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"Parachuting in City Lights" (watercolor) by Sloka Ganne, 10, (Overland Park, KS) and published in the June 2021 Issue of Stone Soup

A note from Jane

A new month, a new issue! And this stunning watercolor is our cover, wrapping around the whole print version of the magazine. One of the things I love about our wraparound covers is how they make me focus on very particular parts of an image, which often leads me to see them very differently from the way I see the whole artwork in one. In the case of Sloka Ganne’s gorgeous Parachuting in City Lights, the front cover consists of the more somber right-hand side of the image, with its dark mountain topped with a flashing mast. We can see only the fading part of the sunset’s glimmer, and a lone parachutist. There’s a slightly lonely feeling to it. But when we turn to the back cover, there is a burst of light, and we see that the parachutist is not alone after all: there are two companions, a flock of birds, and a bright blue glow in the sky above the sunset over the brightly lit city. To my mind, the story changes.

There is so much happening in this image, and while it tells one big beautiful story all on its own, it can also tell several very different, specific ones if we focus on one section over another. Divide the image up in your mind into quarters or eights, and think about the possible stories behind these smaller sections of the image: focus on the cityscape, the flock of birds and the clouds, the dark landscape, the vibrant sky. How does each one compare to the feelings evoked by the possible narratives of the other parts? Do the stories you imagine fit together, or are they a series of different vignettes (miniature scenes)? How do they relate to the story you sense in the whole? Try writing a series of short stories based on your perceptions of Sloka’s painting and see what you discover!

I also urge you to read Steven Cavros’s story “The Sewer People,” an imaginative tour de force in which the trash under the city has a whole complex, politically messy life of its own. It is part cautionary tale, part political satire, part fable—almost a (dark) fairy tale. Let it inspire you to bring alive a hidden, apparently inanimate world, and see where your imagination takes you. As always, if you are happy with what you write or the art you create inspired by any of these ideas, do share them with us.Until next week,

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Steven CavrosFrom Stone Soup
June 2021

The Sewer People

By Steven Cavros, 9 (Hollywood, FL)

Now once, long ago, on June 12, 2027, a stray banana peel found its way into the sewers of Orlando, Florida. It travelled through the sewers for twenty minutes, and then it at last came to the very bottom of the sewers, to a deep puddle. Like all the junk there, it joined itself to a sea of junk, and nine minutes later, a little human-like creature with frail limbs stood where eighteen or so bits of junk had come together.

All the sewer people came from junk, of course. Hundreds, thousands of the sewer people there were—made from all the junk in the sewers—and no junk ever left the sewers as a banana peel or bit of ripped paper.

The sewer people had no government, no economy, no friends. All ignored them, didn’t care for a moment that they existed, ignored them terribly, TERRIBLY. They were forgotten and lost.

All the troubles of the world began when an important sewer person, Dirt, proposed a government to his small ring of friends, Junk and Meaningless. But they could not create a government without the support of the 18,000 little frail-limbed sewer people they shared the sewers with. They called a meeting, but in vain, as it ended in chaos. Another meeting, then another, was held until many sewer people approved a government. But as that meeting closed, a new problem arose: how would they make a government, and who would be on it?

. . . /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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