Introduction to this Stone Soup Writing and Art Activity
An island of one’s own… fields and forests and streams… a well-stocked kitchen with stove and refrigerator… riding bareback on a stallion, powerful yet gentle leader of a band of horses… and best of all, three months alone during a beautiful summer to enjoy it all. For those who love horses, nature, and independence, Christy’s story describes the most wonderful of dreams. If you ask yourself, how original is this wonderful dream, I think you might say, not very. But originality of plot is only one feature that indicates whether a story reflects an author’s thoughts and experiences. Also important are the ways an author develops the plot—the accuracy and strength of the descriptions, the complexity of the characters, the truth with which characters are shown to act and to experience feelings. Judged by these standards, Christy did a terrific job, and through the care she took in writing this story, she succeeded in transforming a fantasy of a perfect summer into an original and interesting tale.
Project: Making Your Dream Vacation Real
Summer vacation is coming soon (or maybe just over). You may not be able to make your dream of the perfect vacation become a reality in real life, but, through the magic of words, you can create a story that will make it real. Christy does this with her story. In addition to accurate and moving descriptions of places and feelings and riding technique, she ties her fairy-tale island life to real things we don’t expect to read about in a pure fantasy. For instance, she discusses how much the island cost and where the money came from. Her parents, though not present in the dream vacation, stay in touch and do such useful things as provide electricity and food.
Your dream vacation may be similar to Christy’s or very different. But whatever it is, unique or very common, do your best to include observations and feelings drawn from the world around you so that a stranger who reads your story will say, “Wow, what a lucky child that was to have such a wonderful summer.”
Princess and the Island Stallion
By Christina Lynn Myers, 11, Peoria, Arizona
Illustrated by Heidi Hanson, 13, Florida, New York
From the May/June 1986 issue of Stone Soup
I could hear the hoofbeats of Princess as we galloped along. The cool air of the morning hit my face. The island made a perfect arena, yet the trees and bushes were the only spectators of a finely made running horse and its rider. I was very content to be with my horse.
The island we were on was where I lived in the summer. It was fun to be here, and I looked forward to coming here every summer. Not many people knew about this island, and those who did never came. It was where Princess and a small band of beautiful horses lived. Since no one had ever wanted it, my parents had agreed to buy it for me, and I would slowly pay them back. They had bought it for only a small sum of money. The island was very beautiful, with green grass everywhere, trees, though not too many, and quite a few flowers. It also had streams, waterfalls, pools, and a very beautiful large pond.
I sat back, and Princess obediently slowed down at my signal. We reached a stream I knew well, and Princess splashed through it with no hesitation. I rode bareback, with no bridle. I guided the powerful horse under me with legs, hands, and voice only. I pulled Princess to a walk as we neared the band of horses. The stallion gave a loud, shrill neigh at the approach of one of his mares. Princess snorted and sidestepped lightly. I put a hand on her neck and spoke softly. Then, I gently slid off. I laid my hand on her neck and then let her go. Quickly she ran back to her band, whinnying to me as she went.
I watched Princess until she had settled down and begun to graze, and then, smiling, I turned toward my small cabin. I never felt crowded in it. It just seemed perfect. It had a small kitchen with a stove, oven, and a refrigerator. My parents had electricity brought to my cabin underground. It also had a table on which to eat. The table had a large window in front of it so that I could look out at the island, and often I would get a glimpse of grazing horses. The cabin's other room held my bed, dresser, clothes, and a few other things.
When I reached the cabin, I unpacked my clothes, for I had gotten to the island only that morning, and I had immediately gone out to see Princess.
Later, I went out to watch the band of horses. I spotted different horses and found all the ones I knew, as well as several new foals. Then my gaze turned to the stallion. He was scarlet red, his coat a satiny sheen of elegance. He was extremely tall, although his long legs seemed almost delicate at times. His head was the head of a beautiful Arabian, small and finely shaped, also having the dished nose of an Arabian. But even with all those Arabian characteristics, he was too big to be pure Arabian. His whole body was the picture of complete grace, beauty, and power. I was now friends with the stallion; he knew me well. I had not ridden him, but I was someday going to try. Suddenly I thought, why someday? Why not today? What are you waiting for? You know he has complete confidence in you. So I decided to give it a try.
That afternoon, I set out to find the band. It was not hard, for I knew their favorite pastures well. The stallion had learned to come at my call, so I whistled. An answering whistle came from the stallion. Then he galloped toward me. When he stopped before me, I began to talk to him. Then I walked over to a large rock, knowing the stallion would follow me. He did, and I climbed onto the rock. I spoke continuously to him. I also knew the stallion had seen me many times, riding Princess, but I didn't think that would make much difference. I put my hands on the stallion's back. He turned his head toward me, but didn't seem to be frightened, for I would often lean against him. Then I put more of my weight on him. He didn't seem to mind too much. Next I put even more of my weight on him. The stallion snorted. Then, as carefully as I could, and still talking to him, I swung my legs tight around him. He sidestepped, reared, and bolted. His amazing swiftness took my breath away. He seemed to run for hours before I suddenly realized he was slowing down. I shifted my weight, and the stallion turned! I was amazed. By the end of the afternoon, I found that I could easily control him. I finally slipped off, as exhausted as the horse. I lay on the grass sleepily, looking at the clear blue sky.
The next day and the day after, I spent my time with Princess and the stallion. I found that I could control the stallion as easily as I could Princess. Three weeks soon passed. Then one day a letter came. Surprised, I opened it. It was from my mom and dad. It said that I had two extra weeks to spend at the island. That meant I had two months and three weeks left! I was extremely happy.
Nearly a month after that, I sat on the grass near the band. I couldn't seem to find the stallion or Princess. Then I heard a nicker coming from the waterfall. There I saw Princess and the stallion just gazing at the waterfall. They looked quite beautiful just standing there. Then I thought of the coming years I had ahead to spend with the band, the stallion, and most important, Princess.