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Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields (iPhone 11) by Natalie Yue, 11; published in the March/April 2024 issue of Stone Soup

A note from Emma Wood

Hello everyone,

This will arrive in your inbox on the eve of my daughter’s fourth birthday—she was an early pandemic baby, born around when we still thought everything would be back to normal after two to three weeks. It was a difficult time to birth a first child, but it also means that her birth and becoming a mother–not the pandemic–is the seismic event that I associate with the spring of 2020, and for that I am grateful. I can’t believe she’ll be four soon—an age that I’ve been told marks the end of the “little” years, an age at which I have some of my first longstanding memories, an age of increasing independence! Of course, all of this has been happening incrementally, and nothing will change when she turns four overnight… but it still makes me sad to think those early-early years will have officially ended. I guess it’s all about framing, though, and this just marks the start of a new chapter—as it should, in early April, a time of renewal, of growth and flowers (and yard work… so much yard work!).

At Stone Soup, we are excited for the beginning of our spring semester writing workshop with Conner Bassett. Starting April 27th, we hope you can join us for Adaptation: Crafting Stories from the Familiar and the Unknown. Conner may be on hiatus next fall so take the opportunity to write with him while you can!

We are also still thrilled at the publication of The Pipe Tree—it’s a lovely, moving book, and perfect spring reading. If you haven’t already ordered your copy, please do so today! I promise you won’t regret it.

Lastly, we have a little less than a month left till the deadline for our contests for a single poem, story, or piece of art. That’s still plenty of time to craft and submit a winning entry!

Before I sign off, I’d like to leave you with a writing prompt: In Siyona Agarwal’s memoir “Elena’s Scarf,” she describes a single meal in deliciously vivid detail. But the memoir is not only about the meal—there is a small drama playing out: will her friend Marta be able to eat the many wonderful dishes while also keeping her mother’s favorite scarf clean? As you read “Elena’s Scarf,”  while the scarf is never far from the narrator’s mind, you’ll notice it is not the focus of the story—in fact, it almost seems like an afterthought compared to all the time given to describing the food! This week, I encourage you to write a story—fictional or true—in which a small drama plays out during a meal but is not the focus of the story.

Happy writing!

Register for Spring Writing Workshops

Buy The Pipe Tree

From Stone Soup
March/April 2024

Elena's Scarf

by Siyona Agarwal, 11

I waved my hands back and forth, waiting for my ruby red nail polish to dry. My mom hurried around the house looking for a hairbrush. “I’ll wait outside,’’ my dad yelled, grabbing the apartment keys. I ran into the bathroom and frantically brushed my hair and sprayed detangler. I climbed down two steps at a time and burst outside into the San Sebastian daylight. We waited for our wonderful hosts, Inaki and his family, who were natives of San Sebastian and had become good friends. They were picking us up to go to a restaurant located in a small village about twenty minutes away from town. Our friends had raved about the restaurant, and I was really looking forward to having a good meal after a whole day of being a dolphin—swimming, surfing, swimming!

It was hot and humid outside, and the air was hanging on me. I worried that sweat beads forming on my back might soon turn into a waterfall and soak my pink cotton dress. We took a quick selfie, and I was grateful that our friends arrived soon. We hurried inside the car. We parked and walked to the restaurant. As we entered, I felt a cold wave and greeted it with a smile. After a minute, my arms were lined with goosebumps and my mom said, “Wow! Look at you. You’re like a little strawberry!”

All the adults had to get the tasting menu, because we were a group of more than six people: Marta, Mikel, their parents Inaki and Elena, and my parents. I felt grown up, as I was allowed to order á la carte from the adults’ menu. I considered the menu and decided on grilled steak and vegetables.

“Have the apple pie. It’s wonderful,” Inaki told me.

“Yes!” Marta agreed. “I’m going to change mine to apple pie too.”

As the server poured wine for the adults, Elena noticed that Marta was shivering and offered to get the jacket she had forgotten in the car. “I’m okay,” Marta said, rubbing her bare arms. The parents sipped on wine while Marta looked up to see if she was sitting underneath the AC vent. Were my goosebumps from cold or excitement? Perhaps both! Slowly and hesitatingly, Elena pulled a scarf from her purse and gave it to Marta, but not without a worried look. “Don’t get it dirty. This is my favorite scarf,” she said...

To find out what happens next, click here.

Explore our summer camps

June 17–20; 9–11 am PT

The goal of this course led by Conner Bassett is to produce one 10-minute play. To help you do this, we will approach playwriting as a form of craft—grounded in dialogue, character, voice, setting, tone, conflict, action, and plot structure. This workshop will also emphasize a play’s arc: its beginning, turning point, and ending.

Reality Hunger: An Introduction to Memoir
June 24–27; 9–11 am PT

In this class, led by Emma Wood, Executive Director of Stone Soup, we will read and write memoir and personal essays—in short form. We will consider how they work, ask questions about the ethical aspects of writing nonfiction (What if my mom reads it? What if I hurt someone’s feelings? What if my memory is “wrong”?), and—most importantly—experiment in the form with daily in-class writing prompts, sharing our work in a supportive, fun community.

Literature in Miniature: A Study of Micro Fiction & Prose Poetry
June 24–27; 1–3 pm PT

Sometimes, the biggest ideas are best expressed in the tiniest of forms. In this workshop taught by former Stone Soup Blog Editor Caleb Berg, you will learn to condense your horizons into a style of writing perfected by writers like Lydia Davis, Daniil Kharms, Gertrude Stein, and many others. You will write multiple discrete pieces per day and finish the class with enough writing to fill up a chapbook.

Intro to Poetry: The Image and the Line
July 22–25; 9–11 am PT

Emma Wood will also teach a class on poetry. Immerse yourself in what a poem is and what it can do. Students will write their own poetry, shaking themselves out of established modes of thinking.

Filmmaking as Dialogue
August 5–9; 9–11 am PT

In this class taught by filmmaker Isidore Bethel, we’ll use the camera to facilitate and enrich our interactions with others – friends, family, animals, plants, and the world around us. Writing texts with a partner, recording and sharing short videos, and interpreting their meanings aloud will be starting points for developing individual and collaborative approaches to filmmaking.

Editing and Revising Fiction
August 5–9; 1–3 pm PT

In this class taught by Stone Soup Editor in Chief Diane Landolf, you'll learn how to think like an editor and make your stories the best they can be. We’ll discuss first paragraphs, character development, dialogue, story arc, and what makes a great sentence.

Click here to peruse the entire selection of camps available; our friends at Society of Young Inklings are teaching a variety of additional courses, and more courses will be announced soon!

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.



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