“Fruits Like Heaven,” painting by Christian W. Wagari, 11. Published January 2018.
A note from William Rubel
I have a project for you today, but I want to start by addressing the adult newsletter readers.
To our adult newsletter readers
Amazon has a program called Amazon Smile that gives to a US charity on our behalf every time we buy something. It costs us nothing. Here is how it works: You do your shopping at smile.amazon.com and then Amazon donates half a percent (0.5%) of the total you just spent to your selected charity. If you click on the links above, then your half a percent will go to us at the Children’s Art Foundation. This is the quintessential Stone Soupproject. If just one of you starts using Amazon Smile not much good comes of it. But when every one of you starts using it, the amount we receive will be significant. Thank you.
And, of course, the greatest help of all is to subscribe.
William’s Weekend Project
Life doesn’t always go as we expect it to. I am not one who is big on sports analogies—but in many cases, the expression “Life threw a curveball” provides a good analogy for an unexpected outcome. A curveball, for those of you who don’t know, is a baseball pitch that starts out going straight but then unexpectedly veers off to the right or the left. The story “Sketches,” which you will find below from the January 2018 issue, is a story that throws a curveball. You cannot imagine from how the story starts that it will end up where it does.
This weekend, I want you to write a story that starts out seeming to go in one direction, to have one plot line, one mood, and then for the story to suddenly change directions. Write a story that take us somewhere we couldn’t have imagined at the beginning. “Sketches” opens with a routine argument between two brothers but ends up taking us somewhere else entirely. This is a common structure for stories—after all, the shift to the unexpected is almost the definition of what makes a good story. You’d be a pretty boring storyteller if the stories you tell your friends all turned out exactly as they had expected! Sleeping Beauty is another example of a story with a curveball plot. It starts out at a party celebrating the birth of a princess with the “happily ever after” plot we all expect a princess’s life to follow, and then: Bam! The evil fairy, named Carabosse in the ballet version and Maleficent in the Disney version, pushes the princess’s life in an unexpected direction, making a much more exciting story in the process.
Send us your finished story when you are done.
Until next week,
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The school year is coming to a close. For those of you who don’t yet have a Stone Soup subscription, this is a good time to start one. Summer vacation is a great time for reading, thinking, dreaming, and getting into projects one doesn’t have time for during the school year. Besides, you can’t get fully immersed into the inspired and inspiring worlds conjured up by Stone Soup’s writers without being a subscriber.
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Highlights from the past week online
Don’t miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com.
Vandana reviews Wendy Mass's Finally. The main character, Rory, is about to turn twelve. Here’s what Vandana has to say about the book:
“Frank, funny, and full of surprises, Finally is a story that spins many themes together, and consequently appeals to a wide range of readers. For one, it portrays the pressure to grow up before one might be ready, which nearly every middle schooler experiences at some point in their life.” Read more here.
Alex Baker, a writing instructor for the youth writing group Igniting Writing, wrote a guest post on our blog this week about some strategies to engage young writers. Some of his suggestions include games and fun writing prompts. Do you have any ideas? Let us know by leaving a comment on the post!
From Stone Soup
By Saenger Breen, 12
Painting by Christian W. Wagari, 11
That morning at breakfast, Dylan sat perched on his usual seat at the table, sketching happily. I grabbed the milk and a spoon and sat down. I poured myself a heaping bowl of Cheerios, most of which spilled on the table. Dylan’s pencil scribbled away, and he periodically blew huge breaths over his paper to get rid of the shreds of eraser. Curious about what he was working so diligently at, I leaned over to get a better view.
“Dylan!” I shouted. He was adding onto one of my drawings, and had already reshaped a good portion of it. Startled, Dylan looked up.
“I’ve been working on that forever!” I snatched my notebook out of his hands. He’d made the people cartoon-like and unrealistic, and shaded in all the wrong places.
“You totally screwed up the whole thing!” I yelled.
“I didn’t screw up anything!” he said, defensively.
“I’ve told you a million times not to touch my stuff, and specifically not my sketchbook!” I flipped through the pages to see if he’d ruined any other drawings. He hadn’t. I flipped back to the drawing he was working on. I examined it closely, looking for flaws to point out. The faces of the people had become less dimensional and smudgy. Dylan always drew details with tons of shading, most of which wasn’t necessary. Sometimes I’d teach him where to shade, and help him with drawing figures, but he still resorted to his box-like, over-shaded style.
He’d added onto drawings before, but those were just sketches I’d whipped up in a few minutes. I’d been perfecting this one for at least a month. The paper was so worn out from my erasing that there were shreds of it peeling off. And since Dylan pressed so hard that graphite was sprinkled all over the paper like snowflakes, I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully erase what he’d done without making a hole in the paper. I also saw he smudged over the shading that had taken me forever to get right.
“God, Dylan. You completely ruined it!” I said, the anger boiling out of me. “You know you suck at drawing figures. In fact, you suck at drawing, period, so why did you have screw up my sketch?”
“I didn’t ruin it! And if you’d actually show me how to draw people, like you always promise, then maybe I’d be better!”
“You’re so annoying! Why would I want to waste my time teaching you?”
“Oh yeah? Well then I’m glad it’s ruined!” . . ./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.