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  Creative Writing: Our favourites

The Legend of Beowulf Retold

By Stella, 9, Leicester, UK

It was success.

The king and his men had beaten the enemy. So the king wanted to celebrate.

He set out to build a hall. From the old to the young, from the poor to the rich, they all came to help him. The king was known for his generosity and kindness.

Finally the hall was built. It was a majestic hall, with tall pinnacles, higher than the highest trees. Nothing this grand had existed in his land, so he was very proud of it.

The celebration started one morning and continued night after night, day after day. The tables sagged under the weight of drink. The louder the music grew, the further it travelled until it was heard far away in the foul-smelling marsh lands by Grendle.

Evil suited Grendle. Grendle, half fiend. He came from a line of sea-monsters. Grendle hated happiness. Laughter? No chance.

He had slept for centuries and was now starving. Grendle had slimy, oozing skin and bits of fish on him. Imagine sleeping in that for centuries and, to make it even worse, he slept in a swamp!

Anyway, back to the story. Where were we?

Here we are.

Grendle walked step by step, making his way to Herout, to the hall. He ripped the door open like it was a tiny object.

People ran out screaming and shouting, "Help! Help!"

The king could not help. He was too old and wrinkley, so he set his men to look after his Herout. But the warriors were no match for Grendle who ate them all, bone after bone.

The king was devastated. All his men had been slaughtered.

Night after night, Grendle came and harvested a soul in the hall.

Far away in the northern rim of the world lived another king. He had heard of what was going on. He felt sorry for these people so he asked Beowulf if he could help them. This king was Beowulf's uncle.

Beowulf said, "Why, of course, but I must wait until the stars say so?"

Day after day passed until it was time he packed his things and set sail.

"Are you Beowulf?" the warriors asked.

"Yes, I am and I have come to destroy Grendle."

"Thank you. Thank you very much," the warriors said as they put their swords away and led him to Heorot.

Beowulf told them to put the candle on.

"Now you may go," he said.

So the warriors packed their bags and went.

At nightfall, the women left the hall while some of the men stayed and watched.

Beowulf took off his armour and gave his sword to a servant. True to his word, he would face Grendle without weapons. The men lay down to sleep each thinking if Beowulf would make it.

Beowulf climbed up the rafters and hid there until Grendle came but the door was locked. Grendle was so confused now. He ran to his birth place looking for his mother, Hagwitch.

The men who had been sleeping in the hall all ran out to the safety of their own homes when they were sure it was safe to do so, leaving Beowulf alone in the hall.

"Matera, Matera." This meant mother, in the language of the sea-monsters.

"Yes, son."

"Mother, there is a warrior in the village out to get us. Help me."

Hagwitch decided to help him. They made a plan and went to devour Beowulf with blood dripping from their cheeks.

Meanwhile Beowulf was hiding in the rafters.


The monsters came into the hall.

For a moment, Beowulf was amazed. There was only supposed to be one and that was Grendle.
They whacked the candle. Which they were supposed to do.

Beowulf had built a cover or something rather, to cover the hall and this made the hall burn like marshmallows on a camp fire. And he jumped down from the rafters and ripped Grendle and Hagwitch's arms, pouring blood everywhere. Gross, I know.

Grendle and Hagwitch ran to the marsh lands and there they dropped dead.
(July 2005)

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Peace May Come

By Keira, 13, London, England

Hatred, Anger and Jealousy corrupted the world.
The days grow darker, death crawls around our feet.
Yet there is hope that peace may come again.
To restore us all, unite us together.
As one race, as sister and brother.
(July 2005)

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Judgement Day

By Steven, 10, Ilford, UK

A streak of lightning thundered across the dark, dank, gloomy sky. I was standing alone at the bus stop weary from the days events, but at this point I had no idea of what was coming. I scold myself these days for being so foolish and not noticing until later, one important thing - the destruction of the earth had almost arrived. Judgement day was nearly upon us, the end was near……
The next day I got up and felt around for my pants for 20 minutes then I remembered that they were in the wash. I got up and my mum burst through the room "Did you hear the news?!!" panted mum out of breath. Then I heard it "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The school bus will be 2 minutes late" I yelled. "No you moron listen to the radio, there has been a tsunami in Sweden, an earthquake in Indonesia and a tornado in Tibet!" announced mum. Were these just coincidences or was there something terrible, horrible and disastrous running around the world?
School was as boring as ever I was held in for running in the halls and it was 2:15 when a meteorite hit the school and everyone except me who was stealing pens and test answers from under the teacher's metal desk was obliterated. Yay I get to leave school early I thought happily. Streaking down the hall, I was like a rabbit on fire even though ironically I had been the only one in school who hadn't burst into flames - but outside I saw a devastation of a lifetime with the running and the screaming. Tsunamis were big, blue showers of death coming as common around the world as icecreams and baths. Was it too late to save the world?
I ran to and fro frantically searching for a place to hide avoiding molten rock and glass. After hours of zig zagging I felt ready to give in and collapse when I heard my mum calling me. Either I was unconscious or dead or this was real. Suddenly the clouds parted, the sun appeared and the day had ended, so had the weather of judgement day.
Along with my mum and the other survivors. I helped rebuild the population and in a few years we were back to normal and definitely free from judgement day for ever or were we?................
(February 2005)

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3 billy goats gruff (cinquain)

By Abigail, Lauren, 11, Workington, UK

3 goats
eating some grass
first goat comes to the bridge
A troll jumps up out of nowhere
scared goat

Next goat
trots to the bridge
the troll jumps up again
get off my bridge the troll replied
poor goat

last goat
came to the bridge
the evil troll jumped up
the last goat got over the bridge
troll died
(January 2005)
More cinquains and limericks from Cumbria

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By Hallie, 13, Franklin, MA, USA

7:30 AM
on goes the shower
and off again 20 minutes later
I put my hair back
Get changed, eat breakfast
Just another
Tuesday morning

I stand at the
Bottom of the
It’s a warm day today
Just another warm
September Tuesday

The bus is
Smells like smoke
From a cigarette put
Out 5 minutes ago
Just another warm
September Tuesday
Morning on a
Smoldering bus that
Smells like

Off the bus into the
Small school
Up the stairs and
To the right
Although it is
8:10 in the morning
I walk with a smile
For my mother was
Coming home from
Atlanta Georgia
Just another warm
September Tuesday morning
That my mother
Was flying home

The day went slowly
For I could not wait
To see my mom
The 5th grader I am
Grew more impatient
Every time I would
Look at the clock
And it wouldn’t be
just another warm
September slow Tuesday
That my mother was
Coming home

The hour hand stood
At the 3 and the
Minute hand slowly
Moved to the ten
It was finally time
All students from
Kindergarten to 8th
Grade rush through
The doors to their
I cant wait!
Just another warm September
Slow Tuesday
Afternoon that my
Mother was coming
Home from
Atlanta Georgia

I walked into the
House to see
My oldest sister
Sobbing with the
Phone in her hand
O asked her what
Was wrong
She explained
My mother's
Cell phone is not
The twin towers and
The pentagon ruined
What has this world
Come to?
It most definitely
Was not just another
Warm September slow
Tuesday that my mom was
Coming home from
Atlanta Georgia
It was
September 11, 2001
(January 2005)

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Cruel Laughter (taster)

By Scott, 12, East Grinstead, West Sussex, England

The heavens opened and lightning cracked through the cold night, illuminating the dark forest ahead of us. It was closely followed by a clap of thunder and rain started plummeting onto the car roof. It dribbled down the window from which I was attempting to peer out. I breathed against it, forming even more condensation, and wrote against it LOST. That had been the only word that my family and I kept coming across this holiday.

“I told you to turn right!” Mum’s voice brought me back to my senses and I found I had landed back on earth at the worst possible moment. Mum and Dad were having a heated argument in the front two seats, whilst my little sister Angela, my friend Andy and I sat miserably in the back waiting for a decision to be made.

Read the rest of this exciting story!

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Christmas Eve (poem)

By Claudia, 7, Paris, France

C hocolate Candy Canes;
H appy, joyful holiday;
R eindeer riding smoothly;
I hope I don't get coal.
S anta sliding down my chimney;
T he reindeer going thump, thump, thump.
M om and Dad are sleeping
A nd I am still awake. Then I go to sleep cause
S anta is watching over me.
(December 2004)

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By Sian, 11, Croydon, England

I woke up from my dream. My window was open, and jasmine filled my room. It was like I was inside a green house. Climbing jasmine, white roses, and honeysuckle covered the walls. I couldn't see the door.
I looked out of the window. In the garden, nibbling the dew sprinkled grass, was a unicorn. She had a beautiful pearly horn, tinted with pink and blue, like mother-of-pearl. Her mane and tail were silky, and her coat was like white velvet.
I climbed down the vines. She looked up as I came down. I stroked her nose, and she nuzzled me. I found some sugar from somewhere, and she licked it up. Her tongue tickled me.
I got up on her back. It was so wonderful I can't say. But she flew. And I touched the stars, and they tasted of pepperment and felt like fire.
We landed on the moon. But it wasn't all rock and craters. It was covered with flowers, and lakes, with mountains topped with snow. There was no one but us there.
She took me home, after a night so brilliant I will never forget.
(December 2004)

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Canute's Advisor

By Matthew, 15, South Gloucestershire, England

Stubborn as the waves themselves,
He stood there, trying to command them.
Trying to command them to stop.
Command the tide to turn. Idiot.

The sort of man who doesn’t think
That he needs an advisor.
The kind of man who thinks he’s God.
Who thinks he can control even the tides.

The Viking lords appointed me. They hated me.
Me with my English blood. As if we weren’t
All part heathen by now. Set me impossible tasks.
But none more so than this. “Be advisor to Canute.”

I tried and tried to make the deaf old codger
Listen to what I said.
Shouted, screamed, jumped on tables.
Prepared speeches, drew diagrams.

I watched the water lap at his feet.
If only there was someone else appointed.
Someone to cover up his tremendous cock-ups:
For quite a crowd had amassed now, sniggering and snorting.

Suddenly, I had a brainwave: shouted,
“Behold! Behold the point that his majesty makes!
The natural forces will not stop for even a king!”
They listened for several minutes, then nodded and left.

I saw them go, and then watched as the water
Reached Canute’s protesting hands.
Idiot, I thought again. He thinks he has power.
It’s the PR men who have the power now.
(December 2004)
More from Matthew

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The Waves

By Lara, 13, California, USA

Pounding on the shore
the waves; too strong to hold back
the sea rages on
(December 2004)

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On my way to school

By Ashley, 7, Margate, UK

On my way to school I saw a scary dog.
It was a scary, hairy dog.
It was a scary, hairy, big dog.
It was a scary, hairy, big, fat dog.
It was a scary, hairy, big, fat, ugly dog.
It was a scary, hairy, big, fat, ugly, angry dog.
It was a scary, hairy, big, fat, ugly, angry, mean dog.
It was a scary, hairy, big, fat, ugly, angry, mean, useless dog.
It was a scary, hairy, big, fat, ugly, angry, mean, useless, blue-eyed dog, and that is why I am late for school. (December 2004)

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The dog who got stuck in the tree

By Ben, 8, Ipswich, England

One ordinary day in Capel St Mary two children called Anna and Jake and of course their dog Rusty were sitting in their Auntie’s and Uncle’s house, who were called Penny and John. The children were staying over for a night and they were playing in the house.
Then their Uncle John asked the children. “Who wants to take Rusty for a walk in Capel playing field?”
They all agreed to take the dog for a walk. Even their Auntie Penny! So they all set off on a walk. The children took turns to hold the dog's lead. They all walked off towards the park.
When they got to the park their Uncle John said he would take the dog because otherwise it might get in to a fight with another dog. But when they handed the dog over it jumped in the tree.
“Oh no” shouted Anna.
Then Jake had an idea. He rushed to the person next door to them because he was a builder. He came back with the builder (who had a ladder). He climbed up his ladder, reached for the dog but then found himself wobbling on the ladder. All of a sudden the ladder fell to the ground.
Then Anna had an idea. She rushed round to the other person in that same house, because he had an axe in his shed. He was called Andrew. He and Anna came running back. He started to chop the tree but then the axe got stuck. Then he remembered he had lots more axes at his house so he ran back to his house, got the rest of the axes and put them in the tree like steps. He started to climb up but, oh no! The highest axe cracked out of the tree.
“Ouch,” said Andrew.
“I have an idea”, said their uncle. “I will go and buy some food for Rusty".
So he went off in the direction of the Co-op. He did not just buy dog food, he ended up getting: dog food, dog treats, lots of buy one get one frees, 2-for-1 offers, and of course the buy 2 for 2 pounds offers. When he came back he had his hands full of 20 bags!
They searched all afternoon and finally they found the food and treats. Their Uncle John opened the food and the packets of treats. He put some food down, but the dog was not interested. So Uncle John put the whole bag of treats down as well. But the dog still was not interested.
So Uncle John whizzed to the Co-op, because he thought he could get some more food and treats for the dog but they had sold out. But the shopkeeper said they would get some more the next day.
So he went to Ipswich’s Co-op, but people in Ipswich had bought so much dog food and treats that they were sold out too. Even there the shopkeeper said the same thing. So he had to go back empty-handed. Then everyone was asking him questions why he had not brought any thing back but he said, “I will tell you the story over dinner”.
So everyone went back to the house so they could have dinner while their Uncle John told them what had happened. After this they all went to bed.
The next day they all came to the park. Their dog had a blanket on it.
Then Anna said, “I remember whose blanket that is. It’s Andrew’s blanket. He must have been cold last night. I will take it round to him”.
Then their Uncle John remembered the day before he needed more dog food and more treats. So then instead of walking he felt like he would drive there in his car today, so he hopped in it and drove off to the Co-op.
Still they had none on display, but just to check he asked the shopkeeper and he said “Yes, we have got some, but we just haven’t had time to put them out on display”. So he bought lots of the food and treats from the shopkeeper and took them back to the playing field and put them on the ground for Rusty the dog. But what he did not realise that it was not the same type of dog food that Rusty normally had.
Rusty jumped down, ate the food and went back up.
As Penny normally got the food and treats she went to get the right food. So she whizzed to the Co-op to buy some food and came back with the right food and treats. She held some out to Rusty and the dog jumped in her hands.
(Dec 2004)

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By Henry, 10, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Daring and bold, yes indeed.
Restless, afraid they'll lose their treasures.
Acrobatic, looping through the air.
Grumpy, no wonder! They sit in caves all day.
Odd creatures they are, oh yes. Glowing yellow eyes and shiny scales; arching necks and arrowhead tails.
Notable creatures, yes siree! Fire-breathing beasts are few!
Smart creatures, yes they are! Loves to solve riddles and word problems!
(October 2004)

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Go away, Knight

By Katie, 10, Pennsylvania, USA

Golden scales
Orange scales
Silver teeth
In the dark of his lair
Why, knight, do I get the feeling
That he would be a better companion
Than you?

Don't rescue me
No, I'm happy
Right here
Where I am
Go back to your castle.
(October 2004)

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Animal Haikus

By Henry, 11, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Wolf
A silver grey wolf
Howls an eerie, spooky howl
Staring at the moon

The Snake
Slithering, hissing.
Tasting the air with its tongue
Swallows a mouse whole

The Golden Eagle
The golden eagle
Swooping down to catch a mouse
Feeds it to its young

The Sharks
A great white shark here
A grey reef shark over there
The lords of the sea.
(October 2004)

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Snow White (a topsy turvy version)

By Nina, 12, London, UK

There was once a royal pair,
Who had a girl with ebony black hair,
And white skin and red lips,
Snow White she was named,
In all the countries she was famed,
But one day the queen died in pain,
In all the countries it was a shame,
The king was who everyone blamed,
And one solution only remained,
He went away across the seas,
Leaving his daughter with the golden palace keys,
And back home one day he came,
Escorting a tall and astounding dame,
The daughter she kicked out of the house,
"Get out you stupid rotten mouse!
For being prettier than me,
You´ll have to pay me a great fee!
For know I rule in the palace!"
And truly she said it full of malice,
So out went Snowy full of rage,
And roared to her faithful page;
"Pack my clothes and pack the make-up,
I´ll run away before my Dad will wake-up!"
Away she flew with no regret,
The queen was pleased as you can bet,
But king wept and cried and howled,
Giving all a headache but he growled,
"Leave me alone and let me be,
I´m wallowed up in misery!"
Meanwhile Snowy walked through the trees,
Glad for not paying the silly queen's fees,
She walked till she came to a little den,
In which lived 7 fine little men,
Who made her stay and live with them,
But in 5 years or so in time,
The queen came a long singing a little rhyme,
"Take an apple my darling girl,"
She said to Snowy, and in a whirl,
Snow White hit the floor in a choke,
The little men's hearts it broke,
And in a few years' time,
After the horrid bloodthirsty crime,
A prince of dark hair and happy talk,
Was out having a little walk,
And Snowy in her glass coffin he spotted,
At her beauty he felt dotted,
He picked her up and gave her a hug,
And she arose from her tummy bug,
They married soon,
And went off on their honeymoon,
And the nasty vile queen,
Was burnt on a stake at halloween!
(October 2004)

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Damsel in distress

By Sinclair, 13, Walnut Creek, California, USA

When I was a little girl,
My mom read me fairytales.
I always wanted to be the beautiful princess,
waiting for her prince.
But I have come to a decision.
I don’t want to be sitting and waiting for Prince Charming.
I can slay my own dragons, I can rescue myself.
I am not going sit around waiting for him. If I got myself into this trouble, I can get myself out too. If he goes looking for me and cannot find his beautiful princess, his loss.
I am not going to sidestep destiny, but I am not going to be the perfect damsel he’s looking for. I’m only human.
Now, knight, get out of my way, I have a kingdom to save.
(September 2004)

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By Quiana, 12, Lake Oswego, OR, USA

Clank. “I love getting mail!”
“Not always. I’ve seen you grimace when you get junk mail or when you get a letter from mom with bad news.”
“Oh, don’t be a party pooper, Maggie. Junk mail you can just throw away, and everything with mom works out well in the end, and we’re all happy.”
“Not the divorce…
“Fine! Sorry.” Slam! The big oak door closed with a thud, as a large fat cat waddled toward them.
“Oh! Hello Tomakin! Here kitty, kitty…”
“Give it up…” Tomakin waddled past, his glowing yellow eyes staring straight ahead, as if the two sisters were just inconvenient statues on his precious golden sidewalk. “…You know, sometimes I think that cat is blind.”
“Nah,” Hannah said, “I heard somewhere that your eyes look different when you’re blind.”
There was a loud crashing noise from upstairs, a muffled curse, and a, “Hi girls! Did you have fun at the library? Come on up and help your old dad tackle the attic!”
The two girls groaned loudly and rolled their amber eyes at each other.
“I didn’t hear that!”
They giggled as they raced up the carpeted stairs.

Crouch. Don’t blink. Don’t move. Wait. Make sure they haven’t noticed you. On the count of three, …one…two… Wait. They saw you. Now they’re moving. They’re getting away…What the heck. POUNCE!
There was a snap of sharp feline teeth and then a slurping sound like a tongue over lips. You could barely hear it, but just before the loud gulping sound there was a small, pitiful, squeak.
With a swish of his tail, Tomakin walked proudly out of the pantry with the satisfaction that it was now 100% mouse free.

“You know,” Grunt! “Maybe Tomakin, - Could you please,” Grunt “help me here? Thanks – maybe Tomakin isn’t blind. Maybe he’s just distracted, thinking about something more important.”
“Yeah. Maybe.”

This crazy world is all mixed up. Just like their brain. It’s not really this way. The mirror shows you the way it really is. It’s a window opening up onto a calm and peaceful world. A world where everything is the way it should be. Like a cat’s brain, perfectly organized. A perfect world.
It’s so calm and peaceful in there. Now wonder those vain people stare into it all day. They like to gaze on the world where everything goes their way. Where they are the center of attention.
What’s that?

“I’ll be back in just a sec, Margaret, I’ve got to visit the bathroom.”
Her bare feet bounced on the cushy carpet. She reached the bathroom, looked in, and stopped. Tomakin was doing something weird. He was staring into the mirror at his own reflection, straight into his eyes. But they didn’t look like his eyes. There was something else there, something odd, like a whole world crammed into his narrow pupils. And his face… a look of utter bafflement was scrawled across it.

“Hey, Hannah, what are you staring at? Oh, just Tomakin. Hey, Tomakin, it’s just your reflection. There is no need to be afraid of it.”

“Destiny…” he thought, as he turned his head and looked at the one grinning face and the other worried one. “Destiny, where are you? You’re missing your chance...”
He leaped off the counter and ran through the doorway, zipping under a pair of legs and disappeared. “You’re missing your chance.”

“Crazy cat,” Maggie thought as she dragged the puzzled Hannah away.

“Hannah! Maggie! Susan will be here any minute, and I want you two to make a good impression. She doesn’t know what to expect, so treat her kindly. By the way, we’re having sautéed Brussels sprouts with rice.”
“But dad…” They both said in unison.
“And,” he sighed, “Hamburgers for you two.”
“Yeah!” They screamed.
“But you have to promise me you’ll try the Brussels sprouts. It’s Susan’s favorite food, and if you like it, it’ll…”
“Make a good impression.” Volunteered Hannah as the girls walked into the kitchen. Steamy air filled the room, spreading the scent of foreign and exotic spices.
“Yeah, Dad, we know. We know you want us to like Susan, but we’re not promising anything.”
“Okay, but…” The doorbell rang. “There she is now! Girls, come with me. I want you to meet her.”
“…And make a good impression.” They said together, then giggled.
“Yeah…” said their Dad as he gave them an odd look.
In walked Susan, a blonde beauty about middle age with a braid in her hair that reached halfway down her back. She was stunning in a pink dress that ended about halfway down her shins. Her white heels and bright blue eyes set it off nicely. After giving their dad a quick peck on the cheek, she walked over to the two bravely smiling girls.
“Well girls,” she said, in a sweet voice the girls didn’t notice. They were too busy thinking about the future, with her as their mom. And they both agreed on one thing, no invader was taking their mom’s place. “Which one of you is Hannah, and which is Margaret?”
Maggie winced when she heard her full name, but Susan didn’t notice. Hannah pointed out who was who.
Susan handed them a thick present wrapped neatly in garish pink wrapping on it, and a big bright pink bow in the middle. “From what I’ve heard from your dad,” she gave him a brief smile, “you read a lot, and I thought you would like this book. You’ve probably read it, but, well…I just thought you might like to have your own copy.” She straightened up and smiled at the girls.
Their dad gave them a pleading look over Susan’s shoulder.
“Thank you, Susan,” Hannah said.
“I’m sure we’ll enjoy it,” said Maggie.
That was apparently all Susan needed to hear. She bent down again, even though, at the age of twelve, they were nearly as tall as she was and they had to look down to see her. “Girls, your father and I would like a moment alone. Would you mind going up to your room and opening your present while we talk?”
“So that’s all it is,” thought Hannah. “Just a toy to get us away from her sight.”
“Yes, we would mind very much. We have as much right to be here as you do. In fact, more! ” Thought Maggie, “Who does this woman think she is?”
“And,” thought Hannah bitterly, “we don’t share a room. We haven’t since we were eight! She must think we’re six, bribing us with a present.”
But they remembered their manners, and their dad’s pleading look. “No, not at all,” Hannah said.
“Thank you once again for the present!” yelled Maggie as they raced up the stairs. They ran to Hannah’s room and opened and closed the door. Once they thought the two adults were satisfied they tip –toed to the top of the stairs. They only heard fragments of conversation.
“Sweet girls…will take a while for them to get used to me…maybe the present wasn’t such a good idea…I’m sure they enjoyed it…they probably love you…oh, be truthful…you know they don’t like me for taking their mom’s place…” That was all they heard. They tip –toed back to Hannah’s room and gently opened and closed the door. Well, the girls thought, at least she’s realizing what is happening to us. At least she’s not thinking only about herself.
It wasn’t very assuring.
Then they remembered the present. They ripped off the wrapping and stared at the cover. At the top it said “Through the Looking Glass, by Louis Carroll.” There was a picture of a girl sticking her hand through a mirror.
Hannah’s mind started to turn…

Two weeks later the book was hidden safely in a box on the top shelf of the closet. Then Tomakin disappeared.
They couldn’t find him anywhere. They searched all over the place, and their dad wanted to bring in Susan to help put up “lost cat” signs, but the girls wouldn’t let him. Tomakin was their cat, and they didn’t want anyone interfering.
The next day, in between chores, Hannah decided to test out an idea. Remembering the book, she crept into the bathroom and locked the door. Climbing up on to the counter she stared at her eyes into the mirror, like she saw Tomakin do, and thought as hard as she could about Tomakin, until she could almost see him. Then, almost subconsciously, she raised her hand and cautiously stuck it through the mirror. There was a glop and a cold, tingling-sensation traveled through her hand. With a yelp, she yanked her hand back.
She had found the way.

That night, after their dad had fallen asleep, Hannah tiptoed into Maggie’s room. She woke Maggie up and, in whispers, she told Maggie about what she saw Tomakin do, and how she thought they should go through the mirror to find him. Maggie agreed.
They tiptoed into the bathroom and climbed on to the counter. They stared hard into their eyes and thought as hard as they could about finding Tomakin. Holding each other’s hands, they stood up and walked through the mirror…

They were standing at the beginning of what looked like a huge maze. Up ahead the towering walls turned, and on either side of the entrance walls stretched into blackness. The ground was nothing but air and they could see stars underneath them.
“Tomakin!” Maggie shouted, and dragged Hannah into the maze…

They raced and raced and raced, taking wrong turns, and calling Tomakin’s name. The maze seemed endless, and they hadn’t caught another glimpse of Tomakin. He seemed to have disappeared.
Finally, Maggie beckoned Hannah into a corner and sat down. “I’m getting really tired, and if we sleep now, we’ll have enough energy to find Tomakin.”
With a nod Hannah agreed and sat down. The two girls drifted off into a restless sleep…

When they awoke they were in a room lined with mirrors. Only the girls were on the wrong side. They saw people shaving, people primping their hair, people applying make-up to their face, people staring at their reflections.
After a moment of awe, Hannah said, “They’re all so…vain. They stare at their reflections, thinking only about themselves.” Maggie nodded.
Realization dawned on them.
“Yeah,” said Maggie, “Like us.”
After another few moments of staring at the mirrors, something caught Hannah’s eye. On the other side of a mirror was Tomakin, looking straight at them. He seemed to be beckoning them. Hannah grabbed Maggie and they jumped through.

“Meeerooow!!” Tomakin streaked out of the bathroom, howling all the way. “Oops,” said Hannah. They giggled.
Light streamed in from the hallway. It was morning.
“Girls! Where are you?”
They ran out of the bathroom and nearly bumped into their dad. He was already up and dressed in fancy clothes.
“What were you doing in the bathroom?” He said.
“Girl stuff,” said Hannah secretly as Maggie giggled.
“Well, hurry up and get dressed. We’re going to meet Susan for brunch.”
“Okay!” Yelled the girls as they raced into their rooms.

On the way to the restaurant, the girls were thinking. They remembered how vain everybody was, staring into the mirrors, and realized how vain they were. They had been only thinking of themselves, unlike Susan, who was worried about them. When they thought about it, Susan hadn’t actually been that bad. She had tried to be nice to them by giving them a present, and they ignored it. Sure, she was taking their mom’s place, but it wasn’t her fault. It was time to move on.
In their heads, they each secretly agreed to accept Susan into their lives, not necessarily as a mother, which she could never be to them, but as a person who loved them, and they loved back.

“What are you girls so quiet for? You’re normally chatting away back there! Anyway, we’re here.”
They walked calmly into the restaurant.
“Hello, Susan.”
They looked at her with new eyes.
They liked what they saw.
(September 2004)

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The Story

By Miriam, 13, NY, USA

Boom. Boom. Boom.

I sighed, rolled my eyes, and went back to typing an e-mail on the computer. It wasn't Alison's turn yet, so she had no reason to kick me off. Besides, I was in middle of something important.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Boy, she was really pushing those stairs to the end of their limits, and Mom had told us not to make noise or we'd wake the baby. If she kept on like this, she'd be stuck in her room for the next week. Grounded. It would serve her right, trying to get a turn ahead of time.


She was standing in the doorway now, arms crossed and a deep scowl upon her face. Typical teenager. I can't wait until she's out of the house.

I decided to pretend I didn't know what she wanted. “Yeah?” I asked innocently.

“You know what I want, Holly.”

I succeeded in keeping the innocent tone in my voice as I said, “Oh, really?” Teenagers have to be handled carefully.

“Give my story back. You know it took me two months to finish it! Now give it back. Please,” she added suddenly.

Now this was a surprise to me. My elder sister rarely used the magic word. And yet, I wasn't ready yet. There was something spectacular I wanted to do with her story, and I did not want to give it back. I didn't want to tell her, either. The only solution to this dilemma is to stall.

“So why do you want it back?” I asked casually, training my eyes on the computer monitor and clicking the 'send' button. I had to keep that story for at least another ten minutes, at least until I got a reply to my email. I fervently hoped the old stalling method would work.

“Stop stalling.”

Oh, well. One option thwarted. Now for another way. Nine minutes left. I began to click the 'Refresh' button rapidly. While clicking, I quickly decided to tell the truth.

“Er... I need it. For something.”

Some truth. The words didn't come out quite like they'd sounded in my head. I was nearly desperate now. If there was a record for rapid clicking, I would break it. The computer mouse was squeaking in protest when it was clicked, but I kept at it. I had to do this. I had to. I had to. Four minutes left.

“Don't give me that, you idiot of a little sister. You're doing this just to tease me. Give it back, or I'll have to physically extract it from you.”

I knew what that meant. My sister had taken karate since she was six, and was a black belt. In addition to that, she took gymnastics and wrestling. I did not want that story to be physically extracted from me.

Two minutes left. It would happen any minute now... any minute... my heart was pounding so loudly I was sure Alison could hear it. She began to walk towards me, rolling up her sleeves. Making a last minute decision, I swiveled around in my chair and faced my older sister. It was time to tell the truth, and if I didn't get an email in two minutes, I was dead.

“Okay,” I said breathlessly, nervously eyeing her extended fists. “I have to tell you something.”

“What?” said Alison. She was getting nearer and nearer, and I was growing more frantic by the second.

“I submitted your story to a writing magazine through email and they said they would write back if it had been accepted by six o'clock today and it's almost six o'clock and - Oh!”

A new message had just popped up on the screen, addressed to a Miss Alison Peters. I opened it with great trepidation, and my sister, who had reached me by now, leaned over my shoulder to read it as well.

Dear Miss Peters, the letter began. We are pleased to inform you that your story has been accepted to be published in the September/ October issue of our magazine. If you will fill out the form below, we will be sending along a check of two hundred dollars...

I lifted my gaze to meet that of my sister's. We stayed like that for a few moments, staring at each other in shock. I was the first to break the silence.

“Alison, I'm really sorry for stealing your story, but it was just lying there on your desk, screaming to be read, and I read it and it seemed too good to just sit there and rot. I had to submit it somewhere, and I so wanted it to be a surprise, but now that you're here -“

“Are you kidding?!” she screamed, throwing her arms around me and nearly crying with joy. “This is the biggest surprise I've ever had in my entire life! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“Of course,” I added, “some repayment would be in order.”

“Why, you insolent little-“ she began, and then laughed, realizing I was joking.

“Listen, I'm really sorry. I'll try to use good judgement on you from now on,” she said uncomfortably.

“Well, guess what? You missed your turn, and now it's my turn again.”

“What?! Not fair! It is not!” she said, and we began to bicker once more.

After all, there's no such thing as a truce between a teenager and her younger sister.
(Summer 2004)

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What's Your Talent, Tilly?

By Katy, 10, Manchester, UK

No one liked Tilly. They said she was a baby.
She didn't do well in school, either.
"Honestly, Tilly, if you just concentrated, you could do fine!" Mrs. Schmidt would snap. This made Tilly upset, as she did concentrate but didn't understand.
"Mum," she said one day. "I don't have a talent."
This came up because the school's talent show was next week, and some girls named Nesta and Kate put down her name.
"You don't?" said her mother absent-mindedly. "Oh, pet, I'm sure you do. What about your lessons? Check your report, I'm sure you'll find something."
So she did. But she soon got bored and fell asleep.
Next day, Nesta and Kate began to tease her. "What's your talent, Tilly?" they sneered. "You don't have one!"
"What talent do you have?" she asked.
"We're going to do a dance," replied Nesta.
"So there!" added Kate.
"I've got something worked out," said Tilly. "But I can't say what."
She asked her Mum to read the report to her. She dound out what she was good at:
"There, I told you that you were good at something," said Mum before hurrying away.
So she wrote a poem.
On the day of the show, she put on a white dress and pinned up her hair. Nesta and Kate began to tease again. "What are you doing, Tilly? A 'I'm sorry I'm rubbish at everything' talk?"
She was on last. She crept out and stood in front of the mike.
"I don't have a dance or a song," she said. "I don't like those things. I'm going to say a poem."
People began to whisper, but she continued. "Winter."

"Winter is full of whiteness
Full of wonderfulness
Sparkling in the weak light of the sun.

"Winter is a time for fun
When the only light is watery sun
Sparkling on the pure white snow.

"Play on your sled
Stomp through the snow
Have fun, all the time,
And watch snowflakes fall
To the white ground."

Everywhere was quiet. Then they all started to clap!
Two days later, when the Vote Counters came round, and they counted up every vote, the school gathered in the hall.
"Runners up," said Mrs. Schmidt, "Are Allan Jason with his comedy routine, Yvette Glastbury with her song, Lilac Snow, and Nesta and Kate with their dance to Jump.
"But the winner, with 190 votes is..."
Tilly didn't wish or hope to win. She didn't care.
"...Tilly McMaster!"
As she went up to claim her prize (a trophy), loads of people began to clap. Tilly said when she got up, "Thank you for voting for me." Then went to sit back down.
Tilly knew after that that she did have a talent, no matter what everyone else says.
(Summer 2004)

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