student writing

Fredrickqua Hawkins

To be that close


So quiet you sleep.

Every day I can be



I read.

My rocking chair breathing

fresh air.


Dark brown birds land

on rusty powerlines.

An orange and black monarch butterfly lands

softly on gray tree branches—

adding sparks of color.


Squirrels running from

cats running from

dogs barking softly.


I can understand

their frustration.

To get away

and chase your dreams.

To be that close.



Rukya Sayidali

There Are Smiles Here

For the neighborhood

After “There Are Birds Here” by Jamaal May


There are smiles here.

Not too much

and not much.

No, I’m not saying there’s barely smiles.

I’m saying, when you are

walking home,

there’s not much—

but people do greet you.

No, I’m not saying

they’re friendly,

but they smile.

They smile when they see their friends.

I don’t mean they want to see their friends.

I said smiles.

They do say hello,

but not so much.

I’m saying they aren’t

the best people.

The old people

are friendly. I mean not only

the old people. When you walk,

they look like they’re gonna


but they are jogging.

They aren’t the best,

but not the worst.

The neighborhood isn’t a place to scream.

And not the crying-screaming.

They like to listen to music instead.

I’m trying to say

the neighborhood is


The other students think

this place is the worst.

They hope I move.

They’ll never understand,

there are smiles.

In the night,

I hear laughing

and birthday parties.

I walk and see lots of children smiling.

I see parents smiling.

And there I am,




letter to volunteers

by halima mberwa


Dear Volunteers of the Young Authors Book Project,

I’m Halima Mberwa. I am so excited to be in your program this year. This is the second best thing ever. I’m pretty sure you are wondering about the first. Here it is, quiet, drumroll please . . . getting to meet you all. The reason about very excited is that it will be the first time I’m in a book. I hope you all can help me spell and come up with ideas. I can’t ever thank you enough because there is no better word. You are giving up your time just to help us. This is why I can’t just say thank you. I can say that I’m extremely—yes, I said extremely—thankful for your time with all sixth-grade who graduated fifth-grade and for you working your hardest to help us. I love you all for that.


Halima Mberwa




Bella Snyder

Ode to a fox


Hello, Mr. Fox.

You look so exotic,

like a living Van Gogh.


Your red, orange, yellow, white fur

is so dazzling like moonlight shining on Angel Falls.


I want to live like you, wild and crazy,

diving face first into dangers.

But I am only human.

I have school

and work

and more responsibilities.


I’m curious, where did you evolve from?

I hope you enjoy those tacos my mom caught you eating.

Ciao for now,

my four-legged friend.


Naprincya jones

ode to an xbox


Xbox O Xbox, I

love you so dearly.


You’re one of the

many things that make me smile—

the way you power on

to the way you power off.

You get kidnapped a lot. When you do,

I’m on my way. Our bond

is special in many ways, like a mother and her child.

To your graphics to your

games, you are perfect in

every way.


I will love you until I get an