The Freak Out

By Maddie

Maddie, left, enjoys dance and reading. Pictured with her friend Mylene.

I had never been on a scary ride before today. I arrived at the carnival and smelled popcorn. After we went on a few other rides, my friends, Jane and Molly, wanted to go on the Freak Out ride. We walked over to it and heard music lyrics, “Freak out!” We asked two teenagers getting off, “Was it scary?”

“No. Maybe the first time. If you’re scared, just close your eyes,” one said.

When we got on the ride, we had to take off our shoes and socks. I shut my eyes tightly as the ride started. At first I was surprised it wasn’t so bad. It was swinging relatively slowly and turned a little.

But out of the blue the ride started wildly swinging from side to side, turning very fast. My stomach dropped, and then filled with butterflies flying frantically.  My head dropped when the ride ended.

Coach Dawn with budding writers Maddie (right) and Mylene

I was glad I didn’t barf. But now I can say that I rode the “Freak Out.”

Maddie, 9, enjoys dancing jazz, musical theater, tap and ballet. She also enjoys reading. Maddie wants to become a fantasy or humor writer.


Finding My Buddy

By Elliana

I wanted to think this was the one. I really hoped that I would return home with a furry friend to play with, but the chances were low. My family and I had been to several other pet adoption events and still we were petless.

Elliana, right, with Mr. Jewell and Ariame with a furry friend to play with, but chances were low. My family and I had been to several other dog adoption events and still we were petless.

“Are we there yet?” asked my little brother, Owen. It was only a short drive from my grandparents’ house where we were staying to the Anderson Animals dog adoption event.

“Now we are,” said Dad. I hopped out of the van and felt the blazing sun even though it was late September. To the right, I saw a big black and white guard dog chained to a metal pole. He was barking furiously. I hoped we wouldn’t adopt a dog like him.

We strolled across the parking lot into the adoption area. There were two blue tents with tables underneath that were covered with pamphlets, papers and candies. And there were dogs, lots of dogs. There was a big, slobbery dog, a miniature noisy dog, a white fluffy dog, and two Havanese puppies, one of which was blind. “It will need a special home,” said Mom.

But we were there to see a dog named Darby. My mom had looked Darby up on her phone and thought she could be a decent pet. The only problem: another family was already interested in adopting her. Putting that fact aside, we approached Darby and her foster mom, who was walking her.

Elliana (left) with fellow writers, Olivia and Bella

Darby barked and pulled on her leash just like the guard dog had, but unlike him, she didn’t give me the chills. “She’s very puppy-ish,” said her foster mom, though we could already see that.

While Owen, my little sister and I stroked Darby’s silky blonde coat, my mom and Darby’s foster mom talked. “Maybe she isn’t the right dog for us,” my mom said, after she’d finished. “And besides she is already going to be adopted by another family.”

So we weren’t getting a puppy this time either. My heart sunk to my toes. Maybe next time. (I hoped there was a next time.)

“Can we still look at the other dogs?” I asked my parents hopefully.

“Of course,” they said. I was observing a small white dog with curly hair when my mom called me.

“Look at that dog,” she said. “He doesn’t seem bothered by any of the other animals around him.” She pointed to a small dog, about a foot and a half long and a half foot tall with reddish brown fur and pointy ears. We walked over and asked his name.

“It’s Dave,” said the volunteer walking him. “He hasn’t barked, nipped or jumped at any people or dogs in the one hour I’ve known him.”

The adoption event offered rooms you could take a dog into to get to know them better. “May we get a room with Dave?” asked my mom.

The room was bare except a single chair in the corner, not that I expected anything more glamorous. We took turns walking Dave around the room on his lash, petting him and testing his reactions when we touched his head, poked his paw, or felt his tail. He didn’t seem to care. Could he obey basic commands like “Sit,” “Stay” or “Come”? He apparently could not.

I didn’t want to leave when the volunteer told us our time was over. “Time to go back to your grandparents’ house,” Mom said. My smile disappeared. I didn’t want to go! I had actually connected with one of the dogs this time. But maybe it was just as I’d suspected, another unsuccessful attempt at adopting the perfect canine companion.

I sulked the whole ride back. Once there I cried and pleaded with my parents to return for Dave. Finally they agreed, but my mom doubted a good dog like him would still be there.

My whole family, included my grandparents, climbed back into the minivan and drove back to the adoption event. I crossed my fingers, hoping the little pointy-eared dog was still there waiting for me.

When we arrived, I hopped out, not even glancing at the guard dog. I flew across the parking lot. At first I didn’t see him–I must not have been looking hard. Then I saw him come round the side of the building on a leash with the same volunteer.

I ran over and stroked his soft fur. I grinned from ear to ear. I couldn’t believe he was still here.

When the volunteer said Dave had remained well behaved the entire day, my mom looked like she was starting to consider adopting Dave. This time we got a bigger room with Dave and an employee discussed adoption with my mom. Finally Mom said, “Yes!” I didn’t know what to do! Should I laugh, jump up and down or just smile? I decided to pet my new dog.

We all agreed that we couldn’t keep the name Dave, so we decided to name him Buddy. When we told him his new name, his face got wrinkly, his eyes squinted, and I think that might have been a smile.

Elliana, 9, is going into the 4th grade. She takes Irish dance with her younger sister. Elliana’s poem was published in a young authors poetry award book in 2016. She wants to write a news article and have it published. When Elliana gets older she would like to be in a movie.


One Last Gift: The party I’ll never forget

Last week our eight budding writers penned personal narratives of life-changing moments. They did the hard work of creating a second draft, then a final draft showing, not telling emotions, adding strong verbs and more. We’ll be posting their articles one by one here. Enjoy stepping inside the world of our young writers!

By Avani

You know how there are days you never want to end? August 3, 2013, was one of those days. It was my sister’s birthday and she was turning five. The day was almost over. The sun was setting and all the guests hit the road.

Our family plopped on the couch. Out of nowhere my mom said, “Your dad and I have one last gift for you, but this one is for both of you.” We leaned in to listen. A cool chill ran down my spine. “You’re going to have a baby sibling!” she announced.

I was speechless. I jumped for joy, panicking at the same time. I could already hear the baby screaming. What if I dropped the baby? I thought. I’ll have another person to play with also sprang into my mind.

The best part was that my mom had been wanting another baby and now she would have one. I went to bed wondering what would happen next.

Avani, 10, is going into 6th grade.  She likes to play soccer on the Wheaton Wings travel team and dance classical Indian Kathak. Avani writes realistic fiction and mysteries. She hopes to be an optometrist and publish a mystery series. 

Poetry, Writing Tips and our Graduating Class

Vivid writing that captures the reader’s imagination includes the five senses of sight,

Matt Evie Avani
Poet Evelina (left) with Mr. Jewell and Avani

sound, touch, taste or smell. Our budding writers created sensory poems in their journal assignments last night. Evelina, 11, shared this:

Brightly colored leaves falling
Aromas of pumpkin and apple pies
Crinkling and snapping leaves and sticks
A sip of hot chocolate or warm milk
A fuzzy sweater wrapped around you on a long walk

Today, the last day of our workshop, our eight budding writers gleaned ideas from Margaret teachingWheaton author and writing teacher Margaret Philbrick. She offered these great tips for continuing to hone the gift and discipline of creative writing:
1. Create an intersection between your reading and writing. Consider: Why do you like or not like what you’re writing? Try to imitate the style that you like in your own writing.
2. Balance your reading between books you want to read or those your friends recommend with books you know you’ll be challenged by via ideas, vocabulary, etc.
3. Know your purpose and audience in writing a particular piece before you start. To entertain a peer? To inform? To persuade? Stick to it.
4. Enter poetry contests. It’ll improve your own poetry even if you never win.
5. Gift others with your writing. Write special poems to give as gifts to people you’ve written them for. Start work on a story now that you’ll finish in time to give friends and family copies of for Christmas.
Dawn&Margaret Philbrick6. Share your writing in a writers club. Margaret meets monthly with her writer group and gets feedback on her writing. You’ll get invaluable input from other writers.
7. Always write in a journal– ideas, feelings, questions. Create a separate journal only for travel. It’ll keep your memories alive and spark writing ideas.
8. Read “A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park. Check out her website tips on writing.

Today our writers graduated!  We look forward to these shelves being filled with many poems, articles and stories penned by the writers in this group. We’ll be posting our budding writers’ articles here in days to come. Check back soon.

Graduation buddingwriters200 2017
Presenting the 2017 class of Budding Writers 200





Ready, set, publish!

Day two of our workshop: writers trekked around the inside of Tyndale Publishing House on a special tour led by editors Debbie, Sarah and Stephanie.

What’s the process of publishing a book from start to finish? Students put themselves in order of which direction the book would flow.


Editor Debbie describes how book covers get chosen. Students picked which of 6 cover options they liked for one book.
Editor Stephanie lead us in a simulation of stages of publishing a book. Marketing staff Bella must choose which magazine is most suitable for marketing the book in.
Production manager Aria holds the staff to tight deadlines. When will the book be finished?
Copyeditor Maddie must make corrections to author Mylene’s manuscript. Be positive, please!
Children’s editor Sarah describes how editing the “Story Travelers Bible” took two years!
Many thanks to Tyndale staff for a fabulous inside view of how a book gets published!

What are your writing dreams?

Day one of our workshop was bursting with the dreams of our eight aspiring authors, ages 8-11. Guest speaker, author Tony Romano (pictured at right), encouraged them to put dreams into action and write daily. Discipline more than talent makes a writer.

Here’s what our budding writers aspire to:

Evie hopes to be a realistic fiction writer and endocrinologist.

Avani hopes to become an optometrist and publish a mystery series.

Aria loves to read and write fiction and also wants to become an optometrist.

Mylene wants to write mysteries.

Elliana wants to have a news article published and act in a movie.

Olivia wants to have a fantasy novel published and become a florist.

Bella wants to have her fantasy book published and be a rancher.

Maddie wants to become a fantasy or humor writer.