Maybe you’ve noticed. Stone Soup publishes more writing by girls than by boys. This is not intentional. We would love to include an equal number of contributions by boys and girls in every issue. We can think of two reasons for the imbalance: 1) we receive more submissions from girls than from boys, and 2) many of the stories we receive by boys contain violence, which makes them inappropriate for Stone Soup. However, we do get some great writing by boys on themes that are appropriate for Stone Soup. This month’s featured story (July/August 2015 issue), Grandpa and the Chicken Coop, is a good example.
Eleven-year-old Jack Zimmerman, who lives in New York City, is happiest when he is with his grandfather and they are building something together. But Grandpa lives in California and the two don’t get to see each other very often. Jack envies his cousin Logan, who lives closer to Grandpa. The story takes place during the summer after third grade, when at last Jack gets to visit Grandpa, and the two have a grand time building a chicken coop together. But that’s not what the story is really about. Over and over we learn how much Jack loves Grandpa, and why. “My grandpa is so great and does everything I like to do, and for that reason I love him so much,” says Jack, after a phone call with Grandpa that leaves him feeling sad that they are so far apart. Then, when the two finally get together and spend the day building the chicken coop, Jack realizes something: “Each time I would make a mistake he would correct me and teach me how to do it right. That was what I loved most about him during this project.” At the end of their perfect day, Jack gets to tell Grandpa how he feels: “Oh, Grandpa. I love you so much.”
Jack is not afraid to express his feelings, and the result is a very touching story about the love between a boy and his grandfather. Not all boys (or girls, for that matter) would feel comfortable expressing these strong feelings. Maybe, like Jack, you have a family story you’d like to share with our readers. Or maybe you’re into fantasy, science fiction, or historical fiction. If your story has a strong plot, believable characters, and colorful descriptions, it is a good candidate for publication in Stone Soup.
So, all you boys out there, get busy! We want to publish your work! Take the extra steps to polish your story by reading it over a few times, adding more detail where you think it’s needed and cutting any boring parts you find. No matter what genre you choose, base your characters on people you know, so their thoughts, feelings, and language are realistic. Use settings you’re familiar with, so you can capture the look, feel, and smell of a place. If you need to, ask your parents for help getting your story ready to send to Stone Soup, following our contributors’ guidelines. We’re eager to hear from you!