Sunday, March 28, 2010

Congratulations Sheila!

Sheila McIntosh's awesome story Wind and Rain has just received the National Golden Key Award after receiving a Regional Award in the National Art and Writing Awards. Sheila's story was written in 826CHI's Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better workshop. Congratulations, Sheila!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Taco That Ate Everything

By the students of Animation Station, one of 826CHI's amazing workshops. The Taco That Ate Everything is a terrifying reminder to eat healthy.

The Taco That Ate Everything from Awig Ifyouwantit on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wind and Rain

By Sheila McIntosh, Grade 8
This story was written by Sheila McIntosh in 826CHI's Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better workshop. She then took it home, polished it, and sent it along to the National Art and Writing Awards, and took home the Golden Key award in the Chicago Regional. Congratulations Sheila!

I hear the crashing rapids pounding in time with my heart. My sister’s hand is in mine, her eyes beseeching me. Suddenly, I feel her slip away. I close my eyes as she screams. Then all I can hear is the river.

I cannot remember a time when I was without Victoria. We were born but a year apart. My first memory is of her knocking into me as she played, sending my painstakingly crafted embroidery across the room to slam into the wall, ripping stitches. That was the first time I got angry, truly angry. It exploded out of me and I pushed her down, hard. As she lay there on the floor, holding her sprained wrist and sobbing, I calmly salvaged my sewing. Our nana found us there.
My temper stayed in a cold place inside myself most of the time. I was praised by my mother as being a perfect little lady, always composed and dignified, and that I was. It was Victoria who was flamboyant, energetic, and beautiful. If they had never heard us speak, many would say we were much alike: both with long black hair, though I kept mine pinned up and Victoria left hers down; blue eyes, though hers were big and sapphire while mine were light and icy. If she was warm, I was like a winter night -- bitter and freezing.

We quarreled because of our differences, but it never got bad enough for me to do something I would regret. As a child, I was moody and prone to fits of temper, but as I grew older I learned to hide my nature. It was expedient for me to be praised and trusted by the adults in my life, instead of treated as unstable and dangerous. I could get more places with false kindness than with screaming. My parents chose to forget my earlier misbehavior. It was their wish, to have the world see their daughters as perfect, and they got it. Victoria was more open and thus had many friends, but I had the respect and relative power that comes of being dignified and calm. My smooth veneer was without a crack, except for my history.

Only two people on the earth remembered my rages. Victoria knew but did not concern herself with it; she baited me carelessly and sometimes unknowingly. My nana, on the other hand, was always careful around me. I was a forest in a drought, and she was always watching for a spark. That was Victoria's one protection through my young years, as she did not grow wiser while she aged, and it made her reckless. Nana meant to help, but now I wonder whether Victoria would have been spared had she felt my anger more.

Nevertheless, our childhood passed smoothly, as we grew accomplished and knowledgeable in history, the arts, writing, and all the charms of society. Victoria blossomed into a beauty with an outgoing disposition, while I was striking and reserved. I grew immune to her small instigations, and she became merely irksome to me, and not rage-inducing, until I was fifteen and she fourteen.

That winter was brutal. It was cold and clear in the day, but in the night sleet and hail fell mercilessly, effectively blinding late-night travelers. On one such day, Victoria went out riding with her friends. As day turned to night and she had not returned, Nana became worried. She fretted in front of the window despite my assurances. Finally she wrapped herself in a shawl and went out into the deep night to find my sister, ordering me not to follow her, as I had a bad cold.

The clock struck nine, ten, eleven. At midnight I heard hoofbeats and stumbled out of bed. Victoria swept in, laughing, shaking snow out of her hair, on the arm of a baron's son, Frederick. Nana was not with her. I told Victoria what had happened and felt a rush of satisfaction as I saw the roses drain from her cheeks, leaving her white and shocked. Frederick offered to go and get her and rode off into the night again.

It was very silent in the manor as Victoria pulled off her riding habit and slipped into a nightgown. I stared out the window, boiling inside. Through the snow flurries, I saw my grandmother's face, lined with ice, and heard my sister laugh on the wind, oblivious. She had never cared like I had, never been considerate of anyone but herself. All her warmth and affection was as fake as my calmness. Her emotions were skin-deep, but mine were deeper.
 “Sister?" I did not turn around. "I am so sorry. I never meant for this to happen. I just lost track of time. I wish I had never gone out tonight." So do I, I thought, but did not say it.
 A moment later, tentatively, "I'm sure she will be alright. She isn't so old."

“How can you be sure of anything? You're not out there, are you? You're not looking for her!"

“But what if I got lost? If there was something I could do, I would do it. You know that!" I wanted to scream. Control your anger. Do not engage. I turned away.

At two in the morning we heard the sound of hooves in the yard. We ran to the door in time to see Frederick dismount and stagger to the house, Nana in his arms. Her face was bloodless and her breathing shallow. I had to look away. Next to me, Victoria was staring in horror, transfixed. “Go prepare a bed." I shoved her roughly into the next room, and then boiled some water for curing tea. "Call the doctor!"

Frederick jumped back on his horse. It seemed like centuries before he returned with the doctor, who fed the fire and ordered us out of the room.

Nana was deeply ill for a week, and the doctor came every day to bleed her. I didn't speak to Victoria for that length of time. Gradually, I hid my deep fury and tried to forget. Nana recovered some, but was sickly through that winter. She did not get out of bed most days, and I attended to her while Victoria hovered, although her guilt abated with the thaw and we saw her less and less.

That spring came late, and Nana never got to see it. In April she started coughing blood, and was soon delirious with pain no doctor could cure until the Lord took away her suffering. One morning, she did not wake up. Watching her death ripped me up from the inside out. I felt sick myself with fear and grief, but I was slightly consoled that Nana had gone to a place where she would feel no pain. In spite of this, I couldn't bear to attend her funeral. Instead I walked by the river while Victoria sobbed into our mother's shoulder. The river was low and lazy now, but I knew when the spring rains arrived it would be roaring, dashing any driftwood cruelly against the rocks. It calmed me.

Mother decided to take on our finishing herself, as she felt Victoria was too emotional and I heartless. She had none of the natural patience of the teacher though, so we were left alone most of the time. As Victoria was almost fifteen she spent most days in the company of giggling girls her age. I was left alone to wallow in my misery and anger.

In May, Mother decided to throw a ball. I spent my days cooped up inside with Victoria while we sewed our gowns. She was gossiping and insensitive, and didn't seem to notice how much her idle chatter bothered me. She bemoaned her lack of jewelry and talked endlessly about who would attend. I had no such worries. Nana had left me a beautiful pearl necklace, a family heirloom, and I did not care who came.

On the night of the ball, I searched in vain for the necklace. I left no surface untouched, but it was nowhere to be seen. Distraught, I descended to the ball unadorned, agonizing over losing Nana's prized pearls. I stood at the wall, dancing only when Mother demanded it. I caught only glimpses of Victoria.

When the music changed to a lethargic waltz, Victoria finally settled down next to me, catching her breath. The only this I registered about her appearance was the exquisite pearl necklace gracing her throat.

“Where did you get that?" I know my tone was accusing but, flushed with dancing, she didn't pick up on it.

“Oh, I found it in your jewelry box. It matches my dress perfectly, don't you think?" she said airily.

“I cannot believe you!" I was shouting now, drawing odd looks from the assembly. "Nana left that for me! I've been looking for it all day!"

She immediately looked abashed. "I'm sorry, I didn't know."

I ran away so I wouldn't hit her, down to the river. Its waters were swirling dangerously high, almost at the bank. I stared into its rolling depths, trying to control myself. The absolute rage I thought I controlled was back unbidden.

In minutes I heard footsteps. "I'm sorry!"

I ignored her, battling the beast that was my anger, so she slipped between me and the river. 

She tried to take my hand, but I pulled out of her grasp. The monster in my chest was screaming to get out. My head pounded. I couldn't take it any more. My hands moved of their own accord as they connected with her chest, pushing her backwards. The last I saw of her was her face, still pleading.

"Sister!" Then the river swallowed her. I looked away, my heart already cooling. I saw something caught on a branch sticking into the river. I reached down to grab the necklace and walked away, to tell the story of a sister who had fallen and drowned.

In a small village with a river flowing past, there was a miller who longed to be a great violinist. He had not enough money to buy a fiddle, so he was constructing one out of driftwood that floated past on the river. One day he went down to the river and was watching it idle by when he spotted a piece of gold fabric. He pulled on it (it was surprisingly heavy) and discovered that it was a dead maiden, with long black hair and a beautiful face, though the river had battered her body. He cut off her hair and used her bones to make his violin. It was distasteful work, but he would be rewarded with the beautiful music he would make.

When the fiddle finally was ready, he polished it until it shone and put the bow to the strings and played a song.

Wind and Rain
Two lovely sisters were a-walking side by side
Oh, the wind and rain
One pushed the other in the water so deep
And she cried a dreadful wind and rain 
She floated on down to the miller’s pond
Oh, the wind and rain
She floated on down to the miller’s pond
And she cried a dreadful wind and rain 
He hooked her up by the tail of her gown
Oh, the wind and rain
He hooked her up by the tail of her gown
And she cried a dreadful wind and rain 
He made fiddle strings of her long black hair
Oh, the wind and rain
He made fiddle strings of her long black hair
And she cried a dreadful wind and rain 
He made fiddle screws of her long fingerbones
Oh, the wind and rain
He made fiddle screws of her long fingerbones
And she cried a dreadful wind and rain 
And the only tune that the fiddle would play
Oh, the wind and rain
The only tune that the fiddle would play
Was oh, the dreadful wind and rain
Lyrics of “Wind and Rain”  from the Old Town School of Folk Music Songbook 50th anniversary edition.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Delicious Accident

By: Azana, Calise, Bailey & Iryna of Skinner Elementary's 5th Grade

Once, a long while ago, there was a very special chicken named George "Georgey" Bawkington. He was blue, wore glasses with lenses five inches thick, a blue leisure suit and a red George Washington wig. Georgey was the world's greatest hero, because he was super-smart and had a pure heart. He had one major fault: He was also very clumsy. To make up for this, he had a sidekick. His sidekick was a boy named T.J. Jackson, short for Tom James.

One day, Georgey and T.J. were doing somersaults down Main Street in their hometown, Fritochilidumplingtown. Georgey tripped over one of his wings and landed smack on his beak. Then, T.J. tripped over Georgey. They flew in the air, over the fire hydrant, and landed in someone's front yard.

Georgey stood up, shook his feathers, and looked around. The yard was covered in bones, and a cave stood at one end. "Hey, T.J., do you know whose house this is?" Georgey asked. "No, I don't, actually," T.J. whispered, trembling. "Let's go find out," Georgey replied.

T.J. eventually agreed, and the two started walking toward the cave. While they were walking, they heard the gates of the yard swing shut. T.J. jumped, but they were still curious.

After walking for five minutes, they got to the cave's entrance. The walls were dripping with something red, and stalactites hung everywhere. They were very afraid, but they kept going. "Is that blood?" T.J. asked. "I don't know," Georgey said. He bravely walked toward the wall, and touched a feather to the red liquid.

At that moment, a creepy, fanged, dark black vampire bat swooped into Georgey's face. "GRRR!" the bat growled, "My name is Mr. Vampy and this is my cave. Get out!" Mr. Vampy called for his minions, a porse (which had the legs of a pig and the body of a horse) and a wohorsbird (which has the head of a wolf, the body of a horse, and the wings of a bird).

The porse and the wohorsbird tried to run over to georgey and T.J., but they couldn't make it through the cave. The porse's legs were too short and the wohorsbird said "Sorry, I have to go run errands," and flew off.

"That was strange," Georgey said. "Why can't we come into your cave?"
Vampy looked very angry. "Because!" he shouted. "I'm getting ready for a date with my girlfriend Antoinette!"

"Then why are the walls covered in blood?" T.J. asked. "That's not blood!" Vampy replied. "That's red paint. I'm redecorating."

"Oh," Georgey replied. "It looks very nice.

"Would you like to stay for dinner?" Vampy asked. "What are you going to be having?" Georgey responded.

"We're having spaghetti and slime," Vampy said. "But I can make you two some chocolate ice cream pizza with chocolate chips."

"That sounds delicious," T.J. said. Antoinette, Vampy, T.J., and Georgey had a wonderful meal together, and grew to be very close friends.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How I Would Change 826

This superb piece is featured in George Washington Hopscotch, our newest chapbook. Stop into The Boring Store to pick up your copy.
By Josephine F., Grade 5
  1. Paint the room green and orange.
  2. Put a swirly slide in.
  3. An organizer (AKA file cabinet).
  4. Mini cards, for kids.
  5. A girls bathroom and boys bathroom.
  6. Lots of cookies and cakes.
  7. A homework machine.
  8. A spa for girls (maybe boys)
  9. A game room for boys. And girls.

New Chapbook: George Washington Hopscotch!

Find within: Lists of facts about presidents! Stories of what it means to be a Taurus! Descriptions of what 826CHI should look like! And, much, much more! The new chapbook will be available in The Boring Store starting today! This excellent new book features cover art by Brennan K. Pick up your copy now!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pony Kid

By Catherine G., 2nd Grade

Once upon a time there was a kid named Pony Kid. She is a pony and she is seven years old. Her favorite game is Outburst. She plays it in the backyard under an oak tree. The next morning, she went outside to play Outburst but the oak tree was knocked over! That was her favorite tree. She felt sad when her favorite tree got knocked down. When she was about to go in the house, a wizard appeared. He said: "You must go on a quest!" He gave her a map, and he said: "Remember to get away from the ogre."

She went to a river far from the house. The river was magical. She saw everything but the tree. She took a space ship to the moon, and then she had magic powers. And then she went home and she fixed the tree. She was very happy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Life History

By Gbemi O., Peabody Elementary School

My life....
This a pain all in one thing that i can't really experss how i feel
I wouldn't really say I'm stuck but that's how real it feels
I don't really know were I'll end up in another 10 to 15 years from now
I tried to understand why but it really hurts inside
I can't really discover why but it really hurts inside
Sorrow and pain, crying and dying
It's what it is, live your life I live mine
Death or happiness

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Revenge of the Hamburbirds

By Byrne Elementary's 3rd Grade with Mrs. Hansen. Illustrations by Julia Rice

Deep in The Shoelace Forest, where laces grow from the ground and reach 60 feet high, lived a tribe of bear-nanas led by their queen, Deevena. Like all bear-nanas, Queen Deevena had the front half of a black bear and a tail of a blue, polka-dot banana. Her claws were sharp bananas and she wore a furry banana crown on her head.

But all was not safe in The Shoelace Forest. Whenever Queen Deevena wanted to put on her Heelies and skate on her frozen pea soup lake, she had to bring along two of her applesauruses. The applesauruses were the finest, strongest, biggest, half-apple, half-dinosaurs in The Shoelace Forest. Their job was to protect the queen from the hamburbirds.

The hamburbirds were upset with Queen Deevena because seven years ago the bear-nanas had stolen the key to the hamburbirds' secret volcano. The volcano contained their lair. The lair was where the hamburbirds cooked their top secret pizza with sauce made out of ginger ale. Without the key, the hamburbirds could not cook.

One gloomy, tomato-rainy day, Queen Deevena insisted on going skating. Her applesauruses were not to be found. They were taking their yearly applesauce bath. Queen Deevena set out on her own to her pea soup lake.

She stepped onto the ice and was warming up for her figure-eight when...

What happens next?! Will Queen Deevena get to finish her figure-eight? What's an applesauce bath like? Can the hamburbirds ever return to their volcano lair?
Finish the story yourself, and send it to