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'Mist at the Lake,' Stone Soup cover art, February 2018. Photograph by Brian Qi, 11, Lexington, MA.

A note from William Rubel

First! Welcome, welcome, welcome to Hana Greenberg, our latest Stone Soup blogger and our first blogger who is blogging a graphic novel! In Hana’s words:

This is one of my graphic novel series, “Luxi and Miola.” It is about two 4th grade girls who are twins that have daily adventures and a bit of chaos, and their fashionista 8th grade sister who is sometimes annoying. I hope you like it!

Please click through to her blog to enjoy the whole story  and leave a comment. Also, if you are a graphic novelist and want to blog a graphic novel to Stone Soup, then please get in touch with sarah@stonesoup.com.

Welcome to the new February issue

The February issue is out. Look at that gorgeous cover! Thank you, Brian Qi! Everyone with a paid subscription can download the PDF to read on their computer or tablet. The letters section is coming back—so if you have a comment to make on the issue (and you're age 13 or younger) then please send a letter to Emma using our online submissions form.

Before I share with you the letter that Emma has written to introduce the issue I want to say that this February issue is magnificent. The writing is varied, sumptuous, elegant, challenging. While Emma is going to tell you what the issue is about—what she sees as the thematic links between the stories and poems and art she selected for you—I want to emphasize that this is an issue of gorgeous writing and powerful photographs and art. Everyone can access a few free articles a month on our website, so if you aren’t yet a subscriber, check out this month’s issue. It is an issue of creative work by young people at its very best. 

I’ve said enough! Here is what our Editor, Emma Wood, has to say about this issue: 

A princess stuck in a tower. A very ill girl confined to her room. A poem that enacts the feeling of being trapped in a love/hate relationship. A young boy whose fear of heights restricts his movement. A poem that describes beauty as “suffocating.” The stories and poems in this issue are about being confined, trapped, restricted, stuck, suffocated. They are about wanting to escape—either physically or mentally— from that “stuckness.” This is the feeling, to me, of February: it is a time of rain, snow, cold, and wind after the novelty of that weather has worn off. It is a month for dreaming of spring, of an escape.

If that has whetted your appetite, visit our website to read more!

A weekend writing project!

Emma’s reference to “suffocating” beauty is taken from the poem The Road to Williamstown by Sophie Nerine. Williamstown is in Massachusetts, in the United States. Sophie writes about the landscape at a point along that road. She also acknowledges in her poem that there is a road through this place of extraordinary beauty—a fly in Paradise, one might say. 

We all have beautiful places we have been, and even beautiful places that we go to relax. Some you will have special places you visit to be in nature, a private spot. When I was your age I went to a vacant lot in my neighborhood. There were violets and a mulberry tree that I remember, still, although it has been fifty years since I have seen it. I have learned not to try to go back and find these places from my childhood. The lot is sure not to be there, and if it is it is unlikely to be as magical as I remember it. I do wish I had written about at the time and could read that text—a story, a poem, even a diary entry—or see the drawing that I might have made, or the photograph I had taken. 

Whether you live where February is cold, and (as it does for Emma) includes a dream of spring; or live where I do and are having an unusually warm winter (it has been like Spring the last few days); or if you live in the Southern Hemisphere and this is your Summer, go outside sometime this weekend to a place that has natural beauty, or a beauty that means something to you, and use your words, your art, your camera, to record and explore the place and your feelings about it. 

As always, if you feel strongly that the work you make is one you’d like to share with other Stone Soup readers, use our online submission form to send what you’ve made to Emma.

Until Next WeekWilliam

From Stone Soup
November/December 2010

Time for Letting Go

By Silva Baiton, 13
Illustrated by Zoe Hall, 12

Gina Boston sat with her brother and grandmother at the old, well-used kitchen table in Grandma’s farmhouse. They were eating breakfast, which was mixed cereal, composed of six different kinds. Gina and her older brother, Caleb, were used to this because they had always had mixed cereals when they had lived with their parents.

Maybe that’s why Grandma mixes different kinds of cereals—to make us feel better, Gina thought as she pushed her spoon around.

She ran her hand over the table’s honey-colored surface (scarred and faded from years of baking and sunlight) and thought about her parents. They had both died in a car accident when Gina was ten years old. Gina and Caleb had not been in the car when the accident happened; in fact, they had been seven miles away, visiting their grandmother who lived in the country in a beautiful old farmhouse, where outside there was a cow, eight chickens, and four pigs. Before the accident happened, in 1967, Gina and her brother had lived in Maple Brook, Alberta, with their parents and the family’s fluffy white cat, Queenie. Gina did not know exactly how or when her grandmother had gotten the news, but it had been late one February night three years ago, and she and Caleb had been asleep. The next morning, Grandma had sat with them on the blue flowered couch and gently broken it to them that their parents were dead. Caleb and Gina had been numb for a minute and then had sobbed and sobbed. Now Gina could not remember what else had happened that day.

In a few days they had all gone to Gina and Caleb’s house on Carlson Avenue, had taken everything out and chosen which things to give away and which things to move to Grandma’s farmhouse. This was not an easy task because items which had a week ago seemed unimportant now held special value and memories. A glass elephant that had always stood on the shelf, a bottle of Mom’s perfume, Dad’s favorite tie—now all these things had suddenly become priceless heirlooms. .../more

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