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Little Pal a girl and a dog
He licked my fingers and I felt that the model dog didn't matter to me anymore

Illustrator Garrett Landon, 11, for Little Pal by Nikki Morse, 12, in Stone Soup Magazine July/August 2000.

A note from William Rubel

Jet lag! Traveling is great, but there are side effects! I got back from warm Israel via freezing London (literally) to a rainy week in Northern California. Next week, I'm going to Taiwan for my daughter's Spring break. So the next Newsletter will be produced from Taipei. Being honest, as I am often working at the last minute, Taipei is actually a great place to be writing the Newsletter as we post it Saturday morning California time which is Sunday in Taiwan. All of you writers will understand that means more time to procrastinate!


Science Fiction Contest reminder

Speaking of procrastinating, the deadline for submitting a story to our science fiction contest is 11:59 pm on April 1, Pacific Coast Time. Winners receive Amazon gift certificates of $80 (first place), $40 (second place), $20 (third place), and $10 (fourth place). The prize-winners will be published either in the magazine or on the website. The authors of highly commended stories that do not win prizes will also be acknowledged. Upload your submission the usual way -- click on the submission link, below.


Celebrating our Young Bloggers, and a joint adult/kid nature-writing challenge

I am very pleased with how our Young Bloggers project is going. Some really interesting writing has been posted.  If you are Stone Soup writing age, which is age 13 and under, and if the Young Blogger posts inspire you, then go to the submissions button and upload an example of what you'd like to blog about. If our editor, Emma Wood likes it, then she will make you a Stone Soup blogger. All subjects welcome.

The recent post I am featuring today is "Rain" by Lukas Cooke. I think this is an utterly brilliant piece of writing. It is very difficult describing what you see and experience. Storms are particularly difficult to evoke with words. Lukas does an incredible job describing a rain storm, first from observing it inside his house, and then from outside where he is standing in the rain. I'd like to share this passage with you:
"The wind seemed to be whistling a tune, accompanied by the soft percussion of rain hitting the ground and splashing in puddles. Dancing to that tune were the trees, swaying back and forth, rejoicing in the water that so eagerly rushed down to quench their thirst. The frogs too, could be heard from inside the house, their chorus befitting the scene. And the frogs too, were rejoicing in the long–needed downpour."

I am a writer and all I can say is, wow! The wind whistles, the trees dance, the frogs rejoice. This passage demonstrates Lukas' power as a writer as he takes common ideas--the whistling wind, the dancing trees, and the chorus of frogs--and fleshes them out in a dynamic prose that has emotional depth, grace, and rhythm. Notice how he injects emotions and feelings through the core words and ideas he uses to describe the scene. He speaks of the trees "rejoicing in the water that so eagerly rushed down to quench their thirst." Lukas' tree is intensely alive, as is the water that rushes down to it. I find this idea of a dancing tree rejoicing in the rain to be powerfully evocative.

One of the most memorable storm scenes in English literature is in a short story, Typhoon, by the great Polish-British writer, Joseph Conrad (1857-1924). While Conrad tackled describing a hurricane from the vantage point of a boat in peril on the high seas, Lukas has tackled something that I think may be even more difficult. He describes a storm that is within our experience. Everyone reading his story, whether conscious of doing so or not, will be comparing Lukas' description of the rain with their own experiences. We know exactly what a storm such as the one Lukas describes is like. A false step would stick out.

What I want you to do this weekend, and I am speaking here to all of you reading the Newsletter this week, whether you are still a student or whether you are a parent or grandparent, is to join Lukas in describing  the weather that is right outside your door. I want you to do it this weekend. The challenge is to make something of whatever the day is like when you start writing.

If you are together (kids and grownups) then do this together.  When you read Lukas' complete text you will see that he is clearly thinking deeply about how to say what he wants to say. You can see he worked hard to express the full depth and complexity of his experience. If you feel you are struggling to say what you want to say, then that is good.

On your first couple of drafts please let yourself go. Don't censor what you are writing. Don't edit yourself. The first words that you write to describe the day may not turn out to be the best words to use. That doesn't matter. Get the ideas down, make a word sketch, and then later, perfect it.

If you end up really liking what you have written, and if you think that you make your readers feel and see the moment of the day you are describing (and you are 13 or under), then please submit it to Stone Soup. You may also send what you have written to me just by replying to the Newsletter. And if you are a kid and actually managed to get an adult to write along with you, then email your joint pieces to me as well.

One of our advisors once suggested that we publish work by parents and grandparents, so lets see what comes of this idea. Once I have a few paired works by kids and adults, I'll have a better idea of what to do with them. And, if you are an adult Newsletter reader but without kids to work with--well, take up the challenge, anyway. What do you see out the window?

Until next week,


Submit your writing, art, and music to Stone Soup


Book Reviews

It seems like a long time since we sent out all those free copies of books we acquired last November for our readers to review. Our reviewers have done their part (reading and reviewing) and have been waiting very patiently for us to get their work published on our website. Thank you, reviewers, and sorry we have been so slow! It has been a little bit more complicated than we hoped, but we are almost ready to launch a fabulous new book-related zone on our website. Meanwhile, we will be posting the latest reviews on our blog, so do look there for some great book discussions led by the latest reviews from our Young Reviewers.


Email login and web-form work

We are working with the developers of the order and login pages to bring them to a more sophisticated level of functionality. I will be going to Philadelphia a few days after returning from Taiwan to work with the programmers at ICN, our fulfillment house, to bring the pages to the next level. For those of you (which included me) who were having trouble logging in to the website, you can now login just with your email address. Although at this stage the sign in page looks the same, you no longer have to also include your name. We hope this helps a bit, and look forward to making further improvements to our subscribers' experience of our site over the coming weeks and months.


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From Stone Soup
May/June 2000

Hawaiian Hurricane

Author & Illustrator Nina Painter, 12


I love the beach. It’s my home, and I’m proud of it. I love to run on the beach and then dive into the sand and feel the warmth soothe my body. I love to feel the waves ripple on my toes.

This is my home, Maui, Hawaii. Sure, it’s a big tourist place, but I don’t care.

I also love the animals. There’s so many dolphins, whales, birds and fish, nobody could be happier.

That’s why I never wanted to leave.


Whoosh! The waves splashed against my boat. I laughed as my hair flew all around my face. It was one of those nice, hot summer days. There was a strong breeze, so it was perfect weather for sailing. The air smelled like plumeria flowers.

I was out in my boat, sailing in the ocean. I glided for a while in the peaceful waves.

Suddenly, a grayish, triangle-shaped figure popped up from the waves, right next to my boat. Then another one popped up! And another! Before I knew it, there were seven of them. I slowed down my speed. I knew what those figures were. My favorite animal on earth gracefully leaped into the air. It was a dolphin.

The dolphin thrashed its tail in the air as it flew over my boat. SPLASH! It dove back into the water. Then, all of the dolphins raised their heads above the water.

They chirped, and at that moment, I could feel all of their joy. Trust and happiness rushed through my body, and I could feel it pouring into my heart.

Two ropes that were connected to my boat fell into the water. Instantly, two dolphins grabbed onto the ropes. They swam as fast as they could, pulling my boat along with them.

We soared through the water. The wind tore at my face. It blew my hair behind my shoulders. I never wanted this moment to end. It was a miracle! I’d never been this close to dolphins before!

An hour went by of sailing with the dolphins. I knew that it was time for them to leave when they clapped their flippers.

I leaned over the edge of my boat to touch the dolphin’s back. I leaned out too far, so SPLASH! I fell into the ocean.

Luckily I was in my bathing suit. Water poured into my eyes. I struggled around, gasping for air and trying to find something to grab onto. I felt something rubbery. Well, it was something, so I grabbed onto it.

I wiped off my eyes, and saw that I had grabbed onto one of the dolphin’s dorsal fins. Then another dolphin swam under my open legs. It lifted me up into the air.

Now I was actually on a dolphin. I let go of the other dolphin’s fin and grabbed onto the dolphin’s fin that I was sitting on.

Then the dolphin suddenly raced forward. I almost fell off of him! The other dolphins swam on either side of me, as if for extra protection.

I zoomed through the water. This has got to be a dream, I thought, this is too wonderful to be happening to me. The dolphins that were swimming next to me jumped in the air.

After a long time of riding the dolphins (it seemed like just minutes of riding), the dolphins brought me back to my boat. Then they grabbed onto the ropes again and brought me back to shore.

It had been the best moment of my life.


“Mom! Dad!” I yelled. I slammed the door behind me. I couldn’t wait to tell my parents about the miracle.

My mom walked into the room I was in. “Oh, Mom!” I told her. “You won’t believe what just happened! There were dolphins in the water, and they . . .”

“Start packing, Sunny,” she interrupted. “You can tell me your little story later. Right now I want you to start packing.”

I was puzzled. “Where are we going?”

My mom tried to look sympathetic. “Oh honey. Your father and I thought that you were spending too much time in the ocean. We are going to move to Montana for a year and see how it works. Also, your father got offered a very good job there.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I asked.

She smiled. “No, I am sorry.”

Suddenly I got a very sick feeling in my stomach. I raced to our bathroom and threw up. I sank down and sat on the toilet. How could they do this to me? Tear me apart from my life? I was just about to go into sixth grade. My best friend Lydia would need me!

They weren’t my real parents anyway. They adopted me. If only my real parents were alive, they wouldn’t wreck my life.

Mom walked into the bathroom. She smiled like everything was normal.

I glared at her. I got up to leave and stormed out of the room. .../more

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