For Children

David Zask

Country Kid

2006 5th-6th Grade Prose Winner


I would like to say that my first year in New York City was fun, full of friends, and happy. But I would be lying. What really describes my first year in New York City is: sad, desolate, scary, and lonely.

I'm sorry, I forgot to introduce myself; my name is Mike Boington. I arrived in New York on September 8, 2004, the day before I would begin my first day at my new school.

I also forgot to introduce my annoying older sister, Tiffany. She's 14 and thinks she knows everything.

When I first saw New York City I was baffled by the huge sky‚Ȇscrapers hovering above me like giants, the cars screaming as if their lives depended on it, and the pollution hovering over in the sky like clouds. I wondered how I, a country kid from Amarillo, Texas, could survive in such a place.

I heard that the city never slept. Did that mean that nobody ever slept there, or that the city never slept - but how could a city sleep in the first place? I was scared and confused.

Problem #1

My first problem was sleep. I tossed and turned for hours, but I couldn't sleep. Finally at two o'clock in the morning I gave up trying to sleep and watched TV. I fell asleep with the television blaring. My mom screamed, "Mike Boington, time to wake up, you have school, and why did you watch TV all night?"

"I'm sorry, I couldn't sleep, so I decided to watch TV," I replied.

"Pretty lame excuse, Mike," said Tiffany. See, I told you she was annoying.

Off I went to begin my first day of school. What I didn't know was that I was going to face problem #2.

Problem #2

When I got to my classroom, the teacher said, "Class, we have a new student, Mike Boington from Texas."

I heard two kids in the back row say out loud, "Boing!ton, Boing!ton."

"Mark and Joe, please be quiet," said the teacher. "I'm sorry, Mike; not everybody in the fourth grade is mean. By the way, my name is Ms. Asokia."

Then I realized that a lot of people were going to make fun of me because I was new and my name sounds kind of funny.

After class, a kid came up to me and said, "I know how you feel. I was a new kid last year. Do you want to be friends?"

"Sure," I said. "What is your name?"


"My name is Mike. Nice to meet you."


My mom picked me up after school. We decided to take the subway home.

I was surprised to see so many people rushing madly about. The next thing I knew, my mom and I became separated, and I was lost. I didn't know what to do - maybe a city boy would've known what to do, but I didn't.

I started to cry. Then I saw a man dressed in blue with a badge. I suddenly realized that he was a policeman. When he saw me, he asked, "What's the matter, son?"

"I'm lost," I sobbed.

"It's okay," said the policeman. "We'll find your mom or dad."

"My mom was ripped away from me by the crowd," I said.

The policeman led me to a police station. When we got there he asked, "Where do you live?"

"I don't know," I said.

"What do you mean, you don't know where you live?" he asked. "I just moved into the city and I can't remember my address," I said.

"What's your name?" he asked.

"Mike Boington," I said.

He started to flip pages in a very large address book. Then he said, "Follow me - I'm taking you home." When I got home everybody, even Tiffany, hugged me.

"What about Mom?" I asked. "She still thinks that I'm lost."

"Don't worry, I called her. She'll be here in a few minutes," replied my dad. Sure enough, my mom was home in no time at all.

Facing Problem #1

I didn't like New York City, and my problems with school, trouble sleeping, and finding my way around made me hate it even more. "Well, I can't let my problems destroy my life. I have to take them on like a man!" I said. "I'll start with my sleep problem."

I went to Sam and asked him, "Can you teach me how to get around in the city?"

"Sure," he replied.

I started by trying to learn my address and phone number by heart. It took two days.

I learned the map. After that I walked home alone.

Facing Problem #2

I had a plan to beat the bullies. Here's what happened: the bullies were chasing me down the hall, and then Mr. Gog appeared, just like I had told him to. The bullies got detention for a month and never bothered me again.