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≠scrapers 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.