Wednesday, April 17, 1991 - marks the 201st anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's death. I know because I read this little tidbit of trivia in one of the recent issues of The Franklin Flyer - a compilation of creative works penned by students of Provo's Franklin Elementary School.
I like Ben Franklin because he was really nice. I'm very sorry that he died. But I know the date. He died on April 17, 1790. . . . I think that he would have been really popular if he hadn't died. - Quinn Overton, fourth gradeSince two Taylor kids attend Franklin, I'm an automatic Flyer subscriber. A copy comes every couple of months by special delivery - wadded up inside a backpack alongside homework, a lunch box and a Nerf Turbo football.
If the children are our future leaders and our future work force, then they are also our future writers and reporters.
I am an American. I can tell because I cannot speak another language. - Jesselee Young, first grade
Photocopied on several pages of pastel-colored paper and featuring the work of students from kindergarten through the sixth grade, The Franklin Flyer is filled with highlights from class writing assignments.
Those are the stories that often start out "One day . . ." and "Once upon a time . . ." and later end up with winners and heroes, fame and fortune. A wish fulfilled merits mention of forever; a crisis resolved is often the result of waking from a dream.
The writings are exercises of spelling, penmanship and practice. They also serve as exercises in imagination, self-analysis and childhood perspective.
I wish the Persian Gulf crisis would end. I don't think that we should be fighting over oil. That's like fighting over who gets the Game Boy. - Cameron Pulley, fifth grade
With simple sentences, misspelled words and limited punctuation, young writers still convey emotion - anticipation and anxiety, confidence and self-consciousness, wonderment and wishfulness.
I went with my dad to Salt Lake to see the Ninja Turtles concert. The car broke down and our grandpa had to come get us. - Kevin Long, first grade
In two sentences, the reader is captured - appreciating a youngster's obsession with Donatello and friends, yet wondering if the automotive misfortune was a pre-concert or post-concert event.
Or consider the following report: I was in the sand dunes and I saw a jack rabbit. My friend and I followed its footprints. In the morning, I smashed a mosquito on my uncle's tent. - Skyler Tiede, first grade
Without an understanding or appreciation of grammar and style, a first-grader has selected an active verb - smashed - and created a graphic, descriptive sentence. Instead, all Skyler knows is that taking out an insect helped make for a memorable trip to the sand dunes.
Just think, the Pulitzer Prizes of tomorrow are in the hands that grasp No. 2 lead pencils today.
With that in mind, we leave you with the wit and wisdom of budding writer Ashley Giles, currently of the first grade.
Gorilla, big gorilla, How big you are.
You mess up my room.
You eat my new car.
(Scott Taylor, Provo, is a Deseret News assistant city editor and a former assistant bureau chief of the newspaper's Utah County Bureau.)