Natalia & Sarah’s Unauthorized Adventure: a.k.a. The Quest for the Elusive Allegra Salamander

We at Dogpatch Writers Collective are dismayed to report an unprecedented hack-in, resulting in the following completely unauthorized post. If anyone catches sight of these two miscreants, please notify us immediately. It’s way past curfew and at least one of them didn’t finish her social studies homework.


Natalia and Sarah on wall

Security footage of the two miscreants still at large.


We also sincerely apologize to Mr. Allegra over at heylookawriterfellow for any feelings of undue peer pressure or actual guilt this post causes. Please be assured that it was not AT ALL pre-authorized by DWC management, although it does have us ROFL.



NATALIA: Sssshhhh, we have to be really quiet so we don’t get caught by the SITE ADMINISTRATOR.

SARAH: I’m not afraid of some dumb ol’ SITE ADMINISTRATOR. What’s a SITE ADMINISTRATOR?

N: Not what, but who, and in this case it’s our Aunt Laurel.

S: The Aunt Laurel who is shamelessly exploiting our kid cuteness and personas in this post, albeit for a very worthy event designed to encourage children of all ages to write and read poety?

N: Yep.

S: Does Mom know about this?

N: Who do you think gave Aunt Laurel ridiculously adorable photos of us to unabashedly exploit in support of SpeakEasy 16, a unique reading series produced in Whatcom County, Washington? This particular event on April 12, 2015, at 2 p.m. will feature young poets ages 5 to 16 reading their original poems for an audience of children and adults who will gather at the gorgeous Mount Baker Theatre to celebrate these young poets.

S: Cool.



N: Look, here’s the poem Aunt Laurel is writing for SpeakEasy 16.

The salamander went out last night.

As usual, it ended in a back-room fight.

S: She has no conception at all of what is age appropriate.

N: What do you expect from a prose writer whose characters enjoy a tenuous existence at best on the gritty fringes of mainstream society and are frequently undone by their inherent flaws?

S: She might do a much better job at this venture outside of her tawdry writing comfort zone into the wonderful world of children’s poetry if aided by an appropriately delightful and original doodle of a salamander, such as one that only that heylookawriterfellow could draw.

Mike Allegra, a.k.a. heylookawriterfellow: Will the famous children’s book author wield his doodling prowess to help the children of Whatcom County WA write poetry? We’re not even sure he’s ever going to read this post, but it could happen.

N: The right illustration fully brings the text to life and allows a poem to speak to its audience on multiple levels.

S: Should Aunt Laurel be forced to resort to stock art, the overall effect would clearly be diminished and lack artistic authenticity.

N: We better do something so our peers in Whatcom County aren’t subjected to an age-inappropriate and potentially emotionally scarring disaster of a poem.

S: Rumor has it that heylookawriterfellow, the online persona of the talented and renowned kids’ book author and illustrator Mike Allegra, is the parent of a child around our age. So we might be able to wear him down in the usual fashion persuade him politely to create one of his famed doodles for this special event.

BOTH: Awwww, ppppplllllleeeeaaaassssseeeee!!!

Sarah and Natalia ext

Our work here is done.



N: Okay, I think our work here is finished.

S: Cool. Will you read me a story?

N: Of course, because reading together is one of the most wonderful and rewarding pursuits that children of all ages can enjoy. What story would you like me to read?

S: Duh, the one that has my name in the title.

N: You mean Sarah Gives Thanks by Mike Allegra, the gorgeously written and illustrated children’s book that tells the story of Sarah Josepha Hale, a wonderful female role model for all girls and women, and who worked tirelessly to ensure that Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday so kids like you and me all across the land could give thanks for all that we have and for the people whom we love, and which is written in artful yet accessible prose and is a marvelous enhancement to any child’s library or classroom shelf?

S: Yeah, that’s the one.

N: Okay, handily, I have a well-read first edition right here with me: “The turkey was fresh from the oven. Sarah Josepha Hale asked her five children to join hands in thanksgiving . . . ”

 Sarah Gives Thanks Cover  hi res


N: Is there anything else we should say while we have this platform?

S: Hi Mom!

N: Hi Mom!

S: We should also tell kids in Whatcom County that they have a few more days to submit their poems to SpeakEasy 16.

Kids of Whatcom County WA: Please submit poems, with the name and age of the poet (along with the name of an adult who would accompany the reader to the event) to Luther Allen ( or to SpeakEasy 16, PO Box 1042, Bellingham, WA 98227. All submitted poems will be displayed at the reading. There is a headcount cap, so get your poem in now to be considered. The deadline for submittals is March 31. Also, young poets can submit the same poems to the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, which gleefully accepts poems from both students and people who have only the vaguest memory of being a student many years ago.

N: And please come to SpeakEasy 16 to enjoy a wonderful and fun show that will feature both adult and children poets. The supporting cast of grown-up readers will include Sarah Wallace, Rena Priest, Skip Williams, Judy Kleinberg, Jessica Gillis, Lois Holub, Chuck Robinson of Village Books, Kevin Murphy, and our Aunt Laurel. Plus featured guest Pamela Porter will also give a talk and reading at Village Books in historic Fairhaven on Saturday, April 11, at 4:00 p.m.

S: Plus, if Mr. Allegra has any heart whatsoever, there will be a fantastically awesome doodle of a salamander prominently featured with our auntie’s poem that is sure to be a classic. The doodle, we mean, we’re not so sure about her poem, but we’ll give her as much help as kid-ly possible on that front.

BOTH: Awwww, ppppplllllleeeeeaaaaassssseeeee!

DWC MANAGEMENT: Oh, what the heck. Mike, ppppplllllleeeeeeaaaassssseeee!

On the Wall








Filed under You're Welcome

29 responses to “Natalia & Sarah’s Unauthorized Adventure: a.k.a. The Quest for the Elusive Allegra Salamander

  1. Pingback: Say “Howdy!” to SpeakEasy 16 on April 12! | Dear Writers

  2. This is fantastic!! Love it!

  3. Samir

    Children reading and writing poetry is a worthy cause 🙂

  4. Laurel, this is adorable, clever and perfect for making the points! Not to mention that your “niececreants” are fabulous!

  5. Pingback: Gone Crying | Dear Writers

  6. dawngroves

    Shameless on you and your badboy salamanders. I expect you to be wearing one on your shoulder at the event. Oh wait, maybe those are chameleons …
    I need to bone up on reptilia.

  7. Hilarious! I’m convinced you can do anything, Laurel, including fire up your adorable niece miscreants! See you on the 12th!

  8. For shame! Using children to do your dirty work!

  9. Selah J Tay-Song

    OMG this is hilarious! And your nieces are the cutest frickin’ things ever! And . . . you totally hooked me with the first line of your poem. I can’t wait to hear the rest. Allegra, get doodling!

  10. OMG, I’m speechless. First time ever….

  11. Pingback: Natalia & Sarah’s Unauthorized Adventure: a.k.a. The Quest for the Elusive Allegra Salamander | Dear Writers

Bark back!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s