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Joe Baillargeon

I stop and drop my bike on the ground, and the young woman’s head appears in the back window. My father’s head pops up too, and then I see a hand reach up, an open hand patting the window, as if asking me to wait.

Amy Emm

We usually go for the middling neighborhoods. We don’t want curving brick driveways, brass knockers, tall clumps of waving grasses, gates, cameras. Nope – we want something riiiiight in the middle.

Robin Heald

“Isa, this package came for you.” Mamãe sets a box in front of my cereal bowl.

“It’s from Vó Ziza,” I say. My granny, Ziza, lives in Brazil, far away from our family in Miami.

WAITING Monday April 16th At the barre at Miss Allie’s I lean and dream: onstage alone where the spotlight glows, fears of an audience scatter like stage dust. Music flows through me – it always does like air and blood moving my limbs to dance in ways that push me out so close to the […]

Beth Miles

We wait at the end of the driveway for the school bus. The hot, bright day I’d imagined as my first day of school looks more like a swamp at dawn.

E. M. Alexander

Far, far below the ocean’s surface, where no trace of light can be seen, the deep-sea Angler fish has made her home.

Callie C. Miller

When a giant meatball terrorizes the American Moon colony, twelve-year-old Jupiter and his best friend, Kraig, are recruited by Apollo Command to help track down the menace and take it out.

Mathangi Subramanian

See her? That one, there. The one that’s always looking up up up at the tops of things? Falls in every crack in the sidewalk? Always forgetting that she’s on the ground?

That’s Banu. Banu, who is not like the rest of us.

Catey Miller

Twenty-one days ago, exactly one month before Layla and I were set to move to different states for different colleges, I was lying on the couch in Layla’s family’s den, pretending to be asleep while she and her mom, Ellen, had a loud fight.

Sharry Wright

Today is the day my new life begins. One hundred and twenty-three days since we sailed from New York harbor bound for San Francisco. Seventy-one days since I buried Mother at sea.

Helen Kampion

Toshiko lived in a small village in Japan where the rice grew in rows as straight as chopsticks. Every day on her way to the rice paddies, Toshiko greeted the stray cats and scratched their backs.

Rachel Furey

It’s just you in the Tilt-A-Whirl cart until Jimmy Miller slips in beside you. He reeks of cigarette smoke, and you want to grind an elbow into his stomach and tell him to find another cart.

TWIST cropped by Toby Gonzalex
Rebecca Thomas

The streetlight coming in through the blinds stripes Berto’s face. He grins, and his teeth gleam white in the darkness, transforming him into the Cheshire Cat of Ash Street. “Undie run,” he whispers.

Rainbow Cattle Co. 27 by Evie Lovett
Lafayette Wattles

Saturdays my dad wakes beneath the still-bruised
sky. Then with number-crunching hands,

Rainbow Cattle Co. 37 cropped by Evie Lovett
Lafayette Wattles

I’ve already lost two whole days 
/
saying goodbyes and getting here,

BATMAN by Toby Gonzalex
Lafayette Wattles

Coach says, your legs, your feet

will only get you so far, says, blazing
down the sidelines isn’t much good
without the prize in your fingertips,


MaleEquity by Toby Gonzalez
Stephen Eoannou

My head is fuzzy from too much beer and too much weed. I think I hear my old man running up the stairs. Then I hear him calling my mother’s name, and I know some serious shit must be hitting the fan. The old man never runs.

Rainbow Cattle Co. 7 CROPPED by Evie Lovett
Lafayette Wattles

After watching too many Rocky movies,
Dad got the bright idea of using ordinary things

in not-so-ordinary ways, and he invented Drill #2:

CROPPED-Rainbow Cattle Co. 1 by Evie Lovett
Jan Lower

They were heading for the mall, to spend the last couple of hours of Saturday afternoon away from the house where they lived with the Hardisons. As foster parents went, Ford guessed, they were decent; but without kids of their own, everything they did seemed off.

CROPPED-Bend by Toby Gonzalez
Lafayette Wattles


and I manage to jump to my feet,

split lip and all, like Dad taught me


Christy Lenzi

The green rippling ribbons of light in the sky look like the swirling skirts of dancing Valkyries. The moon shines, waning, but it’s still large enough to see the birch grove and my unborn sister’s tree that Father dedicated to the gods for her. The three-colored cord hangs from its boughs. I hung it there to dry after I dyed it, just as Old Aud directed, according to her dream.

Sarah Tregay

Because I know everyone there—and there
are no Mockingbird-reading poets to speak of—
so I draw a mental map around my coffee shop.

Danielle Pignataro

This isn’t one of those cheesy stories where the dog dies, and everyone cries, and then at the end everyone’s happy for one reason or another. In fact, the dog’s already dead. But why dwell on the past?

Sara Kocek

When she finally comes down the escalator, I feel like flushing myself down a toilet. I knew she was going to be pretty, but not that pretty. People standing around the baggage carousel follow her with their eyes like flowers turning toward the sun.

Sandra Nickel

Lorna had never had a single sleepless night or nagging intuition about Clairmont. For as long as she could remember, she couldn’t wait to turn thirteen, so she could go there. She’d hop on a plane in New York City. Step off in Switzerland. And head to the old Abbey her great-grandmother turned into a school, high up on a cliff above Lake Geneva.

Cori McCarthy

Name me America
Because I am discovered
I am here. I am this body.
This breath a gust. This pulse a drum.
I am poised and fist-ready…

Beth Miles

He gives me a soft punch in the shoulder. “It’s only high school, Tullin. Try not to look so scared.”

I swallow. “R-r-right,” I say out loud, just to prove I’m tougher than I look.

Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer

It was Gaga, my grandpa, who told me about Vesak lanterns.

Vesak is a holiday. People celebrate it in Sri Lanka, Gaga said, but not here in the United States. Vesak is for remembering Lord Buddha, a teacher who lived a long time ago. Lord Buddha was very wise, and he understood the truth about everything.

Caitlin Corless

When Theresa Miller told her mother that she’d almost been kidnapped, the neighborhood went nuts. She told her mom who told the police who told all the moms on our street that a scary man with a spiky purple mohawk, yellow eyes, tattooed arms, piercings, and a gold medallion around his neck had tried to get her into his convertible by offering her candy.

Val Howlett

A young girl has a dream about a monster. The monster is gray. It enters her window at night, just pulls it open and slides through, facing her, sagging and infinitely wrinkled, with rotting teeth. It reaches its long shadow-arms into her parted lips and down her throat to grab her life, to take it from her. She wakes up screaming.

Jackie Lea Sommers

And so the four of them stole through the dark grounds, Mack and Ty holding hands like absconding lovers leading the way—Mack a little ahead of Ty, tugging on his hand in excitement—and Jonas behind them, with Caleb on his back. It was exhausting, and he never would have imagined he’d have the strength to do it, except that Caleb weighed about eighty-five pounds, and Jonas was high from rule-breaking and night air.

Erin Hagar

In the winter of 1917, Helen Stevens was a college girl living in New York City. She’d never held a hoe or milked a cow. And she’d certainly never worn men’s overalls.

Maggie Lehrman

The bus is on fire.

No, wait—before that.

It’s 5 AM and I’m in a panicked scramble for my duffel bag.

Christina Soontornvat

Anyone walking down Feltwhip Road early that morning would have noticed the light in the shop window. The clouds were heavy with water scooped up from the sea, and they threatened to dump it all at once onto the dark streets of Graves. Even so, the golden flicker of that lone candle in the window might make someone stop and linger for a moment.

Sally Derby

Old Crabcake Charlie was a sun-wrinkled man, with a face like a shriveled raisin. His jaws bristled with stubby white whiskers (for he only shaved on Sundays) and his eyes danced blue as chicory by the roadside.

ZP Heller

Batshit crazy. That’s what Mikey would call anyone who predicted he would run for senior class president, in an election that would nearly kill him. But aside from his best friend Smiles, Mikey doesn’t talk to many other students, let alone anyone clairvoyant enough to see one batshit crazy week into the future.

Kathleen Forrester

You waded in knee deep, toes reading the slimy uneven stones, skin crawling through weeds. Pushed off. Boogie board slapping the stillness. You were tempted to lift your knees and feet and hands and arms out and above the murky unknown, balance on your belly and hold the monsters at bay…

Heather Smith Meloche

I’m in a stranger’s bed

a college guy from the cigar shop at the mall. He smells like

tobacco, tastes like mints. He pulls my shirt over my head, weaves his fingers

through mine to pull me down. And I get the same thought.

Every time. The same. I shouldn’t be here.

Christy Lenzi

Chapter 1  The moon is a pearl against the black skin of night. Morgiana reaches for it as she lies on her mat beneath the window. She cups her hands around it and sighs. Her little brother sighs too. The snores of the nearby women and children drone in their ears like mosquitoes, but that’s […]

Betty Yee

Rosa woke up long before Jose, the old one-eyed rooster, began his morning crows. Today was January 17th, the Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot. For years, she’d watched her brother Daniel take his pet turtle out of its cage, wipe its shell carefully with oil until it shined, and put it into a new […]

Jaramy Conners

He was waiting there as I finished my jog, just standing on the corner, acting like he was out for a walk or whatever, but I knew he was looking for me. “Hello,” he said. Steve Wilkes, my across the street neighbor. He had the arms of a ten-year-old girl and a chest like a […]

Jane Kohuth

One morning Field Mouse woke up in her nest, which was tucked in a hollow between the roots of a big, old maple tree. She had been sleeping for a long time, on and off, through the cold and ice and snow. But something had changed. Something was out there, calling to her. Not in […]

Marcia Popp

Maybe it was some kind of Christmas spirit that trailed along after me from Vandalia when I joined up as a drummer with an Illinois regiment in ’63. Or maybe I was just following in Pa’s footsteps, when it come to playing Santa Claus. It was surely something other than good sense that prompted me to deliver a Christmas gift to a Reb camp, in the dead of winter. In secret, almost.

S. E. Sinkhorn

They committed her again.

Kay’s seventy-two-hour hold ends today. She called me to come get her. I guess the doc put her on suicide watch, but now that she’s sober they decided she’s not a risk. I wish they’d just fix her already.

Liz Cook

I fly. Here in the white air I am not Catherine George, invisible sister of Invincible Ivan, champion skier. I am not Dear Catie, accommodating daughter with yet another weekend alone. And, I am not Klutsy Kate, fifteen-year-old ditz who totally bombed her first real kiss. Up here in the air, I am Cat, Crazy Cat, daredevil dame of the mountain, red hot chillin’ explosion of white air.

Susan Hill Long

An excerpt Chapter 1 It was June, the middle of the day I was supposed to quit being a boy. We were all of us sitting in rows watching Miss Pipe chalk out a problem on the board, a problem I wasn’t going to bother with. Normally I would, but not today, not now. Someone […]

Tricia Springstubb

Winter was almost over, but deep in the woods where old Jess lived, the nights still grew cold.

One evening, as the sun slipped through the trees’ fingers, she gathered twigs for her fire. Tying them into a bundle, Jess thought she heard someone sigh, or maybe groan.

A.S. King

Sometimes a great opening never becomes a book–even for an award-winning author. A.S. King was kind enough to share this enchanting beginning that never bloomed into a novel.

Tom Angleberger

Here we have the story of two ways to open a book.

We asked writers, editors, and educators to remember Walter Dean Myers, the author of more than 100 books, whose profound contributions to children’s literature go well beyond the printed word.

Bethany Hegedus

Hunger Mountain editor Bethany Hegedus is the author of Grandfather Gandhi, a new picture book she co-authored with Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. The book, released in March 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, was illustrated by Evan Turk. Here, with an introduction by Matthew Winner, Bethany interviews Evan about his picture book debut.

Rachel Furey

Mom always said my first kiss would make my scalp tingle—make it light up like a summer field filled with fireflies. My first kiss wasn’t like that at all. My legs dangled from a chair in Nurse Jenkins’ office. I had a roll of gauze twisted into my right nostril.

Carrie Jones

The snow fell hard that night. It fell hard and fast and quiet as if it were trying to hide not just everything that was happening, but everything that could be about to happen. It didn’t need to bother. Except for James Hephaistion Alexander and a few others, nobody was awake to notice what was going on.

Jennifer Wolf Kam

It was the kind of morning when the sun hung weary in the sky and the grown-ups, surrendering to its incessant rays, baked and blistered in lawn chairs, cooling themselves with fat pitchers of Aunt Vera’s lemonade. Even the birds were plain tuckered, sticking to the leafy parts of the trees, their morning songs dulled by the swelling heat.

Tamara Ellis Smith

I feel a sense of gratitude for where I live. I am well connected to this feeling; it is right on the surface where I can find it and touch it easily, but it is also deeply inside of me in a place where I can feel it in my bones. But if someone had asked me a year ago—before Sharry and I began writing our blog, Kissing the Earth—why I feel this gratitude, I would have been at a loss for words.

Christy Lenzi

Mama’s breath hovers over me in the frosty air. “Get up, little Lynx.”

Light pushes through cracks in the boarded-up windows, reminding me how the buildings shook and the glass shattered during the Nazi air raid only days ago.

Jen Welch

The girl with apricot-colored hair sits on a dock the color of driftwood, her back against a stone wall retaining the land against the push and pull of the sea. Buoys bob and clang.

Anna Craig

It was almost lunchtime when Bartlette Blue sat down on her front porch to watch the gnats swarming over the lake. Taco, her dog, sat with her.

Kristin Lenz

I flopped in the orthodontist chair and stared up at Dr. Randall’s nose. I hoped to be back at school in time for music class. It was our final practice for the 3rd grade concert. Dr. Randall switched on the light and blinded me.

Caroline Misner

Three days. It’s been three days now and people are starting to ask questions. David Jones is no longer a name on an attendance sheet; he’s no longer a member of the computer club; he’s no longer one of the blank-faced rabble that pass through the corridors of Hederton High in preparation for a lifetime of obscurity.

Sarah Stanton

I’d tear the ceiling from the sky
to grow taller; dove-tail,
pigeon-tail and rip its bonnet
smaller…

Sarah Stanton

jackstraw,
where are you
wobbling—cap off
and tum fat, the sum
of grain?

Sarah Stanton

girl, go slowly in the yellow evening:
old man thunder’s got a grumble on
downtown and the hot drops of rain
are ready falling with a whip-smack…

Jennifer Wolf Kam

Amarilla Sarah Weathersby was not one to have her feathers ruffled. The grown-ups in her life said this time and again and so most of them steered clear of her feathers. The girls, however, did not—those dreadful girls at The Preakney School, Julianna Mattheson, Gwendolyn Goddfrey and the rest, with their whispers and giggles and sideways glances at the lunch table.

Tamara Ellis Smith

From high in the sky, above the pathways of parrots, above cloud lines, above the blue—where the moon and the sun take turns shining over rivers and valleys, oceans and forests, towns and cities and farmlands—from here you can see things.

Tamara Ellis Smith

Flood water smells old. It smells like something decaying, like something that has been left out for too long, like a mix of oil and compost and mold. Flood silt is heavy. It sticks to everything it touches. A pair of blue jeans covered in it is almost too hard to carry. I know these things.

Kevin Waltman

Be nice. That’s the second rule. Even when they’re being assholes, or putting you down, or leering at some other girl—be nice. That’s Gospel, according to Janice, who hasn’t been a virgin for a year and a half now, because there’s nothing guys dislike more, she says, than a disagreeable girl.

Christy Lenzi

I’m a loaded gun.

Henry knows. He thinks he and Jesus can save me from myself.

Lindsey Lane

Marshall steers the lumbering station wagon past the edge of the pull-out behind the cactus and scrub cedar. He turns off the car and opens the windows. He knows no one can see his car tucked back here. Especially at twilight. It’s like the gathering shadows swallow him.

Ellen Potter

There were three of them. Otto was the oldest, and the oddest. Then there was Lucia, who wished something interesting would happen. Last of all was Max, who always thought he knew better. They lived in a small town in England called Little Tunks. There is no Big Tunks. One Tunks was more than enough for everyone.

Liz N. Clift

Summer was going to be perfect:
the mall, the beach, the computer,
no Kevin whenever he was at camp,
which was all but one week this summer.

Rachel Furey, Winner
Rachel Furey

“Unbelievable,” Mr. Wortz said, holding my twin sister’s file in one hand and mine in the other. He set them both down on the desk and ran a hand through his beard.

Margaret Nevinski

I hop out of bed and pull open the blinds. Snow. Thick flakes fall onto the backyard topiary that’s Mom’s masterpiece. About five inches on the elephant’s head. Not enough to call off school. I slip past my parents’ door to the kitchen and grind my organic Kenyan coffee beans. Wonderful, everyday normalcy.

Jennifer DeMotta

The stones would skim across the water, hopping lightly, like rabbits. The record was five hops before the stone sunk. When we got bored with that we went swimming in the lake to cool off until our bodies turned into wrinkled old prunes and we had to lie in the sun to plump back out.

Jenny Hubbard

Where was I when it happened? Like a lot of kids, I was in a classroom watching the clock with its slow, indifferent hands. It was almost time for lunch, and no one was paying attention to Mr. Maynard, who was trying to teach us about fault lines.

Cheryl Spanos

Finn’s baggy trousers hadn’t been able to hide his trembling knees. But no one called an O’Reilly a coward. Finn had bristled and accepted the challenge. Wherever Finn went, Ida followed. She’d had to accept the dare, too. Family honor depended on it.

Jane Hertenstein

“Watch out now, Granny.”

I had a sheet of wrapping paper spread across the living room floor. It was Christmas Eve and I was busy wrapping up a present for Mama.

Holly Cupala

It’s tough, living in the shadow of a dead girl. It’s like living at the foot of a mountain blocking out the sun, and no one ever thinks to say, “Damn, that mountain is big.” Or, “Wonder what’s on the other side?” It’s just something we live with, so big we hardly notice it’s there. Not even when it’s crushing us under its terrible weight.