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Creamsicle sleeping orange cat
Julian slowly reached out his hand to the kitten's fur

Illustration by Joe Lobosco, 13, for "Creamsicle" by Bonnie Robinson, 11. Published in Stone Soup, November/December 2002.

A note from William Rubel

William’s Weekend Projects

Photography: Material World–#WhatsInMyBackpack

Would you like to be featured on Stone Soup’s Instagram account? We’re running another Instagram photo project. I mentioned this photography opportunity a couple weeks ago, but I’d like to feature the project more fully.

The project itself is super simple. Just take everything out of your backpack, photograph it, write up a sentence or two about what you keep in your pack and why, and upload the photo and text to our website in the appropriate submission category. If editor Emma Wood likes it, she’ll post it to our Instagram account.

This project is inspired, in part, by the work of Peter Menzel, an American photojournalist. One of his most remarkable projects is his Material World project. He chose 30 families, mostly from different countries, that were each statistically “average”—thus, within their own country, neither rich nor poor. He asked people to take all of their possessions out of their houses, down to the last spoon, and display everything in front of their houses so he could photograph them posed with their possessions. The book he made out of these pictures is called Material World.

What we own says something about each of us. Our possessions tell a story. As students, all of your backpacks will tell a student story—the binders, exam notebooks, pens, pencils, and so on say “student.” There may be objects that suggest you are in a particular grade, or can’t leave the house without a special snack. Or, something that suggests you are a musician or a sportsperson.

When I was at school, my binder was always a horrible mess. It was often filled with loose pieces of paper because I wouldn’t put papers into it properly. In high school, one of my teachers took my notebook, threw it up in the air, and as the notebook and papers fell to the ground, said to the class, “Rubel’s rubble!” Indeed, as my colleagues and any visitor to my house will confirm, I am something of a messy person still. So there may be a little of your personality revealed in these photos too.

If you are age 13 and younger, you may send us up to three images, so be creative in your photography. Play with the lighting, camera angle, and how you lay out the objects. On the simplest level, this is a documentary project—a snapshot of what is in your backpack on a given day at a given time. But you can use the way you display your backpack objects, the light, and the camera angle to create images that catch your viewers’ eyes—images that make them stop and think.

I’d like you to make this your weekend project. If you get into it, then you could document other containers filled with possessions—your closet, desk drawer, your dresser, bathroom cabinet, the floor of your room. Anything you like! Adults reading this should take part in the exercise too.

Writing a play

As I mentioned last week, we are in the process of revising our anthologies. “The Bear,” by Lena Boesser-Koschmann, was in the original Animals anthology and will be in the new edition. A large portion of the story is told as a discussion among four people. I am linking you here to a playwriting project inspired by this story. I hope at least a few of you will take up the challenge to write a play. As always, if you like the results, send them in!

Until next week,

Partnership news


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.

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.

Highlights from the past week online


Don't miss the latest content from our book reviewers and young bloggers at Stonesoup.com!

Be inspired to read more with Nushu Shri's post, 'Getting Closer to your Goals', on using Goodreads to reach and exceed your reading targets, and a challenge to keep a reading journal.

We also have the first in a new series of guest posts by older readers and writers: Kat J.'s 'The Big Split', about Stone Soup story 'Seeing Over the Side of the Boat' and how such stories can inform adults and help other kids going through the experience of family break-up.

Plus, two new book reviews: 13-year-old Lin Lynn Tao tells us her thoughts on Gary D. Schmidt's Okay For Now, while 12-year-old Michael reviews Scythe by Neal Schusterman.


From Stone Soup
November/December 2002


By Bonnie Robinson, 11
Illustrated by Joe Lobosco, 13 

It’s dead.

That was twelve-year-old Julian Horowitz’s first thought when he spotted the kitten in the white-blanketed woods when he was walking home from school.

The kitten was vividly orange and bright white colored, reminding Julian of a Creamsicle ice cream bar. It (Julian didn’t know whether the kitten was male or female) was partially covered by a sheet of snow, and the kitten wasn’t moving, making Julian almost positive the kitten was dead.

Julian slowly reached out his hand to the kitten’s fur. What he felt allayed him. The kitten was still breathing, although taking very shallow breaths.

He peered closely at the kitten as he rhythmically petted its fur. He noticed that the kitten was female. She was definitely unconscious.

“Don’t worry, kitty, you’ll be fine,” murmured Julian. He paused, trying to think of a name for the woebegone creature. “Yeah, don’t worry, Creamsicle, I’ll take care of you.”

Julian scooped Creamsicle up and into his coat. Suddenly, Creamsicle shuddered, seeming to regain consciousness for a moment and causing Julian to nearly drop her in surprise. Fortunately, he didn’t, and he tucked Creamsicle tighter into his coat. He shivered himself. It was freezing outside. Even though he was layered in a T-shirt, a long-sleeved turtleneck, two thick sweaters, and a big, heavy winter coat, Julian could still feel the cold. He wondered how Creamsicle felt, with only a velvety covering of fur protecting her from the winter chill.

Julian and Creamsicle walked this way for about half an hour, or rather, Julian walked with Creamsicle inside his coat, until they reached Julian’s doorstep. Mrs. Horowitz, who had seen her son hunched over something while ambling slowly up the path to the house, threw open the door immediately. When she saw what Julian was holding, her face transformed to the color of milk.

“Julian Horowitz, you drop that . . . that thing this instant!” she shrieked. “That thing is sick with something awful, just look at it closely!”

It was true. Creamsicle was now shivering and throwing herself about violently. All of a sudden, the shivering stopped, and Creamsicle fell limply into Julian’s arms. Relief flowed over him as he, once again, noticed that the kitten was still breathing. .../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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