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Experiments in Reduction
"Experiments in Reduction" by Caitlin Goh, 13 (Dallas, TX) Published in the April 2020 issue of Stone Soup

A note from Sarah

Things are difficult and overwhelming right now, but I want to take the time to highlight some really excellent initiatives happening online that you can enjoy.

Did you know that the author Kelly Yang is holding writing workshops on Instagram Live every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12 p.m. PDT? Kelly Yang wrote the critically acclaimed Front Desk, which was reviewed on our blog.

Also, Library of Congress Ambassador of Literature Jason Reynolds has been creating great videos with prompts for young writers. Here is where you can find the videos for his series, Write. Right. Rite. We’ve never featured reviews of Jason Reynolds’s books on our blog, but we would love to! If you’ve read one, consider writing a review and submitting it to us

LeVar Burton, who you might know from the show Reading Rainbow, is going live on Twitter reading books three times a week. He’s reading children’s books Mondays at 9 a.m. PDT and young adult books on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. PDT.

It’s not just authors, though. Museums are also offering more online for people at home. The Museum of Modern Art has started Virtual Views every Thursday, where they highlight one of their exhibits with commentary from museum curators and more. And you can explore famous museums like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles from the comfort of home. And that’s just to name a few!

Other arts organizations are also doing exciting things. I tuned into my friend’s theater company doing a Facebook Live reading of the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing (each actor at their own home!) and really enjoyed it. Also, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is streaming weekly concerts on Fridays for free.

Getting back to more mainstream–but still great!–providers or inspiration and tools, there is a really great list of links to free Learning at Home resources being provided at this time by lots of major publishers–including Stone Soup–on the Copyright Clearance Center's website.

Plus, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the things that Stone Soup is doing at this time. We’re holding Book Club on Wednesdays and Writing Workshop on Fridays. Check out an update from our book club here. And read what participants have created during writing workshop for our first meeting here, our second meeting here, and our third meeting here

Are there other cultural events happening online that you'd like the Stone Soup community to know about? Email me at sarah@stonesoup.com and we’ll start a page with a list of resources. We hope that some of these can make your time at home a little brighter.

Until next week,

Weekly Flash Contest #3: Winners

The week commencing April 13 was a very special week for our Daily Creativity series. We had a takeover by one of our readers, Molly Torinus, age 11, from Middleton, WI! Molly is a volunteer in our COVID-19 Focus Group, and she wrote a whole series of terrific writing prompts for us. When we planned her takeover, we all agreed that this prompt, challenging everyone to write from the point of view of an animal (Daily Creativity prompt #16), would be a great one to set as the contest. You all seemed to think so too, as we had a record number of entries!

We were thrilled that Molly also joined the Stone Soup team to be one of this week’s judges. Once the contest closed at the end of last week, we all read the entries independently and gave them our own scores. Then, we put the three judges’ scores together to come up with a shortlist and had a Zoom meeting to discuss it and agree the final results. It’s the first time we have had a reader judge in one of our contests, so it was very exciting for us to work with Molly on the contest: we can tell you that she was a very thoughtful and fair judge, and we really enjoyed working with her on this contest. We will try to get readers involved again in future, so look out for another takeover soon!

We all very much enjoyed reading these entries, and we were impressed by the different ways people approached the challenge of thinking like an animal. We especially loved the entries that really sounded like the thoughts and behaviors of animals we have met. It was easy to agree on our top contestants, and we also wanted to honor some of the other entries, as there were so many good ones. So this week we are announcing our five winners, whose work is published here, plus four honorable mentions. Congratulations to all of them, and thank you, Molly, for a great writing challenge and a fantastic job as a judge!

Winners, in alphabetical order:

Yutia Li, 10, Houston, TX
Anna Rosini, 12, Arlington, VA
Audrey Tzeng, 11, Rocklin, CA
Ella Yamamura, 12, Cary, NC
Sophie Yu, 12, Houston, TX

Honorable Mentions:

“Chickens and Playtime” by Nora Heiskell, 12, Philadelphia, PA
“Piano Bunny” by Maya Mourshed, 8, Silver Spring, MD
“The Great Indoors” by Enni Harlan, 13, Los Angeles, CA
“A Good Summer Day: A Day in the Life of Moti” by Anushka Trivedi, 9, Silver Spring, MD

Highlights from the past week online

Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!

We posted another art piece by Sloka, 11, related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows how families have been separated because of the risk of contagion.

Audrey, 11, wrote a poem that captures the anxiety she feels about the coronavirus and the inescapable news coverage of it.

Daniel, 10, writes about what he learned about the scientists who created the atomic bomb in the book Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. Though proud of their invention’s success, many of the scientists felt overwhelming guilt.

We posted a short, humorous comic strip by Abhi, 12. Are there parts of the self-isolating lifestyle that appeal to you too?

Vera, 8, composed a piece of music called “Dancing Pirates” that we’ve posted to the blog. Check out the link to listen to the recording and download a PDF of the sheet music so you can play it too!

For our weekly writing workshop last week, we asked participants to get inspired by Anya Geist’s photograph of a spider in its web. Here is some of what they wrote during workshop.

Anya, 13, reviewed the book Half Magic by Edward Eager and talks about what she thinks of it after re-reading for the first time in a few years.

Are you familiar with the Haiku form of poetry? On the blog on Wednesday, we posted a coronavirus-themed set of haiku by Amy, 10.

Alyssa, 13, captured a hopeful shot of her former elementary school. Take a look at the photograph and her thoughts about it.

Ishan, 10, wrote a poem about the “invisible wall” that keeps us separated right now. Here are the poignant last lines: “There’s an invisible wall in between us / We can break down this wall brick by brick together / By being apart.”

Daniel reviews the book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. Read about how he thinks that the book demonstrates the importance of our choices and being thankful.

Experiments in Reduction

From Stone Soup April 2020

Self-Portrait: Breath of Ghosts

By Sabrina Guo, 13 (Oyster Bay, NY)
Illustrated by Caitlin Goh, 13 (Dallas, TX)


We never used our fireplace
until Hurricane Sandy
snapped the power lines.

Heavy rain and wind
whipped around
our dark house

as the night grew colder.
Our flashlights,
the steamy breath of ghosts

in the dead of winter.
My father’s match
struck a stack

of miniature ebony logs
and turned them alight
like the bright orange

wings of a monarch butterfly,
the dark body of the room
made thicker.

 . . . /MORE

Stone Soup is published by Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization registered
in the United States of America, EIN: 23-7317498.

Stone Soup's Advisors: Abby Austin, Mike Axelrod, Annabelle Baird, Jem Burch, Evelyn Chen, Juliet Fraser, Zoe Hall, Montanna Harling, Alicia & Joe Havilland, Lara Katz, Rebecca Kilroy, Christine Leishman, Julie Minnis, Jessica Opolko, Tara Prakash, Denise Prata, Logan Roberts, Emily Tarco, Rebecca Ramos Velasquez, Susan Wilky.


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