Our 17th published series of art and writing brings the mysterious into the light, dealing with unexplained occurrences, haunted museums, lantern-lit forests, and a pair of lonesome wolves.
With winter break rolling around for most students, this is a great time to sit down and enjoy some quality fiction and hand-drawn illustration.
Many of our artists this issue are new to the Youth Review. We're always grateful to have new arrangements of fresh and bold works to offer the readers of the Youth Review, from diverse backgrounds.
Midnight Mischief, an atmospheric nighttime drawing by Katie Ching, an eighth grader.
"The Ghosts of the Museum", a spine-chilling story by Salina Miao, an eighth grader.
"A Lonely Halloween Night", a festive, spooky, and imaginative story by Bonnie Chen, a fourth grader.
"Jazakee and the Serpent", a tale of adventure with an unforgettable titular antagonist by Serena Wang, a fourth grader.
"The Unsolvable: Five Minutes", a story of a hike gone suddenly wrong by Allison Li, a sixth grader.
The Youth Review editing team
Katie Ching is an 8th grader at Sammamish River Valley Online School. This is her first appearance in the Youth Review.
The lifeless mannequins all donned tutus made of smooth silk and embroidered with intricate designs. The striking liveliness of the designs made them look trapped in their tiny glass display cases, as if simply removing the glass case would be enough to make them burst into dance. They were exactly the sort of things you’d expect to find in the National Museum of Ballet, but Anne wasn’t here to steal those.
In the darkness, she could barely make out the silhouettes of the display cases, but she had the layout of the whole museum engraved in her mind. The high-pitched shriek of the alarms went unnoticed by Anne, the only sound she was focused on was the beeping of the keypad as she entered the code for the display case. The alarm stopped but the guards would still be rushing in soon, she could hear the pounding of feet against marble floors. Or maybe that was just her heart.
She could see her starstruck reflection in the glass of the display cases and hear her breath come out in shallow puffs as she stepped back, making room for one of the walls of the case to reach the ground, creating a ramp. Now she finally had what she came for. A plain tulle tutu, there was nothing remarkable about it, yet she still looked at it like it was a sacred treasure. Slowly, her trembling hands reached forward as her fingertips brushed the skirt.
The doors slammed open as the guards burst into the room and Anne snapped out of her trance. Not because she was about to be caught, but because she ripped the skirt. And suddenly, glass shards from the cases were flying everywhere, catching the dim light of the moon and skidding across the floor. The mannequins, headless, armless, and lifeless began thrashing around, as if they were trying to fight the guards. Anne felt like air was being sucked out of her lungs and she collapsed to the floor.
Next to her limp body was a small gold plaque.
“It is rumored that the spirit of the deceased ballerina is trapped in the fabric of the tutu.”
Salina Miao is an 8th grader at Redmond Middle School. This is her first story with the Youth Review.
When you wake up to demons hunching over you, would you grin in pleasure or shriek endlessly? When you come home to a wonderful feast of eyeballs and slime, would you sigh from happiness or faint from horror? Join the Halloween spirits for a fun (and creepy ) Halloween adventure!
One lonely Halloween night, a poor family was sitting near a burning fireplace watching a tiny cable expectedly. It blurred and shattered as the screen fluttered from black to white to gray. They were in a very old and deserted ghost town. It was once a great city full of beautiful skyscrapers and a big population, but now it was just a lonely lonely little town. The family consisted of one mom and one girl, and her dad was so far away from work that they couldn’t contact him because of the poor network in this little town. Today was Halloween and the girl wanted to celebrate, so they bought two lonely pieces of candy and used their whole year’s savings just to buy a little basket for it. They shared a little tin of black market biscuits as they watched the screen flicker from a football game to a cartoon. Their family could not possibly afford a TV with a remote control, so they had bought a small used cable instead. They had nothing to do during the day except sit around and eat, so the cable was the only source of entertainment.
In the neighborhood they were definitely alone: there were weeds and moss growing in the backyard and wrapping around the trees. In the neighborhood, there was nobody living in the houses. The windows were blocked off and there was construction- but not what you would expect. It was completely deserted. Before, the house was complete, but now it has been torn down by the years of vines and wind and rain. Grass was growing everywhere! You could hardly see any houses and trees through the windows because there were so many vines and wavy grasses that stretched up onto the walls of every building they could.
Meanwhile... far beneath the woods of the lonely little house was a little home to spirits, spirits called Black and White. Black had little black strokes that fluttered and flew everywhere she went. White was a little guy that liked to make a loud racket. Of course Black was the older sister and of course White was the younger sister. The young fella really wanted to eat! She was really hungry, and she had not eaten for days, when she caught a whiff of something sweet and something savory - something that she could use as a snack. The girls went inside a little house and found blue masks, then they got long, flowy robes that floated carefully as quietly as cats to every house, in search of food.
Finally the little house where the poor woman and little girl were, was the only place they hadn’t searched. They knocked once, twice, thrice. They heard a happy gasp followed by creaking floors and then the door was open. A little girl came up to greet them, and she said “Happy Halloween!” Black and White answered with a happy “Trick or Treat!” The little girl handed them both pieces of candy and they could tell that she was grateful that they had come to her house. The two ghosts wanted to repay the family’s generosity, so they put a big metal tray which they filled up with a feast: steaming hot roasted chicken with seasoning and cranberry juice with all kinds of yummy pulp and fruit. Finally, there was the best milk, eggs, and butter- but that one special thing that they made sure to put in was one small woven basket of candy.
“Jaz, you must go to your grandmama’s house,” said Mrs. Tomuro.
“Yes, Mama,” said Jazakee.
“Go ask her for oil for the lamp. We are running short on that. Bring Tobuka, too.” Mrs. Tomuro pointed at the Siamese kitten lying in the corner.
Jaz and Tobuka set off into the forest. It was all dark and the trees seemed to have shriveled black. Tobuka meowed in fear. “The forest can be…scary at times like midnight.” Jaz tried to sound brave as she told Tobuka it was normal to feel scared sometimes.
Owls hooted, mice skittered around frantically, and coyotes howled in the distance. Jaz shivered. She felt as if someone were following them. Then she saw something move in the bushes. She did not wait to see what it was. Turning around, Jaz broke into a sprint. Tobuka was right behind her.
Something was slithering behind them. “Don’t turn and look around!” Jaz told Tobuka. “That is a serpent which can turn you to stone if you make eye contact with it!” She had heard stories about the deadly creature from her grandpa when he was alive. She knew about its green scales and red eyes. But her warning came too late. She heard a dreaded crackle of rock magic behind her. She squinted and turned around. Tobuka was a big statue. But the serpent had slithered off.
Jaz shuddered as she looked at Tobuka’s rock body. Something about it made her feel nervous. Its mouth was wide open. Its eyes were sightless and under the moonlight, the entire statue seemed to move as if it were shivering with her. Its shadow cast onto a tree. “Rest in peace for now. I will defeat the terrible snake to revive you,” promised Jaz as she looked away from her best friend’s statue.
She turned around and reached into her pocket for a piece of watermelon flavored gum. Chewing gum helped to relieve stress. But she pulled out a little mirror instead. She remembered it in an instant. Her mother gave it to her as a birthday gift. She suddenly realized the key to defeating the serpent.
But first she would go to her grandmama’s house.
Jaz walked the treacherous way to her grandmama’s little red hut. Thorns snagged at her dress and she thought that a few vines were probably snakes, watching her. She walked in. It was all dark. “Had mother not told gran that I would visit her? Had she turned off the lights?” Wondered Jazakee.
She called, “Granny?” No answer. “Gran?” Nothing. Then she heard an odd slithering noise. No---the serpent! The lights went on. Jaz closed her eyes and held up her mirror. She heard the serpent hiss in pure terror.
Opening her eyes, she saw that the serpent had turned to stone. It saw its own red eyes and was defeated by itself. She heard a gasp and then, “Jazakee Tomuro?”
“Granny!” cried Jaz.
The snake statue disappeared into thin air. Where would it go? Thought Jaz. But that was not important now.
“Gran, may I have some oil for the lamp?” asked Jaz.
Gran handed Jaz the oil cup and Jaz said, “Arigato.”
Jaz skipped away from her grandmother’s hut. She had destroyed the killer-creature! Now even the midnight forest seemed to be home. Then, she saw a little cat pacing around the area where she had met the serpent.
“Tobuka?” The little cat turned around and ran toward her. Jaz picked him up and hugged him.
Then Tobuka and Jaz hurried home to give their mother the oil for the lamp.
Serena Wang is a 4th grader at Cedar Crest Academy. This is her first story with the Youth Review.
Bam, bam, bam! That was the sound of a rock hitting a door consecutively. Jennie was desperate to find out where her best friend and colleague had disappeared to.
It all started when Jennie and Jenna were driving up the steep and windy road to the start of a hike. They parked their car in the dusty parking lot and Jennie went to pay for parking, while Jenna got their backpacks out of the trunk. Once Jennie finished at the parking meter, she placed the ticket on the dashboard and checked their car of all valuables. Good thing she did because Jenna had forgotten her phone in the car. A naughty burglar could have easily stolen it.
They then walked to the map and discussed their route for this weekend.
“Should we hike to the Rocky Road or to the Plain Plateau,” Jenna asked.
“The Rocky Road,” replied Jennie, trailing the road on the map with her finger.
“It’ll be bumpier and “The Plain Plateau” really does sound plain. Do we have all the essentials packed up? You know, eight liters of water, four servings of food for each of us, a rain jacket, a GPS tracker for each of us, a warm coat, a first-aid kit, and most importantly, if something goes wrong, a tent to spend the night in along with a sleeping bag.”
“All clear! Let the fun begin! Oh wait, before we begin, I need to use the restroom quickly, be right back.”
Jenna heads to the portable bathroom. After spending five minutes in there, Jennie felt the situation had started to get concerning and went to check on Jenna.
“Jenna, is everything alright? It’s been quite little bit.”
There was no response, except for the eerie sound of a stall door.
“Jenna, if you can hear me say something,” Jennie said, urgently.
There was still no response.