A note from William
Welcome back to school! If you are like my daughter, then you’ve just finished one of those incredibly long (and yet at the same time incredibly short) summer vacations. At the start, it seems you’ve got ages—and what a relief to not have school! By the end, it flew by, but even so school can’t start soon enough. Everyone here at Stone Soup wishes all of you a fabulous, successful, and creative school year. We are looking forward to seeing your creative work in the 2019/20 terms.
The September issue was shipped this week, so subscribers to the print edition will be receiving it soon. (The digital version will be online on the first of the month, as usual.) If you want Stone Soup delivered to your door, then you have to subscribe, and there is no better time to do so than now, at the start of school.
William’s weekend projects
I’m really impressed with Gordon Su’s illustration, “Class, I would like you to meet Kenta.” What impresses me are the many gestures. It is clear that everyone isn’t exactly paying attention to the teacher. One boy is looking over at his friends, one of whom has his back to the teacher. Like a snapshot taken with a camera, the artist has captured a moment in time.
For this project, make a drawing from memory of some place at school—a classroom, the cafeteria, the library—in which there are several people doing different things, looking in different directions, and carrying on different conversations. Or, make a drawing of family or friends at your house or in your yard who are at the same time together as a group, and doing individual things within the group.
The story “Conrad and Fate” is about prejudice based on a student’s ethnicity. This story, set in the late 1950s (when I was in elementary school) is about prejudice against Japanese people, something that was very strong in in the United States during and some time after World War II, which ended in 1945. Perhaps some of you have had personal experiences of prejudice of these kinds—I have. It has been 55 years since I was in middle school and bent down to pick a penny up off the concrete in front of a classroom only to discover it was glued down and that I was surrounded by a group of boys shouting “Jew!” and laughing. This memory is fresh, like it happened yesterday.
This week, I want you to write a story from the viewpoint of a person who is thought of as “other,” like the Japanese boy in the story included in today’s newsletter. What does it feel like to be mocked, teased, excluded, or worse because you are not seen as a person by other students? This is a story, so show us what it feels like. Visit our website to read and follow the whole activity.
As always, when you complete your story or any art you are happy with, send what you create to Stone Soup’s editor, Emma Wood, via our Submittable links.
Until next time,
Contest, partnership, and project news
This week we are excited to tell you that the winning stories and the dramatized readings of the winners of our Podcast contest have been published! You can read all of the winning and placed stories on the blog, and hear winner Olivia Park’s “No Longer Blue” and Sabrina Guo’s honorable mention “Lilith’s Quest” in dramatized form by following the links in the blog section below, as well as on the contest winners’ announcement page. Thank you to our friends at By Kids, for Kids Story Time Podcast for this fun collaboration and their amazing work. It’s exciting to hear our writers’ stories in dramatic form. It gives them a whole new dimension. Have a listen and tell us what you think!
In other contest news, our summer book-writing contest is now closed for entries, and the judging has begun! Congratulations to everyone who finished something to enter into this contest. It’s a real achievement to have written a long-form piece, and we cannot wait to read what you’ve written and announce the winners in late September.
Finally—we always like to challenge you with a contest, and we will be publishing all the details of our next contest in early September. Watch this space!
Highlights from the past week online
Don’t miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!
As mentioned above, this week we published the winners of our Climate Change Stories podcast contest on the blog.
- Olivia’s “No Longer Blue” won first place in the contest and examines the potential for people to exploit climate change for their own gain.
- Claire’s “The Dreamer” imagines a dystopian future in which climate change has changed all aspects of life on Earth.
- “A Splash of Water,” by Tara, tells the story of a girl accompanying her father on a climate change research trip.
- Gemma’s story, “Back in the Days,” also takes an interesting perspective, incorporating time travel.
- Sabrina’s story, “Lilith’s Quest,” explores climate change from the point of view of animals.
Check out all the incredible winning stories on the blog, and leave a comment to let us know what you think.
From Stone Soup
By Nate Sheehan, 12
Illustrated by Gordon Su, 13
I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to move to America on July 17, 1956. My life was perfect in Japan. I had good friends. I had finally made the baseball team. Everything was perfect, but then I had to move to the US. The same country that fought a war against Japan. The same country where everybody who looks Japanese is an enemy.
Learn a new language. Make new friends. So, basically I had to start over when everything had been perfect. “Perfect” was the only word going through my mind as I sat in bed, looking blankly at the darkness, waiting for the alarm clock to ring.
. . .
Children were practically everywhere, rushing around like ants trying to find their hole. Room 117. I was getting good at reading English, but speaking—not so much. Room 117 would be on the second floor. (I had a tour of the school a few weeks ago.) I headed for the stairs.
Once in the classroom, I noticed one thing. I was the only somewhat dark-skinned child in the classroom. I got some stares, a few whispers, and sweat trickled down my neck.
The teacher broke the silence. “Class, I would like you to meet Kenta,” she announced, motioning to me. I noticed a group of three in the back, whispering. I didn’t know how, but I knew they were talking about me. I just knew.
As I walked past them, I learned that my prediction was right. I heard words like, “What’s a Japanese kid doing here?”
“I don’t know about you, but I want to pound him.”
“Yeah, he doesn’t belong here.”
I gulped and rushed off to my seat, but whoever those kids were, they were right. I didn’t belong here, I belonged in Japan. Japan was where my friends were. Japan is where my language is. Japan is where my father’s grave is, along with the graves of other soldiers who were probably fathers too. . . ./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.