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Mountains with Trees
Mountains with Trees (oil pastels)
Enoch Farnham, 12 (Edmond, OK), published in Stone Soup, March 2020

A note from Jane

Pandemics are not something new. Sheltering in place, which many of us are doing by not going out of our houses except to get exercise or food, is also an ancient human practice. The great British scientist Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727) spent two extended periods between the summer of 1665 and the spring of 1667 holed up in the countryside at Woolsthorpe. He had left the city of Cambridge to escape the bubonic plague that was ravaging the UK in the year 1665–66.

That year of Newton’s life is referred to as his Annus Mirabilis—his “Year of Wonders.” In later life, Newton himself said that during this time in self-isolation, he was able to concentrate in ways he hadn’t before. Newton’s plague year was one of the most creative of his life. This is where and when he did his foundational work on optics (using a prism); the laws of motion and universal gravitation (watching an apple fall from a tree outside his window); and calculus (“fluxions,” or early calculus).

We might not be able to produce work with the brilliance of Newton’s, or as much of it! But we can all use this time for sustained creative projects. And Stone Soup is here to help you in all our usual ways, and a few more for this particular time.

  • We have brought forward the launch of our Annual Book Contest—you have the whole spring and summer to work on your novel, your poetry collection, or whatever long-form work you want to submit.
  • For shorter projects, we are posting Daily Creativity prompts to help challenge or stimulate you to do something creative—writing, drawing, singing—every day. You can sign up here and below for our daily newsletter, and check back on the previous prompts at our special COVID-19 page.
  • Starting Monday, we are making the first Daily Creativity prompt of every week into a Flash Contest! You'll find all the details of that on the page on Monday morning.
  • Last but not least, we have had our first Zoom meeting with volunteers who signed up to brainstorm with us on new adventures for this strange time—thank you SO much to all of you who joined, there were lots of great ideas and constructive suggestions! And we were very excited to meet some of our readers and writers almost-in-the-flesh! Everyone–watch this space and our COVID-19 page for exciting updates and new initiatives next week.

For those of you who don’t want to write a book, or on the days you don’t feel like the daily prompt is for you, why not use this time to start a journal? It could become an important historical document in its own right one day! The world will look back on this time, and people in the future will want to know what you did and how you felt as you lived through this experience. Like Newton, maybe you can use this time to make some creative history.

Stay safe and well, everyone.

Until next time,

Daily Creativity Prompts

Last week, we launched our new series: Daily Creativity. Every day, we add another idea for a writing or art project, or another kind of creative act that you can take part in.

We have made a page at Stonesoup.com where you can pick up the new suggestion every morning, or you can just visit once in a while to choose something that sparks your imagination. If social media is more your thing, you can find them there (see links at the bottom of the newsletter). And, if you want us to poke you every weekday morning, sign up for our new daily newsletter and well send the Daily Creativity activity direct to your mailbox every weekday morning!

We hope you enjoy these mini projects, and that you share them with anyone else you think might like them as well. They are a free resource for everyone.

Highlights from the past week online

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

Himank, one of our young bloggers, wrote a tribute to Kobe Bryant, the famous basketball player who recently passed away, along with his daughter, in a helicopter accident. Read about Bryant’s accomplishments and how people are honoring his life.

We published another post in Marco’s series on science fiction, this time on “Fantasy: High, Dark, and Everything in Between.” Once again, Marco explains the subtleties of the genre in an accessible and engaging way.

Bargain Back Issues!

Did you know that we reduce the prices of Stone Soup back issues in our online store?

Any issue published over six months ago is reduced by 25%—that’s $5 per issue instead of $7.50. And issues over 12 months old are half price, just $3.75 each.

The cover date may be 2018 or 2019, but the content in Stone Soup never gets old, and you can’t beat the feeling of holding one of our beautiful magazines in your hands. Why not give the print edition of the magazine a try, or build up your collection of back issues, at a bargain price?

Also in our online store: our themed anthologies, and copies of our 2017, 2018, and 2019 Annuals, while stocks last! Mail will take a little longer than usual to arrive, but the store is currently still open.

Mountains with Trees

From Stone Soup March 2020


By Zeke Braman, 9 (Acton, MA)
Illustrated by Enoch Farnham, 12 (Edmon, OK)

Pine needles cover the ground,
Life chirps and peeps from cracks in the Earth.
These mountains rise high,
Scraping space.
Lizards and bugs infest the leaning trees,
The elder branches of the oak,
And birch
Wave their spidery fingers at the sky
As if waiting for an answer to a prayer.
Paths twirl and unfold like ribbons,
Tracing the past generations’ steps to the peak.
Clouds encircle the summit as if dancing.
Markers are set to tell you that many people
Have been here to rise above.
Trees make a thin blanket against the buffeting winds
That scour everything
And withdraw suddenly.

An old house at the back of the mountain

Gives you a personal secret

You keep to yourself . . . /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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