Saturday Newsletter: February 2, 2019

Newsletter  /   /  By Jane Levi
Stone Soup Magazine
February 2019

Subway Adventure subway scene

I board. I find a seat by the window, I sit .

Illustrator Savva Gretzky, 13 for “Subway Adventure” by Elam Fifer-Whiting, 13.
Published July/August 2014.


A note from William Rubel

The first two lines of the Stone Soup story, “Subway Adventure,” are, “It is super hot, humid. Sweat is running down my back like a brook.” I am writing this week’s Newsletter from New York and it could not be more different than the hot humid day in which Elam Fifer set his story. It is very cold. I am from California. I have never been any place as cold as New York is right now.

I am in New York with my Stone Soup colleague, Jane Levi. A highlight of this trip, for sure, something we will never forget, was our wonderful dinner on Tuesday evening with prolific Stone Soup contributor Sabrina Guo and her parents, Spencer and Eva. We met in a Chinese restaurant. A great meal is always a combination of the food and the company. This was a memorable meal. We talked about many things—writing, music, school, and, of course, Stone Soup. Specifically, our refugee project. As you know, Sabrina has taken on the project of bringing the creative work of refugee kids, especially the Another Kind of Girl Collective, to our website and to the pages of Stone Soup. We exchanged ideas on how to move forward with this initiative. I’ll give you a fuller report on what we discussed in a couple weeks.

I asked Sabrina whether she kept a journal and she said that she did. She doesn’t write in it every day. But she does write every week, usually a couple of times in the week. I can’t emphasize how important journal writing can be to support your larger writing projects. Writing takes practice. It takes practice to get control of the words and also it takes practice to learn to say what you mean and mean what you say. There is something about writing in journals that encourages direct, honest writing. Journal writing is private writing. You are the only one who reads it, so the pressure one feels producing writing that will be read by one’s teachers, parents, friends, or, if you write for Stone Soup, thousands of strangers, is not there. I agree with Sabrina that it is probably best to write your journal with pen or pencil rather than type it. You don’t need a fancy expensive writing book for your journal—any notebook with lined paper (or plain paper if you prefer) works equally well. If you don’t already keep a journal, then when should you start? I’d say, this weekend!

On Thursday, Jane and I went to an exhibit about the life, art and writing of J. R. R. Tolkein, the author of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. The exhibit is at the Morgan Library, having come from the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England. It will go to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris in the Fall.

When Tolkein was 12 he kept a small watercolor journal—a painting journal. This is an example of a painting Tolkein made when he was the age of Stone Soup artists. Many artists keep journals in the form of drawings and small paintings. If you gravitate more towards the graphic arts then start a graphic journal. If your art might be photography then I advise you to choose the images that you want to be part of your journal and that you print them out, glue them to paper, and make a proper journal/book with them.

Trips to New York are often packed—this is not all the Stone Soup work we did. We are expanding our Board of Directors. I will save talking about our new Board, and who else we met in New York, for the Newsletter next week. Suffice it to say: we are so excited about our new Board and what they will bring to Stone Soup. I cannot wait to share this with you. And. We also spoke with a curator at a major New York museum about collaborating on a big project: there will be more on this in a few weeks. I just want you to know that some really great and exciting things are in the works!

In closing, as always, if you are 13 or younger and have produced something really great this last week that you think would be appropriate for Stone Soup, then please go to our submission page and upload it. And, also as always, your subscriptions help us keep the Stone Soup project going, so please subscribe for your Stone Soup-aged children, for children of friends, for nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. Help us put this great magazine in the hands of kids who will appreciate it.

Until next week,


Highlights from the past week online

All the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers is at stonesoup.com!

Don’t miss this gorgeous drawing and poem by David Jacobs, The Blue Chair.


From Stone Soup
July/August 2014

Subway Adventure

By Elam Fifer-Whiting, 13
Illustrated by Savva Gretzky, 13

It is super hot, humid. Sweat is running down my back like a brook. I am waiting. The A train is mine. I am on the east side of the Forty-Second Street platform for the southbound A train. People are running, late people walk slowly, lost people are walking purposefully.

A woman pushes a rattling, clanking cart. She is dirty, a wrinkled old woman. She bumps to a stop next to me. She jingles a cup at me. She wants money. I have none. She and her cart continue on. I feel sadness. She is poor. How did she become poor? How did she get the cart on the platform? Where does she live? Why do I not have change for her? Where is she going? I don’t ask. A train stops, it is not mine.

There is a band playing, a one-man, four-piece band. His face is small and thin, his clothes are clean. He is joyful, he is playing joyful songs. The music man is tempting us to dance with joyful music. I agree to dance. How come he is happy? His bucket has my money. Why did I give him my change? I feel a breeze, a train is coming, but alas it’s not mine.

Some people are standing, waiting. Some are short, some are poor, some people are smiling. They are rich with happiness. Some are talking to one another. Some are talking to themselves. Some turn their heads and they are no longer talking to themselves, using Bluetooth. I see lights; a train comes soaring around the curve. It is still not my mine.

By now where is this train? I look down the track. No train. I look across the platform, I see no train. I look at the platform sign, I am on the wrong side. Oooooooooooppppppppppppsssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have to cross over, the rumbles sound in my ear. I look down the track. It is my train after all. I was on the wrong side. …/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.


To our adult readers and supporters… The philosopher Socrates tells us that “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Stone Soup exists to inspire, support, develop, and share the creative work of young people: the magazine, website, and books we produce are the Children’s Art Foundation’s contribution to “building the new.” Will you support us? One-off gifts and regular donations, on any scale, help us realize our aims. Find out more about what your gift will achieve by clicking the ‘Donate’ button.

About the Author

Jane has been working with Stone Soup since 2016 on variety of different things--including running the Stone Soup Test Kitchen! She is a writer, researcher and consultant.

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