A note from Caleb
Happy Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, & Samhain to all who celebrate! For a good scare make sure to check out writing from our 26th Writing Workshop on horror!
This week I want to draw your attention to Renee Wang’s brilliant short story, “Memories,” and the artwork that accompanies it, Desolation, by Sabrina Lu. Both of these pieces are linked by the concept of inner reflection. “Memories” is placed within the frame of a man reflecting on his life; Desolation is presented to us through an aerial perspective so that the viewer looks down at the snow globe, as if inspecting it from a new angle, searching for some kind of epiphany. In “Memories,” the man turns inwards in order to escape his “retirement home… as grey as his soul.” In Desolation, we can imagine someone who’s grown bored of looking at their snow globe in its traditional manner and has thus changed their means of perception. But, as we learn by the end of “Memories,” and as is hinted by the title of “Desolation,” neither of these efforts brings happiness: the man deserts his memories for the pleasure of the cherry tree, while the aerial view of the snow globe—an item often associated with the comfort of nostalgia—makes the artist think of desolation.
Regardless of these works’ ultimate conclusions surrounding the fruitfulness of reflection or of a change in perspective, this week I want you to pick an object from your house that you’ve grown used to seeing in its typical form. Once you’ve chosen this object, I want you to look at it in a completely different manner—upside down, sideways, from above, from below, anything that’s different—and either take a picture, draw it, write about it, or do some combination of all of these. This exercise is intended to push you outside of your comfort zone and reveal things you didn’t know you knew. As always, if you are happy with what you create and think that our editor, Emma Wood, might like it for Stone Soup, then please submit it to us via Submittable!
Until next time,
Highlights from the past week online
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Madeline Schor, 13, wrote a stellar essay—"Awareness... Reflection... Awareflectness!"—that relied on a distinct, serpentine memory in order to explore themes regarding climate change, the power of reflection, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Renee Wang, 13 (Champaign, IL)
Theodore Colin looked out from his too-small chair in his roach-ridden room. The majestic cherry tree stood outside, greeting him as always. It was the only color in his life; his retirement home was as grey as his soul.
He recalled, as if it was seared into his brain, what his doctor had told him yesterday: he would have only a few days to live. As he’d dragged his feet back to his room, he could hear his nurse weeping, and when he’d told his friends yesterday, a few tears trickled down their faces. As he’d delivered the news to his sister, his only living relative, he could remember the silence that had followed. It was ironically loud. When he had gotten back to his prison, he sat down at his chessboard, randomly moving pieces about. He pushed it away in disgust.
But even though the news saddened those close to him, he himself did not grieve. That night, his eyes were sore from staring into space. He could feel the chronic illness eating through him like a mold. It had gnawed at him unflinchingly for so many years, consuming the very thing that was keeping him alive. He rubbed his head and looked up. Again, the flowering cherry tree that stood outside his window was there to smile at him. Even though it was painfully pink, the same color as the cancer that was killing him, its long branches swayed like grass, waving to him, inviting him to relive the memories of his glorious younger days. Suddenly, he was hit with a snowball of nostalgia as he was brought back into his memories.
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.