Calling all Youth Writers: The Inklings Book Contest

Learn more about the Inklings Book Contest and RSVP here!


Enormous thanks to previous Inklings Book author, Carmen Bechtel, for designing and animating this inspiring video! Thanks also, to her sister, Annabelle, for the fabulous voice-over.

At SYI, we’re thrilled to feature the creativity of youth, and we are so grateful for this true Society of artists, of all ages, who support and encourage one another.

Want to join us?

Fantastic! Here are three ways you can take part:

  1. Sign up for the Inklings Book Contest.
  2. Work with a mentor in person or via Skype.
  3. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

P.S. You can also sign up for our monthly writing challenge and author feature, the InkSplat, below.

January 2017: A Scarf For All

The book and author spotlighted in this Ink Splat is Lost. Found. by Marsha Diane Arnold. She provided an awesome writing challenge for us and answered some of our questions about her wintry book and how she became an author. There even is a pdf teaching guide for teaching her book! Submit a response to the challenge and you may have a chance to be published online! What are you waiting for?

The Challenge: Break and Fix

Lost. Found. is about putting things right after they have gone very wrong, about knitting something together after it’s been completely unraveled.

Have you ever broken something and been sad about it? Were you able to fix it? How did that make you feel? If you weren’t able to fix it, how did you feel?

Submit your response by emailing and you might be published on our website!



Lost. Found. written by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

On a wintry day, a bear loses his soft red scarf. The wind carries it *whoosh* to a pair of raccoons who use it to play tug-o-war. When they run off, a beaver dons the scarf as the perfect winter hat…until it gets tangled on a tree branch. The scarf is lost and found by a series of animals, including a fox and a couple of rascally squirrels, who use it as everything from a swing to a trampoline.

When all the animals lay claim to the scarf at once, calamity ensues that can only be fixed by a bear, a little patience, and friendship, in this nearly wordless, clever picture book.

An Interview with author Marsha Diane Arnold

What inspired Lost. Found.?

Sometimes my ideas come from something I read in the newspaper or on the Internet. Sometimes an idea comes from a walk in the woods or a memory or something I see or hear. Lost. Found. was different. The “story seed” came to me in a dream. It was a vision of a bear wearing a red scarf walking alone through a wintry forest. The scarf blew off in the wind, but the bear continued, not realizing it was gone. From there I woke up and had to think about what might happen next. I wondered if a series of animals found the scarf what they would do with it. And so the story began

Lost. Found. uses pictures as a driving force in the storytelling. What was your process working with an illustrator?

Lost. Found. consists of two words, each repeated nine times. Those eighteen words wouldn’t have impressed an editor if they had come across his desk. I had to help him understand the story that I saw inside my head. I had to write art notes.

Art notes are a bit like directions in a script. Usually, writers use art notes very sparingly as they want to give the illustrator free reign to do whatever he’d like with the illustrations. But Lost. Found. was an unusual case.

Matthew (the illustrator) took my art notes and, with his fabulous imagination, brought my characters to life. We didn’t talk about the book at all while he was working on the illustrations.

Matthew kept my story intact, but he also added a few things that heightened the meaning and the fun. For example, he used onomatopoeia in a few places to highlight the animals’ actions. “Zoing, toing, doing” is the sound made when the mice use the scarf as a trampoline.

You are known for your delightful books for young readers. Writing for that age group means you must know how to be brief while still telling a rich story. Can you speak to those challenges for our young writers who are learning about making cuts in their editing?

Sometimes I think of myself as a re-writer more than I think of myself as a writer. Much of writing is rewriting, cutting and rearranging words, and shaping your story.

When I started writing over twenty years ago, picture books of 1200 to1500 words were common, but today, editors like stories that are under 500 words. This can definitely be a challenge.

What I find most helpful in editing my work is to read it out loud, again and again. When you read your writing out loud you will hear when you repeat too much, you will hear when the “rhythm” is jolting instead of smooth, and you will know when your character or plot isn’t working. Then you can write it better.

Tell us a little bit about how you came to be a professional writer.

My road to becoming a professional writer began with my being an avid reader.  As a child, I read lots of books. My favorite were about animals, books like Lassie Come Home and Black Gold. But I never thought about writing books until I was grown with children of my own. It was my children and their friends who inspired my first writing with their antics, their questions, and their wonder of the world.

My first paid writing was for a newspaper column, homegrown treasures.  It was mostly about the world of my children and their friends and the wisdom I found in it. I wrote the column every week for ten years. That was good practice!

While I was writing the column, I also wrote for kids’ magazines. But my love was picture books, so I kept working on that genre until my first book Heart of a Tiger was published.

I was a “late bloomer.” It’s exciting that you Young Inklings are “early bloomers.” If you love writing and practice writing, you will have lots more stories and be much better writers than I by the time you’re my age. Keep writing!

Is there anything else you would like to share or would like us to know about Lost. Found.?

I love my character Bear and his peaceful Zen-like attitude. He didn’t get angry when he found his beloved scarf unraveled. He calmly picked it up and walked home, to do what needed to be done. The other animals watched and learned from his model of friendly persuasion.

Ultimately, the animals find that, perhaps, the most important thing to do with a red scarf is to knit it back together again. I love the ending where the animals, who have been fighting over the scarf, come together to make it whole again, ending in a friendly circle of community and cooperation.

Although writing is often a solitary act, there’s a lot of community and cooperation involved too, just as there was in Lost. Found. For example, the writer must cooperate with her editor and her illustrator. And there is always a community. For me, the community is my writing group, The Cliffhangers, and groups like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. For you, it’s the wonderful community of the Young Inklings.

Teaching Guide

You can find an awesome teaching guide to Lost. Found. on Marsha’s website It has lots of awesome activities.

A special thanks to Marsha Diane Arnold!

You can find Lost. Found. and Marsha’s other books on her Amazon Page and other retailers

You can also find out more about what Marsha is up to at her website,


Page Turning Plots



Week One: Creating a Hero

We’ll use theatre games and our imaginations to create a strong character well equipped to face the dangers or difficulties of their journey.


Week Two: An Invitation to Adventure

We’ll launch into our heroic stories with an invitation our heroes cannot refuse. Our games will focus on building a strong opening scene that launches our hero into their journey.


Week Three: Down the Rabbit Hole

Once a hero accepts the invitation, they are almost always surprised. No amount of planning can prepare them for what they find as they set off on their journey. Our games will focus on building a scene where our hero can show their strengths and their weaknesses and learn what they are truly up against.


Week Four: Meeting A Wise Advisor

Each student will create a wise advisor who will give the character an idea of what they must do and what is at stake.


Week Five: Trouble Comes in Threes

We will build three trials for our hero that will build the adventure toward it’s climax. Our games will focus on surprising ourselves with the twists and turns our stories can take.


Week Six: Wrestling the Dragon

A climax is the moment of truth for our hero, the moment when the reader doesn’t know… will our hero win or not? Our games will focus on building this uncertainty into the climax, and finding a satisfying end to the conflict.


Week Seven: The Journey Home

Winning the battle isn’t the end of the story. Our games will focus on how writers create the conclusion that takes the hero from the end of the climax to a true ending of the story.


Week Eight: Revision

This week, we’ll work on adding details, dialogue and excellent words in order to make our stories the best they can be.


Week Nine: Book Workshop

Each student will work on practicing reading their story aloud and will add final details, including a cover, to help their story feel polished and complete.


Week Ten: Final Celebration

Writers will read their stories aloud to families and friends.


Inklings Book Finalist: Therese Viehoever


Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Therese Viehoever! Therese finished 3rd grade this past school year. She submitted a story called “Looking for Makayo.” It’s all about a big sister who has to go on a journey to rescue her brother from a villain! Here’s what one of our judges, Jennifer Fosberry, had to say about the story: “What a fantastic fantasy setting – the portals, the division of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in the new land, the bravery of the characters – I felt all that. And I loved her creative names for the places in the story. A definitely accomplished writer of setting!” Enjoy!


Looking for Makayo
by Therese Viehoever

Off in a far away land lived a boy named Makayo and a girl named Annabelle. Annabelle and Makayo are brother and sister, but they are not a typical brother and sister. They are best friends and they love going on adventures. They never, ever fight with each other.

Annabelle has dark brown curly hair, blue eyes, mostly peach skin with a little bit of tan. She usually wears a black dress with purple swirls and gold stars at the top. Her gold leggings match the stars and have just a pinch of sparkle in them. The stars on her dress are special – they shine and sparkle in the night.
Makayo has straight black hair, blue eyes, and mostly peach skin, but his skin tans just a bit more tan than his sister, but still not a lot. He usually wears his shirt with his name on it and black and gray stripes. His favorite blue pants, which he usually wears, have 8 pockets, 4 in the front and 4 in back. He fills his front pockets with things to help them on their adventures such as ropes, binoculars and much more. He fills his back pockets with good luck charms and four leaf clovers that they would find on their adventures.

One day, they went inside their grandma’s attic. Her was attic was brown and creepy with lots of spider webs. There were all sorts of old toys big and small; many things were broken. There were tons of pictures everywhere, some they recognized as their mom or their uncle or their grandma or even them when they were babies. But there were some they knew not who it was. And there were things that they had no idea what it could be. They were playing in the attic when they saw a portrait hole. They were curious, so they jumped through it. They forgot that it could be dangerous. It was really dark, pitch black. They could not see at all. They started turning round and round, and suddenly Annabelle landed in what seemed like an odd kingdom.

Annabelle had no idea where she was. She looked around and realized that Makayo was not with her. Where could he be? She went looking for Makayo. She thought maybe he might have a good idea for what to do. She did not travel very far before she came along a cute, fluffy bunny. The bunny had light brown hair, teal blue eyes and long ears.

“Excuse me,” said Annabelle, “Do you know where we are?”

“Yes I do!” said the bunny. “We are in the kingdom of good and bad. Over here is the good part of kingdom; over there is the bad part of kingdom” the bunny replied.

“Thank you” said Annabelle.

“You are welcome,” said the bunny, “But why did you ask? Do you need help? Are you lost? Did you lose something? Are you looking for someone? Do you need something?”

“Um…well, yes, I do need help. I was playing in my Grandma’s attic with my brother Makayo, and we found some sort of picture hole. We went in it because we were curious then, then I landed here, and I did not see my brother anywhere.”

“Oh, well that explains it. My name is Sophia… I do not know where Makayo is, but I can help you. There is a museum not far from here, and I am friends with the owner, and he is very wise and knowledgeable,so if anyone knows where Makayo is, it’s him,” said Sophia confidently. “He also will let me use things from the museum.”

“Ok then, let’s go,” said Annabelle.

When they got to the museum, someone new was running the museum. He had disgusting bumpy skin and looked like an overgrown toad. He said grumpily, “The owner is not here, I am looking after the museum today; the owner is sick. What do you need?”

“The owner is my friend and we wanted to borrow some things from the museum and ask him some questions. Do you think we could borrow those things?” Sophia asked.

The overgrown toad frowned and said, “Of course not, you are probably just trying to steal some valuable things from this museum. Out with you, NOW!”

They ran outside, a bit scared, and thought and thought and finally Annabelle said, “Maybe Makayo is still in the attic?”

“Let’s check there! Great idea Annabelle,” said Sophia, “but… there’s still one problem, how do we get back into your Grandma’s attic?” asked Sophia.

“Oh, ya that, um…..well maybe we could go to where I came out, maybe there is another picture hole that can transfer us back. I think I remember the place.”

Annabelle guided Sophia back on a zigzag path. “Ok, I think this is the place, so let’s look for a picture hole.”

“I do not see any picture holes, all I see are cars with signs that have pictures of places on them and little holes in front of them,” said Sophia.

“Well, maybe if we find a car with a picture that looks like my grandma’s attic, and we get in the car and drive into the hole, then we might be transferred to my grandma’s attic,” said Annabelle.

“Oh ya, I did not think of that! So, let’s get a move on!” exclaimed Sophia.

They split up to look at as many cars as possible, and just when they thought they had looked at every single car, Annabelle shouted, “I found it! Here is a car with a picture of my Grandma’s attic!” Sophia ran over to Annabelle, and they both jumped in.

Sophia said to Annabelle, “OK what are you waiting for, drive the car!”

“I thought you were going to drive – I don’t know how to drive!” shouted Annabelle, suddenly not sure what to do.

Sophia said, “Calm down, we can figure this out.”

They found a book in a small box in the car that gave directions on how to operate the car, however it was written in a language that Annabelle had never seen before.

Annabelle said hopefully, “Sophia, do you know how to read this?”

“No,” replied Sophia. She thought for a moment raising her paw to scratch her head when her elbow accidentally pushed a button. Suddenly, the car started to fly upwards around and around a pole. Suddenly, they landed with a “THUNK” in Annabelle’s Grandma’s attic.

The attic was dusty and creepy as usual. They quickly started looking for Makayo but did not find him anywhere. They looked in every corner and behind every door, but never found him in the attic, so they jumped though the picture hole again to land back in the kingdom of Good and Evil.

They rested on patch of green grass and thought and thought, “Where could he be?”

“Maybe Makayo landed in the bad part of the kingdom!” they both shouted at the same time.

“We should check there!” Sophia said excitedly. “I have a map of the whole kingdom of good and bad.”

She pulled an old, crumpled piece of paper from an invisible pocket in her fur.

“Here is the line that separates the good side from the bad.” Sophia told Annabelle as she pointed to the map. “On the bad side of the map, it shows the Doom Cave, Villain Village, and Goop Town,” Sophia continued. “My friend went to bad town before she told me about the places there. We should go to Goop Town first, then Villain Village, and last Doom Cave.”

Sophia led them down a hill and through a beautiful garden to Goop Town. ”Goop Town is full of really sticky goop, so we need the goggles to help us see. We have to dive in the goop then swim in it to get across the town.”

“Ok, do you think Makayo could be here in Goop Town?” Annabelle asked.

Sophia replied, “Well, maybe, but we have to go through Goop Town to get to the other parts of the Kingdom of Evil anyway.”

“Let’s start looking together,” said Annabelle, “It will be easier.”

“Eww, it is sticky and gooey,” said Sophia as she tried to unstick her arms from the goop. “They should sell something so you won’t get stuck. Let’s go farther down.”

As Annabelle tried to lift her legs out of the goop, she noticed something, “Look, there are two things that look like spacesuits stuck in that block of goop.”

They looked closer, and the suits had a tag that explained that the suits are called the Fluberblubber suits. They were made out of silk and rubber and had a bubble built in them so goop does not get all over the person inside the suit.

Annabelle said, “Let’s see if we can get the suits out of there and put them on. You pull that side, I will pull this side.”

The goop wiggled back and forth, plop, plop. The suits almost squirmed out of their grip. Annabelle was sure the suits weren’t going to come out, but then, BOOM, out they came. They put the suits on as fast as they could, and a bubble formed around them. The bubble around the suit made it hard to steer. It was also a little squished inside, but it was better than being stuck in the goop.

They looked all over the goop, but Makayo was nowhere to be found.

“Look!” called Annabelle, “There is a piece of paper in that block of goop. Maybe it can help us find Makayo!”

Annabelle pulled the paper out of the goop. It tore in two, but when they put it back together it read, “I Ieft the goop at 1:00. A villain named Elijah is taking me to a castle. He said they were going to buy some supplies for a potion to make him more powerful and convert other people to his side. I don’t know where this castle is because he didn’t tell me where we are going. Please help. ­ Makayo.”

“Oh my, it is a letter from Makayo, he must have known that we would come looking for him!” said Annabelle excitedly.

Sophia was not excited. She looked frightened and whispered, “It is a scary and dangerous place we can easily get hurt, but I will help you because I know he means a lot to you.”

Suddenly Sophia blurrted out, “What if he has Makayo….”

Annabelle did not let Sophia say anything else. Annabelle said, “Where do we go next?”.

Sophia looked nervous, but she took Annabelle around the corner, and then they saw a big, dark, castle. Sophia said, “Are you sure you want to go in there?”

Annabelle replied, “Definitely, we absolutely have to find Makayo, whatever it takes.”

Annabelle started to run towards the castle, but Sophia whispered loudly, “Annabelle, slow down, there are many villains that could hurt us, and we have to stay safe to rescue Makayo!”

Annabelle stopped, and said “Fine, but we can’t give up, even if we get hurt.”

Sophia replied, “OK, but don’t run off without me! I’m the one who has the map, remember?”

Annabelle agreed, and the two friends carefully approached the castle. They tiptoed inside where they saw a huge room full of spell books, cauldrons, potions, capes, potion ingredients, and really expensive wands. There were evil looking people wandering around the room with evil grins. They would cast evil looks at Annabelle and Sophia as if they were doing something wrong.

“Wow, there sure are a lot of evil looking villains,” whispered Annabelle.

“There are lots of different sections in Villain Village. It says here on the map that the castle is part of the Christmas village. I think we should investigate here first; the villains like to try to ruin Christmas because people like Christmas, it brings the most joy to people, and Christmas is coming soon,” said Sophia.

“Makayo should be around here somewhere,” said Sophia, “it’s 1:15 and Makayo said they left at 1:00, and he said that the villain was taking him to the castle, so he should be here by now.” Suddenly, Annabelle shouted, “Look, there is Makayo! A villain has him in his arms.”

They ran up and shouted, “Give Makayo back!”

The villain shouted back, “No way! Makayo is my new sidekick. He will stay with me forever.” Then he flew away, giving a cape to Makayo so that Makayo could fly if he needed to, but he was still clutching Makayo tightly in his arms.

Makayo was forced to help, but he threw the cape down to Sophia and Annabelle instead. They both put it on and flew towards Makayo. Annabelle and Sophia pushed Elijah away from Makayo together then grabbed him.

The villain shouted, “NOOOO!” as the three friends flew away to safety away from Elijah.

Then they told Makayo all about the toad, the flying cars, and their journey in bad land. Makayo said Elijah had told him all about his evil plans to conquer the bad land that he also wanted to destroy good land after they got out of goop town. He was working on a potion that would turn all the good people into villains.

Makayo grinned and then said happily, “But what he doesn’t know is that I smashed all of his potion ingredients so he can’t use them now!”

Annabelle and Sophia cheered and shouted “Awesome, Makayo, way to go!”

They were tired from all the excitement, but they walked back to find the car to get back to their grandma’s attic. Annabelle and Makayo hugged Sophia goodbye. They promised to visit good land again the next time they came to their grandma’s house. They found the car with a picture of grandma’s attic and Annabelle showed Makayo which button to push. They started to fly upwards around and around a pole. Again, they landed with a “THUNK” in Annabelle’s Grandma’s attic.
Then they happily went back home.

Sophia, Annabelle and Makayo all lived happily ever after.

Inklings Book Finalist: Sophia Liu


Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Sophia Liu! Sophia finished 1st grade this past school year. She submitted a poem called “In the Night.” She also included a beautiful picture to go along with it.  Enjoy!



In the Night
by Sophia Liu


When the moon appears,
with the stars shining in the dark dark night.
Soon the city falls asleep.


It is as quiet as could be.
Actually the fairies are playing hide and seek.
But you can’t hear it.
Only the moon and stars can hear the fairies’ ring.


A star joins and disappears in a twinkling.
The fairies fly high and low searching it everywhere.


Finally, they catch a light at the riverside.
It turns out that’s a firefly.
The moon sees everything in the wild.
She can’t help laughing with delight.


It’s a dark yet dazzling night.
It’s a serene yet joyful night.


Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

Inklings Book Finalist: Molly Keller


Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Molly Keller! Molly finished 3rd grade this past school year. She submitted a story called “The Yellow Star.” This story is personal to Molly and her family because it is based on a true story about her grandfather, Aron.

The Yellow Star
by Molly Keller

Aron was singing in Temple in Amsterdam when a small army of Nazis burst in. They threw yellow star badges at Aron, his friends and teachers.

“Wear these or… it’s death,” a Nazi soldier said.

Someone screamed. A cold shiver went down Aron’s spine. The teacher sent everyone home immediately. Aron sprinted home, clutching a stack of stars in his hand. He was terrified. All he wanted to do was to go home and tell his mom about his dreadful day.

When Aron arrived home he found his mother in tears.

His heart dropped.

“What’s wrong, mom?” he asked. He wanted to hug her. He was worried and scared at the same time. His dreadful day had just gotten worse.

“My brothers, sisters and their children have been killed in Auschwitz by the Nazis,” said Mrs. Koot. She hugged a photograph of her family.

Aron tossed his school bag to the floor. He felt like a volcano ready to erupt. He knew his cousins and couldn’t believe they were gone.

When she saw the badge on Aron’s shirt, she screamed, “Why are you wearing that? Who gave it to you?”

“The Nazis,” said Aron. His voice quivered. “They stormed the Temple, gave us badges and forced us to wear them.” Aron pulled out three more badges from his pocket.
His mom hesitated, then said, “Aron, please don’t wear the badge.”

“I have to mom and so does the rest of the family,” Aron said. He gave his mom a badge with a frown on his face. Maybe this was a way to save his family.

Aron’s sister, Ance came in. She was crying.

“What’s wrong with you?” Aron asked. He wondered what else could go wrong in one day.

“The Nazis . . . they forced their way into our school. They came to every classroom and forced us to wear these yellow star badges.” Aron put his arm around his sister.

“They did the same to us. We were in music class when they stormed in. We were in the middle of ‘The Dreidel song.’” He started to hum the tune to try to cheer his sister up.

Meanwhile Mrs. Koot was pacing the room, deep in thought.

“I must send you two to hide in the farms outside of Amsterdam,” said Mrs. Koot.

“Where are you and dad going?” asked Aron.

She paused, then said, “We will go there too.”

The Koot family did not take much of their belongings. They were limited to what they could carry so they would not look like they were escaping. Each person packed a small backpack. Aron packed a notebook with pens, a chessboard and pieces, a pair of binoculars, some books and his favorite toy. Ance packed a couple of books, a notepad, a penny whistle and a diary. Mrs. Koot packed all her jewelry, money and some clothes while Mr. Koot packed bread and a rare bottle of whiskey that had come from his great-grandfather.

The next day they walked five miles outside the city to the house of a farmer named Joe.

“Use anything in the barn that you need,” said Joe.

In the barn there were haystacks in the corner. The Koots used the hay to make beds and thanked Joe for his help. Ance was scared of the rats scurrying about the barn but she liked the cats that chased them. She named one cat “Bella” and petted her a lot.

“Stay hidden under the floorboards of the barn and I will bring you food every day,” said Joe.

Early every morning before the sun came out and every evening when it was really dark, Joe brought a big plate of food out to the barn. They had bread, milk and cheese. Once they even had a piece of lamb.

The Koots couldn’t sing “Hava Nagila” or “The Dreidel Song” or play any instruments. In fact, they couldn’t make much noise at all because the Nazis would hear them and send them to Auschwitz as they did with Aron’s mom’s side of the family. But, for now they were safe.

Aron passed the time by playing chess with his sister and they pondered when the war would be over. At night they slept on the itchy hay beds they had made. They listened to the mice skittering about in the dark, as owls swooped down to try to catch them. The barn smelled as if a skunk had sprayed it everywhere. They had a bucket for a bathroom, which Joe emptied when he was cleaning out the pigpens. They all wished they were at home and not living in this barn.

One morning, while Joe was dropping off the food, he spoke quietly to Mr. and Mrs. Koot.

“I have friends that are helping Jews that are still alive to escape to America. I could get my friends to smuggle you to a boat that is leaving for America in two days.”

Mrs. Koot told Aron and Ance, “Pack up everything! Do not leave any trace that we were here or Joe will be in danger.”

They cleaned everything. Two days later, in the middle of the night, the Koots followed Joe through the fields outside Amsterdam until they reached the beach. Then, they followed the beach to the docks.

Joe introduced them to a large man with a funny accent who they followed onto a boat. There were six other families hiding in the bottom of the boat. Aron knew they were Jewish because they all wore the yellow star badges.

Aron asked Joe, “Can you please come with us?”

Joe replied, “I’m sorry Aron, but if I go with you, I won’t be able to help other people escape from the Nazis. When you are in America and Jews come to your house from Holland please help them find a home and make sure they know they are safe.”

Mr. Koot came up behind Aron and shook Joe’s hand. “Thank you so much for all that you did. I owe you our lives. Please take this very old and rare bottle of whiskey that has been in my family for generations. This is all I have to give you.”

Aron turned to his backpack and took out his chessboard and handed it to Joe.

Joe said to Mr. Koot and Aron, “Keep all that you have. You are going to a future you are not sure about and may need them. All I ask is that you help whoever you can, whenever you can. Good luck.”

The journey on the boat was long, bumpy and stinky. There wasn’t much food. Ance was seasick all the time. They hoped that in America they would have food and a proper bathroom.

One day when they were on the boat, everyone took off their yellow stars and tossed them into the ocean. They all cheered because now they were normal people again. It took weeks to find America but when they did arrive, they knew they were safe for now and could start their lives over again.

Inklings Book Finalist: Sierra Jones


Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Sierra Jones! Sierra finished 1st grade this past school year. She submitted her story to us in Spanish. Below you’ll find both the English version and the Spanish version.  Enjoy!

Maya’s Adventure
by Sierra Jones

Maya is an 8-year-old girl in the 3rd grade who has magical powers. She can make flowers open, speak with animals, and make people smile. She lives with her 46-year-old mother Rosa and her one-year-old kitten named Mimi.

One day Rosa told Maya they were going to move to a new house, but Maya did not want to move.

Maya was very sad when she heard this and said: “I do not want to move to a new house!”

She thought her new house would be ugly, that she would not have any friends, and something bad was going to happen. She was scared that the children that lived near her new home would be mean to her.

When she arrived at her new home, she found new animals around her home that she could talk and play with. She saw a cute, yellow feathery bird, and was overjoyed. Maya saw a flower that did not open and she used her magical powers to make it open. When the flower opened, she saw that it had all the colors of a rainbow.

She saw that her new home was not ugly. In fact there were many girls waiting in front of her home. They all wanted to meet a new friend and see her magical powers.

Since moving to her new home, Maya has been very happy. She continued to talk and play with animals and showing her magical powers to her new good friends.

Moral of the story: Do not be afraid to try new things.

The End



La Aventura de Maya
by Sierra Jones

Maya era una niña que tenía 8 años estaba en 3er grado y le gustaba hacer magia. Ella studió magia para abrir las flores, hablaba con los animales, y cosas que no tenían cara feliz, ella les puso cara feliz. Ella vivia con su mamá y su gatita, su mamá se llamaba Rosa. Rosa tenía 46 años y su gatita se llamaba Mimi, y tenía un año.

Un día Maya y su mamá se mudaron de casa, pero Maya no se quería mudar.

Maya dijo – ¡Yo no quiero mover de casa! – Y estaba muy triste cuando se movieron a la casa nueva. Ella pensaba que su casa nueva era fea, no iba a tener amigos y que algo mal iba a pasarle. Sentía miedo como que habia niños/as malos.

Cuando llego a su casa nueva, vió y hablo con los animales, exploro el bosque y jugó con los animales. Jugó muchos juegos, ella estaba muy emocionada por poder hablar con los animales y hacer todos los juegos.

Maya vió un pajarito lindo, ella nunca había visto algo tan lindo. Despues maya vió que una flor que no abría y ella puso su magia, y la abrió. Y cuando se abrió parecía un arcoíris.

Ella vió que su casa nueva no era fea, y le gustó, y más cuando vio a todas las niñas enfrente de su casa, que habían visto todo, y ellas querían una amiga nueva que hiciera magia.

Desde entonces fue feliz, hablando con los animales, hacienda magia, y teniendo nuevas amigas.

MORALEJA – No tengas miedo a cosas nuevas sin conocer primero.

Colorín colorado este cuento ha acabo.

Inklings Book Finalist: Timothy Leung


Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Timothy Leung! Timothy finished 3rd grade this past school year. He was featured in last year’s Inklings Book. This year, he wrote a story for us about art supplies that come to life and go on an adventure! Here’s what Inklings Book judge, Jennifer Fosberry had to say about Timothy’s story: “This person does not mess around!  What an epic journey. He has a great ability to use tension and have distinct voices for his characters. Creative for sure and stinky underwear made me laugh!” Enjoy!


Art Alive
by Timothy Leung


Ruby Green was always very artistic. She loved anything to do with art and she had everything to do with it. Whether it was markers, or crayons, or pastels, or the special type of pattern scissors, she had them all. She was also a cute little girl, with brown hair, a nice, round face, and no freckles, which made her appearance look like an artist. Ruby loved changing her hair styles every day, showing off her ability of creativity. Her mother, Barbara Green, helped support Ruby on her interest in art, and would often give her advice and feedback.

Her dad, David Green, didn’t like Ruby’s interest at all. He always complained, “Ruby Green, clean up those paint supplies and piece of paper so that I have room to read my magazine!” or “Ruby, how in the world am I supposed to do things with your little pack of crayons here!” Ruby’s dad always made a fuss about art. Then one day, when Mr. Green was complaining as usual, he got so upset that he snatched away all the art supplies that Ruby had.

Luckily, Ruby had hidden three of her best supplies. These three were the ones that she loved the most. The three supplies were a pack of sixty-four crayons, a portable art kit, and her special edition marker kit.

Ruby stomped her feet. “Grr!!” she growled. Then she stormed up to her room and went to the place where she hid her art supplies and cried. She cried, and cried.

Then, when everything felt hopeless, she heard a tiny voice say, “Miss Ruby, umm…Miss Ruby, your majesty! Ahem. Loyal humble Markshall here! Markshall Marker, marshal of Art Kingdom, is speaking here ma’am!”

“Who’s talking? Whose Markshall Marker?” asked Ruby, looking down.

“Oh, please! Seriously, she doesn’t know where we are? God, our master is sometimes soooo dumb!” said a sassy voice.

“Don’t-sniff-be rude-sniff-Artsy-sniff!” sniffed another voice.

“Who’s talking here?” asked Ruby looking upwards. “Who’s Artsy?”

As she looked up she saw the weirdest thing in her entire life. Her art kit was on legs posing itself, her markers taking their hands and waving them around, and her sixty-four crayon box sitting down pouting, making sniffy noises, and pouring wax of all colors.

“Wah, wah, wah!” cried the crayon box. “She-e-e doe-s-sn-sn’t recognize us!”

“Hold on! Wait a second!” cried Ruby, who was completely bewildered. “Let’s all settle down. First of all, who are you guys?”

“A little misunderstanding, eh, miss?” said the marker. “We are the Art Kingdom leaders. We are here to help you get your art supplies back. Come to the Art Kingdom with us. Oh, and my name is Markshall Marker.”

“Okay,” said Ruby, “Now… What’s the Art Kingdom?”

“Seriously! Maybe crybaby Sixty-Four Crayola will like, explain it to you!” demanded Artsy.

Then, the sixty-four crayon box sniffled and wailed, “Wah-wah! Don’t do this to me!”

“Okay, I’ll show her the Art Kingdom!” huffed Markshall Marker. “Watch and learn, Ruby!” Then, he whispered, “Portal of Art, please come for your part!”

Instantly, a rainbow crayon appeared and drew a big circle. Then it jumped into the circle and immediately the circle was filled with color. There were reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, and purples – all the colors of the rainbow! Then, one by one, everybody stepped in.

“Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” screamed Ruby, as she fell down a deep hole. Ruby kept falling, and falling, and falling. Bonk! Ruby’s bottom landed on a soft ground. Ruby looked around and realized that she was in a dark tunnel.

“Hello?” she called. “Hello?” Ruby’s voice echoed back. “Hello?” ”Hello?” Ruby voice continued to echo. But then the girl heard other voices.

“Turn on the lights!” one voice said.

“Where are like, the lights?” complained a sassy voice.

“It’s a blackout!” whimpered another voice.

“Rainbow crayon, draw-sniff-some lights!” Then came a scratchy drawing sound, and a click, which made the lights come on. Ruby saw that the tunnel was full of rainbow color.

“Where are we?” wondered Ruby.

“The art tunnel, also known as the entrance, also known as the rainbow tunnel, also known as the hollow place of colors and echoes, also known as the portal ending, also known as the beginning of the Art Kingdom!” informed Markshall Marker, all in one breath.

“Okay…” slowly said Ruby, hesitating.

“Welcome to the Art Kingdom, lassie!” presented Markshall Marker.

They walked through the rainbow tunnel and entered a magnificent room that was also painted in rainbow color. Large paintings were hung on walls, and sparkling pieces of light gracefully flew around everywhere. There were so many art supplies walking around on their stubby little feet. A big crowd of crayons ran over to a room.

“We’re going to be late!” a purple one shrieked.

A set of scissors climbed a ladder that went so high that Ruby couldn’t see the top. A pair of glue sticks rushed over to a crayon that had fallen and broken in half, and started to paste him back together.

“Thank you,” said the crayon with delight. “How can I ever repay you?”

A class of origami paper huddled around each other, smiling beautiful smiles. Ruby breathed hard; this was true amazement to her eyes.

“Well, let’s get started!” exclaimed Markshall happily, waking Ruby up from her trance.

“Wait, like, follow me!” demanded Artsy, pulling Ruby’s arm.

“Wait ARTSY!” yelled Markshall. Artsy kept going and led them to a room with a big sign that read, ‘SNACK ROOM.’

“Artsy, why are you going to the snack room?”

Artsy pointed and said, “No, look! After the snacks!”

After the snacks was the beverage refrigerator. “Come on, let’s go!” complained Markshall. “We’re going to the enemy room! And it’s on the other side of the kingdom!”

“Enemy room? I thought we were going to the enemy spy room!” questioned Artsy.

“The enemy spy room closed down a many years ago!” said Markshall.

“Okay, first, what is the ‘Enemy Spy Room? Second, what are we doing?” piped up Ruby.

Artsy suddenly walked ahead, opened the refrigerator, and jumped into a Doritos Bag. “Come on!!!” she shouted. “Let’s go!”

“She’s gone!!” wailed the crayon pack.

“No she’s not, and I’m following her!” said Ruby cheerfully. Then she jumped in.

“I’m going in to! And you’d better come along!” commanded Markshall in a serious tone. He jumped in as well.

“Why am I doing this?” sniffed the Crayola crayon. He jumped into the refrigerator, then everything went dark.

Ruby fell into a room with a blue carpet. There were surveillance cameras and computers lined up everywhere.

“You’re right Artsy!” said Markshall. “The Enemy Spy Room is here!”

“Follow me,” said Crayola crayon. He went to a computer and murmured a few magical words. Instantly, the entire room disappeared and the floor sank down. They came into a huge room with glass everywhere and a few more computers. The glass peered into Mr. Green’s room.

“Let’s go find your art supplies!” exclaimed Crayola crayon.

“Everybody go to a computer!” commanded Markshall.

Ruby went onto a computer. She clicked on an app that was labeled: ‘Enemy.’ A screen popped up showing ‘Pick an Enemy.’ She clicked on a button that said, ‘David Green.’ Then a list of options displayed: ‘Why He?’ ‘Who is He?’ and ‘What He Has.’ Ruby clicked on the button that had ‘What He Has.’ Everybody else had done the same. They immediately saw a room on the screen that looked like the dad’s room. There were another set of options: ‘Camera’, ‘Chest’, ‘Right Now’, and ‘Secret Paths.’

“Everybody pick an option!” commanded Ruby.

“Yes Master!” they all replied.

“I’ll do Chest!” cried Markshall.

“Secret Paths!” claimed Artsy.

“Right Now!” sniffed Crayola.

“And I’ll choose Camera!” said Ruby.

For the next 20 minutes they searched for Ruby’s art supplies. Ruby’s screen showed views from hidden cameras in her dad’s room. She looked around and tried to see if she could spy anything suspicious. Were they under the heap of underwear? Definitely not. There were many different places to look… But which one was the right one?
Markshall’s computer screen displayed another list of options: ‘Under the Bed’, ‘Closet’, ‘Pocket’, and ‘Drawer.’ He clicked on ‘Drawer.’ It showed stinky underwear and socks. There were also dirty shirts and pants. Markshall made a face.

“That is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen!” he marked, while gagging. He went back and clicked ‘Under the Bed.’ “I hope I find something good here!” he wished. Instead, he saw a huge fury, big object, moving around. “IT’S THE DAD!!!!” screamed the poor, little marker.

Artsy watched as Markshall was gagging and screaming. “Wow, Markshall!” she teased.

“All so serious, huh?”

“Do your work Artsy!” cried the marker.

“Secret Paths has nothing!” whined Artsy.

“I’m sure there is!” assured Markshall.

Suddenly, a triumphant voice shouted, “I found them!” Everybody turned and looked. “The art supplies are all scattered around though!” said Ruby. “And I have no idea where this place is!”

“Let me see,” said Markshall. He walked over to Ruby. “Hmmm….. I don’t seem to know where this is! Let me think……… Ah ha! It is in fact, in your room!!!”

“How? Where? In my room?” asked Ruby, curiously.

“Those questions can only be answered by you, Ruby,” said Markshall.

“You mean we’re going out there?” asked Ruby.

“That is exactly what I mean. Rainbow Crayon!” Markshall shouted.

“Hello!” said Rainbow Crayon in a squeaky voice.

“Please draw a portal to Ruby’s room,” ordered Markshall.

“Okay!” replied Rainbow Crayon. She then began swirling around, causing colors to spin, forming a circle. Rays shot out of the circle, a portal appeared. Everybody jumped into the portal of rainbow colors.

Ruby came out of a falling state and fell onto her bed. The others fell right on top of her.

“Ow!” complained Artsy. “Somebody’s knee is on my arm!”

“And somebody’s arm is on my knee!” whined Crayola.

“And worse of all, someone’s leg is on my foot!” yelled Markshall.

“Everybody settle down!” Ruby yelled. The whole room went quiet.

Then a deep voice shouted, “Ruby, what are you doing there?!”

“Um… nothing!” Ruby said quickly.

“Okay, but if I hear any more loud noises, I’m coming to you!” boomed Mr. Green.

“Sure thing, Dad!” replied Ruby, who was crossing her fingers and mentally wishing for her dad to not come up. “Whew!” she breathed, with a sigh of relief. “That, was a close one.”

“Was it?” scoffed Artsy. “Like, I survived the whole thing!”

“Let’s just get started already!” said Markshall.

“Where do we go?” asked Ruby.

“That is up to you, master.” replied Markshall, solemnly.

“Alrighty then!” exclaimed the girl. “Where would my dad hide my art supplies?”

“I know!” exclaimed Artsy. “There is a secret passage in your closet. I know from studying the annoying ‘Secret Passages!’”

“Let me look in the closet,” said Ruby. After a minute or two, she hollered, “Aha!”

“What did you find?” curiously asked Markshall.

“Another door!” exclaimed Ruby. “Good work Artsy!”

Everybody started congratulating Artsy.

“Yeah, I, like, saved the day!”

They all piled inside the closet and into the secret door. There was a flight of stairs that went down to another room.

“I never knew that this was here!” said Ruby. “Maybe my art supplies are here!”

“Great!” added Artsy. “Our mission is almost done! Now I can go get my snack…”

“Save the dreaming for later!” commanded Markshall. “Who knows if Mr. Green has even hidden the art supplies yet?!”

“Um… Markshall?” asked Crayola, quietly. “You may want to hear something. Ruby said that the art supplies were all scattered around!”

“You’re right!” exclaimed Markshall. “Let’s go!” They continued down the long flight of stairs. The bottom was an old, rusty place that was dimly lit by one torch. The group saw a few art supplies: a construction paper set, glue sticks, and crayon packs.

“Hi sweetie pie!” cooed the metallic crayon box, in a nice, sweet, tone. She turned her head towards Ruby. Then she bowed and said, “Hello, master.” The other supplies all did the same.

Ruby thanked them and announced with pleasure, “Well, we all know that my dad has hidden all my art supplies. They are scattered around in different places in my room. We, are to find them back! Now who’s with me?” They all raised their hands. “Great,” said Ruby. They went back up the long flight of stairs, now with some art supplies found. They came out of the closet.

“Where else would those other art supplies be?” murmured the nice, majestic tone.
“I have no idea…” murmured Crayola back.

“Why are we murmuring?” murmured Artsy. “LET’S GET TO IT ALREADY!!!”

“Okay, okay!” yelled Crayola. You don’t have to be so mean!”

“ATTENTION!!” shouted Ruby. The whole group hushed. Ruby then hushed too, as she heard a deep voice.

“Ruby Green, I’ve told you once and now I’m telling you twice that if I hear noise, I will come up! And now that I’ve heard noise, I’m COMIN’ UP!!”

Ruby gulped. “Everybody hide!!” she urged in a whispery voice, as loud as she dared.

Footsteps slowly became louder and louder, and the art supplies became quieter and quieter. David Green appeared at Ruby’s door, and glared at Ruby, in his mean, raging face. He had pitch black hair, eyes the color of coffee, and a smile that would make you fall down to your knees and whimper, ‘I surrender!!’ Crayola quivered in fear. The glue sticks nearly fainted. Even Artsy was breathing hard. Ruby’s dad loomed over his daughter, who was also in fear.

“What in tarnation is causing such a loud racket?”

“Um…” stuttered Ruby. “I-I don’t know…”

The construction paper kit was not having such a delightful time. Somehow, he got squished and had to move, which caused a little movement, which caused Mr. Green to spot it.

“What is that?” he growled, pushing the bookcase that the kit was hiding behind.
Ruby crossed her fingers and shut her eyes, thoughts rushing in her mind. The construction paper kit dove under the bed, just in time. Ruby slowly opened her eyes. Her dad was still peering around.

“See!” she casually said. “There’s nothing here! Um… I’d better do my stuff now!”

“What stuff?” sneered Mr. Green.

“Um…,” stammered Ruby, putting on a cheesy smile.

“Fine!” he boomed. “But if I hear any loud noise,” oh, the punishment smile.

“Homework! Yes, that’s right, homework!” She held up her homework that she never did because…

“Yes father,” quivered Ruby. He slowly walked out of the room, step by step.

“Whew,” breathed Markshall. “I am so tired now!!” Everybody agreed.

“But we still have a journey!” announced Ruby, who was also tired.

“Maybe we’ll continue tomorrow,” suggested the metallic crayons.

It was getting late. Ruby’s mother called, “Ruby, bedtime. Brush your teeth now!”

“Yes mom!” Ruby shouted back.

“Okay,” whispered Ruby to the supplies. “I have to go to bed now. Help yourself to wherever place you want.” She brushed her teeth, and went to bed, hoping for good things to happen tomorrow.


“RUBY! RUBY!” Ruby woke up with a start. She looked beside her, and saw Markshall.

“RUBY! RUBY!” Markshall shouted again. He sounded like a police siren.

“Oh my gosh!” shrieked Ruby. She jumped out of bed and hurled on a jacket, stumbling everywhere, causing many things to fall. “Okay,” Ruby breathed. “I’m ready!” All of the art supplies stared at her. “Um…” Ruby said. She smiled at them. They smiled back. “Well!” Ruby said. “Let’s continue our looking-for-art-supplies mission! Does anybody know another place where my art supplies could be?”

Artsy raised her hand. “Yes Artsy?” said Ruby.

“Maybe, Mr. Rudepants hid some of your supplies in there!” She pointed to an old drawer that Ruby never used.

“You’re right!” exclaimed Ruby. The drawer was another dirty place and when Ruby opened it, dust flew everywhere. Sure enough, some art supplies were in there. There were chalk pastels, oil pastels, water colors, and acrylic paint. “Hi!” Ruby greeted.
“Hi!” some squeaky voices replied back.

“Thank you Artsy!” Ruby exclaimed. “Now let’s do the math. I have 72 different art supplies, including Markshall, Artsy, and Crayola. We have found seven other supplies, which mean that we have 10 supplies found in total. That means that we have 62 more art supplies to find. And that, is a lot!”

“Master?” whispered the water colors. “Do you think that we should split up?”

“That is actually a great idea!” agreed Ruby. “Let’s each go to a different place.”

“I’m on it master!” said Markshall.

“Alright,” said Ruby. “Now let’s get started!”

It takes a very long time to gather up 62 art supplies on your own. It probably takes more time to hide them. If you have 10 cooperative people helping you, you can shorten down the whole week, into one day and a quarter. That is exactly how long it took for Ruby and the art supplies to find all the other 62 art supplies. The problem was, 72 arts supplies cannot fit into Ruby’s room. Luckily, Ruby had an art supplies cubby that fit all of the 72 art supplies. Before she put them all away, she still had a couple more things to do.

First, she said some words to the art supplies. “It has been a pleasure, working with you kind beings. I do not have to say bye, because I will always be with you. The reason I bought each and every one of you was because of my love for art. I knew that you would be just the right one, and someday, you would help me somehow. Today, you helped me fill my heart.”

The art supplies smiled. Ruby had one more thing to do. She wanted to go and talk to her dad. She wanted the perfect moment. She didn’t know how to begin and where to begin. First, she thanked the supplies one more time and put them each in a row of her cubby. Finally, she tidied up everything, making sure that all the hiding spots looked like they were untouched. Just as she finished, Ruby’s dad started up the stairs. Ruby knew to act casual, and let her dad notice the art supplies on his own. Then she would try to do something.

As David climbed the stairs, time slowed down for Ruby. The footsteps became louder and louder, boom after boom. What was 5 seconds seemed like an hour. Millions of thoughts flew through Ruby’s head, as fast as the speed of light. 5 seconds became four. As the clock ticked, Ruby’s heart thumped harder and harder, faster and faster! Ruby was breathing hard. These were the longest 3 seconds of her life. 2 seconds. Ruby became very tense. Her breathing was extremely fast. 1 second! Footsteps banged loud on the ground. Everything was so quiet, Ruby could hear her heart beat. Bang! Bang! Mr. Green entered the room.

“Hi Ruby,” said a nice tone.

“H-h-i-i dad,” Ruby stammered.

“I’m sorry I took your art supplies.” replied Mr. Green.

“It’s fine.”

“I see you already have them.”

“Right…” Ruby cautiously said.

“That is very brave of you!” answered David.

“I’m sorry…” mumbled Ruby, hanging her head.

“I know you are Ruby, but the thing is, I’m your dad. I love you, just the same as your mom. I should be sorry for always reacting about your art supplies.” replied Mr. Green.

Ruby smiled. “If you accept my apology, I’ll accept yours,” continued Mr. Green.

“I accept!” answered Ruby.

“Then I accept yours. Now tell me, how did you find all those supplies?”

Ruby hesitated. “I did have some help,” she stammered. She pointed to the art cubby.

“Those?” asked David. “Why, those things don’t have a figment of life in them!”

“Follow your dreams and anything can happen!” Ruby replied.

“Follow your dreams and anything can happen?” wondered David. “What?”

“Watch,” Ruby said. She waved at the cubby and all the art supplies piled out.
David Green’s jaw dropped. He couldn’t believe his own eyes. “Ruby,” he said. “You’re right. Follow your dreams and anything can happen!”

“Follow your dreams and anything can happen,” repeated Ruby, whose dreams had expanded by hundreds. She smiled, and repeated again, “Follow your dreams and anything can happen!”

That night, Ruby went to bed, thinking about what happened. She happily skipped to her bed. As she lay down in bed, she thought about what her dreams were going to be like. She would like to have something to follow, the next day. Ruby thought about the kindness she had been given this day, the hope that she had used. This time, when she slept, she thought about following dreams, and how much power that could be. And after a few seconds, she fell fast asleep.

Inklings Book Finalist: Lily Shi


Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Lily Shi! Lily finished 2nd grade this past school year. She wrote a delightful story about a brave little mouse.

Charlotte and the Storm
by Lily Shi

Rain. Sheets and sheets of rain one after another rolled down the hill followed by loud claps of thunder and bright streaks of lighting. It drenched everything in water. It was wet and cold. A misty sheet of fog covered everything. It went on like this every day. Everything was gloomy and no rainbow appeared afterward.

Every day, Charlotte the mouse and her six brothers and six sisters would ask, “Can we go outside to play?”

Every day, Charlotte’s mother would answer, “If you play outside, your pretty short brown fur would get drenched and soggy. Plus, you have to clean the hollow before you play.”

Every day, Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters would each take a duster or a mop or a broom. Furiously, they would clean the hollow until it shone like the raindrops whistling outside.

Every day, after they cleaned the hollow, they would ask their mother, “Now can we go outside to play? We’ve cleaned the hollow!”

Every day, Charlotte’s mother would snap back, “I already told you! You would get soaked! When you would come into the hollow, you would have a fever from the cold and you would get the hollow soaked too!” But every day, in a gentler tone, Charlotte’s mother would add, “But you can play inside or read and draw.”

Every day, after Charlotte’s mother would say that, a loud noise of “Aww!!!” would fill the room, even louder than the thunder booming outside, for when they play hide and seek, the only place you could hide in was under the beds, and everybody knew that.

Every time they skipped around and danced, they would bump into either the furniture or their mother, and if they did, Charlotte’s mother would snap, “Be careful!” Every time they would read or draw, they could not concentrate, for they kept hearing the loud sound of “Boom!”

Then, one day… Ring! Ring! Ring!

Charlotte blinked her eyes open. Ring! Ring! Charlotte took a huge yawn and pushed her head up. Ring! Ring! Ring! She reached out her paw and fumbled for her alarm clock. Ring! Ring! When she reached it, she opened her eyes again and turned it off. She yawned widely again, showing her little teeth and tongue. She wanted to go back to sleep. Just another rainy day, she thought.

Charlotte pushed her blanket aside, climbed off her bed and stretched her eyes wide with her fingers. She walked to the bathroom droopy-eyed. Charlotte wet the towel and washed her face. After that, she brushed her teeth. Then she walked down the tunnel with her brothers and sisters. It had tables on either side, each with a candle, a few sheets of paper and a feather dipped into a bottle of black ink. Charlotte exited the tunnel and entered another room. There, Charlotte’s mother was placing Charlotte and her sisters’ and brothers’ breakfast onto the table.

But, as soon as Charlotte and her siblings reached the table, they realized this: No rain was pouring outside! No thunder was booming! No lightning was flashing!

Charlotte’s mother waited for the shrieks to die down, then announced: “After you eat your breakfast and finish your chores, you can go outside to play.”

Squeaks of excitement filled the room. Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters gobbled down their oatmeal. They drained their milk and gulped down the eggs. Charlotte and her brothers and sisters dusted the hollow especially fast, but they did not end earlier than usual, because all the bouncing around had made the hollow especially dirty. Then they all made a run for the door but were blocked by Charlotte’s mother.

“Ladies and gentlemice, you all forgot to change! Go change right now!”

Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters all ran to the rooms and picked out their clothes from their closets. Charlotte picked a red shirt with red pants, and a red skirt and red shoes. Mice liked to dress in one color.

“Now can we play outside?” asked Charlotte, dancing in the pale sunlight.

“As long as you keep an eye on the weather,” answered Charlotte’s mother, “I’m sure it’ll rain soon.”

With shrieks of delight, Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters turned tail and raced up the hill to play.

“Hide and Seek!” the mice squeaked.

“I’ll be the seeker!” cried one of Charlotte’s brothers. He scampered over to the tree. “One, two, three, four…”

Charlotte laughed with delight and ran over to a tall patch of bluebells. As she crouched down, the bluebells tickled her nose and caused her to sneeze. This is no good, she decided. She ran further up the hill and saw a huge oak tree. It had thick gnarled branches. The leaves crowded together over the top. Charlotte spotted a small black hole in the front of the oak tree. Perfect, she thought. She could still hear her brother chanting, “Twelve, thirteen, fourteen…”

Plenty of time, Charlotte thought. She scampered into the hollow. It was pretty bright in the hollow because of the sun outside. Charlotte had to determine where to sit by checking the sun rays and the wind pattern so Charlotte’s brother couldn’t see her shadow or smell her.

“Forty eight, Forty nine, fifty! Ready or not, here I come!” shrieked Charlotte’s brother.

Charlotte stayed where she was. She stayed there for a long while. She then waited. Seconds passed. Minutes passed. It almost seemed like hours! Finally, Charlotte’s brother peered inside the hollow.

“Found you!”

Charlotte smiled. As soon as the third round of Hide and Seek was finished, they began playing tag, chasing each other around the trees that were filled with white puffy blossoms.

But as Charlotte was being chased by one of her shrieking brothers, the shrieking suddenly stopped. There was a loud scream and a splash behind Charlotte. Charlotte looked into the river and saw her brother falling into the darkness.

Charlotte screamed! Without thinking, she hopped into the river. She let herself fall deep, deep, down into the darkness. Very deep. What did I do!? Thought Charlotte.

Then suddenly, she hit something furry. She let her arms ring out under her. She grabbed on to her brother and swam up, up, into the sun light. Her head went above water. She forced herself to breathe slowly. Charlotte paddled to the shore and put her brother on the ground. The others crowded around her.

Hmm… I think Granny mouse taught me how to take water out of a mouse… Oh yeah! She pushed on her brother’s chest.

I hope this works, thought Charlotte. There was a gurgling sound, and a fountain of water sprouted from Charlotte’s brother’s mouth. Charlotte’s brother blinked open his eyes.

“Who, cough, cough, are you? Cough, Cough. Where am, cough, cough, am I?”

“We are your sisters and brothers! You are here, on the hill. You fell into the river.”

Charlotte’s brother’s eyes widened. He jumped up. He tapped Charlotte on the shoulder. “Tag!”

Charlotte laughed, and it all started again.

Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters hopped through patches of bluebells and skipped through fields of marigold. They ran around the river and raced down the hill. They were enjoying themselves so much that they didn’t notice the clouds getting dark.

Then, while Charlotte was being chased by her sister, shrieking, “I’ll get you!” There was a PLOP! Something wet and cold fell onto Charlotte’s nose. More and more came and the sky was engulfed in dark clouds.

“It’s raining!” Charlotte yelled, stopping abruptly.

“Got you!” shouted Charlotte’s sister tapping Charlotte on the back.

“It’s raining!” Charlotte yelled back. Gasps filled the hill.

“It’s raining!”

“We should have looked out!”

“Run for your lives!”

“Stop!” Charlotte shouted. “Calm down!” But she groaned to herself, we will never get home in time! Where will we find shelter?

Just then, Mr. Squirrel scampered by. His own family was warm and safe in his nest. He couldn’t leave these poor mice in the rain!

“Come into my nest with me!” He shouted over the howling of the wind.

He then scampered ahead with the mice following him through the wet grass. But Mr. Squirrel’s nest was a hollow high up in the trees. Mr. Squirrel scampered up the branches into the hollow. He then stuck his head out.

“What are you waiting for? Come up!”

“Umm… your nest is awfully high up. It could be dangerous for us.” said Charlotte nervously, tilting her head up.

Just then, Harvest Mouse Marry poked her head out of the tall grass.

“You can stay with me.” Harvest Mouse Marry said in a small but kind voice. “I have a warm nest full of twigs.” Harvest Mouse Marry scuttled to her woven home, but Charlotte and her brothers and sisters did not follow. They could all see that her nest was far too small.

“Err… your nest seems very nice to me, but I’m afraid it is a tad too small.” said Charlotte, groaning as she did.

Just then, Rabbit Joe found the mice.

“You can come to my place and enjoy the warmth of our burrow with my baby brothers and sisters.” he said.

The mice followed the rabbit to his burrow. It was a very big burrow, but it was already stuffed with rabbits that were squirming and wriggling.

“Well… I would have stayed at your burrow, but it seems like it is already doing its job.” said Charlotte, peering inside.

With that, they all walked into the shelter of a small tree, but it was awfully stuffed and a few droplets of water could reach their muzzles. By now, Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters were drenched and cold. They were also very tired and hungry, though they where glad to get a rest.

Then, one of Charlotte’s sisters exclaimed, “Is that Mom calling us?”

Then suddenly, as if in a dream, everyone heard, “Children! It’s your mother! Come here!”

Charlotte’s ears perked up. “It’s her!”

Charlotte and her siblings ran toward the sound and, sure enough, found their mother.

“Oh, sweeties, I thought I’d never see you again!” cried her mother.

She gave each of them a wet hug, and continued, “I found us a warm burrow in an old oak tree closer than our home. You will be snugly and warm there. We can stay there for the night. Follow me!”

All the little mice ran after their mother into the burrow. Very soon, everyone fell fast asleep.

Well, everyone except Charlotte. She stayed awake listening to the roaring of the wind and the pounding of the rain. She could not go to sleep. She was worried about her new friends.

Rabbit Joe’s burrow could be flooded! Mr. Squirrel’s nest could get blown away! Harvest Mouse Marry’s nest could get destroyed!

Charlotte thought and thought, and finally made up her mind.

She skidded outside the wet rain. The rain drops were pouring down from the sky and falling onto the ground sharply and shattered like pearls. The ground was soaked; there was no sign of dryness. Immediately, her fur became soggy. Her tail drooped from all the pressure of the rain. The rain blurred her vision and she rubbed her eyes hard. Then she squinted them so hard her eyes were streaming.

She hesitated, wanting to go into the burrow.

But if I go back, the others will wake up and I will have to tell them what I had intended to do. And, Mr. Squirrel, Rabbit Joe, and Harvest Mouse Marry could be out in the rain like I am, and they ought to be helped, thought Charlotte.

She looked down on to the ground. Faint suggestions of her six brothers’, her six sisters’, her mother’s, and her footsteps were still there, about to be overwhelmed by the mud.

There’s no time to waste, she thought.

She hurried as fast as she could through the rain. Her footsteps followed the steady pitter patter of the rain as she hurried along the footsteps. Her whole body ached, her eyes hurt, and she was freezing and wet, but she still hurried through the mud.

Charlotte soon reached the same tree she and her six brothers and six sisters had used as shelter before her mother had found them. The rabbits were cowering under the same tree.

“What happened?” Charlotte asked.

“We all couldn’t fall asleep in our burrow because of the sound of the loud rain, which made me annoyed. Then, the wind changed direction and blew the rain into our burrow, which made me really annoyed. Finally, our burrow got so flooded that we had to come out here to squish under this little measly tree, which made me so annoyed that I want to kick up this tree!” shouted a rabbit.

“I advise you not to be so annoyed,” replied Charlotte, “And I also advise you to follow those footsteps and you will find a huge dry burrow with 13 mice. You can all sleep in there.”

“Can I come to?” Harvest Mouse Marry asked, poking her head out of the tall grass and looking tired and messy.

“I couldn’t sleep and my nest was destroyed. I had to jump and cling onto a piece of tall grass. I was slipping and noticed a sharp piece of rock. I jumped onto it and landed a bit harder than I meant to.”


Phew! Two down! I’m making progress, thought Charlotte.

She instantly felt better. After that, she followed her footsteps to Mr. Squirrel’s nest. Mr. Squirrel and his family were huddling under a bush. Charlotte discovered that Mr. Squirrel’s nest had been blown away.

“Just follow these footsteps, and you will reach the burrow!”

“Oh thank you!” Mrs. Squirrel cried. “Bless you little mouse. How can I ever repay you? Oh thank you, thank you!”

“You’re welcome! Anytime!”

Charlotte watched the squirrel family walk away, and she devoured her moment of glory. She’d done it. She felt like whooping and dancing a jig. She padded on her way home. It was too good to be true! She could only hear the sound of the rain, and wait, was that a caw? She strained her ears. Suddenly, she could hear it clearly. Caw, caw! She started running as her eyes widened. But it was too late. She screamed as she was lifted up into the dark sky…

Then, she landed on something wet and prickly. She screamed louder.

“Shut up.” A voice croaked. “I am hungry!”

Charlotte stopped screaming. She opened her eyes. And in front of her was a large brown owl.

Charlotte was scared, but she was a smart mouse.

“You eat something without me.” she said, trying to sound brave.

Then she ran. Through the owl’s short yellow legs, she ran. Down the tree, she ran.

The owl squawked in frustration. Quickly, she calculated the speed of Charlotte and where she was heading. Silently, she swooped down. Charlotte sensed the owl coming. Then, at just the right moment, she jumped. She also screamed. She landed on a rotten log with black marks. She quickly climbed over it.

The owl, in the meantime, wasn’t prepared for Charlotte to jump, and quickly attempted to pull himself back. But it was too late. The owl smashed against the wet floor, snagged a claw, broke a wing, and at the same time, died.

Charlotte widened her eyes, and fled to the burrow. She flung herself in. “There was… an owl and… he…”

“Charlotte,” her mother said gently, “I am glad you are home.”

“I can explain.” Charlotte gasped. “I was-”

“First, take a rest.” Her mother interrupted. She led Charlotte through the burrow, where the squirrel family, the rabbit family, and Charlotte’s brothers and sisters were waiting.

“We were so worried!” Charlotte’s brother exclaimed.

Everyone crowded around her.

“Are you OK?”

“What happened?”

“She needs to rest.” Charlotte’s mother instructed. Then she was laid down on a grass bed.

Soon, the rabbits, the squirrels and the mice were all inside the burrow. There, they all became snuggly and warm. They all fell asleep.

Outside, the wind battered the trees and flattened the flowers. But inside, everyone was safe and dry. By morning, the rain had stopped. The flowers and the trees straightened again. The sun crept into the sky. Charlotte and her friends walked outside. Charlotte told her story, and everyone gasped when she mentioned the owl.
Right then, a huge, bright, and brilliant rainbow appeared in the sky.

“It’s a present for you.” Harvest Mouse Marry whispered to her, “For saving us.” Charlotte smiled, surrounded in the warmth of the bright sun and the warmth of her friends.

Inklings Book Finalist: Abigail Hobson


Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Abigail Hobson! Abigail finished 1st grade this past school year. She wrote a lovely set of poems about the seasons. Enjoy!



The Four Seasons
By Abigail Hobson

Bees are buzzing
When the flowers bloom.
The birds sing and the friends play.
When spring comes closer
We all shout out, “Hooray!”
When we hear the river rushing
And we smell the roses
We start dancing because Spring is here.


The birds sing their lovely songs
And leaves are on the trees.
Summer has begun and the flowers have come.
The bees are collecting pollen
And berries are on the bushes.
We all say, “Yay! Summer has come!”


The leaves have fallen
The trees are bare.
There are leaf piles everywhere.
We have some fun
Playing hide and seek and tag
We pick nuts and eat them up.
Yay! Fall has come!


With snowflakes everywhere
It’s an icy day.
In the soft snow
The kids run and play.
We catch snowflakes on our tongues.
We see our breath
And pretend we are dragons.
Winter is here! We shout, “Hooray!”

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