We have had a big year.
We presented several touring shows in the fish theater. We opened a third writing center and invited a dragon to live there. We ate, between us, several dozen sandwiches. Just a big, big year, and in no dimension larger than the collections of student writing we published. We invited six of our 2019 student publications to talk with us, to share a little about themselves and what the year was like for them.
826: Welcome to the 826 Valencia stores newsletter for January 2020. With us this month is the inaccurately named 826 Quarterly Vol. 28 —
826 Quarterly Vol. 28: Hey, I actually am the 28th volume!
826: That’s true. I meant the “Quarterly” part.
Vol. 28: Everyone brings that up.
826: Also with us are Veo Justicia (I See Justice) from the Tenderloin Center, We All Belong from our Young Authors' Book Project, A Bridge Built Out of Stars and Infinity Years In The Future from our Writers' Room at Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8, and A Magical Forest with Sparkles and Stars from our brand-new Mission Bay Center.
826: BVHM books, tell us a little about yourselves.
A Bridge Built Out of Stars: Infinity Years in the Future and I are part of a continuing collaboration with Buena Vista Horace Mann in San Francisco’s Mission district. Instead of students coming to 826 Valencia, 826 Valencia’s staff and volunteer tutors maintain a dedicated Writers' Room at BVHM. That gives us a special school flavor!
Infinity Years in the Future: Some of our students work with us from third grade all the way through eighth grade! The BVHM Writers' Room is a constant in our students’ lives, so our stories and poems tend to be a little more developed, a little more polished.
826: But still very playful, is that right?
Bridge of Stars: Ha ha, yeah! Stories of fancy and adventure, just like it says on the cover.
Infinity Years: One of my students touched a bat!
Bridge of Stars: You’re also full of cake!
Infinity Years: That’s true, there’s a lot of cake in me.
826: Veo Justicia, is your experience similar?
Veo Justicia: Not exactly. I’m a collection of work written students at our Tenderloin Center. The BVHM books have the flavor of their school policies and culture, but I’m the voice of a neighborhood.
826: Tell us a little about that neighborhood.
Veo Justicia: Well, Khrizel G.F., age 11, wrote this about playing in a Tenderloin park:
The flowers bloom,
making light shine upon it
as kids run around,
whispering through the great beyond.
Kimberly N., age 11, writes, “Everyone has a story behind their smile.” Jenrick J., age 12, writes, “I like the Tenderloin because it’s a good place to do stuff, but people think it’s a bad place. " You can’t sum up a whole neighborhood in a couple sentences. It’s as big as all the people in it.
826: All of the books we’ve talked to so far have been part of a series, but Magical Forest, you’re a little different. Since the Mission Bay store just opened, you’re the first of your kind. What’s that like?
A Magical Forest of Sparkles and Stars: It’s amazing. It’s like watching the first star come out on a beautiful evening.
826: I see. What kind of star should we expect?
Magical Forest: A wondrous star! A magical and imaginative star; a star especially concerned with animals and forests. Several of my students took on bunnies and bunny-related issues.
826: Bunny-related issues?
Magical Forest: Sure, bunnies taking over the school, bunny ideas about human nutrition, human magicians, you know.
826: We All Belong, you're not centered around a school or neighborhood. What's the heart of the Young Authors' Book Project?
We All Belong: The Young Authors' Book Project is a collaboration between 826 Valencia and a different high school every year. My students are from Galileo High in Russian Hill, and their pieces reflect on Luis J. Rodriguez’ 2005 memoir Always Running.
826: So you’re written entirely by high school students. How does that set you apart?
We All Belong: My pieces tend to be a little more sophisticated, a little broader in scope. A lot of my work is more serious, dealing with issues like family separation, surviving injury or trauma, or relating to people of very different life experience. It’s the work of young people reaching for adulthood.
826: Vol. 28, you’re kind of unique. All of the pieces in you were first published in other student publications. Does that set you apart?
Vol. 28: Yes. I’m the best of the best.
Infinity Years: You’re the best of what’s already been published in volumes like us, you mean.
Bridge of Stars: Copycat!
Magical Forest: Hey now, there’s no need to argue. It’s like werewolves. Whether they’re human or wolves, their spleens and uvulas are the same.
826: I think we can all agree on that.
826: Thank you so much, books, for speaking with us today! We’re honored to have the chance to present you to our readers. Six books in one year— that’s pretty good for a small organization, right?
Bridge of Stars: Actually, 826 Valencia published 12 books in 2019, not counting the chapbooks.
Infinity Years: That’s right, 12 of us came out in 2019, but six of those were considered 2018 books, since they collected student work from 2018.
826: But isn’t that what the 826 Quarterly does?
Vol. 28: Well, yes, but I’m considered part of the year I’m released.
Veo Justicia: Don't forget the periodicals, like Mission Magazine and The Bayfarer. This interview only includes the books available on the web store. It’s *almost* as if this whole interview is a scheme to get people to buy things.
826: That’s not true! We’re genuinely proud of you, all of you, and want to share your accomplishments with our readers!
We All Belong: Oh, then you won’t mind that we invited all the rest of the books published in 2019!
826: What do you mean? Why is the door opening? You can’t come in, we’re in the middle of an interview! Who is it? Wait— it’s the Tenderloin Center book, A Dazzling Rainbow on the Side! And who’s that with you? The Bessie Carmichael triplets, Fresh as a New Song, Fresh as a Sunrise, and You’re So Happy I Fly! And behind you, the Acting for Critical Thought collection, Looking Through the Cracks! Two issues of Straight Up News! I Will Dance With Stars, a collection of haiku from Everett Middle School! Volume 23 of our bilingual publication, Mira de Cerca! Issues of The Bayfarer, Mission Magazine, and The Journal of Publishing Apprentices! Chapbooks from the Tenderloin Center and BHVM! It’s all the books we published in 2019, even those that say “2018” on the cover! Why are you looking at me like that? There’s too many of you! Stay where you are— don’t come any closer! Don’t come any— aaaaaaarrrrrgh!
Vol 28: That concludes the interview for now. Thank you for joining us, and please visit shop.826valencia.org/ to learn more.
All proceeds from 826 store products and events go towards funding 826 Valencia programs, which are dedicated to supporting under-resourced students age 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills. Click here to make a gift.