Butterscotch, the Mighty Ocean Attackers

The stories and poems collected here were composed by a group of incredibly talented and creative young authors who call themselves “Butterscotch, the Mighty Ocean Attackers.” During the course of our week-long Badgerdog Creative Writing Camp at Our Lady’s Maronite Catholic Church, this phrase kept popping up over and over again—like a refrain in a catchy song that you just can’t get out of your head—and the more I ponder it, this strange and unexpected title actually fits this group perfectly. The writing these middle-school students have produced is a lot like butterscotch: smooth and rich and extravagant and deliciously exciting. But it is also—like a mighty group of ocean attackers—fierce, determined, wild, dangerous. You’d better watch out and take cover, because you are about to come in contact with Butterscotch, the Mighty Ocean Attackers. Their stories and poems will assault you with the power of ocean-deep emotion, suspense, beauty, and humor. They will knock you over and leave you completely transformed.

Allison Grace Myers
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

 

Inspire

I saw her sitting under a tree, chewing at the end of her pencil. Her eyes were full of concentration. She looked broken and angry, as though her own mind had failed her. I approached the girl, and her everlasting beauty overtook me. I tapped her on the shoulder, snapping her back to reality. She looked up at me with thought and praise in her eyes. I took her hand and helped her up to her feet. Her skin was smooth, pale, and perfect. I whispered to her in a soft voice, “Follow me. Great ideas lie ahead.” She smiled and we ran off to the forested line at the end of the sky. I showed her my place, my hideaway. The cherry blossoms fell gently to the forest floor. We just sat and talked for hours. Every once in a while, her eyes brightened more than usual. She would whip out her notebook and write something down. The sun began to fall behind the horizon, and as she headed back to her place by the tree, she hollered to me, “Next time, I’ll show you where my ideas grow.”

Gibson Hof

 

Grandfather

I never got to meet you
But mom tells me about you
I wish I could see your smile in person
Instead of in black-and-white pictures
The antlers of an eight-point deer you shot
Still hangs in our kitchen
Mom tells stories of how
You would bang them together to attract deer—
The sound they would make—clack, clack
And you didn’t let any of the deer go to waste once you got one
I wish I could have met you.

Sylvia Schwartz

 

Viola’s Perspective

We play the harmony of a piece and stay in the shadows of the melodious violins. Of the orchestra, we are the least important, but we’re there. Our voices are deeper than that of our shrill cousins, but our notes mirror those of the cellos. Our voices are clear and velvety. Our parts in pieces are significantly easier or less ear-catching. and we all know it. We joke about our “easy” parts, but it’s only funny if the one making the joke is one of us. We’re overlooked, deemed “a cheap copy of a violin.” That may be true, but it doesn’t make it any less insulting. We still play beautiful music.

Alice Guo

 

The Little Corsican Boy

I’ve missed you, my friend
You’ve changed so much
Since we met that fateful winter
Snow gently falling on our noses
It was the first time you saw snow
And you hated it
You were the little genius with the foreign accent
And they all hated you for it
We would all look twice
When we saw what you became
I watched you rise
High
Higher than the tallest steeple of Notre Dame
But how would I know what goes on
In your head?
You’ll never be what they molded you into
Not to me
Now I stand beside your grand tomb
Your coffin
Here I cry
Cry that they had smothered you in grandeur
And I remember the little Corsican boy
And I vow to introduce him
To the rest of the world.

Ellie Fitzpatrick

 

The Fox in the Woods

We moved silently down to the small creek. We could see our campfire up the hill, but only barely. The only light we had was the moon. The five of us stared at it, silent, listening to the water flowing and the bullfrogs croaking solemnly every so often. Everything we could see was tinted blue like sunglasses by the moon in the night. Then we saw the fox. It trotted within five feet of us. I have to say, it was smaller than I would have expected. As it finally scurried off into to the woods, we hiked back up to the campfire to find everyone else waiting. They missed out; they hadn’t seen the fox like that.

Beck Williams

 

Tasting Victory

We all have one goal. We all want victory. We all have one thing in common: volleyball.

We will always fight like there’s no tomorrow because we know we want it most. We will always support each other and make everyone feel welcome, so we can connect like the pieces of a puzzle.

When we fight back, we can almost smell the victory of our hard work. To us, that is the best kind of victory.

We know what we have to do: pass, set, hit.

We know how to win—we simply smile.

If our team breaks apart, winning is futile—sports is a mental game. We know we have to shake off our doubts and begin anew.

Even if we lose, we won’t give up. Giving up is for those who don’t want to taste victory.

But after we win, we know we’ve achieved our goal. We can taste the victory. After all, we are a team.

Eliza Lord

 

Hero: A Novel

– an excerpt

She lay on her back on the metal framed bed, necklace clutched in her hand, the bed creaking as she breathed. She let go of the necklace. Free from her clutches, it slid onto her amber-colored hair, which seemed just as eager to escape the bed as the necklace. The alarm clock beeped. I guess it’s time to get up, she thought.

She sat up in bed, pulled on jeans and a purple hoodie, stared in the mirror for a minute, and then Kat Ruben left the apartment. She headed down to the coffee shop on 22nd Street and said hello to the waiter.

“Hiya, Kat! What can I get you?”

“My usual. To go. Thanks, Gary.”

She glanced at the TV on the wall: WINGED GIRL SAVES BOY FROM KIDNAPPERS.

Kat pulled up her hood. That was a side of her she would rather not think about. Fortunately, for her, there was Gary. He had her breakfast ready—a big blueberry muffin.

“Her ya go, honey!”

“Thanks.” She gave him a five dollar bill.

Kat took her muffin to the park, where she ate half of it, but then gave up and fed it to the squirrels.

Fall was her favorite time of year. Cold, but not enough to snow. Perfect for New York and hoodies.

Bored, she looked over at the man sitting next to her. He was holding a newspaper. It had a picture of her on it. She had huge bug-like wings. She was lifting a car. Her mother had entrusted her with her wings. She told Kat to use them well. Kat would rather not. A superhero? An alien? How absurd!

Suddenly, she heard a voice from behind. “Hey, stop that!” Kat turned around. In the alleyway, there was a girl, no more than twelve, leaping up to catch a tattered book, but she was failing.

“Whatcha gonna do about it?” the boy asked.

“Hey!” Kat stood two feet above the boy. “Stop it!”

“Oh yeah? Why?”

Then, Kat made a decision. Was this worth it? She looked into the girl’s eyes. She saw pain, hidden by confidence, and stubbornness. She saw herself.

Kat snapped her wings open. They glistened, huge and powerful. She flapped them quickly enough to get about four feet off the ground.

“I said LEAVE. Now.”

“You said it, miss.”

Kat turned to look at the girl, but she was gone. The alleyway was empty, except for one page torn out of a book. “This diary is for the eyes of Quinn only.”

Quinn. She’d have to get to know her.

Claire Moore

The Dank Hollows

Three friends rob a bank and battle the military. A museum night guard evades ghostly possession and death. A cat trips off Coca-Cola and cruises its neighborhood via out-of-body experience. These are just a few plots of the story excerpts and poems you are about to read, tidbits and musings from the minds of thirteen dynamic and imaginative upper-elementary kids who attended our one-week Badgerdog Creative Writing Camp at Our Lady’s Maronite Catholic Church. The breadth of their writing reveals diverse perspectives on various topics, such as home and family, duty and heroism, solitude and self-reflection, and reality and dreams. Over the course of our week together, they thought about the world differently and discovered news sources of inspiration, each student utilizing his or her own writing style to create works that resonated with the entire class. These young writers were greatly in tune with each other’s creative work; they listened intently, provided constructive feedback, and asked loads of questions. By the end, they were developing characters and entire stories as a group. This proves that writing doesn’t have to be an individualized, private process restricted to the confines of one’s study or bedroom. Writing can bring people together and establish commonality and solidarity. I think, because of this, there is an odd cohesiveness to the pieces below. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but maybe you can. Hope you enjoy!

Patricia Marquez
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

 

Escaping the Lighthouse

“You better come back here this instant, young lady!” cried Lilyth’s stepmother, Ruby. You see, Lilyth was escaping from the lighthouse she lived in with her unloving father and evil stepmother. Lilith had been miserable since her mother died. When her mother was still alive, Lilyth was perfectly happy. True, she had known her father didn’t care for her or her mother, but she didn’t care as long as her mother was there.

But then Lilyth’s greatest fear came true. Her mother died. She drowned swimming in the ocean. The waves looked like a smooth surface of a lake that day, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that her mother was too beautiful. So beautiful that a shark spotted her and swallowed her whole. But, to make it worse, her father didn’t care one bit. He actually seemed rather happy. One month later, he had a new wife. So, Lilyth was escaping this once beautiful, sparkly, lighthouse home, not a dreary, dim, miserable house.

She set sail almost immediately. One week later, she saw a storm in the distance. It was blowing towards her quickly. She tried to turn the boat around, but before she knew it, the storm was upon her. The waves turned from five feet tall, to ten feet, to fifteen, until eventually they were forty feet tall. Then she saw it. A hurricane. A few miles from her. She could already feel the boat being pulled towards it. Even though she knew she was nowhere near land, she shouted into the distance, “HELP!” No response, except the thunder. “HELP!” She looked at the hurricane. It was a few feet from her. Now she was in the hurricane, heading towards the eye.

Rosemary Grace Poe

 

Museum

My name is John Baker. I’m a museum night guard. Well, not anymore. In fact, I’m never going to be a museum night guard again. Do you want to know why? I’ll take that as a yes.

It was in 2000, seventeen years ago. My partner, Rick, was working in the World War II exhibit. I was in the dinosaur exhibit. It was 11:16 p.m. The only lights on were the ones in our office. Lately, stuff had been strange around there, like reported whispering, and stuff falling off walls. I was walking by the pterodactyl statue when I heard Rick scream. I ran to his exhibit. It was quiet. I thought I heard voices. I whispered, “Rick… ?” No answer. I began to freak out. However, I stayed calm and looked for Rick.

I was about to turn a corner when a picture of a group of miserable soldiers fell off the wall. This picture was quite creepy. Well, more creepy than the others. Hands shaking, I hung it back up. It suddenly fell out of my hands. A sharp stabbing pain in the back of my neck had me falling to the cold floor. I couldn’t move. Familiar-faced, ghost-like soldiers stepped over me. I blacked out.

To this day, they don’t know what happened to Rick. That museum closed two years ago because of a ghost named Rick.

Link Pruner

 

The Bank Heist

“Hurry! Get the money now! We have two hundred grand on our hands, so get it done!” said Trevor, holding a huge case. We had fourteen minutes left. I went to the safe and put a sticky bomb on it. The sticky bomb exploded in front of the safe, and I took the money.

“Hey, Trevor, I got the money. Let’s go!”

He responded, “Okay, we have twelve minutes.”

I ran to the exit of the bank with my friend, Brandon. When we got there, the door was locked. “We’re trapped!” I said.

“There’s no sticky bombs?” Brandon asked.

“No. Hey, Trevor, you have sticky bombs?”

“Why do you always ask for my stuff?!” yelled Trevor, shooting the cops that were charging into the bank.

“Hold on. I might have some picklocks,” said Brandon. He took out the picklocks and tried to open the door. Trevor killed all the police and rushed to us. “Can ya hurry up?! We got three minutes left until the alarm starts and even more police start coming!”

Brandon opened the door with the picklock and gasped. “Oh no, oh no!” said Brandon. We were too late. The whole Merriwether Military was there. Tanks, helicopters, and thousands of police cars.

“It’s all right. Don’t say a word,” whispered Trevor. “You wanna know why I’ve been holding this case the whole time? It’s because of this.”

John- Paul Fernandez

 

Trump and the Chimpanzee

Donald J. Trump and Bill-Bob the chimpanzee were talking. Donald Trump said, “We need to build a huge wall from Mexico to China.” The chimpanzee could not reply because he could not talk over Donald Trump saying, “I like young women, especially when I can bribe them with huge amounts of money.” Right then, Donald Trump left to go to the White House and make ties.

Lincoln Evans

 

The End of the World

Where am I? Why is it so dark? What is this? The paper reads: The world will end on June 24, 2017. Oh no! That’s tomorrow! Wait, there’s another paper. It reads there are seven things that will happen until the end of the world. First, the floor will start shaking… Do you feel that? That’s the first stage. The second stage is no lights. The lights started flickering. That’s the second stage. The third stage is no water. Speaking of water, let me go to get some… Oh, no! No water — that’s the third stage. The fourth stage is the food going bad. Let me get some. I’m hungry. Wait, that’s the fourth stage. It has already gone bad. Wait, what time is it? It’s going very fast. It’s 12:00 p.m., and it says the world will end at 2:00 p.m. We only have two more hours. The fifth stage, lots of tornadoes. Wait, do you hear the sirens? That’s the fifth stage. The sixth stage, lots of people dying. Whoa, there goes the ambulance. That’s the sixth stage. What time is it? Oh, no. We only have fifteen minutes. We need to get these people on a rocket. It won’t take that long — it’s a small town. Okay, everyone’s on. Let’s go to Venus. Oh, no. Hurry! Let’s go now! The world is breaking in half! Okay, everyone is safe. Wow, what a dream. Wait, where am I? Why is it so dark? What is this?

Sarah Elizondo

 

Coke

I came bounding home over the tree log and right onto the front porch. I scratched and mewed at the door as my boy, Eric, answered. As soon as the door opened, I scrambled in to find my water bowl. It was right next to the food bowl, but something was different. The liquid was fizzy. I didn’t care. I was way too thirsty. As I drank the liquid, it stung my tongue and throat.

Eric said, “How’s that Coke?” That must be what it is. In my thoughts I noticed that I was not on the ground anymore. I was floating up and up and up. I tried to scramble down, but I kept on going and — oh, no! The skylights were open, and I went up out into the open air. I saw a tree. It was a pine. I frantically tried to get to the tree, but I couldn’t do it. Then, all of a sudden, an unpleasant warm breeze that ruffled my fur brought me over to the tree. I clung on for all my life, and way down below I heard Eric calling my name. “Coke, Coke.” So that’s why he fed me Coke. When I made this realization, I let go of the tree. Luckily, there was another pine, so I reached and grabbed one and I stayed on, so close that I thought the sharp scent of pine would kill me. I started climbing down the tree and touched the ground. Whoops! As soon as I let go of the tree, I flew up. I thought with melancholy that I wouldn’t even touch the ground, at least for awhile. But at least I was safe for now.

I finally got there. And I started to run faster than the wind, straight home to Eric.

Anna Schneeman

 

The Timeturner

The last thing I knew I was home, tired and hungry. I ate a small sandwich and went straight to getting ready for bed. Then it was pitch black, and I was lying in my bed peacefully…

Wham!

I got up with a jolt of anxiety in my bones. One minute I was sleeping peacefully within the darkness of my room, and what felt like a second later, the rays of the sun hit me. Normally, I would go back to sleep, the light never waking me in the first place. But this place made me feel like I never needed to sleep again. That’s when my senses hit me. I had no idea where I was.

“Where am I?” I said in awe. This had to be a dream, in a plain room with light streaming in. That’s when I saw it — the rays pointing at the golden object. A necklace… a Timeturner!

I hit myself in the face, and it didn’t hurt. I was dreaming. I went up to the table and took the Timeturner. It was cold, despite the fact that it had been in the sun.

As soon as I put it on, I woke up. My room was not dark, for it was morning. I got up and went to brush my teeth. Then I saw the gold glistening on my neck. How is that possible? Somehow I seemed to get ready in two seconds because, before I knew it, I was inside a museum. It looked empty. In fact, the world was silencing the humans. I could only hear a small breeze.

Uma Menon

 

Battling the Oslarbs

I shot my arrow at the Oslarb, piercing his eye, causing him to scream, and blinding him. He stumbled around, then I heard something behind me. I whipped around, and then silently cursed under my breath. They had tricked me!

I unsheathed my sword, slashing the blade at the creatures. They were fast, but not fast enough to block my blows. Three lay motionless on the ground, but the other two were Elite Oslarbs. They were bigger, faster, and very agile. I cringed in fear just looking at them. I knew I couldn’t take on both at once. I saw a tree with a slanted trunk, so I dashed towards it, running up to shoot them from afar. The Oslarbs couldn’t climb, so they took their axes and started chopping the tree. I aimed at the Oslarb’s lungs so the poison would stop him from breathing.

The tree started to drop, so I jumped towards a second tree hanging on by a finger. He pulled himself up, using all his strength. The Oslarb grabbed his throat. At the last second, he threw a knife at me and hit my right side, and I yelled in severe pain before he fell to the ground.

Asena Gursel

 

Voyage of the Freseke 1

“We are just importing some cargo to Barbados.”

“It’s still a long ways away,” Johanna said. “My first mate.”

“Thanks, honey. I love you,” I answered.

As I walked onto the giant tanker, I peered back to see Johanna. She was waving at me. It was a soft, gentle wave, a wave a man can never forget.

I entered the ship to see the Captain. He had a proud look on his face. He had on an all white uniform with a little gold sprinkled in places. On the captain’s head was a fancy Captain’s hat. “Welcome aboard, first mate!” yelled the Captain with excitement.

I walked through the halls of the ship, which were covered in rivets and screws. The halls all looked the same.

Alex Edmondson

 

The World’s Secret

Drip! Drip! Where am I? Why am I not in bed? Why is it dark? Questions fill my head. “Wake up.” I hear a man’s voice. His voice is gritty, yet pleasant.

“Who’s there?” I say shakily.

“Look in front of you,” says the man. The light turns on. When I look in front of me, I see a black stone table. On it there’s a folded piece of paper with the words TOP SECRET on it.

“What does it say inside?” I ask.

“The date that our beautiful home, Earth, will end,” the man says.

“Can I open it?” I ask.

“If you please. But just remember, if you do, you will have the most important piece of information the world will ever have. Are you ready for that responsibility?”

“Yes,” I say without hesitation. I rip the piece of paper in half.

I’m falling.

I black out.

I knew this day would come.

Lucas Jesser

 

My Name

My name is Sydney Piper
I really don’t like vipers
My favorite color is green
I think it’s really keen
I really like to cook
Even if it involves a book
I like much more than this
But I’ll stop, though
I have a longer list.

Sydney Piper

 

Summer

Sweet ripe melons sitting on the hay.
Big cruise ships sailing on the bay.
Sun shining down on the ocean blue,
Cows in green pastures saying mooo.
Flowers blooming up high on cliffs,
Smelling fresh baked pies in sweet strong sniffs.
Wheat stalks swaying in the gentle wind.
This is summer, my sweet friend.

Grace Rogers

 

Poem About Me

I am me
And me am I
When I was young
My eyes looked like the sky

Me am I
And I am me
I’m happy with my family
As happy as can be

Elliot Brown

Children of Elnard

These works (from a group of high school writers who dubbed themselves “Children of Elnard”) demonstrate a remarkable range—haunting descriptions of creatures, lyrical dips into the cosmic, wryly comic scenes of the absurd, suspenseful tales of action. But regardless of their varying literary inheritances and moods, all of these six pieces boast the unique imaginations of their authors. This collection, which shows only a slice of what these young writers are capable of, vibrates with confidence and vision.

Taya Kitaysky
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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The Black Turtle

If you have somehow managed your way through the vast maze of trees located on the edge of the Unknown Continent, you may at some point come across a peculiar cave on the other side of the forest where no light penetrates. In this very cave dwells the Black Turtle. A creature might be intrigued by this fact and dare to enter the cave.

Upon entering the cave, the Black Turtle will be triggered awake and proceed to emit a sudden, high-pitched screech. If the visiting creature does not heed this warning, it will hear three more screeches with each consecutive screech increasing in intensity. A creature that continues its way into the depths of the cave despite these warnings will soon witness two gleaming yellow dots as bright as the sun fade into appearance. As soon as the creature has been blinded and entrapped by the radiant eyes, the Black Turtle will reveal itself and attack.

Right before its demise, the creature will notice the Black Turtle, alight by its brilliantly glowing eyes. Amongst the darkness of the cave, it will discern a plethora of razor-sharp teeth residing in a mouth, an elongated neck plated with scales, a dull metallic shell, some curved claws planted on —

The Black Turtle stares at its latest victim then proceeds to drag the carcass backwards towards its collection. After it has finished disposing of the body, the Black Turtle climbs up its collection into the nest of corpses and closes its eyes.

Amy Min

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SEEK_

There is a gazelle leaping through the sky.
Tufts of nimbus clouds dance around his hooves.

Each star,
a stepping
stone.

Only time guides the everlasting river below, as he carefully stops to drink from its healing waters.

His stripes are a swift sight,
bold shimmers of gold blinding men who seek wealth.

A dragon hiding among the child’s gentle eyes.
Upon delicate snow he rests, in the lonely mountain tops he wails
with twisted horns of guilt. Sleep never favors
such a wondrous beast.

Grace Xiaoyao

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Memory Lane

Red walked discreetly through the woods, clutching her neatly woven basket closely. Her long, red hood hung lightly over her face, covering more than half of it and concealing her in darkness. It cast a shadow over the eyes, enveloping Red with a mysterious aura. The edge of the hood grazed the fingertips of the grass as she peacefully walked around, stopping now and then to pluck flowers from the open. The hood was the most distinct feature of this plain girl. Because of the constant habit of wearing the red cloak, the kingdom villagers had given Red the nickname Little Red Riding Hood.

It was once as red as blood. Woven from the finest of all threads, it had an extremely silky feel. Being as old as it was, though, it had become slightly battered, with several rips and tears scattered miserably. The years of constant weaving, washing, and sewing had downgraded the once beautiful, bold object to a significantly different looking thing with faded colors and patches sewn all over, leaving it looking quite mangled. The hood was incredibly dense and compact, weighing about fifteen pounds. The once-braided gold thread used to fasten around her neck had been reduced to a thin, frail piece of string, which was barely able to support the heavy weight.

People had constantly asked why she never bothered to purchase a new hood, or even ordered the finest weaver in the land to duplicate it. She could surely afford it; she was a princess and daughter of King Jack II. It was because the gift had been given to her by her late mother, whom she had deeply loved. To answer them simply, she always replied that it contained sentimental feelings. Red knew the idea of clutching this sad hood was silly and would never bring back her mother. But after she passed, Red had become the mirrored image of the hood — melancholic, pitiful, and frail, her once joyful aura destroyed for what everyone thought to be forever.

Zoe Min

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Bland Subconscious

There once was a large praying mantis sitting in a church.
He was big, green, praying, and mantis-y.
For many hours, he sat under the church’s vast roof unnoticed.
Sort of.
After the service finished, everyone stood up.
Except for him.
Now he had been noticed.
Unreasoned terror ran through the church.
Children cried.
Adults screamed.
He was stomped at, and people crowded in, forcing him out the old wooden door.
What happened that day, we are still unsure of.
All he was doing was taking a nap.

Kate Strelzick

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A Story On Paper

– an excerpt

All I can remember are lines. Lines left imprinting wherever we went. I once asked, “Mother where are we?” And she replied, “Darling, we live in a world of pictures and sketches. We live like ghosts of paintings. We live on paper, at the mercy of the wavering lines from a pen.” The thought of being out of control and helpless terrified me so I never asked her again.

That morning, it was darker. The lines traced long shadows and shaded the white away. Graphite dust littered the house, so we decided to do some early spring cleaning. Afterwards, we sat down at the crudely drawn table and ate our breakfast. Mother wanted liver for dinner, so I went out to fetch some. On my way back from the market, I noticed something new. A rustic booth with delicately crafted light surrounding the archway. I don’t remember this being here, I thought to myself

When I was a child, all the other children nicknamed me “Nosy.” First, because I had a cartoonishly large nose. and second, because I was curious. I would listen to fragmented conversations and peek into closets in search of treasure. Mother said I always had an adventurer inside me. I guess the name suited me after all, because when I saw the booth I immediately felt the need to inspect the place.

I was peering into the heavily shaded opening trying to make out its contents, when all of a sudden I realized someone was inside. Jumping back, my breath caught. I was contemplated running away when a woman stepped out of the shadows and said, in a voice that sounded like a creaky floorboard, “Looking for someone, Deary?”

***

“Max! We’re going to be late, again!” The dark-haired, clean-shaven man sprinted down the stairs. “Max!” he bellowed again.

“I’m coming! I’m coming!” said the voice from upstairs in an exasperated tone. A boy of about ten or eleven hopped down the stairs. He wore a T-shirt with a drawing of Batman on it, red Converse, and a slight boyish smile.

“All right. Let’s go, kiddo,” said the man, as he ruffled his son’s sandy blond hair. “Wait!” said Thomas, stopping in the doorway. “Do you have your sketchbook?”

“Of course I do, Dad! Do you really think I’d forget something that important?” Max replied lightheartedly.

“OK, Mr. Smarty Pants,” Thomas chuckled.

“Can you put on the radio?” Max asked.

“Sure thing.”

Thomas guided the steering wheel parallel to the bright yellow lines on the road, and tapped the dashboard in beat with the music as he drove. Max took his sketchbook from his backpack and opened it carefully. On the page, in the middle of the thick white parchment, a booth with the window had been drawn. Lights adorned the frame of the single  window, and an old woman’s face peered out of the darkness, looking at a spindly drawn girl with a big nose.

“How’s the story going?” asked Thomas.

“Great. I’m about to get to the good part!” said Max, grinning happily. He picked up his inky black pen and began shading the landscape with quick slender strokes.

Marielle Glasse

amethyst crystal

Tomorrowland’s Hero

Alessia was a hunter, a swift, lean being who stood only five foot two but could slam you into the dirt at any given moment. She was one who believed in superstition and witchcraft, in bad omens and black cats, cracked mirrors and clovers. So, when she found the wild crystals protruding out of the smashed-glass soil of Tomorrowland, she was overjoyed. They were a rosy pink, a color known to represent friendship, affection, harmony, inner peace, and approachability, and they stood out from all the other rubble; the demolished windows and skeletons of old buildings were the only proof that a war had been waged on America — a story for another day. Tomorrowland was what the survivors had built out of nothing, named after a section of a former amusement park.

Alessia nudged the crystals with her foot, jostling them. She was well out of Tomorrowland town limits, so putting down her gun might be a risk. But she did so anyway, looking down the barrel and pulling the lever to take her gun off safety, then storing it securely between her legs. She pulled at the crystals, unearthing them with a cloud of dust and a tinkling of shattered glass. Alessia turned the crystals around, examining them until she noticed the carving on the other end, the crystals neatly filed into the figurine. Slowly, she spun the object in her hand and brought it close to her face to look at it, the gun on the ground forgotten.

A detailed skull had been clearly carved out of rock. Its hollowed-out eyes seemed to stare into her soul, and the mouth was curved, teeth bared in a mad grin. Alessia looked at it in wonder, then caught a flash of silver in the skull’s eye. Passing it off as a figment of her imagination, she started to think. She knew skulls were a bad omen and wanted to drop the crop of crystals right where she’d found them. Yet she was compelled, almost by a haunting, disembodied voice, to keep looking. She finally tore her eyes away and gave a violent shudder, dropping the skull crystal and reaching down for her gun.

But another hand beat her to it. She whirled around to see a man dressed in black, a lazy grin on his face as he twirled her gun through his fingers. Alessia was up in a flash, kicking and choking and biting the man, forcing him to drop her gun with a thump onto the ground. She picked it up and pointed it at the man, finger on the trigger, one eye closed for a precise shot.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill you right here, right now,” she commanded, staring the man down fiercely.

The man chuckled. “Because, sweetheart, there’s someone else behind you.”

This did not startle Alessia. Being a hunter, she had expected something of the sort. Without even taking her eyes off of the man, she rotated her gun so it was pointing the opposite way, shot in the direction of the sound of stealthy footsteps, and heard a low voice scream “Ow!” followed by a heavy crash.

The man now looked scared, because Alessia had not been the defenseless little girl he had expected. The girl in question took a step towards him, cocking her gun, one long finger reaching towards the trigger. She looked into the man’s fearful hunter green eyes with her own fiery brown ones. She thought she felt the ground shake, but couldn’t be sure. The man also seemed to sense it, she noted. Just as she was about to pull the trigger, one ear-shattering explosion to end his life, a deep, commanding voice issued from the ground directly beneath their feet. It shook the ground, sending vibrations all around them.

“Never disrespect the sacred skull.”

That sentence was all Alessia heard before she dropped her gun, collapsing to the ground, her mind turned to an inky black.

Sachi Kulkarni

The Crazy Purple Pandas with Toasted Marshmallow Jelly Beans and Limes, a.k.a. the Pencil Movers

Here it is! The end of summer! But don’t fret just yet; here are some wild and amazing stories, plays, and poems from my Badgerdog kiddos during the July session at the Khabele School. These eleven young writers are true connoisseurs of play, preferring games and activity-based writing prompts, such as drawing characters first or mistranslating poems from other languages, to more school-like lessons. What a joy to work with them! What pleasure to read these fine pieces!

Tyler Gobble
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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The True Story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Characters: Goldilocks, Mom Bear, Dad Bear, Baby Bear, Narrator, Wolf

Setting: House

[Bears, Mom, and Dad cooking food.]

Mom Bear: Let’s go for a walk.

Dad Bear: Great idea!

[They walk out the door with Baby Bear and forget to turn off the stove.]

Wolf: I’ll knock down this door and steal all their stuff!

[Wolf knocks down door and goes inside. Goldilocks smells smoke from outside and rushes inside.]

Goldilocks (worriedly): Is that smoke?! Hope it’s not a fire!

Wolf (panicking): Oh, no! Someone’s coming!

[Wolf hides behind a curtain.]

Goldilocks: Oh, it’s just the stove.

[As she turns off the stove, she hears wolf breath and runs upstairs.]

Goldilocks (fearfully): I heard a wolf!

[Goldilocks faints on Baby Bear’s bed. Wolf picks up stuff and puts it in a black bag.]

Wolf (fearfully): She heard me. I’ve got to get out of here fast.

[Wolf dashes toward the door, but trips over Baby Bear’s chair and breaks it.]

Wolf (painfully): Ow!

[Meanwhile, the bears are walking home and hear screams.]

Mom Bear (worried): That came from our house. Do you think everything is okay?

Dad Bear (panicking): I don’t know. Let’s check!

[The bears rush home and find Goldilocks laying on Baby Bear’s bed.]

Baby Bear (angrily): Someone’s on my bed!

[Goldilocks wakes up and finds the bears looking at her.]

Dad Bear: Who are you?

Goldilocks (frightened): I’m Goldilocks.

[Goldilocks explains what happened and gets out of the bed.]

Mom Bear: Let’s go look for that wolf!

[They go downstairs, split up, and look for the wolf.]

Mom Bear: Where can that wolf be?

Goldilocks (excitedly): Look what I found!

[Goldilocks picks up a piece of wolf fur and follows the trail. They find the wolf trying to sneak out of the window and Dad Bear calls 9-1-1.]

Joy Zhou

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How To Avoid Getting A New House

  1. Fight It: Before you go to the next step, try to talk your parents into not getting a new house.
  2. Start Moving: Print a four-by-two inch sticker that says SOLD, then run to the house your parents want to move to and put the sticker on the sign that may say FOR LEASE.
  3. Rip Up the Contract: If your parents have signed the contract already, ask if you can see the contract then take it out of their hands, go to your room, and rip it up.

Sudeep Tatineni

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I’m Twenty Feet Tall!

So, I wake up, and I’m twenty feet tall. I have to build a huge house, so I do not have to duck all the time. I have to make super-huge clothes, cars, planes, etc. I got this way because I had a dream and it came true. I fly to Africa with lots of resources, so I can help build homeless people some houses. Then I build a lot more huge houses and invite all the other homeless people to live in them. One problem is the food, so I have to make something that will make the food really big instead of small. Finally, I go home and relax on my big bed.

Kai Benton

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Chipmunks

– after Nicanor Parra’s “Mummies”

One chipmunk nibbles
on nuts.
Another chipmunk does
cartwheels.
One chipmunk scurries
everywhere.
A few chipmunks fly
in the air.
One chipmunk hides
in the corner.
A couple chipmunks
roast marshmallows.
Almost all climb trees.
One plays in the snow.

Julia Klima

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Friends Are There to Help: Chapter 2

I just remembered: It’s Maya’s Birthday. I got her a present. When I get there, she finds berries and nuts. I, on the other hand, can only find, well, you can guess, grass. I need to move in with Maya. She has a tiny hut made out of bamboo and straw.

I don’t know if Prickles and Chunky (her squirrel) are going to get along. I so have to move in with Maya. I ask Maya and she says yes. I am like OMG right now. Oh… She made her den three times bigger.

Anais Moreno-John

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The Ring Box Fairy

– after Matthew Harvey’s “Backyard Mermaid”

The ring box fairy waits to be fed. Just as she thinks she is going to die of hunger, the strange giant fairy that doesn’t have wings comes and feeds her candy. When the ring box fairy is about to thank her, the giant wingless fairy disappears. The ring box fairy sighs and starts to eat. Then she hears a click and the wingless fairy is gone.

The ring box fairy flutters out from her “home” and searches for the twentieth time for a pair of pliers. She searches each room for two hours until she sees a door she has not noticed before. She flies through the keyhole and almost faints when she smells the room. It is very dark and smells of car oil and dust. Dust bunnies, she thinks and shudders, zipping back to her box. She takes out her wand. Then she flies back to the room. When she finds the switch, she nudges it with the wand. The lights turn on.

The room, she learns, is not a room at all. It is more like the car’s medical room and home. Car guts are scattered everywhere. The ring box fairy scans the room. Tools! She looks carefully and finds pliers. They are too heavy for her. She drags them towards the door. Then she gives the door a shove with her wand. Knowing she cannot use the pliers, she considers how to get her plan to work. Then an idea forms. She drags the pliers onto the table. She leaves the parts of her necklace nearby, hoping the wingless fairy will understand.

Later that night, the fairy returns. Startled, the ring box fairy wakes up with a jolt when she hears the door slam. Then she hears several sighs and then something hits the table. The fairy remembers her plan. Hiding in the keyhole, she watches as the wingless fairy discovers her necklace and the pliers. The wingless fairy suddenly laughs. She fixes the necklace and leaves it on the table.

In the morning, she finds her necklace laid casually on the table. She touches the necklace to make sure it’s real. The necklace was golden with a blue diamond gem. She put it on and tapped it with her wand. Then she tried to open the door.

Hannah Kim

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Inside My Heart

– after Zoie Ryder White’s “Inside My Heart”

There is…
One smelly potato
Two rotten bananas
Three hopping fish
Four talking waves
Five people blabbering
Six pouncing humans
Seven hundred peculiar sharks dancing to music
Eight hundred great white sharks
Nine hundred pizza stands
One thousand suns talking to the hot dog stand
Two thousand off-pitch singers
Three thousand crazy birds talking about going poo on everyone
Four thousand birds going poo
Five thousand smelly people farting
Six thousand hot dog stands running
Seven thousand sharks bugging me like bad guys
Eight thousand birds die
Nine thousand yummy pizza slices
Ten thousand weird people screaming
Ten million people surfing
One hundred million people slipping
One billion people getting pizza
Ten billion people eating sharks

Shrey Jha

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The Daily Lives of Lions

– after Nicanor Parra’s “Mummies”

One lion protects her baby cub
Some lions cook birds
A couple lions hunt for giant zebras

All lions roar loudly to scare leopards
Most lions rest in tall dry grass
Many lions eat big zebras

Almost all lions wear fancy ties
Nearly

Cody Chang

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A Tiring Day

On a nice summer day, I went to the candy store and bought some candy. I hated the sight outside the window. I got out of the candy shop. I quickly ran to my house, not to eat my candy but to not see such a horrible sight. Instead of doing nothing in the house, I decided to watch a movie right away in the theater and drive there in my car. Before the movie, I bought soda and, of course, popcorn. The movie took four hours and thirty-five minutes. It was named “The Rainbow of Heart.” It was about a girl who lost her parents. It was rated PG-13. I loved it. After I watch a movie, I usually go to another one, but I wasn’t in a mood for that. I just wanted to go home and sleep. Okay, so that’s it. I drove back home. I immediately went to my bedroom. I didn’t even stop for a drink of water. I rolled on the bed. I thought of plans for the next day, but I was too tired. I slept for five hours. It was a tiring day. Just a tiring day. Exactly a tiring day.

Samriddhi Garlanka

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Three Little Sea Otters

Characters: Sea Otter 1, Sea Otter 2, Sea Otter 3, Farm Boy, Narrator

Narrator: It was a sunny day.

Otter 1: Well, now let’s build a house, guys!

Otter 2: Yes, all together.

Otter 3: Okay, I want a brick home.

Otter 2: No, straw!

Otter 1: No, We all know twigs are good.

All (except Otter 1): No!

Otter 3: Let’s do all our ideas.

[They swam to the surface and asked someone for supplies, like wood and hay and bricks.]

Otter 3: Can we have some bricks?

Otter 1: Also, some hay?

Otter 2: And twigs?

Farm Boy: You guys are in luck! Take this whole bucket.

Otter 2: Thanks. Just leave.

Otter 3: Sorry. She’s rude. Yay! We got more supplies.

Otter 1: Well, we should all start building.

Narrator: When they were done, there was a wood room, a hay room, and a brick room.

All: We’re done!

Otter 2: Well, let’s move our stuff.

Narrator: They all moved their stuff.

Allison Mehl

To Be Fearless

Athena confronts the idea of fear in this reflective vignette. She offers commentary on an imagined reality in which one is free of social pressure or distractions. Her writing cleverly balances the daily fears we might carry alongside the freedom of relinquishing these anxieties. Her final lines ring with confidence and challenge her readers to explore this question for themselves. What would you do if you had no fear?

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Shadows

What would I do if I had no fear?

I would skydive from above cotton candy clouds, and I would swim side by side with dolphins against the harsh waves. I would trek through a mossy rainforest and ski down the steepest slopes. I would shout my beliefs to the world.

And I would do so without having a sinking feeling in my stomach, without having slippery palms.

I would do everything I want, and there would be no looming prospect of death, no possibility of humiliation shading my vision.

I would have the ability to live in the moment as it is, instead of feeling flames tickling my cheeks. I would feel brave and alive. I would feel adrenaline coursing through my body, and the claws of a strong wind digging into my face.

If I had no fear, I would be free to accept my life as it is laid down before me.

Athena Luo
6th grade

All the Many Greens

Ava gives us a meditative glimpse into the history of the color green, after Linda Hogan’s “History of Red.” Ava tracks the color green from its primordial beginnings to its outer space mysteries, then back down to earth to make poignant commentary on how we have misused green with our commodified greens and polluted greens. If the dinosaur didn’t know its fate, do we? Ava’s poem inspires us to consider the circular and all-encompassing nature of green.

Katrina Goudey
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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The History of Green

Sometimes I look back
At my brother’s glossy book,
And large teeth bare before me,
Snapping down to reveal thick green scales.
They cover a restless predator
Lurking within the bright green leaves:
The Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Does he know his fate?
And how does a green cloud of pain mist her eyes as the world falls?
Much later, a vision reveals itself,
Haunting, green.
The aurora borealis shimmering and flickering, green
Against twisted trees of lost time.
Time passes through the years
Yet the green grass is always there.
Hands work hard to fly, leaving this,
This green grass.
Rings of Saturn glowing, exotic colors, but the base
Is always green, the rocket light years away.
A green-haired girl walking, green phone case,
Black lipstick, and piercings.
She does not see the vibrant green around her,
Her phone blocking it all out, green polluting,
Shooting into the sky from the nearest factory.
Look at this green; is the wild dinosaur destroying Earth’s beauty?
Time has changed our green.

Ava Masterson

Poem of Many Questions

Julia’s call-and-response poem is truly a haunting echo. Originally inspired by an image of a dolphin, the poem now omits the nature of the subject and object, and what began as dolphin becomes universal memory. This poem could be about any person we once knew and once questioned, or it could be the voice in our mind, speaking to our own lost inner self. Julia’s poem “Why?” leaves every possibility open, allowing the reader to see what this mirror shows them.

Katrina Goudey
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Why?

Why do they treat you that way? Why? Do they do it on purpose?
Why do you hide your feelings? Why? Are they the reason for that?
Why do you let them treat you that way? Why? Do you want to be treated like that?
Why have you become like them? Why? Was this your goal the whole time? It’s better to be hated than loved for what you’re not.
Why did you choose them over me?
Why?

Julia Cramer

Blue, Bluer, Bluest

Sohpia’s  color poem speaks to the nature of blue balance: what is the sky to us, the ocean to us, and what are the sky and ocean to each other? At once symbols and literal forces of nature, their perilous and wondrous influence on the drama of human history is gently recorded in these short lines. At the end of the poem, it is clear that one cannot live without the other.

Katrina Goudey
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Color Poem: Blue Mirrors

The ocean mirrors the sky.
Storms rush in the depths of one and the heights of the other.
The sky is reflected in the ocean.
One is wisdom, one is freedom.
Both can be deadly.
Both can pull someone away and engulf them.
Both give and take.
Both can bring wonder.
Both can bring adventure.
One is a reflection of the other.
The sky is seen in the ocean,
And the ocean mirrors the sky.

Sophia Newmark

Curious and Curiouser

What is creative writing? Why is it important? Over five days, these Badgerdog creative writing summer campers answered those questions with thoughtful discussions and craft exercises that brought their imaginations to life on and off the page. Each day was packed with literary expression that yielded craft essays, creative nonfiction, fiction, fantasy, science fiction, horror, screenplays, and poetry. Even our daily breaks centered around fun word games like Bananagrams and Haiku Deathmatch. As you read their work, notice the detailed images that build new worlds in prose and the attention to line structure and form across their poems. It was a joy working with such curious writers who enjoy writing, came to the page with a playful spirit, and committed to showing up and writing it all down.

Amanda Johnston
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Game

Life is a game.
Everything is based on one
Good or bad decision taken.
Whether you will be the richest of
The world, wearing gold bars
And eating without making a choice about
Who to feed
Or if you will be not
As privileged, wearing
Rags and choosing who
To feed in a family.
It is based on one
Important decision.
Make your decision a
Good one.

Chaitanya Bokka

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A World Away from World

At a secret set of coordinates in the ocean, there are eight portals that open up right at the crack of dusk and dawn. Every night, a different portal opens up. If you don’t make it out to the real world at dawn, you will be lost there (where you are) for a year and a week until the portal opens up again.

Once you exit the different world, you will end up in, another portal of the same color, not the portal you came from. Every Earth day (about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 months in portal time), the portal opens up in a different spot in its world. There are four portals you can enter and four portals where you will exit. Each portal opens up a different world, and one earth night is about 2 ½ – 3 weeks, so be prepared or you could die there.

The first world is full of life and color and friendly animals. This world is meant not to be touched by the greedy and maniacal souls of the world. You may only enter if your soul is pure. You can get here through the green portal. The second portal, the blue one, is a world with five moons and never-ending night. You may think that without a sun, there’d be no light, but the moons are little individual suns themselves, not shedding pure white light, but blue moonlight, and reflecting off each other. These moons do not revolve normally, but stay the same distance from each other in pentagonal prisms.

There is one world that is up in a sky with beautiful hills as far as the eye can see. This world contains a naturalist civilization that lives in harmony with nature. No pollution, no buildings, but rather large huts and underground passageways. It is said that every single traveler or adventurer to ever visit this world has never returned. It can’t possibly be the civilization that took them out, but the journey one must take to get there. The journey has steep cliffs and large plateaus and one must simply know where they are going or, like I said, you will get lost in the orange portal.

And the last world through the red portal is unseen and untouched by anyone. It could be the portal to hell or a passage to immortality or heaven. No one knew until now.

An explorer by the name of Elario decides to go in and explore. Elario is in one of the few families who know about the portals, and one of even fewer who have explored the portals and came back alive. He lives in a two-story, three-bedroom, and four-bathroom house. He is an executive foreman at an underground construction company. He gets paid $20,000 a week, so he has a good life. He spends his vacations visiting the green world.

The families who know about the portals are part of a secret society (not like the one in the orange portal). It’s a society as old as time, and shrinking in numbers. It began when one Mexican family, one African family, and the last American family got lost in the orange portal.

Elario lives with his parents, his wife Maria, and his son and daughter. His son and daughter are the best of friends. Their names are Serina and Rodrigo. When Elario is traveling, his brother Arturo helps Maria with the kids. As for the African family, they stopped exploring the portals because they felt it was becoming too dangerous and risky. Keep in mind that traveling through these portals is like time-travel because one day on the other side is almost two weeks in the portals. The last of the American family is one single man by the name of John. He is the one aging as we speak in the orange portal.

The only way to get to the portals is by boat. As Elario prepares, he rents a fishing boat from a boating service and has his brother take him. Now, they are at the location and Elario is saying his goodbyes. For the first time in the history of the society, someone has jumped into the red portal.

Vince Guerra

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Icen

I lived in a place called Icen. It was so cold that the water froze. Not many people lived there. There was only one building.

Once, with the class, we went outside. If you don’t know, there is a legend in Icen. A long time ago, there were two people. When they were living, this place was warm, though it had to be hidden from other people. The two people went to the outside world and told them about Icen. They were sent back to Icen and turned into two stones that would keep Icen from getting too cold and from being discovered.

Our class went outside and climbed the mountain and talked about the two stones.

“Will it be big?” Jin asked.

“I don’t know,” Sana said.

We decided to find the two stones to save Icen.

The next day, a girl named Icen came. She looked like she had a secret. What could it be? After school, we climbed the mountain and talked about the two stones.

“I think I know where it is,” Icen said. “There’s a hole at the top of the mountain. Inside, there’s a box that holds the two stones together.”

“OK! Let’s go!” Sana said.

We went to the very top of the mountain. There was a lot of smoke and it was hard to see. The wind was blowing, and it was hard to move.

“It’s there!” Icen said.

We got the two stones and then everything started to melt. Everything was green. A happy green! Then the ground started to melt. It was starting to melt Icen. Ahhhhh!

Nahyeon Park

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The Witch’s Spell Book

I saw her, the witch       her face full of rage
She cut off his fingers       because he ripped off a single page
She knew he would not last        there were no spells she could cast
She threw him across the room real fast        then her spell book started to blast
She ran away and left us to die        then we heard her evil laugh
We got scared and started to cry        when I found my brother he was cut in half

Michaelian Trachtenberg

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Rainbows

It comes after sadness
After rain pouring down
With the perfect amount
Of rain and sun
It forms
Red: like the big beach ball bouncing at the beach
Orange: like the adventurous animals aiming to get attention
Yellow: like the sunny seaside sand
Green: like the wet weeds waving under the waves
Blue: like the sky soaring safely on a summer’s day
Indigo: like the ocean observing over all the octopus
Violet: like the umbrellas of the underwater people
All shining next to
The sun and clouds
Calling for attention
Creating happiness

Anusha Razdan

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My Body

My eyes, a map to guide me.
My mouth, a speaker calling out for all to hear.
My ears, a vortex sucking in sound.
My arms, a weapon to defend me.
My hands, a masterpiece creating works of art.
My back, a strength for me to rely on.
My legs, a cane to keep me steady.
My feet, a possibility to roam the earth.
But my brain, wisdom beyond compare.
And my life, a beacon of hope.

Thomas Mazzurana

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Literature

Read me like an open book,
Break my spine and throw me away.
In between the lines, you took
My path to our yesterday.

My tears pool a waterfall,
Rivers on these dead pages.
Run me an ocean of grief. You call,
I’m willing to drown.

Every bitter thing you said
Imprisoned, caged within my head,
Left it typed in black and white,
All your hate and all your spite.

All of it there, in black and white:
All of your shades of gray.

Lily Sayre

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Happy

Out in the cold, cold thin air
Between two tombs where you … despair
Under the ground where your loved ones sit
Six feet under they shall not shift
You want to be with them
You want to be dead
A million thoughts go through your head
The cold is rushing
The wind is strong
Suddenly you realize what is wrong
You lay on the ground you remove your coat
Now you feel nothing but you see a boat
It drifts down the River Styx
And your mind’s thoughts begin to drift
You don’t care so there you lie
You are happy to go, happy to die

Amira Mckaige

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Time

The grass glows green
The sun shines light
The sky is blue and bright
Full of life and air
A cool breeze through your hair
The fluttering of butterflies
How fast time can fly by

The leaves fall fast
The tree is bare
Too cold to last through the night

The flowers bloom
The birds all sing
Now it’s time to go back to spring

Lauren Larracas

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Bored T.V.

sitting there                  still as a stone
staring at people         writing and laughing
coming and going       never moving
never on                        always off
this is                             no feelings
a sad T.V.                      a bored T.V.

Abram Smith

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Sisters

“Does this even count as a house?” Ivy scoffed, her eyes circling the Victorian-looking house like a hawk stalking its prey. Her mother, Grace, gave Ivy a little punch on her shoulder from behind. “Ow…” Ivy said, turning around, meeting her mother’s eyes.

“It’s the start of our new life, Ivy,” Grace said with a hint of sadness in her voice. Ivy knew how much her mother liked their old house, but the memories of her dad were horrifying.

Ivy gazed up upon the house, observing its surroundings. The Victorian-like house stood on dead grass, surrounded by leafless trees. Ivy looked back toward her mother again, observing her face, slightly full of regret.

Suddenly, the back door of the gray minivan slowly lifted up, and her older sister, Raven, tumbled out of it. Ivy wasn’t surprised, since Raven had always been accident-prone. Raven quickly got up and sprinted toward the house, her long, jet-black hair bouncing up and down. Her quick movements broke Ivy and Grace out of a daze, making them speed walk toward the front door.

After a few failed attempts to open the door, they finally got into the house. The house was sparkling clean, looking as if someone had cleaned it every day. “This house hasn’t been touched in six years…” Grace said, confused. Suddenly, Ivy heard a skittering sound upstairs and saw Raven sprinting to her room–or, well, what Ivy thought was her room. As her mother picked up the phone to answer a call, Ivy hurried upstairs to find out which room Raven had chosen.

Ivy softly walked down the hallway and found a slightly opened door, figuring it was Raven’s room. She reached for the doorknob and opened the door, making a high-pitched noise that echoed down the hallway. A sudden blast of cold air shocked Ivy, giving her unwanted goosebumps. Creeped out, she closed the door, not wanting to go back in. Suddenly, she saw Raven at the end of the hallway, her hair covering her face. “Raven?” Ivy asked. Raven didn’t reply. Curious, Ivy slowly tiptoed toward her. Raven didn’t move. Ivy groaned, hating her sister’s attitude. “Come on Rav…” Ivy started “Who’s Raven?” it answered.

Olivia Fisher

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The Barn

One day, there was an ordinary barn. Or so you thought. The barn was big and red from the outside. Mysterious things would happen in that barn. Animals would vanish, food would disappear, and people would leave the barn crazy and obsessed with it. After these strange things occurred, the government sent people to destroy it, but they too came back super crazy. So then the government locked the barn doors. Years after that incident, a strange man with red eyes convinced John that he should enter the barn. John thought that the man was very weird. He had red eyes, didn’t know his name, and would only talk about the barn. But John still listened to him. When John went to ask the government if he could enter the barn, they said no in an instant. John wouldn’t give up, so he went to buy a chainsaw to cut open the lock. He went into the barn, and the doors shut behind him. When he looked around inside, there was a table with four chairs around it and six pieces of paper on it. John tried to unscramble the letters, but was too late. His eyes turned red suddenly. He left the barn crazy, looking for someone to bring to the barn.

Lucas Li

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Wakeboard Camp

When I arrived at the building to sign-in for my wakeboarding camp Monday morning, I knew it was the start of a great week. When I got inside, I recognized two people: Andy and Matt, a.k.a. Bear. (Bear says he got his nickname when he was “eaten by a bear.”)

Later, when we got on the pontoon, I didn’t notice Charlie or Katy. Charlie and Katy had been there every year I had gone to that camp. When I asked about them, Andy said they had gone to college. There were three guys I hadn’t seen: William, Wilson, and Cullen.

That day, every time I got on the wakeboard, I just practiced jumping the wake. On Tuesday, I asked Matt to double with me so I could practice my 180. By the end of that day, I had almost nailed it, but I had also face-planted at least four or five times. Wednesday I doubled with Andy, Wilson, and Cullen. I wanted to do an exit 180, which is a 180 in midair, but first I needed to learn how to clear the wake. Each of them gave me some good tips. I doubled with a kid named Gage, but we accidentally collided. I also doubled with William’s brother, John Henry. When I was by myself, I went by the dam.

I was trying to clear the wake when the front tip of my board caught. I face-planted harder than I had that whole week, but I kept going because I didn’t want to give up. The next day, we were going to have a show at 3:00 p.m. when parents could come watch you show off. I was jumping off the top of the pontoon when they called me and told me it was my turn. During the show, I did three 180s and cleared the wake a few times. After camp was over, we thanked the counselors and left. I can’t wait to go back. I had so much fun!

Bonnie Daywood

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Carpet Factory

Born to a river, raised by the sea
Life’s simple passive pleasures flow by me

The Force of Fire
Stolen by flames
Away from my village
Heading towards pain

Mountains and blue jays
Fill me with rage
Why am I here
Trapped in this cage

Thrown out of the robot
With circles for legs
Into the building
I think that’s how it’s said

Threading and threading
My family is gone
Under over under
No break until dawn

No laughter, no smiles
Only the work that consumes me
I want to escape but I’m stuck

In their circle
Their circle of greed
I miss life’s simple treasures
Like planting a seed
But I am forever stuck in the
Carpet factory

Anika Chokhavatia

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Memory Tree

Lilac walked up to the tree and looked up at its many branches. She thought it was amazing how one tree could have so many limbs, so many segments that made up one huge tree. There was the trunk, sturdy and strong, like a father you can rest against. There were branches, comfortable and reliable, like a mother who will hold you in her arms. There were the roots, holding the tree in place, growing and discovering like a sibling or friend, supporting you. And then there were the petals.

There was a special feeling that connected Lilac to this tree and she intend to find out what that was. She sat and leaned against the tree. She looked up at the branches and watched the swirling petals. There were so many different petals. They weren’t all perfect, but Lilac thought that together they made the tree even more beautiful. She stood up and felt one of the petals on the lowest branch.

Slowly, the world around her melted away and was replaced with a familiar place, one she hardly remembered. She realized it was her room, but back when it was a nursery. She glanced down at the crib, where her bed usually was. In the crib a baby girl was looking sleepily up at the mobile hanging above her crib. With a jolt, Lilac realized the baby was her.

Baby Lilac started crying and Lilac went to comfort her, but in this place–a memory she was reliving, Lilac guessed–she couldn’t be seen by the baby or by her parents, who walked in a moment later. Her parents went over to the crib, picked up the baby, and rocked her back and forth, trying to calm the crying.

The scene melted away, leaving the teary-eyed baby and Lilac’s slightly younger parents behind. Unsure of what she’d just seen, she brushed her hand through the other petals and saw glimpses of her earliest years, scenes of crying and sleeping and a few precious baby laughs.

She reached higher for the other branches and felt the soft petals. These were of her toddler years. She soon discovered that the higher she adventured the newer the memories became. She had soon climbed to the highest reaches of the tree and, feeling the petals nearest, recognized a memory from the previous week.

The sky darkened when she looked up from her memory tree, and Lilac decided to leave, but resolved to come back as soon as she could to relive more memories. She was sure she would never tell another living soul about this place she had discovered.

Sara Sagues

The Snowball Fighters

In just one week, our community of writers travelled to Egypt, escaped tigers in the forest, time-traveled to World War II, and swam with hammerhead sharks in the coral reef. Working in a group brings a writer’s imagination to life and provides much-needed support to take risks. These young writers inspired me every day and never hesitated to put pen to paper. I am lucky to have spent time with such special young people, and I know you will enjoy their work.

Kelsey Shipman
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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The White Pumpkin

It was a dark and stormy night. A crescent moon hovered above, and lava fell from the sky. The devil flew out through a portal in the lava. The Tremendous 3 were ready to defeat him at last. They pulled out their swords out, ready to destroy, when a pit scorpion army came charging over the hill.

“Devil or scorpion army?” Rocky said to himself.

“Scorpions!” Boomer said and led them through the scorpions.

“Into the mansion!” Captain Sparkles said with confidence.

As they entered the main hall, four more people emerged and everyone’s portrait ­– including The Tremendous 3 – became one.

Then the lights went out and someone said, “Greetings, fellows. I am the White Pumpkin. I hope you know how circuit traps work because they’re everywhere!” Then the front door locked and the windows sealed.

Just then, somebody screamed, the lights came back on, and someone was gone. They looked at the portrait and there was a red “X” over his face.

To Be Continued . . .

Ryan Vest

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Egyptian Trials

I walk through the intense, sandy desert. I keep pushing myself to go on. It was summer when my sister and I got lost in the desert. We had been trying to find water for weeks. All of a sudden, a village appeared. We didn’t know if it was déjà vu tricking us, or if it was real. We had decided it was real and walked over to the village quickly.

We could feel the hot, scorching sun beating on our skin. As soon as we walked into the village, we saw a giant pot of water. And I thought the desert was waterless and uninhabited.

Someone came out of the village. She signaled for us to follow her, so we did. She led us into a mysterious room. It was filled with tons of food, water, and ancient artifacts. The woman said, “Wait!” and walked away.

My sister Camille and I started to stuff our faces with food. Then a man appeared and said, “I know you’ve been looking for your family. We have been waiting for you.”

“Who’s we?” I mumbled to myself.

“I see you’ve started eating. If you want to find your family, you must go through ten trials. Now go to bed. The sky is getting dark.”

***

“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

“Camille, I’m up!” I could smell a crisp scent. It smelled like fire. It looked like we were in a dungeon. There was a shovel and a letter. It said: Cleo’s prized possession. Find it before the sand turns burnt orange, when the sun rises from dawn, or this will be the end. The end is just the beginning.

Maya Hay

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Running Away

I’m running through the jungle trying to get away from the tiger chasing me. I see lots of trees and bushes. The air is so hot and humid that all my clothes are stuck to my body, but the sun is hidden behind a wall of clouds in the sky. Next to me is my best friend Avery. She has dark, long hair with tan skin. She’s running alongside me, away from the tiger.

We slow to a jog and see two different paths. One has no trees and barely any growth ­– great for running but no available space to hide. The path leading in the opposite direction has many trees and lots of growth.

“What path should we pick?” Avery asks me.

“I don’t know, but we need to pick it fast,” I reply.

“Let’s go this way,” Avery says jogging towards the overgrown path.

“Okay,” I say. “This path will provide us lots of cover to hide.”

But about ten minutes later, we wee a giant boulder blocking the path and any way around it.

“How do we get around it?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” Avery replies. “Maybe we should climb?”

“I don’t know if we could get up and over it.”

“Well, it seems to me that it’s the only way to keep going.”

We somehow successfully get over the boulder and keep going. After about five minutes, it suddenly starts to pour, making us even more wet. Miserably, we continue jogging until we are in a clearing with no trees but only tall grass. In the middle of the clearing, we see a man facing our direction cloaked in a robe. Slowing to a walk, we stand about five feet away from the man. He suddenly opens his eyes and says, “Congratulations, you have reached Holly Point.”

Scotty Ploeger

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Sally the Sea Monster

Sally the sea monster’s birthday is here!
The people on the shore give a big cheer,
rush to the store
and buy candles and cake galore!
Quivering and shivering, they give a call,
so afraid that they will get mauled.
She towers over them all,
she is so tall.
Taller than the Trojan Horse,
it is her 100th birthday, of course!

Elle Vickey

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Underwater Adventure

Plunging under water, I suddenly saw a sight quite different from the diving point. Coral as far as the eye could see, in vivid colors, from white to bright pink. The coral provided a safe and protected area for fish and other aquatic prey to hide from dangerous predators. The coral came in different shapes, with some beautifully carved into a curve, and others with thick spines.

The scenic area was calm with few disturbances. It was no more than three seconds after I had this thought that I saw hundreds of ripples in the once tranquil water above me. Three full-sized hammerheads had sensed me in the water and were aiming for human leg soup! Experiencing a thrill of fear and excitement, I started swimming frantically toward the surface, forgetting about the sharks. Ten feet from the surface, I finally regained the reality of the threat. The hammerheads didn’t seem so interested in me anymore. They had spotted a rather large catfish and were raring to go after it.

Relieved, I continued my exploration of the ocean floor. I found many news things, like a clump of seaweed floating peacefully in the upper waters and an otter basking in the shallows. But what intrigued me the most was a metal piece poking out of the water like the mast of a ship. I followed it down and saw the ship’s hull, which had a huge hole in it, perhaps from a cannon ball. I started exploring it and found a beautiful lump of mineral that looked like a block of gold preserved for five decades in this sandy grave.

I started looking outside the ship for more treasure. Then I noticed a desk on the deck of the ship painted in vivid colors. That’s when I woke up to my alarm clock and wished I hadn’t eaten so much before bed.

Arnav Batra

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Lost

I was in a rainforest with waterfalls surrounding me and rain pouring down over the tall trees. I saw three huge birds flying from tree to tree. I was very cold. The green grass felt wet and damp on my feet. My faithful companion, Mary the monkey, was perched up on my head scratching my hair.

I looked up to see Mary pointing at a long trail. I hoped that it would get us out of the forest because I was lost and needed to find my house on the outskirts. As I was saying, Mary hopped down and started to walk slowly along the trail so I could catch up.

“Good job, Mary!” I exclaimed as I gave her a bright banana I found. We chose this path hoping to find our way back home. Suddenly, Mary stopped. I was curious to see what was going on. Both of us stared at the long river. There were huge trees against the banks of the river. I knew what I had to do. Mary and I gathered some firewood and bark. We planned to make a boat.

I gently placed all of the wood side-by-side on the grass. We found a rope on the way that someone probably left behind. Mary was a smart monkey, so she tied up the wood and bark together. The next thing you knew, we were sailing across the river. As soon as we crossed the river, the sun came out, and Mary and I felt thirsty. We spotted a shady clearing to sit down and take a break.

Then, I saw him. A man about forty years old was standing there offering us water. I ran and grabbed at the jug, and soon it was empty. He asked me, “So, where are you headed?”

“Home,” I replied. Then the man just vanished into thin air.

Mary and I tried searching for him, but he really was gone. Then something terrible was happening. The ground began to shake. The Earth said, “Honey, wake up.” I opened my eyes to see my mom shaking me awake! I was having a dream! I raced outside to see the forest. The same man I saw in the forest earlier came outside and winked at me! Could it be?

Neeraja Sankrit

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Death Zone

Two days – two day! – to get out of this lonely sand trap. In two days, it will be my birthday and if I’m not home in two days, my life will be gone, useless, dead.

I look around for some hope of a way back home, but all I see is an empty, quiet desert. There’s sand in every direction for miles around. The only thing here besides the sand is the sky, but even the sky is empty – not one star.

The sun has set and I need to set up camp for the night. I look around to find a rock, or anything but sand to sleep on, yet there is nothing.

I decide not to sleep tonight because in the morning there will only be one day left until my parents let me live on my own, but if I’m not there, I will live with them forever.

I keep walking, trying not to think about what will happen if I can’t get back in time.

The desert is a very intense place to be. It’s like it can never make up its mind. In the daytime, it’s boiling hot and peaceful. But in the night, it gets chilly and very windy. But it is always dry.

Tonight is especially windy. The sand is blowing up into my eyes, making it very hard to see.

I keep walking to – I have no clue where. I think by now it must be midnight. Tomorrow is my birthday, yet time doesn’t really matter here in this sandy mess. It doesn’t really matter to me anymore. There is nothing in this place but untouched sand. I’m losing all hope. There is no way out.

I close my eyes and lay down. I let the wind carry the sand across my body. And I fall asleep. Forever.

Barbie Burgett

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The March

The waves crashed against the battered sand. Kids laughed as the water splashed around them. The wind started to pick up speed, tossing girls’ hair in their faces. The clouds turned gray. I looked over at Katrina, trying to figure out if she’d seen the weather change.

As we walked along the beach, we saw a pathway that went in the direction we were headed. Suddenly, Kat started walking a bit faster. Instantly, she broke into a full-on sprint.

“Kat!” I yelled. I sprinted to catch up with her. Then I heard thunder. I assumed it was the sky, but I was wrong. It seemed as if everybody on the beach was charging after us. Finally, I caught up to Kat. I knew I would because she was quite a bit smaller than me. I was about to talk to her when I realized I was completely and totally out of breath. I stopped to take a break. Fifty people appeared in front of me. They were in between Kat and me. I started to run again. This time I dodged the people. Finally, I reached Kat.

Lightning struck down in the woods, which had just recently recovered from a wildfire. The trees burst into all different shades of reds, oranges, yellows, and even some blues.

If only I had my camera with me now. We were heading straight towards the woods. Every person on the beach seemed as if they were in a coma, heading straight towards the fire. The closer we got, the louder and hotter it became. Suddenly, I couldn’t run anymore. I stepped out of the pathway and observed what was happening. Everyone was running in a synchronized fashion, moving closer and closer to the fire. No one was able to be themselves. Then, just like that, the forest disappeared. Strange.

Now, I finally saw what was doing this. It was actually a who.

To Be Continued. . .

Allie Shepherd

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Home

The blue sky, white sand. The glistening ocean. Yes, this will be the place – the place I will call home. The wind blowing so softly on my face. This is perfect. Well, not with my brother.

On the fifth day, I take a walk along the shore, when suddenly a huge wave splashes on me. But I don’t get wet. And if that’s not strange enough, the waves split, forming a path underwater. I decide to follow the path down into the depths of the ocean.

Oddly, I can breathe. Suddenly, I hear a loud thump behind me. I turn around and see my brother sliding down the steps. How did he get here? No point in asking – he’ll start talking some mumbo-jumbo nonsense.

Suddenly, the path is blocked by a big boulder. I think of going around it, but then I won’t be able to breathe. Then it hits me – no, not the rock. My brother! He pushes me right through the rock. Then, once I come out the other side of the rock, I’m hit by a gust of water. I keep on walking down until I come across a clearing. I see someone swimming around – actually, more like standing. A mermaid! I quickly swim up to her and ask, “What is this place?”

She replies, “Ah, you have finally arrived.”

For what? I wondered. She snaps her fingers and a huge castle emerges from the ground.

“It’s your time, child. Rule us well,” says the mermaid.

Mark Menezes

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Horse

Those spunky animals,
always looking to play,
usually working hard.
But when they get a minute,
they don’t waste a second.
Not very easily distracted at work,
but at home they easily whip up a storm!

Very humble creature on top,
sometimes stress-relieving,
never abused.
Always looking for new traits and tricks,
basically anything to get away from…
Farmer Joe!

Adriana Guerra

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The Life

“Phum! Phum!” went the speeding, spinning bullets of the gun. The sweaty, tired soldiers were training for World War II, which they knew was just around the corner. One soldier felt the urge to speak up and say they shouldn’t fight, but that would cause trouble. All the soldiers climbed into the trucks. Even that one soldier knew what he had to do – jump out of the truck.

Soon afterwards, they were about ten miles from La PaPa, when the one soldier jumped out. No one seemed to notice because all of them looked as if they were napping. “Uh!” Soft grass caught him.

“Buh! Buh!” There was a very weird sound, as though it might be an instrument. For a second, the soldier thought it was music in heaven. About a mile up the road was a large violin making a strange sound. It looked like someone had just thrown it away and abandoned it. He picked it up and took it with him to town. About a half a day later, the soldier arrived in town with his violin. It looked to be 10:45 a.m., and he was exhausted. He took some money out of his pocket and went down the street. He checked into a hotel for two days. He knew he had to make money to get to his town.

The next morning, the soldier went to go and look for a job. HE walked right into a store with a sign that said: “Help Wanted.” But he slipped on the ground! He looked under him, and he must have slipped on a green, wet pear. He got up and asked the cashier if they still needed people, and she said yes.

One Week Later . . .

The soldier really enjoyed his job and decided to live there. He lived happily ever after.

Owen Shafer

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Paradise

“Camping, camping, camping. It had to be camping…” I groaned as the car skidded to a stop. We got out of the car, and that was the start of our one week – a tech-free camping trip.

My sister and I set up our large, turquoise tent. We put our stuff inside and went exploring. We passed some trees and came to a clearing. The view was breathtaking. I felt as if the forest were welcoming us.

Suddenly, we heard my dad calling us. “McKenzie, Jessie! Dinner time!” We ran back to the campsite and gobbled down our dinner.

The next day, I woke with a start and ran to our hideaway. No one was there. I went back to the campsite and saw my sister sprawled on the ground, unconscious near a poisonous snake. “Mom! Dad!” I screamed. They, along with my older brother, ran over. They saw my older sister and almost fainted.

My brother, a brainiac, showed us a picture of a flower that would cure her bite. “I’ve seen that before!” I exclaimed. “When Mom took me hiking, it was on top of that mountain.”

I started climbing up the mountain. Halfway up, I was dripping with sweat. “You can do it!” my mom encouraged me from her position above me. We finally reached the top! I grabbed the flower, put it in my pouch, and started repelling down. I got the flower!

Shreya Selvaraju