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"Wooden Sunset" (iPhone 11) By Amelia Driver, 10 (Woodacre, CA) and published in the July/August 2021 Issue of Stone Soup

A note from Malakai

Now that we’re a week into summer (if you go by the summer solstice, of course), it’s really starting to feel like a nice summer day: slow, breezy, probably hot. To fully encapsulate that summer feeling, I wanted to highlight a photo from our July/August issue. Wooden Sunset by Amelia Driver gives off that warm golden-hour glow that I just can’t get enough of. Summer sunsets are my favorite to photograph. Here’s a fun photo challenge: try to use Amelia’s picture as inspiration to capture a sunset within the reflection of another object. Tag us on Instagram @stonesoupbykids and I’ll share your photos!

Spring/Summer 2021 Writing Workshop Reading
For our Spring/Summer session of 2021, we are holding a public reading, where our workshop members will give author readings. They have chosen their favorite work, written during one of the year's Workshops.

Come join us to hear this fantastic writing, read aloud in the authors' own voices. We are so proud of all of their work. Don't miss it!

A little about myself
Since this is my first newsletter as the engagement editor for Stone Soup, I wanted to introduce myself. I’m a Santa Cruz local and grew up hearing about Stone Soup; when I tell folks I work here they usually say, “Oh yeah, I know Stone Soup!” I have a degree in journalism from San Francisco State University, where I specialized in editing, podcasting, magazine design, and documentary video production. I’m here to grow our social media and promote the magazine, books, classes, and special projects. I like to spend my free time in the garden with my mom, working on sewing projects, and playing D&D.

Book Contest
I’ve been working on promoting our book contest, which is currently open and runs until August 16. Here is the basic rundown:
Genre: Fiction (novel, novella, short story collection) or poetry
Length: For fiction submissions, the minimum length is 20,000 words. For poetry submissions, the minimum length is 40 pages. There is no maximum word or page limit.
Age limit: For this contest, we will accept manuscripts written by those age 14 or under.
Deadline: Monday, August 16, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time)
Entry fee: $15.00

And you can find more info here.

Preorder The Other Realm
In the July/August issue you’ll see an excerpt from a soon-to-be-published novel: The Other Realm by Tristan Hui. The book will be available starting September 1, but you can preorder it now! As put by Tristan herself, “The Other Realm is an adventure story. It combines elements of portal and urban fantasy to pull readers into the world of two endearingly late-blooming teenage girls, who are struggling across a desert in a car they aren’t sure how to drive.”

You can pre-order Tristan’s novel here.

Also a reminder to check out the Refugee Project; the art, writing, poetry, and photography are truly phenomenal.

Till next time,

Book Contest 2021

For information on submitting to the Stone Soup Book Contest 2021, please click here.

To submit your manuscript, please visit our submittable site.

Highlights from the past week online

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

Cleo takes us through the process of making chocolate in her post that details her experience on vacation in Belize. Read about it here.

On the COVID-19 blog, we published a contemplative poem by Otis, 13, inspired by his frequent trips to the park near his house.

Also on the COVID-19 blog, Mason reflects on parts of American history and concludes that "one day we will take our steps out of COVID-19."

Summer Classes and Events!

Our weekly weekend writing workshops and book club are on a summer break after today, but we'll be back in the Fall Meanwhile, to get a flavour of the kind of writing our students have been doing this semester, why not join us at their public reading on July 3rd? It's free to attend, and you'll hear some great writing in the authors own voice!

Young Author’s Studio Summer Camps: we are offering a wide range of classes through the summer jointly with the Society of Young Inklings. Each camp runs for two hours per day, Monday through Thursday. All details and bookings via Society of Young Inklings.

WoodenSunsetFrom Stone Soup
July/August 2021

Get Myself a Rocking Chair

By Nora Heiskell, 12 (Philadelphia, PA)
Illustrated by Amelia Driver, 10 (Woodacre, CA)

Chapter One 

Lord I been hangin’ out of town in that low-down rain
Watchin’ good-time Charlie, friend, is drivin’ me insane
Down on shady Charlotte Street, the green lights look red
Wish I was back home on the farm, in my feather bed

The soft music of the guitar floated through the still air. Smoke from a chimney could be seen above the rooftops of town.

Peter McCumber was an odd man. He spoke to no one, but he sang and played his guitar as if he was all alone in his own world. Nobody could remember the last time Peter McCumber had gone to church, let alone to visit somebody. The townspeople all kept their distance, as if he were ill or crazy or something. My father was the only person that would speak to him.

I was interested in the old man; there were not many elderly people in Emerald Hills, where we lived. The only other one was Mrs. Gaffney, the milliner. But, like everyone else, I kept my distance.

Our town, Emerald Hills, consisted of two neighborhoods. I lived at the very edge of the smaller neighborhood, closer to the part of town where all the shops were. My house was a tiny one-story cottage with whitewashed boards and sky-blue trim around the windows. I lived with my father and our cook, Helen. My mother died when I was only four, and I hardly remembered her. Helen came shortly after Mother died, and she had raised me for most of my life.

I opened the kitchen door, and a wave of delicious scents hit me. Helen hardly ever made anything hot in the summertime, but today was Friday, and Grandmother was coming. Helen had cooked a whole chicken and made mashed potatoes, which were a special treat. She had roasted carrots and for dessert there was a large chocolate cake hidden in the cupboard.

“Smells delicious!” I exclaimed, dropping into a chair.

“It’s nothing,” Helen said with a smile. “But I could use some help. Go change and then help me set the table.”

“Sure.” I left the kitchen and went into my bedroom. I picked out the blue dress Father got me for my birthday. It was very lovely, but I hated dresses, and I wore overalls almost every day. But I knew that Father would appreciate it if I dressed nicely tonight because Grandmother was coming.

My father’s parents had died before I was born, but my mother’s mother was still alive. She was a stately old lady, and very old-fashioned. She did not really approve of my father, because my mother had run away to marry him. But with time she had grown to tolerate him, and after Mother died, she helped us in some small ways.

Anyway, Grandmother did not approve of girls wearing pants, so every time she came, I donned a dress and stuffed my overalls to the back of my closet, in case she happened to peek in.

The dining room was set up nicely with a pale yellow tablecloth and flickering candles. Usually, we ate at the kitchen table, but as I’ve said, Grandmother was very stately and old-fashioned and did not approve of dining in the kitchen.

I helped Helen bring the various dishes to the table. Just as we finished, the front door opened and my father entered.

I could hear him taking off his hat and putting down his umbrella. He had been in the city, picking up Grandmother. I ran to him and wrapped my arms around him. “Hey, kiddo. How was your day?” he asked, squeezing me to him.

“Good,” I told him. Then I heard a loud sniff.

I stepped away from Father to see Grandmother standing beside him. She was very short, not much taller than me, but Father once said that was a good thing, because if she were any taller, she would be too intimidating to even talk to.

“Hello, Grandmother,” I said quietly.

She sniffed again. “It is not proper to come flying at someone like that. And Martin, you must not say ‘hey’— it’s so unrefined! When I was young, we stood in a line in front of my father when he came home from work, so as to greet him. We never flew at him like small animals!” she said.

That is what I meant about Grandmother.

Father smiled. “Katrina was just happy to see me. That’s all,” he said.

“Yes, well.” She sniffed again. “Really, Martin. I do think you should have named her Julia Margaret! That’s proper, you know! The first daughter named for her mother! Especially because her mother is now dead. Did you ever think about changing her name after my daughter died? It would make people see how much you were mourning her!”

The stars appeared one by one, as if someone were lighting hundreds of candles to cut through the darkness.

Grandmother brought this up every time she visited. But Father always said with his quiet firmness that my mother had hated the name Julia Margaret and had not wanted to name her daughter that.

“Supper’s going to get cold. Why don’t we all head into the dining room and have a bite to eat?” suggested Helen, poking her head through the door.

“And really, Martin. Servants should know their place! They should not interrupt conversations! They should not talk at all!” Grandmother said.

“Helen is a dear friend, not a servant,” Father replied. He still spoke in the same calm manner that he always did, but I could tell he was aggravated.

Helen did not seem to mind Grandmother’s remarks. I saw her hiding a smile as she withdrew back into the dining room.

Dinner was mostly uneventful. Grandmother criticized everything from peeling paint on the walls to how Father’s wristwatch was seven seconds faster than the grandfather clock in the corner.

All the food was delicious, and so was the cake that Helen brought out after everyone had cleared their plates. Helen did not say another word throughout the rest of the meal. Of course, Grandmother had said that was the proper behavior for a “servant,” but I think she knew Helen was secretly laughing at her.

After dinner, Grandmother retired to the bedroom that was usually Helen’s. There were only three bedrooms in our house, so Helen would be sleeping in with me that night. “How Meg could be who she was when her mother is like that . . .” Father muttered as he helped Helen and I clear the table. Indeed, I hardly remembered my mother, but Father had told me stories about her, and it seemed like she and her mother were polar opposites. We went out onto the front porch after dinner was cleaned up. We often did this in the summertime, because it was too hot to go to bed right after dinner, and the sun was still up.

“I got a letter from my daughter this afternoon,” Helen said suddenly. “She is going to have a baby.”

“Why Helen, that is wonderful! Do you know when the baby is to come?” Father asked.

“In September.”

There was little else to say, so we sat in silence for a long while, watching the sky change from blue to periwinkle to violet and then finally, an inky blue. The stars appeared one by one, as if someone were lighting hundreds of candles to cut through the darkness. I leaned against my father’s strong shoulder and closed my eyes.

I think that I fell asleep against Father’s shoulder, because he woke me and I stumbled blearily into bed. The last thing that I remembered were the soft notes of a guitar and an old man’s voice echoing across the quiet town.

Found myself a picker friend who’s read yesterday’s news
Folded up page twenty-one and stuck it in my shoe
Gave a nickel to the poor, my good turn for the day
Folded up my own little folder and threw it far away

. . . /MORE

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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