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“Wheat in Heaven”
Photograph (Nikon D3400) by Delaney Slote, 12. Published in Stone Soup, October 2018.

A note from William Rubel

The Podcast Contest is accepting submissions until midnight, Pacific Time, April 15. That is only three weeks away! You will find details in the Partnership and Contest News section below, as well as on our website.

Please look down to the “Highlights from the past week online” section for some news about Stone Soup contributor and blogger Sabrina Guo.

William’s weekend project: photography

I’d like you to look at Delaney Slotes photograph, featured in our newsletter this week, from a technical point of view. There are only two objects depicted: the wheat and the sky. The wheat is much closer to us than the sky. This is a photograph that is exploring visual planes and space—the distance between the two planes. In this photograph there is foreground and background, but no middle ground. It thus shares a strong structural similarity with the photograph of umbrellas we used for the cover of the February issue. I wrote about that image in the February 9 newsletter.

Delaney also explores blurring. The distant clouds are blurry. This helps focus our attention on the wheat in the foreground. But the wheat itself is also on multiple planes. The wheat has depth. Notice that some of the wheat is sharp and some blurry. Delaney’s camera offers fine control over what is called the focal plane—the precise distance from the camera where the image is sharpest.

The focal plane is flat, like a piece of paper or a piece of window glass. You might even imagine your photograph as being composed of two painted parallel pieces of glass set far apart from each other.

Your camera may or may not let you play with blurriness. If it does, then experiment with the feature. In the case of “Wheat in Heaven,” the contrast between the wheat that is sharply focused and the wheat that is a little blurry provides a feeling of depth and movement.

Walk around your house or go outside looking for objects that you can imagine as being arranged on two parallel panes of glass but set very far apart from each other. You can also look for situations in which the planes are not parallel, where the imaginary panes of glass meet each other at an angle.

As always, if you are super pleased with what you have done, then upload your submission to our website for editor Emma Wood to review.

Until next time,

P.S. If you happen to see the current issue of Mother Earth News in a magazine stand, then turn to page 26. You will find an article I wrote on vegetable gardening. You can also read the article online at the Mother Earth News website.

Partnership and contest news

Don't forget about our current contest, in partnership with the By Kids, for Kids Story Time podcast, to write a short story about climate change or another environmental theme. Your work could become a dramatized reading broadcast on the podcast and be published in an issue of Stone Soup! All the details about entries and prizes are on our website contest pages.

We’ve partnered with The Adroit Journal, a literary magazine for teens. Now in its seventh year, The Adroit Journal’s Summer Mentorship Program is an entirely free and online program that pairs experienced writers with high school and secondary students (students currently in grades 9–12) interested in learning more about the creative writing processes of drafting, redrafting, and editing. The 2019 program will cater to the literary genres of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and is open for student applications March 15 through April 15.

Highlights from the past week online

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

Abhi Sukhdial reviews the book BRAT and the Kids of Warriors by Michael Joseph Lyons. Find out what he thinks are the strengths and weaknesses of the adventure novel.

Frequent contributor Sabrina Guo recently won a Scholastic Art & Writing Award for her Stone Soup blog post about the organization Another Kind of Girl Collective (in addition to a few other awards!). Congratulations to Sabrina! Read more here.

From Stone Soup
November 2018

The Legend of the Leaves

By Marcus R. Bosley, 10

Long, long ago, in the days when dinosaurs roamed, and the Earth was filled with lush, green grass, the first people were born.

The gods shaped them from the mud of the Earth, dropping them on the soft ground and giving them shelter from harsh weather.

In the time before humans, the gods were lonely. They would eat and sleep and occasionally play bingo at the top of a volcano. But they never experienced joy or happiness like we do today.

So they created humans.

The gods would make houses and villages for the people to live in. They would give food to the people when they were in need.

The gods were so generous they gave the people the most valuable resource of all.


Now, when you first think about it, doesn’t it sound a little silly?

But, back then, they didn’t have the same animals as we do today. They wouldn’t be able to make clothes or blankets without the soft animal skins we have now.

The gods saw the humans in distress. They were cold at night and made clothes out of tough alligator hides. So they took action. The gods thought up something that would solve the problem. Something common, that could be found everywhere.

And so they created leaves.

Lots and lots of leaves.

The people used the leaves right away. They made soft clothing to wear that was a million times better than the scaly lizard skin. They stuffed pillows with them. They even used sticky tree sap to glue them together and make roofs.

The gods gave them everything.

But, the problem was, the humans were still not satisfied. They demanded more from the gods. Better food. Nicer homes. More recipes for Italian beef stew.

The gods were astounded.

“They must be put under control. They want more, and they are greedy. If we give them more, the people will only want more. What can we do?” said Civerous, the most powerful of the gods. .../more

Listen to Marcus reading his story aloud on SoundCloud.

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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