Thursday, May 20, 2010

COURAGE BY Taskeen Khan, 12 - 1st Place Winner in National Competition

“Courage. When people hear that word they think of famous heroes. Soldiers, cancer survivors and civil rights activists also come to mind. I think of all those people but there are a few more on my list such as a lady named Ahlam. She had to come from a different country all alone because in her country, women did not have equal rights. Ahlam spoke out against this and was persecuted by her government. She had to flee as an asylee to the US. I don’t know if I would have been able to speak out, knowing those consequences. It’s not always easy to settle in to a new country like she did. You may have to learn a new language, meet new people, make new friends, and get used to a new culture. Those are only a few of the many hurdles new immigrants face.

Ahlam could have stayed in her country despite its unequal treatment of women and done nothing. However, she spoke out against the government risking her own life. It takes plenty of courage to do what you think is right even if your life is on the line. Doing this and knowing you will face challenges is even harder. It’s similar to standing up to a bully at school.

The other challenge was leaving her personal comfort zone to come to America. One of the first issues Ahlam faced in a new country was finding an inexpensive place to stay. Ahlam knew that there were probably many social service organizations willing to help people in her situation from her work in public policy in her own country. She called organization after organization. What made this especially hard was that she knew very few words of English. It takes courage to ask people you don’t know at all for help.

Another problem Ahlam faced was learning a new language. Week after week she collected money for English classes by doing jobs that didn’t require much talking, such as house cleaning. She found these jobs through a lady at one of the social service organizations that had befriended her. It’s courageous to do jobs that are below your qualifications because you feel degraded. Ahlam did it because she knew it was her lifeline.

After her first session of classes, Ahlam could understand the language and say a few words of English. This was progress but the cleaning jobs soon become few and far between. So she got on the phone again. She found a program called RAP (Refugee Assistance Programs) that could help people from other countries find jobs that they were suitable for. After a quick interview, they found she was passionate about cooking. This was important because she didn’t need to be fluent in English and could still hold onto a piece of her culture. They helped her start a catering business from her home that helped her raise more money for English lessons. At first there were very few orders but as word spread and RAP organized public tastings, her business grew. At the end of 2009, two years after she had arrived, Ahlam was fluent in English and had her own business up and running.

Ahlam was now settled into the US because of the help of many people and her original courage to leave her home. She had now seen how many hands make light work and wanted to make it happen for others. Ahlam knew her first problem had been finding an inexpensive house and learning a language. So she started low fee English lessons for people who were new to America. She also used her catering business as a stable job people could participate in till they found other work. The extra money often helped these individuals pay for rent and food. All these good things happened because of one woman’s courage to leave home and start a new life.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

How a vacation changed my life

By Olivia H., Age 14

My heart was set for Mexico, not a mission trip in the Dominican Republic! I didn’t want to be spending my spring break with people that couldn’t afford to eat all three meals a day. On Spring Break, I’d prefer to be with friends that could afford to pay for hotels on the beach, the dinners and sun bathing, with me. Now my life was ruined. My hands were in fists, my cheeks were flaming red. I had just found out the most embarrassing news ever. My mother just gave up poolside waitresses and laying on the beach, to serve other people, instead of getting served.

Over two weeks my mind had started to drift differently. The thought that kept going through my mind several times was, “is this what I really want, maybe I do want it?” I went to meetings with the group of us going to the D.R. Everyone else there, except myself, is getting so pumped for this. I realized I was the only one being pessimistic about this whole thing. The leader of our group started to show us pictures of other missionaries down there with the children in their arms. That’s when I got so excited! I was ready for what was coming to me; I wanted to be one of those missionaries holding those children, because I love little ones. So, I finally came to a conclusion, yes I do want this, this is what He has planned for me; to serve this Spring Break so I can come home differently.

I will always remember that moment I stepped off the plane. I felt that warm breeze way different than Chicago, but the same as Mexico. My frown happened to turn into a grin, with a good heart inside all that anger which is now erased. This most definitely wasn’t the same as Mexico, but I could deal with it. I was ready for what was coming. I admitted to myself this place would do. So as the warm air turned into a hot air, all fifteen of us, dressed the same, teal shirts, and anxious, piled into the bus in the Dominican Republic.

On the bus ride to the town, Spanish was flying everywhere, teenagers and men were sitting on the sidewalk in the middle of the day playing cards, abandoned dogs were searching for just a scrap of food here and there.

The time was here, this was it and this was what all of us had been getting ready for. I couldn’t believe I was finally here! This place wasn’t any ordinary place. If you call walking on the sidewalk normal, they have no clue what a sidewalk is. It’s just a lot of dirt people have walked over and over on, simply making a path. There you think it’s normal for when dark skinned people ages three to seventy, hang over your fence, begging, and they called this the richer area of this town. There were babies that probably had just learned to walk, walking around by themselves with NO ONE watching over them. Here in this country, you’re on your own, you do everything by yourself, if you can’t do it by yourself, most likely you will die. You have no help from the government; all you can really rely on is the missionaries to help you.

Half of these children had not even a scrap of clothes on their body. We decided for that week to do the mission trip in a school with children at Palo Blanco Care Center. We brought over books for them for their library which was about as big as my closet. The books were most likely used, and were about learning your ABC’s or all the way up to Clifford picture books. It was the best experience watching these children open up a book, having someone read to them. The used books smelled very old and muggy, as if they had been sitting down in a basement for hundreds of years. I would sometimes just sit there and just watch their eyes get as bright as the headlights on a car. Their smile’s would stretch all the way to the moon and back. Sometimes in the U.S we take for granted what most people have. But no, in the D.R food, shelter, money and books are a lifetime treasure.

There was one child that always stood out to me at Palo Blanco Care Center. His name was Andrew, except when he pronounced it, he said it with a rich Dominican accent that I couldn’t even understand. I could never forget his dark, gloomy eyes that just stared back at me. Sometimes all I would do is just stand there with him and he would put his arm around me. Seemed like all he wanted was someone to love him, hold him tight, because he didn’t that to go home to. He was never one of the children that got into fights with another child. He just stepped back, stayed quiet and listened to me make an attempt at Spanish, as I threw in a couple of English word’s here and there. He always came to school hours early, for some reason. Everyday he wore the same shirt. It was dark blue and had a Cubs sign on it. His scent reminded me of horses. For him there was never a place for a shower. We asked the kids not to bath in the stream or to drink the water. It was known to be an “outhouse”, with lots of bacteria.

There was one time when we were all playing soccer and Andrew came across a penny; in their case it’s called a peso. Andrew was so thrilled! I felt terrible, because there was a time when I was walking through the downtown back in Chicago and I saw a penny laying on the ground. I simply put my nose up and walked away. I saw Andrew obsessing over a coin, then I realized he was happy because he could buy something to eat tonight for dinner. At that second my body started to get numb, I had no expression, my throat started to tighten, I couldn’t move. I stood there and looked at him as a tear began to trickle down my cheek and into my mouth.

During this game I also realized these kids don’t play soccer with anything fancy. They don’t have the proper clothing. They don’t have any cleats or shin guards. They even sometimes don’t have a real soccer ball. Back over in the States if we don’t have the proper materials to play, we would pitch a tantrum. Back home why were so many people so selfish? Why must we have everything and still want more?

For these children, life was beautiful, with or without anything. If you lived in a concrete house at least 12x12, you were considered a rich Dominican of this town. If you could feed your family at least once a day, you were considered blessed by God. Therefore, as an “Americano,” I was assumed blessed by God and rich in every area. God is very important in everyone’s life down there. They all had a smile on their face, all the time.

There’s that saying “you can have everything in the world, and still not be happy”. I truly do believe in that quote. Because, I have seen it happen. I live in a town of millionaires; I’ve seen them have everything in the world, everything going for them. But, for some reason they aren’t content. I have been around the world to see people going on in their life when they can’t even eat all three meals a day. Young Dominicans don’t need everything to make them happy, God, a soccer ball, one meal a day and family and friends, is what fulfills their life.

I don’t exactly know what touched me the most on that trip. Maybe it was seeing children with nothing, bringing their selves to school with a smile. Or, maybe it was the books, their houses, or the love they can still have toward each other despite all their problems. I just know ever since then my life has changed. I look at spending money differently. At first it was just normal and came along with my life, now it’s a privilege I have to earn. I don’t put my nose up anymore when I walk by a penny. Now, I take care of what I have. I thank God everyday for giving me another day of life with happiness in it. Every time I held a child there, I was finally content and the happiness of just one hug could last them a life time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Great Big Pinata - Group Poem

By Ainsley S., Evelyn G., Hamza A., Lilly S. Max H. Yousuf K.

Boom Blast Boom!
The night sky was lit up with a thousand stars

Ch Ch Ch, the popping in your ear
Colors everywhere for you to see,
Red, white, blue.

The night smelled cheerful
Sweet like candy
Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Yellow

Fireworks flashed bright in the sky
Blasting high in circles, umbrellas, the American Flag.

They look like stars
They look like candy
They look bright.

It's a great big Pinata in the sky.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Haunted House

By: Abhi A., Age 9

This summer, I got a chance to go with my family to visit our old friends in Colorado. After a long flight and driving through the mountains, we finally reached their house in Golden, CO. I was so excited. We talked and played for a while, ate lunch and then got on our bikes to visit the area. Soon we were biking by open grasslands. There we saw a big, old house covered with creepers and high walls with thorny bushes around it. The house appeared empty. There were five black crows sitting on the gate watching us. It was getting quite dark so we headed home. We decided to come back next day.

Cock-a-doodle-doo, the rooster crowed the next morning. We got up early and were all very excited. We biked to the house. The front yard had very tall grass with shrubs and weeds. The door creaked loudly as we pulled it open. We went inside. It was dark. Suddenly, the door started to close by itself and strange scary sounds filled the air. As we turned on the light switch, a big spark lit up and everything was dark again. We wanted to escape but were trapped! We were scared.

We turned on our flashlights and searched around. As we kept going from one room to another we found lot of silky cobwebs. The rooms smelt of mold. Suddenly, my foot hit something and I tripped over and fell down. It was a handle of a trap door on the floor. We opened it and found a passage inside. Curiously, we crawled in. The door closed automatically. It was a tunnel with light at the end. We could not turn back. We kept going.

Finally, after five minutes, the tunnel opened in a place that looked like a barn. We were in the backyard of the house. This was our chance to escape. We grabbed our bikes and fled home as fast as we could.

We told our parents what we saw. They immediately called the police and took us back to the house. As we reached the house, things looked different. The crows were gone. The door did not creak or close behind us. The rooms were empty but clean and had no cobwebs or mice. We were really confused. We ran out and looked for the barn. There was none. There was a children’s swing set instead.

Our parents looked at us and frowned. They thought we lied and made this story up. As we slowly biked back to our homes, we continued to wonder what happened.

Next day, we headed back to the airport. In the plane I sat quietly and wondered. Why doesn’t anyone live there any more? Was the house haunted? Did those crows have anything to do with this? Maybe we will never know.

As the plane took off, I looked down and saw a flight of black birds flying away into the sky.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I am a Muslim American, By Camraan K., 10yrs old

I am happy to be a Muslim American.
I ask God to make it easy for me to make good choices.
I do this five times a day to keep myself on the right track.
I treat my neighbors and friends respectfully.
I fast in the month of Ramadan it reminds me to be grateful and to help.
I go for Friday or Jumah prayers at the Mosque, when everyone prays together.
I give charity for the poor and help out when I can.
I tell my friends about Eid celebration at school.
I am very much like everyone else.
I like to see people smile and be happy with each other.
I share the same dreams and worries as my friends.
I like to laugh at jokes, and play tricks on my brothers.
I like macaroni and cheese, and pizza. I just won’t drink alcohol or eat pork.
I like being this way.
I help my team in football, baseball, and basketball.
The world is our team, not a free-for-all.
If we take turns and share, if we can play fair, we can all win again and again.
I am happy to be a Muslim American.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

ALGOL'S BIG DAY By Yusuf R. Age 6

Once upon a time there was a family that owned a dinosaur. The family has one boy and one girl. The boy is 14, his name is Mahad. The girl is Maryam, and she is 8. Their Dad is Mansoor and their mom is Tazeen. The dinosaurs name is Algol. They got him from the Field Museum. He came home with them by walking giant steps behind their car. Bam! Bam! Algol is a brown stegosaurus. He has smooth skin, he is 26 years old, and he is thin.

His best friend is Mahad because they find food together, from the jungle and from a store called Meijer. One day mom was cooking dinner. She forgot the ingredients so she went to the store to buy them. Accidentally she forgot to turn off the stove! And the children didn't dare touch the stove and Algol didn’t touch it because he might do something wrong.

When the mother came back with the ingredients the house was on fire. Swoosh! Swoosh! the fire spread. The dinosaur was sleeping in the yard and so were the kids. They heard the Swoosh and they felt the hotness of the fire and they saw the red fire. They wanted to wake up Algol to blow the fire away but it was too late. The fire already touched the grass and came on to Algol.
Algol screamed "Ouch" and jumped up at the same time. Then he saw the house on fire. Then he said to the family "I’ll blow the fire away."

The family said "OK". He blew the fire out with his mouth. Fooooo!

He said to the family, come on my hand and then he blew on them so they felt cool. And then he blew so hard they began flying. They were going to fall so Algol caught them on his back but not on his spikes.

Then they all felt cool on the grass because the dinosaur had watered the grass before they landed on it. They landed with a soft thud.

Then they said thank you to Algol and went to a forest in the woods where they roasted yummy marshmallows and ate them.


Thirteen feet tall, By Yusuf R. Age 6

One day my uncle bought me four boxes of candy. Two boxes sounded like chhhh chhhh chhhh. The others sounded like shaka shaka like a maraca. The candy was Raisinets, Air Heads, Nerds and Sour Patch. Raisinets taste like raisins and were mushy. Air Heads feel sticky when you lick them and touch them. They taste sweet. Nerds feel hard but they taste sour. Sour Patch tastes sour but feel soft. When I ate all the candy in one day, I became ten feet tall.

I said "What happened to me?"No one replied because no one recognized me.

My mother said "Get out of here - who are you?"

My father said "Yusuf where are you, I have something for you".

Now that I'm ten feet tall, I can play basketball and do slam dunks. I can only sit in a van because my head will get bumped in a car. Thud. I can go on all the rides in Six Flags. That will feel good - and bad because my stomach will make a gurgle noise and my teeth will chatter if it is a high ride. My clothes will grow with me. I will jump from roof to roof. Swoosh. Swoosh. My shoe size will be 20.

Then by eating healthy food like vegetables and chicken I will grow thirteen feet tall. These foods taste yummy and awesome. They sometimes feel soft and sometimes feel crunchy. Orange chicken or fried chicken is crunchy.

All the kids in the whole universe will buy the same candy and eat them all in one day like me. So then they can become ten feet tall too. But when they will eat healthy food, they can become thirteen feet tall like me.

The End

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Model Super Hero By Azhar G. ( first story)

There once was family of superheroes. Parents, Greg and Kathy Wayne, had only one child. They named hin Matthew after his great grandfather. Matthew Wayne A.K.A. The Viper, the greatest superhero on earth.

Greg and Kathy were also great superhroes. Greg Wayne was Mega Man and had super strength as well as the ability to fly. Kathy Wayne was Lightening - Woman. She had super speed and the ability to move things. She was also able to hold onto a force field.

Matthew had just turned thirteen and was hoping to get his powers. After all every super hero got their super powers at about that age. He couldn’t wait. He had already made his costume. One sunny afternoon as Mathew was walking along the sidewalk, to the park he saw a garbage can overflowed with garbage. The smell reminded him of his old friend Roger’s dog. But Roger had moved years ago.

Matthew thought to himself ‘What should I do about this?’. He went straight to City Hall to inform the mayor about the pollution. But sadly the mayor turned him down . Matthew couldn’t just stand there., he had to do something about this.

Matthew went back home to tell his parents about this. His father told him that he should do something about it. His mother agreed. Matthew went back to the park to clean up the mess. Matthew thought to himself, ‘This isn’t as easy as I thought it would be, because I still don’t have my powers’. But that didn’t stop him from cleaning the mess from the park. Matthew even called the janitor of his school to help him. Together they cleaned up the whole park.

Over time, Matthew learned that you don’t need to have powers to be a hero. You can be a hero just by cleaning the enviroment.

Matthew grew up , got married and had kids but he never got his powers. But he was powerful in his own little way and would live on to influence people and their lives.


A Peculiar Vacation By Zahra G. ( First Story)

One day my mother told me we were going to Mexico. ‘We are leaving there in three days,’ she said. It was going to be just her and I. I was delighted because I’ve always wanted to go there. The next morning we started packing for our trip and we did more of it the day after that.

The day night before we were leaving I had to get a good night sleep because we had to wake up at 6:oo a.m. The next day we went to the airport and waited at the gates for about 2 hours. After that we finally went in the airplane.

It took four hours to get to Mexico. First we went to a hotel called Grand Marine. Our Room was awesome and overlooked the sea! The room number was 204. We went to a beach and while I was collecting some seashells I found a red ruby diamond. I quickly put it in my sack and didn’t know if I should tell my mom.

We ate lunch at Sam & Harry’s but my mom finished quicker and left. I sat there finishing my fish and by then I'd forgotten my room number. I just knew it was 20 something. It was at that moment, that I passed this awkward looking man who asked another man, "Did you find the red ruby?"

“No,”the other man replied.

I think my room number was 208. I put the card in the slot & it opened. But when I took one step forward , I realized that it was the wrong room. Then I heard the same men in the hallway.

"How come you didn’t find the red ruby?" said one.

“It wasn’t there,”the other replied.

"Wait !" I said to myself. "I have the ruby!" I slowly tried to get out of the wrong room but the man caught me.

“Well what have we here? Who are you?” he said.

"I’m Zahra” I told him but couldn't imagine I was dumb. I thought I shouldn’t have told him my name.”

"Who are you?” I asked.

“I’m Carl,”he said.

I quickly left before he could ask anything else . As I passed it, I suddenly remembered the room number! It’s 204. When I went in the room my mom asked, "What took you so long?” .

“I had to finish my nachos," I said with guilt.

When we went to sleep all these questions were in my head. “Why do they want the ruby so bad”? “Why did I pick the ruby up”?

The next morning , I just couldn’t take it anymore. I called the police & they rushed over. I opened the thieves door and told the police the whole story.

The police said to the men, “You are under arrest.”

I gave the police the ruby . “Wait a minute ,these guys are on the ten most wanted list”. “That means you get $1,000!” I was filled with joy.

All through this, my mom stayed clueless and didn’t know a thing that happened . THAT’S WHAT I CALL A PECULIAR VACATION!

Big Bunny’s Surprise By Anisa Q.(first story)

One cool summer day, Big Bunny woke up in his awesome beach room. It had “sand” on the floor and his bed looked like a shark with the roof looking kind of like an umbrella.What's more, there was a small little pool just for him outside. IT WAS THE BEST!

When he awoke, he knew something was different, he just knew it but he didn’t quite know what was different.

“I wonder, I wonder, well, what’s going on?” said Big Bunny.

All the same he got on with the day. First, he brushed his teeth and washed his face and then he went outside for a little dip in the pool. When he returned, he dried himself off and put on his warm morning clothes. Then, he walked up to his parents room and found they were already awake and to top that they were building something! His parents didn’t notice him, and Big Bunny thought there were working on some toy, so he walked downstairs. He remained curious even as he readied himself for breakfast. But instead of cereal and milk, across from him, there was scrambled eggs and mush! The eggs smelled okay but the mush smelled just horrible! What on earth was that green stuff he wondered to himself?

By now, Big Bunny was very curious, so, he quickly ran upstairs to ask Mom and Dad Bunny what was going on? As he got there he could hear extremely loud crying and it smelled really, really horrible! And when he got there, he saw a BABY Bunny!

Big Bunny completely freaked out! His eyes popped out, his mouth fell open and he went completely nuts!

He yelled, “I have a sibling! Why didn’t you tell me?”

“We were but we wanted it to be a surprise”, they said.

“Well it sure is!” Big Bunny said! But Big Bunny didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl. But he didn't care. After the initial shock wore off, Big Bunny found he was so HAPPY! He now had a sibling! But Big Bunny also felt sad because the baby would get all of the attention and he would get none. But guess what? It turned out that Big Bunny got treated the same way! And they both loved each other! The baby loved her crib and her name was Baby Bunny. WHAT A SURPRISE!!

The End

Lost in the Woods By Huma Fatima N..(first story)

Once upon a time, I was wandering through some very dark and spooky woods, searching for my best friend, Jill. It had all started when Jack, her brother, scared Jill away when he popped out of the closet very quickly to scare her. He knew that Jill was a very sensitive person but he did it anyways. Since this wasn't the first time he had scared her, she overreacted and ran away from our village. I went running after Jill because I didn't want her to get lost…..unfortunately, I couldn’t find her!

All of a sudden, with a whoosh and a swish horses came galloping at me. I fled for my life! Where had they suddenly appeared from? I thought, feeling as if my heart would jump out of y skin. I had loved horses since I was a little girl, but the horde had startled me by appearing out of nowhere. Suddenly, my curiousity won the upper hand over fear and I wanted to see where these quick and fast horses were headed. to. I hoped they were headed for Beanville, my village, or else I would be stranded. I didn't want them to run away from me, so I followed them sleathily hoping that they would not see me, a small child who was lost. I was very tired, and my eyes drooped. * * *

At the crack of dawn, the horses stopped galloping and I too had become tired and sleepy. The run had lasted a very enormous period of time, much longer than I had thought it did. Before long, I was asleep by a tree.

When I awoke, I was frightened and sad because Beanville wasn't even on the horizon. Weary from running, I decided I would just get on the horses, insteaded of chasing them. I jumped up on one of them.

I think I passed out again because when I awoke from my slumber, I was completely unaware of which town I was in. When I looked up, I saw a great, big castle made of candy and chocolate! Marshmallows, Jollyranchers, Twizlers, Hersheys, Sour Straws, frosting (which stuck the candy together) and many other different kinds of candies and chocolates!! But I warned myself that those delicious candies had to be ignored until I knew who lived in there! That curiosity of mine I know one day would really damage my diminutive brain!

As my curiosity and the horses led me to the left wing of the candy castle, I spotted three odd looking doors. I was hoping Jill would be there. I desperately wanted her to come back home!

The first door led to the horses’ room where small, medium, and big sized horses lived. I saw a lot of grass and hay in that room too! It smelled putrid! The horse that had me on his soft, fluffy back dropped me gently and all of the horses went inside that monstrous sized room. Jill wasn't there though.

When I forced an entrance at the second strange door, I found the runaway Gingerbread Man and his girlfriend having breakfast together. They were eating candy and the whole room was made out of gingerbread! I was very surprised to see them here and noticed that they were very embarrassed to be seen by me, so I said sorry, closed the door, and went to the third door. I shook my head sadly. Jill hadn't been in there either.

The third and last door I saw was painted with beautiful, prettye Blue Jays, chirping above two crowns. That looked really creative! What was more, I heard ballroom music from the inside of the room. I opened the door very slowly and who should I see but Snow White and the Prince dancing in the ballroom! This time I knew I had to ask why they, the royal couple, were living here and if Jill was near by.
* * *
It turned out that the prince had ordered the castle to be made when he was addicted to candy, at the age of 10. They would live in it until all of it was devoured. Snow White and the Prince also welcomed runaway creatures, such as the horses, to live with him because he needed help eating the castle, before the candy rotted away or spoiled. The horses had run away from their owners because they had wanted a free life. They were coming back from getting some exercise after a heavy meal, when I happened to take a ride. Snow White also told me that Jill was living in the right wing! She told me that she had found Jill wandering around hopelessly while she, Snow White, had been out looking for berries. Snow White had brought Jill back with her to the castle.

I had to meet her! My best friend was really happy to see me as I was to see her and we hugged each other. She also thanked me profusely for having made such an effort to bring her home. Afterall, she said, she'd worried about never seeing home again. After my joyful meeting with my best bud, I asked Snow White to show me the directions to Beanville, our hometown. She gave Jill and I huge pieces of her candy castle and sent a horse to bring us home! We had the most enjoyable ride home and what it made it all the more special was that my best friend was returning with me !!

That adventure was the most best experience of my life! I would never forget it!


On July 23rd, 3:01 a.m., I found myself face-to-face with the biggest change of my life. I was blessed with a pair of identical twin brothers. I had been so excited when I'd initially found out my mom was having one baby boy, but when she discovered she was having a pair of twins, my heart raced with joy! I couldn’t wait for those nine months to finish because I wanted to see my siblings' adorable faces. During those nine months, I made quilts for each of them, and went shopping to get their clothes, toys, blankets, strollers, and swing.

Then came the day, and my twin brothers were born into this world. It was a jubilant change to my life. “Aww, they are so cute,” was all I could utter. I had these two adorable brothers and I didn’t know which one to hold first. The first one was named Ismail and the other one was Ishaq. Ismail was born three minutes before Ishaq. They both had brown hair and sky blue eyes. Ismail was 8 ounces and 18 inches while Ishaq was 7.2 ounces and 19 inches.

They smelled so fresh, looked so cute, but when they cried, my ears would hurt because of their piercing cry. They didn’t cry that much, but when they did, it was very loud. What was most difficult was when they started crying at the same time. It was challenging for my mom as well. She had to take care of two babies at the same time. My dad, siblings, and I helped my mom a lot. They kicked and later rolled all over when you tried to put on their diaper. When I tried to feed the babies their apple sauce, sometimes they ate it but when they didn't want to, they spat it out on my face. They burped all over their clothes and make them so dirty. Their toys and various accessories also made the house untidy and messy. But we weren't just helping mother out with the babies, we shared the housework as well. We did the dishes, sweeping, moping, and cleaned the counter tops.

I loved watching my twin brothers grow and even though they were very small, over a few months they developed their own, cute personalities. Ismail cried more than Ishaq but Ishaq made more of a mess. Ismail always pretends to talk on the phone and Ishaq loved to watch TV and pretend to drink coke.

It is hard to have a pair of twins but a great pleasure having them around too. They fill our life with color, and I am not just talking about all the finger painting handprints all over the walls!!!

A Night of Terror By Ayesha V..(first story)

Once, on a cold winter night, I was alone, and feeling increasingly scared . To keep my mind off of it, I made popcorn which was crunchy and delicious and watched a movie called "KungFu Panda". Suddenly I heard a creek and I jumped. Then I heard a thud which made me even more frightened.

Then the phone rang ,I walked slowly to answer the phone but no one spoke. I was scared so I went upstairs with a stick. I walked very slowly the stairs creaked as I walked into my parents room - the biggest room of all time. To my horror, that's when I spotted the shadow. I fled down stairs and tried to call my parents and they didn’t pick up the phone so I had to think of something and I locked myself in my bedroom closet.” Oh my god I made a mistake, I can’t leave now if I do he’ll probably kill me."

I was so scared I said the shahada, a prayer thinking it was my last day to live. My body hurt from staying in that teeny place for so long. The pain was unbearable for me. I wanted
my parents to show up fast so I could go to them and not feel as worried.

I was still scared but I stepped out anyways thinking I would rather die than continue to be squished in that closet for an hour longer. I tiptoed to check my sisters room. There was no one there. It was the same with my room. The only room left was the scariest, the master bedroom. I can’t do it, I thought. Building up some courage I said the Three Kul prayers and started walking with a bat and a knife. Everything was fine until I found myself upside down. I was trapped!! I wiggled so much that I escaped.

Suddenly, I heard a door fly open and hid under the bed. The the person started screaming my name "Ayesha", and it sounded like my mom. So I rushed down stairs and saw my mom, dad, and sister. I gave my mom a big hug; and as soon as I turned around I glimpsed the man by the hiding behind the stairs . I screamed so loud that my parents too saw what has frightened me. They called the police. They arrested the man and took him far away from me. But ever since that day, I've always been scared that one day he will return for revenge. He'd come to kill me. Maybe next time he would do worse things. I try and push the fear aside. I tell myself, I am safe and secure, that Allah will protect me, that for now I should just be happy and live life.

A LIVING NIGHTMARE BY ZARA V. Age 12 .(first story)

One dark, cold, Halloween night, I was walking home from my friend’s house, when I saw a man holding up a knife. He was dressed in a black gown with the hood on his head. I was so scared, that I thought it was my last day to live. I started running at top speed and as I was about to enter the garage, when I tripped on a sharp rock. The jagged edge of the rock went into my knee with the other half still left sticking out. I screamed for the pain was unbearable. I was trembling in fear and my heart was thumping but the man was still there and I knew if I wanted to survive I had to go inside the house.

With tears streaming down my face, I limped into the garage and closed the garage door. I had never experienced something so scary and frightening before. My knee was hurting so much and I was out of breath, but I felt safe and no longer worried about the man.

I dragged myself to my parents’ room, explained the whole story and showed them my knee. They screamed in panic on seeing my knee and quickly called the hospital. An ambulance came to my house and put me on a stretcher. They took me to the hospital, and the nurse took me to a room that smelled of different types of medicines. It was very stuffy in the room. The doctor examined my knee immediately and decided I would need surgery. When I heard that I would need surgery I started crying like there was no tomorrow.

They wrapped my knee and gave me an ice pack. They said they would start the surgery the following morning. I thought of nothing but the surgery the whole night. I did not want to go through with it. I was worried they would cut off my whole leg. I was afraid that something would go wrong in the surgery. What if I was not able to walk again? All these worries in my head were making this surgery a lot scarier. I tried reasoning with myself - I had to get surgery or else the pain in my knee would not go away. It was my only option, so I had to deal with it and have a positive attitude. I tried to get a goodnight's sleep and forced myself to forget about the looming horror.

When I opened my eyes to an early morning, I knew that the surgery would begin; but when I took a quick glimpse at my knee, the rock had been removed.

I limped to my parents and the doctor, and told them the good news. The doctor smiled and said they'd already done the surgery while I was sleeping. I was so happy because it hadn't hurt a bit. I had been worried for nothing!

I was hobbling on my crutches to ask the nurse if I could leave. She said that I would have to stay in the hospital for some more time until my knee healed completely. I was okay with that. When I went to my room the nurse was already there. She examined my knee, and told me that it is not healing. Worse, they needed to do another surgery.

This time the surgery would happen when I was wide awake. I closed my eyes as the doctor brought in the huge needle. He said that they would inject that into my knee, and squeeze out all the bacteria such as pus into a tube. Also they would give me lots of different shots, and antibiotics. I didn’t want to be scared this time, because last time I didn’t feel a thing.
The doctor started the surgery by giving me medicine that numbed me against the all the pain. Then he injected the needle and squeezed out all the pus, blood, and bacteria. It hurt a little bit when he put the needle in my knee. Then he injected a few more shots and gave me antibiotics. The doctor said I could leave after an hour.

I was so happy all the surgery was done. I could finally go home. On the way home I recognized the man with a knife ! He was taking Haloween decorations off his house and I realized the costume and he had been fake. It was only a Halloween costume and theme party that my neighbor had organized! I'd learned the very hard way that things might look scary but in reality are not that bad.


My Frilled Lizard Project By Azaan K. Age 8

My class was working on an Australian animal project. My animal was the Frilled Lizard. I don`t know why I picked the frilled lizard, I just did. It has those frills to scare away other creatures and I thought it was cool. I did a lot of research, and even went to the library and read books on the subject. Then I started to make lots of notes that night. When I was too tired, I decided to go to sleep.

The next day I didn’t need to take my homework to school so I left my project on my desk in my room. I came back from school and went to my room to do my project, I wasn’t able to find my paper full of notes. I looked all over the room. I still couldn’t find the notes!

Suddenly, I saw a messed up paper airplane in the garbage. I realized that it was my page of notes. I tried to read it, but I couldn`t. All my writing had been smeared. Seeing this made me feel angry and sad. I was frustrated that I had to do it all over again. I was trying to figure out how this happened and who did it. I didn’t know what to do. I asked my little brother if he messed up my paper and he quietly said, “Yes.” I was so angry at him, but then I realized that he was very little and I should have kept my notes away from his reach.

Finally, I found mom and told her the whole story. She looked at me and smiled. She said “You should keep your homework away from your little brother”.

I was wondering why she was smiling? Maybe she didn’t think it was important?

She took me to the computer room and told me to turn on the computer.

I turned it on and guess what I saw? I started to smile too. My notes! She had typed them on the computer before my little brother turned it into a messed up airplane.


The Rose Bush Dilemma By Imaani Ali, Age 14

“Ding Dong” went the doorbell at exactly 9:00 A.M., as usual. I smiled as I opened the door to let my friend, Hannah, in. We exchanged brief hellos and headed out for our usual spot under the big oak tree in the backyard. As I stepped outside, I covered my eyes from the bright sun that greeted us and I quickly scrambled to the wonderfully cool shade of the tree. I dropped down onto the grass, while Hannah, being her usual graceful self, lowered herself down next to me with ease.

“So,” she said, “What should we do today?”

I sighed and shrugged my shoulders. It was summer vacation and on the last day of school, Hannah and I agreed to spend everyday of vacation together. Well, after four days of art projects, fashion shows, internet surfing, movies, and kite flying, we were bored out of our minds.

Just then, a blue bird landed on my mother’s favorite rose bush. Suddenly, my mother ran out of the house and towards the bush. Hannah and I giggled as we watched my mother shout at the birds and shoo them away with her flour covered hands. Apparently, she had been in the middle of one of her many baking projects. Finally, the bird flew away.

"Oh, I wish those birds would stay off my bush,” she gasped, out of breath, “They keep trying to build nests and it looks very unattractive.”

That gave me an idea, so I turned to Hannah and said, “I bet we could think of a way to keep the birds away. We could throw something and scare them.” Hannah agreed, but my mother was shaking her head.

“I don’t want you two to hurt the birds,” she said, “just keep them off my bush.” Then she walked back into the house in a huff.

“How about we throw something next to the bush instead of on it?” Hannah suggested.

I agreed and we immediately got to work. We looked all around the house for things to throw. We tried cotton balls, but they were too light. We were going to try spoons, but my mother stopped us because she didn’t want them getting dirty. Next to the rose bush, my mother was very protective of her silverware. When we tried water balloons, they were working for a while, but we had to keep pausing to fill up more and it was taking too long. Hannah and I tried many things, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, we got hungry and looked in the refrigerator for something to eat.

“Whoa!” Hannah exclaimed as she saw the contents of the refrigerator, “You guys have a lot of eggs!”

It was true. Two whole shelves were occupied with just cartons and cartons of eggs.
I smiled and said, “My mom recently learned how to make devilled eggs. She bought all of these eggs so that we can eat them everyday. Although, when she made them, they weren’t that good. Now we’re not so sure what to do with the eggs…” my voice trailed off as an idea formed in my mind. I looked at Hannah.

She smiled at me and I could tell we were both thinking the same thing. We each grabbed a carton of eggs and scurried outside.

When we reached the backyard, there was a whole flock of birds resting on the rose bush. Hannah and I each grabbed an egg, aimed, and fired. As the eggs cracked, the birds fluttered away in fear. Hannah and I high fived each other at our success, and continued chucking eggs. One by one, the eggs left the cartons and landed near the rose bush. Before long, there were 24 cracked eggs around the rose bush and Hannah and I each held an empty carton, laughing hysterically.

“That was so much fun!” Hannah said after she got her laughter under control, “I can’t believe we used up two whole egg cartons!”

“I know! Come on, let’s go get more!” and we both ran back into the house, giggling again. As we entered the kitchen, we met my mother holding a large plastic bag.

“What are you girls up to?” she asked.

“We’re getting more eggs to scare the birds away,” I said quickly as we opened the refrigerator.

“Are you talking about the birds on my rose bush?” my mother questioned, sounding suspicious.

“Yes,” Hannah replied, “We are throwing eggs by the bush to make the birds fly away. But don’t worry, we aren’t hurting them,” she added quickly.

“You’re throwing eggs on my precious rose bush?” my mother said in disbelief.

When we nodded, my mother looked as though she was about to explode. I could almost see the steam coming out of her ears.

“Girls!!” she hollered, “I appreciate the help, but I didn’t want you to throw EGGS!! They will go rotten and smell bad and it will look a lot more unattractive than a bird’s nest!” My mother was fuming.

“We were just trying to solve the bird problem,” I said, trying to act as innocent as I could.

“I didn’t want you to solve it by throwing eggs, and besides,” she said as she revealed the contents of the bag, “I bought this for the birds,” and she held out a birdhouse, “I figured the birds would build their nests in this instead of on my bush.”

“Oh,” Hannah and I said in unison.

“Well,” I said, “I guess we could spend the rest of the day painting the birdhou—“

“NO,” my mother said firmly, and pointed towards the backyard, “You two will spend the rest of the day cleaning up every single egg out there.”

Hannah and I stared at her, open-mouthed, in shock. When my mother’s expression remained the same, we each heaved a sigh and muttered, “Fine,” as I grabbed a bucket and we both trudged outside. This was going to be a long afternoon.

The End

The Scarecrow’s Clothes By Sabreen Ali, Grade 6

On Monday morning I woke up at 5:00 am. I made myself a bagel with cream cheese and went out to the porch. It was hot, but there was a gentle breeze which made my hair rustle. I sat in my old rocking chair, and took big bites of my bagel and chewed slowly while I watched the sun rise. Then I went out to the farm and checked on the crops. I found crows eating the corn stalks.

“Get out of here!” I shouted, but only one flew away. I waved my hands in the air at them. Two more flew away. I crossed my arms and grunted in frustration. Those birds always ate my corn stalks! I quickly walked to the shed and got out my whip. Then, when I got to the crows on the corn stalk, I cracked my whip at the remaining birds. They fluttered in fear. “Caw-caw! Caw-caw!”

I need to find a way to get the crows away from my crops, I thought. When I went inside, I decided to look online for ideas. I sat in my pink fluffy chair in front of the computer. Then I typed in the address bar “google.com”. Tap, tap, tap went the keys on the keyboard as I searched “keeping crows away from plants.”

I was amazed by how many results I got! I clicked on the first link. It brought me to a website with many ways to prevent birds from eating crops. This was exactly what I needed! The first thing on the list was “make a scarecrow.” When I read this, I knew it was the perfect idea.

I clicked on “make a scarecrow”, and it showed me the materials needed to make it and instructions. I needed a pole, straw, and clothes. I decided to go to the store just for the pole and straw because I could just use my own clothes for the scarecrow. I went to the store Michaels because I knew they would have everything I needed. I lived in the country and it was a long drive into the city. The car bumped along over gravel until I got on to smooth city roads. On my way, I passed a garage sale. I should stop there on my way back, I thought.

After I bought all I needed from the store, I stopped at the garage sale I had seen earlier. Some things stood out including the different kitchen utensils, but what made my eyes pop was a set of clothes. “They are perfect for my scarecrow!” I thought out loud. The shirt was checkered with red and white squares. There were blue overalls to go over it. There was even a little straw hat to go with it. I have to buy this outfit, I thought. Why waste my own clothes when the perfect clothes to my scarecrow were right here! I brought the clothes over to the lady at the table in front of the driveway.

“Good luck,” she said as I paid her.

What did she mean by ‘good luck’? I thought. You don’t need luck for clothes.

When I got home, I called my friend Stacy, and I invited her to my house to help me make my scarecrow. She arrived ten minutes later. After I showed her the materials and instructions, we got started. We tried to follow the instructions, but we couldn’t understand them. They were too complicated. It told us to attach the straw in difficult ways that we couldn’t figure out how to do. The only thing we managed to do was to hold the pole up vertically, and that was just from common sense. We decided to come up with our own way to make it. Using rubber bands to hold it down, we attached the straw to the pole. We made arms, legs, and a head. We munched on tuna sandwiches while we worked. Then we put the clothes on it.

“It looks perfect!” Stacy exclaimed.

We took the scarecrow outside and staked the pole in the ground next to the corn stalks.

“That should scare the birds away,” I said as we walked inside.

It was nearly sunset by the time by the time Stacy left. I sat on my porch to watch the sunset. I nibbled on some crackers in my wooden rocking chair. I went to bed after eating a small dinner of chicken noodle soup. The next day I didn’t wake up on time to see the sunrise. Most of the time I do, but occasionally I am too tired to wake up so early. I ate a quick breakfast of cereal and milk, and then went to check on the corn stalks. I wonder if the scarecrow worked, I thought. I had my answer right when I saw the crows feasting on my corn stalk.

“Shoo, shoo!” I shouted. Most of them flew away. Isn’t the scarecrow supposed to scare the crows? I thought. That’s when I noticed the scarecrow was missing!

Did someone steal it? Or did the wind blow it away and out of the ground? I stood there thinking of the possibilities for a few minutes. The wind urged me forward as I looked around for the scarecrow. I found it at the cabbage patch. Only, it wasn’t just lying on the ground next to the cabbages, it was eating them! I stood in the gentle breeze, breathless. Scarecrows can’t move around! I thought. And they certainly can’t eat! I threw my arms up in confusion as I spoke to it.

“How can you be alive? You’re just a scarecrow!”

It surprised me when the scarecrow replied. I didn’t expect it to talk back.

“Oh, hello there, my name is Jane.” Apparently it was a girl because of her name and I could tell she was friendly by the way she greeted me.

“But you’re just a scarecrow,” I sputtered.

“It’s these clothes,” she explained. “They make me feel so…alive.” The clothes are what are keeping her alive? I tried to think of a logical explanation, but I couldn’t think right. I sat on the grass and calmed myself down. I took a deep breath and thought of everything I knew about the clothes. Then I figured it out. I got those clothes from that garage sale! That’s probably what the lady at the garage sale meant by ‘good luck’. But how did she know about my scarecrow? Maybe she heard me talk to myself about the clothes being perfect for my scarecrow.

“You’re supposed to be scaring crows away from my corn stalks. How come you’re over here, eating my cabbages?” I asked, still shocked that I was talking to a scarecrow.

“Sorry, but I got hungry,” she replied, now just standing in front of me.

“Maybe we can make a deal,” I suggested. “If you keep the birds away from my crops, I will feed you everyday.”

She nodded and said, “I would like that very much.”

The next day went just as expected. I woke up, ate breakfast, and fed the scarecrow. I was pleased to find that there were no crows on my plants. We got to know each other better while exchanging the many stories of our lives. One of them was about when I was five years old. I broke my mother’s favorite vase. I blamed it on my older sister, Martha. I was eventually caught and I got in trouble. I told Jane that my sister currently lived in another state.

Jane told me her stories too. She explained to me how she had come to life as a scarecrow once before. Her owner Lucy, the lady at the garage sale, was afraid of the scarecrow; when she figured out that the clothes made Jane come to life, she took them off. Then she sold them to me.

Jane also told me what she liked to eat. She had tried one of Lucy’s apples and she loved it. One time we played catch, and Jane liked it. We would only play when no one was there. When a car or person passed by, Jane would stand still as if she was lifeless. Jane and I became great friends. The whole experience made me realize that anything is possible!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Summer Road Trip By Emaad A.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, my family went to Mt. Rushmore. It took 14 hours to get there. On the way there, my sister and I watched some movies like Shirley Temple’s Bright Eyes and the Trumpet of the Swan.

After our long drive we got to the hotel. Since none of us were tired my dad decided to take us to Crazy Horse Memorial. By the time my family got there it was 8:30 and there was a show called “A Legend in Lights” where they lit images on the mountain to tell the story of Crazy Horse, the show was at 9 o’ clock. To pass the time my family and I went around the small museum and watched a movie about the sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski who had started working on the mountain but died before the face was complete. Finally it was time for the show. We went to our car where we had a good view of the mountain and watched the show. It was amazing how the lights looked on the mountain even though they were projected from the ground. The show told the story of both Crazy Horse and Korczak with different animations.

In the morning I thought I’d be off to Mt. Rushmore, I WISH. First my dad had to find what was happening at Mt. Rushmore and after that my mom made us clean up the car. All in all the morning was a drag. Mt. Rushmore has fireworks on the third of July, that’s when I discovered that not everyplace has fireworks on the Fourth. When we drove past Mt. Rushmore, we saw people getting seats for the fireworks which started at 9:15pm and it was only 10 o’ clock in the morning right then. We could not find a place to park and had to just wave at the presidents as we drove past.

My dad thought we should go to Jewel Cave instead. My mom saw a flyer about the Junior Ranger Program at Jewel Cave National Park. In the program, the Park Rangers give you a sheet of paper that has questions about the national park and if you get them right you are awarded a Junior Ranger Badge. My mom compelled my sister and I to do the Junior Ranger Program. Examples of questions were, how is a forest fire most likely to start? Or, what stone is Jewel Cave mostly made of? You could find answers to these questions by reading the displays or asking a Ranger. When we finished, the Ranger gave us a badge that said, “Junior Ranger Jewel Cave National Park." Then we drove in to the town next door called Custer to eat and get my dad a sweater because the temperature in Jewel Cave is always below 49 degrees.

At two in the afternoon my family and I went down into Jewel Cave. The ranger told us how Jewel Cave got its name. The story is that two brothers were riding their horses in the forest and they heard a whistling sound. They followed the sound and saw that it was coming from a hole, they went into Custer and got some dynamite and blew the hole wider so that both of them could fit through. When the brothers shone their light it reflected of the walls making the cave look as if it was made out of “jewels.” The jewels in the cave are just red rock that reflected light. The sound was air passing through the cave. Even though the Cave wasn’t made of jewels they both devised a plan to make lots of money by giving tours. The tour I went on was amazing, there were many rock formations of different colors and sizes.

After the tour, we drove to Mt. Rushmore. It took us a long time to get there and find parking because everyone wanted to see the fireworks by the national monument. We found a good spot to watch the fireworks just ten minutes before they were supposed to begin. A fighter jet flew above the monument so fast that it shook me enough to loose my balance. Mt. Rushmore’s fireworks are rated eighth best in the nation - I believe them! The fireworks exploded with a boom in all the colors of the rainbow. They looked like colored rain over Mt. Rushmore. It was a fantastic sight to see and I will remember it always.

In the morning we went to Mt. Rushmore again except this time we were able to enter the monument and see it up close from a balcony. We also went to the museum and did the Junior Ranger program at Rushmore. I saw a movie about the sculpting of Mt. Rushmore. In one of the various exhibits they showed a jackhammer that was used in the making of Mt. Rushmore. The most interesting thing I learned was that Lincoln’s nose fell of about five years ago and they had to reattach it.

After that we went to Badlands National Park. We saw lots of animals like bison and mountain sheep and a variety of birds. I even heard some rattlesnakes but I never saw them. The mountains were awesome. Some of them looked pink. Other looked like candy corn with yellow bottoms and orange peaks. There were also small trails with fossils of weird looking mammals. My sister and I both earned another Junior Ranger badge at the park. After Badlands we went to Sioux Falls.

On the way to Sioux Falls we stopped at a place called Wall Drug. Everything at Wall Drug was western and there where many shops selling everything from hunting gear to ice cream to historic artifacts like bones and fossils of dinosaurs. I got drenched at Wall Drug while playing in the water park. We arrived at Sioux Falls late because of our pit stop.

In the morning we went to Sioux Falls, the actual waterfall the town is named after. It was small. So small that I was surprised the town was named after it. I climbed the many rocks and boulders that surrounded the waterfall. It was more entertaining than contemplating the waterfall.

When we returned home I felt like we returned from a great adventure out west. Even though my family had a great time in South Dakota, we were all happy to be back were we belonged. If your family is planning on a summer road trip consider going to South Dakota. The vast Black Hills, the extraordinary sites like Mt. Rushmore and Jewel Cave are all worth the trip.

From the Girl Who Loves Icecream Every Day by Samia A., Age 8

Dear Reader,
Don’t you think that children should have ice cream everyday of the summer? Well I do and here are some tips to get ice cream everyday of the summer.
Ask your mom at the grocery store to get a huge tub of ice cream to last the summer and if your mom says NO say that ice cream is probably on summer CLEARNCE!
You can always beg and if that doesn’t work say you’ll pay for it. You can pay for it by setting up a lemonade stand in your neighborhood.
You can also do something really good and as a reward go for ice cream.
Try telling your parents you need ice cream for a new dessert you want to make.
You can do chores like cleaning the house or workbooks and if you don‘t get ice cream from that say you won’t eat any other food. I don’t think this will work though.
Tell your parents ice cream is a great cool down in the summer and you will get enough exercise to burn of the calories and will brush extra long before bed to prevent cavities. If they say no then ask for fruit bars instead. Its not ice cream but still is cool and sweet anyway.
If you do any one of these things they will probably work so get out there and enjoy your ice cream. If you do all the things you might get ice- cream most everyday in the summer or at least most days.
Samia A. Qadir

Monday, July 14, 2008

Family Feud by Sana Kadir, Age 8

It was a hot summer day and the air was filled with delicious smells of the neighbors BBQ. Jane had nothing to do except feeding the birds some leftover food. It was so boring doing that. Suddenly, Jane remembered that there were some bricks in the backyard shed left over from dad's construction project last year. She had a perfect idea of what to do next. She would make a brick wall and see how high the bricks could go. Maybe she could even climb them to see what the neighbors were grilling, she thought. She picked up a pink and blue brick but because they were so heavy, Jane dropped one of them. The brick fell on the pavement with a loud boom and broke into several pieces and made the birds fly away.

Dad heard the loud sound and ran out yelling "Janette Goodman what have you done now!?!"

"Dad I just dropped the bricks and the birds …"

Just then mom interrupted and said "…flew away!" before adding, "Jane what have I told you about the leftover food that the birds don't eat?"

"Ummmmm...I don't remember," replied Jane.

"The food will rot and ruin our yard and make it smell disgusting like a skunk! Let's go inside", said Mom.

As they walked inside the house, Dad said "remember last time our yard smelled, the neighbors called ROTTEN YARD INC. to complain about our yard. We have to make sure that doesn't happen again."

Just as they shut the door behind them, there was a knock.It was Jake, Jane's older brother.

"Where were you Jake, you are half an hour late!" yelled Mom.

"Mom it's not my fault, Mark took too long to do his HW" said Jake.

"Don't use your friend as an excuse, you shoule have been responsible enough to call me and tell me that you are going to be late," said Mom. Then she ordered Jake to go into his room.

Jane was also asked to go in her room. As soon as Jane got into her room she knew exactly what to do. Spy on Jake with the newest spy gadget, The Spy Fly! It was a mechanical fly with binoculars for eyes.

Jane saw Jake making plans to jump out of his window and head to Marks. As soon as Jane heard this, she ran downstairs to tell mom but, mom didn't listen. Then Jane went to dad but he was busy and didn't want to hear it either. Jane decided to scream the information so loud that mom, dad and even Jake heard it!

Jake got in trouble for the plans he was making and Jane got in trouble for spying on Jake. When she'd apologized to her mom, Jane went outside to play on her red and blue scooter. She also put on her matching helmet. Just as she went on the sidewalk her mom called her and said "Jane, your friend Brianna just called to come over to play. Please go and apologize to your brother before she gets here". A

s Jane walked over to Jakes room she knew her apology would not be accepted but she would try her best to tell her brother how sorry she was for spying on him.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Stream By Michael Scott

The water’s sweet smell fills all of the air,
The water flows past my feet with a chill in the air,
The leaves on the trees around the stream are red, yellow and green.

Jordan's Disastrous Day By Michael Scott, 7

Once my family went to my sister's piano recital. While we were gone my white, fluffy dog Jordan got into a bag of dark chocolate, but we didn't know. He usually is playful and friendly, but now he was limping, shivering and wouldn't play with his toys."Mom, Jordan is breathing weird and acting funny!" I told my mom. But she ignored me, so I went to bed.Suddenly, my sister screamed, "Aaah, there's something gooey and dark brown on my carpet!" My dog had thrown up in four different places in my sister's room! Most of it was dark brown and chunky. While I was sleeping, my mom and my sister Maddie had to clean up the mess, using spoons and a carpet cleaner. Then they had to take my dog to the animal hospital because dark chocolate is poisonous to dogs! Maddie held Jordan with a towel, in case he got sick again in our brand-new car! While they were gone, my other sister, Olivia, woke me up and told me that he was at the hospital. The vet gave him medicine that made him throw up the rest of the chocolate and made him go to sleep after. Then Jordan was able to come home. When he got home, I saw that Jordan had chocolate around his mouth and down the front of his body. Boy, did he smell like a cup of cocoa! So, my mom gave him a bath. The next day a part of my dog's cheek was green. So now Jordan is all white, except for his black nose, red tongue and green cheek. I don't know why but the green is still there. I guess my Mom missed that part of his cheek!


Flow of Life By Misbah Q. ,11

Oh river flowing slow and free
Stretching out as far as the eye can see
Splishing and splashing all around
Making such a soothing sound

River flowing to ocean
Ocean rising to rain
Rain splashing to river
Only to start all over again

An adventure of life
Rapids swirling with strife
Then smoothening in to ease
Flowing with the cool, gentle breeze

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Seeds By Kate W. Age 9, May 2008

When I planted the strange looking seeds they took 10 minutes to grow. Out came a beautiful yellow flower with a large ‘Pop’! The flower was shaped like a sun and it smelled like popcorn. I wondered if the flower tasted like popcorn. I picked off one of the petals. It felt like smooth and slippery like silk. Then, I tasted it and the petal melted in my mouth. The flower tasted like popcorn! Maybe there were more seeds in the package, I thought to myself and there were. I'd discovered something new!

I decided I would call this plant The Popcorn Plant. I planted a whole garden of them and soon I figured I could make lots of different things out of this plant. I made popcorn plant soup, popcorn plant muffins, cookies, air freshner, and even cookbooks of popcorn plant recipes.

I was on my way to buy more popcorn plant seeds at the plant store and walked down the aisle when out of the corner of my eye, I saw another strange looking seed. I brought it home and wondered what that strange looking seed would look like. I wondered what it would taste like. The new seed was a mystery and I was all set to resolve it.

The Three Wishes By Claire W. Age 9 May 2008

Once upon a time, there lived a cute, fluffy husky-puppy named Snowspot. He had an awful, mean owner named Bill. Bill was so mean and unfair to Snowspot even though he was considered the nicest man in the town. Because he was so nice, the town gave him a mansion, farm and a 3 acre garden. He made Snowspot sleep in a foul smelling doghouse that had bugs and spiders crawling all over it, made him eat bland, dirty flakes and whipped him when he did the tiniest thing wrong.

One morning, Bill made Snowspot pull a vast, old, rickety sleigh full of huge pointy sharp boulders. Bill knew that Snowspot was just a puppy and would never be able to manage it without falling, getting hurt or breaking the sleigh. Sunstripe, a golden brown husky, Snowspot’s best friend, was waiting for him at the garden pond and tried to make him feel better. While the two were talking about Snowspot’s troubles, a fairy appeared. The fairy was wearing an aqua-marine long dress, aqua-marine marabou shoes, and had long, brown hair. She asked Snowspot if he wanted three wishes. Of course, he said yes! So, for his first wish, Snowspot wished that Bill would stay in a hard bed all day so Snowspot wouldn’t have to do anything for 24 hours. At least, that was what he thought would happen.

The beautiful fairy granted Snowspots wish and Bill stayed in bed all day, but ordered Snowspot around to get him hot food, clean the messy house, weed the 3 acre garden, and bring him things. He would have never gotten it done without Sunstripe’s help. He almost didn’t have the energy to go back to the fairy. For his second wish, he wished that Bill would go to Hawaii on an important business trip. The fairy granted the wish and sure enough, Bill had to go to Hawaii. Unfortunately, on his trip, Bill met a bad, mischievous fairy who granted him one wish. Bill wished that the house would be messy so Snowspot would have to clean it up. When Bill got home, he made Snowspot clean the house up. Snowspot spent the next four days cleaning up the mansion floor. Since the next day was Sunday, he rested.

The next day, Sunstripe was waiting for Snowspot at the garden pond. For his last wish, he wished that he could talk so he could tell Bill how he felt. When he did, Bill was dreadfully startled at first, and then felt a surge of sympathy towards the sad and tired puppy. For no apparent reason, Bill despised husky dogs. He needed a dog and this was the only one left at the pet store. Once he realized that Snowspot had feelings too, he changed his ways. He became so nice to Snowspot it was almost like Bill was his father. Then they all lived happily ever after.

A Night in the Golden Castle by Obaid A., age 9

One evening, I was taking a break from doing my homework when my mom said, “Why don’t you take a walk in the forest.” I was walking for about 15 minutes when I heard a horse galloping nearby. I wanted to know were it was going but I couldn’t see it properly because it was too dark so I followed the sounds of the horse.

It took me to a castle made out of gold. I saw a huge moat with big and mean alligators. I could see their teeth glistening in the moonlight. The drawbridge opened for the horse and I followed it into the castle.

When I came in, there was a huge feast being set up. There was roast chicken, ribs, wine and a lot of other food. There were also a lot of decorations and banners with "Newborn"written on them. I guess that meant there was a new baby in the castle.

I thought I might get caught so I took a left turn. There were three rooms. One room was full of jewelry like crowns, rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and gold. I took as much as I could. Then I went into the other room and saw two thrones with king and queen written on each one of them. They were golden and had a soft, red cushion for the seat. I was thankful nobody was there because everybody was at the feast. I went to the last room, it was a dungeon. The prisoners were hanging on the wall from chains. When the prisoners saw me they shouted, “Thief! Thief!” I ran for it as fast as I could though I didn’t know where I was going. I opened a door into a castle passageway. It was very dark. I didn’t know where to go. I knew I couldn’t go out or I would be caught. Luckily there was light behind me. It was a torch. I also realized that the jewelry was slowing me down. I spotted a window that was the size of a knight’s helmet. I threw the jewelry into the forest so no one could find it. Then I used the torch to find my way. I came to another door. I went inside it. It was lit up. It was a place for the knights to train.

All the knights saw me. They ran after me. They all took a torch with them. I went back the same way I came. But I didn’t realize it. I was too busy running. I came to the same door. I didn’t even recognize that it was the same door. So I opened it and there was the king and the guards. The guards surrounded me immediately. The king asked me, “Who are you? And where are you from?” I didn’t answer the king. After he asked me the same questions several times, I still didn’t give an answer because I remembered that my mom said not to talk to strangers. The king was very mad so he shouted to the guards, “He will be my slave! Take him to the dungeon!”

On our way there, we were passing by the entrance to the castle and the drawbridge was opening for a knight to enter. I took a guard’s sword and slashed it at them. They went flying. The drawbridge was closing because the knight was nearly inside the castle. I ran as fast as I could. I was able to slash the knight away and got on the drawbridge. I had to jump in the moat because the drawbridge was almost closed shut. All the alligators were asleep but one. I swam for my life. But the alligator was too fast and was on my tail. I was able to throw the sword at it and I was safe.

I got out of the moat and found the jewelry and ran back through the forest back home before the knights could find me. I told my mom what happened but she didn’t believe me until I showed her the jewelry. She said, “Remind me to never let us go near that forest again.” My mom also told me that I could keep the jewelry if I wanted to buy any thing, unless we need it for something important.

The End

Jordan’s Disastrous Day by Michael S. Age 7

Once my family went to my sister’s piano recital. While we were gone my white, fluffy dog Jordan got into a bag of dark chocolate, but we didn’t know. He usually is playful and friendly, but now he was limping, shivering and wouldn’t play with his toys.

“Mom, Jordan is breathing weird and acting funny!” I told my mom. But she ignored me, so I went to bed.

Suddenly, my sister screamed, “Aaah, there’s something gooey and dark brown on my carpet!”
My dog had vomited four different places in my sister’s room! Most of the vomit was dark brown and chunky. While I was sleeping, my mom and my sister Maddie had to clean up the mess, using spoons and a carpet cleaner.

Then they had to take my dog to the animal hospital because dark chocolate is poisonous to dogs! Maddie held Jordan with a towel, in case he got sick again in our brand-new car!

While they were gone, my other sister, Olivia, woke me up and told me that he was at the hospital. The vet gave him medicine that made him throw up the rest of the chocolate and made him go to sleep after. Then Jordan was able to come home.

When he got home, I saw that Jordan had chocolate around his mouth and down the front of his body. Boy, did he smell like a cup of cocoa! So, my mom gave him a bath. The next day a part of my dog’s cheek was green. So now Jordan is all white, except for his black nose, red tongue and green cheek. I don’t know why but the green is still there. I guess my Mom missed that part of his cheek!

A Very Spooky Place by Lena A., age 7

One evening, I was swimming in a lake. The lake was in the woods by my house. Eventually I got out because I was shivering and the water was too cold for me to continue swimming. I saw a horse galloping really fast from the mountains. The horse was all white but only its tail was black. The saddle was bright yellow with purple and pink stars on it. I wanted to see where it was headed so when it got near me I jumped on it. I fell off right away because I didn’t land on the saddle and I didn’t hold on to the reins. The ground was soft and grassy so I didn’t get hurt. I still wanted to ride the horse. So I got up and ran after it and got back on it. My heart was beating really fast. This time I held on to the reins of the horse really tight and sat on the saddle. Suddenly it started to rain. The horse jumped in a puddle and water splashed on me. The horse led me to a graveyard with lots of stone people and skeletons. There were children, adults, grandmas and grandpas that were carved in stone. There were cob webs and dust everywhere. The place was interesting but it was also scary and spooky because it was so dark and the stone people looked like they could catch me. I was glad I had my flashlight with me so I could see in the dark. I dropped my flashlight by accident and it turned off. I was scared and I was about to cry. Then some other person entered the graveyard and he had his flashlight on. It was a man with orange hair and red eyes. He was wearing jeans and a green t-shirt with a picture of a ghost on it. He was going to put another skeleton up. He looked mean so I crouched behind a stone person. I was worried he might find me because my teeth were chattering. Then behind me I saw a path leaving the graveyard so I quickly ran and followed the path out but it led me back to the graveyard. I felt scared and suffocated. Luckily I found the horse’s footprints and I followed them back to the lake and went back home relieved. What a nightmare! The End


I'm going to my favorite destination,
A place of complete relaxation,
My source of purification.
I smell the air.
How could this be?
It smells like perfume to me.
It's a wonderful place.
The cool breeze on my face,
Makes me calm and gives me peace.
I hear the birds chirp like never before,
I see the kids running and playing
Laughing and swaying.
I love to sit beside you
And watch the waves oh so blue.
You clean my body and mind,
You're a gift to mankind,
You're my purification.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Kids TV review
June 14, 2008
—Faisal Khurshid, age 13

My favorite children's television show has got to be "Drake and Josh." The show is an impeccable display of the timeless battle between the person who "has it all," and the unfortunate person who still finds happiness. Drake and Josh are two teenage boys who become brothers after their parents marry. Drake is the stereotypically cool, fashionable guitar player who gets all the girls. Josh is the smart, nerdy klutz who is outlandishly clumsy with girls. They have a sister, Megan, who is the eccentrically evil little sister. The show is entertaining to both children and adults because it is the perfect mix of zany comedy with eloquent plot. Parents need not worry about it having a bad influence on their child(ren). "Drake and Josh" is the perfect blend of silliness and everyday struggle, making it an astoundingly enjoyable show.

The Tribune is asking kids 14 and younger, with their parents' permission, to review their favorite kids TV series, to be printed Saturdays. They must be 150 words or fewer. E-mail them to ctc-arts@tribune.comwith your name, age, address and the daytime telephone number where we can reach your parents. In the subject field, write "KIDS TV REVIEW."

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Magical Harp By Avery K. Age 8

One day a young man named Charles Bonnet was walking his dog in a wood filled with thick green rustling leaves. They heard the wind howl and at the same time birds were chirping. They spotted a golden harp sitting on a dull rock. They starred and wondered where it came from. Amazed at its beauty they walked toward the river, which smelled fresh like newly fallen dew. They looked into the water and wondered if the harp came from a mermaid, or if it just drifted from someplace and landed on the rock. They wanted to get across and see it closer. So they stepped gently onto the slippery rocks. These rocks were particularly rough and seemed partly hollow. The dog thought he saw a rock moving, but Charles knew it was just a turtle. Charles jumped to the closest rock, then he fell into the water with a splash and hit his head on a large rock. Thump! His dog, Coacoa was a very small dog, but he was just the right size to chomp onto Charles’ shirt and pull him to safety. The dog pulled Charles to the rock with the harp, and lifted his head above the water. He placed it comfortably near the harp. When Charles was able to breathe again, he said softly, “Thank you.”

Suddenly, the dog jumped into the river in surprise because the harp magically started strumming a beautiful melody. It started to play because the wonderful fairy Lulu lived within the harp, and when she dusted the inner sides of the instrument, it began to play. The music filled the air with the smells of flowers. The flowers reminded Charles of the first day of spring this year. The flowers don’t smell sweet they smell a little strong. Like all the plants sprouting up.

When Charles and dog where safely on the rock they studied the harp. Charles was curious and wanted to play the harp. When he was about to play he felt a deep rush of anger. He had it because he thought he was foolish to try to jump so far. When he finally reached out for the strings, that were thick and bumpy, there was no sound.

“It’s not making any noise Coacoa.” said Charles in surprise.

“Well it can’t” said an old lady from the bushes. When she came out she stared Charles.

“Is that you?” asked the lady. “Is your name Charles Bonnet?” asked the lady a little louder.

“Yes.” said Charles.

“I am Olivia Bonnet.” said Olivia. “I am your mother.” said Olivia slowly.

Charles noticed the strong shampoo in her hair that she had always washed it with, and knew it was her. They had been separated by a terrible flood. Charles had been just 5 years old, and was playing outside. It had started raining while Charles was walking slowly up the stairs. It started to rain harder and harder. He remembered the sounds of plop, plop, plop, thu, thum, thump, thump, and the air smelled damp. When the rain was finally up to his shoulders he began to float away. He was a strong swimmer but he wasn’t strong enough.

After Charles remembered their separation, He and Olivia burst into their happiest tears, and held onto each other as tightly as they could. Charles felt his mother’s cozy, wrinkled sweater and felt comforted.

“I remember you playing the harp when I was young. Why can’t I play it?” ask Charles.

“I guess you where mad. It’s filled with magic, and you can only play it when you are filled with joy.” said Olivia, “and now that you are, play it!” said Olivia calmly. And so he did!
The End
May 3, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dusk by Kate D., Age 9

Dusk, is the moonlight fairy that makes the moon rise and fall and helps people fall asleep. Every night Dusk whispers her favorite lullaby that her mother sang to her when she was young. When the moon comes up she goes to the moon and stars and paints them with a shimmering, vanilla bean white paint and then sings, “Hush Little Baby” to help people fall asleep. They hear it in their dreams and soon they are in dream land.

Dusk has ruffled dark-blue wings that flutter through the night sky. She wears a hot-pink dress made of silk and a silver tiara that shimmers in the sun. She smells like fresh bubble gum with a touch of sugar.

Dusk lives in a house in a hollow mushroom that smells like a forest. On the first floor in her kitchen, she has a table and some chairs, a charcoal stove and a peppermint sink. She loves to cook for her family which visits the fourth Tuesday of the month. She always cooks fresh corn on the cob and pot roast.

Her bedroom is chocolate brown and hot pink, which smells like coffee. She has a brown water bed, a pink ruffled lamp and a soft brown and pink side table. On her side table there is a smooth magic globe that shows her family and what they are doing – every fairy gets one. When she says a family member’s name, they pop up out of nowhere.

Dusk used to be a juggler, who wore a big red bow in her hair and a stripped red and white shirt and pants. One day while she was on stage, she heard a big “boo” and she saw who it was and started to cry. Then she ran out of the circus and hid in a pizza parlor that smelled like fresh tomatoes. After she felt a little better, she went to her parent’s house and told them the whole story. Before she became a juggler her parent’s had always wanted her to be the moonlight fairy, and that is how her soon-to-be-new-career had started. Every night when she was young, her mom had sung Dusk her favorite lullaby, “Hush Little Baby”.

When she told her parents what happened at the circus, her mother said now was the time to become the Moonlight Fairy. So she did.

Dusk had to go through extensive training and finally did it. She is now the Moonlit Fairy and is much better at this than being a juggler on stage. So the next time you have trouble falling asleep, simply close your eyes and listen for Dusk, the Moonlight Fairy, to sing you to sleep.

My Teddy Bear - A Personal Essay By Sosy B., age 9

My Teddy Bear

My teddy bear has been with me since I was seven months old. Waa! He has held his smell of me for a very long time and it has the scent of lilacs. It sometimes smells like a winter day with snow pouring out of the sky. He reminds me when my dad’s friend gave him to me. “Here you go.” When he gave him to me he hugged me and he lifted me in his arms. He also reminds me of the middle of the day. He makes me feel secure and comforted. I have had him for nine years now. We love each other. He is so cuddly and feels rough on his head where he has a big hole but I still love him. His eyes feel really smooth and round. His nose feels bumpy and his knob for music is really bumpy and hard. He has never gotten lost because he is always on my bed or in my arms. Every night I have chocolate with him and at bed-time I say good night to him.

The End

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trapped By: Anna S., age 14

Trapped in this place I don’t know
Struggling to be set free
Hoping to find what I’ve always hoped to be -
Happy and giddy, friendly and carefree
Just like everyone else.

Wishing I didn’t have to sit here in this skin
Numbing my soul and setting it free
Even though I know it’s killing me
Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t be me

Pirates by Maura Z, age 14

Wispy gusts of snow veiled the street outside of the warm cafĂ© window. Carter and I sat there with steaming mugs of cocoa in our hands, as his mother rambled on about how far back their faith goes. Carter's family went to church every Sunday, literally (if the world exploded, they'd still be kneeling in the pews) and his mother always raved about how her great aunt was a nun, or that her brother was off in the peace core. But the incessant flow of Mrs. Petry's voice stopped abruptly, and she awkwardly stumbled over that one shame in her ancestry. "Well, you see…" She sucked in her breath and held it as while before continuing," That's the end of our long line of commitment to the church I guess, your Great Great Grandfather; was a pirate"

Carter, who at the time had been aimlessly twirling his finger in the fluffy whipped cream, snapped his head up at that. Now you can imagine how any 2nd grader would feel about this chunk of news, nothing became more important to him. I watched as a spark of interest exploded in his sea green eyes, and something told me he might take this too far. I never saw anyone spit out as many questions at once as Carter did: Who was he? Where was he from? Do I look like him? Do we still have his treasure? The list went on and on. Mrs. Petry avoided the questions as best as she could weary of herself for even thinking of telling Carter of all people. But Carter never stopped asking questions for the rest of that Friday afternoon. I had no idea that on Saturday, the old Carter would walk the plank.

I woke the nest morning in the pale winter sunlight, and dressed in bundles as I got ready to walk the dog. Carter and I took our dogs on long walks every Saturday morning, even though Mr. and Mrs. Petry didn't really approve of a mutt like mine, but tradition is tradition. So I stumbled across the sick iced sidewalks as quickly and carefully as I could to Carter's crisp, white colonial home. Henry panted excitedly as I rapped on the large red door, both of us excited for a good day. The door creaked open reluctantly as Carters little sister appeared, eyeing me doubtfully. "Hey Riley, is Carter home? We always take the dogs on a walk on-" But she interrupted me. "I guess I can get him..., but remember, I warned you" With that she had flown up the stairs to her brothers room. Before I knew Carter was on his way downstairs, ready for a walk, but…"Carter" I exclaimed surprised,"What's on your hand?" I gestured to the twisted metal duct taped to his wrist. "It's the Caribbean Commander, the best hook for fighting in all the seven seas" he said with pride. "But it's just a fork with its prongs twisted""I think I would know," Carter let out a hardy laugh," You landlubbers think you know it all" I soon learned through all the confusion that there was an immediate change in my friend, and it wasn't easy to deal with. As much as I tried to make sense of it all, I couldn't, and the only thing that was clear was that in his mind, he'd always been a sailor with a hook that loves to steal treasure. The whole day he talked about a big storm that had blown in, while he fought on the waters, like he was the bravest pirate there ever was; but that was only the beginning. On Sunday, after his mom took him to the chapel and back, it seemed that something had grown on Carter's shoulder. It was like a mass of paper and tape strapped to himself. "Okay Carter, I think you're taking this a bit far, I mean seriously, what is that?" I admitted desperately, pointing at his shoulder. "What do you think it is?" he scoffed," It's my parrot of course; every good pirate had a parrot! And stop staring at me like I'm an alien, you act like you've never seen me like this in your life!""That's because I haven't Carter!" I blurted," You've never been like this in your life- you are not a pirate!" But of course this didn't affect his spirit much, he was a second grader who truly believed that right now, he is a pirate, and there was no changing his mind. I dropped the whole thing in the end, but it was hard to ignore his swarthy language, that "parrot" on his shoulder or the hook he swung wildly about. Boys, what did I expect? "Mom, what's his name? Please I promise I won't ask again!" Carter pleaded his mother as we sat in the warmth of the kitchen. He was dying to head over to the library and look up as much as he could with the librarians help. Mrs. Petry clanged the dishes together as she stuffed them in the cabinet. Wearily looking down on Carter's face, she pushed the hair out of her eyes, and sighed," Joseph Arthur Jones, and his 'friends' called him Black Soul Joe" she seemed to murmur that part under her breath," so go do whatever you want to about this, but that's the last time I'm bringing it up!". As she huffed out of the cozy kitchen, Carter was already bolting up the sidewalk towards the large brick library. I jumped on my bike and pedaled toward home in frozen waves of wind wondering what else Carter will find out about his ancestors. It was kind of interesting, all this talk about ancestry, if you think about it, you could be connected to anyone. For all I know I could be related to Queen Elizabeth or anyone else of famous history! The day dragged on with no word from Carter, and it was nearly nightfall when I heard our door bell echo through the house; ringing over and over again. Of course he was out on the porch, and his puffs of air smoked up in the bitter cool breeze. There was no hiding that mischievous gleam in his bright eyes. "But Carter-" I exclaimed in surprise," Where's all stuff? I mean the clothes and the hook… and where'd your bird go?" "Pirates don't interest me, they never really did," he simply stated," but guess what! I never really was part pirate in the first place, I'm all Viking!" We talked for a couple of minutes, and he excitedly told me all about his Great Great Great Grandpa who was now apparently Viking. He also explained that he had to go tell his mom (can't imagine how excited she was!) and I watched him dash across the snowy yards towards home. I suppose I couldn't expect anything more, from a boy with that kind of imagination.

The Tree By Maura Z. Age 14

The Tree Cars whizzed by,
All too fast,
And I imagined things the way they used to be,
With tumbling hills, brimming with warbling birds and flowers so sweet,
The way the fresh wind would blow on my branches, stretching my limbs for a new day,
But now I could only see a wide highway cuttinginto the roll of the fields as I stared onward,
The exhaust had tattered my once tender leaves, and shards of glass littered the base of my trunk,
I thought back to the old farmhouse that used to rest nearby, with its bright windows and warm presence,
I remembered when the children tied a rope around my strongest branch,
And swung in the breeze, their young laughter still echoeinceg thorough my mind,
But the builders came and explained that people with places to go and no time to waste had to come through here,
So the solid little house is gone,
And the people with places to go and no time to waste still race across the once brilliant landscape, not admiring the hue of the golden grases that whisper their sad tales to the fluent wind,
A splatter of mud speckled my trunk and I repeated those words that never left my heart,
Just wait a little longer, someday the sun will sing bright once more. -Maura Zindler

Friday, April 18, 2008

If I Could Be Water, By: Bailey Bystry

"If I Could Be Water" will be published in the River of Words 2008 anthology, River of Words: The Natural World as Viewed by Young People. Bailey was one of only three Illinois residents to win, and a finalist from amongst 20,000 entries.

If I could be water
I wouldn't be a pond
Muddy and brown,
I wouldn't be an ocean
Big and alone,
I wouldn't be rain
Falling again and again,
I wouldn't be ice
Cold and frozen,
I would be a river
Long, wide and free.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mamma’s Roses, Age 14

By Katy E.

Mamma loved roses, she had bushes and bushes of them growing around our house. In the warm months, when they blossomed, she would place them in every room, slipping them in her art deco vases. That’s the theme of our house rose-art deco. Up stairs, her studio looked more like a green house than a studio, with all the roses she had put in it. The whole western side of the studio was glass, and over looked Mamma’s enormous rose garden. She grew every rose imaginable, I never really remembered the names of any, even though she often tried to drill it through my sisters’ and mine’s head. She would take us up the long spirled starecase to her studio and we would look out the large “looking glass” as Mamma called it, and she would name all of her roses. Rain or shine she would walk through her gardens and talking and singing to them. She told me once that they talk back to her in voices of melted gold. I thought that this was very strange, but not wanting to hurt Mamma’s feelings I said nothing of my opinion and smiled and nodded.

Unfortunately, the roses Mamma loved so much out lived her. We all knew that Mamma had heart problems, yet we didn’t think much of it. Sometimes she would go into surgery and would stay at the hospital over night with Daddy. Auntie would then come and stay with my two older sisters and I. We would watch movies and eat popcorn; then Auntie would tell us embarrassing stories when she and Mamma were little. So we barely thought anything of it when she went in for another surgery. Yet, this time Mamma didn’t come back.

We planted Mamma’s favorite roses on her grave, and had them border her tomb stone. After Mamma’s death Daddy became less and less cheerful. Before, Daddy had always been playful and boyish, he would often run Mamma up the wall with his jokes and little pranks. Now his mood had slipped into the deep casams of thought and distress. Auntie came to visit more often but, her visits weren’t the same. They never were. I would often find myself sitting in Mamma’s studio gazing through the looking glass at her roses. Even they look sad. I had taken upon the honor of caring for her dear flowers. No one could make roses grow like Mamma, but I tried my best. I talked and sang to them diligently, just as she had done and one thing something amazing happened. The roses talked back. Their voices were just as Mamma had described them. Yet, intertwined in the mellow golden notes of their chorus I could hear my Mamma. I knew then that she was happy and felt my heavy heart lift within me as I listened to her voice echo within the petals.