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Portrait of Adolescence
"Portrait of Adolescence" By Rishika Porandla, 13 (Coppell, TX) Published in Stone Soup May 2020 Illustrating “Real Life Checkmate” by Harper Fortgang, 11 (San Francisco, CA)

A note from William

Flash Contest winners. One of our fabulous Stone Soup authors and photographers, Anya Geist, age 13, wrote the five Daily Creativity prompts for the week of May 4 and was one of the judges for the Flash Contest based on her Monday prompt. The five winning illustrations are outrageously good. Congratulations to Analise Braddock, 9; Anna Dollar, 13; Catherine Gruen, 13; Olivia Titus, 11; and  Elia Yamamura, 12. You can read the whole announcement (including the honorable mentions) below, and please be sure to look at their work at our website.

Summer programs. For the first time, we will be offering summer writing programs. Stone Soup has teamed up again with the fabulous San Jose, California, program the Society of Young Inklings to offer Summer Zoom Writing Camps. (We ran our personal narrative contest with them last year, and we loved working together!) Full details will be published soon, so this is just to let you know that we have something planned for you. Classes will run for four days per week, Monday through Thursday, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific Time. I will continue running our Friday Writers’ Workshop (free for Stone Soup subscribers), so there will be no conflict between that free ongoing class and the summer programs. The summer classes will run 2 hours a day.

Pandemic fundraising news. Longtime Stone Soup writer Sabrina Guo and her family are doing a massive amount of work raising money and buying protective gear for medical personnel on the front lines in Long Island, where they live, and in New Orleans where they are supporting a program for immigrants in distress. Next week we will be sending a fundraising letter on Sabrina’s behalf. I will personally be donating several hundred dollars to her efforts. This disease knows no borders. It knows no boundaries. If there ever was a time to take to heart John Donne’s (1572–1631) observation “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee,” it is now. Sabrina’s work is saving lives. There is no administrative overhead, so $100 donated goes to buy $100 of needed medical supplies. Today, when I am writing this, I gave a workshop on bread history through Zoom. After the seminar was over, one of the participants wrote to me to say that she had had to leave early because “another member of my family died of Coronavirus.” Another! This is not abstract. If you don’t have a more effective way of helping save lives in your own community, then please respond with generosity to the letter we will be sending on Sabrina’s behalf. Please also read the latest update about her work, published on the Stone Soup website. Even though Sabrina is now 15, she will always be part of our Stone Soup family. I am also asking you to support Sabrina’s lifesaving efforts as part of your support for the passionate talented young people who make Stone Soup what it is.

The Wednesday Book Group and the Friday Writing Workshop are both doing exceedingly well. Both groups are large, with the students doing really good work. It is a real honor for us at Stone Soup to finally be meeting and interacting with our Stone Soup readers and writers. These are no empty words—we are honored to be working with you and experiencing your talent in real time every week. Thank you. Everyone can read some of the output of the workshops and reports from the book group on our website. Do take a look, and you’ll understand why we are so excited! At some point, we will be publishing the projects for the workshops, as well. We (I) am a bit behind right now!

For this weekend’s writing project, I suggest working from this one word: “changeable.”` Our lives were all going along on a certain pathway, and now they are totally changed. The weather can be changeable. Moods are changeable. Poem, story, play, dialogue, whatever works for you. Work with this idea: changeable. If you make something you are proud of, submit it to us.

Until next week,

Weekly Flash Contest #6: Draw or paint a scene from a book you are reading or have read.

This week, we are announcing our five Winners, whose work is published on our website, plus five honorable mentions. We were so impressed by the fantastic work entrants produced, the different media used, and the creative approaches you all took. Congratulations, everyone!

Winners (visit the website to see all of their work)
Analise Braddock, 9, Katonah, NY
Anna Dollar, 13, Monticello, FL
Catherine Gruen, 13, Chino Hills, CA
Olivia Titus, 11, Houston, TX
Ella Yamamura, 12, Cary, NC

Honorable Mentions
Sienna Olsen, 9, Tauranga, New Zealand
Yincheng Qian, 12, Dallas, TX
Ava Shorten, 10, Mallow, Ireland
Zoe Campbell, 10, San Francisco, CA
Amelia Barth, 10, Elgin, IL

Don’t miss the winning work, published at Stonesoup.com in the official contest announcement, here!

Highlights from the past week online

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

Leah, 12, wrote a poem memoir about her time in imposed social distancing. Read it here.

Check out the update from our fourth book club, where we discussed The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz.

In “The Monster,” Haopu (Max) Xu describes two horrors. His short piece creatively underlines the need to take COVID-19 seriously.

Have you been having strange dreams lately? Daniel describes one of his dreams, which made him go, “Huh?”

Read an update from our last writing workshop, plus all the impressive work that participants created.

Ethan, 7, wrote a poem about how coronavirus interrupted his basketball dream. But he hasn't given up yet.

Do you have a birthday during quarantine? Anya talks about her upcoming birthday, which she won’t be able to celebrate as usual this year. While sad about not being able to continue traditions, Anya brings up alternative ways to celebrate.

Remember how Stone Soup author Sabrina Guo founded LILAC—Long Island Laboring Against COVID-19? We shared a recent update about the money LILAC has raised for personal protective equipment (PPE) to go to medical professionals. If you can, please consider contributing to the inspiring initiative.

Himank wrote a blog post about cotton candy, its history, and what it looks like around the world.

George, 11, wrote a powerful poem called “We Are Strong.” about persevering through this pandemic.

A poem by Simran, 9, pairs with a piece of art by Anna, 11. Both express hope and togetherness.

Ashley, 13, reviews the classic book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Portrait of Adolescence

From Stone Soup May 2020

Real Life Checkmate

By Harper Fortgang, 11, San Francisco, CA

Art by Rishika Porandla, 13 (Coppell, TX)

Meet Evelyn Thompson. In kindergarten, she tore down the micro-soccer field in a dress and Mary Janes. By first grade, she could play Bach on the piano as smoothly as a river. During second grade, she smoked all the kids in her class playing checkers, and as she started sixth grade, she joined chess club.

Evelyn walked confidently through the door of the Colorado Boys’ Chess Club. She didn’t mind the looks the nearby boys flashed at her. If it mattered to them that a girl was walking through the door, that was their problem, not hers. Once the boys saw her performance, they would forget about the dividing line that existed between genders.

Evelyn soon found out she was in real-life checkmate.

When she introduced herself, Logan, a tall boy with untidy, dull-blond hair shouted, “Evelyn—what type of pretty-girl name is that?”

The other boys burst into laughter.

Evelyn sat awkwardly and tried to laugh, but only a grunt escaped. These boys had a different sense of humor, a kind that stung your heart.

Before the chess games began, Liam whispered to Evelyn, “Good luck, powerless pawn.”

He then turned toward the boys and said, “Who’s going to teach Evelyn a lesson?”

Logan, the team captain, stepped forward. “I will.” He mocked Evelyn by flipping his tiny strands of hair. She ignored him and made her first move: knight to c3. Logan moved his pawn to h4. The game went on and on, each grainy, wooden chess piece progressing slowly across the black-and-white board.

Finally, Evelyn called out “checkmate,” certain she had proved her right to play in the chess club.

Mason raced over to her. “You’re a cheater, Evelyn. Logan has never lost a game.”

“Neither have I,” Evelyn replied nonchalantly.

“She’s a cheater. I saw her,” Logan declared.
. . . /READ MORE, plus a recording of Harper reading her story

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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