A note from Sarah
Happy weekend, all!
I have been fortunate to work with a few Stone Soup interns over the past few months on an alt-text project to help make our website a little more accessible. Are you familiar with alt-text, also known as alternative text? In short, alt-text is a description of an image on a website that can be helpful for those who use screen readers or for users who might have trouble getting online images to load. If you would like to delve into the concept of alternative text further, I recommend this site, one of many great resources on the internet on this subject.
While writing alt-text is mostly a practice in factual description, it has me thinking about how to describe complex artwork or art that could be interpreted in many different ways. If you know anything about the kind of art we publish in Stone Soup, both in the magazine and on the blog, you may know that a lot of it can be left up to interpretation!
For example, the art piece “Trace” by Ashley Jun, 13 (pictured above) from the November issue might be understood in a variety of ways. At first glance, there are two figures walking in the opposite direction from the photographer, seemingly on a beach. But when you take a closer look, you notice all the extra shapes around the figures. What do all of the edits in the photograph mean? While you don’t necessarily have to be concerned with meaning when writing alt-text, I suggest that for this exercise, you think about description more generally and feel free to incorporate deeper meaning if you’d like. How would you describe this photograph? Once you have a description down in words, I challenge you to think of two different ways that it could be described—in effect, two other ways to interpret it.
Now that you have three different descriptions of this photograph, try to incorporate all three into one story. Perhaps the photograph is hanging on the wall at an art museum, and your three descriptions are the way three visitors to the museum understand the piece. Or maybe one person’s opinion evolves throughout the years on what the piece signifies. There are so many ways to make a story out of these three separate descriptions.
This writing challenge is not unlike the concept of Ekphrasis, which both William and Conner have covered in their writing workshops. For extra inspiration, take a look at the summaries from their workshops plus the writing created by students during those classes!
Until next week,
Highlights from the past week online
Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at on our blog!
Pragnya, 13, wrote a review of Anne Ursu's stellar new novel The Troubled Girls Of Dragomir Academy.
Mason Li wrote a tender poem, "Peace," in honor of Veteran's Day.
Congratulations to the Book Contest 2021 winners & honorable mentions!
We're thrilled to announce the results of our 2021 Book Contest. It was a pleasure and an honor to read and consider all the manuscripts, and incredibly difficult to select our two winners. We are excited to share more about the books and the authors with you in the coming months!
Foxtale by Sarah Hunt, 14
Remember the Flowers by Enni Harlan, 14
Days of Freedom, a novel by Sophene Avedissian, 13
Twenty Moons, poems by Maggie Berkson, 10
Adventures with the Robot of 1920, a novel by Srija Biswas, 13
A Lonely Lullaby, poems by Analise Braddock, 10
The Hotel Bellboy and Other Tales, stories by Steven Cavros, 10
The Legends of Atruviia, a novel by Ayesha Faruki, 13
Heart of Stars, a novel by Lillia Hamilton, 12
The Immortal Jellyfish, poems by Emma Hoff, 9
A Tale from Inside the Book, a novel by Jaslene Kwack, 14
Reunited, a novel by Olivia Lee, 10
Answering the Moon, a novel by Serena Lin, 10
This is the Song the World Needs Now And Other Poems, poems by Nova Macknik-Conde, 9, and Iago Macknik-Conde, 14
Book Zero, a novel by Leo Michelman, 11
Rainbow, a novel by Aanya Pandeya, 11
Serpent Throat and Other Stories, stories by Tayen Withrow, 11
The Poisonous Gift, a novel by Alice Xie, 13
Congratulations to our most recent Flash Contest winners!
Our November Flash Contest was based on Creativity Prompt #176 (provided by Sage Millen, former Stone Soup intern), which asked participants to create a character that had everything they'd always wanted, yet still wasn't happy. Again, we received a massive influx of submissions, all of them worthy of recognition. Interestingly, this prompt also gave rise to more poetry submissions—a welcome sight. The work we read ranged from complex dystopian narratives involving time travel to an existential search for ice cream to inspiring poetry surrounding the nature of perfection. In the end, we decided there was too much good work to limit our Honorable Mentions to just five writers, and so highlighted a sixth! As always, thank you to all who submitted, and please submit again next month!
Congratulations to our Winners and Honorable Mentions, listed below. You can read the winning entries for this contest (and previous ones) at the Stone Soup website.
"Natalie's Wish" by Josephine Alpert, 13 (Cambridge, MA)
"Allison!" by Quinn Brenner, 11 (New York, NY)
"Perfection by Sierra E., 11 (Mountain View, CA)
"Gone" by Scarlet He, 10 (Scarsdale, NY)
"Hole of Debt" by Emily Tang, 12 (Winterville, NC)
"Realization" by Kimberly Hu, 9 (Lake Oswego, OR)
"The Bird and a Boy" by Jeremy Lim, 9 (Portland, OR)
"Dare to Dream" by Lui Lung, 12 (Danville, CA)
"Pride" by Nova Macknik-Conde, 10 (Brooklyn, NY)
"Boredom" by Liyue Sally Wang, 10 (Newton, MA)
"A Month of Awakening" by Eliya Wee, 11 (Menlo Park, CA)
By Emma Catherine Hoff, 8 (Bronx, NY)
With a bird.
I don’t know when the bird started talking.
It wrapped me in its arms.
It had a gentle grip.
Such a gentle grip.
Too gentle of a grip, I thought.
I don’t know
When the bird grew arms.
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.