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"Meeting of the Minds"
Avery Multer, 11, for "The Emperor and the Animals" by Natalie McGee, 13
November 2018.

A note from Emma Wood

I have been thinking a lot about dogs lately. I have two dogs, so I am always thinking quite a lot about dogs! But since one of ours, Charlie, was recently attacked—by a neighbor’s dog who escaped his fence and got onto our property—and we have been busy taking care of her for the past week, I have been thinking even more about dogs than usual. I have wondered: Is Charlie traumatized from this event? How will it affect how she interacts with other dogs in the future? Is she sad or scared? And then I have wondered, too: Is it wrong to ascribe such human emotions to an animal? And: How much can we ever know about how a dog thinks or feels?

This is something I was thinking about on my recent vacation as well. I was in Italy and then Greece. In Italy, we were staying in a rented house in the Tuscan countryside. There were three dogs there: two 14-year-old pointers who were sisters—one fat and lazy, the other skinny and very active—and a three-and-a-half-month-old puppy! The dogs loved spending time with us but also simply loved to be in “our” house because, as we learned, it was actually their house: we were staying in the house where they lived with their owner when no renters were there. One of the pointers even tried to sleep inside with us one night. They clearly felt attached to the house.

In Greece, we were staying at my aunt and uncle’s house. There were no dogs at the house, but there were lots of stray dogs (and cats) everywhere we went. At first, we were sad to see them. But then we noticed how friendly and well-fed many of them were. They got to live in packs and roam around wherever they liked. We even saw one dog take a dip in the ocean on a hot day. Their lives didn’t seem so bad. They only seemed bad compared to what I knew of dogs’ lives in the US.

This week, I would like to you think about an animal you know—whether it is a dog, a cat, a fish, or a bird—and try to really see that animal as that animal. So often when we see animals, we really see another human. We imagine that they think and feel in the same ways we do. But, of course, they don’t. Dogs, for instance, rely more on smell than sight to navigate the world! Try, through writing or visual art, to imagine how that animal really experiences life. What is it like?

I can’t wait to find out!

Highlights from the past week online

Don’t miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com.

"In my opinion you don’t have to do an advanced topic to get excited about math. You can do simple problems. The excitement comes from solving a problem from beginning to end and fully understanding it." In her blog this week, Maya tells us about her time at math camp. Do you agree with her? Read her piece here and leave a comment!

In honor of our review issue this summer, we've been posting some old book reviews on Instagram. Check out this one, from 1975, a review of "The Man with a Take-Apart Head," plus another review of a biography of the writer George Sand.

Contest and partnership news

Contest: write a book!

How are your books coming along? You still have more than a month to polish up your work to enter into our contest for book-length writing in all forms and genres by kids aged 14 and under. (We have extended our usual age limit for this contest.) The deadline for entries is August 15, so you have five-and-a-half weeks left to work on perfecting your book, whether it is a novel, a collection of poetry or short stories, a memoir, or other prose. There will be three placed winners, and we will publish all three winning books in various forms. Visit our Submittable entry page for full details.

Stone Soup
November 2018

The Emperor and the Animals

By Natalie McGee, 13
Illustrated by Avery Multer, 11

a-ra-ra. Raurau-ra… An extraordinary barking cry shattered the frosty air. A huge black eagle settled itself on an icy birch limb. Ruffling his feathers against the chill, he stretched his enormous wings one last time before settling them comfortably on his back. Respectfully, he cocked his head to meet the calm stare of the small copper animal before him, her sleek hide spotted like earth dappled with sunlight.

Dea had taken the form of a rare Amur leopard and was reclining in the peeling branches of a birch nearby. The Protectress’s draping tail swayed hypnotically as the sea eagle began his narration of the day’s events. Through a series of harsh barks and calls, he told Dea of an emperor from the neighboring land who had come to build a palace in the birch forest. He explained that all of the creatures would be forced to move into the barren tundra surrounding the tiny woods and would have to live like reindeer, serving humans forever. The entire time, Dea sat with her tail twitching, showing no emotion on her severe face. When the sea eagle was finished, the goddess sat up.

“I will take care of it,” she stated peacefully. “It will all work out in the end.”

The eagle cocked his head, preparing a question, but, when he blinked, the leopard was gone. . . ./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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