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Stone Soup Book Club

The Stone Soup Book Club is open to all Stone Soup contributors and subscribers, age 9-13. We started the Book Club for our readers during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements, and it has been running ever since – currently once a month, usually on the last Saturday of the month (depending on holidays). Registration is required, via our Eventbrite pages.

Our Next Books:

September 24, 2022: The Time of Green Magic by Hilary MacKay

October 29, 2022: Front Desk by Kelly Yang

November 26, 2022: Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

To find out more about past and future Book Club meetings, simply read the most recent report from the Book Club, below. Join us!

An update from our thirty-fifth Book Club meeting! This month we discussed A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat, a suspenseful and moving novel set in a magical version of Thailand. The book follows Pong, who is born in Namwon prison, because his mom was imprisoned for stealing. He escapes the prison, and hides in a monastery, where he is guided spiritually by the wise Father Cham. But, he’s still in danger! Nok, the daughter of the warden of Namwon prison, is determined to capture Pong and bring him to justice, hoping that doing so will help her gain glory and acceptance. Pong flees Nok, back to Chattana, a beautiful, but very crowded and unequal city, which floats on canals and is lit by colorful magical lights, all controlled by the Governor. There, he reunites with his old best friend from prison, Somkit, and gets involved in a community made up of the city’s poorest people, who are organizing to make their city a fairer place. Pong has to decide whether to join in on the organizing, or whether he should flee Chattana (and Nok, who is still hunting him down), while he can still escape. This book had so much drama and suspense, so many larger-than-life characters, and so many interesting and important themes to talk about. Students joined us from all over the country, hailing from different states, and in different grades of school. We had a lively discussion. Everyone agreed that they enjoyed the book, and ...
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An update from our thirty-fourth Book Club meeting! This month we read and discussed The Wolf Wilder, an enchanting and suspenseful novel set in tsarist Russia, which follows Feo, a young girl who works with her mother to help re-wild wolves who have been kept in captivity by aristocrats. When the evil General Rakov arrests her mother, Feo sets off to rescue her, along with her new friend Ilya, who has deserted the army, and her fierce wolf companions. It was a very small group today, but we still had a lively discussion. We talked about our favorite parts of the book, including Feo and Ilya’s developing friendship, the clever way that the children sneak into Saint Petersburg, and the inspiring moment when all the children band together to storm the jail. We agreed that the writing was beautiful throughout, and, although the settings had a fairytale-like quality, the characters felt real! We also talked about themes and questions that the novel poses, including the difference between fear and cowardice; how Feo learns to trust and rely on other people; the right of children to fight for the world they want to live in; and the ways in which the book is similar to and different from a fairytale. For our writing prompt, we took a page out of The Wolf Wilder and had the chance to write a scene where a character interacts with an animal, preferably one that isn’t very tame! One student read aloud a fun scene ...
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An update from our thirty-third book club meeting! On February 26th, we discussed Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. This uplifting and beautifully-written novel follows thirteen-year-old Esperanza Ortega. She has a charmed childhood as the daughter of a wealthy ranch-owner in Mexico, but a tragedy causes her to flee to the United States with her mother. In California, Esperanza and her mother become farmworkers, and must navigate poverty, racism, and labor strikes with the support of new friends. Everybody said that they had really enjoyed Esperanza Rising, and we all shared our favorite moments in the book. We started our discussion by talking about the evolving relationship between Esperanza and her friend Miguel. Back in Mexico, when Miguel was Esperanza’s parents’ servant, Esperanza had said there was ‘a deep river’ between them. We discussed what we thought this river symbolized, and agreed that it meant the gulf of wealth between them, which made Esperanza unwilling to have a relationship with him. We also agreed that it was satisfying to watch this dynamic change over the course of the book. Then we had a debate: would we have chosen to join the labor strike if we had been farmworkers like Esperanza? Most people said they would have been too scared to join the strike, out of fear of being deported, but one student said she would join the strike because she wanted to work for better wages. It was interesting to hear everybody’s different opinions! Next we talked about proverbs, or ...
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An update from our thirty-second book club meeting! On January 29th, we discussed Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis. Students attended from all over the United States and we had an engaging discussion. This was the first session that I (Maya) led, and it was a delight to get to know the readers. Elijah of Buxton follows eleven-year-old Elijah, who lives in a settlement of people who have escaped slavery in Buxton, Canada (a real historical place.) We started out our discussion by talking about new things about history we had learned from reading the book. We discussed the Underground Railroad, and the dialect, or slang, that the characters in the book spoke in. Next we broke into small groups to discuss our favorite moments in the book. Many people mentioned that their favorite moments were scenes of humor, such as the pranks that Elijah and his friend play on Elijah’s ma, and the pranks Ma plays in revenge. This led to a lively full-group discussion of a humorous scene in the book, when Mr. Travis, the teacher, loses his temper at Elijah’s best friend. We also talked about the way that the residents of Buxton upheld their creed of “one helping one to uplift all.” We agreed that Mr. Leroy followed the creed, and that the Preacher, who did not, was a suspicious character. Finally, we looked at a scene in which the residents of Buxton welcome a family of refugees who have just escaped slavery in the ...
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Cover of The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley, showing the silhouettes of two girls against greenish-blue roses
An update from our thirty-first Book Club meeting! On Saturday, September 11th, our final Book Club meeting of the year, we were so very fortunate to be joined by renowned author and historian, Lucy Worsley, to discuss her book, The Austen Girls.   The session was small, which meant that we were able to have thorough in-depth conversations with Ms. Worsley about The Austen Girls and the process of writing it, and also about her vast knowledge about life in the Georgian era in England. Participants came prepared with many questions and Ms. Worsley was lively and thorough in her responses. Our Q and A session lasted for the entirety of the book club. What was most notable and interesting to me about the Austen Girls was the immersive detail about daily life which was woven into the fabric of the narrative about two young girls, Jane Austen’s real-life nieces, Fanny and Anna, at the cusp of being “presented to society” with the expectation that they would find husbands. The book covers many weighty and important themes spanning feminism to the criminal justice system, but in doing so, we get what feels like a true window into life during this time, with each scene opening at one character or another’s breakfast table, or sitting room, or library, etc. Our discussion with Ms. Worsley shed further light on the daily experiences of her protagonist with her vast knowledge of the historical record and the very documents that inspired the novel. For ...
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Cover of When Stars Are Shattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, showing two boys
An update from our thirty-first Book Club meeting! On October 30th, the Stone Soup Book Club discussed When Stars Are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. When Stars Are Scattered is based on Omar’s life in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya and his journey to resettlement in the United States. The story is told in the form of a graphic novel. When Stars Are Scattered was an immensely popular read among our twelve book club participants, as was evident in our lively and dynamic Book Club discussion. Many participants remarked on how moving they found the book and how it compelled them to dig deeper and learn more about the plight of refugees. As a group we found it equally compelling how vividly the more mundane, everyday experience of life in a refugee camp was portrayed. We learned that Dadaab is such a big camp that it almost feels like a city-with makeshift restaurants and even internet cafes-but it is a city in limbo with no permanent structures. This sense of limbo was captured in the rhythm of Omar’s daily life-the monotony of chores and the weight of responsibility for his brother’s care, the angst over first whether to start school and later how to remain there, and the ebb and flow of friendships all helped to capture Dadaab as a place in flux. We spent time reflecting on what questions we would want to ask about life in a refugee camp and what we found most surprising, interesting, ...
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An update from our thirtieth Book Club meeting! On September 25, the Stone Soup Book Club discussed Beyond the Bright Sea, by Loren Wolk. Beyond the Bright Sea tells the story of twelve-year-old Crow and her search for her birth family after having spent her entire life on an isolated island off the coast of Massachusetts, with Osh, the guardian who rescued and raised her. There were ten Book Club participants in attendance from the US, England, and Dubai. We engaged in in-depth conversations about the book’s various themes as well as character, setting and plot. As always, we endeavored to unpack how and for what purpose each of these elements were crafted in Wolk’s development of the novel. We also participated in a couple of fun writing activities. We explored, in writing, the notion of home; what makes a place a home and what is it like to feel a sense of yearning for home? Participants could choose to share their reflections about home directly from their own perspectives, or to explore their ideas about home through a fictionalized account. We also engaged in a writing activity that allowed us to imagine a sequel to the book. In doing so, we discussed what aspects of the book’s current ending we would like to see preserved, and what aspects would be fun to disrupt! The overwhelming consensus of the group was that this was a great read with vivid, believable characters, an intriguing setting, and a fast-paced, exciting plot! Remember: ...
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An update from our twenty-eighth Book Club meeting! On June 26, the Stone Soup Book Club met for its last meeting in this session. We discussed The Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste, a book about Caribbean folklore and a girl named Corinne who must save her home from the evil jumbies. After our usual ARTT rooms, where our participants were given the prompt of talking about what books they planned to read over the summer, we had a whole group discussion about The Jumbies. Our conversation ranged from our favorite characters, to the complexities and nuances of the book’s villain, Severine, to the setting described by the author, and to themes within the story: such as family and bravery. Next, we brainstormed to think about what other fairy tales we know—and what cultures they are from. We compared various myths/stories, including those from Europe and China, and analyzed their similarities, differences, and how they connected to The Jumbies. Overall, we decided that most fairy tales have some sort of lesson—about wit, bravery, moderation, or family, for example— and many of them include supernatural or nonhuman elements; but they also vary in some ways. Some stories are about princesses and princes, while others are just about regular people. In some stories, the main character needs saving, and in others, it is the protagonist who is doing the saving. With all of this in mind, we set out to write our own fairy tales—about ourselves. Our participants were given the prompt of writing ...
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At our most recent Book Club meeting on May 29, the Stone Soup Book Club read Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, by Jason Reynolds (you can read about the meeting here). As a writing activity, we decided it would be fun to make our own Look Both Ways, an anthology by our participants about what happens to people on their walk home from school. Each of our participants wrote their own stories, and then several of them submitted their writing to be published in an "anthology" format, right here. Below you can read some of the writing from this Book Club. Some of the stories are based on real life, and others are fictional. Enjoy! 1. Untitled - Jordan and Jared Ashman,  14 Jordan was your average 12 year old kid. He walked home from school alone each day, and got home to play video games and eat candy. One day, after a particularly tiring day at school, he decided he wanted to take a shortcut home from school. Before, his mother had warned him about taking this shortcut, for she said it could be dangerous. However, Jordan was particularly tired today, and ignored his mother’s warning. He started walking into the forest, and after only a few steps, he found himself lost in the forest. Was he supposed to turn left, or right? There was barely even any light here. After almost an hour, he discovered a thin path of pebbles that he decided to follow. At the ...
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An update from our twenty-seventh Book Club meeting! On May 29, the Stone Soup Book Club discussed Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, by Jason Reynolds. Look Both Ways contains several short stories about what happens to kids on their walk home from school, and offers a variety of perspectives on life. As usual, we started off our meeting by breaking into ARTT rooms. Each room had three or four people in it, and they could talk about whatever they liked. We asked, “what is your favorite thing to do in the summer?” as the prompt. The breakout rooms talked about this as well as the book! When we came back together, we began talking about Look Both Ways. Normally we go into breakout rooms to have more specific discussions, since there are a lot of us, but on Saturday we decided to all stay in the main room. It was nice to have everyone in the conversation together, and we got to talk about many topics, including our favorite characters and stories from the book, as well as what theme Jason Reynolds was trying to convey. Many people agreed that they had found the book slightly confusing, but thought its format (being composed of several short stories) was interesting. Next, we started a fun writing activity! Since, as previously mentioned, Look Both Ways is a collection of short stories, we thought it would be fun to write our own stories about walking home from school, whether ...
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An update from our twenty-sixth Book Club meeting! On April 24, in the first meeting of our new session, the Stone Soup Book Club discussed Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin. In the book, a girl named Minli embarks on an adventure filled with mythical creatures and interwoven stories to find the Old Man in the Moon and change her family’s fortune. After coming up with a few “ground rules” for our new session to make sure we all have the best time possible, we split up into breakout rooms of three and four to get to know each other. The prompt for these rooms was to talk about your favorite book, and it seems like there were a lot of similarities between people! Then, back in the main group, we quickly discussed our general impressions of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, before heading into two breakout rooms (led by myself and one of our Book Club facilitators, Lucy) to talk more in-depth. We had fascinating conversations about the characters, setting, plot, and theme of the book! One of the most distinct things about Where the Mountain Meets the Moon are the illustrations featured throughout it. We agreed that the drawings helped us picture the scenes and the characters, and that their style fit in with the writing in the book. This prompted a conversation about art in books, and how art is utilized in stories. We looked at the art in books such as The ...
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An update from our twenty-fifth Book Club meeting! On Saturday, March 27, the Stone Soup Book Club discussed The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall. The Penderwicks, the first book in a series of five, is about four sisters and their father, and all of the adventures they encounter when they rent a summer home in the Berkshires. Our Book Club meeting, which was attended by around 35 participants from multiple countries, started with everyone being sent into small breakout rooms, so they could get to know each other a little bit better. Their conversation starter was “spring”, and what spring looks like where they live! When we all came back together, we debriefed the book (most everyone enjoyed it!) and then split into four breakout rooms—led by myself, Laura, and two of our Book Club facilitators: Lucy and Madeline). In these rooms, we talked about The Penderwicks in more depth, including the characters, setting, plot, and themes. When we shared out about our discussions afterward, we found that many people had picked up on the sort of “reverse fairy-tale” motif carried throughout the book, and we were able to have a fun conversation about this! Next, we talked about inspiration. As writers, what other authors have inspired our work? We used The Penderwicks, which is inspired by Little Women (by Louisa May Alcott) as an example. After we analyzed those novels and their similarities and differences, we talked ...
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An update from our twenty-fourth Book Club meeting! On Saturday, February 27, the Stone Soup Book Club discussed The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin. The story is moving; it is about a girl named Suzy, who is coming to terms with the unexpected death of her friend, Franny. We were incredibly lucky to have been joined by author Ali Benjamin for around forty minutes of our meeting! Ms. Benjamin graciously answered all of our questions about The Thing About Jellyfish, and about writing in general. She talked to us about what she felt was the ultimate truth of the book—learning to live with uncertainty—as well as about the research she undertook to learn about jellyfish, and how her own life impacted her ideas and her characters. Additionally, she explained how it felt to have written a book that had been a finalist for the National Book Award, and we learned a bit about the world of film and stage adaptations! We are very thankful to Ms. Benjamin for spending this time with us! If you attended this Book Club meeting, we would appreciate it if you write a brief thank-you note to Ms. Benjamin, if you have not done so already. You can email it to me (Anya) at my Stone Soup email address and I will forward it to her! After Ms. Benjamin’s visit, we only had a little bit of time left. We split into three breakout rooms and discussed some questions that related to the central ...
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An update from our twenty-third Book Club meeting! At our first Book Club meeting of 2021, on January 30, the Stone Soup Book Club discussed The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani. The Night Diary tells the story of a half-Hindu, half-Muslim girl named Nisha during the separation of India and Pakistan, and is written through letters from Nisha to her mother, who died when Nisha was born. Our meeting consisted of over forty kids from across the US, Canada, and Europe, and we were very lucky to be joined for the first twenty minutes of Book Club by Veera Hiranandani, author of The Night Diary! We were able to ask her a variety of questions, from how she decided to be a writer, to the amount of research she had to do in order to write her book, to the impact of cooking and food in the story. She told us how she was inspired by her grandfather’s experiences in India, and how she herself feels that food can connect her to her culture. Thank you very much, Ms. Hiranandani, for joining us!  After Ms. Hiranandani’s visit, we broke into small groups to discuss what we enjoyed about her visit, and then regrouped to have a conversation about the role of letters written by Nisha to her mother in the book. Overall, we agreed that the book was very good as an epistolary novel (that is, written through letters), and we talked about some of the challenges of writing that ...
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An update from our twenty-second Book Club meeting! On Saturday, December 5, the Stone Soup Book Club discussed the novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon, written by Kelly Barnhill. The Girl Who Drank the Moon is about a girl named Luna, and the story follows her as she grows up, and learns about both her magic and her past. Our meeting consisted of forty kids from across the US and in the UK, and we were incredibly lucky to be joined by the author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill!! Ms. Barnhill visited with our Book Club for nearly forty minutes. We asked her a variety of questions, and she told us about her writing process and where her ideas come from, as well sharing some writing tips. We learned about how Ms. Barnhill wanted to set The Girl Who Drank the Moon in a society where the truth was veiled in lies, and we received excellent advice on how to follow through on our story ideas, however hard they may seem to write down. Thank you very much, Ms. Barnhill! If you attended this session of Book Club, please write a thank you note to Ms. Barnhill and email it to me at anya@stonesoup.com, if you have not done so already. I will forward it to her! After Ms. Barnhill’s visit, we only had a little bit of time left, but we were able to have some fascinating discussions about setting and characters in The ...
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An update from our twenty-first Book Club meeting! Our most recent Book Club meeting was on October 31–Halloween! We had several participants who dressed up, representing characters from Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, and our current read–Keeper of the Lost Cities, which is about a girl, Sophie, who discovers she is an elf with magical powers! Our discussion, which included 28 kids from across the US, and in the UK, began with a brief talk about whether we liked the book or not. We generally agreed that it was an entertaining story, though the characters were somewhat flat, and the elf-world was sometimes a little too perfect. We then split into breakout rooms to talk more in-depth about the characters and setting, coming to some very good conclusions regarding whether we felt Sophie was a compelling main character, and why or why not; and a deeper look into the very glossy, shiny elf world, which may not be as great as it seems. It was really fun to have these conversations, and hear everyone’s thoughts! Next, we were given a thinking/writing prompt: if you were an elf and had magical powers, which magical power would you want, and why? We pondered this for a few minutes, and then shared our answers. People responded that they would like to be  Telepaths (like Sophie), Inflictors, Polyglots, Hydrokinetics, and many more! We also debated whether we would even want to have powers, and which powers we would not like to have ...
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An update from our twentieth Book Club meeting! Last Saturday, September 26, was the Stone Soup Book Club’s first Book Club meeting at its new meeting time: 9am PST on Saturdays. The Book Club ran for around an half-and-a-half and was attended by thirty participants from across the US, as well as in the UK. The book we discussed was The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, which is the sequel to our previous read, The War that Saved My Life. In The War I Finally Won, Ada and Jamie continue living under the care of kindly Susan in rural England during World War II. Our first activity was splitting into “ARTT rooms” which are social breakout rooms of three or four people. In these breakout rooms, people introduced themselves and were able to share out and talk about their favorite books. The ARTT rooms are a great way to get to know people! Next, we split into two groups, each of which discussed the similarities and differences between The War I Finally Won and The War that Saved My Life. It was really cool to hear what people thought of the two books, and which one they liked better! We then went into discussion groups to talk about the characters and settings in The War I Finally Won. It was great to get everyone’s perspectives on these topics (as well as to hear who their favorite characters were!), and to explore how all of the people and ...
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An update from our eighteenth and nineteenth Book Club meetings! Important Note: Starting in September, Book Club is moving to Saturdays at 9am PST. It will take place only on the last Saturday of each month. Please check Stone Soup’s Newsletters and the Book Club page in the coming days and weeks for more information. Over the past two weeks, the Stone Soup Book Club has been discussing The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. The book is about a girl, Ada, who has a clubfoot. During World War II, she and her brother Jamie are evacuated from their unloving mother in London, and end up in Kent, under the care of a kind woman named Susan. As the book progresses, Ada overcomes some of the trauma of her childhood, and most importantly, finds a place where she belongs. Additionally, the Book Club was lucky enough to participate in an email interview with the author, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, which is discussed further below. In our first week of discussions, we started by simply sharing out whether we liked the book so far; it was very interesting to hear everyone’s opinions. We then split into breakout rooms which talked about both the setting and characters in The War that Saved My Life. We discussed what we thought of certain characters, and what the different settings in the book represented. All in all, we thought that London, the place where Ada was kept locked in the apartment she shared with ...
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An update from our sixteenth and seventeenth Book Club meetings! Over the past two weeks, the Stone Soup Book Club has been reading Paint the Wind by Pam Muñoz Ryan. The novel is about a girl, Maya, who has lived a very sheltered life with her grandmother after her parents’ death–that is, until she goes to live with her mother’s family in Wyoming, people who love horses and the great outdoors. Both of our sessions started with a “social breakout room,” inspired by the ARTT room in one of our previous books, Harbor Me. Since we have very fascinating discussions in Book Club, we figured that it would be nice if we could get to know each other better. In these breakout rooms, participants are in groups of 2 or 3, and are welcome to just talk to each other for 5-7 minutes. Most everyone seems to enjoy these social breakout rooms. Our first week of discussions included breakout rooms in which we talked about character and setting in Paint the Wind, both what we think about them and what role they play in the plot. We decided that the characters seemed to mirror the setting they were in, and that the settings provided a strong contrast between a sheltered life and an open life. Next, we talked a bit about the role of wild horses in the book. The horses play important roles, as they are something that connects Maya to the mother she never really knew. We also ...
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An update from our fourteenth and fifteenth Book Club meetings! Over the past two weeks, the Stone Soup Book Club has been reading Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson. The story is about six children in Brooklyn, NY, who end up talking to each other in the old art room without any adult supervision (they end up calling the room the “ARTT Room” (A Room to Talk)). The kids–Haley, Holly, Estaban, Amari, Tiago, and Ashton–become friends as the year goes on, and they share their problems with one another, helping each other through all of their issues. In our first week of discussion, we focused on themes and characters. We discussed how we found the characters to be relatable, and how the interactions between the characters seemed very real, as well as talking about major themes–such as immigration, bullying, racism, incarceration, friendship, and family–and what roles they play in the book, as well as how they affect the lives and actions of the characters. Next, we talked about what it means to be a harbor to someone, as is suggested by the title of the book. We also shared experiences of either harboring someone, or being harbored by someone, and how meaningful both of those were. In our second week of discussions (our fifteenth week of Book Club!) we started out with a very fun activity! We split the group up into breakout rooms of two or three, and let each group be its own ARTT room. The participants talked about ...
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An update from our twelfth and thirteenth Book Club meetings! Over the past two weeks, the Stone Soup Book Club has been reading and discussing the book Amal Unbound, by Aisha Saeed. The novel, which is seemingly inspired by Malala Yousafzai’s story, is about a girl in Pakistan who wants to become a teacher. First, before I launch into the Book Club’s discussions, I must say, on behalf of all of our participants, thank you to Lucy Rados (13), who attends Book Club, and who, in the past two weeks, has done a brilliant job leading some of our conversations! Thank you, Lucy! One of the main themes in Amal Unbound is the concept of happiness and freedom. Over the two weeks in which we read this book, we discussed this, brainstorming what happiness and freedom meant to the characters in the book, and then thinking about what happiness and freedom meant to us, and whether our opinions differed. We talked about the characters and setting in the story, thinking about the complexity of the characters (no one was really drawn in black and white), and how the setting played a major role in the book. We also discussed what the themes in Amal Unbound were (such as Education, Friendship, Family, Perseverance, and Gender Equality) and thought more deeply into the cover art of the book, and all that it symbolizes. One of the unique activities we did while reading this book was to think and write about social justice, ...
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An update from our tenth and eleventh Book Club meetings! Over the past two weeks, the Stone Soup Book Club has discussed The List, by Patricia Forde, a dystopian novel that lended itself to very fun conversations! In The List, words are treated as very dangerous, and very important. In our first week of discussions, we delved into why words are so important, and how the characters in the book view words in a different way than we do. We also went around and listed which words are most important to us, or the ones we feel that we need in order to survive. Next, we had a whole group discussion about the characters in The List, where we shared out our personal thoughts on the characters. Our second week started off with a very fun discussion about movie adaptations, where we broke into two groups to try and decide whether The List would make a good movie. To help us in our decision-making, we identified which types of books do make a good movie. We decided that a book needs to be very dramatic in order to become a movie, and that The List was just not dramatic enough. However, that discovery lended itself to a very fun conversation about which ways a movie would make the book more dramatic. Altogether, it was a very fun exercise. Next, we had a discussion about symbolism and themes in the novel, and talked about the significance of words, and all that ...
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An update from our eighth and ninth Stone Soup Book Club meetings! Over the last two weeks in Book Club we have been discussing Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. We went deep with this heavy, sometimes gruesome story, and managed to have a lot of fun! On our first week with this book, we began by imagining that we were stranded on an island with a group of our friends and we had to create a society that would allow us to live peacefully together. We separated into groups and had a blast picking symbols to represent our societies, a list of original words and definitions to communicate with one another, and a slogan that represented our core values. After this we discussed the many symbols in the book and what we thought they were meant to represent. On our second week we grappled with the core theme of the book–left to our own devices, are humans basically good, or basically evil? Without the various rules and norms that make up society, would we rise to the occasion and create a civilization, or would we descend into savagery? As we discussed, it appears that William Golding does not have a very positive view of humanity! We concluded by splitting into three groups and holding a mock trial for the central characters Jack and Ralph. One group represented Ralph’s point of view, one group represented Jack’s point of view, and one group asked questions and tried to give a fair ...
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An update from our seventh Stone Soup Book Club meeting! This week, during our 7th meeting of the Stone Soup Book Club, we were very lucky to have Adam Gidwitz, the author of The Inquisitor's Tale come and join our discussion for a little while! We had the exciting opportunity to ask Mr. Gidwitz questions about his book, and about writing overall. We listened as he explained how he came up with the characters of Jeanne, William, and Jacob, as well as how all of the events of the story came together. We found out how Mr. Gidwitz settled on his unique style of narration in his book, what inspired him to tackle all of the subjects that he did, and we learned about the perseverance that all authors have. Our conversation was very thoughtful and meaningful, and it was a great experience all around! We did not have much time left after our discussion with Mr. Gidwitz, but we used our remaining time to talk about the ending of Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper, the book that we had been reading over the past week. In a similar fashion to Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale, Out of My Mind talks about differences in people and about overcoming adversity in your path. It was very cool to see what connections people drew between the two stories! Finally, we chose our next book, and the book that we will read after that one! Participants: Anya, Djin, Georgia, Lena, Chloe, Joanna, ...
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An update from our sixth Stone Soup Book Club meeting! This week, in Book Club, we began discussing Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper. This is the story of a 10-year-old girl with Cerebral Palsy. She is extremely intelligent but struggles to communicate her thoughts—she cannot speak, write, or walk. We began our session talking in small groups about the importance of words. We discussed the role words play in our lives, whether words are more valued verbally or written, and how we might try to communicate without the ability to speak or move our bodies. We went on to discuss the strength of Melody as the main character and the role of the many companion characters the author uses to tell her story. We also talked about what we considered the core themes of the book, including perseverance, courage, strength, the importance of friendship, and our deep human yearning to communicate with others. Next week, we are so excited to be joined by Adam Gidwitz, author of The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, for the first part of our session. Please come prepared with a few questions about the book, if you read it, or writing more generally. Since we have only a short time with Mr. Gidwitz, please keep in mind that everyone may not have the opportunity to ask a question directly. Following our time with Adam Gidwitz, we will continue discussing Out of My Mind and conclude by voting ...
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An Update from our fifth Stone Soup Book Club meeting This week, during our 5th meeting of the Stone Soup Book Club (13 May, 2020), we discussed The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz. Our fantastic Stone Soup contributor, Anya Geist, led the session through a stimulating discussion on the various themes, plot twists, and favorite characters of this complex story. We discussed book banning, tolerance and diversity, religion, race, and a range of other interesting themes the book touches upon. We also spent time discussing how the perspective and structure of the book affects the story. Gidwitz takes an intertextual approach to the narration with a range of quirky characters telling of their own encounters with the main characters and their own versions of key events. I think we all agree this is part of what makes the story so very rich and exciting! The Participants: Anya, Lucy, Georgia, Joanna, Allegra, Chloe, Djin, Rachel, Chloe, Enni, Penelope, Kaya, Vishnu, Arianna, Sophia, Isabel The Stone Soup Book Club is open to all Stone Soup contributors and subscribers, age 9-13, during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements. We meet every Wednesday for one hour via Zoom to discuss our chosen book. Next week, we will begin discussing our 3rd book, Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper. Hope to see you all there! ...
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An Update from our fourth Stone Soup Book Club meeting! The Stone Soup book club is open to all Stone Soup contributors and subscribers, ages 9-13, during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements. We meet for one hour every Wednesday to discuss our chosen book via Zoom. On Wednesday, May 6, we began discussing our second book: The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz. We were so happy to have over 20 participants this week and were able to have some really great discussions! We started off the meeting by splitting up into breakout rooms in groups of three to share our overall thoughts and predictions about the book. Then we met in a whole group discussion to share those ideas out. From there, we split into two groups, one that discussed setting, and one that discussed characters. We switched groups after a ten-minute discussion. The ideas that people raised were thoughtful. We discussed how we felt that we could relate to the characters, even though they are living in 1200's France, and how diversity and acceptance plays a large role in the book! It was great to hear everyone’s ideas! Next week, we will finish discussing The Inquisitor’s Tale. We are planning on having specific discussions about theme, and other aspects of the book that the book club members said they were really enjoying! On May 20, we will start discussing our third book, which we have yet to choose. Our ...
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An Update from our Third Stone Soup Book Club meeting! On Wednesday, April 29th, we were lucky enough to be joined by author, Nicole Helget, as we continued to discuss her book, The End of the Wild. Participants offered a range of penetrating questions that opened our discussion to everything from Nicole’s inspiration for the book and particular characters, to suggestions for approaching the craft of wiring fiction, to practical tips for tackling writer’s block! We all learned so much. Among those suggestions that stand out most clearly in my mind, Nicole shared that she believes each chapter in a work of fiction should always start with setting–even if only briefly. Otherwise, as she explained, the story unfolds in blackness for the reader, with no movie reel running in their imagination as they read. Before beginning, Nicole advised, you should develop your main character and determine how many companion characters will accompany them on their journey throughout the story. Your core mission, as a writer, is to decide on what it is your main character wants that they don’t have and let this drive your plot. Finally, don’t be afraid to edit! As Nicole advised, whatever doesn’t serve your story, no matter how attached to the writing you might be, must go. It was a fascinating and informative session and we’re so grateful to Nicole for joining us. The Participants: Anya, Abhi, Allegra, Arianna, Chloe, Djin, Enni, Ever, Georgia, Joanna, Lena, Lucy, Michaela, Penelope, Rachel, Raeha, Simar, Sophia, Tristan. The ...
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An Update from our Second Stone Soup Book Club meeting! The Stone Soup Book Club is open to all Stone Soup contributors and subscribers, age 9-13, during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements. We meet every Wednesday for one hour via Zoom to discuss our chosen book. On Wednesday, April 22nd, we began discussing our first book, The End of the Wild, by Nicole Helget. We talked generally about how people felt about the book so far–whether they were hooked right away, how they felt about the writing style, etc.–before breaking into smaller groups for more in-depth discussions on setting and character development. We had a productive discussion where many interesting points were raised and some different opinions about characters emerged! The group decided to devote 2 weeks to each book we read. Next week will be our last session with The End of the Wild. We will delve into plot development and the book's many themes, as well as revisit ideas about setting and characters. The following week we will begin discussing our 2nd book, The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or the Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz. Finally, we are very lucky to have Anya Geist (13), a Stone Soup contributor, act as a co-facilitator of our book club! 1st Book   The End of the Wild, by Nicole Helget 2nd Book (beginning May 6th)   The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or the Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz The Participants:  Enni (13), Abhi (12), ...
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An update from our first Stone Soup Book Club Meeting! The Stone Soup Book Club is open to all Stone Soup contributors and subscribers during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements. We meet every Wednesday for one hour via Zoom to discuss our chosen book. Wednesday, April 15th was our first meeting. The aim of this meeting was to introduce ourselves to one another, share our book ideas, and to choose our first book! This was no easy task with all the interesting and varied suggestions offered by participants. After much discussion, we narrowed it down to two favorites and decided that these would be the first and second books we would discuss. All of the suggestions were such great choices that we’ve listed them below, to serve as a reading list should anyone be looking for their next book, as recommended by a fellow Stone Soup fan! The Books: Our chosen books to read in Book Club are: 1st Book - The End of the Wild, by Nicole Helget 2nd Book - The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or the Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz How the Book Club will work: We agreed that we would read 3-5 chapters of our first book before the next meeting. So, at next week's book club, we will discuss the section of the book that we have all read. We'll then agree how much more we will read during the following week. The Participants:  Enni (13), Rachel (9), Jewels (12), Reha ...
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