Tag Archives: fiction

A Rant about Dance Books

PointeIn the interest of full disclosure, I meant to write about Pointe, the first novel of Brandy Colbert.

However, I quickly realized that everything I was writing became a dance book rant, so I gave up and decided to (officially) write about the challenges of finding a good dance book for someone over the age of 10.

See, generally they fall into one of the several categories below:

1) The Children’s Book.  There is nothing wrong with this form, per se, but there are two ways this book can go: the instruction manual (which is always oversimplified and often inaccurate); and the dance story in which everything is hunky-dory. The characters are always full of promise, dance all the time, and never get injured (I’m looking at you, Ballet Shoes). I understand that no one wants to scare children, or kill their dreams, but this just isn’t reality.

2) The Book Where the Author Has No Clue What They Are Writing About.  We’ve all heard the saying “write what you know.”  Unfortunately, many authors completely forget about this when it comes to writing dance novels. I recently read Withering Tights by Louise Rennison, which I started because the main character was an Irish dancer.  However, I soon realized that Rennison had not done her research: she called one of the moves “twisty ankle things.”  Not only would no self-respecting Irish dancer describe a move like that, but it is not descriptive.  There are so many moves Rennison could mean:

As you can tell, all these moves are very different and all could be described as “twisty ankle things.”

3) The Author Has Actually Done Research And Still Doesn’t Get It.  Even if the author has learned about dance, and really has done their best, it doesn’t mean they can describe dance.  I do understand this: I’ve been dancing for years, and I often cannot describe the sensation of dancing—partly because it may change on a day-to-day basis, but mostly because I can’t really explain to non-dancers how it feels.  Even so, why would one try to write about something they can’t describe?

However, there are a few beacons of hope for people looking for good dance books.  The first is On Pointe, by Lorie Ann Grover.  This is the story of a young dancer forced into early retirement when she grows too tall to dance, and is written in verse.  The second is I Was A Dancer by Jacques D’Amboise, a lovely (if not always perfectly written) memoir.  Finally, try Bunheads by Sophie Flack.  Each of these explains what if feels like to dance, and I’ve re-read these several times.  Happy dancing!

–Emma, Greenwood Teen Adviser

GWD

Chomped

terror birdEditor’s Note: Camilla, a 19-year-old intern at 826 Seattle, has selected some excellent work that 826 students are producing this summer to share with us on Push To Talk.

Camilla’s Note: This story was inspired by a trip to Seattle’s Burke Museum and an actual prehistoric terror bird, which is here transplanted into modern New York City.  It’s a fun mix of history, science, and fiction.

Chomped

By Owen

Once there was a yellow and red 12-foot tall terror bird. He built a time machine.  The terror bird could eat 1 billion people in one bite.

Finished!” cried the terror bird.  The terror bird jumped into the time machine.  The time machine malfunctioned.  The terror bird landed head first on the Statue of Liberty.  The terror bird went to the scientist center.  There was a guy named Harpo at the scientist center.

The terror bird was hungry.  It saw a little thing on the sidewalk.  It was a 7-foot-wide human in busy New York City.  Chomp!  The terror bird ate up the 7-foot wide human. “Yummy.  I want more.”

The terror bird ate everyone in New York City as they fled.  Well, not quite everyone in New York City.  It ate all of the USA.  Soon everyone but Harpo has been chomped.  Harpo went to the burger place and the people had been chomped inside.  Soon he discovered that everyone on the face of the earth had been eaten.  Harpo found DNA and took it to his lab.  He found out that it was a terror bird from what we know as Russia.  It had made a time machine.  He found the time machine at the Statue of Liberty.  He went there.  He took the time machine and went back 3 hours and everyone was back on planet Earth.  The terror bird appeared and Harpo vaporized it with his vaporizer.

I am a hero, thought Harpo.

THE END Continue reading

The First Goat on Mars

Editor’s Note: Camilla, a 19-year-old intern at 826 Seattle, has selected some excellent work that 826 students are producing this summer to share with us on Push To Talk.  

Camilla’s Note: This piece is from a long-running collaboration with the Puget Sound Goat Rescue. Students went on a field trip where they met and observed the goats, and later turned those experiences into talk show—style interviews. This is one of those interviews.

THE FIRST GOAT ON MARS

By Miles R.

goat

INTERVIEWER:  Hello, everybody!  Today, I am proud to present to you Scooby, the first goat on Mars!

SCOOBY:  Thank you, everybody, thank you!

The applause fades, then ceases.

INTERVIEWER:  We understand NASA sent you to test soil and atmosphere on the red planet.  How was it up there?

SCOOBY: Peaceful.  But no alder leaves to munch on, and no one to play with.

INTERVIEWER:  Was the launch scary?

SCOOBY:  Very!  When the engines launched, it smashed me against my seat.  When we where breaking the atmosphere, it heated up like a frying pan, and rattled like a rattlesnake.  When we reached space, the gravity change threw me into the air and my horns got stuck on the ceiling, and it took me ten minutes to get out, and even longer to repair the ceiling!  But that’s the way it goes.

SCOOBY sighs; it sounds like a bleat.

INTERVIEWER:  Exciting!  Did you send out any space probes?

SCOOBY:  Yes!

INTERVIEWER:  How many?

SCOOBY:  Five, but only four came back.

Whistling noises begin, then the sound of an explosion. Sirens start.

SCOOBY:  Oh, there it is!  Well, I need to go to lunch!

INTERVIEWER:  It’s been nice having you here.

SCOOBY:  It’s been nice being here. Goodbye!

Continue reading

Why the Salmon Need Trees by the River

Editor’s Note: Camilla, a 19-year-old intern at 826 Seattle, has selected some excellent work that 826 students are producing this summer to share with us on Push To Talk.  

Camillas Note: This is a lovely story that combines folkloric elements and contemporary environmental concerns into a charming fable.  It was inspired by a field trip to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle’s University District.

salmon

Why the Salmon Need Trees by the River

By Riley

Long, long ago, when animals could talk, there was a river.  It was a very healthy river and all the salmon came and went to the ocean and back to their hatching grounds along it.  The river was so healthy because of the trees.  The trees kept the dirt from going into the river, and gave shade to make the river cool.  But one day, some people of the nearby village wanted to make houses and sell them to make money.  So they cut down the trees and made the houses out of wood.  Then the next year when all the salmon came back to reach their hatching grounds, they could not get through the river because it was so dirty and hot.

Mike lived in a house near the river.  He loved animals and would sit outside in the forest and watch the salmon on their annual return.  But when the salmon did not come back, he was really worried. He looked and looked for the salmon.  Then, in the corner of his eye, he saw a Chinook salmon that was trying to swim upstream to get to his hatching grounds.

“Hey Chinook, why are you so warm and why are you struggling so much to get up the river?” Mike asked the salmon.

“Because all the trees were cut down and the trees help us to survive,” the salmon panted.

What bad people must have cut down the trees? thought Mike. Continue reading

The Saga of Vor, Part II

Viking-Ship-storm1Editor’s Note: Camilla, a 19-year-old intern at 826 Seattle, has selected some excellent work that 826 students are producing this summer to share with us on Push To Talk. We’ve divided this story into two parts; the second was posted yesterday.

Camilla’s note: This was from a Viking Saga workshop, in which students each created a character and completed writing challenges as that character in a journal format. This saga is able to present a complete story arc with an engaging heroine, and it left me wishing for a sequel.

THE SAGA OF VOR, PART II

By Sophia B.

After many days of sailing, we caught sight of a beautiful island of white sand. The foolish King Horic was paying us to discover new lands. This was perfect! It was a blur of blank white waiting to be built on. We sailed closer. Suddenly, pieces of the island started to split off and drift towards our ship. They were white stags, creatures legend to eat bits of the nine worlds. There were millions of them.

They had just started to tear our ship apart when two of Astrid’s sheep leapt off the ship and chased them away. The sheep rode white stags at the end of the pack. They bit and kicked until the stags were just dots on the horizon. We never saw those sheep again.

Astrid had bragged about her amazing fighter-sheep before, but I had never believed her.

“Why didn’t you tell them to fight back in England?” I asked.

“You never ordered me to. You were the captain, remember?”

Continue reading

The Saga of Vor, Part I

Viking-Ship-storm1Editor’s Note: Camilla, a 19-year-old intern at 826 Seattle, has selected some excellent work that 826 students are producing this summer to share with us on Push To Talk. We’ve divided this story into two parts; the second will be posted tomorrow.

Camilla’s note: This was from a Viking Saga workshop, in which students each created a character and completed writing challenges as that character in a journal format. This saga is able to present a complete story arc with an engaging heroine, and it left me wishing for a sequel.

THE SAGA OF VOR, PART I

By Sophia B.

I am Vor Jarlswife the Fearless, or at least that’s what I have the crew of Sheepscry thinking. I am Vor, that’s true at least, but Jarlswife? Fearless? They think I come from northern Finland, a place I’ve never seen. I do not even know if there is such a place as Sharkbridge, though these people here would never consider that their wonderful Vor the Fearless could really be a liar.

I still feel the sting of the nettle field against my feet and the ache in my legs from months of walking. They can’t see that though.

The Norwegian king, Horic, has asked me, the pretend Jarlswife from a pretend village in Finland, to lead a voyage to explore the west. The news of my “husband” and me has spread to very far away. No one minds that we have black hair and look so different from anyone else around here. That was taken care of when I told them that we had visited Asgard, their land of the gods, and that their King God, Odin, had given us our beautiful black hair as a gift. They ask us many questions about what we saw in their Asgard.

Continue reading

If You Like Fault in Our Stars…

…then you may love the titles on Eric’s list below (originally published on Shelftalk, our blog for adults).  Also, you’re probably aware that the movie is opening TONIGHT!  We really want to know what y’all think about the movie…or the book.  Drop us a line in the Comments or write us as much as you want…raving or venting, we want to know!

John Green’s popular and acclaimed novel The Fault in Our Stars gets the big screen treatment this week! Here are some books that form a complementary reading constellation.

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenSomebody Up There Hates You by Hollis SeamonThe Summer I Found You by Jolene B. Perry

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon

On the surface this story of cancer-stricken teens seems very similar to Green’s novel, but this humorous, moving story stands on its own. The snarky narrator Richard doesn’t have long to live, but is making the most of his remaining days in the hospice wing with Sylvie, another teen awaiting the same fate.

The Summer I Found You by Jolene B. Perry

After returning from Afghanistan with a disability, former soldier Aiden finds support in Kate, a high school senior recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Though this novel lacks the terminal illness present in the previous two titles, it explores the reality of disabilities and the unique challenges they can present in both planning for the future and falling in love.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsAmy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan MatsonThis Star Won't Go Out by Esther Earl

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

For fans of the star-crossed romance element in Green’s novel, Perkins’ story of an American teenage girl finding unexpected love in a Paris school should hit the spot. This is a light, lovely story in the lovely City of Light.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

If you like that many of John Green’s plots involve the characters taking a transformative trip, check out Matson’s cross-country summer love story. Guilt-stricken after a car-accident claimed her father’s life, Amy gets on the road to healing with Roger, who is enlisted by Amy’s mother to get Amy safely to Connecticut from California.

This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl

John Green dedicated his book to the late Esther Earl, who passed away in 2010. This collection of various stories and journal entries chronicles her short but extraordinary life.