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"Just then the Rose appeared with her rosellas" Illustrator Cameron Osteen, 13, for Fort Cuniculus by Ralph Kabo, 11. Published September/October 2005.

A note from William Rubel

Well, this week has been a strange week. I was supposed to go to Napa to give a talk on the history of bread. The conference was to begin on Tuesday and I was to speak on Wednesday. On Monday, only vaguely aware there was a fire near Napa, I was surprised by a call from the conference organizers saying the conference was cancelled. The speakers were then asked to go to San Francisco to meet for a couple of hours to at least talk. The city was covered by a haze. The smoke was dense enough to make one's eyes sting. One of the speakers had been staying with friends and on Sunday night, a couple of hours after the fires started, was awakened by his friends who told him he needed to pack up and leave. By the time he got to the bottom of the country road he was driving through fire on both sides of the road. Yes. Scary. Today, Friday, there is a haze and distinct smell of smoke where I live, in Santa Cruz, 130 miles from the fire. Strange and even frightening times.

If any of our readers were evacuated, lost houses, or live in the San Francisco Bay Area and know the area well we'd like to read your writing about the fire, whether non-fiction or fiction, or see your art.

Writing about conflict

My colleague, Jane Levi, sent me a link to an article about Bana al-Abed, an eight-year-old Syrian girl who tweeted about her life in Aleppo. Now as a refugee in Turkey, she continues to tweet about the war in Syria. I recommend this article from the New York Times that introduces her to the many of us who have not been following her twitter feed.  Her book,Dear World: A Syrian Girl's Story of War and Plea for Peace was just published and is available in bookshops and at Amazon.com. If you read the book, then please submit your review to Stone Soup.

We would like to read and publish art and writing by children who are caught up the many conflicts around the world. If you might be interested in helping us to give a voice to children who are living through difficult events in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Sudan, or elsewhere, please reply to this newsletter. This goes for Stone Soup-aged readers or adults. I am flying to London on Monday to work on my book for three weeks (I plan on writing most days) so I will not promise a prompt response, but please write, anyway, and I promise I will get back to you.

Several of you answered our call for young bloggers. Thank you. We should have several new blogs up and running to announce next week. I also received a letter this week from Ruth Nakazibwe, who lives in Uganda. She who wrote a wonderful story, 'The Magician and the Birds, that we published in 1997. It is always a pleasure to hear from Stone Soup authors. Do keep writing to us!

So, until next week,


Using objects in place of dialogue

La fille mal gardée - Pas de ruban from Act I (The Royal Ballet)

Watch the Video

La Fille mal Garde is a wonderful comic ballet. It was first performed in the 1780s which makes it one of the oldest ballets that is still performed. The scene I include here is a duet between Lise and Colas, the man she loves. They dance with a ribbon. They wind and unwind the ribbon tying and untying each other. The scene takes place very early in the ballet—very early in the story as their relationship begins to take a more serious turn.

As a ballet is a story told without words, this ribbon can be thought of as taking the place of dialogue. I want you to imagine what they would be saying to each other if this were a story told with words rather than a story told through movement. I feel pretty certain that they'd be having a fast moving, flirtatious conversation.

You can tell the same story in many different ways—for example, through images, words, music, dance, and video. I am including this here today to get you thinking about how you might tell the same story differently as you shift from one story-telling format to another.

From Stone Soup
March/April 2000

A Puzzling Story

By Erin Brock, 13

Illustrated by Nikkie Zanevsky, 13

Rachel loved puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles. Thousand-piece clear-blue-sky and flowery-meadow puzzles. Cute little puppy-dog-face puzzles. Any kind of puzzle suited her fancy. She loved the challenge of putting one together, piece by piece. Discovering the piece that fit was always thrilling and a small victory over the manufacturer who had labeled the puzzle “difficult.”

For her thirteenth birthday, Rachel received a package in the mail from her Aunt Lola, who shared her passion for puzzles. When she ripped open the box, she found a one-thousand- five-hundred-piece puzzle with a painting of a colonial farm and the surrounding forest on it.

It was very detailed, with a mother working in the garden while two girls hung up the wash and a boy led the cows out to pasture. A farmer worked in the fields and a large wooden barn stood off to the left. At the edge of the field was a forest and a gravel road running through it. The farmhouse and various animals were also included in the busy scene.

Rachel sat working on her puzzle: “Colonial Farm: A Painting by George Smits.” She put together most of the puzzle pieces and was working on the forest. Being the imaginative type, Rachel thought the girls didn’t look like they were having much fun. She wondered if those colonial girls could ever have fun like she had, perhaps in the forest.

She thought, That would make a good basis for a novel.../more

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