“The car rounded a bend, and there was the city, stretched out before us.”
Illustrator Thomas Buchanan, 13, for ‘Firework City’ by Jem Burch, 13, Published July/August 2013.
A note from Jane Levi
Happy Fourth of July weekend to our American subscribers! We have a story about July 4 fireworks for you this week, accompanied by a really wonderful illustration with beautiful use of color and perspective. It’s filled with so much detail (spot the license plate!), and I love the way you can see the excited kids in the back of the car through the rear window. If you didn’t see any fireworks this week, then we hope you enjoy these ones!
New website and subscription system
Our big news this week is that a new version of our website has gone live, with a brand new subscription-ordering system. Stonesoup.com still has all the same great content, but it has a fresh new look and feel, which we hope you will like as much as we do. This is the very first step in a series of improvements to our website, and we know there are a lot of basic things to iron out. But we also have a lot of plans for future improvements. We always welcome your ideas, and we’ll carefully consider any that you send us. You can reply to this newsletter, or send a message to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our new ordering system is an important step for us because we want everyone to have a subscription to Stone Soup! We have made it much, much easier to order a Stone Soup subscription (monthly or annual, print + digital or digital only) and made sure that all the details you need are right there on our website. For now, back issues of the print magazine and our books are still in our old online store (which you can get to via the pink button below), but those will also be moving in to the new store over the summer. We’ll keep you posted.
Existing subscribers will need to reset their passwords. If you click the login button on the top menu, then enter your old user ID (which is your email address), you will be able to follow the prompts to reset your password.
How are your summer journals going? I have to confess that I have not stuck to my resolution to keep one—yet. But I am going to join William in Kenya next week, and there will be no more excuses once I am there! We’ll give you all an update about that trip when we are back, especially with news from Remot Primary, the school that we wrote about a few weeks ago. We were so delighted that several of you were able to send us some really magnificent science books to deliver to them, and we know the headmaster, his staff, and the kids will be thrilled. Thank you so much.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend, a great summer wherever you are, and keep on creating and sending us anything you’re especially pleased with using the submit button below and on our website.
Highlights from the past week online
Don’t miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com.
Because of the website updates, no new blog posts for this week. Stay tuned for exciting posts scheduled for next week, and in the meantime, check out our social media! Our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook will keep you updated with the latest from Stone Soup, plus feature fun throwbacks and links to websites and resources for young writers.
Remember to tag us or use the hashtag #stonesoupmagazine if you post about Stone Soup on social media! We love seeing your photos and reading your thoughts.
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.
By Jem Burch, 13
Illustrated by Thomas Buchanan, 13
I took a seat in the metal rocking chair outside my grandparents’ loft, gently swaying back and forth. Through the metal bars of the railing, I saw the grand old church below, small yellow lights illuminating the stained-glass windows. A light breeze blew; stars twinkled high above; the church parking lot was empty and silent, save for the single, glossy bulk of a black car lurking in the shadows. But all around there was noise—the booming explosion of fireworks bursting through the cracks in the wall, echoing in my ears like the distant rumble of thunder in a summer storm.
I sighed, staring at the horizon where a dark cloud of smoke pulsated from the light of the fireworks I could not see. It seemed as though we weren’t going to have a true Fourth of July this year.
“Liam, time to go,” Dad called, and I stood up, casting one last wistful glance at the disappointingly blank skyline.
We bid a quick farewell to my grandparents, wishing them a happy Fourth, and then trooped down the staircase to the ground floor. No one spoke. Everyone seemed to understand that we had missed the celebration.
As we were getting in the car, my younger sister Amy asked aloud, “Where are the fireworks?”
“You see those buildings?” Mom said. “If they weren’t there, we might be able to see them. They’re over by the freeway.”
The car pulled out into the street, and we started home.
“I’m going to take the 210 home,” Dad said. “We might be able to see the fireworks from there.”
The car turned onto a small side street, which opened up into a bigger avenue. Dad spun the wheel, and we turned right.
“I see them!” Amy shouted. “I see the fireworks!”
My heart leaped. Half hidden by trees, great bursts of color ballooned in the night’s sky. Fireworks. …/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.