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Hope Homeless girl in the streets
I realized that I’d probably never have what she had. She had hope

Illustrator Anika Knudson, 13, for Hope, by Isabel Folger, 12
Published January/February 2014.

A note from William Rubel

Another week! Where do they go? Last week, I said that I'd write about blogs this week. To begin, I'd like to acknowledge my colleague, Sarah Ainsworth, who manages the blogs, including the book reviews. We at Stone Soup are very excited by the material that our young bloggers and reviewers have been sending to us. I would like to ask you--whether you are a young Stone Soup reader or an adult Stone Soup reader--to please look at the material being published in our blogs. The blogs enable us to publish more book reviews than we can in Stone Soup, and they enable us to publish writing by young writers that falls outside of the literary framework of the magazine itself.

When you read a blog post or a book review that you like (and I'm sure you will), then leave a supportive comment. If anything you read on the Stone Soup website makes you think of something, if a blog post or review gets your own thoughts and creative juices flowing, then please share. I am now working with a web developer who is going to set us up with a system to reward you for commenting on blogs, but in the meantime, please leave comments anyway! I can tell you as a writer of books and magazine articles that it is rewarding for authors to receive feedback and fan mail.

We are so pleased with the additional material we are publishing online that I'd like to issue another call for bloggers. We are particularly looking for young bloggers--that is, age 13 and under--and we are also looking for teenagers, young adults, and adults. If you are a homeschool parent or a teacher, then we especially want to hear from you. We are about to launch an educator blog. To become a blogger you need to to first send us an example of a blog entry. You will find full  instructions on our submissions platform.

I want to share with you an excerpt from Vandana Ravi's review of The Book of Boy. It is thought provoking.

"I think that this book, though told in a medieval setting, really applies to modern day. Everyone is different. Although most kids have been told this many times, we still tend to single out the people who are very tall, very short, who have learning problems, who look different. We look at someone and judge them, forgetting hidden under everybody’s metaphorical disfigurement, there is a mind that thinks and feels just like we do. Everyone has, at some point, felt that they don’t fit into the norm. It’s hard to realize that our differences might actually be assets. When you are singled out or made fun of, it’s difficult to put a smile on your face and show the world that you may be different, but you have your own special powers. When you do, however, you are given wings for your personality to fly free."

For something very different, I recommend 'The Winds of Change,' by Lukas Cooke, who we think of as our nature blogger. This is Lukas' fifth post. 'The Winds of Change' is about Spring. Lukas talks about the smell of the air, the signs of the season's change. At the center of his story is a nest of moles that he saves from from a bonfire. The post includes a photograph of the nest. My summary does not do Lukas' work justice. It is a well written evocation of Spring on a farm.

Here is the link to find all of the work by our young Stone Soup bloggers: STONE SOUP BLOGGERS.

Until next week,



Making Stone Soup even more accessible

Those of you who read our masthead will have noticed that for many years Stone Soup has been available in braille and ebraille for our visually impaired readers. This free service, in print and online, is provided by the US Library of Congress' National Library Service, who you can contact to sign up or receive more information either at their website or by calling +1 800-424-8567.

Now, we have expanded our accessible options by partnering with the US National Federation of the Blind's NFB-NEWSLINE®, a free audio information service available to anyone who is blind, visually impaired, or print-disabled. We are delighted to add Stone Soup to the list of more than 500 publications already available via this service. Our young authors' writing is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with an incredible range of publications: national, international and regional newspapers (like the New York Times), breaking news sources (such as Sports Illustrated Online, CBS, and the BBC), and magazines including Air and Space Smithsonian, Discover, Family Fun, Poets and Writers and Teen Vogue.

There are a variety of ways to access NFB-NEWSLINE, always free of charge. You can use your touch-tone telephone in your home; you can access the service via the website, receive On Demand emails, or use your portable player or mobile devices. To learn more about NFB-NEWSLINE and to register, please visit www.nfbnewsline.org or call +1 866-504-7300.

Please spread the word to friends, family and colleagues who could benefit from these accessible options!

Business News

Our Santa Cruz web designer has time for us, again! I met with Jordan Iverson last week and will be meeting with him again on Monday. Over the next couple of weeks you will be seeing tweaks to the website. When we finish fixing what we know could use improvement, then we will come to you to ask for direction.

Now that the subscription login system has been simplified (you just need your email address) we have started sending out letters to make absolutely sure that those of you who are subscribers know how to get in.

We also have a one-month free offer for non subscribers. If you are a newsletter reader, but not yet a subscriber, you may go to our homepage and choose 'Subscribe' on the menu bar. This will take you to our order form. Enter MAY18 where it asks you for a coupon code, and you will have a ONE MONTH FREE PASS to all of Stone Soup. Please enjoy it.

Those Less Fortunate hanging out with the girls
“Wow!” signed Katya. “Is that me? It looks just like me”

From Stone Soup, January/February 2011

Those Less Fortunate

By Adair Brooks, 13
Illustrated by Tiger Tam, 12

Shira felt a thumping on her bedroom floor. She got up from her desk and ran into the living room. Sure enough, Dad was home. Shira watched him lug his bulky cello case through the door and over to the corner by the piano where it was stored. Her father taught cello at a nearby university and had an hour’s drive to work. He always got home later than the family wished. Now he went over to the kitchen doorway where her mother was wiping her soapy hands on a towel. Shira saw her mom say something to her dad, and then he hugged her. Seeing his daughter, Dad walked back into the living room and did the same to Shira.

“How’s my little songbird?”

Shira read his smiling lips. Shira. The name meant song, which was ironic for a girl who had been deaf since she was seven years old. The last sound she remembered as she lay in the hospital bed was her mother saying, “It’s getting worse.” That night had been a sleepless one. When morning came, Shira was frightened when she watched her mother greet her but could not hear what she was saying. She’d watched her brother, Nolan, go off to school in the days that followed, disappointed that she had to stay home to be taught by her mother, who was struggling to learn signs herself. These days, however, Shira didn’t regret staying home since Maxwell Junior High kept Nolan on an undesirably busy schedule. There were better things to be doing than sitting in a class at seven-thirty am—like sleeping! A few hours of extra rest, though, could hardly make up for the discouragement she felt in being so different and difficult to talk with. She was grateful for the group of faithful friends who saw past the speech barrier, but at times it could be frustrating when others were afraid to talk to her. She also longed to hear again the warm tones of her father’s cello. She cherished the memories of when he used to take it out and play for her after suppers long ago. In those days she’d had a cello of her own, and many a happy lesson she had spent scratching blissfully away as he patiently instructed her.

Now she turned to him and asked, “How was teaching today, Dad?”

“Not too bad,” she read his lips in answer. “Only, the kids are so worn out from their lessons with Mrs. Etterson. Their technique is so stiff and they have a hard time playing relaxed. I’ve tried talking to her about it, but she seems to be set in her ways.”
Mrs. Etterson was the other cello teacher at the school. Her lessons were always unpleasant and her practice requirements always unrealistic and unhealthy. Shira had gone to school with her dad several times and admired the way he not only demonstrated passages with skill but encouraged the students to experiment and figure things out for themselves. Mrs. Etterson did not. With her, everything was “my way or the highway.”

“I’m sorry about that. You should really talk to the board. They need a different teacher.”

“You’re probably right, but for now I’m just happy to be home. Howdy, Nolan!”

Nolan came down the stairs, having just emerged from the shower after a vigorous basketball practice. His short, towel-dried hair stood up in wet spikes on his head. “Hey, Dad,” Shira read his reply. Dad went on with something like “How was practice,” to which Nolan, looking very tired, gave a short answer and plopped down on the old, overstuffed couch.

After a while in which Dad read the paper, Nolan did homework, and Shira doodled a picture of their old collie dog, Whetford, who was curled up in front of her rocking chair, Mom called them in for dinner. There was a steaming pot of broccoli with a basket of warmly buttered rolls, and Nolan devoured a heaping portion of mashed potatoes. Staring at her forkful of broccoli, Shira remembered the family dinners of long before, which had been full of chatter. Nolan had been a talkative little six-year-old then, and Mom and Dad used to laugh at the disappointed faces their little ones made when there was broccoli on their plates. Laugh. How long ago that memory was. Sure, she still saw Dad’s eyes squint and twinkle and his whole frame shake at times, and Mom throw her head back at one of Nolan’s jokes, but even those soundless occasions were getting much rarer. Nolan frequently came to the table looking tired and sat in a silent stare through most of the meal. Dad appeared similar, though he sometimes tried to liven things up with a joke. Shira sighed and looked around the table.  .../more

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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