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Fire and Water
Fire and Water, iPad Air 4 | Cathy Jiang, 11 (Portland, OR), published in the January 2022 issue of Stone Soup

A note from Emma

Happy New Year! I’m excited to start the year with the new January issue of Stone Soup and especially with the story I’m featuring in this newsletter—“Up on the Roof” by Harper Fortgang.

“Up on the Roof” is a dystopian fantasy story set in a futuristic world in which there is no longer a “United” States—only a “Divided” States of America. On one side, the Purple People; on the other, the Green People; in the middle, a dangerous “Forbidden Strip” where people of both colors choose to mix. The allegory is all too apt for our current political times: a huge gulf—its own kind of forbidden strip—seems to separate the Left from the Right, the urban from the rural, the rich from the poor, the white from the Black (or indeed, all people of color). In her story, Harper’s protagonist, a Purple Person, meets someone who changes her mind about the Green People—and she commits to bringing this change of mind, and heart, first to her family, but hopefully to the world. I hope we can all bring this energy and optimism to our communities in 2022, working with each other to understand and close these divides however we can.

This weekend, in your own writing, try to emulate Harper, and address a current political issue facing the world today through fantasy, science fiction, or other allegorical means. As always, I’d love to read what you produce.

Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who donated to Stone Soup in 2021; every little bit counts, and we are so grateful for all of our supporters.

Until next time,


Harper Fortgang
Harper Fortgang, 13 San Francisco, CA

From Stone Soup
January 2022

Up on the Roof

By Harper Fortgang, 13 (San Francisco, CA)

“Who’s there?” I call into the empty blackness, a chill running down my spine. I watch as a black cat leaps past me and around a corner, disappearing into the darkness. I exhale a sigh of relief and try to convince myself, yet again, there is nothing to fear. I begin walking, squeezing the strap of my satchel filled with documents like a four-year-old clinging to her mother’s hand. I dart across the street, heading toward a haunted-looking building with decaying red trim.

Delivering business documents in the Forbidden Strip is dangerous, especially for a thirteen-year-old Purple girl like me. My parents would have never let me come here, but we are struggling for money, so I became a business courier. The Forbidden Strip is part of the Divided States of America, which consists of three separate lands. I hail from the West, a land solely for the Purple People, and the Green People occupy the East. My parents tell me the West is far superior and our brilliant shade of lavender should remain separate from the East’s pale-green skin.

We believe in individual achievement and preserving traditions while the East advocates a new direction, putting the government’s interests ahead of citizens’ needs. I am told that the people from the East look down on us and we have a long history of conflict, causing mistrust and fear. Between both lands lies the Forbidden Strip, where people from the West and East choose to live together. I have heard terrible rumors about the people who live here. However, important documents still need to be transferred from the West, even if we are separate territories. So, I must skulk through the neighborhoods of the Forbidden Strip delivering documents, afraid of every shadow I see.

Continue reading "Up on the Roof" here...

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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