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Saturday Newsletter: October 16, 2021

"A Tangled World" By Elodie Weinzierl, 11 (Waban, MA), published in Stone Soup October 2021

A note from William

I hope all is well with our extended Stone Soup family. I took my first post-COVID vacation last week. I drove up from Santa Cruz, California to the Mendocino coast, north of San Francisco, to visit a friend I had not seen since October 2019 when we had traveled in Japan together researching the culinary use of that fabulously colorful mushroom, Amanita muscaria. That is the mushroom many of you will know from the mushroom emoji 🍄. I cooked meals on the fireplace, found about thirty pounds of the porcini mushroom in one fabulously lucky hunt, and came home refreshed!

It is my great pleasure today to announce that Stone Soup is collaborating with our summer school partner, Naomi Kinsman, and her staff at Society of Young Inklings to test the waters for selling Stone Soup site licenses to schools. I have not talked much about Stone Soup sales here in the newsletter, but for the last several years they have been dismal. Times changed, and print subscriptions to private homes have largely gone out of fashion. So, with the help of Naomi and her Young Inklings colleagues, we are doing a proper market study of how the online Stone Soup magazine, blog posts, workshop texts, and creativity prompts can be used to teach creative writing in schools. Thank you, Naomi, for your help with this.

There is other good news since I last wrote the newsletter. We have received a sizable COVID-19 relief grant from the state of California—$15,000!—and a truly substantive pledge towards our upcoming Annual Drive by one of our Stone Soup donors, a true angel (though more on that when we launch our 2021 Annual Drive). Taken together, we are now in the best financial position we have been in years, which is fabulous because it means we can start growing Stone Soup again.

Several of us on the Stone Soup staff joined in the virtual awards ceremony at the Green Earth Book Award (GEBA) ceremony on Thursday, October 7, for Abhi Sukhdial’s Three Days till EOC, the novel that won our Long Form fiction contest in 2019. The awards ceremony was the kickoff to a three-day-long EnviroKids Literacy Festival. Our Stone Soup store is down this week as we are reorganizing it, so for now please order Three Days till EOC at Amazon. Abhi’s book was the only winning title by a child.

Elodie Weinzier shows us “A Tangled World” in the complex patterns formed by twisted and arching branches. I really like her photograph. It is actually a kind of photograph that I have taken many times myself as I have personal interest in plants and the shapes they make. Like Elodie, I often see stories in plant shapes. To me, her photograph speaks of energy, of time, of an unfolding life, one that shifts in response to events becoming more interesting, varied, and complex over time.

For today’s project, I’d like you to use your phone's camera to find a pattern in nature that speaks to you. Once you find the pattern that interests you, begin experimenting with framing that image with your camera by moving it around and changing distance and angles as necessary to capture your vision. Take at least ten photographs of each pattern that interests you, and then choose which image of each pattern you like best. Complete the task by deleting the rest. This last step can be difficult, but in the end, as the artist, you need to choose the photograph that most speaks to you.

Until next week,

Congratulations to our most recent Flash Contest winners!

Our October Flash Contest was based on Creativity Prompt #172 (provided by Molly Torinus, Stone Soup contributor), which asked participants to perform the meta task of writing about somebody writing a story. The result was a wave of submissions unlike we have ever seen, making the selection process this month even more difficult. We read stories that anthropomorphized bananas, that projected protagonists' lives far into the future, that literally wrote out entire stories within stories, and much, much more. In the end, we wound up with five winners and five honorable mentions whose fantastic and distinct work gives shape to a bright and promising future! 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.

"With Great Power..." by Jack Liu, 13 (Livingston, NJ)
"Words" by Lui Lung, 12 (Danville, CA)
"Myrtle and Sage" by Pranjoli Sadhukha, 11 (Newark, OH)
"Rejection Miracle" by Alexandra Steyn, 12 (Greenwich, CT)
"Coffee Mates" by Emily Tang, 12 (Winterville, NC)

Honorable Mentions
"Crumpled Papers" by Anushka Dhar, 12 (Hillsborough, NJ)
"Charlotte's Unusual Story" by Hannah Francis, 11 (Stanford, CA)
"Writer's Block" by Nova Macknik-Conde, 10 (Brooklyn, NY)
"It Should Bother You" by Violet Solana Perez, 13 (Scarsborough, ON, Canada)
"Behind the Counter" by Eliya Wee, 11 (Menlo Park, CA)

Highlights from the past week online

Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers on our blog!

Vivaan, 12, wrote a riveting review of Lois Lowry's classic, Newbery Award-winning novel The Giver.

Sita, 12, wrote a comprehensive review of the renowned TV series Community, which ran from 2009 to 2015.

Ismini, 12, reviewed Ginger Johnson's brand new novel The Other Side of Luck.

From Stone Soup
October 2021


By Graham Terbeek, 10 (Towson, MD)

My name is Oak.
And if you didn’t already guess, I am a tree.
I’ve heard rumors of trees that grow delicious fruit,
Of trees that bloom exotic flowers,
Or even trees that are so tall that it seems they can see the whole world.
It must be nice having a purpose.
I don’t have anything special about me.
Just your typical, everyday tree.

I live in the backyard of a small house.
People rarely go in and out.
I keep to myself.
I don’t mind, really.
I’m used to being alone.
Years ago, I wasn’t alone.
I had a beautiful friend named Marigold living right next to me.
I don’t like to think about her.
When the snow came, she passed.
Now I don’t have friends.

Seasons passed,
The grass grew,
And eventually,
The people moved away.
I didn’t really mind.
It wasn’t that different.
It’s just life.

Continue reading "Oak" here...

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.

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