The following represent written classroom assignments which stand out in the esteem of the teacher and have been selected for publication.
Why One Should Never Invite a Gorilla to a Birthday Party!
5th Grade LA
You should never invite a gorilla to a birthday party. One reason is because they have short tempers and can become very angry. When a child teases or even laughs at a gorilla, that ape might rage. This would be a danger to the party guests as well as the cake. Does anyone really want a huge, hairy gorilla throwing tables and fistfuls of cake at them? I remember a year ago, I went to my friend Naoki's birthday party. It was a happy get-together until Mr. Bananas, the ape, arrived. When he stepped in, everyone stared. Bad choice! He was chucking chairs, tables, cake, and bits of his own hair at all of the party guests within a minute. The guests fled and Naoki and his family have been frightened of gorillas ever since. Sure, gorillas look cool caged up at the zoo, However, when they're let out to attend a birthday party, the "cool" part of them disappears.
Gorillas don't make good party guests because they have bad tempers. I remember at my mom's birthday, she wanted everything to be gorilla-themed. As a surprise, my dad and I rented an actual gorilla. One thing led to another and the giant mammal escaped his cage and put pink frosting on his head. Does anyone really want a rampaging mini-version of King Kong ruining the family party? Studies show that if it is being taunted, a gorilla will beat its chest or ram into you. In other words, never invite a gorilla to a birthday party! Oh, by the way, the gorilla ate my mom's favorite bamboo window shades for desert.
If I Had a Magic Wand
by Omar (4th Grade)
The other night I had a dream. I was at school and my pencil turned suddenly into a magic wand. I started thinking: what would I do if I had a magic wand?
First, I would make school start at 10:00. I would make my backpack into a jet-pack and soar upon the skies. Whee! Everything is so small from up here, my house looks like my eraser. A bunch of sparrows glide with me like a squadron going into battle.
I would make my own potato chip factory. Definitely! Mom won't like that. I will drop that idea. I would also make my class go to Tatooine during science class and zip around Hoth with the Millenium Falcon. Let's learn some physics from Master Yoda like force-lifting rocks. Lightsabers are beams of light. Black holes can bend light .We would drop into a black hole and have math class. Would that bend the lightsabers?
Social Studies would be in the Civil War with Han Solo against General Lee. Maybe Kylo Ren can even take a break from conquering a galaxy and from fighting the Resistance. Oh, yeah! That would be a sight!
If I had a magic wand, I would play Quidditch with Harry Potter: Birchwood House vs. Gryffindor. Yes! The Golden Snitch will belong to us. I'll have lunch with Bilbo Baggins and play wizard chess with Gandalf. What about Study Hall? Winged horse racing, definitely. We'll study alchemy and levitation. How about becoming invisible? For art, we'll study the exact art of making potions!
Last of all, I will turn all the pencils in the school into magic wands. Then, I would... I hear a high-pitched noise: "Ugh!" It's the alarm clock. It is 7:00 and I have to wake up.
By (Saumya, 5th grade)
Dear Kate DiCamillo,
I enjoyed meeting the fascinating characters in your book, The Tales of Despereaux. This tiny mouse with large ears is an outcast, as he doesn't understand the "normal" way to act. Other mice eat the books in the library, while Despereaux delights in reading them. I love how your book has two stories going on at the same time that come together in a sentimental ending. I cried so much while reading your book. Sometimes it was tears of joy, sometimes tears of sorrow. I went on an emotional rollercoaster, with suspenseful twists and turns.
The little mouse you created shows so much courage, he puts me to shame! But after reading your book, I, too, have learned to show courage, especially when I am in situations where I feel different from others. In my math class and math club group, I am the only girl. The first time I entered math club and saw I'd be working with boys, thoughts of transferring to the lower group flashed in my mind. Then I remembered Despereaux and how he never turned back while confronting situations which were much more challenging than mine.
Whenever I feel like cowering back into the shadows, I remember how Despereaux traveled through the dungeon with the red string tied around his neck. Even though the string was a mark of being ejected from the mouse society, he wore it as a mark of honor. This empowers me through whatever I am doing because I think, If this little mouse did something that most humans can't do, using only courage, I can face much less dangerous problems, as long as I hold fast to my courage. I have been in math club for a month now, and it is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Because of your amazing book, I found the determination to learn new math concepts in a tough group filled with strangers.
All people need courage each day in their lives. Finding it inside is very hard, for we can't conjure it from thin air. We have to plant our little seed and watch it grow by practicing and developing courage in the small situations we face every day. Once our plant has blossomed, we protect it by making sure it remains as courage and doesn't turn into pride. The thought should be: I can do this! not, I can do everything! Once we make exhibiting courage a habit, we can use it in more difficult circumstances, too. Just like Despereaux, we can apply bravery to block our own negative thoughts about being different.
I had to remember this when I entered my present school last year. At my old school I had lots friends, but I wasn't learning much. My classes became very easy and boring. Then my parents found another school with a more advanced curriculum. Sure, I wanted to go to a school where I would learn new things, but I needed courage to leave all my friends and walk into a frightening situation. Finally, I once again remembered my little friend, Despereaux, gathered my courage, and told my parents I would change schools. It turned out to be a great decision. I made friends immediately, and I have gained much valuable knowledge.
Thank you, Kate DiCamillo, for your inspiring book, The Tales of Despereaux. It has taught me that a kind heart overflowing with love and courage opens doors that lead to completed goals and dreams that become true. Everyone must search for his or her seed. I found mine in your book, and I hope others can, too.
from: Johnny Tremain (by Hope P. 7th Grade)
In the book Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, Johnny, the main character, changes and matures due to the events and people in his life. The story began in Boston, 1775 and the Revolutionary War was about to commence. In the beginning, Johnny Tremain was selfish and arrogant. At the end, through personal tragedies, Johnny has learned to deal with his shortcomings and to look beyond them. He has developed strong personal traits and achieved manhood. He achieves this by learning to be more humble and forgiving thanks to his friend, Rab, and the positive influence of others upon him.
In the beginning of the book, Johnny's identity was a talented apprentice. He learned all about silversmithing while staying with the Lapham household. His life goal was to become a silversmith and so his mother made sure that he was taught the necessities about it. One behavior or character trait of Jonny's, was that he was proud. He liked people to know that he was good at different occupations, and enjoyed giving orders. He presumed he had a higher place than others and strait out said what he thought. Since Dove acts lazy and incapable of doing things Johnny feels the need to bark orders at him and thinks of himself much better than Dove. A second behavior that Johnny shows is self-centeredness. He thinks only of himself and complains about many things. When Mr. Lapham told him to stop working on the silver basin for Mr. Hancock, Johnny just sulked and complained and said it wasn't fair. A third trait that describes Johnny is "bossy." He tells everyone what to do and orders them around constantly. As Johnny began getting better at being a silversmith, he was told to make a new silver basin but in the process, burned his hand terribly. After it finally healed, it was deformed. His life goal of becoming a silversmith was ruined just like his hand. He thought himself useless because he could barely do anything to help support the Lapham household. Johnny lost his sense of identity and security and thought everyone judged him by his hand.
After getting used to his crippled hand, Johnny learned to accept it. He became interested in the events prior to the Revolutionary War. When Johnny first met Rab, he already liked him. Rab taught Johnny many things, the first, was to control his temper. Johnny learned to count to ten when upset and was surprised how well it worked. When he passed Paul Revere's house, thanks to his patience, Johnny was told that he was welcomed any time to work for Mr. Reverie as a silversmith. Johnny also grew more forgiving. He gave pity on Dove because he had no friends. Before Johnny used to scowl at Dove and call him rude names. Now, he is Dove's friend and stands up for him when he gets picked on. He also does chores for him at times to give Dove a break. Johnny also learned to care for horses and how to control them. He learned so many new things that he was like a new person.
Johnny Tremain's identity at the end of the book was that of a patriot. He realized that he wants everyone to be their own person and to not be controlled by others. He becomes closer to Cilla, Mr. Lorne, Dr. Warren, and Rab. He cares for them and respects them. They are there for him and he for them. Johnny decided to fight for what he believed in just like Rab did. He looks beyond himself and his personal issues, to care for others. It is important to live a life goal that's larger than yourself because the world will be more open to you. If you stick to your goal, then people will respect you in return. They will think of you as responsible and not careless.
The King Peacock
(by Jonah N. 5th Grade)
Feathers, brighter than the sun and more delightful than gold; the strength of the aura, more powerful than the smell of frankincense or myrrh. The peacock's features were a mix of all things that create a perfect living creature. This feathered delight lived in India.
Now at this time, a great emperor ruled the land of India with an iron fist. Although he ruled like that, his personality was sweeter than a hummingbird's nectar. This almighty emperor delighted in entertainment to occupy his time. All of his officers were seasoned and a perfect fit for their jobs so he did not need to do much. The emperor's favorite type of entertainment was fashion. He simply loved having people go about in the palace wearing clothes, of course of his design, beautifully woven of silk, wool, and hides imported from different countries. The lovely jewelry made of gold, silver, bronze, copper, and gems would dazzle the crowd as it shimmered and sparkled on soft palace skin. Of course, this was all amazing, but what the emperor really desired was one of the beautiful peacocks roaming just out of reach of the palace guards.
These astounding peacocks' feathers were softer than silk and wool combined. The feathers would blind a person if he looked directly at them, (figuratively speaking, of course.) Its song, so beautiful it could make a sorrowful man burst into joy, could also cause a happy man to break down and cry. The strength of the peacock's legs allowed it to jump up to five feet in the air. And this was only the regular peacock. The king peacock could do this all, but his feathers would actually blind those who dared to look directly into the open feathers. It can create song was so powerful that if a grown man hears it and the peacock is angry, the man will die, whereas if the peacock's feels good this person will be so delighted, he would praise this wonderful creature. Those who were caught by one of its songs when it felt controlling were hypnotized into doing whatever it bid.
One day the emperor was very distressed. "I want all the weavers at this palace right now! One of our best designers has created a garment with a flaw, and I have thrown him out! I should have done the design myself!" His majesty stormed into the throne room from the garden.
"But sir, you have only five hours to design 30 pictures of finely woven silk!" the counselor argued.
"I don't care. Now if you will get my thinking book, the red one, I shall get started." he demanded coldly.
"Right away, sir," the counselor replied, frightened.
Minutes later the emperor had his book and three ideas ready. He knew that he could create 30 designs in 30 minutes, but the time it took to make and weave them was immense.
Then he thought of the king peacock. It was just what the emperor needed. If he could retrieve just a couple of these feathers, they catapult his new fashion designs into fame. Now the only two problems were how he would get the feathers and how he would weave the designs in time. He sent all of his guards, warriors, and officials to find that peacock, and along the way, to pick up a few others, if they pleased. When he set to work with his weavers to create the basic design of the clothing, then he would put the feathers of the peacock on the cloth if they retrieved the creature in time. If they finish these tasks of weaving and retrieving at the same time, then the work will be done in no more than four hours.
The guards, warriors and officials went off to find the peacock, and, oh did they find it! It shone so brightly a person could see it from a mile away. They put on the special sunglasses that the emperor had given them so they wouldn't be blinded and crept closer and closer until they were right next to it. But a clumsy official stepped on one of the peacock's tail feathers and this scared it so much it jumped 15 feet up. They were being chased by a 100lbs peacock. It was very fast, faster than the guards and officials because they were all wearing heavy gear, and to their surprise, he jumped right in front of them and simply asked, "Why are you here?"
The clumsy official said, "Well, the emperor, on very short notice, is trying to design 30 pieces of clothing, and he thinks that if he received a few of your feathers, it would be just the thing for the clothing."
"Well, why didn't you just ask?" the peacock said.
The official answered, "We are scared of you. You are powerful, and we think that you could easily kill us of course we do not want that to happen so we tried to sneak up on you.
Then the peacock said again to their surprise, "I'll give you some feathers if you give me a place in your palace. I have no home, and I am very lonely. I do hope that your hospitality is decent."
"You will definitely have a home in the beautiful palace. Yes, you and the palace will match perfectly."
The emperor was very pleased to see his officials, warriors and guards return with a rather large peacock. He said, "What a marvelous, beauty you are!" Turning to his men, he asked, "How did you retrieve such an immensely beautiful creature?"
The guard replied, "We said it would have a home in the palace, and in return, it has agreed to give you some of its feathers."
The emperor approved of this deal and continued his job as chief designer was kept, while the king peacock had a home. He loved this home because people came to watch him and his marvelous beauty, and the other, peacocks could come and go whenever they pleased. From that point on, peacocks and emperors in India have always been friends.