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"Gateway to Darkness" by Grace Williams, 13 (Katonah, NY)

A note from William

Summer classes: The first round of Stone Soup and Society of Young Inklings classes are finishing up next week. A second round of classes—two writing classes and an illustration class—will take place in July. One class starts the 13th, another the 21st, and the last class on the 27th.

The first round of classes sold out quickly. This is a fabulous program. I highly recommend it. More information and registration information is here: Stone Soup & Society of Young Inklings Summer 2020 program.

Gateway to Darkness photograph: Wow!

Gateway to Darkness is one of those brilliant works of art that speaks without words in a voice that speaks directly to one’s soul. You look at this photograph and you know what it saying. The knowledge is direct.

An extraordinary work of art. Thank you, Grace Williams.

Gateway to Darkness speaks to exactly how I feel so much of this pandemic time. Even when the sky is blue, the outdoors feel dark, my world shut down, and my daughter and I are mostly at home. The strange angle Grace used to photograph the fence, and thus frame the scene, perfectly captures my sense of these strange, disorienting times.

The way the fence frames the sky is unsettling. Not symmetrical. It says to me, “Something is not right.” Leaving one’s house, we ask of everyplace we go, “Is this safe?”

When I go to the grocery store to buy food, there is one employee stationed at the entrance, and one at the exit. They each have a walkee talkie. They keep track of how many people are in the store. You wait for permission to enter. You are counted in and then counted out when you leave. Inside, we all try to avoid each other.

When you are ready to pay, we wait in a line inside the shop, each of us spaced out, waiting to be told that we can move forward to a register to check out. It is organized and does make us feel safe. Even so, I sometimes find myself inside the store, wearing my mask, amongst the other masked customers, crying.

This photograph, and the story "Pigeon City" we are highlighting in this weekend’s newsletter, are two pieces of work that fall into the “COVID-19” category published on our blog.

Jane has posted 87 pandemic-related posts at the Stone Soup website inspired by our Daily Creativity Prompts. If you haven’t already, I encourage you all to check them out. Comments are always welcome. “Pigeon City” was written in response to a prompt written by Stone Soup author Anna Rowell.

Art project for this weekend: Take your phone or camera and take a picture that captures the idea of being spontaneous. I put it this way because sometimes to take a picture that looks spontaneous, you have to plan! Not always, but sometimes.

Make it a photograph of happiness. Of joy. Of the opposite of being trapped and fearful. A jumping kitten. You, jumping.  A face that is laughing. A spray of water. Leaves blurred by the wind. Use your imagination to make something light and delightful. When you succeed, please send it to Stone Soup so our editor, Emma Wood, can consider it for publication.

Until next week,

Winners from Weekly Flash Contest #12

Last week’s contest was a fantastic challenge set by former contributor Anna Rowell, 15, who was also a judge of the contest.

What would the world be like without color? What if there were a few select people who could see colors? Write about the effects of not being able to see color, or of there being no color, and how that affects people and society in a good or bad way . . .


Congratulations to our winners and honorable mentions, listed below. Your work really stood out in an extra-competitive field! You can read the winning entries for this week (and previous weeks) at the Stone Soup website.


“Seeing Through Gray” by Isabel Bashaw, 10, Enumclaw, WA
“It’s All Ridiculous” by Lucy Berberich, 11, Oxford, OH
“Flowers for Mamma” by Sophia Do, 12, Lititz, PA
“The Sky is Blue” by Nora Heiskell, 12, Philadelphia, PA
“Project Achromatopsia” by Alice Xie, 12, West Windsor, NJ
Honorable Mention
“Miya’s Gift” by Savannah Black, 9, Yuba City, CA
“Colorless” by Anna Haakenson, 12, Beach Park, IL
“A World Without Color” by Aditi Kumar, 10, Ashland, VA
“In a World Without Color . . .” by Charlotte McAninch, 12, Chicago, IL
“Color” by Michela You, Lexington, MA

Highlights from the past week online

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

Amelia, 11, wrote about coronavirus in a creative way in her story “The Chase.” Read to find out if Alco Hol catches Cora Na Virus.

Have you had a birthday during coronavirus? Check out Natya’s cartoon about the new way we have to celebrate, and leave a comment if you’ve had a similar experience.

Charlotte, 12, wrote a poem called “The Virus” that captures the lonely and unsettling world that coronavirus created.

Abhi reviewed the book The Extraordinary Colors of Auden Dare by Zillah Bethell. Find out why Abhi enjoyed the book’s pacing and interesting characters.

At our twelfth Friday Writing Workshop, the theme was Sense of Character. Read some of the work created during the meeting.

Vivaan, 11, wrote a poem about his thoughts on coronavirus and global warming.

In “Joining Together at a Distance,” Catherine, 11, writes about how we all have to do our part during this pandemic.

We posted Zachary’s picture journal documenting his time during coronavirus.

Sejal, 8, wrote a poem called “Bad to Good” about various aspects of the pandemic.

Fern Hadley, 11 Cary, NC

From the Stone Soup blog June 2020

Pigeon City

by Fern Hadley, 11 (Cary, NC)

Amber rays of sunlight flooded through the city, casting long shadows behind the tall buildings. A glint of sun caught on dark-grey feathers as the bird glided through the darkening sky, skimming the tops of the buildings.

It landed on the roof of the tallest one.

Beautiful evening, ​it thought to itself. ​And one day . . . this entire city will be OURS! It cackled evilly to itself for a few moments before another bird popped its head into view. “There you are, Blu. Where were you?”

Blu glared at her friend. “Stu! You interrupted my evil cackling!”

Stu rolled his eyes. “So that’s your new hobby, eh?”

“Call it a hobby,” Blu sniffed, ruffling her feathers. “​I​ call it ​practice​.”

“Practice,” Stu repeated dubiously. “Well, what are you practicing for? Face it: pigeons will never be as good at singing as other birds.”

“I wasn’t trying to ​sing​,” Blu squawked indignantly. “I was practicing for when pigeons will rule the city. Maybe I’ll even be invited to do the speech!”

Stu blinked and cocked his head to the side. “What makes you think pigeons will ever rule the city?”

“Don’t be daft!” Blu unfurled her wings, gesturing to the glorious city before them. “Look!” She bobbed her head proudly, waiting for Stu to begin nodding his head and saying, “Ohhh, I get it!” Instead, her friend blinked his black beady eyes some more and burbled, “I don’t see anything out of the ordinary.”

“It’s not what you ​see!​” Blu exclaimed. “It’s what you ​don’t​ see! Look! There are so few humans out there right now. They already understand that they won’t be controlling the city for much longer.”

Stu twisted his head around and began to preen his feathers. “Why would they ever understand that if it’s not true?”

“But it ​is​ true!” cried Blu, spreading her wings again. “Remember all those hints that we always leave behind for them?”

“Hints?” Stu paused to think about it. “Do you mean when Via left some of her droppings on the hood of that Lamborghini?”

“You should’ve seen that human’s face when he saw them!” Blu smirked. “It looked likea tomato. And that time when Kek upchucked on that woman’s shoes was beautiful.”

Stu nodded thoughtfully. “How about when Tud ate some of the kid’s ice cream at the park? That was quite interesting to watch.”

“​Now​ you’re getting it!” Blu hopped around with excitement. “You see, the city never truly belonged to humans—it belongs to ​us! And one day we’ll take it over, just you wait!”

“Dream on, kid,” Stu replied. “I’m going to find a place to roost.”

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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