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By Heloise Matumoto, 13 (Quebec, Canada), iPhone SE photograph, the cover image from Stone Soup, May 2020

A note from William

First, the news and some updates
I would like to thank all of you who have recently subscribed. Sales are up for the month. Thank you!

It is probably best to think of Stone Soup as a micro-business. We do not have a single full-time staff member. We have done our best to rise to the current occasion with Daily Creativity writing prompts, the Weekly Flash Contest, the Wednesday Book Club, and the Friday Writing Workshop—there is a special newsletter section reminding you of all our new COVID-19 resources below, as well as a daily email signup link. The best way you can support us is to subscribe, and share the news of Stone Soup’s resources with your friends around the world. Month-by-month digital subscriptions start at $4.99, and month-by-month print and digital subscriptions start at $7.99. Thank you again.

The Book Club held its second meeting this last Wednesday and doubled in size to 20 students. Laura Moran, who runs the group, invited Nicole Helget, author of our first chosen book, The End of the Wild, to participate in the session. She was so inspiring! Thank you, Nicole!

The Writing Workshop has 23 participants. Last Friday, they asked that the workshop last longer! So this week, it ran for an hour and 20 minutes. You can read about the workshops and some of the work produced during them via the web links below.

I want to remind all of you that our second annual Book Contest is running (see below for details). We have had requests from students who have started and who are thinking of starting manuscripts for a special workshop, to help them make this leap to longer-form writing. I will run a preliminary workshop for people interested in this on Saturday, May 2, at 1 p.m. PDT. Email us here with the subject line “Long Form Book Contest Writing Workshop” if you would like to join, and we will then send you a Zoom link for the workshop. I will hold the workshop even if only one of you responds.

What do you have planned for summer?
My daughter’s school has five more weeks to run. Then, summer vacation starts. An odd idea, a vacation at home following what for many of you will already have been over two months at home. A double “vacation” this year. We are thinking of programs we can offer to help fill the summer with creativity, and we would like to know what you think about our ideas for Summer Camps and Summer Workshops. Please respond to our questionnaire and tell us! We have been able to offer our Book Club and Writing Workshop over the past month because, to be honest, we are doing it ourselves and we are not all being paid. We will have to hire writers and artists to run summer programs, so there will have to be a charge. Please fill out the questionnaire. It includes questions about what you wold be willing to pay. Please be honest. We will be using what you say in the questionnaire to develop the program. Thank you.

William’s Weekend Activity
The May issue is out! I received mine on Wednesday. The cover photograph by Heloise Matumoto (13) of jellyfish is striking, and any of you who have seen jellyfish in aquariums will appreciate its beauty. The central jellyfish is poised in the water. Going up? Going down? I personally have very traumatic memories of repeated jellyfish stings from the summer of 1960, in Annapolis, Maryland. I was eight years old. Jellyfish were everywhere at the beach! It was truly awful. Tentacles lay on the sand. My feet were in agony. And, in fact, even though I have never lived further than two kilometers from the Pacific Ocean since the age of 11, I have not been into the ocean since!

I want you to look at the May cover image and think about a photograph you could make of something that, like the jellyfish, seems to float, perfectly balanced, between up and down. I know that you are probably not able to just leave your house with your parents and go exploring for this situation, this image to photograph. So. I am not saying it will be easy. But, around your house, or where you are permitted to go during this pandemic, find an image that has the kind of balance and grace we find in the cover image. I am writing this at night. Right outside the window, to my right, there is a jar hanging from a tree—like the kind we use for canning—that is filled with a string of small lights powered by a solar charger in the lid. The lights are twinkling about 12 feet (four meters) from me. I can’t see the tree’s branches. The light seems to float in the night, as the jellyfish floats in the cover photograph. Think about lights, reflections, mirrors, shadows, clouds, and . . .

Also this month, I’d like to call your attention to our Honor Roll. Every issue includes the mention of authors working in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and artists who have sent us their work for consideration. It is often not an easy choice for our editor, Emma Wood, to decide which works to include in the magazine. The Honor Roll is a commendation by Emma for work well done, and we celebrate all of you who make your work and send it to us. We and all your readers appreciate you!
Until next week,

Weekly Flash Contest #4: Winners

The week of April 20 (Daily Creativity prompt #21) was our fourth Flash Contest, and our food theme really got everyone’s creative juices flowing! You obviously had fun finding your food objects and thinking of creative ways to write about them. We enjoyed reading each and every one of the entries, and it was just as difficult as ever to choose our top five this week—so difficult, in fact, that we have added some honorable mentions once again. Congratulations, everyone!

Winners (read their work here)

Eliana Aschheim, 13, Santa Clara, CA
Iris Fink, 8, Beloit, WI
Enni Harlan, 13, Los Angeles, CA
Julia Marcus, 13, Culver City, CA
Ava Shorten, 10, Mallow, Ireland
Adele Stamenov, 10, Bethel Park, PA
Emerson Swift, 12, Mill Valley, CA

Honorable Mentions

“My Journey” by Alexander Frey, 9, Herndon, VA
“A Kid's Gotta Eat” by Liam Hancock, 12, Danville, CA

Remember, we are running the Flash Contest every week during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements. It is always based on the first Daily Creativity prompt of the week. The prompt is posted on Monday, entries are due by Friday, and the winners are chosen and announced the following week.

Highlights from the past week online

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

Abhi, the winner of our book contest from last year, wrote a poem about how the pandemic felt as sudden as a bolt of lightning—all of the sudden, everything changed.

Thee Sim Ling, 13, writes about her experience of the pandemic in Singapore. She talks about fear and discrimination, but also tries to find positives.

Vivaan, 11, shares his perspective about COVID-19 from another continent—Europe. While he’s disappointed about events being cancelled, he also looks at the bright side, including more family time.

Check out what some of the writers created at last Friday’s Writing Workshop. The prompt was to think about being trapped somehow, whether physically or metaphorically. The participating writers came up with such interesting and varied ways to express the idea through words.

Ziqing Peng, 12, writes from China about how even though the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei province in China, we shouldn’t discriminate against people from there or from China in general. Read her post here.

Sloka Ganne, 11, whose artwork has been featured on the cover of Stone Soup, wrote a poem to go along with a drawing. Read “Silence” and see her art here.

Did you join us for our third meeting of the Stone Soup Book Club? If not, you can catch up on what happened by reading our post summarizing the meeting. Nicole Helget, the author of the book we chose (The End of the Wild), joined us!

Jeongwon Choi, 13, is from South Korea but is living with her family in India right now. Read about her experience with COVID-19 here, including her thoughts on schoolwork and how her home country is handling the pandemic.

From Poland, Patrycja writes about her life now that COVID-19 has changed everything. She writes about how people’s behavior has changed and what makes her hopeful.

Second Annual Book Contest

We are accepting book manuscripts for our 2020 summer contest, which closes on Monday, August 10. So, you have the rest of spring and all of summer to work on your book! The winning manuscript will be published by Stone Soup as a standalone book. For prose submissions, the minimum length is 20,000 words. For poetry submissions, the minimum length is 40 pages. There is no maximum word or page limit.

As always, we have no preference in terms of genre, topic, or form: you can submit a manuscript of poems or short stories, a novel or a memoir. We are simply looking for excellent, innovative, unusual, powerful writing. We can’t wait to read it!

For full details, visit the contest pages on our website.

Keeping you creative during COVID-19 lockdown

The following is your quick reference guide to all the new resources we are publishing to help keep you creative during this strange time across the world.

Daily Creativity: new creativity prompt every weekday morning, with a constantly building archive of prompts for you to refer back to.

COVID-19 Blog: new material from our young bloggers and artists reflecting on current events and their experiences of the global pandemic and a new submission category for you to send us your COVID-19-related work for consideration.

Weekly Flash Contest: a new flash contest every week, based on Monday’s Daily Creativity prompt. Winners’ work published at Stonesoup.com.

Summer Book Contest: contest launch brought forward; closing date August 2020.

Weekly Writing Workshop: a writing group for Stone Soup subscribers and contributors that meets via Zoom for one hour and twenty minutes every Friday at 1 p.m. PDT to write together and read your work aloud to their peers. Reports on the workshops and contributions published at Stonesoup.com.

Book Club: a Book Club for Stone Soup subscribers and contributors that meets via Zoom for one hour every Wednesday at 1 p.m. PDT. Email us to join the Book Club mailing list, and check out which books we are reading via the reports on our website.

To make sure you are kept up to date with all of the extra resources we are providing during this time, please sign up for the Creativity Prompts mailing listAll you have to do to get on the list is click the link. Share with your friends, and please leave us a comment on our website and at Facebook if you like what we’re doing!

Ava Shorten
Ava Shorten, 9
Mallow, Ireland

From Stone Soup May 2020

Elana (Part II), A Novella

By Hannah Nami Gajcowski, 9, Bellevue, WA
Illustrated by Ava Shorten, 9, Mallow, Ireland


VI (continued): The Background Theater

At the end of the hallway was a theater, but without any seats for an audience. Instead, on stage, everybody was creating beautiful sets. There was everything from fancy houses to beautiful landmarks and unforgettable natural scenes. Elana stood amazed. She had never seen such beautiful backdrops! She looked at Henry, smiling, then noticed that Henry looked completely dazed and unresponsive, which puzzled Elana. What was wrong?

Suddenly, all the gingerbread artists scurried over to Henry. “Henry’s sick!” one of them cried out in despair.

During the commotion, Elana had wandered over to the sets. Suddenly, there was a deafening crash. To Elana’s horror, she had spilled a paint bucket onto a drying masterpiece! Everyone’s attention suddenly turned to Elana. She turned red.

What are they going to do to me? Elana thought to herself. Just then, an angry gingerbread confronted her.

“What did you do to my masterpiece?” he shrieked. Elana looked at Henry helplessly. She wished Henry would help her. She was confused

What happened to Henry? What was going to happen? Will I ever get back into the cozy hotel room? What am I going to say? Elana thought frantically.

Then she thought about the Palace of Honey. She thought about how everybody there knew Henry. Even a gingerbread here had cried, “Henry’s sick!” Suddenly, a plan formed in her mind.

“I’m friends with Henry,” she shouted.

“You’re friends with—?” the gingerbread man started.

“Henry,” Elana finished. Everyone just stared.

“I really am!” Elana continued.

“What’s your name?” A gingerbread woman asked.

“Elana,” Elana said. Everyone gaped at her. “Uh-” Elana paused. “What’s the big deal?”

“Well, the Chosen One is Elana,” said a slim gingerbread man with a fake smile, “but I had no idea she was such a cute little chubby-cheeker.”

“Well, that’s me,” Elana admitted, ignoring the gingerbread man’s name-calling. What is he talking about? Elana thought to herself. I don’t even have chubby cheeks!

. . . /MORE

If you need to catch up on part 1 of Elana before reading this part, you can read it in the April 2020 issue here!

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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