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The Nitty Gritty: A Short History of Women


Holy Good Lord.

My feelings about this book are complicated at best. If you’d asked me any time over the past several weeks (and yes, I actually stretched out the reading of this novel for w-e-e-k-s, even though its only 237 pages) what I thought, I’d have told you I hated it. With oomph. And some cuss words.

A Short History of Women stretches from 1880 to 2007 and follows the female lineage in one family, as they navigate womanhood and its complexities. And, let’s be honest, there are plenty of complexities to being a woman. The book was broken into sections specific to a woman (and a time) in the lineage: The Suffragette, The Professor, The Junior Leaguer, The 80s Power Exec, and The Yale Freshman.

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Ultimately, I suppose the trouble started because the sections written from the perspective of The Suffragette and The Professor (The Suffragette’s daughter) felt so performative. I just kept thinking, “You aren’t Virginia Woolf, lady,” Which may or may not be a fair critique. (I love Virginia Woolf, for what it’s worth. And admitting that I felt this way about the first half of the book makes me feel not-real-smart. And yet.) I couldn’t find any thing to grab onto in those chapters. They felt empty and pointless. Maybe that was the point? Woman’s life as a void? A search for meaning and purpose? Maybe.

I finally started vibing with the book when we got to the next generation (The Junior Leaguer). The exploration of her journey toward self-realization happens when she’s older–in her 70s maybe. She was a housewife of the 60s & 70s (which, to square with my world view/experience, put her right between my grandmother & my mother). I fell in love with the plight & fight of First Wave feminists in college–and this character was all of the plight and none of the fight. Like she was bewildered by her own existence: “I am a hollow bone.” It was poignant and sad. And hers was a fight against futility that seemed familiar–like maybe I was raised to be that person and escaped at the last minute.

But the best part about her was the fight she found in herself toward the end of her life. The chaos she created in her own little world, simply to feel alive. I’m a sucker for women coming to realizations later in life. The idea that it’s never too late to discover who you really are. And she talks about rage a lot (which is something I uncovered in myself only after I became a mother–an odd paradox, but a truth. And I love being a mother, so the rage was particularly both unwelcome and potent).

And, toward the end, the exploration of the mother-daughter dynamic, the push and pull of closeness and separation, the painful and intriguing knowledge that all human beings remain in some way unknowable and mysterious, no matter the love in which you hold them… I fell completely in love. With the characters. With their shortcomings. With how much they wanted. And how much they might have. Or not.

Everything seemed possible toward the end. An unfurling of possibility and self-determination. A breaking open.

I still hated the first part of the book. But the slog was almost worth it for the way the end made me feel. That push and pull toward the characters–the complexity of being drawn toward the things I want/value in my own life and wanting to banish or deny the feelings/experiences I don’t want/wish I didn’t have.

It most assuredly has made me think about being a woman, what I want to carry forth and leave behind, and what I hope to pass to my own daughter. Maybe that’s enough.

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Three Quarters of a Whole

By Charlie Noack

Charlie, age 10, wrote this story during our Super Rad Summer Writing Camp. Our focus was on storytelling and the unwavering belief that every kid has a story to tell–and every story matters.

Prologue

Isaac stood on a hill overlooking the border. 

“Here goes nothing”, he thought to himself. He ran off the edge, plunging towards the freezing water. 

“Come on” he yelled! He rummaged through his backpack and took out Lena. He let her go and she flew! Oh, what a glorious sight it was. It was so majestic, he almost forgot about his impending collision. Fumbling with his backpack, he finally pressed the red button to eject his own wings and he started to fly. With the wind rushing through his hair, he did not see the mountain he was about to crash into.

Isaac struggled to complete his paper. He wanted to write an interesting novel, but couldn’t. He just couldn’t! Throwing his notebook aside, he managed to let out a low growl before he threw himself onto the bedside table.

“It’s just a silly book”! He told himself. This was a problem he usually had with these books. Any time he tried to write one, it did not work out. So, he took a walk on the beach with his dog, Lena.

  Long walks on the beach are usually what he needed to sustain and control him. With his dog, Lena by his side, he strode onto the beach particularly unaware that this would be the day that changed his life forever.

The whole reason why he wanted to write a book was to commemorate his dad. His mother said that he just mysteriously disappeared one day. Isaac did not believe so, though. He thought his dad was- “WOAH!” he yelled. He stumbled upon a large hole with crabs filled to the brim. He thought he saw something shiny, but he could not make out what it was. Perplexed, he ran home and told his sister, Katherine. A million questions were racing through his head. “What was that? Why did I see it? Was it just some strange mirage”? No, it was real. He could feel it, the sand between his toes, the crabs’ shells… It was very outlandish.

At home, Katherine did not believe it. “But Kath, please! I’m telling you! Just look at it!” he yelled. 

“Ok, but I still do not believe you” Katherine retorted. 

”So let’s go see them now!” Isaac yelled, excited.

As Isaac and Katherine walked to the hole, his friend Elijah was nearby and noticed them. At first, Elijah interrogated him. 

“Wherever are you going?” he asked. 

“Oh, some big crab hole we found. Katherine insists on calling it ‘the crab hotel’” Isaac replied. “Although the weirdest thing was I saw a blue light in the interior.” 

After some time, Isaac, Katherine, and Elijah saw the hole. But there was a big disappointment: no crabs! 

“That’s weird” Katherine mumbled. “He told me there would be crabs”.

Though this was accurate, Elijah and Isaac were staring at something that would have meant a greater complication, the cobalt light in the hole. They all reached out and touched it at precisely the same time and laughed. They were still staring at the light and thought that it might be a UFO.

Staring at the photo on his bedside table, Isaac tried to fall asleep but could not. Living in the big mansion… he did not want any of that, all he wanted was his dad. Suddenly, a blue light appeared. The same one he saw in the hole.

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He tried to think it was a hallucination or that he was just dreaming. But then, he reached out and touched the blue light. His veins ran cold with ice, and he fainted.

He woke up in a gigantic tan hole that looked -and felt- like sand. Climbing out, he saw his sister, Katherine, Lena, and Elijah. 

“What happened?” asked Elijah. 

“Let me put it this way: we are definitely NOT in Florida anymore…” Katherine said. 

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They did not know where they were, but they did know this: they needed to survive. Lena gathered sticks, Katherine got leaves, Elijah got stones, and Isaac made a shelter. They found two stones and sharpened one of them that they used to hack down a tree. It took some work, but they managed to build a log fort for shelter. They stepped inside and noticed some strange items had appeared. Katherine had a staff with a strange, waffle shape at the end. She pointed it at a tree, and sticky syrup blasted out of it.

“Whoa” sighed Katherine and Elijah, simultaneously. Isaac examined his item. It was a very long stick, and it had an almost invisible string at the end. Summoning all his courage, he pulled back the string and a big, blue arrow flew out of it! Katherine and Elijah ducked, and the arrow shot straight into a tree! 

“It’s a bow”!!! Isaac shouted. 

“Wow”! Elijah stuttered, and then asked, “Why do you have this? What do I have?” A big feather, almost like a sword, appeared in his hand. He tickled Isaac, and Isaac replied, “Wow, it’s like all the good in me has been brought to my head! I guess that makes bad people or animals good!”

Katherine said, “Wait, if that makes stuff good… then that means… there must be bad people here! Maybe monsters! Quick, everyone into the fort!” Everybody went inside, scared. Maybe monsters were hunting them! Elijah and Katherine put logs in front of the door to secure it and be protected from the monsters outside. They quickly found two pieces of flint and lit a fire at the center of the small cabin. Katherine put leaves on the floor so they could sleep somewhere, and they fell asleep. About eight minutes later, all of them fell asleep, knowing that they would feel groggy in the morning.

In the morning, Elijah woke up first. “We need to leave,” he said. “We don’t know how many monsters there will be out there right now.” So they all set out to find another habitable place. While they were journeying, they saw a few strange places. There was a large thicket of leaves, but each leave had singing and dancing bugs on them! While they were examining the places’ finer points, Elijah suddenly disappeared. 

“Where did he go”? Isaac asked, scared.

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“What if an evil monster kidnapped him?” Katherine exclaimed. About two days ago, monsters and evil things would have made them just laugh. But now, it could be real. They searched and searched, and, just like two days ago, they fainted again.

Waking up in a place you don’t know is a problem, but waking up in a place you don’t know that is full of hostile things that smell strangely of fresh waffles IS A BIG, FAT, UGLY, EVIL PROBLEM THAT YOU CAN’T SEEM TO SOLVE. The three friends were together but they woke up in a cage made out of a type of tree that was bright yellow and blue. They sat in the cages for a while and it became clear these creatures were NOT friendly. They overheard the strange, waffle dragon creatures talking about eating them. 

“I guess eating waffles and loving them over time does that to you” said Katherine. 

“Well, at least we won’t die hungry” Isaac said. Elijah did not want to die! So in a rage, he pulled at the bars. Surprisingly, they snapped apart easily.

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He got Isaac and Katherine out too, and they fell down onto the floor. It felt strange but when they tried to get up, they couldn’t move! And the waffle dragons were coming closer… and closer… until Elijah fell to the floor, as well. Isaac raised his weapon defensively but it did no harm until suddenly, Katherine raised her waffle staff at the dragons. 

The dragon stopped and said, “Hey, look! It’s the queen”! The crowd of dragons cheered and shouted, “The queen has returned”!

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And so, the waffle dragons let them out of their cages. One waffle dragon asked, “Do you know where you are going”? 

“We need to find a way out of this place, do you have a way to a door of some sort?” Isaac asked. 

“Yes” the head waffle dragon began, “There is a portal somewhere southeast of here, but it is guarded by huge mountains and a tribe of leaf-cutters, too. We can give you these wings to use, it will make it easy for you to get through”. The head waffle dragon gave them metal devices. 

“If you need to fly, just push the red button. Don’t worry, nothing will explode” and then he burst into laughter, followed by several other dragons. “But seriously, good luck on your journey!” And with that, they took off.

“So… what do we do now?” Isaac asked. 

“The waffle dragons said to go southeast to reach the portal.” Katherine said. “Let’s focus on that right now.” They went to a ridge very far and high in the sky, put on their wings, and flew! Isaac had so much fun flying through the sky. With the wind rushing through his hair… oh, he was so relaxed he thought he could go to sleep in the sky.

All that changed when a sudden drop of altitude startled him awake. All of his friends and his dog were startled, too! 

“AaaAaaaaeEeeEeEEiiiIi dDddDdOoOooOnNnnnnNtTttT KknNooOooOowWw iIiF wEeeE CaAannnn GeeEet tTtHhHRrrRooOouuUugggHgGH tttTTHHhhiiIiiiSssSs!!!!!” Elijah yelled. 

“WwwwWwwWweEeEeellLllLl,, maYyYYyyYbbBeEEee wWwwWeeeeE aAaaAnN WWWwwooORRrk soomeeEtHhiNg oOut!!!” Katherine yelled. 

Just then, Lena did the unexpected. She made a magic wand appear that soothed the wind, and everybody calmed down. 

“HOW DID YOU DO THAT?” Elijah yelled, “AND WHY AM I STILL YELLING!”

  A few moments later, Katherine spotted something on the horizon.  It was a big, pointy triangle, with smaller green triangles and circles on it. It looked like it was capped with some powdered sugar. It was the mountain the waffle dragons told them about. They were going the right way but the mountain was covered in giant ants.

“What the heck?” Katherine asked herself. “Oh… I get it LEAF-CUTTER ants! Ha ha, good one”. 

“Who are you talking to?” asked Elijah. 

“Uh… myself?” was her reply.

“Well, I think you should stop. Because we are about to crash into a mountain!”

“AAAAAAAAH!”

“HEEEEEELP!”

That was all that could be heard there, or at least for a while. Then, for the third time that day, they fainted.

Isaac woke up on a mountain. “Why do I keep fainting? This much fainting only happens in poorly written books”! Even though he thought he might be used to this, it felt as if he had never experienced it. He wondered how all that could be possible, yet he had a bigger problem on his hands, the ants. And a gigantic praying mantis.

“Uh oh” he murmured to himself. 

“Yah!!! What time is it?” yelled Katherine, waking up. And the funny thing is, she took on the ants and mantis without knowing it!

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She did a flying kick at the mantis, which tumbled into the ants and smashed some of them. 

“Ew, gross” said Isaac. Then Katherine flipped through the air, completely unaware she did all that, and fell on Isaac. 

“Ouch!” was all that he said, and they ALL woke up that time. 

“Hey, guys…” Elijah said. “Should we be getting to that portal now?” 

“Yeah, we should,” said Katherine. “Lets go!” and so, they went to the stronghold that the waffle dragons said would contain the portal, though they did not know someone else was there.

They stood on the cliff, wondering where to go. 

“I’ve completely lost my sense of direction.” Elijah said. “I am SO sorry for being a bad navigator. I totally… hey, look! It’s a huge tower! That might be the place where the portal is!” and so they flew towards it with their wings, and Isaac flew through the open window. He took Lena out of his backpack and set her down on the cold, quartz floors, and just as he did, she jumped right back into his backpack. He was wearing shoes, so he did not know what it felt like and he did something very foolish. He touched the floor. 

“Ow!” he yelled. It felt like boiling magma, and he was reminded of home with its hot, sandy beaches. He snapped out of it, for he hoped that he would be home soon. So, he set out to find the portal. 

“It’s like a winding maze! Katherine, you- wait, Katherine? Where are you?” and he realized he was lost in a maze! He was thousands, or maybe billions of miles away from home. He slumped down in defeat with Lena licking him, when Katherine came down one hall, and Elijah came down another. 

“Where were you?” asked Elijah. 

“No, where were you guys? I was calling for you, but I guess it does not matter now” Isaac shrugged. “So, lets find the portal, go in it, and go home!” 

“But I actually am starting to like this place! Well, once you get used to the smell.” said Elijah. They all laughed, as if they were home already. 

They went into the largest hall because it seemed promising. They started to walk down it and noticed someone else was there. It was a tall guy with a thin moustache and he wore sunglasses and a long, grey robe. He had almost the same eyes as Isaac and Katherine. She was reminded of photos at home and the realization hit Katherine before Isaac, their father! It hit him, too, like a SR71 Blackbird in rush hour! 

“Wudafad?” Isaac blurted out, confused. 

“Um what, my friend?” the man responded. That was always what his dad said when he was confused. 

“It is you!!!” both he and Katherine said at the same time. 

“I will… just stand here,” Elijah said.

For the first time in years, they heard their dad speak. 

“All right, kids. Lets go home. But first, tell me what did I miss”?

“Ok, um, mom just turned 42, and for last Christmas I got a new book, it was strangely similar to the whole adventure we are on, the main character said the same things I’m saying, too! I got a sketchpad, and we got a dog, she is in my backpack. We named her Lena and… I am exhausted! Lets just go home, everyone”.

Isaac and Katherine’s dad found the portal in the Centre room, where a glowing blue ball hung over an obelisk. This was the same blue light Isaac had seen on the beach and in his room. They all touched it, and a huge, bright light engulfed the room. Soon, they were all back home. Isaac was in his room, hoping it was not a dream. He called for his dad. No answer. He went down to the room that was once his dad’s bedroom. He found him there, sleeping peacefully with his mum.

Katherine was in there, too, but she shushed him before he could say anything. He and Katherine returned to their rooms and went back to sleep.

In the morning, Isaac woke up and forgot everything that happened the day before. He remembered it all when he walked into the kitchen and saw his dad making breakfast.

“Anyone want some waffles?” his dad asked. Isaac looked at Katherine sitting at the table.

“No, thank you. I had enough of waffles for awhile” she replied.

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Isabelle the Unicorn

Isabelle the Unicorn was written by 9 year old Jane Lee-Kellogg, as part of the Bookish Super Rad Summer Writing Camp. We focused on storytelling–because everyone’s got a unique story to tell & every story matters.

Prologue:

Late one night deep in the woods a unicorn named Lillian walked quietly through the woods and then, she stopped, right in front of a rabbit hole. The baby unicorn on her back made a small “Eeeek”. “This looks like a safe hole” Lillian said. “May your life be peaceful and your name shall be Isabelle.” she said. Then she took a few steps back and she was gone and all was quiet.

Chapter 1:

1 Year Later…

“Yawn’’ was always my first word of the day. That morning when I went to get a donut from the donut tree instead of wanting my usual, pink rainbow sprinkles, I wanted chocolate rainbow sprinkles. It was delicious, but my mom who isn’t my real mom, she will be known as a friend and her name is Sally, she is a bunny, came up and asked me if I was OK.

‘’Thanks Sally, but I’m fine.’’ I told her.

Me and Sally went back to the hole which we live in with Mark, Sally’s mate, the way you get to the hole is you go through this huge tunnel where the air tastes like dirt.

‘’Hey, Isabelle’’ he said when we walked in. ‘’Can you give me a good massage?’’ he finished.

‘’Sure’’ I said as I lied down.

‘’So earlier, I was looking around, and, for the first time I noticed I’m the only unicorn’’ I told Sally and Mark.

They both looked at me with wide eyes until their eyes teared up from having them open for so long.

‘’Isabelle you know how you’ve never met your real mother?’’ Sally asked me.

‘’Yes’’ I said

‘’Well that’s for two reasons. One is because we never knew her ourselves & two we don’t know where she is.’’ Sally informed me. Mark had remained silent the entire time, it looked like he had zoned out. ‘’Mark I’ve done all the talking up till now, why don’t you give it a go?’’ she asked Mark, zapping him back to life.

‘’Oh-huh what?’’ he said, not totally hearing Sally.

‘’Do you want a go at talking to Isabelle?’’ she asked him, now kind of annoyed.

‘’Not really I think you covered everything.’’ Mark told her.

Sally gave him an angry look and then turned back to me ‘’Isabelle what we are trying to say is that no one knows where your real mom is so please don’t get to thinking you can meet her anytime soon.’’ said Sally.

As soon as she finished I asked if I could leave, she said yes, and as I was walking away, I vowed that I would try my hardest to find my mom.

Chapter 2: 

‘’You want to try and do what?!’’ Sally screamed after I told her my plan.

It had taken an entire day for me to work up the courage to tell Sally and Mark my plan, and their reaction was not what I wanted, but at least I saw it coming.

‘’You heard me’’ I told her.

‘’Mark what do you think?’’ Sally asked.

‘’I think you should go, but only if you let us come with you.’’ he told me.

‘’What!?’’ Sally screamed at the top of her lungs, so I was sure my mother could hear.

‘’We can’t let Isabelle go off by herself.’’ Sally screamed.

Mark had started speaking,’’We could see beyond our forest and it will be nice to do something outside of the den.

‘’Um excuse me Mark, but I think you’re forgetting that me and Sally go out every day.’’ I interrupted.

‘’Yes um…  a good chance for me to get out.’’ he said, sounding guilty.

‘’Isabelle excuse us for one moment.’’ Sally asked me. I didn’t hear all of it but I did hear Sally say this..’’Mark what are you thinking? You can just walk out of the hole if you want to get out!’’

I also heard Mark say this…’’You don’t have to go but I say she’s allowed to go and I’m going with her.’’ So at least I know I’m going.

‘’Isabelle, you are allowed to go and we are coming with you.’’ Sally told me, exiting from the shadow’s where she had been talking with Mark. ‘’We leave tomorrow early morning.’’ Sally decided.

So we all ate as much as we could because there’s only foods we’re used to for about two miles from our home, and our stomachs don’t react well to other things. ‘’I can’t believe we’re going away from the only home I’ve ever known to find my mom tomorrow.’’ I whispered as I drifted off to sleep.

 Chapter 3:  

The next morning…

That morning when I woke up I was feeling a sense of happiness and sadness mixed together. Good news, I was trying to find my mom today. Sad news, we were leaving all our friends.

‘’Leave everything here. We should be back in a month at the most.’’ Sally instructed Mark and I.

“Let’s all eat some more then we can say goodbye to our friends’’ Mark told us.

‘’Okay’’ I said.

So we all went out of the hole, it had been the first time for Mark in ages. All the animals were looking at us with sad eyes. I got three pink rainbow sprinkle donuts and two chocolate rainbow sprinkle donuts. Right away I ate a pink rainbow sprinkles and then walked up the line of animals and said to Levi the squirrel,’’I’ll be back as soon as I can, stay strong Levi, stay strong. You too Pickle.’’ I said looking at Levi’s brother.

Sally and Mark were saying their goodbyes as I walked over to them.

‘’Sally and Mark I know you want to say goodbye to everyone, but were not dying, we’ll see them in a month tops.’’ I told them.

“Okay’’ Sally said. “Just let me say one more thing?” she whispered, so I nodded, “I love you everyone’’ she shouted, so I kind of wish I hadn’t nodded. So we set off and when we were only a few footsteps away from home I already missed everyone.

Chapter 4: 

 About a mile later…

Wow we are finally looking for my mom. Sally and Mark are currently lagging behind because they are completely full and they are carrying so many hard candies. I wasn’t full but I had picked a lot more donuts.

“Isabelle, slow down!” Sally called from behind, so I stopped and waited for them to catch up to me.

“So Isabelle if and when we find your mom how will you know that’s your mom?” Mark asked me.

“I don’t know, I think I’ll just feel something.” I told Sally and Mark. Even though we were miles away, I felt like I could smell the deep dense forest. Then I gagged, it smelled of frogs and toads.

“Isabelle are you okay?” Sally asked me.

“Yeah I’m fine, the deep dense forest smells horrible.” I answered, and before I knew it we were at the edge where the deep dense forest met the wonderful forest we live in. The second we stepped into the deep dense forest a big scary wolf jumped out at us!

Chapter 5:

“Trespassers!” snarled the wolf.

“Excuse me sir, we are just trying to find my mom.” I told the wolf.

“You’re a unicorn” he said looking at me for the first time, “It’s highly unlikely your mom is still alive after the great battle which the wolves won!” he gloated.

“Wolves only won because unicorns hate shedding blood!” I said, how dare he insult unicorns!

“Anyway my name is Wolfoo and since you’re a unicorn I most defianetly can’t let you through!” Said Wolfoo, who was gray with a nice shade of blue eyes. “A-oooooooo!” he cried, and suddenly wolves started crawling out of the shadows, and within seconds unicorns were crawling out too.

“Lillian are you sure this is a good idea?” asked a unicorn to another unicorn.

“Yes, I’m sure, this may be my only chance to find my daughter.” Said the unicorn who had been asked the question.

Lillian? Find her daughter? Why does that name and that voice feel so familiar? I asked myself in my head, could I have found my mom? We need to focus on the fight.

“Unic-” Wolfoo never got to finish, because next thing I knew he was lying dead on the ground. A unicorn had pounced on him.

Chapter 6:

“Who else wants to fight?” Sally asked the wolves.

Frightened, the wolves all scampered away. As all the unicorns were congratulating the one who pounced, I heard Lillian call my name.

“Yes” I said.

“It’s me your mom!” she called. I was speechless so I just ran toward her and buried my face in her silky, white fur. “Come home with me and we could eat donuts and never eat leaves again.” I told her.

So she accepted and all the unicorns came to live with us in the magical forest.

                                                           The End

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Greg’s Expedition

by Lily Toledano

“Greg’s Expedition” was written by 9 year old Lily Toledano as part of the Bookish Super Rad Summer Writing Camp. Our camp focused on storytelling–because kid has a story to tell & every story matters.

Greg was sitting in his room eating snap crackers. He was looking at one of his many posters that littered his wall – either posters of the jumping frogs, a monster band, or super monster vs. evil squid, two of his favorite things. 

Just then his little sister Katie walked in, “Hey, Greg, whatcha doin’?”

“Writing,” Greg replied.

“What?” she questioned.

“The big plan.” Greg smiled.

3 Weeks later

Greg and Katie were traveling to Cyclops Inc. to try and get a UFO to go to the human world because Greg’s dream was to learn more about humans. When they finally arrived, Greg could not believe his eyes. The building must be 10,000 feet tall and 9,000 feet wide! It was made entirely of gold. There were about 30 cyclops guarding the entrance wearing orange and purple uniforms. So when Greg and Katie entered their dorm room, Katie actually screamed. It was nothing like they had ever seen before. There were two beds in each corner with matching and purple and orange sheets with a monster logo in the middle. There was a desk in the other corner and a coat hanger by the door. There was a soft purple rug in the middle and in between the two beds there was a window with orange drapes. 

The next day Greg and Katie received a paper that told them what they needed to do for the first task, and it said,

Greg and Katie thought and planned all night until the time came for the maze task at 12:00 pm. Katie and Greg went to where the first task would take place and waited patiently until their turn. When their turn finally came two cyclops workers let them in. Greg gulped. It was nothing like Greg had ever seen. There were spikes everywhere and they were moving. And to top that all off, they were orange and purple. Greg knew they wouldn’t make it. Greg didn’t know what to do.

 His heart was pounding in his chest, so he asked Katie, “What do you think we should do?”

“Don’t know,” Katie replied.

Greg’s mouth was getting dry, but then he realized something like a pattern. The spikes were moving from left to right. The orange was on the left and the purple was on the right just like the purple and orange monster logo PM, Planet Monster. Then something clicked in Greg’s mind. They just had to move from left to right to get through the maze. He told Katie his plan, and they started to make their way through the maze. Then they saw a red blur. Greg was wondering what it was, but then a spike almost hit him so he put it out of his mind. A few minutes later, he saw the light again, and he wondered if Katie had seen it. He asked her, and she said, “yes.” Just then he saw a spike coming for Katie, and he quickly pushed her out of the way. They got stuck a few times, and Greg hoped the maze would end soon. A minute later the spikes started moving in reverse! He let out a yell to warn Katie, and they started jumping in reverse and they just made it out of the maze.

When they made it back to their dorm room, they were exhausted. A few days later, they got another piece of paper. It said,

So, Katie and Greg prepared and when it was time, they headed to the second task. When they got there, they were the first to go in. When they got in, Greg’s jaw dropped. There was a giant rubix cube! It was red, orange, purple, black, white, and gray. 

He asked Katie, “How do we do this?” but Katie did not hear him. She was deep in thought. She was thinking, once to the right, two up, three to the left, three down the middle, two at the bottom, once to the left…

“How?” Greg asked.

Katie explained her plan. Katie started saying things to the rubix cube like once to the right and twice in the middle. Ten minutes later Greg could make out the monster logo forming on the front of the rubix cube, but a few minutes later the rubix cube jumbled up.

“Oh no,” Katie cried, and she started muttering under her breath very fast. Greg saw that same red blur, and suddenly Katie started saying things very fast like once to the left. With a lot of effort, they finally finished the rubix cube.

They got back to their dorm room and Greg flopped down on his bed and fell asleep. The next piece of paper came two days later, and it said,

So, once again, Katie and Greg prepared, and they went to the place when it was time. When it was their turn, they went in. Katie screamed. There was a giant chicken trying to peck at them. Greg ran in circles all around the room, and it got a bit dizzy but then started pecking again. Katie threw her remaining lunch at it, but it pecked more furiously. Then Greg saw that flash of red again, and he thought he could make out a face. Then something strange happened. The chicken vanished, and the boss Cyclops appeared. 

“So,” said Fraud the boss cyclops, “What do you want?” he growled. 

“Um,” Greg mumbled. 

“I don’t have all day,” Fraud said.

“We were wondering,” Greg muttered.

“What?” Fraud grunted.

“If,” Greg frowned.

“If what?” Fraud yelled.

“We could borrow a UFO?” Greg whispered. His mouth was very dry.

“For what?” Fraud bellowed. Greg could see him turning red. 

“To go the human world,” Greg quivered.

“No, I shall not allow that,” Fraud bellowed. “Now go home!”

So, when they got home Greg thought, and thought, and thought. One week later, Greg was thinking in bed and a thought drifted into his mind, but he was going to need a lot of balloons. 

The next day Greg told Katie his plan, and they went to get a lot of balloons. Their plan was they were going to get to the human world with balloons. Greg used his knotting skills to tie the balloons to a big basket, and Katie used her tracking device to navigate.

The next day they set off on their journey. It was so cool! Katie brought a notebook, a pencil, and her backpack, and Greg brought water. They saw all sorts of different planets. One that had rings, and one blue one and one red one.

When they were mid journey, their balloons started popping. They were sinking lower and lower, and Katie fumbled for her backpack to find her tracker and she came across a button she had never seen before. So, she pressed it. A whole hot air balloon came out! Greg and Katie climbed in, and they did the rest of the journey. When they made it, their mouths dropped. Katie started scribbling frantically and her notes looked like this,

When they returned one day later, there was a big applause, and even the boss cyclops was in the crowd. The boss cyclops then quit his job, and everyone was happier. Greg and Katie were awarded with a trophy.

THE END

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The Adventures of D&D

Written by 10 year old Quinn Tackas, this story’s got monsters, intrigue, battles, and the possibility of a sequel! Quinn wrote this story in a Bookish writing camp focused on storytelling. Because we want all our Bookish kids to know that everyone has a story to tell–and every story matters.


“Hey, guys!  Do you want to play D&D, our favorite board game”? said Alfa, the group leader.

“Sure!!!!” said Tucker, Tune, and Charlie.

“O.k what time do you want to meet at my house?” said Alfa.

“At 1:00 is good for us,” said everyone.

“O.k” Said Alfa.

Tucker, Tune, and Charlie meet at Alfa’s place at 1:00 pm.

When Alfa said the Dungeon master is his brother, Risk everyone said hello. Everyone picked their characters then……. Suddenly…………… KAPOW!!!!!! 

All 4 of the kids got sucked into the game. They ended up in Phillsville. Phillsville looked like a normal town, but then they see a bunch of monsters. Tucker, Tune, and Charlie were all scared, but Alfa said to quit it. Alfa asked someone where they were, and the monster said in Phillsville.

Alfa and his friends ran around looking for something, but what??

As they were looking they heard Alfa’s brother saying, “You have to destroy 2,000 monsters to get out!!!!…………………..And also if you die in the game, you die in real life.

Alfa and his friends are now scared and almost peed their pants.

They start gathering their equipment.

Alfa the Wizard gets his healing potions.

Tucker the Elven archer gets his bow and arrows out.

Tune and Charlie gets their swords out.

They go into the woods and all the monsters surround them. Alfa and his friends decide to take on 500 monsters each…and the battle begins!!

They defeated the monsters..Then..suddenly…….KAPOW!!!!

They woke up in Alfa’s dining room.

Then they called the cops and put Risk in jail.

“You will pay for this!” yelled Risk as he got into the police vehicle. 

Alfa and his friends are not afraid of being sucked into the game any more. 

After that happened, Alfa’s dad came in the door and saw the kids laying down on the table. He said, “Do you want to play Forbidden Island?”

They all said “Sure.”

And then they sat down. 

                                 STAY TUNED for THE NEXT BOOK: The Adventures of  Forbidden Island

                           

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Battle at Excalibur

Written by 10 year old Chelsea Tackas, this Rick Riordan inspired story has demigods, battles, a PEGASUS!, and just a smidge of romance. Chelsea participated in a Bookish writing camp where we focused on storytelling–because everyone has a story to tell. And every story matters.

“Tucker get your saddle and get your supplies then go outside and hop on the horse” yelled mom. He learned not to question his mom a long time ago so he got his stuff and hopped on the horse. The horse was tan. Out of nowhere the horse sprouted wings, and they took flight. Why they were flying over the pacific ocean he realized what he was riding on was a PEGASUS from a game he really likes to play, and he always chose the peaugus.

They flew all the way to Las Vegas. When he looked down there were around 150 people on the streets. That’s odd, Tucker thought. The pegasus landed 20 yards away from the Excalibur. No not the Excalibur but the sign read Camp Apollo. He saw 8 people with bow and arrows on the tower of the castle and 8 people with swords and shields at the gate and 8 people flying on pegasus. Next thing he now a huuuge baseball bat hit him in the head, and he was out cold.

Tucker woke up to water. When he looked up he saw 2 kids aruging. But there was a third voice, then a kid stepped out of the shadows. They are all wearing a Blue shirt and jeans. “ How…. who are you?” asked Tucker. 

“Blaker, daughter of Apollo. Chris, son of Neptune, and Alex son of Hades” they all said at once.

“And you’re a son of Hermes,” said Chris.

“Wait, if I am a son of Hermes, then why is the camp called Camp Apollo?” asked Tucker.

“Well you know, Greece and Rome -” said Chris.

“Aren’t Greece and Rome enemies?”

“Yes, but not anymore. So, um…… Apollo is his Greek and Rome form, so we named this camp because there are Rome and Greek demigods here.”

“Then why were there 8 guys with shields and swordss and 8 guys with bow and arrows and 8 guys on pegasus’ ‘ asked Tucker, even though he knew it was a silly question but for some reason it felt important. 

“Well,” started Alex, “Apollo’s lucky numbers are 1, 4, 8 and 10, and his lucky colors are  Black, Blue and Gray. And his lucky days are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, ” said Blaker super-fast.

That night, he met France who is a son of Hephtaus, who is his roommate, and they became friends, and Blaker introduced Tucker to her brother, Nico.

Tucker bid the activities at the camp bye for the night.

That night Tucker dreamed killing a lot of monsters with his two swords. Then he was of guard and a monster stabbed him in the side. Out of nowhere, Blaker shot an arrow and the monster turned to dust.

“Wake up Thief,” said Blaker but in France’s voice. He woke up super-fast. He saw it was 2:30 in the morning, and France passed Tucker his armor and swords.

“You have to go down there” France said, while he was putting on his armor. “We’re under attack.”

When Tucker heard under attack, he ran down stairs. He thought No, I can’t lose my second home.

When he found Chris, he asked what was going on.

Chris said “Out of nowhere, Vegas became empty, and now we are surrounded by monsters.” 

They went into war.

Tucker was killing a lot of monsters with his two swords. Then he was off-guard, and a monster stabbed him in the side. Tucker realized he was about to be unconscious, but before he was unconscious he saw that it was a hellhound’s claw that stabbed him. Then, out of nowhere, Blaker shot an arrow and the monster turned to dust.

“Medicine!” cried Blaker.

Tucker realized he was losing a lot of blood.

When he woke up in the medicine room, he realized his dreams could tell the future. He decided not to tell anyone, but he did not know that most demigod dreams could tell the future.

Then the door oppend and Blaker came in. “Leave us please,” she asked her brother and sisters. They left, then Blaker came and sat on the bed Tucker was laying on.

“How are you?” asked Blaker.

“Good,” said Tucker looking down at his robe. Out of nowhere, Blaker pulled him toward her and gave him a long kiss on the lips. Even though it hurt, Tucker he liked it.

“You are so busted, Blaker” said a deep voice. Then Alex stepped out of the shadows.

“Alex!” jumped Blaker in shock. Then Alex vanished into the shadows.

“Where do you think he is going?” asked Tucker.

“Probably to tell Chris,” said Blaker. 

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Bookish Reads

Folks frequently ask what I’m reading. (They also ask if I’ve read most of the books in the store. Uh…. no. But I’m working on it). I dig that people are curious about me & about what I read. So, I’ve decided to keep a running list of books I’ve finished since Sept 22. If you happen to pick up any of these titles, I’d love to discuss them with you. Any time. #booknerdforlife

Awakening the Buddha Within (Lama Surya Das): Profoundly straightforward and hopeful–with a side helping of cheesy Buddhist jokes. I love this book. It’s my third time reading it. If you want a user-friendly intro to Buddhism, grab this book. You’ll get used to his corny quippiness. It’s worth it.

The Sun Is Also A Star (Nicola Yoon): YA novel. Solid reminder to stay where your feet are. To be true to who you are. And that love is always the right choice.

Being Peace (Thich Nhat Hanh): Humbling. Peace isn’t for the faint of heart. A short, easy–incredibly challenging–read.

White Oleander (Janet Finch): I could go on and on. Devastating. Beautiful. I even loved the ending–which was as emotionally complicated as the rest of the novel.

Fates and Furies (Lauren Groff): Her turn of phrase is stunning. The story is intricately crafted from two perspectives. It’s a different look at marriage. Don’t miss this one.

Ready, Set, Breathe (Carl Numburg): Parenting book on mindfulness. Practical ideas for keeping kids centered and in the now–and avoiding meltdowns (yours & theirs). Helpful. Not preachy. Pairs well with what kids learn in Social/Emotional Learning in Atlanta Public Schools.

Lucky Us (Amy Bloom): Amy Bloom’s characters are marvelously complicated–and I always find that I like them (and am intrigued by them) even more after I finish the book. But it’s her take on love that brings me back time and time again. I liked this one–but not as much as Where the God of Love Hangs Out, which was instantly one of my favorites.

Hoot (Carl Hiassen): A truly solid “kid power” book. The main character is believable–and some of the others are outlandish and fascinating, which provides some fun comic relief. The storyline focuses on environmentalism and standing up for what’s right–even in the face of almost impossible odds. I fell in love with this book when I read it 17(!!) years ago. This go-round, I liked it just fine & think it was a solid kids’ book club pick. But I don’t think its spectacularly well written. Definitely will still recommend it, though–for kids.

Annihilation (Jeff Vandermeer): All I have to say is “WTH just happened?!?” I’m super glad I read this for book club. I need to talk about it with someone who is hopefully smarter than I am! But it held my interest the entire time–not in a crazy, fast-paced adventure sense, but in a philosophical, puzzling sort of way. Read this one with friends so you have some to talk with.

Loving Donovan (Bernice McFadden): I grabbed this one at the library, primarily because one of her other books (Warmest December) had a blurb by Toni Morrison on the front. And if Toni Morrison thought it was good… Loving Donovan was good. The writing just trips along, and I got lost quickly in the story. The characters are so flawed that it’s painful. But real. And she tackles some serious issues about mental health care (or lack thereof). I like her writing. It’s immediate, accessible, and real… and she can conjure a scene right up in front of you. But I’ll warn you, sometimes you’ll wish she hadn’t.

Heart of a Samurai (Margi Preus): Middle grades historical fiction. Amazingly readable. I learned so much about Japan in the 1800s–and Americans’ response a Japanese immigrant–without the author ever breaking the narrative. That’s my favorite way to learn things! If you’ve got a middle schooler, get this in their hands. It’s a good one for sure.

When Things Fall Apart (Pema Chödrön): If I call this book “Life Changing” is it going to make me sound basic? Because this was the most unassuming yet profound book on spirituality I’ve ever read. I laughed out loud several times while reading it–because it was like this Buddhist nun was inside my head, calling me on all my b.s. It was helpful, witty, kind, and honest. This will be one of a very few titles that I read again and again.

Daniel (Henning Mankell): I picked this one up at the library because we have multiple titles by Mankell at Bookish, and I’d never read any of his work. This novel, set in the late 1800s, was reminiscent of Jane Austen–where technically nothing is really happening, but you’re riveted nonetheless. Menkell’s development of the title character was raw, painful, and rich. And his portrayal of colonialism did the whole nightmarish mess justice. As emotionally horrifying and shocking as this one was, it was a superb read.

American Gods (Neil Gaiman): The story arc on this one is sweeping. But it doesn’t feel overwhelming because it reads like vignettes that tie together — although at points you are not going to be able to see how they will. Have faith (see how that’s funny… because it’s about American gods & mythology & what not?!?). It’s a great read. 

The History of Love (Nicole Krauss): This Jewish-American novel spans decades–which seems almost impossible for such a slim volume of prose. And yet. It’s about love, heartbreak, truth… it’s about moving forward while remaining connected to your past. It’s about hope. It trots out some VERY big themes–and it delivers, although not always the way you may have hoped. Read it. Then you’re probably going to want to re-read it. It’s definitely already back on my TBR list. 

Cesar’s Way (Cesar Milan): I’m kind of in love with Cesar Milan. There, I’ve said it. But it’s true. He has such a straightforward way of relating to dogs. It’s refreshing. The overall takeaway–if you want your dog to behave, you better start working on yourself. You’re the pack leader. If you’re unbalanced, so is your dog. Also: take your dog on walks.  If you want to better understand your dog’s psyche, this is a good read.

Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine): Read this one for Elementary Book Club. A princess rebels from a curse of obedience. Who doesn’t like a princess with attitude? The whole book was much more Shakespearean than I ever would’ve imagined. It’s a good fantasy novel with plot complications that lead to some good discussion. But there were also moments where there was WAY too much focus on what other characters looked like, their weight, their hair… I could’ve done without the pettiness. But the good far outweighs the bad. 

There There (Tommy Orange): Read this book. Read it for the Native American history you’ll pick up. Read it for the real life complications that Native folks living off reservation face. Read it because it’s damn good writing. It can be a breathtakingly painful read at points. Read it anyway. 

The Lions of Little Rock (Kristin Levine): Elementary Book Club pick. Historical fiction about two twelve year old girls (one black, one white) trying to be friends in segregated Little Rock, Arkansas in 1958. Read it with your upper elementary kid. Or hand it to your middle schooler and discuss it with them afterward. For white parents looking to start a frank conversation about race… this is a good place. *Note: it absolutely does not shy away from the ugliness of racism: the n-word, the Klan, bombings. It’s all real and all there. Teach your kid history. Talk to them about it. It’s the only way anything ever changes. 

Amnesty (Aravind Adiga): I struggled to connect with the protagonist in this story. Which, truth be told, seems like a brilliant narrative tool–given that the work is about existing in the shadows as a undocumented person living in Australia. I definitely wasn’t swept away by this narrative. But I do think it was an important read for the way it flays open the ways people of different races and ethnicities–as well as people with different immigration statuses–experience a place. 

The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls): I loved this memoir for its epic storytelling, the swift gut-punches of truth, and the way she made me marvel at her very existence in this world. Because there are about a zillion ways the story could’ve ended differently for her. I admire her grace & remarkable level of acceptance & ability to not be bitter. Because goodgodalmighty this woman has plenty of reason to be real, real mad about her childhood. While I will never read this book again, that certainly isn’t a reflection on her writing. It’s stellar. But I can only handle this level of chaos on occasion. But her other books have definitely made it onto my (ever-growing) list. 

No Time to Lose (Pema Chodron): Pema Chodron walks readers through the traditional Buddhist text: The Way of the Bodhisattva. She’s straight up no nonsense. And she often makes me laugh at myself. This work has way less of her own voice than her other books,  primarily because she’s recounting and analyzing another primary text. But, if you’re looking for an easy-to-digest way to decipher The Way of the Bodhisattva, look no further–this is a blessing. 

Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng): So, I kind of accidentally read this one. I mean, it was on my list–but I picked it up on a lark (there were other things for book clubs way ahead of this on the list) and I read it in a day. I loved it. The way she weaves multiple storylines together is artful. And I appreciated the book’s exploration of motherhood–namely what really makes a mother? Biology? Love? An alchemy of the two? And what will rend us past the point of repair?

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming (Joshilyn Jackson): Another accidental read. This one is like Jodi Picoult, for the southern set. And I say that with a lot of appreciation. I powered through this one because I wanted to know not only what happened but WHY. Really plot driven. And set in the south (like Pace, Florida south!). A perfect light read. 

An Imperfect Rapture (Kelly J. Beard): An accidental read that I couldn’t put down. Anyone who has grown up in a faith that they’ve actually had to recover from in one way or another should read this. It’s beautifully written & redemptive. I wish I’d had it to read years ago. Before I was even done reading it, I contacted the author to see if we could do a book event. Look for more details on that soon(ish)!

Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie): Stop what you are doing right now and read this. It’s amazing. Her insights into human nature are astounding. I learned a lot about Nigeria and about race as seen from an Africa woman’s point of view–all while she’s weaving the story of two people’s lives that seemed so real, I felt like I knew them. Also, the ending did not suck. 

Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe): I’m a little embarrassed that I just got around to reading this one–it’s a classic. The first Nigerian novel in English to garner wide acclaim. But, if you read it, know this: the first part reads like an ethnography. You’re going to learn a lot about African tribal life–all of which was incredibly interesting. But I couldn’t pick up the thread of a cohesive, compelling narrative. Until halfway through–then it comes togeher and the last half reads quickly. Stick with this one. I think you’ll be glad you did. I am. 

 

Currently Reading:

The Hobbit (Tolkien)

A Word On Bookstores:

Bookish has some of these titles in stock. Sometimes. With used books, our inventory changes constantly. We’re also happy to announce that we’re carrying a small selection of new titles. And we’re happy to special order books for you. We’re always grateful when you chose to purchase your books from Bookish. If you’d like to know if we currently have something in stock or if you’d like to place a special order, shoot us an email stories@bookishatl.com.

We also love to support other indie bookstores any time we can, so if we don’t have something in stock consider checking with Charis Books. They’re conveniently located on the Agnes Scott Campus in Decatur. And they have an truly incredible selection of diverse books.

And one final word: please consider supporting Barnes & Noble Edgewood instead of other online megastores. B&N Edgewood puts money back into our community because they have a brick & mortar store right here in Southeast Atlanta. And that other big online megastore needs a competitor to keep them (kind of, sort of) in check.

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Bookish Has a Home in EAV!

In June, we signed a lease at 1188-A Glenwood Avenue. That’s in the EAV on Glenwood, right up by Moreland. Just a hop. skip, and a jump from Emerald City Bagels and a quick stroll from Joe’s. We are THRILLED to be part of the vibrant business scene in the Village!

What has this process looked like, you ask?

Well… a bit like this:

And what’s next?!?

Well, an Indiegogo campaign, of course!

Look for that to launch in the next week or so. Until then, here’s a sneak peak at one of the Bookish shirts available during the campaign:

We’re SO looking forward to meeting y’all in person! And keep an eye out for that Indiegogo campaign…

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A Bookseller’s Week (in Pictures)

Shakespeare AND Murder Mysteries. In the same box. I think this pretty much sums up the vibe of Bookish. No one in our store is going to judge what you read. Read what you like. Try new stuff. Every story matters. And every book has a story.
I’ve got some real strong feelings about stickers on books. I’d tell you, but it involves cussing. Suffice it to say that this is what my couch looks like after hours of scraping stickers. I use the hotel key card (top right) to scratch them off. The skull is an eraser to erase prices written in the books in pencil. And that’s sandpaper on the top(ish) left, for when I want to inhale book dust. JK. It’s to clean the tops of the pages.
I find all kinds of stuff in books. This is one kid’s attempt at critical reading. I like that they’re working to identify emotions. Reading builds empathy. And comprehension skills build critical thinkers.

Once upon a time, someone received an envelope with a cat (?!?) drawn on the back. They liked it so much they used it as a bookmark. This week, it ended up in the Bookish stash of books. I don’t even know what to say…
My sweet kid made a Bookish bookmark. See… there’s a book (obvi) and a recycling symbol (because we are reusing books at Bookish) and all of that makes us happy. Hooray! Someone on Instagram posited that perhaps the kid likes books about geodes. I thought that was a pretty stellar guess. And she would! She’d love books about geodes. But, alas, it’s a recycling symbol.
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Creating Bookish

Just the build-up to the pre-launch of Bookish has been quite the journey! And it’s definitely been a family–and community–endeavor.

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My husband (Simon) and kid (Jane, age 8) have displayed more patience than I could’ve hoped for as I’ve moved over 2,600 books through our house. Simon lent his talent and time to the creation of the Bookish logo–and his ear as I waxed poetic about books, and stories, and the importance of literacy. Jane designed the amazing Bookish logo/mark/awesomeness that appears above.* It hangs on our fridge as a reminder that my family continues to rally to make the dream of a used bookstore in East Atlanta a reality.

And so does the community, for that matter. I’ve received dozens and dozens of kind messages on social media platforms. And folks have donated hundreds of books to the cause. I’m thankful for a community that supports local businesses and that embraces the philosophy that is the very core of Bookish Atlanta: the unshakable belief that Every Story Matters.

 

*The Valentine cat was created by one of Jane’s super-talented school buddies. Rad, right?!?