A note from William Rubel
It’s Thanksgiving in the United States this Thursday! We hope you all have a wonderful time.
We have received the proof copies of this year’s Stone Soup Annual. It is so exciting to hold the whole year’s published work in our hands in one fat book! We are very excited that we will soon be able to send it out into the world and into your hands. We also loved being able to look through a year of writing and art on the pages of the magazine. You have made such wonderful work this year, all of you. Congratulations.
This week I want focus particularly on the fantastic artwork by 11-year-old Eva Stoitchkova, “Mountain Dweller,” that makes the striking cover for this year’s Annual. We used another of Eva’s collages, “Forest Creature,” as the cover of our March 2018 issue, and I urge you to visit it at our website to look closely at that one too. Every time I look at Eva’s beautiful images, I’m impressed by her bold, expressive lines and the creative way she uses collage to both create and embellish the picture. She uses the underlying found images in the usual way, to add color and texture to her work, but at the same time she chooses those images to add meaning and contextual references as well. It’s both clever and beautiful, and all of us at Stone Soup are so proud to be able to share Eva’s art with you. Thank you, Eva!
Copies of the Stone Soup Annual are available for pre-order now in the Stone Soup online store, and will ship in the first week of December. There you can also find back issues of the 2018 magazine in print.
What we learned this week
We attended the California Library Association conference in Santa Clara, California, last weekend. Truly great response to our renaissance! Librarians loved what they saw. Here is the takeaway idea from the conference: we should think of Stone Soup as a bridge between being a consumer of literature—a reader—and being a producer of literature—a writer and an artist. While every writer is a reader, every reader is not a writer. Childhood is the time to get into the habit of being a creative person—a writer and an artist. Stone Soup is there for kids to help them synthesize their reading and personal experiences through creative writing and art.
William's Weekend Project
Which gets us to today’s project: a close-up portrait of an animal. I mean “animal” in its largest scientific sense, the kingdom Animalia. We are mammals. Flies are insects. Along with fish, birds, and other types of creatures, we are all within the group of organisms scientists classify as animals—“Animalia.”
When you stare into a dog’s eyes, the dog stares back into your eyes. There is human-dog bonding through the eyes. There is no bonding between humans and flies. With most other animals it is unclear to us humans just exactly what the eyes we’re looking at are actually seeing or communicating. But eyes are so important to how we humans interact with each other that for us, a face with the eyes always captures our attention. Even when it is the face of an insect.
Working from pets or domesticated animals you may have access to—dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, chickens, cows, pigs—and from animals you can usually only see up close in photographs—elephants, flies, fish, etc.—I want you to make a drawing or painting that fills the entire page just with the creature’s face. I’m thinking of a full-on, face-forward portrait that fills the entire page.
Most animals display symmetry—the left and right sides of their faces mirror each other. Eye-migrating flatfish like flounder are an exception. Both of their eyes are on the same side of their head! The illustration you see in this newsletter is the face of “Mountain Dweller” created using collage by Eva Stoitchkova. Be bold. Be brave. Fill the entire space.
As always, if you create something that you are happy with, send it to Emma via our submissions portal. Be bold!
Until next week,
Highlights from the past week online
Keep up with the latest posts on our blog.
In Santa Cruz, where Stone Soup is based, we have been very aware of all the fires in California over the past weeks. They are hundreds of miles away from us, but the smoke fills the atmosphere, so we are constantly thinking of those for whom it is closer to home. Our blogger Lukas Cook wrote a thoughtful piece, My Soccer Game Went Up In Smoke, on the fires, their causes and effects, this week. Don't miss it.
Have you ever seen a poetry animation before? Have you experimented with Scratch? Check out the animation that Vandana R made and posted this week.
Plus, the latest review by Nina Vigil: this week, of a documentary film called Science Fair. On the basis of Nina's review, we can't wait to see it!
Secret Kids contest
Did you know the Secret Kids Contest was mentioned in the New York Times this week? We hope that means we will get lots more entries to this fantastic competition for young, long-form authors that we are running in partnership with Mackenzie Press. All of the details are on our website–suffice to say, that if you are under the age of 18 and working on a book-length piece of writing, you should be thinking about getting it ready to submit by the end of the year to be in with a chance of winning one of the amazing prizes–a publishing contract.
We have an exciting partnership in place with Miacademy, the interactive learning site for K-8th grade. Writing from Stone Soup is being featured on their site, and Miacademy subscribers have the opportunity to submit their work to us. As part of this partnership, our friends at Miacademy are offering generous discounts to Stone Soup subscribers: 20 to 40 percent off, depending on which type of subscription you purchase. To find out more about Miacademy and explore the various services on offer, visit their website and read the information for parents. If you choose to join, simply enter the code STONESOUP2018at the checkout to receive your discount.
From Stone Soup
By Tiffanie Goh, 11
Illustrated with "Cat in an Empty Room" by Emma Huang, 10
I stood on the top of the tall mountain, relishing every minute, every second, every moment. The cool breeze against my face, the wind toying with my umber coloured hair and the warm glow of the sun warming my skin… When I was surrounded by nature, by trees, flowers, valleys, rivers, and the forest teeming with life; when I was far away from the arguments between my parents, the furniture being thrown around, and the stress of my life, then I truly felt free.
I sat down. I sat for a long, long time, watching the sun climb slowly up into the sky, its warm glow radiating onto the earth. A rock wren landed beside me, cocking its head. I smiled, watching as it hopped back and forth before spreading its wings and flying off. I sighed. I wished I could be free like a bird, free of worry.
I was a mute; I could not speak. However, I went to a normal neighbourhood school, where schoolmates left me alone, ignored me like I did not exist. I didn’t mind, I preferred to have my own time anyway. I would sit patiently by the river in the school garden, my hands on my lap. My observant eyes and patience caught movements commonly unnoticed. I saw the sparrows collecting twigs and leaves for their nests, leaves falling from trees, squirrels storing nuts for the winter and ants working hard to build homes, bit by bit, one step at the time.
Sensing how long I had stayed on the mountain, I looked at my watch, broken from my chain of thoughts. It was getting late and I had to head home for breakfast. Reluctantly, I stood up, enjoying the magnificent scenery for a while longer before carefully making my way down.
I cautiously stepped on the rocks, slippery on the surface by the melted snow in the morning warmth. Spring was approaching. After walking downwards a few steps, I paused and squatted down by the stream near me and took a drink of water. The cool, clear water felt good as it ran down my throat. After the few mouthfuls of fresh water, I continued my progress down the rocky mountain. As I reached the valley, I could see my house ahead. It was a broken down building with an untended garden filled with weeds, and a hole in the roof where rain could sleep in.
I took of my shoes and held them in my hands, walking barefooted in the soft grass. The grass pricked my feet, but yet it was soft, fuzzy and comforting.
As I walked on, I thought I heard a rustle in the grass. I paused for a moment. There was no sound for a while, then the rustling resumed. Silently, I edged closer to the sound. Before I could edge any closer, I heard a shrill squeal and an Andean mountain cat came into view, dashing across the grass. It clutched a small bundle in its jaws, running with a slight limp in my direction. . . . /more
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