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Woodpecker (watercolor)
By Aspen Clayton, 11 (Lisle, IL), published in the September 2021 Issue of Stone Soup

A note from William

Hello to all of you during these crazy, crazy times! We hope that all of you are safe from the natural disasters that are affecting so many of us. And, of course, that you are doing what needs to be done to stay safe from the pandemic.

I have added a newsletter innovation today—a video! I hope you like it. I think that this is a mode of communication that works for me. Today’s video is about the publication of The Other Realm by Tristan Hui, the winner of this year’s Stone Soup Book Contest. Congratulations to Tristan for a job super well done! I’d also like to mention today—but there will be more in another newsletter—about our editor’s choice winner, who is Anya Geist.

I am a working writer. I’d like to say to those of you who didn’t win that, unfortunately, not winning contests and having works rejected is part of the life of the writer. We look forward to reading what you come up with for next year, and you are also free to keep working on the novel you submitted this year.

Refugee Project Fundraiser
We have just sent out our first solicitation for our Refugee Project fundraiser. I don’t want to focus on that today, as for today Tristan’s book is the most important thing. So, more on this project next week. I will not explain that, in fact, in the words of the song from Cabaret, “money makes the world go round.”

As you all know, enrollment is open—we have two writing classes, the monthly book club, and now a filmmaking class starting next Saturday, September 11. There is flexibility in shifting between my writing class and Conner Bassett’s. The new filmmaking class does require that you know how to do basic video editing. However, if you don’t know how to edit, but this is something you really, really want to do, then please get in touch and we will discuss options.

You will be able to enroll in classes after they start, but, obviously, starting at the beginning is ideal.

Weekend Project 
Please read Summer Loh’s elegant poem about the woodpecker. And also, look at the paired illustration by Aspen Clayton. I was surprised a few months ago by a woodpecker just outside my kitchen window pecking away at the bark of a quince tree. Like Summer, I wondered what it was going for. And, like Summer, I found the sound comforting. I always enjoy the sound of woodpeckers. There is a trail I go on that starts at the Pacific Ocean and goes into the Santa Cruz Mountains. For an early stretch of the trail, before it gets into the redwoods, it goes through some old farmland. There are several huge old walnut trees along this part of the trail. I always stop to look at them—so many woodpecker holes!

For this weekend’s project, I want you to observe something from nature. If you are where there has been extreme weather or fires, then use as a subject something from these momentous days. Otherwise, watch a bird, watch a cloud, watch your cat stalking a butterfly, watch the shadow being cast by a mountain as the sun sinks behind it. It doesn't matter. Look for the center of your feelings, look for the center of how you are reacting to what you are watching. Note that Summer both gives you a sense of the bird with its “peck, peck, peck,” but also reaches into her imagination to describe what she is seeing in an original way—I am thinking there of the idea of the bird gliding like a paper airplane. As school has started and you may be busy this weekend still adjusting to being back in school—and for some of you, as it was for my daughter, back in school for the first time in a year and a half—I suggest that if time and focus is an issue, interpret what you see and feel either with art or with words. Prose or poetry are both OK.

As always, if you are happy with what you make and think that our editor, Emma Wood, might like it for Stone Soup, then please submit it to us!

Until next time,

Refugee Project

Dear friends and supporters of Stone Soup,

Since the launch of the Refugee Project, we have partnered with seven organizations providing on-the-ground support to children living in refugee camps, as well as those resettled in host countries. Through these partnerships, we have collected over 300 pieces of artwork and writing by refugee youth. These creative works are currently on display in our newly created web portal for the project, which you can explore here.

As we have said many times before, the media so often portrays refugee youth as the subject of a narrative. The Stone Soup Refugee Project provides a platform for these young people to tell their own stories, in their own voices.

To make this vision a reality, we need your help. We have set ourselves a target goal of $10,000 to pilot the program.

These funds will go toward the development of workshops delivered to young people in refugee camps, the facilitation of creative exchanges between young people, and the work of collecting and publishing more material on the Refugee Project website. In addition, funds will be used to support our Refugee Project contributing organizations and the young people they serve in the ways in which they deem valuable, such as the purchase of supplies and possible scholarship funds.

—Laura Moran, Refugee Project Director

Selfie Contest

Since Stone Soup’s last selfie contest in 2017, the selfie has taken on a new form: the masked selfie. That’s why we’re enlisting you to participate in our 2021 Selfie Contest: With and Without Masks. As has always been the case, we want these selfies to tell us a story. Think about how masks can both aid and make more difficult the expression of thoughts and feelings. How can you show us who you are behind the mask, and how can you build off of that image once the mask disappears, or vice versa? Get creative! Try something you've never thought to try before! Surprise us, and—most importantly—surprise yourself! You may submit up to four selfies: two with a mask and two without.

Deadline: October 3, 2021

To submit to this contest, please visit our Submittable page.

Highlights from the past week online

Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!

Super reviewer April, 13, published a review of Leigh Bardugo’s 2012 novel Shadow and Bone, which was adapted into a Netflix series—deservedly so, says April—earlier this year.

Young Blogger Pragnya, 13, wrote a glowing review of Christopher Edge’s 2018 novel, The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day.

Young Blogger Anushka, 11, reviewed Anne Blankman’s historical fiction novel set in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, The Blackbird Girls.

Diya Chakrabarti, 12, wrote about the fascinating elements of nature she learned about during outdoor school.

SummerLohFrom Stone Soup
September 2021

The Woodpecker

By Summer Loh, 8 (New York, NY)

The woodpecker pecks
at the tree
peck, peck, peck
with a calming sound
as I walk by.

I wonder what it’s looking for
(bugs? ants?),
so diligently pecking at.

The bird is yellow,
a bit smaller than a hawk. He seems to look
at me, for a second.

Then he flexes his wings
and leaps off a branch,
gliding through the air
like a paper airplane,

as if to say,


Click here to read more from the September issue of Stone Soup, including more of Summer’s poetry.

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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