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Finding an American Voice goodbye at the airport
He hugged her, begging her not to cry, using all his courage to reassure her

Illustrator Natalie Chin, 10 for "Finding an American Voice" by Jeanne Mack, 12.
Published January/February 2003.

A note from William Rubel

The Stone Soup digital edition is not the same as the Stone Soup print edition. Like many other magazines, the New Yorker, for example, publishing digitally enables us to do more. Those of you who have a digital subscription know this already.

Something you may not have discovered yet for yourselves is that some of our more recently published writing include recordings of the work read by the author. These recordings are fabulous. There is nothing like hearing the work read in the author’s own voice.

All of the Stone Soup author recordings are posted to SoundCloud, where you can browse through them and listen to them free. As of this writing we have 10 followers, and that includes me! So, please, when you go and listen to our stories, start following our feed and tell all your friends about it, too. You can also listen to the recordings and read the story at the same time at our website, and help us pay for the work that goes into making this recording program possible by subscribing to the digital edition of Stone Soup.

Drawing from our December 2018 food issue, I’m including here a link to Catherine Gruen's recipe for Basil Asiago Garlic Olive Oil Tortillas. Read her wonderful headnote to the recipe. Listen to her read it. Then, read the recipe and plan to make it for your family. The link I have given you for SoundCloud is the one that shows you the recordings organized by issue.

William’s weekend project

I want you to record a story or a poem, or a group of poems, and then play the recording back to your friends and/or family. Many mobile phones have excellent microphones and will be sufficient for this project. There a couple tips I can give you to get good sound. Firstly, hold the microphone end of the phone near to your mouth but off to the side. There are vocalizations, like the puff that comes with the letter "p" or the hiss that comes with the letter "s" that mess up recordings if you are talking directly into the microphone. So, to repeat, you don't want the microphone directly in front of your lips, but you do want the microphone a little off to the side. Record a few lines and listen to what you have recorded before doing a complete recording. Listen to the playback with earphones or earbuds. Close your eyes and really listen. What you are aiming for is a nice strong, clear, sound–like the stories you've listened to being read on SoundCloud. Keep experimenting until you are happy with what you hear.

Recording a story or poem requires a voice that is clear, and usually slower than a normal speaking voice. It is very common to hate the sound of your own recorded voice. “Is this really what I sound like? Yuck!” Yes, that recording is what you sound like to other people! You will get used to it! You might do a couple or even a few practice readings, or you might just start reading. That is up to you. What if you make a mistake? It doesn't matter. For today, which is making a recording without the use of sound editing software, just stay relaxed, pause, and go on.

For this project, it doesn't matter what you read. Record something you have written, something a friend has written, or a chapter in a book you love. As always, if you like what you've done, then submit the recording to Stone Soup and we will see whether there is something we might be able to do with it. You will use the Multimedia category when you submit. What you are doing is called "spoken word."

We look forward to hearing from you!

Until next week

Highlights from the past week online

This week, we have a new book review from 9-year-old Vivaan, of the "hilarious" book by Tom McLaughlin, The Accidental Prime Minister. If you are wondering about politics and politicians today, or thinking about a career in politics, don't miss this book, or Vivaan's review!

From Stone Soup
January/February 2003

Finding an American Voice

By Jeanne Mack, 12
Illustrated by Natalie Chin, 10

Dong-suk followed his uncle, carefully keeping his pace slow enough for his haal-mu-hee, his grandma. His mother was close behind. The group moved along with hurried steps, adding to the bustle of the sidewalks of Seoul. His hand was gripped tightly around his grandmother’s and he shouldered a backpack. Although his feet were quick to stay in line behind his uncle, his thoughts were slow. He was going to America to be with his father, who had left a year before. He could not wait to see his father, but he was afraid his father would not be proud of him. As he thought, his free hand closed around the black stone in his pocket.

The stone had been given to him the night before. There had been a specially cooked meal and his grandmother had told her stories and sang songs. She had driven away all his doubts about America. After dinner, while he was in bed, Grandmother had come in and given him a tiny pebble, her lucky dol, or stone. Dong-suk remembered the way she had smiled, showing her famous dimple on her cheek. Then she had spread out her small, delicate hands, wrapping him in a hug.

*          *          *

Abbie banged the front door open and stepped inside without taking off her rollerblades.

“Abbie May Kessler, what have I told you about roller-blades in the house?” said her mother as she passed by.

Abbie smiled, ducking her head so her mom wouldn’t see. She threw off the rollerblades and then hopped on up to her bedroom as her mom yelled, “And you’d better get started on those book reports of yours. If you haven’t gotten them finished by July, you won’t be going to Gram’s house with us.”

Abbie sighed; why had her mom chosen to give her three extra book reports when the school had already given her one! She liked reading and writing, but not when it was four four-page book reports on four different people.

*          *          *

They were on the subway for a pretty long time; the airport was a good distance away from where they lived. Dong-suk went over his limited vocabulary of the new language in his mind, trying to pronounce the unfamiliar words exactly right. He hoped that his English would be good enough for America. He glanced up and felt his heart skip a beat. There it was. The bee-hang-gi. Dong-suk pressed his nose against the window and let his eyes dance from one of the huge aircrafts to another. He watched one of the huge birds take off right before his eyes. Airplane, he thought, cleverly using an English word instead of Korean. He smiled at the thought of using an English word; it made him feel important; it made him feel American. .../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.

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