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Lisa Levine is a teaching artist at Corbett Elementary, and an MFA Candidate in Fiction at The University of Arizona.
Teaching fiction to Jill Carey's second grade class confounds the rules of fiction. In my class' stories, every person has superpowers, pizza is the universal food, and magic is the only ending that counts. The minds of second graders are so able to transition from real to made-up that setting boundaries from one to the other is like building walls over running water - the awareness of real and made-up is fixed in their minds, but their beliefs are still entrenched in a child's world, where the unimaginable is not only imaginable, it's still kind of true. My most memorable instance of realizing that second grade is a time of unmatched creative transformation was when one student read about his imaginary character, who bore a strong resemblance to a certain ubiquitous character of wizard and literary fame - the class called him out on using someone else's character. "He's Harry Potter," one girl said, and this boy blushed and hid a little behind his story as he left the front of the room. "Yes," he said. "But he's mine too."
How Wind Came to Be
One day, a woman burped and it made a cloud. The cloud scared her, so she kicked it away. Then a lion walked out of the cloud and started to talk to her. She blew the cloud away. Then the armadillo ate the lady. Then the cat ate the armadillo. Then the dog ate the cat. The walrus kicked the dog, and ate him. Then the lion ate the walrus and then the polar bear ate the lion. Then he went back to Antarctica, where it was very windy. The polar bear sneezed, which caused even more wind, and then the polar bear sucked up all the wind. Then there wasn't any more wind in Antarctica. The polar bear went all over the world sucking up wind. He had sucked up so much wind that he sucked up all the wind in the whole wide world.
--George Parra, Corbett Elementary