The Voice of the Seal

By Evelyn Chen Illustrated by Teah Laupapa "Good night, Cordelia and Georgia,” Mom said. She smiled at us and gently shut the bedroom door behind her. I listened as her footsteps receded down the hall. It was our first night at the beach house in Oregon. Every summer, we came down here with my cousins [...]

A Mysterious Package

I slipped off my shoes and sensed the tough airport rug beneath my feet. Behind me, hundreds of people were waiting in line for security. I slammed my bag into a gray plastic container. “Welcome to San Francisco International Airport. Please do not leave any baggage unattended at any time. We are not responsible for [...]

Just Don’t Quit

Everyone in my class who plays piano hates practicing. They all say, “Ugh, my mom is so annoying, she says I can quit piano when I am thirteen.” In my case, it’s the opposite way around. Mom encourages me to quit when I whine about practicing. Of course no kid likes practicing, so I have [...]


What a beautiful day! Charlotte bounded home from school, eager to get back to their ranch. As usual, halfway there, her lady collie, Sunbeam, patiently waited for her. They traveled home together. When they reached the ranch house, Charlotte was greeted by the fragrant smell of blooming flowers, which was not unusual. “Welcome, spring!” she [...]

The Lotus

The bell rang, and a flood of students poured out of Madison Middle School. Kids laughed and chattered excitedly to each other, racing down the street toward their homes. Hannah Bauer was the only one not engaging in the mad rush for home. Instead, the thirteen-year-old walked slowly, the wind teasing her long, strawberry-blond hair. [...]

Iron Chef

Yum. The sweet smoky aroma of barbecued ribs fills the backyard and slowly drifts into the house. The backyard has uneven, rough stone tiles and a Big Green Egg Kamado (Japanese barbecue smoker) under the potato tree. Grass and roses are growing to the side. The chef learned how to cook so well from her [...]

Too Young

The sun rises over Chicago every morning. Hordes of commuters head to work on the “L” and just as many cars jam pack the city streets. The city comes alive every morning as people head to work and again in the afternoon as the nine-to-fivers head back to Chicago’s numerous high-rises. The sun goes down. [...]

Owl Song

A girl sat on her bed, staring up at the ceiling. “It’s not fair!” she yelled to the room. “I didn’t ask for them to die!” The girl’s eyes filled with tears as she punished herself inside for saying that word. Aunt Emilia had always been so strict about saying die in her house. She [...]

Paradise Blue

When I grow up someday, I’ll paint my house paradise blue, An oasis among the streets. Wind chimes will line the porch, And will ring like almost forgotten songs Spilling into the depths of a cavern. Proud, leafy trees will hold birdhouses high. Like a giant yellow ball of joy, A forsythia bush will guard [...]

Loving You from Far Away

Passing on As I look up, you look down, but our love still shines bright As it meets in one place From there it lights up the night sky Moonlit love Moving As the night chirps I send my love to you For you also used to hear this jolly nighttime song But now I [...]


First breath Cold air, gleaming lights I do not understand this world I do not know sometimes it is cold Sometimes I must fight alone Parents and family protect me I am different but cannot understand why Things happen bad and good A brother comes I want to protect him with all my strength Care [...]

There Will Be Bears

There Will Be Bears, by Ryan Gebhart; Candlewick Press: Somerville, Massachusetts, 2014; $16.99 When I first saw the cover of this book, I wasn’t very interested, so I put it away. A few days later, I had nothing else to do, so I started reading. I was hooked. I could not put it down before [...]

I Am Malala

I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb; Little, Brown and Company: New York, 2013; $26 Would you stand up for what you believe in, even if it meant losing your life? With the rise of the Taliban, people of Afghanistan and Pakistan faced difficult times. Life was especially hard for girls. There were [...]