It’s the Most
Wonderful HORRIBLE Time of the Year
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…No. It’s. Not. Every stinkin’ Christmas a tragedy occurs- every Christmas, thousands of us die. Do we deserve it? No. Do we like it? No. But do we wish for a different way of life? Um…yes. I have often dreamed of being a rock, cold and smooth. Or a book, treasured and kept safe. Even being a jack-in-the-box looks appealing right now!!! But no. Here I am, just bein’ a tree. A pine tree. A Christmas tree.
Yes, that’s right. I am one of your precious decorations for a holiday; you chopped down my brother last year, my parents the year before, and my girlfriend the year before that. Ellie…she was hot. No, I mean literally. Someone thought it would be a good idea to put candles on the Christmas tree that year, and when Ellie twitched while trying to hold in a sneeze, she caught on fire. And the guilty party did not even have the DECENCY to send a sympathy card!
The Legend of the Mighty Cliff
Legend has it that the very first North American martyr to Christmas was my great-great-great-great-great…y’know what, this will take forever…my extremely great grandfather. (I don’t know why everybody likes him so much, none of us have ever met the guy. How do they know he was so great??) Anyway, his name was Cliff, and he lived a peaceful life filled with simple pleasures; the chatter of squirrels and songs of birds, the fertile earth and sweet breeze.
But then, one day, a wimpy, harmless-looking thing on two spindly legs came and RUINED IT ALL. It used a weird, deceptively tiny INSTRUMENT OF THE DEVIL to chop down my extremely great grandfather Cliff, and after watching him crash to the ground, proceeded to drag him in a very undignified manner through the forest.
They say the angels wept that day. With his dying words, Cliff informed his brethren (via carrier-owl) that the strange little creature had propped his broken body up in its abode, and wrapped him ‘round with impaled little corn-children on a string. The creature hung paper from his branches and crowned him with a golden star; crowned like some pagan king prepared for a sacrifice ritual. I shudder simply thinking about it.
A Reign of Terror
When they heard of this atrocity, the Council of Trees got together (and by got together I mean communicated by owl, since, y’know, we’re kinda stuck). They compiled all of the information gleaned from various informants in the International O24U Association and discovered that the inhumane practice of chopping trees was all the rage in Germany. Many plans were conceived to put this reign of terror to an end. However, by the time a solution was settled upon, the barbaric tradition had spread to the point of no revocation (tree councils are not known for their timeliness, owls and all. Maybe we should look into drones). Since then, all conceivable options to rid the world of this savagery have fallen flat. World domination has been discussed, but the lack of opposable thumbs (in addition to legs, brains, and other useful organs) has proved problematic.
So here I sit, just waiting for fate to laugh evilly and point some merciless wood’s-bane of a human my way. Oh. Oh no. Oh, heck no! Are those…footsteps?? Somebody knock on wood! KNOCK ON WOOD!!!
I see a small female break through the foliage. I breathe a sigh of relief; that little sprout is no match for my brawn! But…I tense as she sucks a greedy portion of air into her lungs.
“DADDYYY!! I FOUND THE PERFECT TREE!!”
Oh, root rot, not another one! Another bumbling happiness-killer ambles into my clearing. And. He. Has. An. AXE! Oh, for the love of all that is green, please keep that thing away from me!! He advances like death itself! I’m comin’ Ellie, I’m comin’! Oh, the humanity! -Or rather…oh the forestry!! SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT!
“Oh Daddy, not that one.” The disgusting little creature wrinkles her nose. “That one.”
I glance behind me in disbelief and see my shaking neighbor, Steve. Might I add that Steve is the single, most annoying tree I have ever…and I do mean ever, met. And he’s not nearly as robust and amply-chlorophylled as I am. You want…HIM?! I gape as Steve is promptly cut down and hauled away. Too late, I yell after them: “HOW VERY DARE YOU!!! I AM CLEARLY THE SUPERIOR TREE HERE!! YOU JUST GIT YERSELF BACK HERE THIS MINUTE OR I WILL PERSONALLY-
About the Author: Emily Wilford is a sixteen-year-old homeschool student. She lives in Iowa, which is always either really hot or really stinkin’ cold. She really likes a lot of stuff, so trust me, I’m sparing you by only listing writing, mythology, Tae Kwon Do, horses, procrastinating, theater, and gazebos. You can usually find her reading a book while hiding in her natural habitat (aka under a blanket), and if not there, she’s probably trying to wrangle her five siblings (it never works, btw). She loves to sketch and listen to music, too; it’s truly amazing she ever gets anything done! Also, she finds it really weird to write about herself in the third person. Emily is part of the True North Homeschool Academy Writing Club and has written previous articles for us, including Creative Writing for Awesome People!
Are you looking for a great book for your tween or teen? Check out these book recommendations from the students in the True North Homeschool Academy Writing Club!
Fantasy Book Recommendations
The Map to Everywhere series (four books), by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis; Two children along with their magical friends go on adventures together to find the pieces to the Map to Everywhere so they can save people they love. Fantasy. Four stars (the third book has a less than satisfying ending in my opinion).
The Wingfeather Saga, by Andrew Peterson; Chronicles of Narnia/Lord of the Rings genre. Five Stars. It is a wonderfully whimsical adventure with spectacular characters and some deep underlying themes.
“The Moffats.”, by Eleanor Estes; Four stars. An older book, this hilarious story is a laugh a minute, following the lives of the unforgettable Moffat family. I would recommend this for a younger audience (ages 7-12).
All the wrong questions Lemony Snicket, five stars,
The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, by Christopher Paolini; Fantasy. 4.5 stars. A wonderful addition to the Inheritance Cycle! It follows the further adventures of a dragon rider named Eragon, as he and Saphira work to establish a new home for dragons and riders alike.
Story Thieves, by James Riley, five stars
The Wings of Fire series, by Tui T. Sutherland. You will laugh and cry! Five stars.
Fiction Book Recommendations
Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life, by James Patterson. Five stars.
Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World. A look at the world of mission work and cross-cultural experiences.
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins; Not great fiction, Three stars. I have often wondered why people liked this movie/book series, especially after my brother praised it rather highly (he has since repented of his blunders) and so in a quest to become educated in the world of literature, I began my quest by reading The first hunger games. I was rather disappointed, and half way through the second book, I was forced to put the book down. The main reason was it was rather gruesome, and gory, (not to mention multiple nude references) not only that but I felt rather ‘bummed’ after reading it because there doesn’t seem to be any authoritative hope, or redemption at the end. (plus it was just plain SAD!) The first book was tolerable, but I did not like the second one at all.
Beauty, by Robin McKinley, five stars. This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Excellent vocabulary and unique storytelling.The Outlaws of Sherwood, by Robin McKinley, five stars. This is a retelling of Robin Hood. Good character development and suspense.
Pictures of Hollis Woods, by Patricia Reilly Giff. This is a relatively short book about a girl in foster care, trying to find a family. It’s very picturesque and descriptive, and Giff has a unique way of getting into her character’s personalities. Fictional. Five stars.
Winnie the Horse Gentler, by Dandi Daley Mackall A fun story about horses and a young girl who must learn to live without her Mom. 5 Stars
The Imagination Station Series by Focus on the Family. For fans of FoF Imagination station and want more than just the radio drama. 5 Stars
Mystery Book Recommendations
Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series (three books in the series), by Chris Grabenstein; Kids get placed in a library and have to solve riddles and puzzles to escape. Five stars.
Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett; Fun and thought-provoking. Two kids go on an adventure to save a missing painting. In the illustrations, there is a puzzle that’s really fun to solve.
The Prisoner of the Pyrenees by C. R. Hegecock in her amazing Baker Family Adventures series. This book is part of my very favorite series. This series is a wonderful group of books, full of excitement, wonderful truths, and awesome mystery. Not to mention the great characters, settings, and plots. You could tear up on this one!
The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart; Mystery/fiction. 5 stars.
Historical Fiction Book Recommendations
Listen to the Moon, by Michael Morpurgo; A boy and his father find a young girl who cannot speak on an island near their home. They try to figure out where she came from and what happened to her. Historical fiction (set in 1915). Four stars (it’s kinda sad).
Projekt 1065, by Alan Gratz; Historical Fiction. 5+ stars. This is a fantastic book! It follows the story of an Irish teen who joins the Hitler Youth- as a spy.
The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, Self-published. Five stars. If you’re looking for a good historical fiction series, this series is the place to go to. The characters are amazing, and the plots keep you wanting to read on.
Amos Fortune Free Man, by Elin Yates, five stars
Little Britches, by Ralph Moody. Autobiography. 5 stars! We read this one out loud, and everyone was next to, (if not in the midst of) tears at the end! It’s a biography about a boy, (Ralph Moody himself) as he grows from a boy, into a young man. It also portrays, in a very, very beautiful, realistic, touching, and even humorous aspects of family, and everything that goes with it; including love, joy, sorrow, and pain. One of the best books I have ever read! (it is actually apart of a series, but I haven’t read any of the other ones.) It also portrays the times very well, and is a great family read aloud!
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak; historical fiction. Will make you cry (a LOT!) and laugh . . but not as much as you will cry. 5 stars! Another one of the greats! A very, very creative, thoughtful, and interesting perspective on not only WWII, but also on regular life. It is for sure one of the best books I have ever read. Though, just a heads up, I wouldn’t allow anyone below the age of 12, maybe even 13 to read it, due to some swearing, and rather complicated concepts. Told from a unique perspective you follow the interesting life of Liesel Meminger. WARNING! You will probably cry at the end . . . HARD!
Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen; 4 stars. Simple, and sweet. A story about family, and the beautiful countryside, plus all of the awesome miracles that come with both! (though, I gotta disagree with the author that winter is a nice time of year. Where I live, it’s the blue-fingered time of year).
Operation morning star by Dorothy LIlja Harrison. A brother and sister must travel across war-torn Germany to reach their father before he sails for America. 5 stars.
Gothic Fiction Book Recommendations
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë; Gothic Fiction. An excellent read- grab your tissues! 4 stars. Made her cry.
Thriller Book Recommendations
The Cooper Kids Adventure series, by Frank E. Peretti. Mystery/adventure/action. Five stars. A great book series for children and teens alike who are looking for thrilling reads that are clean.
Non-Fiction Book Recommendations
He’s Making Diamonds, by S. G. Willoughby. Non-fiction. Five stars. A non-fiction that is applicable to many in their life. It’s super encouraging with very very good truths and illustrations.
The Elements of Style, by William Strunk; Four stars. Writing\grammar. A great start to the confusing world of writing style. It covers everything from punctuation to format.
Romance Book Recommendations
The Thief, the Damsel and the Dragon by Angela R Watts; Self-published. Romance/contemporary fiction. five stars. A unique romance with a very intriguing plot.
This booklist was compiled by our Writing Club for AWesome People! We meet bi-monthly and have a blast talking good books and great writing! Next year we’ll also be offering Jr. High Writing Club!
Hi, my name is Emily Wilford. I’m sixteen years old (and totally NOT the sassy teenager my mother claims I am). Hailing from Iowa, I come from a rather large (aka LOUD) family of six kids, of which I am the oldest. I have been homeschooled since day one, and love the hands-on learning that homeschooling provides!
During the past few years, I have come to enjoy Latin, Shakespeare, and a wide variety of literature, as well as the meaningful friendships gained through my classes. In my (precious little) free time, I love to draw, read, and listen to music. I also enjoy camping, horseback riding, and ballroom dancing! Youth trips with my church are my favorite part of summer, and in the winter months, there is nothing better than to hide away with a good book and a warm blanket!
This last semester, I enrolled in a writing course through True North Homeschool Academy. Titled “Writing Club for Awesome People,” this course has not only been beneficial but also a total blast!
Every first and third Friday of the month, class commences with a unique creative writing prompt. Each student speed-writes whatever first comes to their mind. It is amazing how varied the responses are from a single prompt! Next, we dive into the lesson. We have studied a great variety of subjects, including (but not limited to): rhyme, sketch comedy, dialogue, setting, parallelism, and songwriting. This diversity has sharpened each point, as well as my writing as a whole.
To wrap up class, a few students read whatever writing they’ve been working on during the week. They are offered both encouragement and critique, as well as suggestions and ideas. It is enormously beneficial having not only a captive audience but a skilled and like-minded one to listen to and assess one’s writing!
There are four reasons why I have enjoyed this class.
- First, it has improved my writing skills- both creative and technical. Amid all the do’s and don’ts of good writing, tips and tricks are mixed in, all resulting in academic growth. The abilities I’ve developed over this short semester will stay with me for many, many years to come.
- Second, it has broadened my scope in creative writing. This class has encouraged me to try new styles and genres- I would never have thought to write a poem on my own!
- Third, this class has rekindled my love for writing. Often in my free time, I now feel the urge to elaborate and work on my stories- I had forgotten how much fun writing could be!
- Fourth, I’ve made some fantastic friends. It is so fun to be in a class with other middle/high school kids who love to write! They always have a book to recommend, encouragement to offer, and tips to suggest.
In conclusion, I would like to encourage you to consider taking a course from True North Homeschool Academy. Gaining experience, making friends, growing in knowledge…what could be better?
Interested in joining the True North Homeschool Academy Writing Club? Check it out here.
Emily Wilford is a sixteen-year-old homeschool student. She lives in Iowa, which is always either really hot or really stinkin’ cold. She really likes a lot of stuff, so trust me, I’m sparing you by only listing writing, mythology, Tae Kwon Do, horses, procrastinating, theater, and gazebos. You can usually find her reading a book while hiding in her natural habitat (aka under a blanket), and if not there, she’s probably trying to wrangle her five siblings (it never works, btw). She loves to sketch and listen to music, too; it’s truly amazing she ever gets anything done! Also, she finds it really weird to write about herself in third person.