Young Author Spotlight – Bonnie Xu on Shadows

Good morning. I haven’t posted much writing from my young authors this summer, as we have been heads-down working on the Summer Reading Challenge and discovering literary elements through the close reading of fiction.

However, this piece by Grade 6 young author Bonnie Xu needed to be shared with the world.

In class this week, I asked her to write a story about being someone’s shadow. Her take on it gave us a startling and moving peek into the shadow world.

English is Bonnie’s second language, yet her ability to transform ideas into provocative stories blossoms with every assignment.

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The Summer Reading Challenge Quilt

I am totally loving the Summer Reading Challenge quilt my writing group students are making right now.

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Each student has a list of books they have to read this Summer, and the way they log them is to create a square illustrating their favourite moment in that book.

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Six teams.

28 students.

There will be more than 300 squares on that wall by the end of the Summer.

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My favourite part is how it reveals how everyone interprets a piece of literature differently. Every book shapes the individual in its own way.

When Kids Learn to Love Poetry

I admit it, poetry was never my favourite thing.

In fact, it’s easy and honest to say that I’ve spent pretty much no significant period in my life reading any sort of rhythm or rhyme.

For a long time, I dismissed such musings outright.

Who wants to read stuff that you have to guess at the meaning?

Rhyming, whatever!

I’m a novelist, not a poet!

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Then, of course, came children.

I read SO MANY RHYMING BOOKS when my kids were little, and I started to realize the true cantor of words. Then, how spoken word carried a lyrical quality when written well. Then, how writing poetry could help me become a better long-form writer.

I was hooked and slightly ashamed at my willingness to dismiss such a gorgeous art form.

As I started teaching creative writing, I used it as a way for kids to develop their descriptive writing skills. The results are often amazing

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This past week, I introduced my wonderful Grade-1 student, Rickie, to this sort of magic. He got to take home a copy of the lovely Children’s First Book of Poems with illustrations from Cyndy Szekeres.

He pored through it for the last week, and got to pick out the one that made his heart sing.

It was, indeed, a lovely tale about a lonely puffin who traded eating fish for making friends with them (and got to eat pancakes instead, bonus!).

 

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We spent time today learning how to use descriptive words to write a rhyming puffin poem of his own, and it turned out so great.

In the end, though, the biggest win from all of this poetry was receiving an inspired text from his mom over the weekend with him reading a newly minted poem written by Rickie himself. Then, I got to see the hard copy of it today:

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Weekend Writing Prompt

I’ve been planning the weekend’s writing group activities for a bit—so excited to help young authors learn more about creating their own characters through fantasy short story writing.

We’l be whipping up character sketches, creating maps based on what actions characters take, and building wizarding sports teams.

First, though, they’ll be flash writing on this topic:

I’ll report back on the results. There is sure to be a story of the week out of this one. 🙂

 

 

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—Andrew Dong

This week, I’m changing it up a little bit and showing off some homework from a Grade 3 young author, Andrew Dong.  He is a lovely, energetic kiddo who really doesn’t enjoy writing. I get it, writing is challenging in ways that don’t naturally suit every learner.

Vocabulary development is a big part of the work we do, and I get them to write weekly vocabulary stories from lists I provide as homework rather than memorizing words. Being able to use those words in context, in my experience, proves far more valuable than memorizing them without knowing how to use them.

The photos here are from this past week. Andrew had to write two vocabulary stories—one in a frustrated tone and the second in a tone of his choice.

He did an excellent job, and my nagging about proofreading is starting to pay off (even with missing commas).

I love seeing this sort of progress in kiddos who enjoy class but don’t necessarily enjoy writing.

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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.

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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

The Time Travel Disaster by Grace Jiang

Note: Grade-4 author Grace Jiang has the story of the week this week, enjoy. 

 

It all started on a breezy day in August.

“Maya, come up! It’s time for lunch. We are having spaghetti with garlic bread and fries,” my mom said. “I’m pretty sure you do not want to miss it.”

“Mom, I’m almost done. Can you please bring down my food?” I asked from the basement.

I could not wait for my project to finish! I was making a time machine!

Suddenly, my big brother charged into the room.

“Where are my headphones?” he asked.

“Oh, I sold them for pieces of metal,” I told him. “I thought you said it was okay.”

“Mom, Maya sold my headphones for pieces of . . . whatever, I don’t care!”

He was so annoying since I’m 13 and he is 18.

“When is Cassie coming over?” I asked. She’s been my best friend since I was two.

Oh right, I haven’t introduced myself yet. I’m Maya Spinner and I’m a “science freak” as some people like to call me. My dad is a doctor and my mom is a lawyer.

Just then, the doorbell rang.

“Cassie!” I shouted.

A moment later, she ran downstairs. She looked simply beautiful with her silky blonde hair and stunning green eyes. People say the pair of us are like angels. I have smooth and silky hair that is just below my shoulders, but my hair is like polished obsidian. I have warm, brown eyes that Cassie says are beautiful.

Suddenly, the machine starts buzzing.

“Set the space light destination thing to the 4000’s,” Cassie said excitedly.

“Okee-dokey,” I answered.

After five minutes, we found ourselves in a factory of the FFAP two-thousand years from now and ordered ice cream.

The Bonflear ice cream was so good! It tasted like the best flavors in the world—chocolate, vanilla, marshmallows, and raspberry vanilla swirled together.

The funny thing is, it looked like the yucky gelatin. It also tasked like mind and black currant for Cassie. Yum.

Next, we went shopping.

We bought special fabric. You just drape it around yourself and it transforms into your outfit of choice.

We visited La Bon Cafê and ordered macrons, croissants, and hot chocolate. The waitress looked just like me.

“Bonjour,” she said. “My great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather’s sister went missing with her best friend. He was never the same again.”

I froze.

“Did he die?” I asked.

“Ninety-five years later.”

We ate quietly (mostly because it was so good). Then, we went outside.

“We risk changing the future!” I said.

Just then, the machine broke.

“I-I-I want-t-t t-t-t-to g-g-g-go h-h-home!” Cassie sobbed.

I calmed Cassie down. Then, I saw a huge palace.

“Let’s go!” I said

Just then, acid fell from the sky and Wendy the waitress ran out.

“We do not have umbrellas,” she said.

People ran for cover. Cassie and I raced to the palace for protection. We got there without a scratch.

The King of Everything met us and told us to use hi-tech pieces from his spare garden to get back. On the way, we met Mugglewump the zebra-giraffe mix. So, we called him a zebraraffe.

We used the parts from the king, grabbed Mugglewump, and went back to the 2000s where we won the science fair with him.

THE END!

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.