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An Indian Monsoon being in class
The best part was that, within a week, I had made new friends

Illustrator Aditi Laddha, 12 for 'An Indian Monsoon' by Sanjana Saxena, 11. Published January/February 2009.

A note from William Rubel

Apologies everyone! It is Sunday afternoon! Yikes! Where did the week go? It was a much-too-full week. On Wednesday, our gray tabby cat of thirteen years, Moxie, died of cancer as we petted him. We wrapped him in a beautiful cloth and buried him with his favourite catnip toy under an apple tree in the garden, and nailed up the name tag from his (hated!) collar to mark the spot. I also had a writing deadline of my own for a paper I am giving at a conference in Oxford, England, and too much more. We will be back on schedule next week.

Back to this week: so many fabulous new blog posts—please go to the Newsletter's blog section below and the blog section of our website. Your comments on blog posts and book reviews encourages our authors. I'd also appreciate it if you all listen to Justin Park's composition for piano and oboe that we published this week. Composers amongst you—send us your work! If you play the piano or oboe, download the music, and get a musician friend to play it with you.

The art today commemorates the fact that for a lot of you summer vacation is at its end and school is about to start again. My colleague, Jane Levi, selected this image (and story) inspired by the review written by Antara of the movie, "On the Way to School" that is about the many long journeys that children make to school in countries like Kenya, where my daughter and I were visiting earlier in the summer. In fact, we stayed in a small village that didn't have a school of its own where children walked over an hour to school each way, making their own school day roughly eleven-and-a-half hours long—9 hours in school and two-and-a-half hours of walking.

If you haven't been to our Instagram account lately, please check it out, join us, and tell your friends. We have a series of photographs we are posting under the hash tag #whereIwrite. You can upload your photograph of yourself in your writing place on our online Submission form. This is the most recent Instagram post in that category from Sabrina Guo, a Stone Soup blogger and someone who is helping us set up our refugee project.

The project that I suggest in this Newsletter is for those of you going back to school. I want you to write something short—something in the flash fiction tradition—let's say 100 words. One impression about the first days in school this year. If you feel that you succeeded in capturing a face, an impression, a place, a sound, a conversation, a taste, a something that caught your attention in the first days of school then send it in to us for possible publication in Stone Soup.

Until next week,

Highlights from the past week online

Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at <ahref="https://stonesoup.com/">stonesoup.com!

We are very happy to have published a couple of music blogs in the past 10 days, the first we've had in a while. We love to feature music made and performed by our readers and contributors, so check out these great new contributions, and think about sending us your own music sometime.

Justin Park, 13, sent us his composition ‘Glocken der Fantasie’ for oboe and piano. You can see the Youtube recording of his performance of his piece, and also download the sheet music to try it for yourselves, at our website. Send us your own recordings of his music, too!

Ula Pomian, 12, a regular contributor to the magazine (thank you, Ula!), sent us her Lullaby for a Badger, a piece for piano. You can listen to a recording of her playing it at our soundcloud site, using the link on our website.

In keeping with our musical theme, this week we welcome Lin Lynn Tao, 13, to our Review section with her book review of Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

In the same section, you can also read the latest review from the unstoppable Nina Vigil (thank you, Nina)! This week, especially for cat-lovers, read about (and find on Netflix) the movie Kedi, a Turkish film about the cats of Istanbul.

And of course, as mentioned above, read Antata's review of the inspired by the review written by Antara of the movie, "On the Way to School".

From Stone Soup
January/February 2009

An Indian Monsoon

By Sanjana Saxena, 11
Illustrated by Aditi Laddha, 12

“In a few minutes, we will be landing at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. Please fasten your seat belts. Thank you for flying Air India and hope you have a wonderful stay in Mumbai,” the pilot’s voice echoed. As the plane descended under the clouds, I looked out of the window and got my first glimpse of Mumbai.

My family had decided to return to India after living in the U.S. for twelve years. As I thought of white and fuzzy snow falling into my hands, a few scattered lights twinkled in an island of darkness. This was so different from Chicago. There the city had glowed like a Christmas tree!

Coming out of the airplane, the first thing I noticed was the large number of people. Hundreds of baggage handlers, policemen, officials and many hangers-on were running back and forth like a swarm of bees. The air was also very hot and humid. My father had told me this happened because of the monsoon. He explained to me about these rising winds from the Arabian Sea that brought much relief from intense heat and were essential for Indian farmers. But this year, the monsoon was different.

The city was facing its worst flooding in a century and as we drove to Pune (100 miles from Mumbai), our destination, I saw the havoc that the rains had caused. There was water everywhere, dogs and cows lying on the streets, destroyed shantytowns and millions of people living in squalor. It seemed, on that day, the most wanted thing in Mumbai was a dry place to sleep!

After that horrible view of Mumbai, we were now on an expressway to Pune that seemed to pop out of a U.S. travel book. My father was beaming. “Wow! We never had roads like these when I was growing up in India. This is better than Chicago!” he exclaimed. The driver was talking on his cell phone—I had not expected that in India. As the early morning sun came (we had landed at two a.m.), I saw the most beautiful scenery that I could imagine. It was green everywhere, rolling hills of the Sahyadri range surrounded us on both sides and there were hundreds of seasonal rivulets that were flowing down. I felt that I was in Hawaii! In Pune, my aunt came over to meet us and brought tea and samosas. Although I had never met her before, she seemed to know everything about me.../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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