A note from Jane Levi
Dear Stone Soup readers and writers,
Would you like to have your very own short story performed as part of a podcast series? If this sounds interesting, read on to learn about our brand new spring contest!
We have launched our new spring writing contest, working with our friends at AV Entertainment, producers of the By Kids, for Kids Story Time podcast. The winner of this contest will have their short story turned into a dramatized reading, with up to five performers, that will be broadcast as an episode in the Story Time podcast series. The winning story, along with the second- and third-place entries, will also be published in an edition of Stone Soup magazine and receive a number of other great Stone Soup prizes.
We are looking for original short stories of 500–1,000 words. Our theme is climate change. Your mission as writers is to deliver your message in an accessible, fun style: the material that works best for the Story Time podcast tends to be fantasy, magical, or fairy-tale. The winning stories will feature a strong narrative and plenty of direct speech. (But remember, we are looking for a story, not a drama script.) The winner will have their story turned into a podcast episode performed by the Story Time cast of one narrator and up to four character actors, embellished with suitable music and sound effects.
Climate change and the environment are serious topics, but that doesn’t mean the stories have to be somber. We are looking for lively, enjoyable stories with a sense of drama and some scope for silliness in the performance (and some good sound effects). All of the stories already featured in the By Kids, For Kids Story Time podcast are fun audio dramas performed by kids for an audience of kids. The idea is to take the listeners on an audio emotional rollercoaster—to be funny, zany, heartfelt, suspenseful, ridiculous—and especially fun! Follow the links on their website to find out more, to listen to some of the more than 56 episodes that are already there, and to get an idea of the style. You will find all sorts of stories to enjoy: fairy tales, folk tales, myths, legends, and more. There is even going to be an episode of the original “Stone Soup” tale soon! This week I particularly enjoyed a story with the brilliant title of "The Bearded Fool." It's lively, action-packed, brilliantly performed, and, like all good stories conveys a message in a very entertaining way. Let me know which is your favorite!
Writing with direct speech
This week, to encourage you to think about your entries for the new contest, we’ve found a story from deep in our archive (all the way from 1986!) that uses a lot of direct speech to build its narrative. You can read the first part of it below, and visit our website to read the rest—you’ll also find one of our online activities on the same page. We hope you enjoy the story and feel inspired to think about how to tell your own contemporary story through the voices of a lively group of characters. Who knows? You might just find it is brought to life in an audio drama!
P.S. It's the beginning of a new month, so look out for the brand new March 2019 issue of Stone Soup online and in the mail now!
P.P.S. While we are on the subject of contests and drama, there are six days left to submit entries to the BBC’s 500 Words contest, in which Stone Soup will be helping with a little bit of the judging. The winners of this contest will have their stories read on the UK’s BBC Radio 2 by a famous actor. Also on the 500 Words website, you will find some good advice on writing short stories for dramatic reading that might help you with our contest too–check that out here!
Highlights from the past week online
Don’t miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!
Maya writes a compelling blog post about competing in a math contest. “The same things that make it scary, the short amount of time to solve each problem and the huge room of people watching you, also make it exciting, an adventure.” Read the rest to find out what happens!
Do you know what the old covers of Stone Soup look like? Check out our Instagram postto see the cover from the May/June 1981 issue.
Abhi Sukhdial is a frequent contributor to Stone Soup who recently won a fantastic prize for his work. Congratulations, Abhi! Read his essay about how getting published inspired him to write more.
By Clea Rivera, 14
I was a proud woman on my first day teaching at the elementary school. I was trying to be the typical teacher. I brought a shiny red apple and placed it on my desk. I wore a stiff black skirt and high-collared white blouse and did a fine job of commanding my third-grade class to work. I held the white, dusty chalk firmly and wrote neatly on the blackboard in ridiculously large letters.
I was also very happy, for I was engaged to a handsome doctor about 10 years older than me. Every afternoon he’d spin me off in his little racy car or he’d sometimes take me out to dinner.
“Boys and girls, who can tell me what five times five is?” I asked that first day.
Several rowdy boys and a few girls began shouting answers. However, one girl raised her hand.
“Twenty-five,” she answered.
“Very good. What is your name?”
“Everyone, did you see how polite Grace was?” The room was quiet.
“Have I gone deaf?” I asked.
Finally, the children assented that Grace had been polite and they promised to be that way, too, in the future.
* * *
Three years later I was promoted to teach the sixth grade, therefore switching from the elementary to the junior high school. I was married now and I had the same batch of children that I had in third grade. I sometimes found it a little hard to hold a job now. I made all the meals and did all the cleaning at home. My husband, the doctor, didn’t help much. But I was more experienced and didn’t put on such airs as I did when I first became a teacher.
The next summer my husband deserted me. He took our car with him. I was left with very little money and I felt miserable.
Walking along on the first day of school I saw a thin, scraggly child blocking the sidewalk. I tried to pass her, but suddenly she fell into stride a few paces in front of me. Before I knew it she turned around abruptly and bumped into me.
“Make up your mind,” I told her, “which way you want to go!”
I meant it as a joke, but it came out in an annoyed, high-pitched voice which wasn’t mine.
The girl evidently decided to go in the opposite direction and I felt guilty for having spoken harshly to her. I decided to be very kind to my class if I was capable of it. I had been promoted to the seventh grade still with the same bunch of pupils. They were my favorites. Grace Matthews could write like a poet, and Peter Tyner was excellent in math. I had nicknamed him Calculator.
Anyway, I walked into the room and their radiant faces made me feel so much better.
“Hi, Mrs. Davids!” cried Peter.
“How is the old Calculator?” I asked, grinning.
Grace came up to my desk very discreetly as if she had a secret.
“Mrs. Davids, would you like to read my novel?” she asked softly.
“Your novel?!” I cried.
“Over the summer I wrote a novel and I’d like you to criticize it,” she said.
“I’d be glad to.”
She giggled happily and went to talk with her friends.
After some time I was able to quiet the students down and I began my beginning-of-the-year speech.
“Hello again, my friends. I know most of you, but I am told we have a few new students.”
“How was your summer, Mrs. Davids?” one of the class clowns interrupted.
“Danny, hold your talking till later.”
“Oh, but Mrs. Davids, you don’t know what Danny did over the summer,” cried Grace. “Can I tell her, Danny?”
“Not now!” I said firmly. “Grace, I understand your excitement at being back in school and I know you are a very good story-teller, which I am sure will be evident in your novel, but for now be so kind as to listen. And when you want to speak, please raise your hand like you did in third grade. Remember?”
The class went off into peals of laughter. I was beginning to lose patience. I feared my temper would reign over my good nature and the students I loved so dearly would see a side of me they had never seen before. . . . / 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.