Linh S. Nguyễn – chat with Story Planet

Linh, an enormous congratulations on the recent publication of your first chapbook, Visiting Gales, with illustrations by Christie Wong. Some of us from Story Planet were honoured to attend your online launch party, and witnessed the beautiful collection of gentle creativity from many people looking to evoke the mood of the chapbook. We’re all incredibly grateful to witness your embarkation of a career as a writer.

Visiting Gales is a collection of two short stories that ask, through memory and fiction, what composes childhood, growth, and independence. Young characters weave within their relationships to find answers to their evolving selves and environments, where changes are shaped by commonplace occurrences alongside miraculous unknowns.

How were these stories and this chapbook dreamt into being? 

The two stories for this chapbook, “The Robins” and “Down Feathers”, were born in my creative writing class at U of T four years ago.

At the time, I was only writing creative nonfiction — not because I preferred it but because I hadn’t yet figured out my fiction voice and was still scared to admit I wanted to write stories for a living. So when the time came for us to write our final project for this class, I thought, “I’ll just stick to nonfiction.”

That’s where “The Robins” was born. It was inspired by a robin’s nest in the eaves-through of my family’s home many years ago. That summer, we saw the birds teaching their babies how to fly, and when the little ones flew away, I thought the parents’ mourning cries were the saddest thing I ever heard. It really stuck with me, so I decided to write about that. I changed all the names and POV, called it fiction, and handed it in.

Fortunately, my creative writing professor was too sharp. She read it, and said, “I know this isn’t fiction. I can tell in the writing voice.” No matter how hard I argued, she refused to let me turn in anything short of a real fictional story.

So I tabled “The Robins”. It would go through many rounds of edits and rewrites in the following years and finally return to its roots as a personal reflection on childhood and growth. I asked my trusted editor, Jasmine Gui, to review it before I submitted it to The Soap Box Press.

Instead, for class that year, I wrote “Down Feathers” on the subway to school, specifically between Runnymede and Spadina stations on the TTC in Toronto.

All I had to go off was the first line that just came to me: “Lyra was seven when her wings grew in.” And a line from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”. The line was an offhand comment in his story, mentioned briefly, about a “Portuguese man who couldn’t sleep because the noise of the stars disturbed him”. 

So those two lines informed that entire story. I had no plan. I just wrote. It came out remarkably easily, almost fully formed, and honestly, I loved it. I knew from the start it was special, and “Down Feathers” will always hold a special place in my heart, because it opened the door to my fiction writing again, which is so much of what I write now.

Linh, an Asian woman with chest-length black hair, is looking at the camera from the side. She stands by a wooden-paneled wall and is smiling with her mouth open. She's wearing a black, sleeveless shirt and red lipstick.
Credit to Albert Hoang

Then last August, I was browsing several websites in search of a home for some of my stories. I found out The Soap Box Press was publishing chapbooks and became excited at the prospect of putting together a bigger project with more creative control. 

When this idea came to mind, I approached Christie, sent her five short stories that I had floating around, and asked for her thoughts on what stood out, whether she’d be interested in illustrating, and which stories she thought would work well together. We chose these two for their similar themes and submitted!

Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with Christie?

Christie and I have only recently met in person, after our chapbook was released! We were introduced by Jasmine Gui, founder and editor of Project 40 Collective in 2019. My personal essay, “Cracks in the Wall”, was published in LooseLeaf Magazine Volume 7, and Jasmine thought that Christie would be a good person to illustrate it. Little did she know of the creative chaos she would unleash! Or maybe she did. Jasmine is a genius.

Christie Wong sits on a stall by a table covered in cloth, holding a DSLR camera and smiling at the lens of the camera taking the photo. She is an Asian women wearing round, wooden earrings, round glasses, a green sweatshirt and grey/beige pants.
Credit to Lucy Lu

Since then, Christie and I have worked together on a number of projects, from workshops to illustrated pieces. We have a beautiful working relationship built on profound trust. She is a creative amplifier, and I always feel excited and energetic coming off a call with her. Our skills complement each other well. It’s fabulous to have that artistic push from someone so talented.

These stories evoke a lot of emotions about growing up, finding your place in the world and redefining what that world can look like, as an individual and within a family. What was your inspiration for this?

The idea of growing up has always been something I’ve struggled with, probably because I read too many fantasy adventures as a child and desperately wanted my own. I spent a long time resisting that I might not get to fight dark lords with secret magic powers. When I inevitably grew older, I began reflecting on what the idea of “growing up” actually means. I don’t have an answer, but these stories are my explorations of the feelings involved in that question, of which there are many complex ones!

As an English major, I studied children’s literature in my undergrad and wrote my thesis on portal fantasies as a way of understanding maturity and responsibility. This is further informed by my experience as an immigrant. This intersection of childhood and home are central to much of my work presently and going forward.

As you touched upon, as children, we often have this sense of “growing up” as being a big discovery or fantasy in life, when in reality the realization otherwise can be challenging. What would you hope your writing could leave for others, both young and old, to deal with this notion of growing up?

Personally, the message I want to weave into my stories is one that’s helped me reframe my own relationship to fantasy. While I initially wanted to escape as a child, I later became more interested in the return to our world and how fiction allows us to see everyday occurrences in a new light. After all, magic does exist. We see it all the time in small gestures and grand phenomena; it just might look a little different than in the stories. That doesn’t mean it has any less power or ability to effect meaningful change. I wrote about this realization many years ago on my blog.

In “Down Feathers” specifically, it was important for me to show adults of all sorts who, like Lyra, keep their wings throughout their lives. I don’t want to see adulthood as the loss of any wonder or magic. We do have the ability to preserve that beauty, though of course, doing so is a privilege for many.

Illustration from 'Down Feathers' Lyra is sitting on her back with her back facing the viewer. One wing is stretched out to her side, plain, and the other falls to the floor, with feather textures. The image is in black and white.
Illustration by Christie Wong

That said, I still hope readers interpret my work in any way that speaks to them, especially in ways I can’t predict. 

What was the process of working with The Soap Box Press to release the chapbook?

It was so smooth! I loved how much creative freedom we got. All the art, from cover to illustrations, are Christie’s. None of my words were changed without my consent. We got a say in every step, including the layout. I feel a lot of ownership over the project, never once like it’d been taken from my hands.

Illustration from 'Down Feathers'. A character is seen standing atop a huge seashell, holding a large feather at its stem. Clouds and a half moon are in the background. The illustration is in black and white.
Illustration by Christie Wong

Tali Voron, the founder and publisher, has supported us wholeheartedly in our unconventional and ambitious release of this book, including our stacked launch and workshop that followed. She’s a skilled facilitator and organizer, always ready to jump in and say yes to our wild ideas.

Alongside yourself and Christie talking about your creative processes, your launch party featured people across the creative spectrum, including a dancer, painter, meditation guides, and musicians. What inspired you to set it up this way?

Honestly, Christie was a huge driving force of this event. Her wide-ranging and incredible creative connections made it so easy to gather everyone we wanted to join us in performing. We knew we wanted to share the celebration and feature other artists. At the same time, we wanted a community-like feel. It ended up being the perfect night with an amazing turnout.

Personally, I love seeing my words take on different artistic forms that I’m not skilled in, which is why working with Christie is so great. She sees things I don’t, in a whole new medium. To see my stories interpreted through dance, music, and meditation, was mind-blowing and heartwarming. It wouldn’t have been nearly so special without Alena, Anda, Rosie, Jess, Vicky, Justine, Jazmin, and Julia. We got to celebrate them all!

At Story Planet we work with students who may be at the beginning of a lifelong love or career in writing and illustration. What would your advice be for anyone starting to write, and how to improve and practice the craft?

It sounds trite, but reading and writing are the only ways to excel at this craft. There’s no shortcut! More specifically though, the practice of freewriting is essential. I’ve been intentionally honing my ability to sit down in front of a blank page and write whatever comes to mind for nine years now, without getting stumped by a need for perfection or inspiration. So much of writing is doing it badly and doing it over again; I’m on draft number four of my book right now, and the first one was awful! It’s not about talent. I wish I’d known that as a child. You are a writer if you write. That is enough.

Pursuing a career in the arts, especially for racialized youth without industry knowledge or connections, can be a tumultuous path, but it is possible and incredibly rewarding. I love the work I get to do. It’s definitely challenging, but I’ve tried to prioritize creative projects in my life (mostly because I don’t know how to live any other way), even when working minimum wage jobs for years out of school. Maybe fame and fortune will follow, but that’s definitely not how it starts and not what I’m counting on. I’m still very much in the grunt work stages yet loving it.

What’s next for yourself and your life as a writer?

I am off to the University of Cambridge to pursue graduate school! My one-year program is called Arts, Creativity, and Education, and I’ll be focusing on the role of play and storytelling in decentering whiteness in learning spaces. My last degree tied in well with my creative practices and writing, so I’m very excited for what this adventure holds.

I also have some super exciting writing news on the horizon that I can’t yet share publicly. It involves my debut novel, which is a middle-grade portal fantasy featuring an 11-year-old Vietnamese-Torontonian protagonist! I can’t wait to talk about it more, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I have two creative non-fiction stories to be released later this year! “Death and a Wind Farm” will be published in the next issue of Living Hyphen magazine, and “The Christmas Lamp” will be published in The Soap Box Press’s anthology, “The Hyphenated Generation”.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. We’re so fortunate to be able to work with you at Story Planet and can’t wait to celebrate Visiting Gales even more, and all your future projects!

You can buy a physical copy or e-book of Visiting Gales from The Soap Box Press.


The Story Planet logo is in the top middle of the page, Text in the middle of the page reads: "presents Young Authors making Best Sellers." There's a pink triangle in the top left corner, and a light blue circle that goes partly off-screen, a small yellow/orange circle is in the bottom right.

The Magic Cave, by Mingyan

The Story Planet logo is in the top middle of the page, Text in the middle of the page reads: "presents Young Authors making Best Sellers." There's a pink triangle in the top left corner, and a light blue circle that goes partly off-screen, a small yellow/orange circle is in the bottom right.

One day William, Benjamin, and Mia got lost in a forest and found a magic cave and inside were many books. They picked one up and they wished they could go where the story was and then they accidentally went inside the book. 

The book was about a very large forest and the friends need to go on a mission to find a magic harp. When one person plays the harp, whatever the other person thinks begins to happen.

A human with a very, very small heart, four times smaller than a regular heart, put the harp inside a hole which had a tunnel. Where it was deepest is where the harp was. But there was a booby trap that had freezing rays and fire guns. 

Inside the cave there was a riddle on a piece of wood that led the kids to the hole.

When they got there they read the riddle again and it said, “The hole is full of traps. Go with your bravery, never stop with your heart.”

The bad guy followed them, but he stepped on the freezing rays and, ‘bzzz’, got frozen. The friends bent down so they didn’t get frozen too, and passed the fire guns, but Mia and Benjamin got hit by the fire gun and were toasted!

Willam grabbed the harp, and Mia and Benjamin began to sing together while Willam played. 

“I wish, I wish I was back home uh, uh, uh uh uh…”

They all got home and the bad guy came home too and his mom waited for twelve hours for him to be unfrozen. The bad guy never set booby traps again!

A Day in the Life of Bob Sam Junior, written by Amir, Arsheen, Diya, Kyla + more

A green volcano is eruping molten gummy candy with gummy worms and candy flying out. There's a yellow sun in the top right corner and a "Breaking News" sign in the top left.

One morning, Bob Sam Junior woke up and ate a cake for breakfast (which they made themselves). They then went back to sleep, woke up, made a cake, ate the cake, and went to bed again. They did this three times before getting up for the day. So it was a pretty typical start of the day for Bob.

It was 8 a.m. by the time Bob Sam Junior finally left their house, and they had to open their bakery for 9 a.m.. Bob Sam Junior went to open their bakery for the day, letting the other chefs in. Bob Sam Junior then started working on their computer, while the other chefs began to prepare the day’s food.

By the time Bob finished their computer work, it was time for lunch. They called up their friend Panda to ask if Panda could sneak Bob food from the Golden Panda Buffet (which was located right next door). Panda put together a takeout container of salad, and snuck it out to Bob Sam Junior. But Bob Sam Junior was STILL hungry, even with all the cakes they’d eaten that morning. They wanted to sneak into the restaurant to eat EVEN MORE of that delicious Golden Panda Buffet food! 

Bob started to sneak into the Golden Panda Buffet. But just as they took their first step, they accidentally stepped on the foot of Panda King—the owner of the Golden Panda Buffet, and Bob Sam’s younger brother!

Bob Sam Junior heard the sound of the gummy volcanoes erupting. They looked outside and saw a volcano bursting out of the ground! So Bob Sam Junior immediately knew they had to get to their secret bunker to stay safe.

Bob Sam Junior’s bunker was made out of sponge cake, so any gummy lava would just bounce off the sides. But what Bob Sam Junior didn’t know was that Panda King had made a hole in the side of their bunker. The bunker had been sabotaged! The gummy lava started leaking into the bunker! And Bob Sam Junior fell into the hole! 

Bob Sam Junior started quickly baking a cake as they were falling, and threw the cake into the gummy lava. The cake fell into the lava, and the gummy lava started retreating. The lava didn’t like the cake!

Some of the lava touched Bob Sam Junior and Bob Sam Junior became enraged. They started furiously rage baking, making cakes fueled by the power of their rage! 

Their rage cakes were perfect and started pushing the lava back. When the cakes and lava combined, they made EXPLOSIVE LAVA CAKE! The cake exploded, sending Bob Sam Junior and the lava flying back. But as the lava pulled back, it revealed something that had been hidden inside of the gummy lava…Bob Sam Junior’s parents!

Bob Sam Junior’s parents stepped out of the lava. 

“Mom?” Bob said. “And Dad?!” 

Bob’s parents said, “Thank you for saving us from the lava. There’s something we need to tell you. Bob, your name is actually not Bob, it’s Kronos! And you have powers you might not have known about!” 

They also took out a costume for Bob Sam to wear, now that they knew the truth.

Bob Sam Junior ate one of the remaining pieces of cake to gain jumping powers. Bob Sam Junior ate another cake to get fighting and healing powers. Then another piece of cake to gain flight, invisibility and speed powers. And their rage baking abilities grew even stronger.

Bob Sam Junior, using their new powers, started baking lava cakes and brought them to life. These animated cakes started saying, “Eat me! Eat me!” 

And Bob Sam Junior planned to use them to help people and fight bad guys. Bob Sam Junior also made some really good cakes to hand out to nice people (and Bob Sam Junior also used the animated cakes to finally get into the Golden Panda Buffet).

Bob Sam Junior has two lives now: one as the famous baker Bob Sam Junior and another as the hero Kronos! Bob Sam Junior flew around the world with their parents to help people and compete in baking competitions. They traveled all around the world—even to Canada!

“Joy and Rain,” from Cloud City and The Flaming Sun, written by Alex, Anay, Romoney, and Subani

Joy and Rain were two best friends who lived in Cloud City. They were both nine and first met at the zoo. Joy lived on a farm and Rain lived near the Blue Bridge. Joy was very nice. Rain was very nice, but a little mean. They both had rainbow hair.

It was a bright sunny day with three rain-bows in the sky and Rain and Joy were hanging out at the zoo. They went to look at the animals and to get some treats. The first thing they saw was the jelly elephant. Joy and Rain knew they had to be careful or else it would fall apart because it was made of jelly.

Rain went to look at a very cool animal. He didn’t tell Joy so she was lost without him.

Joy was so sad that she left the zoo only to walk back in and look for Rain everywhere. While Joy was lost, Rain realized that he was lost too. Since there were no clouds, Rain made the sky all cloudy so Joy could find him. When Joy saw where all the clouds were coming from, she knew where Rain was.

When Joy found Rain she was so happy to find him she exploded candy everywhere. But then, all of a sudden, they didn’t want to be together again. They waited a little and then hugged. They went to get lunch. Rain got spicy noodles and Joy got cotton candy. Then they went home because they didn’t want to get lost again. They hung out at Joy’s house. Once they were home, Rain decided that the clouds should go away. Rain said he was sorry because he could not bring all three rainbows back into the sky. Joy told him it was fine and she brought the rainbows back.

One day Rain had some bad news. He had to move away because his street was too crowded. Also all the robots, the mummies, and the ghosts from other streets kept coming to bother him. But he had a surprise for Joy: spicy noodles! He knew she had never had them. Their friends Candy and

Thunder came to the dinner party. Then Joy told Thunder that Rain was going to move away, but Thunder already knew. Joy was scared to try the spicy noodles. She took only one noodle and her eyes were all red and candy came out of her ears.

In Cloud City everything was destroyed and the clouds turned red. Since Rain had cloud power, Rain made the sky cloudy and covered the sun with his clouds. Then they made a fence to protect everyone from the sun. People got super cold because there was no sun, so they gave the fence two features: it could turn the city a little cold or a little warm.

On top of the gate there was a big shield covering the whole city. The burning sun could not go through it. On top of the shield there was a candy buster. In case the shield breaks, people can throw candy at the sun.

Joy wanted to help, so she took her rainbow powers and covered the houses with rainbows to keep them safe. But people started thinking about leaving the city, so Joy used her secret candy canyon, which could help warm areas if she used the glitter from her pocket. As the city got colder, Joy used the candy canyon and the glitter did its magic. The Gem Tower was forever changed and destroyed because Joy forgot to cover it with a rainbow and the burning sun was able to burn it.

The fence they made to protect the city was like a glass wall and nothing you did could break it. But one day it broke. The city was about to have on another fire, but the plants from Joy’s farm had grown so tall they protected the city and it never ever burned again.

Also, some people from Cloud City left and never returned.

It was hard to come to terms with the end of Cloud City.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

“Misty Forest,” by Larisa

Once a legend was told about a little girl called Skye and her parents who went for a family trip in the Misty Forest and had never been back since 2001. One day on January 13, 2010 a girl called Jemma Wilson decided to go inside the Misty Forest even though the police told everyone to stay out. As she entered the forest she heard the ground shaking from below and also heard violins and someone singing. As she traveled deeper into the forest she felt a heat energy or a source that made her feel tired. She decided to rest in an old abandoned cabin. When she entered she saw another person inside floating but that person ran away. Jemma decided to go after her and saw that girl from the legend Skye.

Skye told Jemma to leave but she disagreed. Jemma asked if she was still alive but Skye said no. She said that her parents were not alive as well but were a living soul, so she needed to find them.

Jemma said, “This is why you were guarding the forest and scaring the people you wanted to find your parents.”

Skye looked pale and sad that after all these years she couldn’t find them.

Jemma said, “Do you want help finding them?”

Skye accepted her help and they traveled for days and Jemma’s friends and parents were looking for her and were terrified that she was gone. After one week of searching for Skye’s parents they found a lot of clues that all ended up in the same place. The part of the Misty Forest that Skye was scared of she said she was scared of because something huge attacked her and her parents in there. Jemma said that if they wanted to find her parents then they had to go look in there because everything led to there. So Skye and Jemma went inside the deepest place in the Forest and they looked and looked and looked. Suddenly something attacked Jemma and it was a type of lion that was huge but luckily Jemma knew how to calm the lion down and they decided to travel on the lions back because they were very tired and hungry.

They traveled a little more until they found a huge cabin in the middle and when someone came out they stared at Skye and ran toward her. It was her parents and as a gift Skye’s parents teleported Jemma back to her parents. Jemma’s parents thought it was a miracle that their daughter just came out of nowhere. Jemma started explaining where she had been and introduced Skye. Skye also started explaining to her parents and introduced Jemma, and after a few years their parents were best friends and Jemma and Skye had a lot of friends.

“Nellie” written by, Isabella, Riley, Angelina, and Anvitha




 
 
A map of Magic City 

In the year 2020 the gravity went missing in Magic City. Here for the first time is the story of this historic moment, as told by those who witnesses it first hand.
Once upon a time, there lived a Guardian of the City named Nellie. Nellie was a 14-year-old cat fairy. They had wings, could turn between cat fairy and human form, and liked to wear a flower crown. They also liked to fight off monsters who would threaten the city, as well as their rival, Dark Destro, leader of the mountain lions. They lived in an underground secret base with a powerful security system.

It was a typical day for Nellie. They woke up, defeated Dark Destro, ate breakfast, and started practicing their battle techniques using a bag full of dirt as a punching bag. Then they carefully got into their gold car and drove down to the chocolate river. They got down to the chocolate river and had a picnic with s’mores.

They also went shopping for the day and picked up superhero pills from the grocery store. Once their shopping was done they decided to start looking for villains on Devil Street (where most of the city’s villains lived).

Nellie was starting to fly around Devil Street when suddenly something changed. They realized they weren’t flying anymore—they were floating. Nellie wasn’t the only thing floating, either. So were the houses, so was the chocolate from the chocolate river, and all the people on Devil Street. Gravity was gone!

Nellie didn’t know what was happening. But suddenly a fairy with leaf wings, rainbow hair, and clothes made of moss appeared before them.
The fairy said, “My name is Anastasia. The gravity gem has gone missing! No one knew that there was a gravity gem, but… NOW IT’S GONE! AND I’M TELLING YOU, IT SHATTERED INTO PIECES! AND NOW YOU GOTTA FIND IT!!”

Nellie thought to themself, “Oh my god, such a rude fairy. Bossy!” But they didn’t say it out loud. Instead they said, “Okay, fine! But you gotta do me two favours… Give me thousands of super power pills. And also tell me where it is!”
So Anastasia told Nellie where the gem pieces were: in the Central Tower, behind a door that had never been opened before. But Anastasia had the only key, and was willing to open it for Nellie. However, Anastasia warned Nellie that Dark Destro was working to keep gravity broken.
Dark Destro had sent a dragon and two mountain lions to guard the gem pieces, keeping anyone from getting close.

Nellie knew that the dragon must have been hypnotized by Dark Destro, so they needed to break Dark Destro’s control.
Nellie had a secret power that they only liked to use at the most important times… they turned into a super, SUPER cute cat! The cat was so cute that it de-hyp- notized the dragon, breaking Dark Destro’s control! The cuteness was so strong that Dark Destro’s hypnosis controller exploded in Dark Destro’s hands!

The mountain lions saw what was happening and tried to attack Nellie. The dragon flew in and protected Nellie though. The dragon was on Nellie’s side!

And the lions were defeated!

Nellie gathered the gem pieces and reformed the gravity gem. They then put the gravity gem into the chocolate river, restoring gravity. As the chocolate river and all the houses and people returned to the ground, chocolate began raining from the sky.

“Candy Land,” by Shreyashi

One day, Nella went to her friend Beary’s house. When she arrived they both went upstairs and made a pillow fort.

Then Beary said, “Let’s go to Phoenix’s house”, so Nella called Phoenix and asked if she and Beary could come over for a sleepover.

Phoenix said “Ok, I will pick both of you up. Make sure you guys get your stuff”. They both got their stuff ready. A few minutes later, Phoenix arrived and they all went in the camping van.

Nella said, “Do you guys want to go to Candy Land?”

Both of them nodded. They all went to the Candy Land and met their friend Gummy, the Gummy Bear. All of them went down the sour strip candy slide and the twizzler swing.

They had a fun day and finally, they went to rest on their cotton candy bed.

“Alicia,” written by Mayukha, Saraniya, and DJ

Alicia was an 8-year-old human who was secretly a superhero at night. She was super strong and super powerful. Her most secret power was lava rainbow where she shot lava out of her wrists. Her best friends were her pet blue bird and robot named Carl. One day Alicia was studying math. She liked math. Alicia got stuck on a math question, so she called her pet bird, Luna, for help. Luna was very smart.

When Luna got to her room she didn’t know the answer, so Alicia called Carl. Carl had four arms and he was excellent at math. When Carl got there he solved the problem, so Alicia was good.

Then it was nighttime, that’s when the evil ninjas came out. The ninjas were always trying to destroy the world. They slimed the city and threw stink bombs that made people go to sleep. The slime was also smelly.

Alicia wanted to save the city with Luna and Carl. Alicia fought the ninjas using her lava power and her water power. Her lava power made everybody melt. Her water power was very cold and it froze ninjas.

Carl was a robot, so he didn’t fall asleep when the ninjas threw their stink bombs— that made him very powerful. Luna had moon power that helped people float and walk on air. Luna had space bombs that could help everybody not to fall asleep, or heal their injuries.

Luna saw the ninjas with her special eyes (she lived in space, so she could see everything), and she told Alicia. The ninjas were sliming things and Alicia used her water power to freeze everyone. Next Alicia, Carl, and Luna went to the beach.

It was National Friendship Day in United City. There was a giant party at the beach. People were eating cake, and drinking juice—those were things the ninjas liked to do! Alicia, Carl, and Luna invited the ninjas to join the party! Luna put friendship dust on the ninjas. Her friendship dust was pink with a little bit of red and it sparkled. Also, it smelled like chocolate chip cookies.

The ninjas felt very happy to have joined the party. The ninjas suggested that characters from United City’s neighbourhoods combine their powers to protect the city.

So, Charlie, Charlie and Ely and Alicia combined their powers.

Suddenly some sun liquid fell from the sky and onto Alicia’s volcano house. The sun liquid brought new bad: Sun Bad Guys! The Sun Bad Guys were wearing black and white striped t-shirts, black pants, black shoes, and black hats. Alicia used fire to fight the Sun Bad Guys. Alicia held a torch to the Sun Bad Guys eyes and they melted back to the sun. When the Sun Bad Guys got back to the sun, they looked back down at United City and saw the party. The party looked awesome and fun, so they went back!

Alicia saw the Sun Bad Buys and thought, what are they doing back here? Alicia said the Sun Bad Guys could stay at the party if they agreed not to use their powers. Luna used her friendship dust again. The smell of chocolate chip cookies made the bad guys extra nice.

Everybody danced together on the beach.

Alicia played these songs: “All The Love In The World”, “Havana”, “Back To Love”, and “My Favourite Things”. The ninjas and the Sun Bad Guys flossed. They ate chocolate bars and drank orange juice. The ninjas ate cupcakes and slime pizza. Luna used her magic to make lots of rainbow balloons fall from the sky. Then, everyone in the city exchanged friendship presents!

Writing as healing for children, by Zaima Ahmed

Writing is a great way of expressing what is in your heart. Little minds have plenty of imagination and thoughts going on in their minds, but they don’t know how to talk about it always, especially if they are going through something traumatic.

Below are 5 ways in which you can encourage your child to write, and Story Planet available in our Alien Art Market which can help you do so :  

  1. Encourage your child to write a journal every day and reward them with a treat to keep them motivated. Let them pick their journal book and a special pen to write. When it comes to writing, children can get bored easily, so including fun stuff can motivate them – like our Character Zine! 

2. Inspire them to write stories. Sometimes kids portray themselves through their story characters or express their feelings through the story they are writing. There is plenty of free story writing worksheets available on the internet that you can download and print. These worksheets make it easy to form a story.

3. Be their role model. If you write a journal every day, your child will follow you and do the same.

4. Fun crafts and games that involve writing. For instance, you could create a fun DIY papercraft box for 3 emotions, “happy,” “sad”, and “angry.” Then you could put a notepad beside the boxes and tell your child to write about their feelings whenever they are going through any of the difficult emotions and then put the paper in the appropriate box. Our Flash Card Fiction game is in the making and will be sure to get kids thinking!

5. Turn your child’s writing into books. This can be very exciting for your child and it will give your child a sense of accomplishment and will improve their self-esteem. You could compile all of your child’s writings into a book every year and create an amazing cover every time. This way you can find all the stories in one place and you won’t lose them. 

“The Adventure of Petal and Tackle,” by Arthika

On the Planet of Donuts there was an alien named Tackle. Tackle was a strong and caring alien, and he lived in a town named Cloudsdale. Tackle’s best friend’s name was Petal. They did everything together.

One afternoon Tackle and Petal were at karate class. Tackle said to Petal, “I really want to meet Sicky one day.” Petal agreed. Sicky was a bad alien. He made people sick, and nobody knew where he lived.

After karate finished, they went to a cafe. When they entered the cafe, it smelled like dirty socks.

“Why does it smell so bad?” said Petal.

“I don’t know,” replied Tackle. They also saw green goo and smoke. “That’s weird.”

Then…POW! They saw Sicky! Everyone in the cafe left through the fire exit. Only Petal and Tackle were left in the cafe.

“Leave, Sicky! You’re not supposed to be here!” said Tackle.

Petal and Tackle were getting ready to fight using their karate moves. However, Sicky spoke up. “Please don’t hurt me,” said Sicky. They were confused. Wasn’t Sicky a bad guy? “I am only here to make friends.” Petal and Tackle did not believe him. But Sicky wasn’t doing anything, he was just standing.

“Fine,” said Tackle, “if you can prove that you will be nice, we will believe you.” Sicky nodded. “The first thing I need you to do is clean up the mess you made,” said Tackle.

Sicky started cleaning the goo and the smoke. When he was done, Petal told him to apologize to everyone who was in the cafe. Sicky went to go look for everyone. They were all outside the cafe. Everyone was going to leave, but Sicky explained everything.

“I am very sorry that I frightened everyone. I hope that you can forgive me.”

They all nodded and agreed to forgive Sicky.

Petal and Tackle were getting friendlier with Sicky. “Okay, this is your last task. You need to announce to the Planet of Doughnuts that you are a kind alien now.”

“How am I going to do that?” asked Sicky. “You need to go to the radio station and kindly ask them if you can speak on the radio,” said Tackle. Sicky didn’t even know how that was possible, but he said he would try.

When they arrived at the station, Sicky asked the radio station manager, “Hi, can I please do an announcement?”

“Well, as long as you follow the three rules: It can’t be useless information, you cannot play with the buttons, and you have to pay,” said the manager.

Sicky didn’t have any money, so he didn’t know what to do. “Miss, I don’t have money,” said Sicky.

“I don’t want money, I want a precious red ruby from the Forest of Gems,” said the manager. The manager needed the gem because one of the buttons was broken, so she needed a ruby to replace it.

Sicky was scared to find the gem alone, so Petal and Tackle agreed to help Sicky. “Don’t worry Sicky, we have your back!” said Petal. Sicky told the manager that he could do it, so he went on a mission with Petal and Tackle.

When they arrived at the Forest of Gems, they started searching for the ruby. “We’re never going to find it!” said Petal.

“Don’t be so negative,” replied Tackle.

One hour later, Sicky saw a ruby! “Guys, I found the ruby!”

“Okay, get it and let’s go!” said Petal. When Sicky picked up the gem, the bushes started shaking.

“What’s happening?’” said Tackle in a frightened voice. Suddenly, a fox jumped out of the bushes. “That’s my ruby!” exclaimed the fox. “If you want that ruby, you’re going to have to fight for it.” The fox kicked Sicky in the leg. Then all of them kicked and punched the fox back. POW! BOOM! CHING!

“Okay! You win, you get the ruby!” yelled the fox in pain. The fox left and Sicky got the ruby.

“Let’s get out of this forest before we have to fight again,” said Tackle. When they left the forest and went to the station, they gave the ruby to the manager.

“Thank you for this ruby. You can go make your announcement,” said the manager.

All of them ran to the radio room. An employee showed them where the microphone was.

“Hello everyone. It is Sicky. I am not a bad guy. I was just here to make friends, and I do not make people sick. It is just a rumour! I have changed who I am, and I am sorry for who I was before. I hope you can accept me as a friend one day. Thank you.”

The next day, the whole Planet of Doughnuts welcomed Sicky with kind arms. Sometimes, aliens can change for the best.