Saturday newsletter: January 26, 2019

Newsletter  /   /  By Jane Levi
Stone Soup Magazine
April 2019

Brotherhood beautiful river

Bighorn River was an exhilarating place to spend our afternoon

Illustrator Brian Merte, 13, for “Brotherhood” by Kevin Wang, 11.
Published September/October 2007.

A note from William Rubel

The rainbow gracing the waterfall splashing into a lake rich with insects and fish in the illustration by Brian Merte is an idealized glimpse of the natural world. To help us believe in this dream vision Brian is careful to draw accurately many of the picture’s components–such as the acorns, dragonflies, and cattails.

The drawing was commissioned by our then editor, Gerry Mandel, to go with the story, “Brotherhood,” published 12 years ago, in 2007. Once you have enjoyed the artwork I’d like you to pay attention to the magnificent language you will encounter in the story it illustrates, by Kevin Wang. In particular, I’d like you to notice how he brings a poetic expression to his prose. Here is an example:

Crisp, dry auburn leaves were settling to the ground like fairies relishing their last ballet before reaching the forest floor.

It is a beautiful simile–”like fairies relishing their last ballet before reaching the forest floor.” It brings the graceful, dancerly movement of falling laves to the mind’s eye. Strictly speaking, Kevin’s story is not about nature. While it takes place in a beautiful place, it is a story about friendship set in a place of natural beauty. Two boys talk by the side of the river. Nature plays its part, but it isn’t in the lead role.

Today, I’d like to call your attention to the nonfiction nature writing that you will find in our blogs. Recently, we have published three pieces by Sierra Glassman, two nature videos and one essay on Martha, the last passenger pigeon. Sierra’s videos are well produced and super informative. One of them is about a recent trip to an area of Brazil that is rich in wildlife. The other is about hummingbirds. I hope at least some of you will be inspired by the videos to make a video of your own. Sierra’s essay on passenger pigeons is topical. We are currently at the beginning of what scientists are calling a “great extinction.” Large numbers of insects and animals are going extinct because of human activity. The story of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, has many lessons for us, today. You can find Sierra’s three blog posts here. 

Lukas Cooke is one of our most consistent bloggers. Thank you Lukas! Lukas often writes about nature. All of his writing is worth reading. His most recent post, Alien Serenity is about visiting Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. Lukas’ post has inspired me to schedule a visit to this park with my daughter later in the year.

William’s Weekend project

For this weekend’s project I want you to do or make something about nature. Use one of the Stone Soup blog posts as a project example: describe a place you have visited, explain something about the natural world, talk about climate change, habitat loss, or something else that threatens nature, make a scientific drawing, or, like Sierra, a nature video. If a nonfiction work on nature doesn’t appeal to you then, like Kevin, the author of “Brotherhood,” use a well described natural place as the setting for a story.

As always send us anything you are happy with. We always look forward to seeing your work.

Until next week

Stone Soup news!

Audio recordings: If you didn’t check out our SoundCloud files last week, please go to website and listen to a few of the stories. If you like what you hear–Stone Soup authors reading their own stories and poetry–then please follow us. New material is posted regularly.

This is mostly directed at the adults who read the Newsletter. We have started discussions with our web designer and programmer to redesign the website, to improve the look of it and to improve navigation. We trust them to help us get to the next level for something in the region of $5,000. We feel that the website is holding us back, and we are looking forward to bringing the same stellar look of our printed material to our web pages. If you have been thinking about donating to Stone Soup, and if making our website a better showcase for children’s creativity is a project that strikes a chord with you, then this is the time to help out. Thank you.


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.


Highlights from the past week online

As I mentioned in last week’s Newsletter, the way to support our book reviewers, bloggers and the Stone Soup project in general is to subscribe. Several of you did last week–thank you!

This week, we have some great new work from our bloggers. Maya V writes about the joys of Sledding, while our nature blogger Lukas Cooke brings you Alien Serenity.


From Stone Soup
September/October 2007, and The Stone Soup Book of Friendship Stories (2018)

Brotherhood

By Kevin Wang, 11
Illustrated by Brian Merte, 13

It was a warm, brisk Saturday afternoon, and Jack and I couldn’t wait to get to the river. Crisp, dry auburn leaves were settling to the ground like fairies relishing their last ballet before reaching the forest floor. We knew they would soon be buried under mounds of snow, obscuring the path to the forest.

The wind snapped at our faces as we sprinted over rolling hills that made their way into the lush forest. We ran along the path, kicking aside piles of leaves which had formed a quilt of a million pieces for us.

Jack suddenly stopped dead in his tracks, and I stumbled, falling onto the path.

“What is it, buddy?” I asked him, as I picked myself up and brushed the crumbled leaves off my jeans.

He pointed to a glorious river as long as five blue whales linked tail to tail. It stretched up into the towering snow-capped mountains and emptied into the horizon. From there, it made its way back down the mountains and plummeted steeply over the waterfall.

“It’s beautiful,” I said simply.

“Yes, beautiful,” Jack echoed in wonder.

Bighorn River was an exhilarating place to spend our afternoon. With birds and insects spotting the sky and the river winding its way through the mountains like a gigantic snake slithering in the grass, this place was paradise.

I loved the tale of how the river was named. Long ago, many buffaloes tramped over this land and caused it to rumble until springs shot out of the ground, forming the river. My mind traveled to the thundering herds, rushing through the trees, eager to reach drinking water. I could almost feel the vibration of the ground and smell the musky odor of their matted fur.  . . . /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.

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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