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Your Day to Shine
Your Day to Shine (watercolor)
Story Kummer, 12 (St. Louis, MO), published in Stone Soup March 2020

A note from William

On behalf of the entire Stone Soup staff I’d like to thank all of you who read our newsletter for doing so. It really means a lot to us that so many of you take the time every weekend to check in with us. Thank you.

Wow! What a painting! Story Kummer’s Your Day to Shine is the cover image for the March print issue.  For me, this painting is transfixing. Spend some time looking at it. Let yourself relax into the painting and, ideally, let yourself begin to daydream. Use the painting as the staring point for reverie.

Dawn is about light. That is true whether it is a foggy dawn—which is very common where I live—or a glorious, radiant dawn like the one that Story memorializes in this painting.

Dawn is also about promise. Everything is possible in the morning, when the day is young. What makes Story’s painting so effective is the power of its light and the strongly organized space, with the rolling hills, reminiscent of ocean swells, cut through with an undulating road. The road that will take us to our own shining destiny.

Story depicts the sun itself at the center of the yellow-orange-red part of the rainbow spectrum. This is the power position pumping out the light that shifts monochrome night into multicolored day. It is the light that wakes the birds, that warms the air—setting the diurnal insects flying and releasing the rich smells of the day.

This would be a powerful painting even without the tower, but for me the tower makes the work much more interesting. It introduces the potential for narrative. Are we setting out from the tower or walking toward it? Does the sun shine on our faces or on our backs?

I want you to work with this idea that the new day is a day of infinite potential. You can do it with art or story. Think about what makes dawn the dawn. Choose a bright, glowing morning for your setting or something more subdued, like the foggy dawns so common where I live. Whether you create a drawing, painting, or photograph to be viewed or a story or poem to be read, create something that, like Story’s painting, says something about the new day being one where your viewer or reader will shine like a brilliant morning sun, even if in your work the real sun is obscured by a fog bank or an overcast sky.

Now a different note:

William’s Journal,” the story featured in this newsletter, is about war. And its aftermath. Some say that all war is senseless. In this story, Eli Spaulding, the author, doesn’t tell us what the war was about. It is implied that the general, William, and the survivors who live in proximity to the battlefield were the “good guys,” but we don’t actually know anything about the why of this war and thus the suffering it caused.

Which raises the question, does it matter? The protagonist’s father was driven insane by an awful battle, with severe consequences for his family, even long after the war ended. As Eli puts it, “He served as a ground soldier and when he came back, he was never the same.”

If you have had relatives who have fought in a war, died there, or come back changed, then perhaps something from their story could form the kernel for something you write that might help you and your family process what happened to your loved one, or to those of you who didn’t go to war but still have to deal with very personal consequences.

As always, if you love what you create, please use our submission form to upload it to Stone Soup so our editor, Emma Wood, can consider it for publication.

Until next week,

Highlights from the past week online

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

Shihoon writes about her dream on the blog this week: unification for Korea. In her words, “I want to get rid of the ceasefire line that is blocking the path from South Korea to North Korea. My dream is studying with the North Korea students and going on a trip to North Korea.”

Another post from our resident science fiction expert, Marco. This week, Marco describes a few Cyberpunk derivatives. Want to learn about Dieselpunk, Solarpunk, and more? Click on the link above to read Marco’s post.

Mushrooms on a Tree

From Stone Soup February 2020

William's Journal

By Eli Spaulding, 11 (Newark, DE)
(Art by Sophia Torres, 12 (Chicago, IL))

“Still nothing?” asks Peter, his nose pointed down at me like a beak. He has an aura of disdain floating around him. Peter is never happy because he’s having a hard time with cancer, and the doctor said that his days are numbered.

Leave me alone, I think to myself. I’ve been digging in this hot, dry dirt since five a.m. And I just want to go home. But I just say, “Yep, still nothing.”

I have a job at a dig site to find clues from a battle in World War III. My father said that it was one of the bloodiest events in history. He served as a ground soldier and when he came back, he was never the same. He started taking drugs and gambling to buy more drugs. He sold our house to buy more, and we went into poverty. My mother ran away with me when he had sold almost everything we had. She got a job and raised me by herself. And now I have a job at a dig site studying the war that drove my dad insane.

It has been a mystery for 18 years now what happened to the soldiers that were here. A storm came through and when it passed, all that was left was mud. The same mud that I am getting paid to dig through for the museum.

“You can go home now, James,” says Peter, his voice shocking me out of my thoughts. “Better luck next time.”

I walk to my car and drive down the empty streets to my house on the corner of 13th street. Thirteen, I think. People always said that 13 was unlucky. And I have not had any luck at the dig site.

“Welcome home, James,” says my wife, Betty.

“Daddy! Daddy!” scream my two children.

“Hello,” I say. “No luck again.”

“I’m sorry,” says Betty. She is pudgy and has a round, kind face.

“Come, let’s eat dinner. I hope you have better luck next time.”

The next day I get up at five a.m. again and drive down to the dig site. The dig site is a grassless stretch of desert. I work for about five hours without finding anything. Until—

For the first time, I strike on something other than dirt and mud. It’s a metal box. .../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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