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Bowl of Joy
"Bowl of Joy" by Ethan Hu, 8 (San Diego, CA) Published in Stone Soup December 2019


A note from Sarah

Happy holidays from all of us here at Stone Soup.

Just a note that if you are still looking for a gift for a young creative person, Stone Soup is a great option! Subscriptions and eBooks don’t require stressing about last-minute shipping and provide inspiration and joy for young readers.

On the subject of gifts, I’m sure a lot of us are partial to giving (and receiving) books as gifts. I’d like to point you also to the treasure trove that is the Book Review section of our blog. There you can find young readers reviewing all kinds of books, from classics like Oliver Twist to recent releases like Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson (you can scroll down to the end of this email to read Samantha’s eloquent review of the book).

If you haven’t spent any time perusing the Book Review section of the blog, I highly recommend that you do so. Not only can you get ideas of books to add to your to-read pile, you can also learn something from the many approaches taken about how to tackle a review.

What goes into a book review? Surely some context is needed for the reader of the review, but it can be difficult to know how much plot summary is too much—you don’t want to accidentally give away any spoilers!

The most important part of reviews is going further than just summarizing the plot, and articulating what stuck out to you about the book. In her review of Ways to Make Sunshine, Samantha writes, “Ryan’s story is also full of fun and laughter. I love her spirit and personality. Ryan’s experiences always make me smile and a lot of them make me laugh.” This is a nice detail that tells us about the tone of the book, and what Samantha found especially appealing.

As an added bonus, Samantha also includes a note in her review about how she personally connected to the book: “Sometimes, as a girl and a person of color, I feel a little looked down upon. Although Watson doesn’t specifically mention it in the book, I wonder if Ryan has had to deal with this as well. I also wonder if that’s why her parents gave her such a strong name. She doesn’t give up, she doesn’t settle, and she believes in herself. That’s one thing I admire about Ryan: she stays strong and kind and herself. She inspires me to always do that too.” Of course, an emotional connection isn’t needed to write a review for a book, but it sometimes makes the writing process easier!

As a weekend project, I suggest that you try writing a review. It may be of a book that you love, or even a book that you hate. It could be a movie or TV show. What was special about it? How did it make you feel? If you like your review, please consider submitting it.

Happy holidays,


Congratulations to our December Flash Contest Winners!

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

Our December Flash Contest was based on our weekly creativity prompt #130, a wonderful creative challenge issued by our Stone Soup intern, Anya Geist, asking you to make a piece of art inspired by a family tradition. Needless to say, given the time of year, we received lots of entries based on holidays, including Christmas, Chinese New Year, and Navratri, plus some regular family traditions that go on all the year round. As well as encountering a diverse range of traditions, we also received works of art in many, many styles and media: collage, drawing, oil on canvas, knitting, models made in paper and clay, paper cut outs and digital art. It was really exciting to see the range of materials and cultures represented in these stories from your families. Well done to everyone who entered, and thank you for bringing us so much holiday cheer! And thank you Anya, for a great seasonal prompt!

Congratulations to our Winners and Honorable Mentions, listed below. You can see and enjoy the winning entries for this contest (and previous ones) on the Winners' Roll page at the Stone Soup website.

Winners
Rangoli by Prisha Aswal, 8, Portland, OR
Family of Pirates by Paris Andreou Hadjipavlou, 7,  Nicosia, Cyprus
Knitting up Memories by Audrey Hou, 11, Portland, OR
Chinese New Year Windmill by Sophia Li, 9, Redwood City, CA
A Paper Chinese New Year by Serena Lin, 10, Scarsdale, NY

Honorable Mentions
Chinese New Year by Yuxuan Jiang, 11, Portland, OR
Secret Santa with my Sisters by Lucinda Mancini, 8, Glenside, PA
Soaring in the Sky by Jessie Zhang, 9, Portland, OR
Christmas Chaos by Joycelyn Zhang, 10, San Diego, CA
Paper Art by Alexis Zou, 13, Lake Oswego, OR


Highlights from the past week online

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

Sita, 11, reviews Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller. Read the review to find out why Sita thinks it’s both entertaining and educational.

“Christmas Carols,” a poem by Ashvant, combines a creepy, mysterious tone with typical Christmas scenes.

For our COVID-19 blog, Natalie, 8, wrote an optimistic poem called “Attack of the Invading Virus.” She writes, “I just know there / will / be a day, / When everyone is outside, / Playing in a field, / Or whooshing down a slide.”

You’ve probably read one of Vivaan’s travelogues for our blog before. Well, since travel has not been possible lately, Vivaan grapples with a lack of inspiration about what to write. Read his reflection, titled “Ideas,” on the blog.

“If you like books that entertain and inspire you at the same time, you should definitely check out Ways to Make Sunshine.” Samantha, 11, reviews the book by Renée Watson on the blog.

Check out this Stone Soup first—a discussion guide! Sofie, 10, came up with questions for each chapter of The Chosen by Chaim Potok. Take a look at the post and maybe you’ll be inspired to start your own book club, with The Chosen as your first title!


From the Stone Soup blog
December 2020


Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson

Reviewed by Samantha Lee, 11

Have you ever had one of those devastatingly rainy days? Your plans are ruined and you just feel kind of defeated? What do you do when that happens? In Ways to Make Sunshine, author Renée Watson shows that with spirit, kindness, and determination, you can make sunshine on any rainy day.

If you’ve read the Ramona Quimby books, you’ll likely be thinking of them when you read Ways to Make Sunshine. Both girls have strong spirits, great personalities, and unique opinions. But you can definitely feel the different times the books take place in as you read. In Ramona’s story, children are expected to be in their place, and the characters are also more old fashioned in the ways they talk and act. Ryan’s story is much more like life today. But both stories are great books with even better characters.

In Ways to Make Sunshine, Ryan goes through experiences that are very relatable for most of us. One time, Ryan’s not sure how to react to a not-so-nice girl. I’ve been in similar situations and understand it’s tough to know what to do. But even if you don’t always make the right choices, you can learn from your mistakes and do better next time, like Ryan. That’s what good leaders do: they learn from their mistakes and never give up on their dreams.

The name Ryan means “king,” and she is always trying to be a leader. From moving to a new home to school talent shows, she shows everyone what it really means to set an example of kindness and determination. Her parents are always telling her to “be who we named you to be,” and Ryan works towards living up to that again and again.

Sometimes, as a girl and a person of color, I feel a little looked down upon. Although Watson doesn’t specifically mention it in the book, I wonder if Ryan has had to deal with this as well. I also wonder if that’s why her parents gave her such a strong name. She doesn’t give up, she doesn’t settle, and she believes in herself. That’s one thing I admire about Ryan: she stays strong and kind and herself. She inspires me to always do that too.

Ryan’s story is also full of fun and laughter. I love her spirit and personality. Ryan’s experiences always make me smile and a lot of them make me laugh. Her sense of humor is just the right amount of hilarious, and her personality is one of my favorite aspects of the story.

If you like books that entertain and inspire you at the same time, you should definitely check out Ways to Make Sunshine. Ryan will show you her determination to be kind and make the best out of situations. She will make you experience the full range of emotions as she leads you through her story. You’ll find yourself thinking hard and laughing too. Ryan has her own special way of doing things, a way that makes sunshine.

Read more book reviews 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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