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“A Hardship” by Alice Guo, 12. Published April 2019.

A note from Sarah Ainsworth

Happy weekend!

I am fortunate to be spending this summer in a place I have never lived before: Los Angeles. It’s been an interesting few weeks adjusting to the rhythms of a new city, walking through landscapes that are familiar but that I can’t quite place, and learning contradictions particular to the city.

Living in this new place has gotten me thinking about how to describe a place through stories, poetry, or art. Stone Soup has published countless pieces of writing and art that expertly represent a place in so many creative ways. Take a look through our “Sense-of-Place” tag to explore some examples.

Re-reading Maya Vilaplana’s story “My City,” from our March/April 2005 issue, I am struck by how well Maya articulates the feeling of growing to love a place:

“But I know that there are different kinds of beauty in the world. There is the natural beauty, that one can’t help but recognize, and there is the beauty that you grow to love and live with. The kind that settles in your heart, never to leave. Once you have seen a different place, once you have been a city girl, nothing will ever be the same. It’s like when you go to Japan, and when you get back, no sushi can satisfy you because you’ve had the very best.”

How would you describe the place that you are right now? The city, state, country, or even just the street? It’s also worthwhile to think about your unique relationship to a place. How might your background inform how you understand a place? And how would it differ from someone who just moved there, or someone who has lived there for a hundred years? If you feel inspired to create something, remember to submit at the link below.

Highlights from the past week online

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

Sage Millen, 11, composed and performed “Symphony in C Major” on the piano for this week’s blog. She intrigued us by revealing, “My piece has a lot of hidden scales and triads in it.” Musicians, can you make out the scales and triads hiding within? Listen here on SoundCloud.

Watch seven-year-old Myzah de Guzman’s video, “The Little Whale,” that she created with the help of her brother, Mazen. A young whale comes upon a treasure chest filled with gold. What a find! It’s not long, though, before the gold slips through her fins . . .

Contest reminder: write a book!


Summer is prime time to work on your entry for our summer contest: book-length writing in all forms and genres by kids aged 14 and under. (We have extended our usual age limit for this contest.) The deadline for entries is August 15, so you have two whole months to keep working on perfecting your book, whether it is a novel, a collection of poetry or short stories, a memoir, or other prose. There will be three placed winners, and we will publish all three winning books in various forms. Visit our contest page and Submittable entry page for full details.

25% discount on Stone Soup books through the end of June

Summer vacation is a great time for reading, and our series of themed anthologies (the Stone Soup Books of...) are a great place to start. Don’t just take our word for it: we’ve been getting some great reviews at Good ReadsLibraryThing and Amazon!

We’re offering a discount code for all of the Stone Soup Books of... that is valid through June 30 in our online store. Enter the code READSUMMER19 for 25% off your purchases.


From Stone Soup
April 2019

A Trip to Paris?

By Claire Rinterknecht, 13
Illustration: “A Hardship” by Alice Guo, 12

I visited the Shugakuin Imperial Villa on the last day of my trip. The garden is situated in the hills of the eastern suburbs of Kyoto.

Tangerine, magenta, and gold maple leaves glided down and settled on calm water like peaceful raindrops. The smudged greens and oranges of the foliage and the shadow of the rounded stone bridge merged on the pond to create a rainbow. The harmonic gong of a bell brought my gaze to a little scarlet-and-white pagoda. Its upturned roof corners and nine-tiered tower made it easily recognizable. For Buddhists, each tier on the pagoda’s tower represents one of nine levels of heaven. The scent of pond weed and lilies drifted up on the damp breeze. Camera snaps and elevated tourist chatter reminded me that I did not belong there. Box shrubs clustered around the edge of the pebble path. Behind them were the famous Japanese cherry blossom trees. And, every once in a while, bonsai also twisted and curled. Bonsai symbolize harmony and balance. They are grown with purposeful imperfection and the asymmetrical triangle used for their design symbolizes a continuation of life.

Japan was definitely worth the trip. It was a little frightening at first to walk around in Kyoto, so I suggest you use the subways until you get the hang of the streets. I found the Japanese were varied in their reception of an English tourist. Some grinned hugely at my accent and were willing to try to understand me, but some got annoyed at my lack of vocabulary and avoided me. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly encourage you to plan a trip to Japan and to make sure you have the Shugakuin Imperial Villa at the top of your “to do” list!

Matthew set down his quill and stared at his ink-stained fingers. He thought about how Blossom would have loved the Imperial Villa. Shaking his head as if to rid himself of the thought, he placed the leaves of cream paper in a brown envelope and wrote:

Travel column: Japan
by Matthew Stevens
The Daily Telegraph

He plucked his hat off its hook and shrugged on his green corduroy coat. His scuffed, battered briefcase in one hand, and the rattling doorknob in the other, he let himself out of the flat. . . ./more

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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