandfather started to protest.  Migrant workers were upset because they didn’t have enough money for food.  Migrant workers were poor, so their children had to do hard work in the fields.  They mostly came from Mexico and were treated very poorly.  When one worker demanded more pay, the boss ignored him.  But all the migrant workers formed a union.

That’s where my great-grandfather came in.  He gave money to the union and helped protest.  Sadly the boss called the police and the police sided with the rich boss.  The police stopped the union by beating people up.  That didn’t stop the migrant workers, though.  It took them years and years and great-grandfather Ellis continued to always be a strong supporter of the union.  I learned from great-grandfather Ellis to never give up and to fight for what’s right.

Lena Colton Boas


Devlin Creek

Lena Colton Boas and Mayla Montgomery


Infinite Smiles

Zachary May


Bottle Full of Trash

A reminder that if we continue down this same path, if we do nothing, if we fail to act, then our world will look much like this bottle full of trash (but probably less bright and colorful!).

Zachary May and Jordan Saleh


My Great-Grandfather’s Voyage

Every day I thought of it, my eyes welled up with tears. Should I have left my family or not?

I tried to distract myself with other thoughts. A few hours later, we arrived at the next port. I pushed myself through the crowd and walked to the next boat. When I got there, the person standing in front of the boat shook his head no. He started to say something I didn’t understand. I was pulled back onto the boat I was on first. I was angry. The sea sparkled in a way that made me feel that it was laughing at me.

After many nights staying on that boat, we finally were allowed to board the next boat. During these next few nights, I had made a decision to go to Mexico instead of Poland. I was watching the sea’s waves pounding against the boat when someone spoke to me in my language.

“Are you coming here from Poland?” said a young man about my age who was standing next to me.

“Yes, are you?” I replied. He nodded yes. Suddenly he shouted as he looked over my head. I turned to see what he was looking at, and my eyes started to water. We had made it to Mexico after so many months.

Sunny Greenblum



… And from an unwanted soda can, a paper tree sprouted from the earth into the air, reaching out its long, thin, airy limbs and offering a single golden flower.

Sunny Greenblum and Gillian Lucente


100 Years Ago on My Mom’s Side of the Family

One hundred years ago, my great-grandfather, named George Murray Hulbert, was born in the New York area. He loved to study olden-day ships on the salty water, and the breeze that was salty enough that it hurt your eyes if you kept them open for three minutes. He loved political things too, like president things. Well, when he was walking around the salty-smelling docks for a job, he asked if he could take the jobs near the docks. Some men tested him to see if he could do anything with the docks. He impressed the men so much that he got the job of being in charge of the docks.

Six or seven years later, he got the job to be mayor of New York City. His wife was so happy that she gave him a hug. Six years after that, he got a letter from the president saying, “George M. Hulbert, since you have done so well and proven to everyone that you’re a nice, smart, and clever man, you should be president!”

After two years, he got a letter from his wife saying that she had a girl child and named it Regina Elizabeth Hulbert. He smiled and thought to himself while looking out the window, Wow… I hope she is going to grow into that name. He smiled because he knew that Regina meant queen.

Gillian Lucente


My House

Ruby Airhart



Imagine a small but powerful (and colorful and creative) volcano made not from rock and lava, but from recycled materials. Don’t worry, you don’t have to! Ruby created just such a volcano for us.

Ruby Airhart


One Hundred Years Ago

I am Mary Sophia Borlase. I was born on March 11, 1904. I grew up in rural Philadelphia. I was the third of four children. I was also the only girl. Two of my brothers were older than me, and one was younger.

Even though I was only five-foot-two, I played girls’ basketball in high school. After graduating from high school, I went to secretarial school since my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college. I learned how to type and how to organize things like folders, documents, and flyers. After that, I managed to get a job as a secretary at the Sears headquarters. This was amazing, because most women didn’t have a career. Heck, we didn’t even get the right to vote till August 18, 1920!

I took that job seriously, and I kept getting promoted. Soon I became the private secretary to the chairman of the board of Sears. My boss was the rich Mr. Rosenwald. His family founded the Museum of Science and Industry. Mr. R also collected fine art.

Soon after getting promoted, I met my future husband. He didn’t want me to work, so I quit at age thirty-two. I still came to Mr. Rosenwald’s estate, though. I organized his traveling art exhibits. Then I’d ship them to loan to museums all over the country! I learned that it doesn’t matter if you are a boy or girl, old or young, black or white. \ Just reach for the stars.

M. M. Montgomery


The Day Obe Moved Seats

Tommy went to his seat. The bus driver greeted me saying, “Can you sit next to Tommy because he and Mike haven’t been making the best choices next to each other?”

“Sure,” I sighed. Then I walked slowly to get to Tommy. I didn’t see Mike, but I was sure he wouldn’t listen to the bus driver.

“What are you doing here?” Tommy asked.

“The bus driver told me to move next to you,” I said.

“Who listens to the bus driver these days? It’s a free country. Go sit somewhere else,” Tommy said.

“I’m not moving seats,” I said.

The bus driver dropped us off.

“Where were you, Obe?” Annie asked.

“The bus driver told me to move next to Tommy,” I said.

“Are you okay?” asked Annie.

“I’m fine,” I said.

“Well, tell the bus driver if he bullies you,” Annie said.

“Okay, I’ll tell her after school.”

Jordan Saleh


100 Years From Now

One hundred years from now, when you are rushing to your son’s best friend’s birthday party in your fancy car, you look at the dashboard and see three lights. One is green, one is yellow, and one is red. You see that the only light on is the red one.  So when you get to the next intersection, you stop and wait like we normally do. Then the light on your dashboard turns green and you go. When you get to the next intersection, red lights start flashing.  That means you only have five more miles before you run out of electricity and you are stuck in the middle of the road. So then you go to the nearest electric station and fill up for 100 more miles. Then you pay your fee of five dollars. Then you speed off toward your son’s best friend’s birthday party. And three hours later you drive back home and cook dinner on your electric stove.

Deven Sharma 


Recycling Symbol

What if a recycling symbol were made out of recycled materials?! (And sentences from a book about a monster who only eats plastic?)

Deven Sharma


Older Marvin, Tommy, and Obe

It was one hundred years later.  Tommy and Obe were watching Marvin splashing in the water.

Tommy said, “I miss those days, when Boardwalk was with the babies. Now the babies are gone with their own families, and Boardwalk is at home.”

“Yes,” said Obe. “I remember that.”

Rohan Sharma


The Golden Garden

What will gardens look like in 100 years? Will they be lush, verdant, and filled with flowers, birds, and insects? Or will they look more like this… blossoms of soda cans and discarded trash? The answer is up to us!

Rohan Sharma

All American Concerns

Last fall, we (at Badgerdog) had the pleasure of partnering with Ms. Minde and her students at KIPP Austin Collegiate to explore the novel All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. The novel explores how an urban community is affected in the wake of the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer. Teaching Artist Eva Suter helped students articulate their responses to the novel’s difficult and tragic story using various art forms–visual, auditory, and written.  Students created this collection of thoughtful interpretations and reflections about the story and what it means to fight for equal justice and protection.

Cecily Sailer
Badgerdog Programs Director


I just heard him reading out loud those meaningful words that speak to everyone who has been bothered before. Many others started to join in. The teacher was crying. She looked up with puffy, red eyes. She had the biggest owl eyes, and she looked really shocked. We haven’t be able to do anything during class since… Well, no need to mention it. It’s split the school into three parts — no longer a community but a war against each other. But no. We’re not going to take this anymore. There has been a rumor about a march to stand up to police brutality. This has made a huge impact in the school. It made me think and see how this event made many people join forces, and how, as high school students, we can take a step and improve the world for ourselves. Slowly, I stand up and start reading and make my voice as clear and loud as I can and make sure that they know I am with them.

Mariela Bueno

If You Don’t Stand for Something…


Hillary and Christian

If a Book Were a Song

In this inventive response to All American Boys, Ricardo creates an instrumental song that captures the emotional tone of the novel.

Ricardo Perez Gonzalez

Rashad and Reality

Safety is an issue causing shock and fear within communities. Rashad gets brutally beaten by Officer Paul, just like most teens are constantly getting attacked by officers. Rashad knew how to react when being attacked by an officer; however, most kids don’t know how. When Rashad was being attacked by Officer Paul, he felt hopeless and alone. There was nobody there who was willing to help him. In reality, teenagers tend to feel more pain and fright when being attacked, since they know nobody will have the courage to stand up and help.

Rashad was falsely accused of robbery and resisting arrest. To make matters worse, he was sent to the hospital with severe injuries. Although Rashad started to feel hopeless, like he might not survive, that didn’t stop him from fighting for his life. Since he was bodyslammed to the ground multiple times, he was lucky to survive such a brutal attack. So many bodyslams like those can cause severe internal bleeding in the brain or a concussion, which can sadly lead to death. Teenagers fight for survival when being harshly attacked by officers. Many teens risks their lives every time they step out of their homes, and many families get heartbroken by loss of a family member.

Gisel Hdz

Character Study

Axel Ramirez

A Collapse of Justice

Jennifer Castillo and Yolanda Morales

What Reality Is It?

I can’t believe what’s happening. I knew Paul. Well, kind of. I always saw him with that white kid, Quin? He seemed like a nice guy, but what they’re saying is way different than what his looks makes me think. I couldn’t believe what the people were saying. My parents say Paul is a respectable white man who was helping out his community and the black kid, Rashaad, was in the wrong. I believed them until I saw the video. It looked too real to be faked, and the hits he took in the video do line up with what his friends are saying. But why? I asked my parents, but they responded with the same thing. My mom said that she had talked with Paul’s mom and she said that all of this was a misunderstanding, that her Paul could not be capable of something like that. My mom says I shouldn’t be around the colored kids because they’re trouble. Something is still gnawing at me, and I can’t shake it off. I’m starting to question a lot of the things I’m being told. Most are the same things: “Those black kids are to no good. Paul had a reason to do what he did.” I do not believe what the people around me are saying because what I have seen and heard in school is making me see that what my parents are saying is not true. But that means I’m going against what my parents are saying. What should I do? Do what I feel is right, or do what everyone else is saying?

Samantha Amaya

Shots Ring Out


Bryan Osorio

Traveling Back in Time

This story takes place in Virginia during the Civil War (near the end). Cameron is a sixteen-year-old black male who has been living in the south for most of his life. Now that the Thirteenth Amendment has been ratified, he is now considered a free man. But the white folks still control and limit the movements of the freedmen.

Cameron is excited to use his new freedoms and decides to put them into action. His close family and friends tell him to be cautious, but he doesn’t think it’s going to be a big issue and he leaves. In the streets, white people give him nasty looks and keep their distance from him. This doesn’t come as a surprise to him; he’s always been treated that way.

A week after the Thirteenth Amendment has been put in place, everything starts to fall apart. African Americans are being treated with so much disrespect, it’s like they are slaves again. Cameron doesn’t like this at all and decides to stand up for his people. It’s time for someone to step up and earn the rights they deserve. His family doesn’t like the idea. They prefer to stay down and go with the flow until something happens. But Cameron is sick and tired of being treated differently just because of his skin color. He’s going to do something no matter what happens to him.

He plans for days and still doesn’t know what to do. He decides to make a protest. He just needs people who are willing to join him on this dangerous mission. A few days later, everything is set up. Cameron and a few people go out into the streets and start protesting. White people everywhere are terrified. They think that African Americans are trying to take over, so they call the cops.

The cops are quick to take action. They immediately take out their batons and start beating the protesters. Everything happens so quickly that people don’t know how to react. African Americans have been powerless in the south. They know that if they intervene in the fighting, they will be beaten too and they don’t want to take that chance. The beatings still go on for long minutes and people don’t like it anymore.

Cameron goes home and his family tries to convince him to stay and end the protests. He denies the request and continues fighting. The next day, he organizes another protest that will take place near the sheriff’s station two weeks later. This time they manage to get a permit from a judge who supports their cause but is afraid what the others will say. The judge gives them the permit and decides he needs to go somewhere else so he can continue to help.

After the first protest, more people decide to join in because Cameron tells them about the permit. They protest the second time, but it gets worse. Someone tips off the police that the protest will be happening, and the police want to end it quickly. They dispatch a bunch of policemen all over the area and arrest anyone they think was in the protest, which means anyone who is African American. They create a bunch of false charges against them that are dropped the next day just to keep them away.

Cameron is distant after this because he can’t believe someone he thought was a fighter could betray them. He realizes then that the protests have little effect on the law unless they cause a problem with the sheriff. He decides that instead of being in the area where the sheriff is, he will just go to the sheriff’s office with the others and protest there. He thinks this will cause a problem in the city that will be too big for people to ignore.

The next day, they decide to make a bunch of mini protests all over town that will all meet at the sheriff’s office. They know  someone will tell the police, but the police can’t stop all of the protests. They plan it for a month later, but still have a meeting about who will be where and what they are risking. No one disagrees with the idea and all say they will go to their assigned spots.

Once the day of the protest arrives, they decide to go, but Cameron’s family once again tries to stop them. They are frightened for his life, and beg him to stop and listen to them. He ignores them again and goes to lead his part of the protest. They continue through the city for an hour until he reaches the sheriff’s office, and then they realize that someone has betrayed them because, surrounding the sheriff’s office are a bunch of policemen. They have dogs that growl and bark at anyone passing by, but still Cameron will not give up.

He goes up to the policemen and starts chanting by himself. People looked at him like he is crazy and wonder if he is going to be able to leave unharmed. A lot of people snicker and laugh at him, knowing that something is going to happen. In the distance, you can hear the chants of the other groups who make it to the station. Out of nowhere, the judge that gave Cameron the permit steps out of the building with the sheriff and walks towards Cameron.

“Cameron, I suggest you take your group of protesters to go celebrate because I’ve got an agreement with the sheriff,” says the Judge. “Any cop who is deemed untrustworthy or has had complaints of biased actions towards anyone was placed in lower positions until they changed.”

Cameron doesn’t think this will change anything and neither do any of the other protesters. He walks towards the protesters, and they start to march around the building until they are heard. The cops are told to stand down and only use force if the protesters start to get violent. The sheriff walks over to the protesters and shouts into the crowd, “Enough!”

Everyone stares at him and then he starts talking. “We have heard your cries and have decided to act. From now on, there will be no more beatings or acts of hate in this city. We will now be a border state between the North and the South.” Everyone is shocked by the words spoken by the sheriff.

The judge then speaks up: “While the protests have been going on, I have gone to the states above and below us and asked them to allow us to be a border state between them. They will now have more people moving here and will have more control over business, but I think that it is worth allowing people to live here freely. Anyone who thinks that is horrible can go to the state below us, and anyone who thinks that it is not enough can move to the north.”

People look around and someone yells, “When will this start?” The judge states that it is to start in six months.

These are the worst six months the state has ever seen. There are still protests and forced labor still occurs as the result of manipulating the law. After six months, there are fewer protests since there isn’t much they can do anymore. The citizens of the city feel proud they helped cause a change and start to unite more in different aspects. There is still segregation and hate towards those with different colored skin, but Cameron feels proud of his actions.

After the war, they find out who ratted them out about the protest. It was Cameron’s family, trying to keep him safe from the police in town. He eventually forgives them and finds the love of his life at one of the protests. He spends the rest of his days with her. He is remembered by the people of the city and becomes an honored person in the community.

Eduardo M. and Diana R.

Badgerdog Book Crush at the Khabele School

When we read a book, what happens in our minds? This essential question guided us to the very scientific hypothesis: If we change the way we read, then we can change the way our minds works. Furthermore, if we change how we read, we also change why we read.

During the first week in August, the Badgerdog Book Crush experimented with this hypothesis by reading Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish nearly 100 different ways. We read backwards! We read by counting! We read by crossing out! We read by illustrating Suzy’s mind! We read by creating lies! Creating new words! We read the text over and over again, hopping through time and space, investigating the jellyfish in our minds as closely as Suzy investigates the mystery of what happened to Franny.

What is the thing about jellyfish? What is the thing about reading? Examine the evidence below to draw your own conclusions.

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Akhil, Nitin & Shaayan show off their work.


Akhil shows off his creative interpretation.


Akhil’s BOXIMUS DOUBIEES IPONE 6SE, a unique breed of anti-jelly jellyfish that bears a strong resemblance to an iPhone 6 SE.


Akhil’s second piece, “How to Read the Proper Way,” is a guide for anyone who’s been reading improperly. As Akhil advises, “Go slowly to get a good grade.”


Shaayan holds up his piece, “How Do I Read.”


Shaayan’s “Jellyfish Story” is about a 12-foot-long, 7-foot-wide jellyfish — the largest jellyfish species in the world!


Nitin showing off his “invented dictionary.”


Nitin’s dictionary takes words from The Thing About Jellyfish and reimagines what those words might mean if we lived in an underwater world.


Nitya, Raina & Sravya show off their work.


Raina shows off the book she created, which answers the question, “What is the thing about jellyfish?”


Here’s a closer look at Raina’s work, “About Jellyfish.”


Raina’s diagram of jellyfish parts.


Nitya displays her dream setting: Switzerland.


Nitya worked tirelessly to create this timeline that tracks the book’s events in chronological order. The novel was not written chronologically, so this map required great study. Nitya went the extra mile and color-coded the timeline based on the main character’s (Suzy’s) feelings at different points in the story.


Sravya’s jellyfish lives in a tank on top of a dresser. In the left drawer, you’ll find octopus food that her jellyfish eats. In the right drawer, some sea salt for the jelly’s water.


Sravya does her teacher work! She made a quiz for everyone based on the book, and here she is with her grading pen.


Rohit, Miette, and Piyali show off their work.


Miette with her jellyfish inventions. One of these jellies is the upside-down “Couch” Jellyfish, who lets other jellies sit on him. Also note Miette’s very cool jellyfish/mermaid hair.


Miette’s “Jellies of the Sea!” Can you find the Couch Jellyfish?


Rohit shows off his “Lies About the Book.” To avoid a spoiler, we’ll only reveal the first line: “Hi, it’s me, Franny.”


Rohit’s jellyfish comes alive with its saran-wrap glow. This drawing doubles as a comic, with the jellyfish lamenting, “… I am super lonely.”


Rohit’s “Lies About the Book.”


Piyali and her mind-map of Suzy’s brain.


A closer look at Piyali’s mind-map of Suzy’s thoughts.


Zach & Ava show off their work.


Zach with his Jelly-Donut-Fish portrait and his bar graph charting word usage on page 70 of The Thing About Jellyfish.


Zach’s Jelly-Donut-Fish. How many donuts do you see?


Zach’s bar graph tracks the frequency of word-use on page 70 of “The Thing About Jellyfish.” This spawned many other conversations about language usage. Why do you think “the” was used most frequently? What does that tell us about Ali Benjamin’s writing style?


Ava and her jellies: Sky, Sunburn, Bubblegum, and Starburst.


Ava’s story about her jellies, complete with a jelly donut punchline.


Ava’s hard at work color-coding her entire jellyfish story.


The bright and brilliant Book Crushers with their fearless leader, Miss Katelin!

Badgerdog Book Crush at the O. Henry Museum


It began with a book. And nine young readers. And Ms. Tricia.

Each in their own way, the nine bright minds pictured above stepped into the story of a girl wanting answers that might have something to do with a jellyfish (The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin). They read the novel separately, in their own homes, in the backseat of their family cars during summer vacation, in their favorite reading nooks or thinking hideaways. And then they stepped into the same room together and began to read again — not just from page 1 to page 343, but jumping around, mucking about, imagining the what-ifs, trying to better understand the characters, tracking how the novel feels and plays and changes each time you read it.

And here’s what they came up with!


The Adventures of Timmy! by Timothy Guan


Just one of Tiffany Guan’s many jellyfish hero comics, Fire and Ice.


William Osborne showing off his piece, Mixed-Up Words.


Front cover of Cynthia Cui’s cut-out flip book.


Page 2 of Cynthia Cui’s cut-out flip book.


‘Jelly’ Fish by Mason Tateosian


Flying Jellyfish by Mason Tateosian


Calvin and Jellyfish by Mason Tateosian


Jelly Washington: The Jelly President by Beau Diede


Jellyfish by Beau Diede


Illyria Komljen with her character sketches.



Illyria Kolmjen’s jellyfish illustrations


If Suzy Went to Australia: An Alternate Tragic Ending by Evita Ravet


Luca Leone in his jellyfish costume, sharing his comic The Thing About Jellyfish and Toasted.


The first panel in The Thing About Calvin and Toasted (1 of 2) by Luca Leone


The first panel in The Thing About Calvin and Toasted (2 of 2) by Luca Leone

So Many Ways of Reading


There are precisely 107 ways to read R.J. Palacio’s young adult phenom, Wonder. For two action-packed days in July, twelve elite upper-elementary-aged enthusiasts of the novel gathered at the O. Henry Museum to turn the novel upside-down and inside-out—not to mention backwards, British-accented, and in full-fledged original song—in a search for new meaning, inspiration, and entertainment. It’s all part of our very first Badgerdog Book Crush. The result was silly, thoughtful, and left us each hungry for more. As you savor their creative approaches to reading, I wonder: How exactly do you read?

Tricia Hassenfeld
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

2014 - 1 big

Why We Read

– a collaborative piece by the self-proclaimed Book Crush Club

Because I want to eat cake

To find the romantic parts
To really feel the character
To get inspired
To be helpful

To kill mosquitos
To breed venus fly traps

It’s fun to do
For school
Other people say it’s good
My mom likes it and suggests it

Because it’s awesome!

If I’m bored or I just wake up
To help me go to sleep

For Fun
To learn something
To learn how to do stuff
To make the use of trees reasonable

Because we enjoy it!! 🙂
Learn important lessons

Reading entertains me
Reading helps me ignore my mom when she’s asking me to do chores
To be hungry
To be a good student
To get more knowledge

We love it!
It is amazing!!
Reading entertains

Badgerdog Book Crush Club

Read with Scissors and Glue!

“August, a cut-out poem by Quinn

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“Jack,” a collage by Campbell

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“Reading with Scissors Collage,” by Keena

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“Cover Collage,” by Laya

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Read with Markers!

“Make a Mess!” by Laya

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Read as a Historian!

“Map of Beecher Prep,” by Quinn

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Read as a Historian and an Artist!

“Timeline of August’s Feelings,” by Brian 

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Read as a Scientist!

(Create “what if” statements and use your imagination to test your hypotheses.)

What If?

If Auggie flunked out of Beecher Prep, then he would have to be homeschooled again.
If he had to be homeschooled again, then he wouldn’t have any friends.
If he didn’t have any friends, then he wouldn’t have any birthday parties because he wouldn’t invite anyone.
If he didn’t have any birthday parties because he wouldn’t invite anyone, he’d have to eat a whole cake. If he had to eat a whole cake, he would get really sick. If he got really sick, he would die.
If he died, he would go to heaven.
If he went to heaven, then he would fall out of heaven.
If he fell out of heaven, he would be nowhere forever!
Therefore, if Auggie flunked out of Beecher Prep, he would be nowhere forever!


“If Julian Had Stayed,” by Solomon

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Read as a Scholar!

(Compare the novel to another piece of fiction, an idea from our idea box!)

“Comperisant: Reading like a Character,” by Solomon

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Read the Wrong Way!

(Summarize exactly what didn’t happen in the novel.)

“The Lies of Wonder,” by Eric 

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Read as a Character!

(Rewrite a chapter from another character’s perspective.)

Ordinary: Eddie’s Version

I know I’m an ordinary fourteen-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I have evidence. I have parents. It’s not like I’m a zombie or anything. But there’s a kid I know who is, though. He’s this guy named August Pullman. His face is like the most creepiest thing on earth.

Anyways, I have an Xbox. I eat regular food. I play sports. If that isn’t ordinary then I don’t know what that is. Also, I forgot to tell you: I have one younger sister. She’s six. She’s probably the most annoying person on earth.

Also, I forgot to tell you, my name is Edward, but most people call me Eddie. Yeah, I’m the kid who took the hearing-aids from that zombie. At the Big Movie Night at the Briarwood Nature Reserve when we saw those kids, I thought it was a zombie apocalypse.


Read as a character and a scientist!

(What if Belua was real?” Bring a fictional character to life!)

“Belua Chapter,” by Diya

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Read as a Poet!

“Miranda,” an acrostic poem by Emma

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Read as an Editor!

“Olivia’s Brother Revision Pages,” by Keena

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Read as a Musician!

(Create a song for a character.)

“Summer Song,” by Diya

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Read as a Mathematician by Noticing and Recording Patterns!

A graph of excitement throughout the novel, by Campbell

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Read as a Character and an Illustrator!

“Myself as a Character,” by Sruthi

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Read as an Artist!

Untitled abstract piece in red marker (inspired by music), by Cody

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“Back Cover Inspired by Color,” by Sruthi

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Read as a Writer!

(Gain inspiration from your own life.)

“Farther Intro,” inspired by Wonder and the difference in the characters, by Carisa 

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Read as a Writer (Again)!

(Copy the author’s style to create a brand-new piece.)

“Facebook, Texts and Cavemen,” by Eric 

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Read as a Writer and an Artist!

(Copy the author’s style and bring it to life with color and shape.)

“Summer and August,” by Emma 

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