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The Tower of Toronto
The Tower of Toronto by Justine Chu, 12 (Fremont, CA) Published in the February 2020 issue of Stone Soup

A note from Emma

This week, I am writing to announce the winners of our Personal Narrative Contest with the Society of Young Inklings (SYI). Naomi and I were both so honored to read these submissions as well as grateful for the big and small ways these writers let us into their minds and hearts.

Writing nonfiction seems easy—you don’t have to make anything up!—but it is not. Personal narratives require honesty, deep thought and reflection, the ability to see patterns and narratives in past events, as well as the capacity to accept that sometimes there are no patterns or narratives—just the events themselves. Like all writing, they also require an eye for detail, an ear for language, and an aptitude for play.

In her winning narrative, Kateri Escober Doran vividly recounts a sharp memory from a day in kindergarten, seamlessly blending evocative storytelling with thoughtful reflection. In second place, with “Swirling Arabesques,” Zoe Kyriakakis meditates on a single phrase while on the bus home from school—showing us how even the smallest moments can become meaningful and beautiful in the writer’s hands. Finally, in third place, with her narrative “Gratitude,” Alicia Xin gives a moving account of the summer she spent in a historically poor county in rural China.

First Place
“Locked out of Kindergarten” by Kateri Escober Doran, 12
Second Place
“Swirling Arabesques” by Zoe Kyriakakis, 10
Third Place
“Gratitude” by Alicia Xin, 13
Honorable Mention
“Cody’s Last Day” by Elena Baltz, 10
“A Story” by Asher Jenvey, 10
“Life in the Jungle” by Arielle Kouyoumdjian, 13
“Writer” by Vandana Ravi, 13
“Believing” by Lily Shi, 11
“Kingdom in the River” by Lydia Taylor, 13
“Gentle Hands” by Michelle Wang, 12

We are excited to share these pieces with you in a future issue. We say this every time, but every time it is truer and truer: it was so difficult to select winners and finalists for this contest. A sincere thank you to everyone who trusted us with their work.We are thrilled to be reading personal narrative submissions year-round. Please scroll down to read Ugochinyere Agbaeze’s narrative, published in the February 2020 issue, below for writing inspiration this weekend. When you’re ready, submit your personal narrative here.

Until next week,

Contest update & a note to artists

We are already starting to plan for our next book contest—it will launch this summer! Stay tuned.

And also: calling all artists! Our art submissions are always open, and it’s free to submit. We currently have a backlog of animal images and are actively looking for images of landscapes, people, and objects as well as images that have a more abstract character like this, this, or this. The more abstract an image is, the easier it is to pair with a poem or a story since it often is capturing an idea or a mood rather than a specific scene. Submit your art here.

Highlights from the past week online

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

Have you ever had a friend who challenged you to try new things? In his blog post “Charlie,” Daniel tells us about his friend who has inspired him to “unleash his inner rebel.” Though he’s gotten some scratches along the way, Daniel has found himself enjoying adventures with Charlie that he wouldn’t have tried otherwise.

How much do you know about the Rosetta Stone, the Sutton Hoo Helmet, and the Elgin Marbles? New blogger Mohan traces the history of these three cultural artifacts in “What Can We Learn About History from Objects?

The Tower of TorontoFrom Stone Soup February 2020


By Ugochinyere Agbaeze, 11 (New York, NY)
Illustrated by Justine Chu, 12 (Fremont, CA)

 Boom! Crackle! It was dark and rainy, and as the clouds cried, lightning flashed through the sky like a gun being fired. The sky darkened. But in our school bus, there were always rays of sunshine. Our school bus wasn’t really a school bus, but more like a van. That didn’t really bother me and my friends, because we were always busy doing things to pass time. We did things together, like homework, or played truth or dare, or even watched movies on my friend’s phone.

But like always, people would start to get dropped off and disappear like cookies from the cookie jar until it was just me and my friend Gabby.

“Don’t you ever get lonely when it’s only you on the van?” Gabby asked.

“Sometimes, but not really,” I said. But inside I knew that I was always lonely when it was just me. She looked at me with her eyebrows up in her questioning way, like she was searching for what I was really feeling.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” she asked me again.

“Yes, I’m okay. Really, I am,” I said reassuringly. We stopped in front of her house, and as she was about to leave she said, “Well, I’ll see you Monday. Bye!”

“Bye,” I said as she shut the door. As we were leaving, I looked through the window and saw her bright polka-dot umbrella open up and bloom like a flower as she walked toward her building. .../MORE

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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