A note from Jane
This year’s double summer issue is a special poetry issue, composed of the two wonderful poetry collections by our 2019 book contest second-placed authors, Analise Braddock (The Golden Elephant) and Tatiana Rebecca Shrayer (Searching for Bow and Arrows). Last summer, our special issue was a collection of reviews: book reviews, poetry reviews, and a movie review.
In that issue, there were two reviews of the same book, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which is a book I too loved from the first time I read it when I was a girl. You might not expect to read two reviews of the same thing in Stone Soup, but it’s actually incredibly interesting to see two different reviewers’ thoughts side by side. Both loved the book, and both wrote beautifully-crafted reviews of it—each in their own way. Ava Horton’s review is personal. We meet her as her younger self reading the book for the first time, and she gives us insights into the book by powerfully communicating the impact it had on her. Vandana Ravi’s review opens with two dramatic questions that get to the heart of the book and its messages, then moves on to highlight elegantly the interweaving of the book’s themes. Both of these reviews are below—and I‘m sure they will make you want to read the book for yourself, if you haven’t already!
Reading these reviews and thinking about my own love of the book made me wish I had written something about it when I first read it. I can (and will!) re-read it now, but I’d love to know what my younger self thought of it at the time. We all read so many books, watch so many movies and TV series, see so many works of art.
So, this weekend, why not start a new review journal: every time you read a book, watch a TV series or a movie or a theater performance, see an exhibit or a work of art, write a short review of it (and the date) in that journal. You’ll be building up a valuable collection of your experiences of other people’s creative work and your responses to it. Start today with a review of the most recent thing you’ve read or sen, and then write a review every time you have an experience with a piece of creative work—whether you liked or enjoyed it or not. It might be just a few lines, or it might be a whole page of ideas it gave you. It’s your journal: you decide! This is your chance to reflect and think about why you feel as you do about works of art, and as your journal builds, you will see how your feelings change over time, and start to make connections among the different creative works you experience. And, you’ll have the future fun of seeing what you thought of something the first time you experienced it!
I want to close today, as William did last week, by sending you all to the Stone Soup website, Stonesoup.com. Follow the links to the fabulous work that has been posted this week. If you are not a subscriber, please, please subscribe—and tell your friends and colleagues to do so as well. Subscription dollars are what make our work possible. The work our print magazine features is magnificent—worth re-reading—and the magazine itself is a pleasure to hold in your hands.
Winners from Weekly Flash Contest #17
Weekly Flash Contest #17: Write about a character waiting for something, but don’t reveal what they’re waiting for until the end.
The week commencing July 20 (Daily Creativity prompt #86) was our seventeenth week of flash contests, with all the prompts for the week set by former contributor Anna Rowell. Thanks, Anna, for setting some great challenges and helping us judge our massive pile of entries!
Congratulations to our winners and honorable mentions, listed below. You can read the winning entries for this week (and previous weeks) on the Flash Contest Winners' Roll page at the Stone Soup website.
"From the Other Side of the Road" by Amruta Krishnan Srinivasan, 9
"Waiting for a Comet" by Madeline Sornson, 13
"Stalling" by Sophia Do, 12
"Wait for It..." by Ian Xie, 12
"Rain" by Kyler Min, 9
"Something Worth Waiting For" by Mila Zhao, 6
"The Waiting Game" by Elsa N. Ahern, 10
"The Woman" by April Yu, 12
"The Waiting Hill" by Liam Hancock, 12
"Cats of War and Peace" by Sneha Jiju, 12
Also, look out on our COVID-19 blog next week for "The Goal" by Ziva Ye, 9, which both responds to the contest prompt and tells a great story related to the current pandemic–from a very unexpected perspective!
Highlights from the past week online
Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!
Eleanor’s poem “Anxiety” conveys the uneasy feeling of living during the pandemic, though she ends on a positive note.
Read the update from last week’s Writing Workshop, which was led by Anya. Participants were encouraged to think about music in their writing.
Aviva, 9, writes about this year’s unusual preparations for back-to-school in “Six Feet Away From Our Teacher, Six Thousand Away From Normal.”
In “Fighter,” Olivia, 10, composes a poem that tells of the fight waged by healthcare workers against coronavirus.
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what do you think you would be? Trevor, 11, thinks he would be a cucumber. Read his blog post to learn why, and leave a comment!
In “The End of the World,” Lucas wrestles with a difficult topic that you may be thinking about more often lately.
From the July/August 2019 issue of Stone Soup
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Review by Ava Horton, 13 (Gresham, OR)
I consider myself privileged. I have a wonderful family, live in a big house in the suburbs, and I go to a highly ranked school. My family really cares about me. I have a great life with wonderful opportunities and perform well in school and in the extracurricular activities I participate in. I am most likely a child who is awfully spoiled. Although I can see it so clearly now, there was once a time that I thought I did not have a very good life. There was always someone who had something better than me. So what if I had a cookie in my lunch? Someone else had two cookies, and obviously, two cookies were undoubtedly superior to one cookie. I was a disagreeable young girl and coveted more than I had. I didn’t see how lucky I truly was.
Now I know that it was an amazing miracle that my little first-grade self plucked A Little Princess from the shelf one bitterly cold winter morning.
As I studied the book cover for the very first time, I was captivated by the girl my age in a rosy pink frock on the cover. A book about someone my age? I excitedly pondered in my head. I saw the title, A Little Princess, printed on the cover in a cursive font I admired. A girl my age who was a princess? This is going to be a good book! I had no idea how true that statement would turn out to be.
When I started reading the book that very weekend, I was treated to descriptions of smoggy, turn-of-the-century London . . . /MORE
Review by Vandana Ravi, 12 (Palo Alto, CA)
What does a person really need in order to be happy? If you were to lose every tangible thing which gives you joy now, what intangible things would make life still worth living? The novel A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett answers these two questions from the point of view of an eleven-year-old with a response which is ultimately simple, sweet, and surprisingly wise.
The wealthy, pampered Sara Crewe finds herself alone in a new country when her doting father leaves her at a London boarding school. As she adjusts to her new life, her character turns out to be surprisingly different from that of the stereotypical rich, spoiled girl; she uses her advantage and intelligence to help those of her classmates cast off by the other girls. But when Sara’s father suddenly passes away, leaving behind nothing but debt, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from a veritable princess into an unpaid scullery maid, she loses all the expensive comforts she is used to. However, Sara’s kindness, tenacity and imagination afford her new joys, eventually bringing her all the way to a happy ending.
There are two intertwining themes in A Little Princess: the power of imagination and the power of kindness . . . /MORE
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