Welcome to another installment in our OPS Authors series. For our fourth and final installment of the 2021 - 2022 school year we'd like to spotlight a story by two OPS fourth grade students, Lea and Ruby. This creative pair would like to share their story, The Ongoing Ivy. Inspired by an illustration from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg, this short story was written by Lea and Ruby in library class. The Ongoing Ivy is mysterious and compelling, so give it a read and then check out our interview with the two authors!
The Ongoing Ivy
A few days earlier she had come into the library. She was new in town and did not know his legend. She had borrowed a book, she was about to leave when Mr.Linden pointed a creaky finger at her and said “Don’t trust the book, it has many secrets you should not know.” But that just intrigued her even more.
After a few nights she had really gotten into the book and was reading it every night at bedtime. One night she noticed a little green leaf stuck in the pages. She thought it was left by a past owner so she tried to tug it out. But the ivy only got longer. Merely from her own fright, she passed out.
Hours later the ivy had grown to a monstrous size and almost covered the whole book. The ivy ignored everything and started climbing up the girl's arm.
When she awoke she was surrounded by what she thought was a forest. She tried to get up and look around but she was tied to the bed by the ivy. With horror she realized she had fallen right into the book.The book was perfectly intact, but still completely covered in ivy. She vaguely remembered being someone named Jacky, but the memories were slipping by the minute. She tried to remember how to get home but she could barely remember anything about her past life. She tried quite hard but all she could remember was a book and a man named Mark Linden. She kept on getting flashes of past memories and thoughts. She snapped back to reality and realized she needed to focus on breaking out of the ivy. She thrashed about in the ivy, but it wouldn’t budge. She reached for a nearby branch from a tree and ripped off a sharp limb, and started to saw the ivy.
Finally what seemed like hours later she broke free from the clutches of the ivy. She slowly got up and scanned her surroundings for anything other than trees and bushes. She started to walk, but staggered and lost her balance. She realized she couldn’t remember how to walk! But as she was struggling to stand up, something glittery caught her eye so she went to go check it out and almost tripped again. Falling on her knees she picked up a shiny gold bookmark. Wait! she thought, she had seen this bookmark before. Oh yes it was the book mark from a book. What book? She remembered it was the book she was reading.
Suddenly, by holding the book and bookmark - each in one hand, the girl from her past life clicked back, like snapping in the last puzzle piece of a puzzle. Something whirled around her, pushing her this way and that. She got nervous now, wishing she was in her bed, even with her annoying (very, very annoying) twin siblings above taunting her telling she was “Jacky Frost” the ignorant queen of “Winter wonderland”.
She had not realized she was asleep until she awoke. She didn't ever figure out what happened that day. The only person who knows is old Mr. Mark Linden who understood her whole adventure was just a dream. He remembered reading that old book himself as a child. That was his book, and he’ll never forget writing it.
The Ongoing Ivy by Lea and Ruby is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Author Interview - Lea & Ruby
Your short story, The Ongoing Ivy, was inspired by an illustration from the Chris Van Allsburg book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. What was it like writing a story using details from a picture?
Lea - It was interesting using pictures and turning them into a story for a reader to read. It was fun finding the specific characteristics of the picture and turning them into words.
Ruby- Even though it was new, and fun, it was a little tricky because instead of looking for context clues which is what i’m used to, we were looking for clues in a picture.
What element of your story do you think was most inspired by your picture - characters, setting or plot? Why and how?
Lea - I think the part where she pulls out the leaf and it starts to grow on her was the main inspiration of the story and it came directly from the picture, not one of the made up parts.
Ruby - I think the part where she had fainted from her fright of the ivy most resembles the picture because even though at first glance I thought the girl in the picture was sleeping, we took it a different route and said she had been knocked out.
What was it like writing with a partner?
Lea - I had a lot of fun working with Ruby as my partner. She has a great imagination and worked with my ideas, and I’m glad we were able to find a way to use both of our ideas in the text.
Ruby - unlike other partners I have had, Lea didn’t just shut out my thoughts, she considered and added them in when we could, and she was patient.
Do you enjoy writing for the fun of it?
Lea - Yeah. I do. I am actually writing a book with my friend based on a note I found in my notebook.
Ruby - Yes I do make up stories for the fun, but most of my stories stay in my head so I can keep imagining and creating them.
What authors do you think inspire your writing?
Lea - I love the way Genevive Cogman writes; she uses great metaphors and similes. I have read all the books in one of her series, The Invisible Library series. She inspired me to try and use better and more sophisticated words and phrases.
Ruby - I love J.K Rowling( Harry Potter) because of how she includes mystery and even a little humor into her books, and I like C.S. Lewis for how he came up with a wild and crazy journey and fit it in with amazing writing.
It is time for another installment in our OPS Authors series for the 2021 - 2022 school year. Back in December 2021 we posted part one of The Breakthrough, an original story by Dean, a sixth grader here at OPS. The story was a big hit, so we're thrilled Dean has now provided us with Part 2 of his story. We hope you enjoy it.
Part 2 - Reconcile
I got home and I saw my son waiting for me. He must’ve been pretty shocked that I was even alive. I mean, I was and I quote “fatally wounded”.
“Dad? Is that you? I thought you were surely gone. I mean, you were on the ground and there were lot’s of police and an ambulance. I wouldn’t know what to expect,” he said.
“Well, at least I'm alive,” I feel a tear coming down my face. I reach forward, arms out, and I hug him. The feeling was lost so many harsh years ago. Now, it came back to me. The feeling of comfort. I… I don’t know how to explain it.
“Son, after we lost your mother, my wife to that earthquake. I lost all humanity in me. I want you to know I still care about you,” I sniffled. I let it all come out. A torrential downpour of tears come out. I can’t stop it. I gain back all senses of who I am.
Once a few minutes passed, I gathered my bearings. Then I came back to the realization that a clone is afoot. He could strike at any time. I decided to bust out the old police radio, and go to any location that the crime was at.
“Son, if I don’t make it back, know I love you,” I look back hoping for the best for me. First I drove some distance before noticing some odd calls. Things like a flying human, or a cluster of orange swirls. It had to be him. I headed over to the next location. It was a bank. I saw crossing the street then bam, he teleported.
After that, I decided to call New Genetics corporate headquarters. “Hello?” The attendant called. “Tell me how to deactivate a Nano-tech unit. Now,” I threatened. I needed answers. If I didn’t get any, there could be serious consequences. One of which would be the possibility of the clone blowing up the power plant. Los Angeles wouldn’t have power for weeks.
It is time for another installment in our OPS Authors series for the 2021 - 2022 school year. In this post we focus on an OPS Author from the sixth grade, Dean, who has been kind enough to share his story, The Breakthrough: Part 1. The story, is a potent mix of humor and science fiction, so we hope you enjoy it. When you are done, check out our interview with the author!
“Attention all people of New Genetics corporation! We have a new breakthrough in technology. I would like to announce Nano-tech. We have found a way to combine atoms with technology. We took dead skin, only to find a new born baby the next day. The donor was fascinated! Because of this breakthrough, we can now release this in our store outlets. We-”
“Great. I have to do yet another documentary about technology. Well can’t hurt. Right?”
I got up off the couch. Hopped into my clothes and out of the house.
“Just another day,” I thought.
I turned on the radio.
“Hey guys. I would like to announce the best journalist of the month. His name. Jim Granderson!”
“Gah!? Me? Why me? Haven’t I already gotten enough attention,” I wanted my son to get the report of the month. It’s always me.” My son. Right. If he already messed up, he’d be out of his job. In fact, he wouldn’t even know how to handle the role. I raised him when he was younger to be as wise as me.
I give up. I hate it. I hate it all. And I hate this place the most. The same stuff happens every decade or so. Thanks to global warming, I have to deal with smog every couple of days and earthquakes. Just the thought of them.
Well, may as well fall back into the present.
“Here we are. Los Angeles!” I start, “One of the biggest cities on earth.”
“Sir! You there,” I spoke in an unheard tone.
“What do you think about this… Nano-tech?”
“Well, for starters, I don’t mind it. The world is technology now. Elon Musk just announced the Tesla bot. So you know. We're doomed,” he said.
I asked another individual.
“What do you think about-” he cut me off.
“I think it’s amazing! I was allowed to modify my bike and like, basically everything else in the world,” he said, sounding insane.
“Best of all, they do implants now! It’s fantastico! Anyways, bye amigo!”
“Implants? I got to get this stuff for myself,” I thought.
I ran over to the nearest outlet. It was so odd. So new. So… futuristic. I decided to pick a jar up. It contained an odd hexagon of swirls.
“Nano-tech? Why isn’t it as solid as advertised,” I thought.
I decided to walk to the counter. The clerk seemed like he regretted working in the store.
Once I reached the counter, I decided to ask a particular question.
“What is it, old man?” he said. I cringed.
“A-hm. Jim. Not old man. Anyways, one thing of Nano-tech, sir,” I mentioned.
“Oh! A mk III model? That’ll cut you four hundred dollars, and because you're the first to buy it, we take off tax,” He sounded disappointed.
“Thanks, and how about I buy one for you too?”
“What!? Oh um, that's not necessary,” he shrieked.
“I insist!” I forwarded the money.
I waddled out, looking smug and spiffy.
“Mk III, huh?” I started. “May as well test this in the mojave. It’s the most open spot for miles.”
I left the city. It was already annoying getting out, but having the Nano-tech hitting the sides of the jar was even worse.
I blinked, and something happened. I couldn’t tell what, but something flashed for a tenth of a second. I didn’t acknowledge it. Then it happened.
My phone shook. It happened. Someone broke into my home. I stumbled out of my car and ran in.
I gasped. “Out of breath,” I breathed. I turned the corner. Orange swirls in the shape of a body… no. My body. Suddenly, everything turned dark. The last thing I could hear was my own laughter.
“Gasp! What h- happened!?” I exclaimed.
“Jim. You were found fatally wounded in your home. We noticed you had some spare Nano-tech in your car, so we decided to patch you up with it,” the Nurse said.
“What!? Why would you do that to me? It was the thing that almost killed me!”
“It was the only way! Your son was very concerned! Besides, it was also the only medically advanced thing able to save you last night.” the doctor countered.
I was about to attack him, but my hand was restrained. Dark hexagons formed and everybody went silent. They slowly handed me my clothes and I got out of there as fast as I could. It was odd to feel like this, but now I have to help the world become safer because of my clone. I’m going to stop it. Even if it takes my life.
The Breakthrough: Part 1 by Dean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Welcome to the first installment in our OPS Authors series for the 2021 - 2022 school year. In this post we focus on an OPS Author from the fifth grade, Natalie, who has been kind enough to share her story, The Reverse Card. The story, has some twists and turns so we hope you enjoy it. When you are done, check out our interview with the author!
The REVERSE CARD
Snow covered all that Stephanie could see very soon. Snowflakes that sparkled as beautiful as diamonds surrounded her. She was worried that everyone would get sick. She quickly told everyone to find shelter. Her face was covered thoroughly with cold, white snow. Stephanie had suddenly remembered she had to escape this and make the world back to normal...but how?
2 Days Earlier
“Stephanie! Wake up! It’s time for school!” Stephanie woke up groggy-eyed as everyday. She always had her “kind” wake up call in the morning. Her mom was always in a rush. “Coming,” yelled Stephanie. Stephanie was super excited for winter break. She just had to wait and get through today. Stephanie was your usual fifth grader. She had long blonde hair and big green eyes. Her mom always said that she was a very bold girl.
Stephanie put on her warm pink and blue jacket. She put on her fuzzy brown scarf and looked at the mirror. “I look like a potato with all this clothing on! Ugh, when will winter get over!” Stephanie told herself. She got downstairs and her mother greeted her. “Good morning Stephanie! I have made you some French toast. Get the sugar and whipped cream while I go get your younger sister to wake up.”
Once Stephanie had gotten all the food ready, Zara came downstairs. She was the worst sister ever! “Good morning, potato! How are you liking winter?” Zara asked in her annoying voice. She was like the salt on the wound, always being the one who ruins everything. Zachary came running down the stairs. Zachary was always in a hurry, just like mom. He was also quite bewildered when he saw Stephanie. “Is it dress up like the moon day?” Zachary asked as he grabbed an apple from the fruit basket. Stephanie asked, “I literally prepared your french toast plate with the whipped cream and sugar! What are you doing!?” Zachary complained to Stephanie’s mom in his babyish tone of voice, “Stephanie is forcing me to eat the french toast!” You might be wondering, usually the younger siblings tell their parents about this kind of stuff that the older siblings do, but in this household, it was always the other way around. “Well more for me to eat…” mumbled Stephanie.
Welcome to another installment in our OPS Authors series. For our fifth and final installment of the 2020 - 2021 school year we'd like to spotlight a poem by one of our sixth graders, Ava, who kicked off this series in October with her story Nine Spirits. This time Ava is sharing an original poem, A Goodbye of Any Kind, which was inspired by the departure of two of her classmates from OPS earlier this year. As a graduating sixth grader, Ava is now facing a goodbye of her own, and wanted to share her poem with everyone at OPS.
A GOODBYE OF ANY KIND
A goodbye of any kind,
A goodbye forever
Or a goodbye for now,
Is a different goodbye
Because this goodbye
Is goodbye and hello,
Goodbye to the past,
And hello to the future.
Is a different goodbye
And this goodbye
Is especially dedicated
BY AVA -- OPS CLASS OF 2021
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Thanks again to Ava for sharing her poem. We hope all of our graduating sixth graders have a wonderful summer, and we wish them all the best in middle school and beyond! To our returning students, enjoy your summer break and we look forward to seeing you again in September!
Welcome to another installment in our OPS Authors series. In this post we focus on an OPS Author from the sixth grade, Kaylin, who recently wrote a short story, Starfish: How They Came To Be. The story, which began as a comic, is an origin tale of sorts so we hope you enjoy it. When you are done, check out our interview with the author!
STARFISH: HOW THEY CAME TO BE
There are lots of places to be in the universe. You can be on Earth, Mars, Venus, Jupiter. Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, and more. But her home is way beyond the thin atmosphere of your home, Earth. It is in the cluster of stars surrounding the Solar System. The Milky Way. And this brings us to the normal day that Light Celeste experiences everyday.
Shooting Stars would be the main motivation for stars. Shooting down to Earth sounded wonderful. It was wonderful. It was elegant. It was also the reason why Light was so lonely.
You see, you had to reach a certain level to become a Shooting Star. And Light had not reached this level yet, and all her friends had. And the more they waited, the pull would be more and more urgent, until they would be hurled down to Earth. So there was no backing out. And no waiting around for a star. Even Light.
“안녕!” One of Light’s friends waved goodbye.
She circled around Light and smiled, happy to pursue her dream. Then she plummeted down to Earth, becoming a smaller speck by every second.
“再見!” Another one of Light’s friends dived down to Earth.
And so, one by one, all of Light’s friends crashed down to Earth. Soon, there was nobody up in Space except for Light. And this was the time that Light let her starlight shine.
“I’m going to dive down to Earth! I don’t care about the ranks, or the rules! I’m going to see my friends again!”
And with that, Light hurtled down to Earth.
“AAAAAGHHH!” Light screamed her head off.
Her star-shaped body felt like it was getting crushed because of the pressure of the atmosphere. She looked behind her, only to see a flaming trail of fire behind her.
When she looked back ahead of her, she saw it. Her impending doom. It was the ocean. And it was getting closer. And closer. Until, finally, Light slapped the surface. And then she sank. Lower, and lower, and lower.
When she woke up, Light’s eyes hurt. And then she panicked.
“Where am I?” She screamed, swimming around.
There were tons of colorful corals, little fish swimming around, and clear, clear water.
“The coral reef?” she gurgled.
“I have to get out of here!”
Light swam upwards and upwards, trying to swim to the surface. But then she found that her little light of hope was gone.
I’m stuck here forever…
Crying herself to sleep, Light curled up and closed her eyes, sobbing as the hope she once had floated away, sobbing as the loneliness took over.
Light didn’t know how long she had slept until a blinding light woke her up. The light seemed blinding, almost exactly like… a star!
Light tried to shield her eyes, for she had not seen another star in months!
The light got brighter, and brighter, and then Light felt another hand close around hers.
“Is that you, Light?” a star was smiling and squinting, wondering whether it was her friend or not.
“Selina?” Light squinted back, and she could make out the features of her best friend.
“How’d you come down here? Did you reach the shooting star rank?”
Light squirmed, and decided to tell the truth. “Nobody was up there, so I just jumped down.”
“Still, nice job! Let me introduce you to the other stars in the area, you probably forgot about them.”
After an introduction full of laughter, happiness, and pure joy, Light learned how to swim properly.
In fact, all of the stars learned how to swim, and adapted to the marine lifestyle.
And soon, these stars were called starfish.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Your short story, Starfish: How They Came To Be, reads like a folktale. Was that intentional? Do you enjoy folktales?
It was not originally intended to be a folktale, more of just a nice, short story. I do enjoy folktales, however, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Jack and the Beanstalk.
What inspired this particular story?
I would say that comic books, like the Cucumber Quest series, and the book, Glitch, especially inspired the story. The story was originally a comic that was 2 or 3 pages long.
How do you start a story? Does it come to you fully formed or do you start with a basic idea and see where it goes?
I usually start stories by gathering lots of basic ideas, seeing where they all go, and which story idea is initially my favorite idea. Some parts just write themselves into my head, and I string them together to make the whole story.
What is tougher for you to write, the beginning or end of a story?
It is definitely harder to write the end of a story because I don’t know which way I should end the story. It’s also tougher for me to write the ending because I don’t have much experience with it. Usually, I just start writing small stories, and then just leave it to start writing another story idea.
Where and when do you like to write?
I usually like to write at my desk, or, when I’m feeling lazy, in a corner on my bed, leaning against the wall. I like to write when I get ideas, like when I’m writing a book or listening to a video or song, and my brain just makes up a story idea. It can be simple as one line, and I’l get my laptop and start writing.
Do you plan to continue writing throughout your life?
Yes, I do plan on continuing to write throughout my life, and if I’m fortunate enough, have it as a career. When I was in third grade, I picked up a Harry Potter book, which is still one of the books in my favorite series today. I felt so inspired at how the author, J.K. Rowling, created another world full of magic, fun, and mystery. I want to make that feeling for someone else.
Welcome to another installment in our on-going series of Check It Out blog posts on OPS student authors. In this post we focus on a group of fourth grade OPS Authors who recently co-wrote a short story, Uninvited Guests. The short story, inspired by an illustration from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg, was written in library class by Caryn, Leylani, Bryce and Joey. Uninvited Guests is an eerie tale with an unexpected twist, so give it a read and then check out our interview with two of the authors!
By: Caryn, Leylani, Bryce, and Joey
I shot straight up in my bed. I thought I heard something, but everything was silent. Was it just a figment of my imagination? I decided to go downstairs to the basement to investigate, but I found nothing. I looked up and gasped, shocked. The window was open, and I remember closing it before I went to bed! Had someone gone into my basement? If someone or something did, for what reason? Why didn’t they take the door? I didn’t know what to do, so I closed the window and went back to bed. That was a huge mistake.
I was sleeping soundly for a while. It was all calm and peaceful. Until they came again. This time, it was scary, but I didn’t hear a bang. I heard a crash. Then, I went downstairs and I noticed one of my skates was missing! Had a creature or creatures taken it? Were they thieves? I was so confused. And why only one of my skates? I decided that this time I wouldn’t go to bed in case they were planning to steal again. Another mistake…
I was so sleepy that I fell asleep again. Thankfully, nobody took anything from the basement. Why did I hear footsteps? Was it my ears tricking me, or was it the creatures. Were they coming for something else, or even worse, me? My eyes grew wide. I was sure that the doorknob had just moved.. I was filled with fright, and the last thing I heard was a cackle, so shrill and evil that I couldn’t move. Then, it all went black.
I was so confused so I looked around. I was now locked up in a tiny cage with only a lumpy bed, a toilet, and a gloomy window. I walked to the bed. What had I done to get myself into this predicament? I thought back. I went to sleep and then heard a noise. I checked out the basement, but I saw nothing so I decided to go back to sleep. Then, I heard a crashing noise. I went downstairs to check, and one of my skates was missing. I wanted to stay downstairs to see if anything would get stolen again, and then I woke up here. I didn’t remember anything that happened that would make anyone angry or upset! What had I done??
It was almost morning and I was wondering how I would ever get out of this prison, when I finally saw them. The creatures were so horrific that the very sight of them burned my eyes. I don’t know how to describe that frightening sight. They were so small that I knew immediately that they had some kind of magic, because it would be impossible for them to be able to get in and out of my basement. They grinned at me.
“Who- What are you?!?” I asked them.
“Us?” it said, “We are shapeshifters. We can transform into anything and anyone. We can even transform into you.”
“What do you want with me??” I shouted at them boldly.
“Well, we want your power.” They said.
“My power??” I said, confused. Who did they think I was, the President or something? I am the principal of an elementary school, but then I realized what had happened. These creatures thought I was powerful because all the teachers and students listen to me. I decided to play along and let them see how wrong they were.
“Ohhhh.. Yes, my power.” I said, but I had one more question, “Why did you steal my skate?”
“We stole your skate because it will be proof that we are you. We were going to take the other one, but we heard you coming and quickly shapeshifted into some cans of paint, a stack of paper, and an old radio.”
I didn't say anything else. One of the creatures shapeshifted into me. I was amazed at the resemblance. I couldn’t tell the difference! They told me to tell the guy who shapeshifted into me what to do. I told him to go to the school because it was Tuesday morning. I also told him that he had to read a certain story to a certain library class…
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Your short story, Uninvited Guests, was inspired by an illustration from the Chris Van Allsburg book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. What was it like writing a story using details from a picture?
Leylani: I enjoyed writing this story with my classmates. We used a lot of details and I think we all really used our imaginations!
Caryn: It was very interesting trying to spot details in the picture. I especially liked trying to figure out how to turn the details that we found into a sentence!
Do you think illustrations are good story starters?
Leylani: I think illustrations are very good starters as long as they have a lot of detail to it for you to get an idea of what you should write. Illustrations are also used in books. They help you get an idea of the characters!
Caryn: I also think illustrations are great story starters as long as, like Leylani said, they have a lot of detail. Making a story off of a picture is sort of like the base of the building is already built for you, and you have to finish it.
Writing stories as a group is a lot different than writing a story by yourself. How would you describe that experience?
Leylani: In my opinion I enjoyed writing a story as a group...I do not have a favorite because I like both equally!
Caryn: I would describe working with my group great, because, personally, I like working with other people more than just working with myself. If I was having trouble thinking of what to write, I could always just ask them for help!
Do you enjoy writing stories just for fun?
Leylani: Sometimes I do enjoy writing stories for fun.
Caryn: I’m not really sure because I’ve never actually written a story just for fun, always just for classwork.
What authors do you think inspire your writing?
Leylani: No Authors. But I do like comic books and fictional stories!
Caryn: I don’t really have any authors that inspire my writing. I basically just like to think of my own ideas from scratch.
Welcome to the second in our on-going series of Check It Out blog posts on OPS student authors. In this post we focus on Kathryn, a sixth grade student here at OPS, who shared her short story, The Little String Puppet, with us. Kathryn entered The Little String Puppet in The Betty Award writing contest this past summer.
We also spoke to Kathryn about her writing process, so click here to read the interview.
The Little String Puppet
There once stood a grand theatre in the city of Indigo. People came from far and wide to see the evening performances that were held in the large city.
The most famous show of them all was the famous puppetry play, starring the well-known puppet, Marionette. It was like any other day. The polite chatter of the audience filled the auditorium, intently waiting for the show to begin. The backstage was busy and full of hurried people.
In the midst of the chaos, was a little string puppet who had little wooden arms, and an elegant gown of royal blue. Attached to her beautifully sculpted body and face, was a thin clear string and a wooden rod. Although her face looked quite merry, with thin lips that curved at the ends, she was quite miserable on the inside.
I wish something would change, she thought dreadfully. All I do is follow my master everyday and pretend I am the famous maiden, Marionette.
I wish I could be free, she mused, thinking of her dull life. However, she knew her thoughts could only stay her wildest dreams. These were little Marionette’s thoughts everyday when she was pulled out of the old trunk to be performed with. Or rather, controlled.
She looked around the dressing room as the blur of people passed by her. While she moped, something caught her tiny china eyes. Something sharp. Something shiny.
It was a silver mechanism with golden handles. Marionette had seen the tool be used for cutting her fabric clothes. It was a.. what was it called again? A pair of scissors!
And that was when a clever, but risky idea, popped into her head.
If only I could cut my strings with it. Then I could be free.
She reached out her wooden gloved hands for one of the handles. She strained her arm as far as it could go, but it was just way out of her reach for her wooden limb. If only she could walk to it, but alas, there was a gap between her and the scissors.
The grey clouds of reality settled upon her. Marionette hated the thought of performing another day at the theater; she had to escape.
Then, a new idea flashed through her head. Although her limbs were almost useless, Marionette could grasp things very well if she could get a hold on them. She could use the string that connected her to the rod, and fish the scissors towards her direction. Her fellow puppet, Cowboy, had done this several times on stage with his miniature lasso. If he could do it, she could, too.
Marionette grasped her string as tightly as she could before tossing it in the direction of the scissors.. It… missed!
“3 minutes! Get ready, people!” the manager shouted over the busy noises from inside the curtains.
Marionette pulled back her string quickly before lassoing it back to the object.
“Yippee-ki-yay!” she whisper-shouted, (although she would never admit to anyone that she had actually said it.) However, this time, her wooden rod hit the scissors, causing them to fall to the floor. “Nooooo!” she wailed, dropping to the floor of the dressing table.
There’s no way I can get down to the floor without jumping to the floor. Another impossible idea. She knew her limbs were too weak to jump. Marionette sighed.
Marionette sat down hopelessly as her master greeted her. She was taken by her strings and onto the stage.
“Bonjour, little marionette,” he said to her in his thick accent before the show started. Then, in an instant, the crowd wildly cheered at Marionette’s appearance. The bright and shining lights twinkled in Marionette’s little face. As the music started, she felt the tingling in her body as the magic of the controlling did it’s work.
“It’s going to be a very long show-day,” she whispered to herself.
The curtains fell in upon the Marionette and all the other puppets as the show ended. A roar of applause was heard from the crowd.
Marionette felt tired and strengthless after her huge performance.
“Good-bye!” her master bellowed before leaving her, forgotten on the dressing room table, instead of her usual, comfy trunk.
Hmmph, Marionette thought in her rage. He forgot about me again! Leaving me to rot, I suppose.
“Coming through!” A voice of a woman exclaimed. “I-” in the same moment, she knocked herself onto the dressing table, creating a wave of motion that made Marionette fall to the floor.
If puppets could cry, Marionette would have definitely been doing so. In the act of pitying herself, she had forgotten that the scissors lay right next to her.
The scissors! She thought abruptly. How stupid I am to forget!
As the idea began to form in her head, it became like sugar; fueling her with energy. She immediately reached out her hands and grabbed the handles.
Now came the big question. Would she, or would she not cut the strings to her freedom? With one snip, everything could be changed.
I’d miss Cowboy, and all the other puppets. The smell of the theater. The lights, the action. However, then she thought; you’ve always wanted your freedom since you were crafted at the woodshop! Give it up now? She couldn’t give up.
And so she made up her mind. She would run off and find a new and better life for herself. Her heart beat faster as she agreed to the thought. Before any other thought could stop her, she snipped off her strings, satisfied with her decision.
She was free at last.
Marionette swiftly walked through the streets, in a makeshift outfit. She had changed throughout the many years, building toughness for any situation. Even though life was harder, she didn’t regret one single bit of it. Seeing the pale blue sky, the grey birds who fed on crumbs, and the bright and shining sun. And all of Marionette’s wishes came true.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Interview With Kathryn:
Your short story, The Little String Puppet, is about a marionette who longs for her freedom. What inspired this short story?
Kathryn: My short story was inspired by a collage of different books, movies, and things I see around me. In front of my old apartment, we used to have a festival where lots of food and unique items were sold in small tents. In one tent, they sold string puppets, or marionette puppets. (This is where Marionette's name comes from.) I saw a puppy puppet and it was love at first sight. That was when I became interested in puppets and where the inspiration started.
Clearly you enjoy creative writing, when and where do you like to work on your stories?
Kathryn: I don't exactly have one consistent place I like to work on my stories. Sometimes I sit on my rock chair, and sometimes I just sit on my desk. For the most part, I like to sit on the living room couch with a cozy blanket and pillow. I like to work on my stories when an exceptionally good idea pops into my head.
How do you come up with ideas for your stories?
Kathryn: I'm inspired by other authors's stories. I like to take small details from books and weave it into my stories. I also find inspiration in things I personally enjoy in stories. For example, I love stories that incorporate mind control and magic. This is why one of the main stories I am currently working on centers on those two.
Any chance you’ll continue the adventures of Marionette, the main character from The Little String Puppet, with more stories about her?
Kathryn: There most likely won't be more stories of Marionette and her adventure. One main reason being that I want the reader to imagine the ending and how Marionette will find her happiness. However, if I did, I would write about her outside of the theater and how her new life begins. It definitely would be a fun story to write.
You entered The Little String Puppet in a writing contest called The Betty Awards. How did you find out about The Betty Awards and what was it like having your short story judged?
Kathryn: I found out about The Betty Award from my younger sister, Lea's 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Pizza. Ms. Pizza recommended a list of many writing competitions to enter, and The Betty Award was one of them. It was both nerve-racking and exciting to have my story judged. However, seeing all the winners' stories gives me more inspiration to write better stories. I highly recommend young writers to give it a try and enter.
What authors do you think inspire your writing?
Chris Colfer, Kate Decamillo, Linda Sue Park, Grace Lin, J.K. Rowling, and R. J. Palacio are only some of the authors that inspire me. These authors didn't necessarily inspire The Little String Puppet, but I tend to look up to these great authors.
Welcome to the first in what we hope will be an on-going series of Check It Out blog posts on student authors here at OPS.
We begin with Ava, a sixth grade student here at OPS who recently began posting her story Nine Spirits on the social storytelling platform Wattpad. Here is a brief synopsis of the story:
"If you ask for Ash, you'll get a shy boy who knows nothing of his past. What he does know is that he has one task he needs to accomplish: find his long-lost mother. With some help from a companion, of course. But when the time is set until the sundown of his sixteenth birthday, things get, well, impossible. Would it be too late for Ash to revive his mother? Would the fate of the world crumble beneath his fingers?
The following is an interview we did with Ava about writing Nine Spirits:
Nine Spirits is the story of Ash, a boy who wakes up in a hospital with only a few scattered memories of how he got there. He is a mysterious and intriguing character. What inspired this character and his story?
Ava: So I made the plot of the story and thought that it would be interesting to have this boy that is lost on a totally different Earth compared to the one we see now. I see him as this clueless but curious teenager that really wants to find out his past and, more importantly, his family. I feel like this motivation drives the story and makes the plot exciting.
What has been your approach to writing this story? Did you have the entire narrative arc thought through before you started writing or are you letting your writing take you wherever you feel the story needs to go?
Ava: I usually just plan out the setting and the characters, and just the overall plot in general, and then I just follow along the characters to wherever they need to take me. It's like I'm not just creating this world, but I'm living in it too. Stephen King said that he lets the characters take over, and I had to agree. To me, the characters and their personalities run the story, and not just the author playing the puppets.
Is writing a hobby or something you’d like to do professionally at some point?
Ava: Before third grade, it's never really occurred to me that I could be a potential author. That time fiction hasn't even played a role in my life, as I was literally writing, by hand, an essay four to five pages long. That was second grade, when I was learning in another school. During third grade, that's when I really got motivated about fiction. With the help of my teacher, Mr. Tucker, I became more and more interested in the art of writing.
Based on your story tags, climate change plays a role in Nine Spirits. Is climate change an issue that you are interested in and something that has had an influence on your storytelling?
Ava: So what happens in the book is that Ash tries to revive his long lost mother, for the sake of the Spirits that created the world, and the sake of the people on Earth. I thought that without the "Earth mother," that is what is slowly causing climate change and other things, like plastic pollution. It does not play a major role, but is also important to consider in this story.
You are using Wattpad to share your story. What about this online writing platform interested you?
Ava: I was introduced to Wattpad about April or May this year, and suddenly I realized that this could be the source I could share my writing with. Before that, I've always used documents and never had a chance to express my writing. So for a few months, I used it to read other stories and to work out some story ideas with drafts. This is my first published story, and it had been nagging me for about a month before I put it in the computer. Then I found a writing contest on the website, and I immediately became interested, as I have been itching to prove what I can do with a keyboard and some creative ideas.