Who I Am Is Where I Am From

What a delight to walk into the cafeteria after what must be a long school day for the students and see the eager faces of the Baty Elementary writers. Ready to capture stories about their names or poems about their dreams, the results of their creativity are wonderful. Walk into one student’s room, and you might run into a pile of clothes “so high, you can see them a mile in the sky.” In another cluttered space, a dog enters wearing a hat! Names feel “like the fluffiest pillow in the whole wide world” or “smell like garbage poop.” We connect with the rich Mexican heritage of family, friends, and foods in several “I Am From” poems. And only the most fertile imaginations could have created tales of escaping donuts and the invasion of gigantic purple marshmallows. Stay tuned, because I guarantee you will see more in the future from these emerging authors.

Terri Schexnayder
Teaching Artist

My Wonderful Name

My name smells like a room full of lavender perfume.
My name feels like the fluffiest pillow in the whole wide world.
My name looks like the finest vase of white carnations.
My name tastes like the best sugar cookies—right out of the oven.
My name sounds like clapping hands at a wedding.
My name is Kendyll.

Kendyll Bell

I am From

I am from playing games on two iPads.
I am from singing “Us!”
I am from watching “Backstage,” “Girl Meets World,” and “Daily Bumps.”
I am from eating seafood, like juicy salmon.
I am from a crazy brain and body.
I am from jumping on a trampoline that bounces me five feet into the air.
I am from a crazy, fun friend with a nonstop mind.

I am from a home with a gray hamster and two dogs—a Chihuahua/Hot Dog and a Labrador.
I am from a big family with four older siblings—all girls and my dad.
I am from an uncle who owns a Fiesta in Houston.
I am from a nephew who is nosy and another who cries a lot.
I am from a Mexican family, kind of poor.
I am from Austin, Texas.

Jazmine Covarrubias

Isaiah

My name smells like sunflowers.
My name tastes like pepperoni pizza.
My name sounds very peaceful and quiet.
My name feels like a soft, little puppy.
Isaiah.
An exciting name—one that raises the roof.

Isaiah Guzman

My Name

My name is ugly. I do not like it, because “Jeimi” is the Spanish spelling, and in English it’s “Jaime.” The fourth-grade teachers always mistake me and my friend Jaime. My name tastes like garbage with poop and rotten milk. It sounds like boys screaming. Its touch is like rough sand. My mom spells her name a little differently than mine. Like this: Jeymi. I want to be called Cristiano Ronaldo and would love to tell my mom to change my name.

Jeimi Jimenez

I am From

I am from wearing pink all day.
I am from three pets that are adorable—
one cute bunny, a beautiful blue bird, and an itty-bitty green parakeet.
I am from the most delicious food that my mother bakes,
like tacos, beans, and alphabet soup.
I am from the tradition of going somewhere, like Schlitterbahn, every Sunday.
I am from a family who’s fun to play with,
the kind family who gives hugs every night,
one that is historical with ancestors rich in Mexican heritage.

I am from a friend named Silvia who has a lot of secrets
and another who does not trust me.
I am from an artist friend who makes masterpieces
and another who writes beautifully.
I am from a soccer-loving brother who never stops playing.
I am from a brother who loves to play on his Wii all night long.
I am from a sister who writes very neatly
and another who enjoys playing outside.
I am from a dad who works a lot.

I am from a very exciting team named Badgerdog.
I am from Austin, Texas, which has a beautiful view all day and all night.

Yasmin Ortiz

Keep on Dreaming

Dreams cannot fly if they are broken.
Life is too short.
Dreams should live a long time.
If your dreams are broken,
life is a bird with broken wings.
But if your dreams are fulfilled, the eagle will soar.
If you dream big, success is yours.

Erica Orturio

How to Survive the Invasion of the Giant Purple Marshmallows

They’re coming! The purple marshmallows—the big, fat, ginormous ones! Join me to prepare for an invasion in Austin, Texas. Are you with me? First, we need brave people to step up and fight. Next, find a football field-length net in which to catch the huge attacking marshmallows. After that, gather chocolate, graham crackers, and, of course, build a large campfire. As the gigantic purple marshmallow starts zooming towards you, throw the net around it; then put the creature on your graham cracker and smash it down with the piece of chocolate. Roast to perfection and enjoy your S’mores. You will never run out, because you will have a classroom full of marshmallows. They will soon stop invading because the word will get out to the other gigantic purple marshmallows: “Don’t ever attack Baty Elementary. They will swallow you up!”

Ajouk Otto

My Crazy Room

In my room, my PS4 uses its hands to play itself. My brother comes in with no pants because he has not washed his clothes in many years. He finally sprays his shirts, jeans, and socks with the hose! In my room, the dog, smelling very bad, comes in and puts on filthy clothes and my hat. He starts talking. “S’up?” he growls. My brothers and I freak out and race from the room while the dog munches on some nuts. Well, actually, he eats regular dog food—this is just a crazy dream!

Christopher Ramirez

The Escaping Donuts

There are six different types of donuts, and the blueberry one is the leader. She lives in a hot kitchen inside dark boxes with five others. One morning, the donuts, bought by a hungry family, decide to escape before they are eaten. Just as Luzia, the cute hair lady, is about to place the donut box in the back seat of the car, the determined donuts spin out of the box and roll onto the sidewalk. Bam! Bang! Splash! The chocolate and vanilla donuts bump into each other. A little boy steps on the raspberry one. Squish! The strawberry and cereal-tasting donuts keep on rolling as they try to escape, but a baby sitting on the floor of the store picks up the strawberry one and eats it. The final four donuts roll through the kitchen, past the man who is cooking breakfast. He is so hungry that he grabs both chocolate and vanilla and stuffs them into his mouth! The scared cereal-tasting donut and his fearless leader, Blueberry, are all that’s left. They hide in a barrel until night comes and the store closes. But the cleaning crew comes, picks up the barrel, and throws the last two escaping donuts in the trash.

Jenny Rueda

My Ugly Room

In my ugly room, my clothes are so high
you can see them a mile in the sky.
My dog comes in with six legs and two heads.
I wish he had brought in some beds.
My sister drags in her dirty clothes.
I wish she had also brought a hose!
My brother enters my room
hauling in a dirty broom.
I asked, “What are we going to do with that?”
He answered, “Let’s make a hat!”

Next, my mom delivers to my room some nasty food.
It is so disgusting, it smells like dunking doo!
In my room, my shoes are so crazy,
they look spiky and hairy.
When I walk in them, I look like a porcupine.
In my room, my dog ate my homework. (Or, so I told my teacher!)
I guess my room will stay ugly.
But, you know what? I kinda like it.

Jaime Silva

Call to the Sun

The Hornsby-Dunlap Poet Heroes gathered every Wednesday after school to share life stories and build friendships. We explored the lives of authors: Shel Silverstein, Billy Collins, and Langston Hughes; we used sensory details to write about our grandmothers and we practiced limericks, similes, and symbolism. We played imaginative games to practice identifying nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Each week, we were thrilled to see each other and sad to leave. A few parents expressed to me their surprise that their children could be so excited about poetry!

Poetry allows us to express ourselves in a way unique to and distinct from any other art form. Lara writes in her poem, “Oh, how the rain is driving me insane!” William writes, “With all this light, now I see the true meaning of life.” When we offer positive feedback and encouragement, we see our fellow writers take flight. As Danika writes, “‘You can fly?’ asked the mama. ‘Yes, I can,’ said baby bird.” There is no greater joy than witnessing a group of elementary students discovering their own potential, being supportive of each other, and having the courage to share their original works. I think once you read these wise and hilarious pieces, you will all feel like Samuel, “I am happy as a butterfly in the air.”

Jena Kirkpatrick
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

The Light

I am running, fast as a bird,
running fast as I can.
I can see the floor disappearing
behind me.
The darkness is coming
fast, quite fast.
I avoid all things in front of me,
all obstacles, all stops, all problems.
I can see the door of light,
but am I fast enough? Can I make it?
The darkness is right behind me.
I make a leap for the door,
and the floor under me turns into
thin air.
I grab onto the edge of the door.
I look down and see dark, dark, dark despair.
I pull myself up, then something grabs
on to my leg.
I turn over and see a
dark, decaying, evil silhouette of myself.
It tries to pull me down, but I say,
“Not this time!” as I kicked it off.
I pull myself into the doorway.
With all this light, now I see the
true meaning of life.

William Maldonado

Run to the Sun

A bright bird had a run to the sun.
The bird always believed he could touch the sun.
Fwoosh!
As he soared by the trees.
He thought he was getting closer to the sun.
Birds watched as he flew faster than any bird in the world.
He looked back for a second, then — smash!
Straight into a tree.
Down, down, down he went.
Plopped on the ground.
Next, the mama bird flew to him and said,
“You’ll get there some day, so keep trying.”
He smiled and flew back to his nest.

William Maldonado

Rhyme

A flower is like
a bower on stage
I am happy as
a butterfly in the air

I am crazy like
a bull
when I am outside
I’m sweet like
a bird

Samuel Ojeda

Weird

My dream is to become a skater
and to overcome my fears.
I have crazy dreams.

In one of them, I was playing
then I jumped off a tree to the ground.
In another one, I jumped to the playground bar.
I tried to jump, but my legs
were frozen.

They couldn’t move because I was scared.
My body was ready, but my legs
were not.

Samuel Ojeda

The Rain

Oh, how I hate the rain.
It is such a pain.
I want to go to the shore.
But my mom said, “No go… Snore
Oh, how the rain is driving me insane!

Lara Kefeli

The Pig and the Ram

Once upon a time, there was a tooth. It was in a ram’s mouth. It always said, “Get me out of here!”

But the ram was too smart. One day, a pig came over, and he was smooth and squishy. He said, “Knock your tooth out!”

The ram said, “I thought you were on my team, best friend.”

Pig said, “Just for once, listen to me, please!”

“No!” said the ram.

The tooth giggled.

“I WOULD PUNCH YOU OUT RIGHT NOW, BUT I DON’T WANT YOU OUT!!!” said the ram.

The next night, the tooth and the pig talked while the ram was asleep. The pig punched the tooth out. The ram woke up the next morning and saw the pig dead, lying on the floor. He was shocked! He looked on the TV and saw the tooth was the king! The tooth called himself Donald Rump! The ram got mad and jumped into action. He looked on the Internet and saw that there was a special potion that had been in a cave for millions and millions of years. Seventy-three people have tried to find it, but they either starved to death or got eaten or even died from being scared.

The ram never gives up, so he got a bag with a toothbrush and mint, a pack of smiley face stickers, and other random stuff. He set off and saw a huge monster-like creature. It had a clown face and a hairy body. He was blubbery and see-through. You could see his bones. The ram said, “Do you have a problem? I could help.”

“Yes,” said the monster, “give me a toothbrush!”

“OK,” said the ram. The ram gave him his toothbrush. Then he saw an even scarier monster! It had a smell that could kill someone! The ram said, “Do you want a mint?”

The monster said, “Yes!”

Then, he walked for days. He kept walking past monsters. One ate his leg off! He finally saw the potion, ran back, and gave it to the pig. The pig saw Donald Rump (the tooth) and together they put the tooth in jail. Then the pig and the ram ruled the world! They only ruled because of the ram.

“That was a happy ending.” said the ram.

“Well, for us!” said the pig.

Lara Kefeli

A Girl

There was a girl before
That we all ignore
The thing that she bought
She always brought
She was kinda poor

Danika Siv

The Always Ending Story

Once upon a time, a zebra was lying on the floor. Then a giant ant came and was nibbling everything in the city. He even bit the zebra king! “Ahhhh!” the zebra king yelled.

Then, the magical tongue got out of Jerry’s mouth and said, “I will save the city!” She ran for miles trying to find the crime. Finally, she found the screaming. “The time has come, tata,” she said. “Tongue versus ant!”

The tongue took a gigantic lick. The ant took a little nibble. The tongue yelled, “Ahhhh! That’s it! I’m taking you down whether you like it or not!”

The ant hissed at the tongue. The tongue used the taste bud slap. The ant now had terrible vision because of all that goop. Then the ant just walked right on top of the tongue. The tongue said, “I’ll eat you today then!”

By the time he ate the ant, the tongue had six bites and the ant was long gone.

He was never seen again.

Danika Siv

The Bird

Once upon a time, a bird was stuck on a bunch of little sticks. The bird was wondering where its mama was. The bird was very scared. The bird searched and waited for food. All you saw was a colorful bird behind her. The little bird was wondering, Is that my mama?

Then the big bird walked around and was waiting for a huge hug. Instead, the bird hesitated. The big bird was just waiting until she got tired. The big bird was very happy to see her little bird. She gave her baby bird a big surprise — some living worms that were pre-chewed. The baby bird was grateful and said hello to the big bird. Then the big bird had to live with the baby bird. She asked, “What is a surprise?” The baby bird thought until her brain got an idea. I might have a sibling, the baby bird thought.

So, she trained to fly. After a few days of training, she could fly. She spotted her mama. She flew faster than ever. She saw many eggs that still weren’t cracked. The mama bird was happier than anyone in the world!

“You can fly?” asked the mama.

“Yes, I can,” said baby bird.

She flew with her mama everywhere she went. After days and days of waiting, the eggs finally hatched. The mama was so happy, they found the dad, and the family was completed.

Danika Siv

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

Solidarity

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…

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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

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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.

Scary Nights and Comforting Creatures

Dear Reader,

Caution: The following works comprise a collection of voices and visions waiting to reach out, suck you in, and never let go. From fancy ketchup to zombies in tutus to spring-ready accessories, the works in this line-up are as eclectic as the students who produced them.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring and creating with Ms. Williamson’s fourth-grade students at Boone Elementary School. Each week, we speculated, debated, and laughed as we discussed the essential elements that make a piece of writing compelling, and, above all, matter. I believe each of the following works embodies those traits, and I feel lucky to be in the company of such expansive imaginations.

So, sit back, relax, and prepare to be dazzled by some amazing creative works. Tread fearlessly, but carefully—they might bite.

Amanda Scott
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

 

How to Sell Ketchup: A Fine Food for Fancy People

Rated number one by food tasters around the world! This ketchup is made with real tomatoes, not Franken-food. What’s more, it’s even a good stress reliever. Just squish the packet in dangerous, scary, or other questionable situations and all your fears will disappear! Don’t wait any longer! Now’s the time! Grab your own fancy ketchup packet today. Available at a fast food restaurant near you.

Tiernan Hunt

Kevlar Comb

Combs are the best way to keep your hair looking both fine and divine! They’re unbreakable—like Kevlar for your hair! Who wouldn’t want one?

Marcus Trevino

Alvin and Theodore

One day I went to get a haircut. As I was sitting there in the bright barbershop, I thought to myself, Wouldn’t it be nice to have a pet? While I was on my way home, I thought of the perfect pet: a hamster. That’s it! I’ll adopt a hamster!

The next day, I drove to PetSmart and stared into the glass cases housing hamsters, ferrets, and kittens. I spotted a hamster with large black eyes and was immediately in love. The placard next to the cage read: “Chinese Dwarf Hamster.” How exotic, I thought. I had to have it, but I didn’t want it to be lonely, so I decided to snag the hamster it shared its cage with. I filled my cart with all the necessary supplies for my new friends: a cage, water bottles, colorful toys, and flaky hamster food.

Back home, they looked comfortable and happy. The only thing left to do was name them. After a while of thinking, I came up with the only names fit for these two friends: Alvin and Theodore.

Caleb Amayo

Dizziness

It was a dark and stormy night when I fell out of my bed. I got up so I could wake up my dog. I wanted to sleep in his doghouse, figuring I’d feel more comfortable there. But then I heard something odd, something that sounded like a clown. Sure enough, a clown jumped out of the shadows and squeaked his large red clown horn at me. Naturally, I was extremely scared, so I ran the other direction toward the kitchen when a zombie popped out of the pantry wearing a tutu, of all things! I scrambled toward the bathroom and thought I was alone and safe. But then I heard a ghoulish sound from the shower: it was Frankenstein! We looked at each other and both screamed! I dashed out of the bathroom toward my sister’s room, where I spotted crazy Elmo! He started following me as I rushed to get away, but then I crashed into two dancing dolls with eyes as large as the moon. My head was swirling and I started seeing visions. Chicken wings, crying babies, choirs singing. In my haze, a robot dog came barking down the hallway after me. So, of course I ran as fast as I could before spotting the Cookie Monster who yelled, “Cookie, cookie, cookie!” after me as I sped past toward my bedroom. Nowhere was safe. I burrowed into my bed. A few seconds later, the TV mysteriously flicked on, and on the screen appeared the cast of Sesame Street. Slowly, I watched as the head of King Elmo rose at the edge of my bed, and came closer, closer, closer.

Dyson Hall

The Swag Dogs

I have two female dogs and two male dogs. My family likes to call them the “Swag Dogs” because they have a lot of attitude.

They are all very soft but smell very, very bad. My dogs are all unique. I have a Pug, Chug, Chihuahua, and Maltese. Pancho, the Chihuahua, sleeps with me. But one day he died. Magically, he came back to life. It was a miracle, and the Swag Dogs were back together once again.

Sidnee Amador

Jeffery the Zookeeper: Dun! Dun! Dun!

Once, there was a zookeeper named Jeffery. He was a very rich man, and his house was made of gold and cost more than one million dollars! He also loved animals and even had his own bobcat.

One day, Jeffery saw something in his bobcat’s cage. It was shiny and glittery. Jeffery had to have it. The bobcat was nowhere to be seen, so Jeffery crept into the cage, hoping to retrieve the treasure. But Jeffery did not see that he had been wrong all along: the bobcat was still in the cage.

To this day, nobody steps foot in that cage.

Cali Reever

Fight for the Husky

I really want a Husky. I’m trying to persuade my parents to let me adopt one. I mean, who wouldn’t want a Husky? Who wouldn’t want a fluffy, blue-eyed cutie?

I deserve a Husky because I would take good care of it, attending to all of its needs. I already have two other dogs, so I’d convince my parents that they’d also need a new friend.

I’d make my case and seal it with puppy dog eyes. In my fight for the Husky, I’d be victorious.

Lilly Besa

We are Always Happy

My sister is four years old. Sometimes we are mad or sad. But most of the time, we are happy. When I’m sad, she gives me a hug and a kiss. Sometimes my sister and I are mad or sad. But if we stick together, we’ll always be happy.

Marina Tapia

The Switch

There is a photo of a man and his cat. However, what you see is not what is because the man in the photo is the cat, and the cat is the man. The man’s mustache is his whiskers, and the cat’s whiskers are his mustache. They’ve switched bodies.

Since that very first day when the man spotted the cat roaming around his neighborhood and decided to take him in, he knew they would switch bodies. The cat loved it; it loved being human. So they lived like this forever, switching bodies back and forth, between feline and human.

Coryn Rodriguez

The Nightmare

My friend and I were at my house playing games and having a great time when things got… freaky. First, the lights started to flicker, which made us run upstairs and hide in my closet. Sitting quietly together, I suddenly realized it was Friday the Thirteenth. In the shadows of the closet, everything took on a dark red hue, like the color of blood. Then we saw as a hand slide into the closet and slowly feel around. I closed my eyes and hoped it wouldn’t find us. But I never opened my eyes again to see.

Declan Perez

Spring Rose Hairclip! By Hair Clippie Co.

Today we have a limited-edition hairclip for the spring season. But this isn’t just any old hairclip. This gorgeous accessory features a prominent magenta rose that will match any party dress you pick out to dance the day or night away. You’ll be the blossom of everyone’s dreams. But this offer won’t last, so get yours today! Be the beautiful bloom you always thought you could be!

This has been brought to you by Hair Clippie Co.

Izzy Gonzalez

Giants

– ¾ after Shel Silverstein’s “One Inch Tall”

If a humans were one-inch-tall, pools would be oceans.
A shoe sole would be a deep, dark cave.
A dollhouse would be a mansion.
I don’t think being one-inch-tall would be so bad after all.

Joshua Hernandez

The Scary Night

It was a dark and stormy night. Tod was in the bathroom when the lights started to buzz and the door suddenly swung open. It was my mom. I was comforted at first, but then I noticed she looked different. She didn’t look like herself. Her eyes widened and her mouth turned into a triangle. She let out a long cackle, and then, poof—she vanished.

Rey Goff

Animals Reign Supreme

Speak all the languages of the world or talk to animals? I’d go with the latter.

I’d rather be able to talk to animals because I could joke with them. We could trade tricks and laughs all day long. There’d never be a dull moment.

If I could talk to animals, I’d also be able to help them when they’re hurt or in need. I’d know how to help them if they were sick.

In the end, aren’t we all the same, anyway? Aren’t we animals, too? If I had to choose, I’d rather talk to animals. How about you?

Jaiden Valadez

Look At My Imagination, Not My Room

Have you ever wondered how to make pickles dance? Well, it’s easy if you follow the steps provided by one of Ms. Barrett’s morning students. Just hire a DJ named Nolan, who plays “hip-hop, rap, or retro music.” And don’t forget the pool for pickle swimming. I love how this group of fourth-grade writers found inspiration in Sandra Cisneros’s “My Name” to imagine the sensory details of their own with colors of “dashing red or a deep blue” and “a fresh chocolate smell.” When we explored places in our writing, rooms emerged that were so clean “I can run as fast as a cheetah.” Other rooms were so outrageously messy, they “smelled like death and bad breath, overrun by ants, stinky cheese, and rotten peas.” I’m grateful for the invitation to write with Ms. Barrett’s fantastic, fun, and fearsome writers.

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

My Room Is So Clean

My room is so clean I can fit ten very large people in it. I can run as fast as a cheetah in there without stepping on anything. You won’t find noisy toys or LEGO—absolutely nothing is in my room! It is so neat, one billion people can squeeze in the space.

My spotless room smells like roses and tastes like a crisp apple. It is so quiet that you can hear the wind blowing through the trees. That’s my clean room!

Edward

How to Make My Dream House

Have you ever imagined creating your own dream house? Let’s plan and make one together with these materials:

  • Chocolate Hershey kisses, the best on earth
  • Sweet Tarts for the bedroom door, located on the fourth floor
  • Pink bubble gum for a slide
  • Blue bubble gum for the elevator
  • Snickers and Milky Way bathroom—tub, sink, and even the tile
  • Nerds are the windows

Maybe now you can make your own? I am going to build mine right now!

Mya

My Magical Name

My name is Preston.
Take away the “n” and it’s “Presto!”
I love my name.
It’s like the color red and the sound of the ocean.
My name is so magical with its fresh chocolate smell.

Preston

The Best Dream House

Let me tell you about the most amazing dream house ever! Once you have heard about it, you will want to live in it and probably build your own. It’s actually a humongous structure, called the Party Palace, in which a very petite person lives. You see, the story goes like this:

Little bitty Amy shopped for houses, but did not find any she liked. For example, she found a one-room with only one bed, and that was too small even for her. So she designed her own from granite and rhinestones. Inside there was a pool of green Jell-O and a chair made from a really large gummy bear. Amy’s bed squished when she climbed in, because the pillows and mattress were marshmallows. With the softest turquoise blanket, she slept so well!

In her dream house, Amy also had a flat screen TV, where she could watch “Jeopardy” all day long on her favorite spot—the cotton candy couch. There was a hot tub with warm, melted chocolate in her house, located behind Niagara Falls. Listening to the sounds of water tumbling down, it’s the best place in the whole wide world!

Vivienne Authement

My Name is Maya

Do you know what my name means? Well, I will tell you. It’s like a vanilla donut, and it makes me feel as happy as sunshine cupcakes and rainbows. My name is Maya.

Maya is a nice name. It smells like a daisy and tastes like cookies and creamy ice cream. My name is a pink color and cute as a puppy doll. My name is mostly perfect. Maya means hope.

Maya Barrientos

My Icky Room

My room is so dirty, I can’t see the floor.
It’s so dirty, I can’t find the door.
The toys are stacked up so high,
I think they already touch the sky.
My room is so messy, it looks like a maze.
Somebody help me—I’ve been in here for days!
The closet is so full, it’s going to blow.
What should I do? Where should I go?
It smells like old gym socks and stinky feet.
Plus, I lost my cousin Pete.
Please call for help!
There’s an avalanche of slimy kelp.
Oh, no! My closet exploded!
My shoes flew so far away; I think they are in France.
My room smells like death and bad breath, overrun by ants,
stinky cheese, and rotten peas.
Won’t someone just rescue me? Please!

Ameris Basden

My Enormously Neat Room

My room is so clean I can fit California in its space. Last week, I even held a football game in my room—the Dallas Cowboys won, of course! I once held a party in there and 1,000,000 people of all ages came and there was room left over for more.

When Queen Elizabeth visited for lunch, she complimented me on my room’s tidiness. It is so shiny, even the sun thinks it’s too bright. My room smells as if millions of roses lived in there. It tastes like a chocolate ice cream sundae. Hey, are you planning a superstars concert? Well, my bedroom is the place to rent! And, I promise, an event in my room will be an unforgettable evening.

Ava Contreras

How to Make Pickles Dance

Have you noticed those big, fat green things in jars? Have you ever imagined the pickles dancing? Well, I have, and I have seen them come alive at night! So, now, I will share with you some pickle-dancing tips. Be sure you get the regular, big fat green kind.

  1. Play hip-hop, rap, or retro music.
  2. Turn the music up very loud!
  3. Create a disco room.
  4. Hire a DJ named Nolan.
  5. Make sure you have plenty of Coke and cherry soda.
  6. And don’t forget the Minecraft video game.
  7. Order ten Domino’s Pizzas with ranch on the side—enough for 100 people and pickles.
  8. Build a backyard pool for pickle swimming.
  9. Remember the pool table with colorful legs.

So, now you know how to make them dance. Have fun watching the pickles dance and join in!

Nolan Edward Espinosa

I am Stuck!

My room is so dirty that toys are everywhere, climbing the walls and hanging off the roof! If you dare to enter my room, you must be a doof. You will trip and fall on your face, then roll down the hill of toys, hit the wall of dirty clothes, and disappear for the rest of your life.

Don’t stand in one place in my room, or the monster with no face, which hides under my floor, will get you! My room is so sickening that if you want to sleep with a blanket, you will have to dive deep to find one. And don’t go into my closet. If you open the door, one billion toys will jump out at you, pushing you through the floor and into the underworld. Hey, maybe while you’re down there, you will find the other toys I have been missing!

Oh, no! There’s my old friend Logan hidden under my LEGOs. Well, I should say my enemy now, because he just knocked me out!

Chase Foley

How to Ride and Handle a Unicorn

Have you heard the expression “somewhere over the rainbow?” Unlike this idiom, finding a unicorn is a real skill you can learn! Let me show you how to accomplish this with these simple steps:

  • Find your unicorn, usually somewhere over the rainbow. (Now, I mean literally!)
  • Tame it by feeding it a silver carrot, more than likely found in the same spot where you found your unicorn.
  • Once the unicorn has finished its meal, hop on its back. I promise, it won’t throw you off because it is your friend now.
  • But, remember, whatever you do, don’t put a saddle on it!
  • Gently grasp its rainbow horn so you can communicate telepathically, steer, and accelerate extremely fast.
  • If you need to break through a wall, unicorns provide many weapons to do this—explosive barf, laser eyes, laser horn, and the rainbow of death, to name a few example.
  • Use your psychological connection with the magical creature to use any of these.
  • Eat a mint and offer one to your smelly unicorn, too.
  • When your unicorn gets hungry and runs out of silver carrots, just spray paint your baby brother.

That’s how you find, ride, and handle a unicorn. Go out and discover one for yourself. And good luck!

Emmett Foley

How to Build Your Dream House

Let me explain how to build your dream house. Personally, I would prefer one made out of vines so I could swing throughout the living room and kitchen with all the power in the world! But, let’s get back to how to build it.

First, gather vines from Madagascar and make sure they are stuck together with gummy worms for the maximum strength. Be sure and get enough for all ten stories of your house. Plan on not having a floor—only water—so you are forced to swing around your house. (Plus, by moving around this way, your mom can’t tell you to stop climbing all over the walls!)

Another thing, remember to put the correct type of crocodiles in the water, so you can swim with them. You know, the dark as night ones. Take care of them and feed them some chocolate milk and nothing else.

Don’t even think about adding an elevator. You will be carried up to the top by a roller coaster when you get tired of swinging on vines. The last thing I recommend when you are designing your own dream house is to flavor it with a rosy smell.

Uma Green

My Messy Room

My room is so messy that whenever I open my door, everything falls out like an avalanche of colorful fabrics. I have to clean up with a bulldozer before I can go in—it happens every time. Maybe I should get a tow truck to pull it all out. When I finally enter my room, it smells like wet socks and rotten eggs. Once, I was stuck in there for a month, I passed out twenty times!

My room is so disgusting, my friend Logan went in and never came out. His mom and dad called the cops, and luckily they found his body! But then we had his funeral in my room and it stunk even more like moldy cheese.            

On to the next subject, when the zombie apocalypse hit, and they came into my room, the smell was so terrible, it killed them! I hid at the top of the house with a can of Febreze to save myself.

JonPaul Lara

Life is My Name

My name is like the number five, one of the most beautiful numbers.
A dashing red or a deep blue color.
A bright star or a dull planet.
A light in the sky to lift you up.

M, Meaningful
I, Interesting
K, Kind
A, Amazing
H, Hope
Mikah, a name to be crowned.

It tastes like rich, dark chocolate
and smells like homemade chicken soup.
A beautiful flower sprouts my name.
It is so fascinating, like prehistoric dinosaur bones.

A name derived from the culture of Saudi Arabia, a land far away. My name—all because my grandfather’s company desired educated workers. So he came to the U.S. to attend college and stayed. His story lived on through my Aunt Sara and my father Jamil. Later, I was born and released into the world along with my name, Mikah.

Mikah Muhaisen

Monster Room

My room is so messy, it’s like a monster is living in here, breathing out dog poop. There is chunky pizza on the ceiling. It smells like a thousand shards of old milk are hitting my nose. My eyes water as if lemon juice was squirted into them.

One time, my Shih Tzu entered my room, piled so high with soiled laundry, he disappeared. He was actually pulled into a black hole below my bed. When I step on the trains on my floor, it hurts my feet as if I were crunching on 1,000 pieces of glass. Slimy fish stick to my shirts and pants, and I discover 1,000,000 pieces of chewed gum all over my room, too. Whenever I say, “Fine, I will clean my room!” and tidy up, it is back to its filthy state within two seconds.

Brianna Perez

How to Build Your Dream House

Let me give you some tips on how to build your dream house. For me, I would start with gumball candy for the door and gingerbread for the base of the house. Add some delicious Hershey chocolate bars for the roof, which is eight feet into the air. Now that the outside is built, let’s go inside and see what we can create.

How about blue cotton candy for your bed? And silly string for the carpet, sugar cubes for stairs, and, best of all, slushies for the wallpaper?! The water flowing in the bathroom can be Coke, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, or some other soft drink you prefer. And your bathtub is made out of Mentos, and it’s so large it looks like an elephant’s. Your house smells like hot popcorn and sounds like people crunching and munching on delicious food.

Pretty amazing dream house, right?

Sofia Pezzi

How to Train Your Tiger to Dance

Let me think. How would I train a tiger to dance, to spin around, even talk properly to humans? Here are some suggestions:

First, find the perfect tiger at your local zoo because they can be easily trained.

Next, gather together ribbons and spin them to show him how to twirl. Play a song by Michael Jackson—tigers just love him!

While you are training your tiger, be sure and give him some chores, such as mopping the floor and washing the dishes. Tigers eat a lot, and you want yours to contribute to the household expenses.

Okay, back to training. Always cheer him on by clapping your hands. Teach him how to move his hips by feeding him a hot taco. And, to instruct the tiger on how to talk, just say, “Hi!” and he will answer you back.

Final tip: Don’t ever distract your tiger while he is dancing. He can bite.

Jakenzie Murphy Vargas

How to Dig a Hole

Holes are crucial to life. You need them to build basements, to hide from tornadoes, and to hold water, among other things. Here is how to build one. First, make a list of what you will need:

  • 1 long shovel
  • 1 short shovel
  • A backyard
  • Sticks and leaves
  • A poker face

Let’s get started! First, dig a shallow drop with the short shovel. It should be about one foot long and one foot deep. Second, go inside and eat lunch. Digging short, one-foot holes is so tiring! Third, go back outside and dig the hole about two feet deeper with the long shovel. Nice work. Now, you will need to clear out the hole with the short shovel—it’s more precise. (I hope you have a backyard because we are not throwing dirt into the street!) Toss your dirt all over your yard, but keep watch for the hornet’s nests. Remember I told you to get a poker face? Put that on now because you are going to need it soon. Next, take your sticks and cover the top of your hole. Finally, hide your sticks with grass and leaves.

Bring your brother or sister outside and have them stand close to your hole. Using your poker face, trick them by saying, “Hey, if you stand right here, you can see a bird’s nest on the top of that tree.” Guide them to the spot where your hole is. When they fall in, laugh as much as you want and walk away. Did this help you build a hole and also learn how to prank your siblings for the next time they do it to you? I hope so!

Dorsey Warstler

Arrow Maker

I am an arrow maker. Cold stone and wood. I get respect from warriors and myself. Arrows are speedy and agile—going with and against the wind. It feels powerful to make the weapon that shoots from a bow. A bow without arrows is useless, but arrows alone are still strong with an ability to kill ducks and deer.

Feathers for accuracy fall from the clouds. Added to the arrows, they help to make a straighter shot. Now, there are rifles, but I do not make bullets. I keep my culture and continue to make arrows to protect my tribe and to be the best Fletcher in this colony. If my name were Taylor, I would be a clothes-maker. But, true to my name, which means “arrow maker,” I have a passion for making them. Fighting the Europeans off on charging horses. Indian. American. European. Texan. Brave. Western. Southern. Fletcher.

My name is Fletcher Wilson.

Fletcher Wilson

Abundant Like Grackles in the Trees

You know those rare moments in the classroom when learning an important writing skill actually becomes fun? Well, for this workshop at Boone Elementary, those moments were about as rare as grackles in an Austin springtime. The writers of Ms. Texeira’s class demonstrated that although writing is a useful skill, it is also an art, in the sense that regimented exercises and the memorization of rules never quite get at the source of good writing. These writers proved to me over and over that they know how to tap into that source, which is rooted in a passion for creating and the perpetual rediscovery of the imagination’s capabilities. The following pieces are examples of what happens when the writing skills students are expected to master for a test—such as being detailed, explaining ideas using examples, and describing events in chronological order—develop out of writing’s least emphasized requirement: fun.

Adam Edelman
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

My Season

I’m in a nice blue tent with my best friend Luke, and we’re camping in the dark, scary, droopy woods! Luke and I were scared to death, alone and freezing. We had very little fire left and only the seven marshmallows that kept me warm while Luke was lying down. With the thin branches falling, we didn’t know when we were going to get out of the dark, scary, droopy woods!

About twenty boring, scary minutes later, a gray car showed up, and Luke and I knew who it was… my mom.

Michael Breydan Alva-Green

Gaga Ball

Gaga ball is a sport. The rules are that if you get hit in the foot by the ball, you’re out. If it hits you above the knee, you’re still in. No wall jumps either. Wall jumps are where you jump away from the ball on the wall of the pit you are playing in. You can only touch the ball with your hands!

And why I like Gaga ball is because one time we were playing it, and Brandon was the best player. I had almost got hit by the ball, but I jumped up. Not a wall jump, though! And I took the ball and I got Malak out. Then, I got Breydan out, and Brandon got Sebastian out! And so on. I was in the final round, just me and Brandon. Then I dodged the ball and got Brandon out! I had won the game!

Paxton Antognini

The Unicorn Planet

I was fast asleep in my warm, cozy bed. I heard a big bang. I woke up so fast. I slowly and quietly walked outside without waking anyone up. I looked around and saw a deep, big, black hole. I fell in, straight down. I fell down, down, down, as fast as a cheetah. It was pitch black in there. I finally landed and saw a whole bunch of unicorns. The unicorns were playing like kindly little children. I got to ride on one of them. They were as kind as a koala. They felt like soft and cozy clouds. I played with them for a little while. Then it was time to go. The black hole came again, and I said goodbye. I came back to my house and was in my cozy bed. Finally, I fell fast asleep. I had a dream about that wonderful unicorn planet.

Aubry Arispe

The Invisible Girl

I would be invisible because I could sneak around the house and eat donuts. It would be really fun and tasty. I would be so happy, and the best part is: my parents would never find out.

The second reason is that I would be a pro at hide-and-go-seek. No one would ever find me. It would be so fun. I am sure you would like it too.

The third reason is that I would become a magician. I think I would be very good at it because I can turn invisible. I think all the kids would love it. I am sure you would too. I know I would. This is why I would be invisible.

Gorgeous Sahlin

Why Do You Love Fourth Grade?

The reason I love it is because PTA paid for fourth graders to have… Badgerdog. Badgerdog is a class of all writing. Each class has a teacher. My teacher’s name is Mr. Adam. Sometimes he lets us write funny stuff, how we feel, and serious stuff. He sometimes lets us play games with him. We each have a folder to hold all of our papers and writings. He only comes on Mondays. When we write, if we are stuck, he helps us. He lets us either call him Mr. Adam or Adam, he says it’s our choice. I love that he treats us all the same. He never makes us uncomfortable. We all feel safe with him.

Ava Diaz

How to Make the Absolute Best Sandwich Ever!

First, you get the ingredients: bread, hot fries, peanut butter, a plate, a drink, and a napkin.

Then you get the two pieces of bread. Put one on the plate and set the other one down. Put peanut butter on the piece of bread on the plate.

After that, you put the hot fries on the bread with peanut butter, and put the slice with nothing on. You get your napkin and choice of drink.

Finally, you take a bite of the scrumptious sandwich and enjoy!

Brandon Alvarez

Best Sandwich

Ingredients: Spicy cheese, Italian bread, cooked bacon, cooked hamburger meat.

First, get your bread and cut it in half. Take the spicy cheese. Now, get the cooked burger. Put the burger and bacon on. Then put the cheese on. Heat it up in the microwave, then cook it for thirty seconds. When it beeps, BOOM! You’re done.

Morgan Montgomery-Cafferata

Fly

I would rather fly than turn invisible because then I would be lonely. Also, if you fly, it would be nice, and you would make a new friend from a different country. It would be cool if you could fly and turn invisible. You would see lots of good views,  and you could fly, for example, to Hawaii, or you could be in Texas and you could fly to a cozy place. So, that is why I think flying is a good way to travel in the air.

Malak Omari

I Want to Write About a Forest

I want to write about a forest. The grass was poking through the beautiful snow. And it was awesome. Some leaves were still on the trees. The sun was rising, and it smelled fresh and it was quiet.

Valerie Ramirez

Math!

Do you love math? I do! I love math more than everyone. Math is my favorite part of fourth grade.

I love math a lot because this year I got 100% on the math benchmark, and I felt so happy! This year I learned geometry and it was so fun. I studied very hard, and then I got an A on most of my tests. Also, I learned a lot of multiplication and division. I got a good grade on my report card and my parents gave me some money for it. I am now really good at math.

Everyone should learn math. I love it very much, and it’s my favorite part of fourth grade. I can’t wait to learn more math in the future.

Luke Robertson

When I Had to Use Persuasion

One time I had to persuade was when I tried convincing my mom to let me go to my friend’s birthday party.

It was going to be at Blazer Tag. The first thing I said to convince my mom was: “I’ll clean the whole house!”

My mom said I could go without cleaning the whole house and only cleaning my room. But then my mom said, “I won’t be able to drive you there because I’m going somewhere, so how are you going to go?”

I wondered, “Maybe I can ask my older sister since she has a car.”

My big sister agreed to pick me up after the birthday party. I just couldn’t wait to go to Blazer Tag with my friends. Sadly, my brother couldn’t go, but at least he had a phone to entertain himself!

I really enjoyed spending time with my friends. After that, I learned that when you convince someone, try to convince small, then go big!

Hillary Rodriguez

I See the Chocolate

I see the chocolate, dark as the night. I see lollipops acting like trees and Jolly Ranchers on the ground. I see candy canes bright and shiny, standing like flowers. Every house looks like a ginger bread house. The light blue sky is made of blue Airheads. But I always want to eat those rivers full of… Nutella!

Angel Villegas

EPSON DSC Picture

The Trampoline Park

The trampoline park is cool. You can do flips. The most fun thing about it is dodge ball. I had my birthday there before. My family and my friends from school, we all started to play dodge ball. I smelled food. I saw people jumping. Sometimes I heard music. And the music was awesome. When it was time to leave, I felt MAD. The reason I was mad was because I wanted to stay!

Johnathan C

When I had to Convince Someone of Something

So, one time I had to convince someone was when I wanted to get a video game, but my mom wouldn’t let me get it. She said it was too expensive. But then I said I would pay the money back if she got it, and guess what? It worked! I really didn’t expect it to work.

Another time I had to persuade someone was when I had to persuade my cat to play with a laser toy. But of course, she’s a cat, so she didn’t. So, I played with it to show her. And she played with it! It worked!

Derek B

How to Make the Best Sandwich Ever!

To make the best sandwich ever, first put some Nutella on the top. Then, put some peanut butter inside. Next, put in some chocolate ice cream, vanilla ice cream, and strawberry ice cream. Last but not least, some caramel syrup. Then spread it on the bread on the top. Put it in the oven to make it heat up and—oh, some mustard! Now you’re good to go.

Sasha R

Remodeling the Imagination

You will never be bored in Ms. Barrett’s afternoon class. These writers fight aliens from Jupiter and fall from their beds into magical and creepy worlds. With the help of Shel Silverstein’s “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out,” they create bedrooms that are so messy, devils shoot “stink bugs at [them] from eighteen miles below” the bed. You will discover so many wonderful ideas when it’s time to remodel your home. By simply adding an elevator, you can travel out of your house to “Mount Olympus so [you] can talk to Zeus about creating world peace.” I loved the enthusiasm and imagination I encountered every time I entered the classroom. Congratulations to these writers on their amazing stories!

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

The Aliens Are Coming!

Wow! Did you just hear about the alien attack that’s going to happen this Friday? I better form a team of courageous alien-hunters, so we can save the world. I sure hope others believe me, because the first ten people I asked at the Super Heroes conference just said, “No! Aliens aren’t real!” Next I went to Target and found some brave individuals who agreed. “Yes! We believe in aliens!” Whew! (Maybe they just said that because they were annoyed at me for begging to join them.)

Okay, at least I now have my alien-fighting team together.  First, we must purchase alien-sucking machines and train my army how to pull in multiple outer space creatures all at one time. Hmmm, we sure need guns—any suggestions out there? Great idea! I hadn’t thought about getting them from a military surplus store.

We are equipped and ready. Let’s go suck up some aliens!

Jayden Besa

In My Delicious Room

In my room
there is no broom,
but neither are there LEGOs.
Rather, rules to follow and things to learn.
Pieces of paper, but not to burn.
With a closet so big, it sucked me in.
In my room, it smells like strawberries,
and the desk tastes like raspberries.

With a blanket of cotton—3D, not 2D—
I am floating on a cloud, eating cotton candy.
Pillows to overlap my bed, covered with animal stuffies.
In my room, there are teacher supplies—staplers, scissors, and sweets
(no one will be suspicious as to why I have such treats!).
My room is pink and edible like watermelon jelly.

Bella Chu

My Awesome Name

My name is delicious and savory like unicorn poop, which is ice cream.
My name is the color of a very bright rainbow.
It is like cupcakes with sprinkles and a scent of sugar.
My name feels like soft pillows,
making the sound of breezy winds mixed with fiery lava bubbles.

When I say my name, chocolate bursts with flavor into my mouth!
My name is sprinkle ice cream cookies.
I am Soraya Contreras.

Soraya Contreras

My Room Is So Messy

My room is so messy,
I don’t know what to do!
Oh, I better clean it
very, very soon.
I get home from school
and walk into my room. Aggghhh!
Rats and bats, cats and hats.
Oh, no. What do I do?
I need to clean my room
very, very soon.

The next day, my friends come in
and then walk right outside
like a flash before my eyes.
I promised them I would clean my room—
they trusted me it was safe to go in,
but Fred and Ted wear masks to be sure.
“I did my best to clean my rotten, yellow-smelling room!” I cry.
They walk out again—darn, I really tried!

I am playing on my phone.
My mom moans and drones, “Clean your room!”
in the worst tone in the world.
“No way!” I mumble to myself. “If you don’t want to see it,
then I will just throw you in.” Bye, bye!

Nikki Dominguez

My Name

I’ve always thought the name James sounded calm
like a peach tree in bloom.
When I say it, the taste of fresh
summer strawberries stays on my tongue.

James Doerr

My Dream House

Dreams, houses, and dream houses. What would yours be like? For starters, mine is an exact replica of the Empire State Building, but with a twist on the interior. For example, I have an elevator leading to Mount Olympus so I can talk to Zeus about creating world peace.

My dream house includes a cinema room with a lifetime of supply of chocolate and Harry Potter movies. The bedroom wall is blue, reflected through with fish tanks located on every side. I have some weird stuff, like a roomful of unicorns. There’s even a space in which I worship my pets by hanging plastic heads of them all around. I add a room made of diamonds as sparkly as my dog’s eyes! The chair is made of jewelry, and there is plenty of space for my dazzling earrings. Finally, my walk-in closet is 1,000,000 miles long and contains giraffes and mountains of sneakers.

Everyone who visits, gets a pair of earrings and a quail. Now that you have my incredible ideas to build a dream home, the sky’s the limit!

Alice Dorning

My Name

My name is a proud and wealthy country.
It is silk on my cheek after the end of a bad day.
It tastes like peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream
and sounds like an ocean of joy.
It smells like bacon sizzling when you first wake up.
It is a rainbow of the sweetest colors.
The beautiful name of Britain.

Britain Emerson

My Squeaky Clean Room

My room smells like a big bottle of air freshener (even though I don’t use it). When I touch the floor, it feels like a big pile of smooth snow. I just love looking at my room because it is so beautiful and tidy. When I taste my room, there is the flavor of flowers for some reason. When I listen to my room, it sounds like the wind rushing against my ears. My classic, clean room!

When people come over to visit, they are so jealous of how spotless it is. They always say, “Your room is as fresh as a new strawberry!” When I look at the walls of my room, I imagine gazing up into the sky—there are cloud stickers all over—like the ones in “Toy Story.” I love my room. It’s so neat.

Tony Gil

My Room

In my room, there are two million LEGOs all over my floor and another three million in my drawers. It’s like I am swimming in a sea of clothes; there are so many shirts, skirts, pants, and socks piling up and tumbling out of my closet. They are like my best friends because they hover over me.

When I lay down on my pink bed cover, the soft chocolate brown blanket eats me as I try to go to sleep. I sink into another dimension of time and space where there are rainbows and unicorns spitting out sprinkles. It’s an amazing valley of dark green grass. I am sad when I have to leave, but I have school tomorrow. I must return to my messy room.

Faith Guerrero

My Name

Hi, my name is Elijah, but you can call me Eli. It came from the one the creator of Marvel named his daughter. Yes, my name began with a girl! Here is the rest of the story.

My family thought I was going to be a girl, and my dad really liked the name Eliza. But, when they found out I was a boy, they decided on Elijah. Elijah stands for “having fun” in Iranian. I live up to my name when I am playful and laugh a lot. My name sounds like the inside of a seashell and tastes like chocolate-covered strawberries. It smells like a heavenly aroma. Elijah feels like a soft marshmallow. This is my name, and I love it!

Elijah Hadivincheh

Dirty

My dirty, dirty room is as smelly as a person who has not showered for years! It is full of slimy footprints from my sister coming in and out. Nerf guns, big and small, plus piles of dog fur cover my poor floor! There are so many holes in my bed that devils are shooting stink bugs at me from eighteen miles below.

When my friends come into my room, they get stuck in my ugly, claustrophobic closet. Even my sister got stuck on the ceiling and then fell into a black hole, once because there was so much dog slobber in my room. Those devils just laughed and laughed in the worst way possible way when that happened! Even I felt a little happy over that.

My room got so dirty, so disgusting, that I turned devil-like. My face turned dark red and my voice got very deep, and I laughed in the worst way.

Malachi Jensen

Dancing Jelly Sandwich

Do you want to learn how to make a jelly sandwich dance? If you want to, you are going to need a lot of materials. So, here’s the list to write down:

A dance floor, two pieces of bread, some jelly, a radio, the sandwich’s favorite song (anything with “sandwich” in it works) and record player, a video camera, some googly eyes with a black marker, and two paper cut-out arms. Also, book an empty room as big as a gymnasium.

First, glue the googly eyes on the front of the bread. Now, you have to draw any kind of smile. Install the dance floor in the empty room. Next, smear the jelly on the two pieces of bread and slap them together. Add the arms to the sandwich. Turn on the music to “Peanut Butter Jelly Rock” and watch the sandwich go! It may seem weird to see it rise up and dance on his hands for hours, but you’ll get used to it.

Ian Kelley

Timmy vs. Adam

I’m feeling a little “Timmy” today. Yup, let me tell you why. First of all, my boring real name is Adam. Anyway, Timmy means total awesomeness, but Adam means weird cat farts! Timmy tastes like rainbow jelly beans topped with awesome sauce. But Adam tastes like absolute seriousness. Timmy smells like a room full of peppermint candy. Adam smells like lazy gorillas.

I am feeling like Timmy, but Adam will have to do for the next thirteen years.

Adam Napolillo

The Gift

Everyone has a gift. Some people can understand animals, but not the way I do—because I really understand them. It all happened this year on March 23. It was a regular day, or so I thought! My mother, who named me Maria, passed away when I was five. She always talked about the animals she loved.

I had noticed she wore a blue and purple jewel around her neck whenever she talked with our dog Sidney. I never knew what that was about, but after she passed away, I saw the precious stone in her room. I took it for a good luck charm and went to the park with my dog. While sitting under a tree, admiring my jewelry, it started to glow. I gazed into it just as my dog walked up to me.

“Let’s go, boy,” I said to him.

“Yea, sure, cool. I am tired anyway,” he responded.

I looked so surprised when he talked, and so did my pet!

“How can you talk to me?”

He looked very puzzled. “I don’t know.”

I looked down at the necklace and realized the power it had, and what my mother had known. I knew then that this would be my future to talk with animals.

Bianka Perez

In My Room

In my room, there is a mess.
It is filled with toys and board games,
such as “Sorry” and “Don’t Break the Ice.”
With five million Nerf guns and one million LEGOs
and Xbox 360 video games, I can’t find anything!
I get trapped in my own closet—
my jackets grab me, pull me in, and hold me down.
Clothes everywhere—on my bed, floor, couch,
even on the ceiling fan.

My room is so dirty that it smells like overflowing trash.
My stuff gets sucked into a black hole
and I go with it into the dark abyss with flames.

JJ Sanchez

Aliens Are Coming

Oh, no! It’s actually happening—aliens from Jupiter are attacking this Friday! I need you to join my group of fantastic soldiers. Bring your lava guns, lasers, and evil unicorns that fly and use hard rock-solid Skittles. There is so much new stuff you can also use today, such as super-duper alien detectors. We are going to also need flying mattresses to sleep on way above the ground.

You can contact me any time at MattiIsAnAwesomeSurvivor@gmail.com. I will keep you posted on the approaching alien invasion. Stock up on all the things we will need: weapons, beds, food, animals, shelter at the IFLY Home, and a lot more. I know! I will also put up a big sign with my phone number: 123-456-7890.

Come on, people! These aliens are more dangerous than Godzilla. Plus, they do not have the most amazing fashion sense and are my least favorite color—greenish yellow. Let’s get them!

Matti Serhus

How to Train Ms. Gilman to Dance

Let’s say you are a nine- to ten-year-old, and you are in a school called Boone Elementary. You have a teacher named Ms. Gilman, and she needs help on the dance floor. You are the complete expert. So, what do you do?

I can take you through the steps.

First, you will need to buy her a sparkly tutu and leotard from Target. Next, find a very large room, such as the White House. Oh, you may lose all your money paying for that—sorry! Now, go buy yourself a fluffy, pink, jewel-studded tutu with any money you have left. Drive Ms. Gilman to your huge space and ask her to put on the tutu. No doubt, she will ask, “What do I do?”

“Let me show you how to lean and dab, lean and dab,” you explain.

Suddenly, she says, “Oh, it’s Sunday, and I have to go to school!”

You laugh, because there is no school on Sunday. “Man, you crack me up, Ms. Gilman. Now, let’s get back to that dance, shall we?”

Nomia Stilwell

A Robust Sense of the Absurd

Ms. Texeira’s class was one of the most enthusiastic groups of young writers I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Whether we were writing odes, silly stories, or convincing personal essays, these writers approached every task with enthusiasm, imagination, and a robust sense of the absurd, testing the limits of their imaginations and supporting each other as writers and readers. I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as we enjoyed writing them together!

Emily Beyda
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Tacos

Tacos, oh tacos, you’re so sweet
But you smell like my Dad’s feet
You come from Taco Bueno
Which rhymes with my friend Deino
Sometimes I eat you on Christmas Eve
Which is my Dad’s worst pet peeve
Tacos, tacos, wait a second…
You taste like my favorite cereal, Sock-O’s!
Tacos are my favorite snack
And sometimes I sneak them in my backpack
Burritos and tacos are brothers
But they come from a different mother

Tyler

Ode to Trees

Trees, you give everything life
You provide shelter and air for the earth
Oh trees, you give everything life
You give life to the frogs on the ground
And the birds in the sky
Oh trees, you give everything life
You give life to us humans
And life to all animals
Oh trees, you give everything life
You start as a seed, and you grow over the years
And after a while, you whither and die
But just know that you give everything life

Emma

Burgers

Oh burger, you are so yummy.
With your lettuce all out, you look like a shining emerald.
And the meat is sooo nice, like chocolate.
(Um, although that is a different food. Oh, well.)
Your cheese is like the shining sun, so brave and so melted.
Ketchup like blood, red spilling everywhere.

Lee Ana

Little Soft Paw

Once upon a time, there was a really, really fuzzy little girl. Her fuzz was thick, so she was always warm. Her Mom called her My Little Soft Paw. My Little Soft Paw went on an adventure to stop King Ding-a-Dong. He lived at the bottom of the deep blue sea. He wanted the little girl for her fluff. One day, he captured her and stole all her fluff so that when she came on land, she would be cold in Canada.

Owen Ball

The Secret is Bob

Bob was an ogre, and he wanted to get more ugly, so he took his teeth out. Bob tried to eat a sandwich. When he bit into it, his gums bled. Two hours later, he was in the hospital and he was dead. Four hours later, his Mom called and she said he was in trouble again.

Anthony

A Riddle

It comes from a tree
It’s black and it’s brown
It falls on the ground
You can eat it
It can be cracked open
It is healthy to eat
It has a stem
It grows on a tree

Layla

Ode to Paper

Oh paper, a shade of white
Like wings to heaven, or freshly fallen snow
You are as soft as silk
And you contain millions of thoughts, like the Milky Way
You bend at soft, crisp angles
You are the start of a scribble, morphing slowly into beauty
You let pens skate across your smooth, soft surface
You can become anything
There is no limit or rules for what you can do
From a big, rough tree you become new, perfect sheets
You contain almost every thought
An entire person, room, house, mansion, country, planet
Can be contained in the midst of your pages
You make dreams come to life
Oh paper

Amity Blue Rogalski

Lotus

Oh lotus, you are beautiful in and out
You make me warm like the sun
You are so pretty as you glide across the water
Making a beautiful swoosh, swoosh
All things are drawn to you
Because you have the most beauty in the pond
With your bright colors
You are down to earth
And are a gentle soul
Oh lotus
Oh lotus

Ava Henderson

Mother Nature

Mother Nature, you are beautiful
With birds on your trees
Deer on your grass
Wolves on your rocks
Fish in your rivers
The rain and your puddles
Your beautiful flowers on your branches
I love that when I’m in your woods
I can hear the deer running
The birds singing
Your beautiful cracks when I step on your branches
The waterfall splashing
I love you, Mother Nature

Hayden

Ode to the Vulpix

Your icy tail is so cold I start to cry
Then your tail is like crystal stars in the moonlight
And with a tad of glow, too
I see an ice stone, and I bring it close to you
Then you evolve into Ninetails
Your tail is like snow
You move like crystals
And you still have that crystal gleam

Marcello

The Beast

A beast had soft fur and smelled like nothing. It had no taste and saw nothing because no one had been able to see if. If someone had, they would be killed instantly by its big claws. So, stay away from this furry creature. It is very nasty smelling, and everyone should hate this thing. That was how we met the monster.

Matthias

A Riddle

I see people running. I feel a football. I hear people yelling. I smell sweat. I taste water. Where am I?

Christian

Ode to Football

Ode to football, the thing that creates a lot of friendship
When the laces grip your fingers, you feel a light shining inside of you
When you let go of the ball, it soars through the air like a beautiful bird flying through the sky
When you make a touchdown, you feel a magical sense inside of you
You feel the ball celebrating with you, too
A football is like a magical creature that was once an angel
When you open the present, and you see the ball gleaming with joy, you are that way too
When you watch your team win, you feel like nothing can stand in your way
When you read a football book, you get sucked into the book and feel as if you’re playing football
Football is an amazing game that’ll never change
Anybody can play football, and anybody can enjoy it
If your team ever loses, it isn’t the end of the work
Because there’s always the next game
And you’ll play ever better than before
Ode to football

Gene

One Crazy Day

I watched the sun illuminate and called 911 and said, “Hey, 911, can you open my soda?” I’ve been going to Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza since I was three years old.

Sebastian

Ode

The song of the heart
The warmth inside
The magic within
The magnet to it
The happiness and joy
The comfort for sadness
The one that you feel closest to
Why, my darling,
That is love

Feel the power of the magic
Feel the golden aura shrouding you
Compassion and Kindness
With your heart in it
The despair when you leave
The electric shock of exhilaration when you come back
The dream you have every night and day
What people call a dream come true
Why, my darling,
That is love
As the arrow pierced your heart
You think differently
The longing to be with them
Your spirit glowing bright
The longing to say the words
I love you
But you still hold back
For the fear of loneliness
And ruining the moment
Why, my darling,
That is love

Be kind to yourself and be happy
Don’t hide yourself
Replaced by someone unknown
Be happy and calm
Honest and real
Steady and smart
Old but fresh
Why, my darling,
That is love

Love is not enough enough to say
For it is not describing your spirit
You feel complete and whole
Finding your missing half
It’s quite an adventure
Through good times and bad
But as long as you’re together
You need no more
Why, my darling,
That is your whole

Simone Owensby

Lilly’s Pizza Adventure

Once there was a beautiful girl, and her name was Lilly. She was very hungry, and she was in the mood for some pizza, so she was on her way to the Pizza Palace, until she stopped by this little girl riding a hoverboard. The little girl said, “You can never have pizza!” Lilly was very confused. So, while the little girl wasn’t looking, Lilly ran into the pizza shop then she ordered her pizza. Right after she took a bite, the pizza started to dance, but she didn’t care.

Leia

A Mountain Memory

I’m in the mountains. I see snow and ice. My friend is cooking ribs on a barbecue inside our cabin. I feel happy. I am on vacation with my friends and family. You can sit by the fireplace.

Evan

Ode to the Book

You’re full of amazing words
and always make me happy

Your pages are different in size
But they are always rather flappy

Different types of genres
Historical or fiction

But what makes you my favorite
Is that you are my addiction

Brightly colored titles
Like a rainbow in the sky

Amazing pictures on a page, on a page
No, this is not a lie

But when I see the words “The End”
I feel kinda down

But when I remember I have more books
I no longer have a frown

Charlie

Ode to Dandelion

You start as a seed in the wind
You flutter across the sky
‘Til you land in soft, moist dirt
And your roots go down deep
You grow into the earth
Then your seed opens
And your stem goes up
For the first time, you breathe the fresh air
Your leaves open in the sky
A puff ball is there
And the winds will come again
To plant new flowers in the ground
So they may bloom
And then the seeds are gone
But you still have more life
As your buds open up
I see a beautiful yellow glow like the sun
And amazing in your glory
You are magnificent and calm
Yet filled with energy
You may be so small
But large
Even so
Everyone who looks at you is happy
I thank you for everything
Your beauty and grace
Dandelion

Kiana Leon

Write Wild: The Demon Girl

Eighth-grader Keziah Myers joined us last month for our very first Write Wild! workshop at the peaceful and rustic Writing Barn. Surrounded by trees and quiet and deer wandering the periphery, we spent the morning exploring the art of storytelling — how to think about characters, force them into problematic situations, and keep our readers on the edge of their seats. Keziah’s story was anything but rustic! And all the better for it. Here, she offers an excerpt of the story she created that day, ” The Demon Girl.” There’s plenty of drama going on behind the scenes in this tale, as the narrator seems to have fingers in many pies (and a few bottles).
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The Demon Girl

– an excerpt
Diana’s drinking glasses shattered when she growled. She really wished they wouldn’t do that. It was a pain to clean up the shards. Not to mention that she had to replace her glasses often. And, of course, if Martini, her cat, was in the kitchen when they exploded, he would bolt out of there and claw his way up her back to sit on her shoulder. So yeah, Diana tried not to growl.
It was hard because she really didn’t like yelling too much either. Yelling splintered all the wood in her flat. But… yelling didn’t run the risk of shattering her shot glasses. Because, really, with all the complications the demons had been making, she needed a drink every now and then. She normally had these after a failed negotiation with some big name down there. She really wished she could have them during, but the demons didn’t like it very much.
It was ironic, she would muse (normally over a cup of coffee or a shot of whiskey), that people thought drinking was a devil’s game. They actually hated it. Of course, not that there weren’t guys down there (there was only one lady who had powers she wanted, and Diana didn’t have the money to get to Scandinavia) who couldn’t drink her under the table, but those guys, the ones who she could negotiate with in a bar, they wanted things from her. Things she wasn’t willing to give. Yeah. Things were complicated.
Keziah Myers
Murchison Middle School, 8th Grade

Write Wild: The Two Bears

Fourth-grader Nina Stockinged joined us for our first Write Wild! workshop exploring the art of storytelling. Nina’s creation inhabits a community of bears where white and black are just colors. As you’ll see, Nina’s story reminds us that even if we’ve been told we can’t get along, one meeting can change our views for the better.

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The Two Bears

Once upon a time, deep in the forest, there lived some white bears and some black bears. But the white bears and black bears lived in separate parts of the forest. The white bears’ village had only white bears, and the black bears’ village had only black bears. They never saw nor spoke to each other, and for a long time that’s how they lived. Each group thought bears of different colors would not get along with each other.

Then one day, a young white bear went to pick raspberries at the far end of the forest. He had tied a ribbon to a nearly-ripe raspberry bush the day before, but when he arrived at the bush, he saw a black bear standing next to it.

The white bear thought to himself, I tied that ribbon to that bush so I could pick raspberries from it, but I’m sure the black bear has already picked my raspberries.

The white bear was disappointed. He was looking forward to picking those raspberries. He sighed and started off in search of another bush, but the black bear called to the white bear: “Wait!”

When the white bear turned, he saw the black bear smile. She asked, “Are you the one who tied this ribbon to this bush?”

“Yes,” the white bear answered. He couldn’t understand why the black bear would ask such a question. Perhaps the black bear was being cruel, he thought, taking his raspberries and teasing him for tying that ribbon to the bush.

This made the white bear very sad, but then the black bear smiled kindly. “Good thing I asked. These raspberries must belong to you, and they’re very ripe for picking.”

The white bear was surprised. After taking a good look, he realized the bush was indeed the way he’d left it the day before. None of the raspberries had been picked. Cocking his head in amazement, he said, “I don’t understand why you didn’t pick the raspberries.”

“Well, there was a ribbon tied to this bush,” the black bear said, “so I thought it was already spoken for.”

“Even so,” the white bear said. “If someone else had picked the raspberries, I would have never known,” said the white bear. But the black bear smiled at him and continued, “If I were looking forward to picking raspberries and somebody else picked them first, I would be very disappointed. That’s why I decided to guard this bush.”

The white bear was very embarrassed. He had just assumed that the black bear had stolen his raspberries. Then, when he almost thought his mistake had hurt the black bear’s feelings, he became very sad. He’d always thought that because they were different colors, white bears and black bears could never be friends. But now that he’d met the black bear, he understood that colors didn’t matter. Bears of different colors could be friends if only they could meet and talk.

“What’s the matter?” the black bear asked with concern.

The white bear was so deep in thought that he had grown silent.

“Does your head hurt?” she asked. “Do you have a fever?”

“No,” replied the white bear. “It’s not that.” Then he turned to the black bear and said, “Let’s pick these raspberries together and share them equally.”

“These raspberries are yours,” protested the black bear.

“But you guarded them for me,” replied the white bear.

Then the white bear smiled at the black bear and said, “Will you be my friend?”

The black bear looked surprised at first, then smiled. “Of course,” she said.

Nina Stockinger
Spicewood Elementary, 4th Grade