Tag Archives: Upper elementary school

The Dank Hollows

7 Jul

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



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



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…


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



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

The Snowball Fighters

19 Jul
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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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



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



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


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



“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

The Explorers

17 Jul

From the first day of summer camp, these Explorers took each writing experience and gave it a personal twist. One explorer performed both characters’ parts in the hilarious dialogue he wrote. Another turned her emoji poem into prose. One adventurer even turned her narrative into a chapter for her novel. Whether sticking their toes in the water or diving right in, they all willingly pushed themselves past their writing comfort zones, which was very fun and exciting to watch!

Gena Raymond
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



She peered down the shady alley, all brown and black. Not the most welcoming colors. The city she lived in was a smoggy, contaminated place. Most of it was like the foul-smelling alley before her eyes: dumpsters, garbage, and smoke. Most of the contamination was dumped into the sea. At least she had her red barrette from her real home.

She wished she was back there in the forest: vivacious and colorful, textured trees, so much green. Her true home was beautiful, and how she missed it. She didn’t have any real reason for staying in the city. She could just move back home, where she belonged.

But moving back would take money, which meant she’d need more jobs. That was going to be hard. Just then, she heard a whistle, a sweet and pretty tune, a nice melody. She looked up to see a blue bird. Plump, but pretty and fluffy, with a sharp beak. She was filled with hope at the sight of it. She was going home.

Anna Alleman



My family is space.
I am the sun and my sister is the moon,
for we are opposites.
My brother and other sister are stars, not present
yet still able to be seen.
My pets are the Earth, in range of my parents,
but using the gravity of love to draw my sister, my parents, and me close.
My parents are the gravitational pull that holds us together,
for without them, we would scatter.

Joaquin Bartelli

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The City

One cold winter night, a flying squirrel watched for food. But then the squirrel thought it was too cold to be out, especially at night. She took one more look around before she headed home. Then she saw one acorn. She jumped down on it and brought it home.

The squirrel’s name was Nataly. She was a shape-shifter. Her real shape was a Gowea Flower, which was blue with a tan face.

She flew back to her beautiful town to share her meal, but she wished the acorn would stop screaming. Suddenly, she toppled into the bright, warm city.

“I found food!” she called. Everybody screamed and ran away.

“Oh, right.” Nataly had turned back to a Gowea Flower.

Later, everybody was at the dinner table eating the food they had caught. “It is almost winter solstice!” announced Chief Begur. “Soon it will be almost impossible to find food. Does anybody know what to do?”

“I have an idea,” Nataly said. “I could turn into a human and find food there!”

“No, that is too dangerous.”


Later at home, Nataly got her cloak and her water bottle and set off into the forest. Once she was far away from her city, she changed into a human.

How should I get there? she thought. She wandered around until she saw some really bright lights. That should be where the city is! She ran towards the lights. Then she stopped in awe. There in front of her was the most awesome city ever. Suddenly, a crowd of tourists rushed her into the city. Into the unknown!

Winter Caine


The Book of Wonders

Money makes you greedy
It makes you two-faced and you start to lose it
Money flies away
Then you’re pointed in the wrong direction
America can’t handle this nonsense
Poop flying everywhere
Pizza disappearing
People start turning into Pikachu
Unicorns flying with people
The Book of Wonders is coming to life.

Noah Carrillo



Flying money made the guy airsick before he saw the lion in the tall grass
With a small sleeping cat pointing to the right
A turd sits still with the dorky Pikachu
When a guy waves both his hands
And a man rolls his eyes while reading “Wonder” the book and eating pizza
Then a unicorn rides by with a lady and two butterflies on it
With an American flag and a mad kid
While the two-faced man is standing there

Coalter Daywood


My Family Is a Candy Store

My family is a candy store.
My dog is the dark chocolate–sweet if you take just the right amount.
But take too much and you get an unpleasant taste.
My brother–he’s difficult to place for someone
who deals with teasing and people who are annoying,
so therefore he is the cane pop–
hard on the outside and sweet on the inside.
My dad is the jumbo jawbreaker–hard to be broken.
My mom is the white chocolate–unusual, but sweet and strong.
And me, I’m the milk chocolate–an original, a daredevil.

Ryan Deeny

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The Forest

Maria Sanchez was looking out her apartment window. It was raining, and she was looking for something, anything, that would brighten her day. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. That must be today’s 12 o’ clock newspaper, Maria thought. She walked over to the door and opened it. She took the newspaper and paid the man without saying a word. She sat down on her soft bed and started reading the first page of the newspaper.

Then she saw a small article about a new café called The Mystical Forest Café. I’m hungry, thought Maria, so she got out of bed and grabbed her gray coat and her red hat. Then she ran down the stairs to the lobby and trudged out into the rain. It was a long walk and by the time she reached the café, she was starving.

As she opened the door, she was greeted by a friendly looking man who said, “Hello. You will be seated at table forty-one.” She nodded in solemn silence. She did not like to talk. Then Maria sat at table forty-one. She ordered an espresso.

It’s been hours, Maria thought. When will they bring out my food? Suddenly, Maria stood up. She was going to ask how much longer it would be until her food came. She marched into a long narrow hallway.

At the end of the hallway, there was a door. Maria opened the door and stood awestruck in the doorway. Standing before her was a vast forest. Maria wasn’t amazed by the forest, but the beautiful bluebird that perched in a cage hanging from a tree …

Ava Deviney


Family Tree

My family is a tree.
My mom is the roots, who gives food to the tree.
My dad is the trunk, who holds up the tree and supports it.
My sister is the branches, spreading happiness to the tree.
And I am the fruit, sweet and tasty.

Anusha Dudella



Calstone was an ordinary town with normal people. You wouldn’t expect anything out of the ordinary to happen there. But this was no ordinary day.

Mayor Pennysalt looked out at the storm. The wind was howling like a caged animal and when the sleet came down, it came down hard and strong.

“Arnold, come here right now!” Mayor Pennysalt yelled. Arnold, who was no more than twenty-five and had the misfortune of being Pennysalt’s servant, shuffled in.

“Y-y-yes, my lord, Mayor Pennysalt?” he stuttered.

“What is the meaning of this terrible weather?” he barked.

“W-w-well, sir, I don’t know.” he said timidly.

“Then get OUT!” Pennysalt shouted at the top of his lungs.

Arnold raced out as fast as his legs would take him.

Meanwhile, a girl about ten years old who went by the name of Rebecca Shining was the only one out in the storm.

He’s here, she thought. He’s coming for it.

She watched as his shadow lurked in the corners trying to get to her, trying to get to what was in her pocket.

What was in her pocket was a seed. It was a small seed, but it held unimaginable powers.

She walked up the moonlit hill. This was the spot. She knelt down and dug a hole in the warm ground. Rebecca reached into her pocket and pulled out the seed. She put it in the ground and a tree grew up. Its branches were huge and its leaves were green as emeralds. As a blurry figure appeared, a doorway appeared in the trunk.

The blurry figure announced, “Rebecca, you may pass.”

She stepped into the deep, dark tunnel.

Natalie Fischer

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Taco Diner

My family is a taco.
My father is the beans because he keeps us nice and toasty.
My mother is the tortilla.
She wraps us all in tight.
And I am the string cheese that makes us flavorful.
My baby sister, she’s the candle.
She’s what makes our family special.
She lights our family up.
She keeps us together.

Aditya Gupta


Metaphor for My Family

My family lives inside a candy store.
Dad is the caramel, delicious and sweet, ready to be eaten.
Mom is the small gummy bear, yummy and everyone’s favorite.
My brother is the bittersweet chocolate, wishing to be eaten.
And I am the lollipop that is sweet but can’t be bitten.

Akhila Jallepalli


Acid-Spitting Blue Whale Petition

I ask the U.S. government to give the Navy acid-spitting blue whales.

See, when two or more warships get into a fight, they repeatedly torpedo each other until somebody sinks, and torpedoes are expensive. If you use acid-spitting blue whales, the acid doesn’t cost anything because it is produced from a gland, and it melts the enemy’s ship easily, rather than high-cost-low-effect torpedoes.

The government could build the whales for less than one million dollars each. Please sign to win the next world war! (They also look really cool.)

P.S. The acid doesn’t harm fish.

William Lei


The Family Book

My family is a book,
thick as an untouched piece of wood.
My dad is the soft leather cover,
willing to be open and closed, tossed and thrown.
My mom is the table of contents,
keeping our family organized and together.
My brother is the beginning,
warming up slowly, giving way to the story.
I am the middle,
uncertain and chaotic, willing to give an unexpected twist.
My dogs are the ending,
calm and exhausted, hinting about the next book.

Shayna Levy

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No Chores

Chores kill our children’s dreams and hopes. Chores turn kids into mindless slaves for no reason. If you are a parent, listen up! If you ban chores, your child has more time to play, which makes for a happier child. That happiness makes for a better child who will have an open mind and be ready for school!

Ninety-nine out of 100 children suffer from Dead Minds from Chores (DMFC). This is caused when a child has too many chores and never gets to have a free mind. Help me to end chores.

Our goal is 1,000,000 signatures. For every signature I get, I will raise $5 to end DMFC.

Pearson Mudhol

Outright Writers

14 Jul

The following are pieces from some of the special writers I was able to work with this summer. In our classroom each day, I was met with a myriad of unique voices and experiences. These Badgerdog campers came to our classroom with open minds and big hearts, with careful opinions and thoughtful questions. It pleases me to share their work with a wider readership here on Unbound because this work deserves to be read. For me, having access to the inner worlds of these wise, intelligent, and funny fifth- and sixth-graders offers me hope for our future and lends humor to our present. Throughout our week together, our writing practice centered on writing faster than the critic. The following pieces are what happens when we move faster than the voices that criticize us, and I encourage you take a note from these brave and creative students.

A.R. Rogers
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


The Monster Shell

The sand drifted through the salty water, and a shell floated through the ocean. It gradually landed on the ocean floor, just as a snail approached–a snail with one red shoe. The snail glanced at the luster of the shell, and considered his choice. Mr. Snail was looking for a home to replace his shoe, and this one seemed to suit him well. He slid inside the house and glanced at the sparkling waters above. A plastic bag landed on the ocean floor, and Mr. Snail examined it. He shoved the bag aside to reveal a pair of gold scissors inside. Mr. Snail pecked at the blazing object, and stretched out his arms. He snatched the pair of scissors and opened them, but they were too heavy. Mr. Snail fell and his shell slid off. He grabbed the shell, but it shifted away, and said, “Don’t touch me!”

Mr. Snail’s eyes popped out of his head! “A monster,” he screeched. The snail began to flee, but was too slow.

The monster shell pounced on Mr. Snail and commented, “I’m no monster. I’m as nice as a dove and as happy as a human. Don’t run away. I’m your shelter.”

Mr. Snail answered, “Fine,” and put his smooth shell on, adding, “But if you plan to harm me, you won’t get away with it.”

Mr. Snail rode along the bottom of the ocean. A drowsy feeling came over him and Mr. Snail curled up inside his shell. The monster shell yawned, and fell asleep, too.

Mr. Snail awoke to something nudging him. He peeked out, and saw dozens of teeth looking back at him! “I’m famished, and you look like a pleasant feast,” said a voice.

Mr. Snail perked up, and saw a Great White Shark. “Oh, please, don’t eat me. I’ll taste like rotten skin covered with slobber! Please!” he murmured.

The Great White smirked. “I’ll gobble you anyway!”

The shark came nearer, and the monster shell jerked around. “No one can eat my buddy! Not even a white lump with pointy things!” The Shell ran to the Great White Shark, and pierced him with his point. The soft scent of blood filled the water, and Mr. Snail scrunched up his face and looked at the shell.

“Oh, thank you for saving me back there. I would be dead if it weren’t for you.”

The shell shrugged. “Glad I could help.” The friendly shell jumped on the joyful snail, and they floated towards the surface. The currents moved them towards shore, and the two friends slithered towards the red, orange, and yellow sun. After the sunset, stars layered the pitch black sky. Mr. Snail and the shell knew another adventure was waiting for them on the other side.

Liza Tsoi


The Narwhal

Have you ever heard of a narwhal or a mer-a-corn? Well, today might be a first. Now, let’s get on with the story!

One time, there was a magical narwhal, who went to see a sorcerer to get legs. But the sorcerer said, “You don’t need me to give you legs.”

“Why?” said the magical narwhal.

“Because you are a magical narwhal! Duh! You don’t need me to help you. You can do it yourself.”

“Oh, right! I knew that!” said the magical narwhal, and with that he was on his way. But, of course, when he got home, he completely forgot about wanting legs, so he took a nap. An hour and a half later, he was awakened by a loud knock on his door. To his surprise, there was a mer-a-corn standing right there, and with such a cold, hard stare–strong enough to shatter his very soul!

Lily Richey


Three Japanese Haiku


White rice and curry
We ate sushi and ramen
Tofu and noodles


Blue skies and pretty clothes
There are beautiful old ruins
And cherry blossoms


Models in the sky
Colorful neon bright nights
Five-story shops

Scarlett Bowman


The Crow and the Bike

Once, there was a crow named Jack. Jack was a very simple bird, and did not know what to think about bicycles–or humans, for that matter. The only thing Jack knew about humans was that they did not like crows. So, one day when Jack saw a human on a bike, he flew away.

The next week, Jack saw another human on a bike. Again, Jack was about to fly away. But suddenly, the human stopped his bike and got a drink of water. Meanwhile, Jack was thinking, What if I popped the wheel with my beak? After some time, Jack decided to pop the wheel.

He was just about to pop the bike wheel when the human got on the bike and slowly went around Jack, avoiding him. Then the crow had an idea: What if all humans aren’t bad?

So, the crow learned that not all humans are bad.

Jonah Strong




Fluffy, white, cotton candy
Magic in the air
We drink their tears
We breathe their mist
Clouds, an unearthly gift


Under their branches there is shade
In their leaves clean air is made
Heartwood makes their trunks stand tall
They bear fruit to feed us all


Under her cloak, Time stands still
Space himself is bent to her will
People stare as she blots out Sun
And one by one they succumb
Shadow is greater than them all
Only to Light will she fall

Eva Ewing


Midnight with Mr. Cold

It’s late. Midnight.
The sky is black and blue.
There is no sound but the
wind blowing and crickets chirping.
The moon is big and stars small,
as they shine and glow like one-thousand lights in the sky.
The city sparkles in the distance
while it’s dark where I am.
The lights are big and bold
up on the glowing bridge.
I feel the soft fall leaves hit my hands
and cold icy wind hit my face.
I feel my long brown hair slaps my shoulders,
as the wind slows down.
He was here–
the person I’d been waiting all
my life to see: Mr. Cold.
As he arrived, the lights went out,
wind stopped, and crickets, too.
The stars and moon dimmed into darkness.
As he walked, his white hair showing,
he stuck out a gloved hand,
reaching for the case in mine.
He took the case and disappeared into dark.
What did he put in that case ten years ago
when he gave it to me to keep safe?

Gabriella Smith


Gold Then

One thing that looks like a giant gold penny is now flying high in the sky
The sun thinks it’s a flower that blooms for twenty-four hours
People think the sun is a coward for calling himself a flower
People change their minds and try to figure out discoveries from the bar-b-que
Flaming on the stove which we call the sun
Back then there was no sun
No beautiful colors brown under and gold
It was sad
Not even one person was on land
All colors no more
Only the color black

Sarah Linton


A Day in the Life of a Younger Sister

Chapter One:

The stained-glass windows glinted in the sun, creating the illusion that they were shimmering, like tiny waves of glass rippling. Music strummed through my head, and everyone stirred impatiently, waiting for the bride to come. I stared out the window, and listened to a bird chirping a sweet song as we waited.

Then a sudden hush fell over the room, as the groom and the Reverend strolled down the aisle. The benches creaked as everyone stood up to look at the incoming bride. As she walked in, her silky, pearly white dress brushed the tile floors. Her hair was a golden blonde color, and her extravagant lace designs crawled up her dress. The bride’s veil stretched to her feet and bounced across her back as she walked. I listened to the click of her heels as she glided past me. Soon, she passed her mother, and her mother swooned, put her hand over her heart, and sighed.

As she arrived at the altar, she shared a smile with the groom, and then proceeded. The music died down to a soft hum and the Reverend began to speak. I watched as my older brother got married, and watched him carry away his bride. I smiled, laughed, and even cried a little. But not because I was happy.

After the wedding, Jacob walked hand-in-hand with my sister, coming over to me. “Congrats!” I said, half-smiling.

“I finally did it!” he exclaimed excitedly, grinning ear to ear. His smile was as big as a watermelon sliced in half. I remember the names I used to call him: monkey face, silly boy, goof ball. I remembered all the games we would play, like tag, chase, and zombie killer. I would miss him a lot. Then, unexpectedly, I burst into tears. Thick tears poured from my eyes and trickled down my face.

“What’s wrong, sis?” Jacob asked.

“I’m just so happy for you!” I lied, wiping my eyes.

“I’ll take care of him,” said Kathleen, dragging him away.

Later, I snuck away to sit in the garden behind the chapel. I inhaled the smell of sweet honeysuckles. Charlie came out a couple of minutes later, and wasn’t surprised when he saw my tear-streaked face.

“I’m going to miss him a lot, too,” he said, sitting down next to me. I lay my head on his knee, and closed my eyes. Suddenly, all the memories rushed to my head. A single tear fell from my eye. I just hated to see him go.

Mimi Nguyen


Garold the Hermit Crab

Hello, my name is Garold. I am orange with pinchers and a protective plate on my back. Us hermit crabs live next to a sea that is far away from Earth. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how my bestseller made it’s way to Earth!

As you may have heard, I have written three books. At first, not many crabs liked my work. All of the hermit crabs that live in the world of Atlantis are really not open-minded. Where I live, humans can’t get to me. Even if they tried, it would take exactly seventy-five light years.

My friend and I are really the only creative things on the planet. Now, you may be wondering who my best friend is. Well, of course, he is a red shoe. I found him in a plastic bag that read, “Thank you for shopping at Shoe Mart” all over it. I’m guessing my friend is paralyzed because he can’t walk or move. He doesn’t talk much either, but sometimes I hear him making noises like the ocean. He stays in my fourteen-carat gold house next to my twenty-four carat gold scissors.

Well, let’s just get back to Garold’s life (in other words, my life). I love to go on adventures, and guess what!? Just yesterday a UFO crash-landed in my backyard!

The aliens asked me to help them find a green shard called kryptonite. It turns out kryptonite can only be found on Earth with an evil man named Superman. The aliens said that Superman stole the kryptonite that was rightfully theirs. Aliens said that Superman lied, and that he hated kryptonite, but the truth was that he loved to eat it! The aliens called their emperor, and the emperor was furious about how selfish Superman could be, pretending to save the world when he was really trying to make aliens extinct!

I was way too busy to go to Earth yesterday, so I’m going today. The rocket UFO is a new creation that was made just three days ago. The rocket UFO is lustrous and is very sparkly! I am going to fly the rocket UFO to Earth. Now, as I mentioned earlier in the story, it takes seventy-five light years to get to Earth. But with the rocket UFO, it only takes three days!

To be honest with you, I am not scared to go to Earth at all. Now that I am in the rocket UFO, I am surprised by how fancy it looks inside. Blue velvet ottomans and big white couches, a bed with a red quilt sitting in the corner and clean white carpet. I run straight to the bed and start to jump on it. To my surprise, the bed is rock-hard. “Just how I like it,” Garold says to himself. This is going to be the best trip ever!

Too bad it’s only for three days. Three days go by so fast, and before I know it, I’m crash-landing down to Earth. The landing happened when I was sleeping, so I don’t really know much, but I do remember hearing an ear-piercing screech and before I knew it, I was crash-landing down to Earth!

Isobel Ryther


Lea the Lemon

Once, a long time ago, a lemon fell from a colossal lemon tree onto the rough ground. “I’m falling! I’m coming into the world! I’m starting my life!” exclaimed the lemon. Once she hit the hard ground, she decided she needed some soft clothes to wear. So, she ran to the supermarket and looked at a sign in the window. It read:

New Gold Scissors: $20
Plastic Bags: $.40
Pretty Red, Blue, and Purple Shoes: $9 per pair

“Oh, dear! I can’t get any of those wonderful things. They don’t seem to have any care for lemons who don’t have any pennies or bills,” the lemon said to herself.

The lemon was a very sweet lemon. Her name was Lea, and she had, as not many lemons have, sturdy legs, long arms, beautiful eyes, and a pink mouth. But most importantly, she had feelings.

Suddenly, Lea had an idea! “I could go to the counselor! He can help me! I am sure he can!” she exclaimed happily. So, Lea the Lemon walked (more like ran) to the counselor’s office. When she arrived, she spotted two doors. There was a smallish door for fruits and veggies, and a human-sized door. Lea opened the door and looked in. She stepped inside and was greeted by a beautiful strawberry lady, whose name was Sally.

“Hello, how may I help you?” asked Lady Sally.

“I am in need of help, and I thought you would be perfect for my troubles,” answered the hopeful lemon.

“Yes, of course. Who would you like to see today? Miss Callie Carrot? Sir Christopher Cantaloupe? Or Mr. Benjamin Blueberry?

“Mr. Blueberry, please.” said Lea.

“Of course,” replied Sally Strawberry. She looked at her calendar, and led Lea to a blue door. “Here you are,” she said.

When Lea stepped into Mr. Blueberry’s room, he greeted her with a wide, welcoming smile. “Hello! How may I help you?” he said in an accent Lea couldn’t place.

“I have money trouble. I went to the store, and everything costs coins and green bills. I need things from the store, like clothes, and I don’t even have a home! Or friends!”

“Do you have family?” asked Mr. Blackberry.

“Yes, but either they have fallen way before me or haven’t fallen yet,” Lea explained. “So, they can’t help me.”

“I see.” Mr. Blackberry leaned back in his chair, and thought of how to help Lea the Lemmon.

Ellie Murphy


The Adventures of Sir Lemon

Sir Lemon sat on the produce shelf next to Miss Apple. He was startled when he learned that his friend, Joe, was pulverized by a man wearing red All-Stars. His friend’s blood was put in a cup with sugar and water that humans call lemonade.

By the way, did you know that Sir Lemon is not ripe? That’s why Mr. Red Shoe didn’t pulverize him. Out of fear, he hopped in a plastic bag with an orange, four pears, and one hundred cherries. The bag swayed harshly when the human dropped the bag, and Sir Lemon was bashed against some of the cherries. Good thing his skin was still hard.

He rolled out of the bag, and saw a bright orange and red paper bag. Sir Lemon wanted to see more things and explore the world. On the way to see what was in the paper bag, he made up a song.

“I’m a tiny lemon in the big, big world,” he sang with a small and squeaky voice until he reached the bag. He peered inside and found a tiny top hat! Sir Lemon put it on and started to fly. He looked down and saw the tops of the buildings. He looked up and saw that the top hat had turned into a helicopter. Then, Sir Lemon realized he was wearing a green suit and had arms and legs! He knew then that the hat was magic, and he flew the helicopter over the all the huge buildings!

Mateo Wells


Ms. Allison’s Orphanage for Young Girls

Today, we traveled down a brick road, all the way down to the wealthy street of Lincoln. We went as far as you can go down Lincoln, to 73 Lincoln St.

It’s no ordinary house. It’s two stories and made of brick with lots of windows of different shapes and sizes. There’s a wooden door with a gold knocker. It’s the type of house in which you would imagine an old lady sitting by a fire. Maybe that’s what you would do forty years ago. Know that if you enter through the front door, you would see Sage, a young careless lady. Sage would probably be counting her money.

Sage runs the orphanage. It was started by her great grandmother, Allison. Ms. Allison started the orphanage at the age of eighty-three because she felt lonely. When Allison died at the age of eighty-four, her daughter, Milly, took over. When Milly passed away, her greedy daughter, Sage, took over. The orphanage has fifty-three girls.

Now, back to the house. The house downstairs is shiny and smells like lavender, but if you dare to walk up the wood stairs, you will find twelve rooms, two bathrooms, and ten bedrooms. In the bedrooms, five to six girls sleep on blankets and pillows.

Our story takes place at 5:30 a.m. If you were there, you would hear thundering footsteps–the footsteps of Ms. Sage.

“A new orphan is coming today! Clean up and prepare a bed!” screamed Ms. Sage. You will smell dust, tears, and sweat as the girls shake out the blankets. The new girl comes in. She’s short and maybe a year old. She only has the clothes she came in. Her name is Avery Kya Thomas.

Five years later…

“This is cruel and unfair,” said Avery one day. “We are being mistreated, and not one of us has been adopted,” said another girl.

“We should tell someone,” said Avery. It took a while, but soon they had a plan. The girls put the plan to action on the second of October.

At 6:30 p.m., when Ms. Sage came up to bring the food, Avery was dressed up in the older girl’s dress. The thundering of Ms. Sage’s feet was Avery’s cue to hide. Avery leapt into a closet! Sage unlocked the door that kept the girls from going downstairs, and walked to the first room to deliver bread and water. The bread was a rock, and the water was dirty. Avery ran down the stairs two at a time. The light was so bright, it burned her eyes, and the room was orange and pink. Avery ran to the front door. She opened it up to a bustling street. The air tasted weird and smelled weird, too. All of a sudden, water started to fall from the sky. Avery walked, and as she walked, she observed. She was looking for a person she could ask for help.

Avery found me and told me her story and I went to the police and explained the situation. Ms. Sage was arrested, and all of the girls were adopted. As for me, I live with my wife and my adopted daughter, Avery.

Kaye Boyle


The Adventures of Mister and Misses Cake

Mr. Cake was in the oven getting toasty and fresh when he became aware.

He asked himself, “Where am I? Why am I here? And why is it so hot?” But then he heard a loud ding! and was pulled out of the oven, carried by the chef at the bakery, and feeling the fresh air in the world.

The chef sat him down and got a big white tube and started to squeeze it onto his body. Mr. Cake was very curious; he was feeling of nervous and excited at the same time. Once the chef was finished, he then took Mr. Cake to the display. And that’s when Mr. Cake caught a glimpse of Mrs. Cake for the first time. He suddenly felt more nervous looking at her. He knew he loved her, but he didn’t know how to express it.

Right when Mr. Cake was about to say hello, the chef took Mrs. Cake and put her in a box, which he handed to someone, and they took her away, never to be seen again. The chef then left to go to the restroom. “Nooooooo!” yelled Mr. Cake.

He would never be able to marry Mrs. Cake.

Suddenly, he heard a voice next to him. “Psst! Hey, you! Yeah, you!” Mr. Cake looked over to see a mysterious looking cake.

“Hello, I am a sponge cake, but you can just call me Spoog. It looks like you had a crush on Mrs. Cake, huh?”

“Yeah, but she’s gone now,” replied Mr. Cake.

“Love is a thing that happens a lot here, but it never lasts,” said the sponge cake. “What’s your name, anyway?”

“Mr. Cake.”

“Well, Mr. Cake, I could always help you find Mrs. Cake.”

Suddenly, the chef picked up Mr. Cake and handed him to Mr. Carl, who handed the chef a green piece of paper. “Oh, no!” yelled Mr. Cake to Spoog.

“Oh, well. Sorry, Mr. Cake. Good luck finding Mrs. Cake!” Spoog yelled back as Mr. Cake was put in a box and put in Mr. Carl’s car.

On the bumpy ride home through the clear plastic box, Mr. Cake spotted Mrs. Cake. She was very nervous and afraid. Once they arrived home, Mr. Carl carried both of them to the fridge, where they met Lil’ Cake. Mr. Cake overheard Mr. Carl saying he was going to marry Mrs. Caroline, but he didn’t have a wedding cake, even though he already went to every bakery in town. So Mister, Misses, and Lil’ Cake all got a great idea. They all hopped on each other to form the greatest wedding cake of all time. (Best Cakes in the World gave it a 10/10.)

And after, that Mr. Carl and Mrs. Caroline had a great wedding, and Mrs. Cake and Mr. Cake could be together forever with their child, Lil’ Cake.

“I think they only married me for the cake,” said the regretful groom later.

Ethan Thorsen


The Wooden Family

Hundreds of years ago, when kingdoms clashed and monsters roamed, a story would unfold, its many pages and details worn and lost by the gripping hands of time. While war stories of gore and swords dominated the years, it sometimes came to be proven that the  most seemingly trivial of tales are the ones told best.

And so there would come to be a man, his face tattered by age, who reeked of broken dreams and chances that never came, whose only light in his eyes was his love of nature, all courtesy of the malevolent forces of poverty. He was a farmer, married to a simple woman, whose name, like his, had been lost by time, perhaps deemed trivial, and then neglected until the memories faded entirely.

They both had a profound passion for all things in nature and loved each other just as much. They had no children, but were content to adopt a rabbit or likewise for some days in place of a baby.

By a cruel twist of fate, it happened one day that famine, as it occasionally does, reached the man’s village. His career as a farmer was torn apart, as if it had been a house of cards in a hurricane. He was forced to hunt, stalk, and slay the animals he loved.

The day he began hunting fell sometime in autumn. The crisp morning sky was filled with the scent of dew and dying leaves, which peppered the ground with crimson and a dark brown. The man had hung a net between two trees, almost invisible against the lush green forest.

A young bird had flown into the net. The man looked at the struggling animal and wondered if he could really bring himself to make it his next meal. Reluctantly, he brought his knife down.

No. He couldn’t.

Swish! The knife came down, it’s metal blade reflecting the terrified bird’s eyes. Soundlessly, he cut the net, freeing the bird. Wasting no time, the bird flew to a tall cedar tree that shot up above the green forest canopy.

And then the tree spoke.

Slowly, words came. “Thank you,” the tree began. “You… spared… this bird’s… life. How can… we… repay… you?”

The man spoke of the famine, and asked if there was a way to end it. After several minutes of silence, the tree spoke.

“Take… some… of my wood… and… crush it… into dust. Then… throw it into… the air… and the famine… will end…”

The man obeyed. It worked like a charm! In an instant, clouds filled the sky and started to rain wonderful rain. Animals came over the hill in hordes, and flowers went from seed to bloom in seconds. It was a miracle.

More than a year passed. The man yearned for a son. Once again, he came to the tree and explained his dilemma.

“Take… some… more wood…” the tree said, “and fashion… a bowl… with it. Feed… your wife… from it… and she will… have… a child.”

“Thank you,” said the man. He bowed and set to work.

Another year came to pass, and the man’s wife gave birth to a young, beautiful boy. Tragedy struck, and he fell dreadfully sick. Pus oozed out of his pores and he coughed blood. Desperate for his son’s life, the man came to the tree one last time.

“Oh, tree, is there nothing we can do to save his life? Must he die like this?”

“No…” said the tree. “I can do… one… last… thing. You… must take… my heart… and give it to… your… son.”

The man looked upon the tree, horrified to learn what he must do to save his son. “No!” cried the man, aghast. “I will not bring an end to your life. Is there no other way?”

“There is is… one… last way, but… I would… rather… you not… do it. Come here… with… your family… and become… part… of me… forever.”

“I will do it,” said the man. “We will give back to you, the one we have taken so much from.”

And so the family came to the tree. They arrived at its roots, sitting together as they watched branches cover their final view of the forest.

No one regretted a thing.

They would be together forever.

Aneesh Vanguri

Inspiration: Hummingbirds and Harry Potter

11 Aug

In all of our Badgerdog workshops, we ask participating writers to send us work they’re proud of (even after the workshop has ended), so that we can continually provide publication opportunities to connect writers and readers. Of course, we were very excited to hear from summer camper Claire Wan, one of fifteen students in Ms. Terri’s upper elementary workshop at the Austin International School this summer. Though summer camp had come to a close, Claire wanted to share her work with our Badgerdog community, which left us beaming. (Because we hope the excitement we aim to cultivate during the workshop persists long after we say our goodbyes.)

Claire wanted to share a few thoughts about the two pieces presented here (one about hummingbirds and one about living in the universe of Harry Potter): “The hummingbird idea came into my mind when Mrs. Terri told us to pick out a postcard and write about it. I liked the hummingbirds on the postcard I picked because they make me smile. … Harry Potter is my favorite book and movie, and I actually do want to live in Harry Potter’s world. I liked how Mrs. Terri told us to copy the ‘I wish I could’ line from an author or a movie. … These two pieces were like treasures to me, and I loved to write poems and stories in the Badgerdog workshop. Thank you, Mrs. Terri.”


The Hummingbird

A hummingbird as gray
as stone, drinking the red
flower’s pollen. Tweet, tweet, tweet,
chirps the hummingbird, with its
wings making soft whooshing noises.
It flies here and there in search of pollen.
When a bright orange flower catches
her very small eyes, she flies closer
to see that its petals are bright.
She then happily drinks the pollen inside
and then flies off in search of more.


I Wish I Could Live in Harry Potter Movies

I wish I could live in Harry Potter movies,
doing defense against the Dark Arts
and joining the DA
to improve my spells, charms, jinxes, and hexes.
Or to sit next to Harry in Transfiguration
and be the Quidditch team captain in the fifth year.
But also to share a dormitory with Hermione and Ginny
in Gryffindor and to
eat with them and Harry in the Great Hall.

I wish I could
live in Harry Potter movies
to get top grades for
Transfiguration, Potions,
Defense against the Dark Arts,
Divination, and Astronomy.
For O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s
and to go to Hagrid every other day
to help him train Grawp,
and then go to the Gryffindor
common room and do homework
or watch Peeves drop water balloons
on the Slytherins while the Gryffindors
roar with laughter.
Maybe watching Potter would
be useful when Ron, Hermione, and Harry
leave to find Horcruxes,
and going to the burrow
on the holidays would be so cool.
It would be so nice

to Live in Harry Potter Movies.

Claire Wan
Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camper
Upper Elementary Workshop at the Austin International School

The Long Road

5 Jul

Often, the ambiguous lines of abstract art seem impenetrable, cold, unwelcoming—as if to say: “I am not for you.” To be intimated by art is not an uncommon experience, and this alienation is only strengthened by the select few who claim to be “insiders,” the true readers of art. However, this week, Badgerdog writer Aubrey refused to be kept out. She not only visited the Blanton Museum of Art (and Kazuya Sakai’s painting), she made it her home. The result of her daring journey is this poem, which rejects the idea that art has any single meaning. Aubrey enters Sakai’s canvas, becoming three distinct speakers as she walks along the painting’s lines. Here is the sea. Here is the rainbow. Here is the world. And here is a possible traveler. She is speaking.

Girls of Kilimanjaro

inspired by Kazuya Sakai’s Filles de Kilimanjaro III

I am a twisting path of rainbows going anywhere I please, with little stops along the way.

I am a girl of Kilimanjaro traveling from Asia to Europe to Mexico on a path of rainbow light.

I am the sea of green around the path. I will never let her pass.

Aubrey, sixth grade, Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp at the Girls’ School of Austin