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Midnight Buck (Watercolor) By Aspen Clayon, 11 (Lisle, IL), published in the February 2022 issue of Stone Soup

A note from Caleb

Happy Saturday!

First off, I'd like to congratulate members of the Stone Soup team Emma Wood and Conner Bassett on the birth of their child, Sawyer Cruz Bassett-Wood!

On the business side, if you or anyone you know is a writing teacher up to eighth grade, you may be interested in a Stone Soup site license. In order for Stone Soup to succeed, we need to get back in the classroom! If you or a teacher you know might be interested in a site license, then please, with their permission, send us the teacher’s name, grade, and email address. You can write to us at education@stonesoup.com.

This week, I'd like to shine a light on the Stone Soup blog. While there is no comparison to the brilliant issues compiled monthly by Emma Wood with the outstanding work of our contributors—for example Aspen Clayton's stunning, impressionistic February cover art Midnight Buck—the Stone Soup blog provides a platform for a greater breadth of writers and artists. For those who haven't yet found success within the magazine and for those who have, the blog offers a space to express themselves on a more regular basis and with more freedom of topic.

For example, Emma Hoff, 9—one of our regular bloggers—recently wrote and published a hybrid book review/critical essay entitled "Conservatives Want to Ban All my Favorite Books." While the magazine is the perfect medium for poetry, prose, and art, this type of writing is not often featured—though no less important! With the recent banning of books like Art Spiegelman's Maus—a graphic novel about the Holocaust—Emma's message has never been more relevant. Writing with more nuance and with a sharper eye than most of those I worked with in college, Emma dismantles the argument that "young people don’t have the ability to read difficult texts and think about their meaning," arguing that "if [people] are concerned that young people will struggle with understanding these books on their own, all the more reason to teach them in schools."

As blog editor, I want to foster and empower voices like Emma's. I am always looking for new contributors in all realms: poetry, prose, art, reviews, sports, videography, gaming, business, history, music—anything that you are passionate about and feel needs to be said. So please, don't hesitate to submit your work via our Submittable to the standard blog, or our COVID blog. If you are interested in becoming a regular blogger, write a short paragraph explaining the type of work you'd like to contribute in the corresponding field.

Sticking with the theme, for this week's weekend project I'd like you to write about (or draw) whatever it is you are most passionate about, without thinking about if it is relevant or worth saying. Remember, anything you believe in is worth articulating. More than the "quality" of the writing, a reader will recognize passion and find themselves compelled. If you like what you've written, please send it to me or Emma for the blog or the magazine!

Until next time,


Emma Hoff, 9 (Bronx, NY)

From the Stone Soup Blog

Conservatives Want to Ban All My Favorite Books

By Emma Hoff, 9 (Bronx, NY)

Something I know from personal experience is that Melissa, by Alex Gino, is an amazing book that has been praised widely for its inclusion of the LGBTQ community. In 2016, it was awarded the Stonewall Children’s Book award. The book is about a transgender girl who wants to be Charlotte in her class production of Charlotte’s Web, but is not allowed to because her teacher says she is a “boy.” The novel used to be called George, but people complained that Alex Gino was deadnaming their character, and the title was changed to Melissa. While a lot of people think that Melissa is a great book that addresses the problems that transgender kids face, it has been banned by many school districts. The book has been moved up and down the American Library Association’s Top Ten Most Challenged Book list, from number three to number five to number one on the list, before becoming the first most banned book ever. The Wichita, Kansas public school system banned the book from its district libraries, and when the book was included in the Oregon Battle of the Books, two school districts removed their students from the competition in retaliation.

Those critical of the novel said the book had “sexual content,” of which there is none whatsoever, thereby mixing up sex with gender identity. Some critics went as far as to say that Melissa just did not go with or reflect “community values.” However, it is important to learn about real issues like this in the world, and these “community values” should be expanded to include all people. Some people simply disliked the novel because they thought a book about a transgender girl was not appropriate for children. Children should know about the real world, and they shouldn’t be banned from learning about what actually happens. Insisting that young people shouldn’t read these books signifies that transgender people or members of the broader LGBTQ community are somehow “wrong” and that their existence should be hidden.


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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