A note from Jane Levi
Last week I arrived in Santa Cruz, CA, the home of Stone Soup. There are lots of reasons to be happy to be here, but one of them is slightly unexpected: I get to live with four baby chicks. They are so cute!
Well, that much is pretty obvious, I suppose, but the ways in which they are cute are so interesting. They are big enough now to be living outside in an aviary (not yet with the bigger hens, but with a rabbit and a parakeet), so they have lots of space to move and we can observe their behavior. And it is amazing to see: they do absolutely everything together. If one runs across to the little pond to have a drink, the rest will follow. If one climbs up on a pile of straw to peck at a bug on the fence, they all climb up to have a go. If one stays on the pile in the evening sun to sit down, nesting-like, and look out at the world, guess what happens next? Each one is an individual bird, but they move together as one fluffy group, cheeping the whole time—even when they are eating. How do they do that? Seriously, if you know, please write and tell us!
When I re-read Una Dorr’s story from the September issue, this week’s featured story, it made me think about these chicks (and not just because I am currently obsessed with them). The reason the chicks are not yet living with the older, bigger hens is that they are too small to defend themselves. When they do eventually move to the hen coop, they will be junior newcomers joining an existing team that’s already worked out how to live together and who comes where in their pecking order.
I guess the move will be their equivalent for us of moving house and going to a new school, or switching from elementary to middle school. Even though they will still have each other, the chicks’ lives and relationships will get a lot more complicated, and they will have to work out who their real friends are or could be—just as Kiera does in “The Hello Kitty Shirt.” I hope for the chicks’ sakes that there will be a claw of friendship stretched out to them, like the kittens’ playful paws captured in Ziqing Peng’s lovely photograph.
Have you moved house recently, or switched to a new school? If you have, and you are having a similar experience to Kiera’s (or a completely different one!), why not take some time this weekend to write about it? Or, perhaps you are in the same school as before but you are noticing changes in your groups of friends, or you have seen how people respond in different ways to the new kids that have arrived this semester. You can write about that too, or take a picture that sums up the experience of the new school year and its new people and challenges. We always love to see what you produce, so don’t forget to submit anything you are happy with!
Until next time,
Highlights from the past week online
Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!
On Monday, we published Alicia’s blog post “Thoughts on Jewish Refugees in Shanghai.” Did you know that China welcomed Jewish refugees during World War II? Read Alicia’s piece to find out more, and how she thinks it relates to the refugee crisis today.
From Stone Soup, September 2019
By Una Dorr, 12 (Brooklyn, NY)
Illustrated by Ziqing Peng, 11 (Nanjing, China)
From afar, Kiera fit in perfectly at MS 452. Watching her pick at her peanut butter and jelly sandwich while fanning herself with her homework folder on this late September day, an unsuspecting onlooker might give her a glance and deem her an average seventh grader, not particularly interesting and far too obsessed with clothes, hair, and makeup. This onlooker, seeing her talking naturally with the group of girls surrounding her, would suspect that this was simply an ordinary day for Kiera, that she had known these girls for years. In assuming this, the onlooker would be entirely wrong.
While it didn’t show, this may have been the most important moment Kiera had experienced in the 11 years that she had been alive. Ever since her family’s SUV had finally pulled up in front of her new house in Brooklyn after the drive from New Jersey early that summer, Kiera had waited for this moment. Finally, after nearly a month of relentless effort, she had been accepted by the popular kids at their lunch table, and therefore into their group of friends. If she were to embarrass herself in front of these people, this new friendship she had formed would crumble in front of her eyes—something that she wouldn’t let happen, no matter what.
Every day of being thought of as the quiet one, the friendless one, the lonely one who sat with a book in the corner of the playground during recess, vanished from Kiera’s mind. Now she was speeding down the road to what she had only dreamed of in years before: popularity. .../MORE
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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.