TALL GIRL By Tran, Jessica C., Jessie, Wendy & Alex, ages 9-11

Tall Girl hops over kitten.
Kitten purrs.
Tall Girl twirls
around the playground.
Teacher screams,
“Watch out for the wall.”
Tall Girl gallops to the library.
The donkeys here kick 
books off shelves.
Tall Girl’s ear tears into 
four furry bits that hear:
1. Screaming
2. Stomping
3. Shuffling pages
4. Silence. Shh!
Tall Girl reads about how to
regrow sadness. She wants to be alone.

Inspired by Anne Waldman’s poem “Fast Speaking Woman.”

Watch Room 2 perform a Readers’ Theater adaptation of the poem here:

WAR & CITIZENSHIP By Alex, age 11

war & citizenship
book 2 in the adventures of the liangs series
Hello, my name is Admiral Luu. The story I am about to tell you travels from San Francisco to the Middle East, for two reasons: war and power. Actually those two things are the same. Okay, I’m going to stop yakking and move on to the story.
A San Francisco flag snapped on the balcony. Commuters honked. A radio sat on a shelf. The room was filled with books. “Time to wake up,” said Mayor Liang. “It’s time for you to take the Standard Citizenship Test.” 
“Why?” Mrs. Liang asked.
“Because you’re undocumented. That’s why you’re just an unpaid intern.” 
“Just get the book.” Mr. Liang opened his drawer and took out two books. He handed Mrs. Liang one of them.
Mr. Liang flipped through the pages. “Okay,” he said. “What rights are guaranteed by the First Amendment?” 
“I don’t know.” 
“Who was President during the Korean War?”
“I don’t know.” 
“Why not?” he asked. “I don’t have a General Education Development diploma.”
 “Okay, you’ll get your education.” 
Car horns honked on the street outside. Voices chanted. People united, if Earth is divided! Mr. and Mrs. Liang ran to the balcony with their binoculars. They looked down. 
“I see ants,” said Mrs. Liang. 
“I disagree,” said Mr. Liang. “I think they’re protesters.”
“Get the tank.” 
“Remember, I’m driving.”
“Are you ready?” Mrs. Liang said.
 “Yes,” Mr. Liang replied. 
Mrs. Liang climbed up the ladder and plopped down on the seat as Mr. Liang started the engine. They stopped at United Nations Plaza. 
“Are we at the League of Nations Plaza?” Mrs. Liang asked. 
“Yes. Remember it’s United Nations, not the League of Nations.” 
United! United! People chanted. 
Protesters ran everywhere. Some of them threw rocks at the tank. People pepper sprayed ts windows. Cannons flew into the air. Mr. Liang turned the tank around, and they scuttled back to City Hall.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock. A shore patrol officer checked his watch as he stood guard at the entrance to the registration office. Mrs. Liang walked up to him. “Welcome to the US Navy,” said the officer.
“Are you sure it’s the Navy?” asked Mrs. Liang.
 “Just knock the door.” 
Mrs. Liang looked at the sign. Welcome to the US Navy. It’s 9:45. All buses go to the California National Guard HQ. Tap. Tap. Tap. Knock! Knock!
“Come in,” I said. “I’m Admiral Luu.” 
“I want to join the US Navy,” said Mrs. Liang. 
“Give me your information.”
 “My name is Mary Liang, I live at 1 Polk Street.” 
I gave Mrs. Liang the forms, and we both filled them out.

Knock! Knock! Knock!
“Come in,” said Mr. Liang.
I opened the door. Silence filled Mr. Liang’s office. He was signing tax return checks. “Comrade,” I said, hugging him. “May I talk to Mary Liang?”
“Yes, go to the door on your left.” 
“Are there any warnings I should take?” 
“She’s actually part of a sacred communidad.” 
“But she’s Chinese, so she can’t be.” 
“Go in and see.” 
“How is the 82nd Airborne?” 
“Fine. They’re working at the shipyard, preparing for deployment tomorrow as ordered, though you’re second in command. ” 
I opened the door, swaggering in front of Mrs. Liang. I gasped. Guns were everywhere. On the walls. On the ceiling. “Hello,” I said. “Hi,” said Mrs. Liang. “Did I forgot something?” 
“Yes, your military identification card and uniform.” I gave her the card and her uniform. “Join the 82nd Airborne at the Hunter’s Point-Daly City Shipyard tonight.”
Vroom, vroom. Screech. Clink.
“Prepare for the ceremony,” said Mr. Liang. Chairs clinked. Water splashed. Rain poured down. 
“Sir,” said a man in a khaki uniform. “Seaman Blue requesting postponement.” 
“Show must go on,” said Mr. Liang. “Hurry up.” Chairs slipped. Officers trudged. Mr. Liang raised a banner. The rain stopped pouring.
Cars and buses lined up at the shipyard. People sat down quietly. Soldiers and medics marched to the aircraft carrier. I walked to the podium, escorting Mr. Liang past a row of news cameras. 
“Today is a special day,” said Mr. Liang. “I’m going to be at war.”
People gasped. 
“Now,” he said. “My cousin, Bobby Liang, mayor of Daly City will temporarily take People cheered. The Shore Patrol escorted us to the ship, blocking civilians and reporters asking questions. 
Chinooks lined up at the runways. Soldiers embarked. “Take off your patches,” said Mr. Liang. “We’re now the Operational Bravo-Detachment 9017, Alpha Company, 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group.” 
Soldiers put on the new patches. We flew across the Pacific and disembarked at the Af-ghan-Iran border. 
“Admiral Luu,” Mr. Liang said to me. “Here’s your new uniform. You’re still second in command, but you’re Sergeant Major.”
Boom. Boom. Boom. Buildings crumbled. Civilians fled the city. Tanks rolled over the debris. Dust flew through the air. Paratroopers landed on the road. They inspected the buildings, raised American flags. Mr. Liang’s troops cheered, but he did not. I walked towards him, staring at the dead bodies. There was sadness on his face, but glory, the same look I had seen when he watched the mayoral election returns. He stood on a pile of rubble.
“March to Qom!” yelled Mr. Liang. Our troops left the city.
Vroom, vroom. Tanks and trucks rolled onto the tracks leading to Qom. Soldiers walked beside them. Mr. Liang turned to me.“We’re heading this way,” he said, “because there’s no military there.” 
“Except the Iraqis and the British,” I said. 
“How do you know?”
“There are the Brits!” yelled Mr. Liang. “And Iraqis!” 
Soldiers cheered from approaching tanks, hopping to the ground. “Major Camp,” said a stocky man, shaking Mr. Liang’s hand. “I’m leading the Iraqi-British Campaign for the Battle of Qom.” 
“Specialist Liang,” said Mr. Liang. “I’m leading Afghan-American forces with my assistant Sergeant Major Luu.” He pointed at Mrs. Liang who was knitting behind him. “And over there is my wife, Private Liang.”
Fshh. Fshh. Leaves rustled. Soldiers looked into the forest bordering the road. Major Camp entered the green maze. Mr. Liang’s troops followed. Birds chirped. Camp’s troops found a box, opened it: a weapon for mass destruction, a Teller-Ulam.
“Nuke!” yelled Mrs. Liang. “Honey,” said Mr. Liang. “We need your yarn!” Mrs. Liang attached the string to the fissile sparkplug. The soldiers scurried to the train yard. Mr. Liang tied the yarn to the safety pin, yanking it from the grenade. He threw the metal egg into the forest. A cloud mushroomed out of the greenery, cottoning the sky. Trees collapsed. Major Camp’s soldiers inspected the area.
“Safe,” said Major Camp. “No damage, but retreat.” 
“Back to the train station,” Mr. Liang yelled. 
Soldiers set up camp on the platforms, exploring the station. They split into two groups. Mr. Liang’s troops stayed at the station, Major Camp led his to battle.Iranians walked along the road to Qom, escorting tanks. Soldiers scurried through the sand, pointing their M16s upwards. Bullets flew everywhere. Civilians ducked. Iranians wandered around, searching for Ma- jor Camp’s troops. Major Camp looked up. A plane soared through the sky, dropping bombs on a nearby tank.
 A soldier rushed to Major Camp. “Phone,” said the soldier.
“Fire!” yelled Major Camp, then he picked up the phone. “Hello,” he said. “Who is it? Ministry of Defense?” 
“Hello,” said Mr. Liang. “It’s Specialist Liang.” 
“What is it?” 
“Ministry of Defense and DoD called.”
“The States’ Navy is covering for you guys.” 
“Thanks, bye.” Major Camp hung up the phone, throwing grenades at the enemies. Iranians raised a white flag, dropping their arms. Major Camp’s soldiers retreated to the train station. “Specialist Liang,” said Major Camp. “Onward to Tehran.” 
“Tehran!” yelled Mr. Liang. “All ATVs must leave through Qom-Tehran Railway.”
Tanks rolled down the tracks. Soldiers climbed onto trucks. I watched the forest. Leaves flew through the railway. Air Force Thunderbirds soared through the sky, dropping First Aid tubes to the ground.Blood filled Mrs. Liang’s uniform.
“So help me God,” Mrs. Liang said. Mr. Liang awarded her the Distinguished Service Cross and Citizenship Certificate, con-
gratulating her as he hung the cross over her bandaged neck.
 “Specialist,” I whispered. “I hate to have to tell you this now, but American involvement in the ASEAN conflict is unavoidable. We’re heading to the Republic of China.”

about the author
Hi, my name is Alex. I am eleven years old. I am a San Francisco native. If I had a superpower, I would like the power to grow up instantly and become the United Na- tions Secretary-General. I do wish there were no clubs
that discriminate like the Boy Scouts of America. If I could go back in time, I would go back to June 6, 1944 at Normandy to see D-Day in action. This is my third published book. I am also the author of Don’t Worry About It and Other Stories and Shark Story.


Defense of Sihang Warehouse
By Alex
October 30, 1937.
Comrades scurry into position.
If I’m not going to fight,
why did I join the 88th Division?
Bombs boom.
Outside, bullets stab cement.
I run out the back
and stare ahead.
Three meters across, I whisper.
I can do it.
The creek cries.
From the opposite bank,
civilians cheer.
I Jump into the Suzhou’s rough waters
And swim.

SHARK STORY by Alex, age 9

Clink, Clink, Clink, Shuffle, Shuffle, Shuffle. Mr. Liang dumps bottles and papers into the recycling bin. “Why did people elect me?” asks Mr. Liang. “And who is supposed to empty the recycling?”

“You are, Bill,” says Mrs. Liang, his secretary, twin sister and wife. “Did you know the area was restricted?”

“Do you mean the sixth Floor? We have a key to there.”

They take the elevator to the sixth floor of City Hall. There is a green army tank in the middle of the hallway, the sun gleaming off its armor. Dust flies through the air.

Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. “Does the tank work?” asks the mayor.

Mrs. Liang says, “I think there’s a way we can use it to solve the unemployment problem.”

“Will it fit in the elevator?”

“Sure! Why not?”

They get in and drive the tank into the elevator, down to the first floor, out of City Hall, right past the metal detector, and out to Union Square.

“Why are we doing this?” Mr. Liang says.

“I’ll tell you later.”


“Okay,” Mrs. Liang says. “I want to get rid of adults. They are blaming you because the employment rate is sky high, and this is the only way.”

“What is the ‘only way’?”

“We have to kill them off.”

“You’re kidding. With this tank?”

“Well, not exactly. Just watch.”

“This tank looks like it’s from the Korean War or World War II. Do think it’s still any good?”

BOOM, CRACK! The Victory Statue tilts diagonally, pointing its trident at the sun. It creaks loudly as it crashes down onto Macy’s. Everybody gasps.

“Someone get help!” yells a tourist.

“I’ll call 911,” says a woman in purple velvet.

Everyone stops shopping and stares at the Victory Statue.

“Well, no one looks dead,” says Mr. Liang. “I think we need to try something else.”

The next morning Mrs. Liang picks up the phone.

“This is Dow Chemical Lab, San Francisco Bay Area Branch. May I help you?”

“Yes,” says Mrs. Liang. “Do you sell hexazylenadultium? Can you tell me about it, too?”

“Yes.” Tap. Tap. Tap. “Just a minute. Hexazylenadultium is a nonmetal chemical poisonous to adults. Why do you need this anyway?”

Mrs. Liang flips through her notepad. Not enough jobs, too many budget cuts. Kids keep turning eighteen year after year. I want to commit suicide, and kill my husband. She twirls the telephone cord. She kicks her chair. She bangs on the stapler. “I’d like to order one thousand gallons. Send it to City Hall in San Francisco, Federal Express, next-day air.”

“Gallons? What? This chemical is only sold in milligrams.”


“If you need a lot, use shark fins. They contain high levels of this carcinogen.”

The fax machine beeps. Mrs. Liang pulls out the page and reads it then hands it to Mr. Liang. “Look at this,” she says. “It’s about a campaign to ban shark fin soup.”

“Perfect idea,” Mayor Liang says. “Let’s save sharks!”

“Are you out of your mind?”


“It’s Chinese tradition.”

“It’s bad for the environment.”

Mr. Liang takes his place in the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers next to all the other board members.

“What about AB 376?” Supervisor Sherman says.

“Where’s the agenda?” Supervisor Wu says.

“What about our budget problem?” Supervisor Lewis says.

“What about Occupy San Francisco?” Supervisor Lau says.

“Eureka!” Mr. Liang yells. “I have the agenda.”

Supervisor Mirkarimi rushes into the chambers, waving his cell phone. “Look at this!”

Mr. Liang and the other supervisors look at the screen. “Isn’t time for North Park?” Mayor Liang says.

“No!” Supervisor Mirkarimi says. “Watch.”

“Jenny Jang here,” says a reporter on screen, “Live in Vacaville.” Behind her crowds of people are marching. “I have one of the protest leaders here with me. Mrs. Liang.” The reporter turns to the mayor’s wife. “So, tell us, why are you against AB 376?”

“It’s racist!” Mrs. Liang yells. “This is a protest against racism.”

Mrs. Liang walks into the mayor’s office, holding two bowls of soup.

“What is that?”

“Shark fin soup!”

“We’ve been to tons of banquets this year and you never ate any shark fin soup. Why do you love it so much, all of the sudden?”

“Look, I called Dow Chemical.” Mrs. Liang tells the mayor about her phone conversation. “It could be the solution to the unemployment problem.”

“Okay, let’s eat.”

“Yeah, why don’t have mine, too, honey?”

About the Author

Hi, my name is Alex. I’m nine years old and I live in San Francisco with my three sisters, my mom, and my dad. I like democracy. I am interested in voting and protesting. I’m different from other kids because I’m into bureaucracy. For example, I really like learning about rules and filling out forms. My favorite book is Journey to Topaz because it is set during World War II. If I could go back in time, I would go to the time during the Chinese Civil War because I would like to ask Mao Zedong about his ideas. My parents come from Vietnam, which is country I never been to. I would like to go because I want to see how they deal with their economy. If I could ask everyone on Earth a question, I would ask, “Do you like communism?” I wish everyone had the right to free speech in China. I’m also the author of Don’t Worry About It And Other Stories.


MORE PIGEONS! By Alex & Wendy, both age 9

On July 12 two pigeon nestlings hatched in the corner of the playground under a bench. They are from the rock dove family. Their scientific name is Columba livia. Today the nestlings are four days old. Their eyes are open and their down is starting to turn grey and they have started cooing. They cuddle together, looking cute.

Pigeon Eggs & Egg Care

The mother pigeon laid the eggs in a sloppy nest made of sticks and trash on the ground. Jose and Brandon found them while they were playing hide and seek.

Here’s what we learned about pigeon families: The father finds food at night while the mother sits on the eggs, then in the morning the father sits on the eggs while the mother looks for food. Pigeon eggs incubate for seventeen to nineteen days. After the eggs hatch, sometimes the parent sits on the nestlings and sometimes the babies are alone.

Crop Milk

Crop milk is food for baby pigeons. It comes from both the mother and father pigeon. There is a special chamber in pigeon throats. This is where the crop milk comes from.

Fledgling Period

During the fledgling period the nestlings stay in the nest. The fledgling period is thirty days. At the end of the thirty days, the nestlings leave the nest.

Here is a video of the nestlings. It’s from the day they hatched.

HARVEST TIME! By Alex, age 8

Last fall we planted purple kale, rainbow chard and lettuce in Room 2’s garden. Yesterday we finally harvested all of our winter greens. Look at all the colors. The chard has green leaves, and red or yellow stalks and veins. Yesterday, we ate lettuce with sesame dressing. Today, we will steam the chard and kale with rice for lunch. We will eat light brown rice because it has nutrition in it. We will eat it with soy sauce or sesame dressing. Next week we will plant beans. We can’t grow tomatoes because Tenderloin summers are too foggy.


Don’t Worry About It

I was playing football with my dad in my parents’ bedroom and the wall was the goal. My dad grabbed my legs to tackle me but he was only playing. My mom was taking a bath and I could smell the shampoo in her hair even though the bathroom was near the kitchen. She yelled to my dad from the bathtub about social security and taxes. My dad said, “Don’t worry about it.”


On my first day of preschool my mom had to sign a lot of forms. My mother didn’t know how to sign her name in English but she knew how to sign in Chinese. She wrote J and a T. It was her first time signing her name in English.


It was my first day of Chinese school. The whole school smelled like glue. The classroom felt too warm. I heard a bus outside. I didn’t know what my teacher was saying. Everything she was saying was in Mandarin and I only knew Cantonese. I felt nervous. I thought of the time I was lost in a store in Chinatown. My classmate asked me in English, “Do you know what the teacher is talking about?”

I said, “No.”

At recess I saw my cousin. He told me, “Do you have any food?”

I said, “Ok,” and I gave him a gummy worm.

About the Author

Hi, my name is Alex. I am eight years old. I live in San Francisco with my dad, mom and my three sisters. I am good at math. Someday I want to be good at sewing. I want to be a fourth grade teacher when I grow up. This is my first published book.