"Jenna would love it here, Adrian found herself thinking”
Illustration by Ashley Burke, 13, for “The Baseball” by Katie Russell, 13.
Published in Stone Soup, September/October 2006 & in The Stone Soup Book of Sports Stories (2018).
A note from Jane Levi
This week’s featured story is actually one of a pair of stories, both published in Stone Soup more than 10 years ago, about the same character—a girl called Adrian—and telling the story of the same event—a baseball game in the park—from different perspectives. In “The Baseball,” we learn about Adrian's inner life and the story of her family, especially her troubled older sister, who gave her the baseball of the title. The other, “Adrian,” tells the story of the appearance of this new girl, Adrian, in the baseball game being played by a group of friends. In that story, we learn about the girls in the group, their response to Adrian’s arrival in their game, and how wrong we can be when we jump to conclusions based on superficial, surface appearances.*
Originally, we published these two stories in the order the author sent them to us: “Adrian” first, “The Baseball” second. Presented in this order, Adrian is the titular hero from the beginning, but she is actually as much of a mystery to us, the readers, as she is to the group of baseball-playing girls. We are left at the end of that first story wondering where she came from, how she got to be so good at baseball, and whether she will become friends with the rest of the girls. It is only in the second installment that we start to understand who Adrian is, what she is going through, what baseball means to her, and how she came to that baseball game on that particular afternoon.
Re-read some of your favorite books and you will see how often authors use this device—switching perspective—to help their readers develop intimacy with the hero of the story, and how frequently they will imply who the hero actually is by giving you insight into their minds earlier in the story, or more often.
When we chose these two stories for The Stone Soup Book of Sports Stories, we had to think really carefully about which order to present them in. It was an interesting dilemma, because the story works both ways, but the reader’s perspective on the wider tale changes with each part. Sequentially in time, the second story actually comes first, and in it we learn more about the lead character than the other characters know. We almost reversed them in the collection, but in the end kept the original publication order. Reading them again now, I still wonder whether we should have flipped them around and subtly changed readers’ experiences of the stories.
When you write stories with several characters, how do you decide what to reveal about them, and at which stage of the story? When you read these two specific stories in a different order, does it change the way you feel about the story? If these stories were chapters in a book about Adrian, which order would you put them in? If you think you would have made a different editorial decision for The Stone Soup Book of Sports Stories, please write and tell us why!
*The other girls made some harsh judgments about Adrian, based on her clothes, which are described (and illustrated) in the 2004 story “Adrian.” In the 2006 illustration for “The Baseball,” her green nail polish is shown because it is mentioned in that story, but the illustrator invented the rest of her clothes.
Our spring contest and partnership news
Write for a podcast: Closing date April 15
Our current contest, in partnership with the By Kids, for Kids Story Time podcast, to write a short story about climate change or other environmental theme. Your work could become a dramatized reading, broadcast on the podcast, and be published in an issue of Stone Soup! All the details about entries and prizes are on our website contest pages.
Summer writing mentorship program for 9th-graders and up: Application deadline April 15
We’ve partnered with The Adroit Journal, a literary magazine for teens. The applications for their Summer Mentorship program, which takes place from June to August, are open now. This program pairs young writers in grades 9 through 12 with an experienced writer who helps them learn more about the creative process. We know this is for an audience older than ours, but if you are a former reader or contributor, or know any teenagers who are aspiring writers, encourage them to apply!
Highlights from the past week online
Don’t miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!
Mirembe, 12, reviews Kid Beowulf: The Rise of El Cid, the third graphic novel in a series by Alexis E. Fajardo. Here’s the start of the review:
“Attention! Calling all young readers! Are you an adventurous middle grade reader (ages 8 to 11) who would love to travel throughout the middle ages? Do you find medieval battles thrilling? Do you want to fight for justice? If so Alexis Fajardo’s graphic novel Kid Beowulf: The Rise of El Cid might be perfect for you.”
Read more of Mirembe’s thoughts on the blog. (Plus—keep an eye out for an interview of the author we'll be publishing soon!)
From Stone Soup, September/October 2006,
& The Stone Soup Book of Sports Stories (2018)
By Katie Russell, 13
Illustrated by Ashley Burke, 13
Adrian stared at the ball in her hand. It was old, obviously well-used and well-loved. Dirt and grass had been ground into it, its once shining whiteness now a muddy, undetermined brown. The laces had been worn down, rough and rusty red. When Adrian held the ball, her hand could feel familiar bumps and dents that had come from years of use.
Adrian could remember when her sister, Jenna, had first handed her the ball and taught her how to play baseball. The ball had been new then, just-bought-from-the-store new. Its creamy outside had promised exciting adventures that the two would face. Adrian loved the ball.
It had been years since Adrian last played baseball. Two years and four months to be exact. Ever since her move from Boston, Adrian had stayed away from baseball. It wasn’t that there weren’t any baseball teams in New York City. There were. And it wasn’t because she wasn’t a very good player. She was. It was that playing baseball brought back painful memories of Jenna, and when they’d played together and had fun.
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