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Artist Mark Wallinger standing behind his work, The World Turned Upside Down (2019) London, April 2020

A note from Jane

A couple of weeks ago I took my daily walk in central London (walking at a two-meter distance from Stone Soup’s designer, my neighbor Joe Ewart). All of you who live in big cities will know how strange and wonderful it is to experience city spaces in a whole new way right now. Usually thronging with people, traffic, fumes, and noise, London is currently almost traffic-free, its pavements (sidewalks) barely populated, and the air filled with birdsong. But some of the same rules of life still apply: It doesn’t matter how big the city is—you are probably going to bump into someone you know!

On this walk, that someone was the artist Mark Wallinger. As we entered Lincoln’s Inn Fields, we saw him sitting on a bench, so we said hello and had a catch up (each of us forming a point on a two-meter-spaced triangle to maintain social distancing). It turned out that Mark had installed a whole new public artwork in 2019, and it was just around the corner, so we walked together (though also still apart) to see it. And this is it: The World Turned Upside Down.

It is a gigantic globe balanced on the ground, like the ones you see in geography classes or on people’s desks, but there’s something odd about it—the words are the right way up for the reader, but the world itself is upside down! It’s a deceptively simple idea, but this artwork has a profound effect on the viewer, and not just because it is so huge! It plays with our perceptions of the world and really makes us think about how we look at it. In the photo here, you see Mark standing beside the Americas. Looked at from this angle, Brazil dominates the view, and we can see how almost invisible the land mass now positioned toward the bottom of the globe becomes. Then we work out where it is: how could a huge country like Canada disappear almost out of view!

Walking around the globe, you realize just how much of our world is water: you can stand at a point where all you can see is blue (the Pacific Ocean). The familiar shapes of countries and continents remake themselves when you look at them a different way around. You realize how much of what you think about the world—the place of your own country in it, the relationships between different continents—has been learned from the way maps have been drawn and the ways we have been taught to look at them. It’s exciting to be prompted to look at something so familiar in a completely new way!

For this weekend’s activity, we want you to think about worlds turned upside down. Right now we are all living through something that is a version of the world turned upside down. School is closed even though the semester hasn’t finished—summer vacation/holidays (what you call it depends on where you’re from, of course) are coming, but you are already at home and might have to stay there—and maybe you want to write about that. But you can also think outside the current situation to make some new worlds upside down. What if the kids were in charge and the adults in the role of the kids? What if the animals took over the farm? What if fish could walk or mammals (besides bats) had wings? What if gold was worthless? Try focusing on one specific factor that has turned topsy-turvy and see what it means for the wider world of your story, poem, or art. If you like what you’ve made, send it to us via Submittable. We always love to see your work!

Until next week,

Weekly Flash Contest #5: Write a story inspired by one of these funny headlines.

Visit the Bestlifeonline.com webpage, and read their selection of the “25 Funniest Newspaper Headlines of All Time.” Write a story inspired by your chosen headline.

Every week during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements, we are running a Flash Contest based on the first Daily Creativity prompt of the week. The prompt is posted on Monday, and entries are due by Friday. The week commencing April 27 (Daily Creativity Prompt #26) was our fifth week—and our funniest! Everyone obviously needed to get some comedy into their lives, and we had a record number of entries. We enjoyed reading each and every one of them, but a few made all of us laugh out loud, so they are our winners this week. Published below, they come in every shade of humor, from light to dark, and they are all hilarious. We also have a few honorable mentions singled out for special recognition. Congratulations, everyone!

Read their work here!

Eliana Aschheim, 13, Santa Clara, CA
Gabe Finger, 13, Nesconset, NY
Hannah Nami Gajcowski, 10, Bellevue, WA
Liam Hancock, 12, Danville, CA
Alice Xie, 12, West Windsor, NJ

Honorable Mentions

Lena Aloise, 10, Harvard, MA
Cora Casebeer, 10, Salem, OR
Samantha Lee, 10, Thomaston, CT

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!

Annabelle, 10, wrote a graphic art story about the coronavirus.

Alice, 10, shares journal entries about her experience with COVID-19 closures in “Diary of a Locked Kid.”

We may not be able to travel at the moment, but you can still enjoy reading accounts of what it’s like to travel to other places. Check out Vivaan’s latest travelogue, this time describing his time at the Taj Mahal.

SierraRose, 12, talks about how COVID-19 has affected her life as a student in Los Angeles, California.

In Daniel’s latest post, read about how Daniel learned  about the importance of confidence while playing basketball.

What are the sounds of COVID-19? Daniel captures some in his poem that we posted to the blog.

Connor, 10, wrote a poem about how the pace of life has changed since he has had to stay home because of COVID-19.

What do you know about cured meats? Ezra, who has written about food for the blog before, is back with a post about different kinds of cured meats and their history.

We published a poem by Daisy, 11, about her time in quarantine—or in her words, “coronacation.”

Read some of the excellent work created during our Weekly Writing Workshop from last week.

Second Annual Book Contest

We are accepting submissions for our annual book contest. The winning manuscript will be published by Stone Soup as a standalone book (see the other awards below!). 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. You have the rest of spring and all of summer to work on your book. We can’t wait to read it!

Contest Details

  • Genre: We are reading in all genres. You can submit a collection of poems, a memoir, a short story collection, a collection of personal narratives, a novel, a graphic novel . . . you name it!
  • Length: For prose (fiction or memoir) 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.
  • Age limit: For this contest, we will accept manuscripts written by those age 14 or under.
  • Deadline:  Monday, August 10, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. PDT
  • Entry fee: $15.00. Multiple submissions are accepted, but you must submit each as an individual entry and pay the fee each time.
  • Results and prizes: We will select one winning manuscript to be published in 2021 and distributed by Stone Soup in both print and ebook form, available for sale on Amazon, in the Stone Soup store, via our distributors, and advertised along with the rest of our books to libraries and other vendors. We will also name a handful of finalists.
  • Publication: We will consider all work submitted as part of the contest for potential publication in the magazine or as standalone volumes, if our budget allows.

All the details at Submittable.

Lilly-June GordonFrom Stone Soup May 2020

I Am Me

By Lilly-June Gordon, 12, New York, NY


Who am I?
It depends
if you are asking me.
My peers know only a rendition of me.
An aloof me.
Do I even have friends?
It depends
if you are asking me.
My peers know only a rendition of me.
An aloof me, whose only friends are baubles and pens.
What do I know?
It depends
if you are asking me.
My peers know only a rendition of me.
An aloof me whose only friends are baubles and pens, and who doesn’t know
how to properly use her head.
But what if you were to ask me?
Who am I?
I know not a rendition of me.
I know a kind girl, with many friends, who knows to survive with only a pen.

Listen to a recording of Lily reading her poem 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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