The Wind Tells Me Stories

(Selected works from the COMPAS Writers & Artists in the Schools Program)

COMPAS (Community Programs in the Arts) is an excellent organization that sends writers and other artists into the schools; they teach and inspire children to create their own art. The Wind Tells Me Stories is the latest COMPAS collection, presenting some of the best writing done by students in the 2005-2006 school year. Reading the book is the literary equivalent of covering your refrigerator with children's art-it is bright and simple and imaginative, and makes you feel that we have great things to expect from today's kids. Who but a child would think to ask a road, as 5th grader Mark Rusciano does:

Do you like being run over?

Does it feel good?
Like a massage?
Do you like it when your cracks get sealed?

Would you like to be a highway?

In these pages you will find dogs jumping through hula hoops, a candy fight on a pirate ship, a penguin song and a rocket trip to Jupiter. There are poems about drinking fountains and untied shoe laces, and metaphors abound, like in 4th grader Conner Wendt's zen-like "Sparks": "My mind is a cat / curled by the fire. / My eyes are like sparks from the fire."

Not everything in The Wind Tells Me Stories is fun and games. One poem is about a brother in Iraq, another about an older brother who is a drug user. Hannah Michaelson's story "A Change in Plans" describes a friend who died of leukemia. Abdi Mohamed Jama shares memories of Nairobi, and the Eci Nompa Woonspe Charter School offers a Dakotah vision song. The book's title comes from a poem by Samantha Lowe. She asks the reader some very important questions:

The wind tells me stories,
can you hear them?
It whispers of a world growing cold
cold and angry.
Can you hear it?

Can you fix it?

- Joel Van Valin