When A Student Paints Your Portrait

One of my Grade 8 creative writing students painted my portrait and delivered it to me before our session today.

It may be one of the sweetest gifts I’ve ever received from one of my budding authors (and, apparently, illustrators).

RobinRiversportrait.jpg

by Joanna Fu

My Hot Pot 火锅 Obsession

For the last several years, I’ve worked with colleagues and taught young authors who immigrated to Canada from China. As friendships grew, they introduced me to all sorts of Chinese culture, especially cuisine, as they know I am a super foodie.

Hot pot is, by far, my favourite of all of the many foods I have shared with this crew. I first learned of it from two work colleagues who gave me recipes and sent me on a mission for ingredients. It blew my family’s mind and we have loved it ever since.

While I make it at home, I will Skytrain it just about anywhere for a good hot pot. It has also opened me up to all kinds of new ingredients as a result of this deliciousness.

For those of you who are new to hot pot, it is is a Chinese cooking method prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table, containing a variety of foodstuffs and ingredients. While the hotpot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. While I’m a vegetarian, hot pots usually have meat, leafy veg, mushrooms, noodles, dumplings, and seafood.

There is a bit of magic surrounding hot pot lore. Folklore suggests that hot pot has the power to enhance friendship and unite family members or colleagues. Several people sit around a pot, talking and eating. The warm air is also considered to make people comfortable.

I swear the stories are true!

Here are some of my recent loves:

 

 

View this post on Instagram

Working lunch.

A post shared by Robin Rivers (@robinmrivers) on

 

Young Author Spotlight – The Scariest Trip by Bonnie Xu

Note: This week’s featured story is from Grade 6 young author Bonnie Xu. Her vivid imagination and love of storytelling inspire Bonnie to put so much effort into her work. Relatively new to Canada, she has struggled with writing foundations such as homophones and verb tense. However, this week she took some big risks writing a mystery that was a bit out of her comfort zone. It turned out a wee bit scary and really fantastic.

 

The Scariest Trip

By Bonnie Xu

 

My class went to the famous dark forest for an adventure trip. Mostly, I just wanted to explore new creatures. It didn’t turn out how we imagined it would be.

It was the scariest trip ever—so creepy and mysterious. That day will live forever in everyone’s memory and I shall be the girl who lived.

The night was so silent we could hear our own breath. I stopped and all of the footsteps stopped. It was weird, but I could still see my two best friends in front of me in the distance.

“Amanda and Sarah!” I yelled.

It was no use, they kept on moving.

I was very weary and chose to stay behind to rest for a minute and then catch up to them. I slowly turned my head a little and  . . .

“Ahhhhhhhhhh!”

They were no longer my classmates but instead turned into walking skeletons.

“No, no, this can’t be happening,” I thought as I trudged along. “Now what? I have to salvage my two best friends just in case they also turn into skeletons.”

How would I do it? Not in the gloomy night! There was no way to rescue my friends and get out of there. I didn’t even know where they were. At that second, I heard a familiar scream and could see a strange looking house not far from me. Sarah, I realized immediately, was in danger.

I felt like I was running faster than a jaguar, even faster than a rocket. I zoomed past where I was before, sprinting toward the house without blinking. I kicked the wooden, cracked door open with a BOOM!

“Enter will die” was written everywhere on the entrance wall, but I felt brave. I was not scared anymore.

I saw something handing in the middle of the hallway—a bloody head. It made me fall on the floor. I noticed who it was the first second I saw it. I couldn’t stand it anymore. My heart broke and I began to bawl. Poor Amanda.

“Aha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha,” said a creepy voice. I looked to where the sound came from and saw a wicked witch.

“What did you do to Amanda and Sarah, you ugly fool?” I shouted at her, eyes full of tears.

“You don’t address your queen like that. Otherwise, she will also be dead,” commanded the witch.

I turned around trying to figure out who the “she” was. I saw a girl hanging from the roof by a rope. A sparkly, sharp knife was right in front of her neck. I dreaded losing another friend.

“What do you want then?” I asked, confused.

“That! Power!” answered the witch.

“What on Earth are you talking about? My necklace, power? All that I want is my friend and to leave this place right now!” I shouted at the witch.

“Hmmmm. You give me the necklace, I’ll let you go,” she said slowly as if she didn’t care.

I was never going to give her my necklace. My parents gave it to me before they died in a plane crash.  The necklace was the only thing I have to remember them.

“Have you decided yet, you fool?” the witch spoke.

“Bonnie, don’t!” Sarah called out.

That just made everything worse.

The sparkly knife poked into Sarah’s throat. Her blood splashed everywhere.

“Noooooo!!!” I roared and turned to the witch. Flames of fury appeared in my eyes.

“You shall be dead!” I shouted, holding my necklace tightly, hoping there was real power. I closed my eyes and concentrated.

“Flash!”

The red lightning came from my necklace. That was the most powerful magic I had ever seen.

And, I survived.

I woke up in my bed two days later. All of that crazy stuff seemed like a dream, but I knew it was not.

 

Header image courtesy of  Rosie Fraser on Unsplash

Young Author Spotlight: My Dear Bone by Joanna Fu

Note: Today’s story is from Grade 7 student Joanna Fu. This funny tale was written during a flash writing session where young authors got fifteen minutes to write a story from the prompt “A dog was walking through a park when . . . ” 

It’s also really exciting to note that, before this story, Joanna’s writing had been really struggling and she was performing well-below her grade level.  She has been in my writer’s group for about a month, and reading this story out loud to the crew was a real achievement for her. I love it. 

My Dear Bone by Joanna Fu

A dog was walking in a park when he saw her. He’d never seen anyone so beautiful—her pearl white skin, her hard attitude, and her radiant looks.

He wanted her so bad and had never felt so eager, wanting something this way.

She was a . . . bone.

Dog must have her.

He ran toward her, grabbed her firmly in his mouth, and he ran.

IMG_2163.jpg

Art by Joanna Fu

He never ran faster than now.

He ran faster than a cheetah, fast than a jet.

Now, Bone was all his.

He absolutely loved her.

Suddenly, a crowd of people was yelling and chasing Dog. They were wearing black and they did not look happy.

Dog thought, “Are they taking Bone away from me? No, I must protect her!”

Dog barked, jumped, and attacked these evil people.

“Noone can take my dear Bone away from me,” he yelped.

A woman said, “Please Doggie, give back my grandma’s bones. Today is her funeral, and you just stole her bone.”

She pleaded, “Please give her bone back.”

 

Photo credit: Max Pixels

Young Author Feature – Mac Boy by Quintin Dong

Note: When I am not writing novels of my own, I lead creative writing groups for young writers in Vancouver. Each week, I feature one young author and their original work here as a celebration of creativity and the power of story. This week, the classic tale of good vs. evil in Saskatchewan—where macaroni is king—comes to us from Grade-4 author Quintin Dong. Enjoy!

Mac Boy And The Missing Macaroni

By Quintin Dong

          Not long ago, a boy named David lived in town Saskatchewan. It was a dark country and the sun never shined. Crimes were everywhere and there were few cops. They talked without speaking, listened without hearing, and wrote books and songs that were never read or sung out loud. Flowers broke apart and laid dead on the muddy hard floor, turning darker and darker. The rivers were gray and a blue sky never excited. Skyscrapers of horror and thunder with lighting struck onto the floor, haunting the innocent people.

The only bright time of the day was dinner.

Saskatchewan’s macaroni tasted absolutely delicious. It was the only thing the people desired, especially David. He would have eaten this food day to night if his parents let him.

There was only one man in Saskatchewan who did not like macaroni, Doctor Intelligent, the wicked scientist. He was a very mad one. The inventions he made were powerful. With his invention, macaroni would vanish and Saskatchewan would never be famous again.

In a hotel, David was gobbling and shoving more and more into his mouth.  This time, David felt funny.  His arm stretched and he became tough and strong. Suddenly, the macaroni was circling around him. David felt like never before. He went outside and, surprisingly, he was face-to–face with Dr.Intelligent. The Doctor blasted him with a laser and David pressed a button on his Mac boy belt that seemed to appear on his waist randomly.

The whole city’s macaronI flew to him and formed a shield to block the attack. The macaronI splattered all over Doctor Intelligent and he hated being outsmarted.

Again, he fired, but the cheese stuffed his weapon and the gun blew up. The macaroni formed a chain. David swung it at a nearby skyscraper and crashed it onto Doctor Intelligent. Instead of being defeated, the doctor had a diamond shield himself and used his gravity gun and did the some to David.

Our hero wasn’t dead, but bruised all over. He took a piece of macaroni and put it in his mouth. The bruises on him recovered.

“That is just ridiculous!” Doctor Intelligent yelled.

“You are now Mac Boy,” the belt said. Mac Boy twisted and turned his feet.

“Dance fight,” he said.

“Whapow” went the swinging foot.

“Whatblow“ went the fist.

Mac Boy finished Doctor Intelligent with a mighty Mac blast.

The police came and licked the mess the macaroni made. It tasted delicious even if it was on the ground.

Doctor Intelligent was put in jail, but everyone still didn’t live happily ever after. So, David put on a macaroni party and everyone was allowed to come. The Doctor climbed out the window and escaped with his newest weapon:”the Mac o zap” while no one was listening. He took the weapon and blasted everywhere until the only place that had macaroni was the macaroni party.

Doctor Intelligent aimed his blaster at the party and “BOOM” the party’s macaroni vanished. Mac Boy blasted but nothing happened.

“Without macaroni, Mac Boy doesn’t have  a super power! ” a man said.

Just then, Doctor Intelligent shot Mac Boy with his Mac-o-zapper and destroyed Mac Boy’s belt. Then he used his gun that was still stuffed with cheese to fire at the boy. Instead of a bullet, cheese came out and went in David’s mouth. He turned into Mac Boy again and used his power to gather macaroni. It formed a hummer and smashed Doctor Intelligent onto the floor.

“More of Doctor Stupid,” said Mac Boy.

Doctor Intelligent actually still had a trick up his sleeve. He summoned his robot to attack. The macaroni formed an immensely enormous macaroni. The two battled and battled. The good guys and bad guys were getting exhausted. Mac Boy called the military to help him. In a while, they came and there was a disaster.

  I’m not telling you the violent part, because your parents won’t let you read this book.

Mac Boy escaped, but the military didn’t. Doctor Intelligent was winning. The last button on Mac Boy was labeled AR. Without even thinking he pressed the button.

“Animal Rescuers,” said the belt.

Here comes the grand list. Horses, sheep, rabbits, cows, bulls, dogs, cats, zebras, giraffes, elephants, tigers, lions, hippos, jaguars, monkeys, apes, mice, gorillas, cheetahs, squirrels, birds, and a bunch of other ones rushed at the robot. It fell backwards and crashed into the ground. The pieces shattered and Doctor Intelligent lost.

He screamed until he reached the boat.

“Go away and never return, ” said the citizens.

Instead of obeying what they said, Doctor Intelligent came back with a army of robots. The animals and the macaroni split the small robot one-by-one. Then, they had Doctor Intelligent arrested. He was put in a metal cell that had no window, no sink, and no bed and was there for the rest of his life.

Now, Saskatchewan got it’s macaroni from the Mac-o-zapper. Mac Boy won the Nobel Prize of Macaroni and the city’s people were very happy. All crimes were solved and more cops were hired. The skyscrapers were made shorter for the sunlight was made to shine. Everyone had conversations and music was made.

Saskatchewan was better and better.