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"The Fireflies" (Watercolor) by Audrey Champness, 12 (Green Cove Springs, FL),
and published in the April 2021 Issue of Stone Soup

A note from Jane

At last—it’s April, and everyone can share the joy of reading The Trials and Tribulations of Swifty Appledoe by Ariana Kralicek! The first part of Ariana’s novella is published in this month’s issue, and the next two will appear in May and June. It’s funny, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s wise. Everyone involved in the production of Stone Soup magazine has been eagerly anticipating each episode (we have to run a few months ahead, so we have read the whole thing already!), and it’s wonderful that you can all now meet Swifty, Ariana’s delightful and memorable character. Print readers should visit the version on the website too: you can hear a recording of Ariana herself reading it aloud. You can’t beat hearing an author’s work in their own voice!

Which reminds me to say, if you are reading this even minutes before 9 a.m. PDT on Saturday, April 3, come and hear our Writing Workshop students give live readings from some of their work from the winter/spring session. It’s free to attend, and everyone is welcome. Join us on Zoom, and then settle back to revel in listening to some great writing.

For now, back to Swifty Appledoe. The novella opens with a quote from the poet, playwright, and novelist Oscar Wilde (1854–1900): “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” As you might expect from the quote, the main themes of the novella relate to exactly this—learning to be oneself. In the process of her intense and often hilarious attempts to transform herself into a popular, successful student, our hero Swifty learns to identify and relish her own unique qualities, value herself as she is, and thus find recognition, happiness, and friendship.

I feel a lot of warmth and happiness in the gorgeous watercolor featured on this month’s cover too. Audrey Champness’s use of different tones is uplifting: her darker background colors are vibrant and joyful, not somber, and they make the lively focal point of the fireflies flitting around the bright jars just glow. She has captured the scene in a way that makes you think of balmy nights, candlelight or torchlight in the darkness, companionable chatter, and laughter.

Both Ariana’s novella and Audrey’s watercolor made me think of this quote by Rumi (1207–1273), which a friend sent to me recently: “A warm, rainy day, this is how it feels when friends get together. Friends refresh friends, just as flowers do, in a spring rain.” What does friendship mean and feel like to you? How might you convey the warm, refreshing sensation of being among friends, understood, valued for yourself, in a lovely season of the year? Spend some time this weekend capturing that mood or feeling in an artwork or a piece of writing. And as always, send us what you produce so Emma can consider it for Stone Soup!

Until next time,

Writing Classes and Book Club

Are you looking for classes to inspire, improve, and practice your writing with great teachers and a group of like-minded young writers and readers? Join us! We do charge fees for our clubs and workshops, but we try to keep them as low as possible, and we offer discounts to subscribers and scholarships to students who need them. Contact us at education@stonesoup.com with any questions.

Writing Workshop: we have two new writing groups for spring/summer, starting April 17, that will meet via Zoom every Saturday except for the last Saturday of the month. Come write with us and share your work with your peers. Find out more and register for a workshop at Eventbrite. To see some of the great work produced by current workshop members, read contributions published at Stonesoup.com, or join us at one of our free public readings!

Book Club: a book club for writers that meets via Zoom on the last Saturday of every month, with a new season starting on April 24! Find out more and register for book club at Eventbrite. Check out which books we are reading on our website.

Young Author’s Studio Summer Camps: we are offering a wide range of classes through the summer jointly with the Society of Young Inklings. Each camp runs for two hours per day, Monday through Thursday. All details and bookings via Society of Young Inklings.

Book Contest 2021

For information on submitting to the Stone Soup Book Contest 2021, please click here.

To submit your manuscript, please visit our submittable site.

Highlights from the past week online

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

Read Stone Soup 20-21 Intern Anya Geist’s Book Club write-up for a summary of last week’s Book Club and information on next month's book.

Iris, 11, wrote a review about the lasting relatability of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice

Check out the powerful personal narrative “Life Without a Smile” by Margaux for an account of her return to in-person learning.

Roger wrote an uplifting flash piece, “COVID-19 in the Ocean.”

Ariana KralicekFrom Stone Soup
April 2021

The Trials and Tribulations of Swifty Appledoe
(Part One)

By Ariana Kralicek, 12 (Aukland, New Zealand)

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” 

—Oscar Wilde

Chapter 1

“And that’s exactly why you should try Milky’s chocolate ice cream!” I conclude, bowing as my excited audience showers me in a standing ovation.

It’s Saturday night, and my parents are sitting on our squishy velvet sofa, watching me rehearse for the big advertisement audition coming up in a month-and-a-half’s time.

It’s important that an actress is very prepared because, as they say, the show must go on.

The TV is blaring softly behind me, showering me in a spotlight effect and bathing the living room in a cool glow.

If I look down, I can see the glassy surface of the coffee table covered in a sea of audition papers, a lone clipboard floating at the surface.

You see, when I grow older I want to become a famous actress. I want to go to the Oscars and win incredible awards, go to the Met Gala and wear a spontaneous-but-stunning outfit, pose and give daring looks to the press as they photograph me, live in a massive—

I can suddenly hear the familiar sound of the Candyland theme song. Obviously an ad break.

The actors’ voices start moaning sorrowfully from the TV. I know what they’re going to say. I auditioned for this ad but didn’t get in.

“Oh no!” a woman cries. “My cat ate my pet bird!”

“Come on!” an old man wails. “My walking stick snapped!”

“Whaahhhh!” A stereotypically bratty toddler, wearing one of those caps with propellers on, shrieks like a hawk. “My cart broke!”

“Don’t worry,” a familiarly dainty voice serenely assures. “I’ll take you to Candyland, where all of your dreams will come true.”

In fact, this voice is very familiar. I spin around and stare in utter horror at the TV screen.

A young girl around my age is dressed in a poofy, light-pink fairy costume, a sparkly rainbow belt slapped around her waist. The sleeves of the dress are Cinderella-like, and when you look at her feet, they have been slipped into slim silver high heels. Rainbow ombré fairy wings hide under golden locks of silky hair. She clutches a candy cane wand. But the one thing that stands out to me the most is the rosy, pale complexion of none other than Stella Chichester- Clark.

My mouth hangs open like a door on loose hinges as I gape in envy and anger



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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