The Youth Review presents our 15th series, "New Year, New Me", in celebration of the annual time for reflection and reset.
Derek Wang's New Year, New Me, Teresa Jiang's New Year Resolution, and Brendon Wang's New Year, New Me each list the writer's individual resolutions for the months to come. Whether it's playing basketball, reading books, or practicing piano, let us all wish them the best of luck in accomplishing their goals!
On the other hand, Eva Chen takes a different approach in her beautiful coming-of-age poem, No Change, filled with thought-provoking imagery and perspectives.
Be sure to also check out the final chapter of the longer series The Mysterious Island by Teresa Jiang and Lindsey Mo! If you missed the previous chapters, you can start here.
Last year was challenging in some ways, but it led to other great things like learning new things. I hope this year will be better and the pandemic will stop. This year, I will exercise more, get better at Chinese, get better at playing the piano, and improve at math.
First, I want to exercise more. I have been sitting at the computer for the past year, and it’s bad for my body. I will do 100 jump ropes per day. This will also help me grow faster. Whenever the weather cooperates, I will play tennis. This will make me better at tennis and provide a workout.
Next, I will get better at Chinese. During the weekend, I will write a paragraph about Chinese. I will also write words during the weekend. Doing this will help me get better at Chinese and fill in my free time.
Then, I will also improve at playing the piano. I will practice every day without my mom reminding me. When I practice, I will concentrate on playing the piano instead of doing other things.
Finally, I will improve in math. Although I am already good at math, I always make silly mistakes. This year, I will be more accurate. This will help me get better scores in math contests.
In conclusion, I will do things that can help me become better at some skills, and help my body recover from sitting in front of the computer all day. This will make me a better person overall.
Starting as early as October, some might say, is when the holiday season begins
Halloween, creepy things, Snicker bars and Twix
Children running down the streets
Evening, moonlight, a gentle breeze
Orange plastic jack-o-lanterns
Sit on desks with candy stashes
Biggest chocolate bars never get eaten
I think I’ll save them until the time is right.
But that day
Seasons grow cold, Thanksgiving appears
And fades away as quick as it came
It’s here, it’s there
The spirit seems to resonate everywhere
All the preparation, excitement
Gift buying, surprises
Leading up to only two magical days
Then dreams fade
Reality settles and stays
Gloom until the very last day
One fateful friday
When the children are tucked away, already fast in slumber
The clock ticking
Why does it sound louder?
Excitement running high
Peering at the sky
A new morning, a new day
A new year,
But no change
Eva Chen is a seventh grader at Eastside Preparatory School.
It’s a new year in January, and many people create targets for themselves to accomplish. This year, I would like to reach some goals to make myself a better person.
My first aim is to read more books. During the test season, I didn’t have much time to read. Novels help increase vocabulary, knowledge, and interests. Those are really important in life, so I think reading will boost my strength in Language Arts. My goal for this year’s reading is to finish five to ten books each month and read when I have time!
The second target I have on my list is to work on my gymnastics harder than before. After the pandemic, it’s hard to find time and concentrate on this exercise. Gymnastics helps retain my physical strength and flexibility. I exercise the basics in my house for one hour, and challenge my dad to do pull-ups, pushups, and handstands.
Lastly, I’d like to fix my emotions and talk more kindly. Sometimes, I get so angry that I want to scream so badly, and it’s hard to restrain myself from doing it. And other times, I feel cranky and talk to my family in a not-so-nice way. Controlling my emotions is a big part of my life, and I need to fix that. Next time I feel like I’m going to burst lava out of my mouth, I’ll go into my room and cool off. This way, my feelings will go back to normal again!
A new year helps me improve myself in different years, and build different targets. This way, I’ll enhance myself with different goals and work hard to accomplish them. It’s one of the best holidays to celebrate Lunar New Year, and brand new year to fix the crooked parts in myself!
2021 may have been challenging because of the pandemic, but there have also been happy moments. I hope that in 2022, things will start to get better, and Covid-19 will not be as bad as 2021.
My goals are to get better at math, exercise more, and improve my Chinese.
Yes, I am good at math. But if I improve, I might be better. You can improve no matter what, right? Another reason I want to get better at math is so I can use my math skills to help me solve problems.
Currently, I am not exercising very much. It snowed a few days ago. That means I cannot play basketball and other sports easily. Still, I can exercise inside, which I am planning to do. I will get better, and who doesn’t like exercising anyway?
Chinese might be my most tough goal to achieve yet. I’ll need to write Chinese, read Chinese, and finish my Chinese homework. But I still think I can improve. Even though it is hard, you can’t just give up. I have to be brave, or I will not meet my goal.
In summary, I hope I can:
• Learn more math
• Exercise often
• Try my best at Chinese
Most of all, I hope 2022 can be a wonderful year!
Luna sprang out of bed and hopped on Ada’s bed, shaking her sister awake. Today was a bright day, just perfect for their plan – beach day!
“YAWN,” Ada said in a sleepy tone. “What? It’s Sunday. So lay off, okay, Luna?”
Luna smirked. She walked into the small storage room and took out the sand toys including the shovel, bucket, castle and many others. Luna showed them to Ada, who finally remembered what she promised Luna: to go where there is comfortable, soft sand and the rushing waves of the sea.
“Remember what we said yesterday?” Luna said impatiently. “ Wake up, sleepyhead! Let’s go! It’s our last day. I don’t wanna miss out and go home bored.”
Ada sat up and looked at her watch, still tired. She hopped out of bed and changed her clothes, then went downstairs to eat breakfast, which was eggs and toast with orange juice and cereal! The sisters thought it was the best, and so they ate the combo four times a week. It was also much easier to prepare somewhere they were.
Luna changed into her swimsuit and darted out the door while Ada put on her flip flops. The perfect beach as they imagined. Ada stared at the beautiful, shimmering sea, thinking of what they did: Not notice anything fun, amazing, or pretty.
The waters were shimmering, and Luna loved it. It glimmered under the sun like pure pearls! Luna took off her sandals and walked into the water. It was cool, and she loved it. The soft sand stuck in between her toes, and it felt so tickly and prickly.
“Ada!” Luna shrieked. Her eyes shined. “I’ve never felt something nice like this before! I wish we lived here. But I know we can’t afford to buy a house somewhere here. It’s too expensive. Though, it still would have been great living here.”
Ada gave a half shrug, gave thumbs up and sat down on her beach towel. She had told her sister about a time that she went to an awesome little place that had a beach in front of a house, marketplaces, gardens… everything someone would ask for. It was pretty much a dream place to live in, but, like Luna said, they couldn’t afford to live somewhere like that place.
As they were relaxing, Ada’s phone rang. A call from their mother!
Ada answered the call. “Hey, mom! We are doing great here. We’ll come home soon, so please don’t worry… alright, bye!”
The hours flew by, and it was already noon. The sisters rushed back into the beach house and packed everything up. They scurried to the bus, and stayed there to get to the airport.
Ada looked outside the window and saw a beautiful view. Luna was sleeping quietly with no snoring noises.
It’s so peaceful here, Ada squeaked in her mind. We are going home. I’ll see mom and dad! But I will miss our trip too.
Both sisters had a great time, including adventuring and relaxing. They both agreed that it was the best trip ever – and a great experience for them both!
It has been an insane year, but we couldn't be more grateful for every single one of you who submitted your writing and art pieces to our inbox.
Since January of 2021, we have received countless submissions across 7 series (not including the latest), publishing nearly 30 pieces in our themed series: 13 art and 15 written.
It was incredibly exciting to see familiar names appear in our inbox. A special shoutout to Brendon Wang for being the most published author: an impressive 5 pieces out of 7 series! You can find his most recent essay, one of our personal favorites, here.
Additionally, we also published longer stories spanning multiple chapters. Thank you to Teresa Jiang and Lindsey Mo for always being so on top of their schedules, sending us chapter after chapter so we could publish them. Check out their story, The Mysterious Island, starting with Chapter 1. The final chapter will release very soon, perfect for the closing of the year.
The Youth Review also hit our 1-year milestone in April. Check out that post here.
Finally, here is a review of the 8 calls for submissions:
We truly mean it when we say that it has been such a joy to edit and publish the submissions we receive, and to interact with all the young contributors that make up our growing literary review and blog. We hope to see new and familiar faces pop up time and time again, and we cannot wait for everything the next year has planned for us.
Thank you again for making what we do possible, and cheers to an amazing 2022!
The Editors of the Emerald Youth Review
To wrap up the eventful year of 2021, our 15th Call for Submissions honors the perhaps cheesy, perhaps stressful, but certainly exciting idea of a "New Year, New Me"--the idea that the end of one year is merely an opportunity to shape the next. What do you hope to accomplish in 2022? Who will you look to in guidance? No matter what your plans are, the Youth Review would love to know.
If you're stuck, try the following:
- Reflect on the previous year. Is there anything you had hoped to finish but didn't?
- Start small. The most meaningful changes often take place bit by bit; don't feel pressured by a need for something revolutionary.
- Think outside the box. Challenge yourself in crafting a completely fictional story, or in illustrating a metaphorical depiction.
Make sure to include your name, grade, school, and title of the piece when emailing your submission to YouthReview@EmeraldParents.org. Headshots are optional, but encouraged! All writing and art will be due by Monday, January 17th.
In Which Adventure Starts
Luna was climbing aboard the plane with her sister to the secret island. She was so excited that she couldn’t stay still.
Luna got a glimpse of the people in first class while she was going to the bathroom. When she got back to her seat with her sister, all she did was look at the front seats, dreaming as if she sat there.
“Oh my,” said Ada. “Luna, you can stop dreaming now.”
Before Luna knew it, time flew by and they were already departing off the plane and onto the island.
To Luna's astonishment, the island was even more beautiful than she had expected. The trees were tall and green. The water was clear blue with fish swimming in it. It was hard for Luna to believe any dangers would happen here. She thought the island was too safe for that.
“We should quickly find a hotel,” said Ada. “I know this island looks perfect, but I just have this nagging feeling that being out for too long isn’t safe.”
Luna wanted to tell her sister this place was perfectly safe. But something told her that perhaps Ada was correct, so she just nodded in agreement.
“Okay, I’ll go check into the hotel we are staying at for the night while you stay here. Don’t do anything!” Ada stated.
“Can I at least go outside and walk for a bit?” Luna begged.
Ada thought for a moment, then nodded. “Alright,” she said.
Right after Ada said that, Luna was already out of her sight. Ada sighed. “Be careful!” She called to Luna, but wasn’t sure where she was.
“I swear that Luna will get lost later on.” Ada sighed.
“Would it be fine if you could give a map of the hotel?” Ada asked, quickly. “My sister and I might get lost.”
The front desk woman agreed, and handed over the map. Ada snatched the map and stuffed it into her backpack. Then, she looked at her watch.
Gosh, I can’t believe that it’s getting close to dinner time . . . I don’t even know where Luna went! What if she got kidnapped? Trapped? Killed? . . . I really must stop thinking about this！
In Which Ada Looks For Luna
Ada looked around, and went the way Luna ran. Yes, she was gone right before Ada’s eyes. She kept herself from running back to the hotel. Ada walked toward a tall forest. Fear creeped into Ada’s throat. She really hoped Luna didn’t go into the forest, which was pitch-black and buzzing with the sounds of unseen creatures. But Ada had to make sure Luna wasn’t in there, since she was a caring sister. At last, she made a brave decision and marched to the forest. Ada peered around some thick twigs: they were spiky and they didn’t look like normal breakable wood. Ada suddenly got an idea. She ripped off some twigs of the tree and tucked them to her belt.
This could be made into a good weapon! thought Ada, pushing the twigs deeper into her belt so they wouldn’t poke her.
“Luna!’ Ada called out. “Where are you? It’s getting dark!”
There was no answer, only a strong cold wind that blew Ada’s hair. Ada shivered. She was starting to dislike the island, but she still slowly edged forward. Then… CRACK! Ada screamed, jumping back. Thankfully, she realized it was only a twig that had broken under the pressure of her foot.
“I don’t know what species of plant you are, but you’re not helping me find my sister!” Ada muttered. She pulled out a thick spiky branch from her belt, and tried her best to cut through the twigs. She was glad to find that it cut easily. She walked out of the forest and found Luna on a cliff, looking at the sunset.
“Luna-a-a-a! We’re going to have great danger going home! Come on!” Ada bellowed.
“Wait, just wait a second. Let’s go in a minute.”
Ada stood there, wondering why Luna wanted to stay longer in this creepy, old forest.
“Luna, gosh. Come on, we gotta go. The way back will be very dangerous.”
“What will?” Luna’s voice called back. “Okay, okay, I’m coming.”
And so Luna and Ada scurried off. As soon as they arrived, Ada fished out the key to their room and opened the door. A women stood inside.
“Who is there in our room?” Luna questioned. “Also, the hotel room is better than I thought. Nice!”
“Oh, hi, I’m Katie, the hotel manager’s daughter. Nice to meet you!” The lady, who was around Ada’s age, exclaimed as she turned to Luna. “If you would like something you can find me at the front office. I was waiting here in case you girls needed something right away! Right, I was going to ask, did you ever notice the Totos that hid in the forests before?”
“Uh... no. Unfortunately, we have never heard of them before, so what's that all about?” Ada looked confused, thinking this was peculiar.
“You’ve never heard of them before?” She asked, stunned. “Oh, you must be new here… Well, you should know about those creatures that roam the forest that is named Sula Jungle. The creatures are especially dangerous to humans, unless you make friends with them in a different way, but no one has ever known how to.” Katie shook her head, hopelessly.
Ada and Luna both sweated. They had heard of the Sula, and had went into the forest… that night. Somewhat disturbing yet also relieving, however, was that nothing ever attacked them. And it was true, they didn’t get hurt. But the sisters decided to keep it a secret. It was better than leaving Katie worried. That would be a disaster!
“Well, goodbye, I guess!” Katie said, quickly leaving with a suspicious look on her face. “Come to me if you need help!”
As soon as Katie left, Ada suggested that they should go back to the forest and investigate again.
Luna shook her head. “No. We shouldn’t. You were always right. I just never listened to you. This forest is too much of a danger. I know that we should go investigate, but I changed my mind. I have a bad feeling something will happen if we go back.”
Ada hugged Luna. “If you say so, Luna. Tomorrow shall be our last day. We can go enjoy the beach instead of always being in our serious moods all day.”
Luna nodded. They talked for a few minutes and went to bed.
The Youth Review's 14th series is dedicated to our often unlikely buddies, the people that we laugh and cry and share cookies with.
Young artist Jasmine Li presents a fun comic illustrating a story of two birds and a man on his computer. Check out her work Friendship Power is the Best Power (the title says it all!).
Sometimes our best companions are those related by blood. Derek Wang shares a heartwarming story of memories at the beach with his brother, noting that the bond between them is special. Read more in his essay Friendship.
They say opposites attract, and that is certainly true for Lemon and Melon, who become friends under very unique circumstances. Read more in Lindsey Mo's essay Lemon Melon Buddies.
Finally, Bonnie Chen transports readers to the magical Friendship Town, where our protagonist, Cloud, learns the value of spreading compassion and joy. Read more in her essay How Friendship Changed the World.