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Marcella’s Miracle at the waiting room
The waiting room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop

Illustration by Frances Burnett-Stuart, 13, for "Marcella's Miracle" by Abigail Johnson, 12. Published in Stone Soup, January/February 2015.

A note from William Rubel

Jane and Sarah did it! The 2018 Stone Soup Annual is going to print. We will start shipping the last week of November. This year, the Annual comes in at 411 pages and weighs 1.75 pounds! People who know me know that I cry easily. So, yes, I cried when I saw the proof. We made the Annual last year because we didn’t have a print magazine to offer you, so we thought, “Well, we can make the year into a book.” As you all know, we are now back in print (since early October). But it turns out that pulling all the issues together into a single book and adding the best of our online book reviews and blog posts creates something awesome. Truly awesome. The sum is greater than the parts. This is a book to take to bed with you, to take in the car, to take on vacation. Hours of reading and re-reading. Lots of inspiration for your own creative work. In the Annual, you hold in your hands the Stone Soup soup of 2018.

November issue out now!
The magical, animal, and natural November issue was officially published on our website on Thursday, so those of you with digital subscriptions can go to it now. Digital subscribers will also find PDF copies of Stone Soup on our website. New print subscribers—welcome! Your issue is in the mail. We are sorry it didn’t arrive on the first of the month, but please rest assured it is winging its way to you as you read this newsletter—and December’s copy will be mailed in two weeks, so your next issue will definitely arrive on schedule. Finally, a reminder for everyone: you can buy single issues of this and back issues at our online store, Stonesoupstore.com.

William's Weekend Project
For today’s project I want to talk about this evocative drawing of a waiting room. This is a project for both child and adult readers. Most of us experience waiting rooms primarily at the doctor or dentist. While this is a drawing, you could also memorialize a waiting room experience in writing. This image, like most of the art we have been featuring in the newsletter, was originally commissioned as an illustration for a Stone Soup story by our editor emerita, Gerry Mandel. We at Stone Soup, and the larger Stone Soup community, are indebted to Gerry for her fabulous accomplishments drawing such evocative work from so many artists.

Look at the window blinds! To me, the single bent blind is a stroke of genius. It transforms this from “a waiting room” to “this waiting room.” In the introduction to the upcoming 2018 Annual, editor Emma Wood mentions “sense of place.” I am sure I’ve written about this idea in previous newsletters. It is the specific observed (or imagined) details that artists and writers bring to their settings that help us engage our imaginations. This drawing offers a treasure trove of observational detail: the bent blind that I’ve mentioned, the art on the wall, the layout of the room, and, of course, the many individual people sitting there, each apparently in their own world, each displaying their own body language.

I’d like you to draw, or describe in writing, a place with lots of people. Artists have used photography since photography’s early days in the mid-1800s. So, if you can’t sit someplace to sketch lots of people—like in a waiting room—then consider taking a photograph to remind you of the scene as your draw or write. Note people’s clothing—their costumes, their gestures, the kinds of details that both make each person different from the others and that may convey something about character. The teenager sitting with rounded shoulders staring into a little screen, the rail-straight young woman (is she a dancer?), the man wearing a business suit, and the man in a track suit, and so on. As in this drawing, capture the time and place. Looking back at the drawing or reading what you wrote ten years from now, I hope this creative work triggers your memory: Wow! I remember that! Wow! It looks so 2018!

As always, kids age 14 or under, if you think your finished work is publishable, upload it to Emma using our online submissions form. If you are an adult and want to share what you did with me, send it to me by replying to this newsletter.

Until next week,

Partnership news

Secret Kids contest

As readers of this newsletter will already know, we are running a contest in partnership with Mackenzie Press: the Secret Kids Contest. All of the details are on our website–suffice to say, that if you are under the age of 18 and working on a long-form 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 prizes of 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 STONESOUP2018 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Highlights from the past week online


Read the latest content from our book reviewers and young bloggers at Stonesoup.com!

We published Sabrina Guo's inspiring piece, Taking Flight with Soman Chainani, in both our young bloggers and book review sections this week. It isn't exactly a book review, but The School For Good and Evil is an important part of the story. Sabrina talks about the impact Chainani's writing has had on her, as well as the ways in which he has been a  motivational role model for her own work. Don't miss it!


From Stone Soup
January/February 2015

Marcella's Miracle

By Abigail Johnson, 12
Illustrated by Frances Burnett-Stuart, 13 

His breathing deepened as he drifted off to sleep. His chest rose and fell in a rhythm that comforted his sister sitting next to him.

Ellie Harrison wrapped her arms around herself in a hug and closed her eyes. She tried to sleep like her brother, but it was impossible to get comfortable in the hard wooden chairs of the hospital waiting room.
After a few minutes, Sleep found her and took her away from the hospital and all the pain of everyone in the waiting room with her.

But Sleep had no extra time to spare and was impatient to be rid of this new customer. So Sleep went away, leaving her huddled in the cold chair of the hospital waiting room. She opened her eyes, rubbing them gently to make the grogginess go away. The fluorescent light shone brightly, but there was something oddly fake about it; about the whole room. Everything was a sterile white, and too clean for her liking.

She glanced around at the other people in the chairs all around her. Some had stains of recent tears on their cheeks; others sat staring straight ahead of them. A few were asleep like her older brother, Luke, curled up in chairs and even on the floor. One man sat with his head in his hands, sobbing silently into his sleeve. A woman close to the white door spoke softly into her cell phone, reading something off a form in her hand. Some children looked at magazines, and some played video games on iPads or cell phones. There was a big TV mounted on the wall near the door, playing a children’s program on mute. A few people stared blankly at the TV. But no one in the room was really focusing on what they were doing.
The waiting room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. Or even a cotton ball. The silence was not broken for several minutes, until the door opened and a doctor with smeared lipstick and messy hair that had been tied back in a loose ponytail walked in. Her eyes quickly scanned the room, and she called out a name.

“Flora O’Connor?”

The woman who had been speaking on her cell phone jumped up and dumped her phone and the forms on her lap into a huge purse. She walked over to the doctor uncertainly, tucking her red hair behind her ear and slinging the monstrous purse over her shoulder like it weighed a thousand pounds. The doctor whispered something that made the woman dissolve into tears. She bit her lip and nodded. Slowly she followed the doctor back through the door, still sobbing quietly. The doctor wore a look of almost sympathy as she closed the door, enveloping the waiting room in silence again. Ellie thought that the doctor should try a little harder to comfort the woman.

Ellie quite disliked doctors. She hated the blue pajamas they wore. The white hygiene masks and the fake smiles plastered on their faces. And especially the way they pretended to understand your pain, the way they shook their heads; implying that their patient had not made it through the night or that their treatments hadn’t been successful.

Now Ellie sighed and sank back into the wooden chair, tapping her foot impatiently. A moment later, the white door swung open again, and this time no doctor walked in, but Ellie’s dad slumped to where Ellie and Luke sat. .../more


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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