Writing Gallery


An Exchange of Letters Between: Lizbeth M and Javier T

The following exchange is from our forthcoming Young Authors Book Project, P.S. You Sound Like Someone I Can Trust. Javier is a sophomore at Amundsen High School and Lizbeth is an eighth grader at Emiliano Zapata Academy. Scroll to the bottom to read their author bios!

Dear Javier,

    My name is Lizbeth and I’m thirteen years old. I live in Little Village. I come from Mexican parents, and the most important thing to me is my family. I love shopping, and I like to be honest to people. I was born in Chicago, Illinois. I go to a school named Emiliano Zapata Academy. I listen to music but not all the time. I have friends but not a lot. I have three friends. My neighborhood is great. I have fun traveling in my neighborhood. I like to travel in Mexico. It is one of my favorite places to travel, and I have a lot of fun there.

Well, now I want to ask you some questions! Where are you from? What is your favorite thing to do? What is the most important thing to you? Do you like your school? What is your favorite subject? Do you like to read? What places have you travelled to? Do you like sports? Well, those are the only questions I have for you. I hope this will be enough information about me.


Dear Lizbeth,

    My name is Javier and I’m sixteen years old. I live in a neighborhood called Albany Park. I have lived most of my life in Albany Park. I came from Mexican parents and I’m the only child in my family that was born in Chicago. My parents and my older sister were born in Michoacán, Mexico. To be honest, it’s pretty stressful being the first child to be born in Chicago and in the United States because my parents expect more from me. They expect me to get a better education, a better job, to get into a great university, and to get a good degree. And I know I might sound stereotypical, but I love to play soccer and I’m on my high school’s soccer team. I’ve been playing since my freshman year.

    To answer some of your questions: my favorite activities would consist of sports, music, and art. I play soccer, football, softball, volleyball, and basketball. My favorite sport would be soccer. My position in soccer would be right wing or center right midfielder. I love running around and helping out on defense, but I love going up to score, as well. I love the adrenaline I feel while I’m dribbling around the other players. It’s just amazing contributing to a “big family.” Joining a program in high school is great when you need support and people to relate to. They will be your family throughout your high school experience.

    High school is overall an amazing experience. You learn a lot in your classes and you meet amazing teachers. If you have any more questions, I’d love to answer them.

Take care,

Dear Javier,

    I got your letter and thank you. It was fun to read it. I like how you answered my questions. I noticed we have some things in common. I read that you like volleyball and I also like to play volleyball. It is one of my favorite sports. I also read that you like soccer. Cool, that’s a good sport. You exercise a lot. I do like soccer but not that much. My two brothers like to play soccer. My parents are also from Mexico, like yours. Also, my parents want me to have a good education and have a better job in the future.

    The best day of my life was when I went to Mexico. Mexico is really different from Chicago. Mexico is like another world where you feel free. You can’t compare Chicago to Mexico because they’re so different. They might have some things in common but not that much. When I went to Mexico for the first time, I didn’t know what to do because it was a new place for me, but as the days passed I went to different, fun places. There was a store where they had machines that you could play video games on. Everyday I wanted to go to the store and play my favorite machine game. That was my favorite thing to do in Mexico and I will never forget it.

    Okay, now I’m going to talk about a special place for me. It is my home because it reminds me of happy moments with my family and also the saddest moments. It also reminds me of my two brothers and sister growing bigger. When I see my house, I immediately remember all these things. Well, that’s it. If you have more questions for me, I would be happy to answer them.

    I do have some questions for you. What is your favorite color? What is your favorite food to eat? What is your favorite thing to do in your free time? I hope you have enjoyed reading my letter.


Dear Lizbeth,

    I enjoyed reading your letter. I love tacos! They are my all-time favorite! Well, a lot has happened throughout these couple of weeks. I’m a family person, so I’m always with my family and really get along with them. Actually, one of my uncles died and it was a pretty harsh to experience to go through. I also ended up in the hospital on another night and, well, the news didn’t excite me. I found out that I might have a heart condition that could lead me to death, but the doctors referred me to a cardiologist. They are going to run some tests and figure out if I’m having that condition for real or if it was a one-time thing.

I have had a lot of free time and since I couldn’t workout or play soccer, I started to write. Not just because it was a homework assignment—it was something I wanted to do. I’m not much of a writer and I didn’t know what to write, so I wrote a story. Hopefully, you’d like to read it. I would like to know a story about your family or you—the most memorable, the craziest, worth-talking-about story. I’d honestly love to hear about it!

Javier T

Dear Javier,

    I enjoyed reading your letter. I’m also a family person. I’m always with my parents, but it doesn’t bother me, being all the time with my family.

    I’m so sorry that you went through all of this and that your uncle passed away. I haven’t been through this, but I can imagine how bad it feels to lose somebody you love. I hope you feel better and your family too. I wish nothing bad had happened. I’m sorry about your heart condition and I hope you are better soon.

I do have one experience that I can’t forget that I will tell you about: The first time I went to Mexico, it was on a bus. I was really nervous because it was my first time. I didn’t know how Mexico would look or what it would be like. But I can’t forget it because of the bus. It is so horrible to ride on a bus for almost three days. It felt horrible because it was hot outside and all the people in the bus made it hot too.

At first, I didn’t want to go to Mexico because I didn’t know people there, but when we got there it was so cool. You can feel free. When I got there, so many kids were playing. I got to meet a cousin of my same age and another cousin only one year older than us. When it was time to go back, I didn’t want to go because I loved Mexico.


Dear Lizbeth,

    I appreciate your worrying and hoping for the best for me and my family. Lately things have been calm and are getting better. I went to the hospital for an appointment and the doctor told me that I’ll be all right. My heart is stable and I won’t suffer drastic effects. I honestly felt so relieved to hear that I am stable. The very next day, I got up earlier than usual. I went for a long run and played soccer like never before. I was so worried that I wouldn’t get to return to heavy weight training and intense workouts, but I just picked up from where I left off and I’m gradually making progress.

    Mexico is such a beauty. Roaming Los Ranchos and the little cities is a must. I remember that my family over in Mexico would take me to Morelia to go shopping and to this water park. Because there are mostly females on my mother’s side of the family, I play soccer or juggle the ball if I get bored.

    My fondest memory would be when I bought my fixie. Once the package came in the mail, I built the bike myself and rode out. I always ride downtown and to the South Side. It takes an hour or two, but it’s totally worth it. I’ve learned many routes and new places. I always try to revisit them when I can. I would bring my older sister, but she’s too slow to ride with me.

    I don’t really have any other specific questions, but I’d love to hear any other story you’re willing to share.


P.S. During my bike rides I usually witness the east shore of Chicago, like the Lake Michigan scenery. For example, I rode out with a friend this Saturday night on the Lakefront Trail, down past the Bean and the Willis Tower. After riding to the Bean, we cruised downtown. We were just enjoying the view and trying to take as many pictures as we could. The Lakeshore Trail is my favorite route. It’s lengthy, but it’s a lot of fun. You get to witness nature, the lake, the Chicago skyline, and it extends way down to the South Side. I just love it.

Lizbeth M is thirteen years old. She goes to Emiliano Zapata Academy. She loves to spend time with her family, and has two brothers and one sister. She likes to go to Mexico. She’s a shy person. She would like to design clothes, be able to cook different kinds of food, and be a doctor or a nurse.

Javier T is sixteen years old. He was born and raised in Chicago. He is Mexican American but was raised as a full-on Mexican. He loves to play volleyball, softball, baseball, and soccer. Some other interests are music, art, and food. Javier loves tacos! *Buy him tacos.*

Chiquitito / Tiny


Tienen puntos chiquititos
Son árboles chiquititos
Tienen troncos chiquititos
Son triángulos chiquititos
Son borradores chiquititos
Son lápices chiquititos
Son libros de ejercicios chiquitos
Son unas montañas rusas rápidas y chiquititas
Son unas tarjetas chiquititas
Son personas chiquititas
Tienen trabajos chiquititos
Son escuelas chiquititas
Son reglas chiquititas
Son tijeras chiquititas
Todo esto está en mi imaginación grande, grandísima


They have tiny dots
They are tiny trees
They have tiny trunks
They are tiny triangles
They are tiny erasers
They are tiny pencils
They are tiny workbooks
They are fast, tiny roller coasters
They are tiny cards
They are tiny people
They have tiny jobs
They are tiny schools
They are tiny rulers
They are tiny scissors
They are all in my big, big imagination


When I am alone, I dream of nebulae;
interstellar matter
embracing open cluster
of newborn young stars waiting
for their place in constellations. I envy
the way the stars are never cold or alone
or how they know they’ll become useful
someday and possibly become a breakthrough
for the scientists
exploring for solutions
to the mysteries in life. To them, the answer
could be found in gas clouds
full of colors
found in an overly enthusiastic
kindergartner's pencil case.

Dear kid
who excitedly bought the 64 pack of crayons:
I hope you connect the dots
to your constellation.
And while you’re at it, I kindly request
that you draw one for me too.

When I dream of nebulae, I become aware
I am alone. It’s not a sad life, I often whisper
to myself, bitterness
with every syllable.
It’s an acquired taste.
Just like my love for nebulae

Pleasantly Juicy Haikus (Ode to my Favorite Fruits)

To the Banana:


How I crave your soft texture

Delectable mush


To the Pear:


So widely misunderstood

You are the ripe Queen


To the Pomegranate:


With juicy bursts of wonder

Such satisfaction


To the Mango:


Tropical ethnicity

Take my taste buds now


To the Fig:


Do you wanna get jiggly

With your soft flesh self

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