Monkeys feature prominently in the stories children tell, as well as pets who can talk, all mingling with pop stars, characters from TV, and the familiar, relatable people and places of their daily lives. If we listen, our children’s stories can tell us a great deal. Jess Stoner, who works with young poets in Austin, recognizes that what our children tell us, even in seemingly silly and pointless stories, is a gift of ”our secret hopes, in things inside and outside of ourselves, in the moments that not-yet-grown-men pay attention to, and that every grown-up might take a moment to reflect on.”
Hamster Selling Hot Dogs
I am a hot dog stand. People steal my food because the hamster that owns me doesn’t show up. People don’t like me because I’m a hot dog stand. They love the hamster’s hot dogs. When the hamster leaves to go to his squeaky wheel, I get the money. The hamster does not pay me. I feel steam inside of me. It makes me feel like I ate all the hot dogs. When the hamster leaves, he gives me leftover hot dogs. I can move by myself because I have wheels. I’m the one stealing people’s money. I have a monkey that helps me sell the hot dogs. He wears a lot of hairnets. He always tries to shave, but his hair grows bigger. Then he teases me because I’m a hot dog stand. So I spray ketchup at him. If the hamster tries to sell me, I’m gonna shave his back and put pickles on him.
—Daniel from Brown Elementary
Bullies Never Win!
Once upon a time, there was a monkey named Zefferina who loved her homework. Her favorite book was Wayside School. She always read on the bus, going to and from school, during recess and reading time, and after school.
Her best friend, Nelly, asked her, “Why are you always boring?”
“I am not boring. I just love reading happy stories,” replied Zefferina.
Then Nelly said, “Come with me, and I will show you something really fun.”
But Zefferina did not know Nelly was involved in a gang—she wasn’t aware of that. The next day, the P.E. room was all a mess, with balls everywhere—some even without air. Even the mall was robbed that day. Pop star Selena Gomez came to see Zefferina.
“Why are you dressed that way? You were better before,” said Selena. “Did you join a gang?”
“I don’t know. A girl named Nelly told me she could make me better,” Zefferina said.
“But, you were OK the way you are. Ask her if she is in a gang when you see her,” said Selena.
Later, Zefferina approached Nelly. “Are you with a gang?” Zefferina asked her friend.
“Maybe,” replied Nelly.
“Because of you, I am in trouble,” said Zefferina, as she walked away.
The next day, Zefferina told Selena that Nelly was with a gang.
“Don’t join with people that you do not know well,” said Selena. And Zefferina took her good advice.
—Orlando from Hillcrest Elementary
Read more poetry by kids in this series.
—Photo credit: :mrMark:/Flickr