Cover Photograph for the September, 2017 Special Poetry issue. 'Satyrs', by Laura Katz, 14
A note from the Editor, Emma Wood
I have always been a very competitive person, and I have also always been a reader—which means I have always been a very competitive reader. Every summer as a kid, I tried to return in the fall with the longest reading list in my class. Sometimes, I even "cheated" by reading some very short books! Even so, I was very pleased with myself when I read over a 100 books a couple of summers in a row.
Soon, however, I realized that quantity is not better than quality. Instead of reading the most books, I began to aspire to read the longest and most difficult books I could get my hands on. Tolkien's Ring Trilogy? Um, only three books—really? Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo? Yes, please! (I read the whole thousand-page novel while fighting off a bad fever during a week off from school.) Thackeray's Vanity Fair? Bring it on! For a few months, my two best friends and I each carried around our own leather-bound library copies of Shakespeare's collected works. I remember dipping in and out of The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet on the bus home from school. Reading long books made me feel accomplished and adult. I hated to be talked down to, in my real life and in my reading life.
My long book obsession reached its peak when, as a fourth-grader, I set my sights on Tolstoy's War and Peace. War and Peace was, and remains, the epitome of The Long Book, the ultimate doorstopper. I checked out a hardcover copy from the library and began carrying it around everywhere, proudly announcing whenever I could that I was reading War and Peace. This actually caused some issues at my school; the head of the lower school ended up calling my parents to tell them she thought it was inappropriate that I was reading a book so clearly outside of my reading level! My parents felt I should read what I wanted to read and defended my decision. In truth, I didn't end up getting much farther than page 100. The book was, in fact, over my head. But I'm glad that I ultimately got to make that call for myself.
Still, War and Peace must have left some imprint on me, because I ended up studying Russian language and literature in college. Now I've read all of War and Peace—in English and in Russian!
We'd love to hear from you, our readers, about books that have inspired, influenced, or challenged you. Is there one book you've read over and over again? Is there a book that changed you how think about something—yourself, your relationships, the world, other books? Is there a book that sparked your desire to write?
If so, we'd love to hear about it. Write a short paragraph about it and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the name of the book, the author of the book, as well as your own full name and age in the email! We might collect these to post on our website.
Until next time
A note from William Rubel
The September Poetry Issue is Published!
The September 2017 Poetry Issue is published! This is an issue of firsts. It is the first issue produced by Emma Wood, the first themed issue, the first of our monthly issues, the first issue publishing reviews of poems, and the first issue illustrated with photographs.
You can read the current issue on the website here. You get a certain number of free page views, even if you don't subscribe. If you like what you see, then please support what we are doing with a subscription. We have also produced a PDF of the issue, and I have posted a PDF that contains an excerpt of the September issue. I encourage subscribers to download it.
The poetry in this issue is really special. All of the poems will reward you when you read them multiple times. I really hope that all of you will look at the issue online and download the sample PDF to come back to the poems over and over. I also encourage you to read Emma Wood's introduction to the issue.
I received a letter this week asking about last week's call for recipes. The question was whether you can use a recipe from a book. The answer is: yes, you can. But, in your headnote--the text that introduces the recipes--please say where the recipe is from. To be clear, it is OK to use the ingredients and quantities from a published recipe, but you should re-write the instructions. The idea is that there are only so many ingredients or proportions of ingredients in a pie crust, for example, so you cannot be expected to come up with an original mixture, but the way you tell people how to mix it is language that belongs to the author, so you need your own words for the introduction and the how-to-make the recipe parts.
Until next week,
Weekly Business Updates
Sales Reps Wanted: This is a first shout-out for commissioned independent sales reps. If you know anyone--or even a friend of a friend--who reps products to schools, please send them our way. We are looking for reps who specialize in software and literary. Thank you.
November convention: As I've mentioned, we are exhibiting at the National Council of Teachers of English convention in St. Louis in mid-November. If any Stone Soup educators are planning to attend, please reply to this newsletter to let me know. We will have a staff of four: I'll be there along with Emma Wood, Jane Levi, and the newest addition to our staff, Sarah Ainsworth. We'd all love to meet you there.
School site licenses: Do you know a teacher who you think might want to use Stone Soup in their classroom as a supplementary text? Lots already do, so please encourage your teachers to sign up for a trial site license to see how Stone Soup might enrich their classes. Site licenses can be purchased directly through us or from any of the magazine agencies who service schools.
New Fulfillment System: As some of you have experienced, the software that we are using to sell subscriptions is not very robust. As I've mentioned, we are going back to the fulfillment house that used to take orders for Stone Soup and mail out issues. This reversion back to our old system is in process. I don't want to discourage you from subscribing now, if you aren't a subscriber, but if your order can wait, then I suggest waiting a couple of weeks. Once the new system is in place you will also be able to order the print annual along with your digital subscription.
By Emma A. Lunbeck,12 Illustrated by Jane Westrick, 12
“Here we are then,” said Mother happily, at the same time tipping the cab, hoisting our luggage out of the trunk, and brushing her hair aside impatiently. “Go on in and set yourself up, darling . . . I’ll be a minute.”
I nodded, then skipped up to the door; it looked about to fall off its rusting hinges. Pausing for a minute, I grasped the cool metal doorknob as I glanced hurriedly around. The grass was a pleasant shade of green, patched in some places with a prairie yellow. To the far left, I spotted a small creek, chuckling as though sharing a private joke with itself. There were bushes lining our new home, if you could call it new. The white paint was peeling, and most windows had only one green shutter (I wondered idly where the others were). And then there were the trees. Scattered haphazardly among flower beds and grasses, they seemed so energetic and alive I expected them to pull up their roots and run joyously down the twisting, dusty dirt path.
Shaking myself, I turned the doorknob and stepped into the damp, refreshing air of the house. The wooden boards underfoot creaked as I moved slowly to my new bedroom. The bed had been made up in lavender sheets; in the far corner stood a sturdy desk and, next to it, an empty bookshelf. A slight breeze ruffled the drapes by the window, and I turned my attention to it. Walking over, I leaned over the windowsill and found myself . . . staring into the eyes of a boy. /read more