Each month, we feature EIGHT new pieces of student writing on the TWENTY-SIXTH of the month. (Get it?) This month, we are doing something a little different. In honor of this month’s release our 2015 Young Authors Book Project, A Lantern of Fireflies, we are celebrating our publication program by featuring stories, poems, letters, and excerpts of student writing from each of our YABPs over the last nine years.
*Young Authors Book Projects*
Excerpt from “Zombies”
Published in Suddenly My Heart Stopped for Just a Small Portion of Time, 2006
My sister and I practically lived in the woods behind our house, Technically they were “wet lands,” which meant that there was a river that led to a big lake right in the middle. As you can imagine this was a haven for little kids. Tall pine trees surrounded the entire forest, so if you could get through the border of needles it was like being in another world.
It was a normal day, slightly overcast and around sixty degrees outside. My sister and I were playing Dungeons and Dragons (or some game that involved me being a dragon and my sister beating me with a stick). I was running away, bruised and tired, when I tripped over a large wooden box. It was covered in purple petals that had fallen off the nearby bush. Being the curious little dragon I was, I brushed the petals away. It was a coffin.
Excerpt from “My Cat, My Satellite”
Published in True Stories & Tall Tales, 2008
Weasley acquired so much gold, jewels, and gold dust off Ebay, the internet store, that his hoard stretched from Alaska to Florida. He, in fact, bought the land from Alaska to Florida so that he could store his treasure there. He also bought a huge castle that stretched across the whole of North America and hired servants to bring him dried gourmet fish flakes every day.
Weasley soon decided he would like some more stuff. Therefore, he went on Ebay (again) and bought a crown. The crown was very large, gold, and covered with real jewels. It had belonged to England’s Queen Elizabeth; she had decided to sell it on Ebay and donate the money to her favorite charity (Garden Gnome Statue Rescue Home). He then went to a yard sale and found a coat made from the fur of purple lemmings that was covered in gold dust. That coat really sparkled!
“Who Were You”
Published in How to Rise or, I Put My Heart into the Close, 2009
I was born and grew up
By mother and sunlight
By father and sunset
By sisters and the world.
I didn’t know who I was
But I know I was just a drop of water
I was just a grain of sand
I could not do everything for you
But I could hope.
I will be your hero of the beach
I will be your hero of space
I walk around, over and over
I walk straight, not tired and not thinking
I did not know where my destiny was at
I was just an atom of the world.
Face to face, reflection in the mirror
Hand in hand, a spirit and alive
I have lived, and continue to live
For family and for myself.
“The Strongest Woman on Earth”
Published in Don’t Stay Up So Late, 2010
Have you heard of the strongest girl on Earth? Her name was Kimberly Mistymist. She was born February 5, 1726.
When she was born, people said she was as tiny and skinny as a pencil. She cried so loud as an infant that her tears looked like a rainstorm. She was so hungry, she drank her milk from ten cows a day!
Kimberly was four when she started school. The kids thought she was strong because she lifted her parents’ horse and wagon with one finger.
One day, when she was ten, she was exercising. She decided to lift her log cabin. The cabin slipped from her hands and broke in half.
Her parents were so mad, they grounded her. Kimberly stomped her feet because she was angry and made an earthquake that shook from Michigan to Texas. She kicked up mounds of dirt that were so enormous that it made up the Appalachian Mountains.
When she grew up and moved to her own house, people saw that she was the strongest woman on Earth.
Excerpt from “Futuristic”
Published in 2020: Visions of the Near Future, 2011
I really don’t talk to too many people. Nowadays I only talk to my family and my money. My closest friends are Benjamin, Grant, and Jackson. (You get it? $100s, $50s, and $20s.) I spend my days with them.
The new invention that has had the most influence on me is the robot cleaner. Since I’m not home as much because I’m always on the road, I bought a robot that cleans the house for me. The price I paid for the robot was $50,000. The robot runs on atmosphere.
Except from “On the Other Side”
Published in What to Call the Place I Call Home, 2012
I want to be a lawyer but before that I would like to be on jury duty at least one time. The reason that I want to be on jury duty is that I want to see what it’s like behind those closed doors. I think it’s pretty interesting because people have to think deeper than they ever have in their life. THey are deciding if people are going to live in a cage or keep their freedom, whether they must live or die, if they are good or evil. During these times, people show who they are by the amount of thought they put into the choice of a human’s life.
“Bullies: What You Really Are”
Published in All I Could Do Was Look Up, 2013
How is it that no matter how hard I try, I am still put down, hated, and discriminated against?
Riddle me this: why does it seem that people attempt to push me away and separate me with some sort of fence?
How does that make sense?
How am I not to take any offense?
Somehow you find it okay to ask, “Why so tense?”
Are you only looking through your own blurred lens?
The best part oh, this is great, it is all at my expense!
How can you be so dense?
Are you under some drug’s influence?
I continue asking questions, the answers I will never acquire
My rage grows higher
Your jaw never seems to tire
You are just an insecure liar
The situation has now grown dire
You offer all of these bluffs but I am not a buyer
I think you are just frightened and it is I you really admire
Published in Enjoy! Recipes for Building Community, 2014
To our society,
Nobody is born racist. In this world, most emotional things are influenced by hatred or love. We learn these things from close friends and people around us—you have to be careful, because it can be your own family. You have to be prepared to stand out from the bad crowd when you know what is right.
For example, somebody in your family could have a deep hate for someone from another country and/or of another color, and it could influence their younger family members who are learning about the world and curious about how things work. To them, the adults know what is right from wrong.
In my life, I’ve experienced certain people’s ignorance toward my people, and it influenced me in a bad way. But it is a waste of time; hatred toward another people is a waste of energy. I have witnessed racism toward people from my country at a party. A group of guys were talking trash. I got mad and reacted in contempt. I’m not gaining anything out of despising back—it is just a cycle of hate. Hatred can be found anywhere; I’ve experienced it at work and school.
To find the good in other people, participate in activities you have common interests in. Get to know the person, how they’ve grown up, and what they’ve experienced. Respect is the key to better friendships. You earn respect through hard work, caring for other people, friendliness, and being there for those who are worth it. Communication is the most important thing in friendships. It helps you understand where people come from, what they’ve experienced. It could be possible that all the hatred you have will just die out if you build a friendship with someone from a different society.
I hope people can view these instances as ways to influence new and creative things in the world.
All the best,
Excerpted from “A Maple Leaf, a Golden Nugget, Tarantula Venom, One Piranha Tooth”
Published in A Lantern of Fireflies, 2015
Bug is eating a donut and milk when he laughs so hard that milk comes out of his nose. His friend across the table bites into an apple and his tooth comes out. The girls who sit behind him start laughing at them and make fun of Bug, calling him gross. He is sad and embarrassed. Bug blushes out of embarrassment until his face is cherry red. Bug goes to the counseling office and asks to sit on the bean bag in the office, so he can get away from the girls. He eventually falls asleep on the bean bag chair. Bug wakes up in an imaginary world. He has been there before—this is the good part of the imaginary world. Bug is just coming to his senses when he encounters a kitten. He says to the kitten, “Where did you come from?”
The kitten doesn’t talk, but a bubble appears above its head that says, “From your dream.” Another bubble appears above the kitten’s head that says, “Follow me.”
Bug notices that everything seems to be colorful, but some things, if you touch them, turn into whatever you are thinking of, good or bad. For example, he touches a big, white flower and it turns into a glazed donut. All the greenery interacts with itself, tangling behind them and opening up as they walk; it seems more alive. The dream landscape is shifting and morphing as they walk through. Time goes slower here, so thirty minutes in this world is several hours in the real world.
The kitten leads Bug to his family. Mother and Father Cat are poisoned. They ate magic fish from the lake between the good side and bad side of the dream world. The kitten gives Bug a list of the ingredients that are needed to heal the mom and dad cat, again via a thought bubble above the kitten’s head.
Bug asks, “Where can I find these ingredients?” The kitten tells him that he has to venture over the bridge to the dark side. Bug is unfamiliar with the dark side. They give him a magic pen. When he is in an emergency, luck will be on his side. They also give him a pair of glasses broken in half. With these glasses, he can see where he is going to get the ingredients—they lead the way, almost like a map. He gets two very filling biscuits to eat along the way.
The kitten leads the way to the bridge. He starts to cross over the bridge but there is a forcefield. Where the forcefield hits the water, the water burns into the forcefield, leaving the good side vulnerable to what is on the other side.
His magic pen helps him find a portal through the forcefield. As he steps into the other side, he sees a light fog. He puts the broken glasses on to see his way.