Previously, we looked at ChopChop Magazine, specializing in “nutritional literacy,” which involves children to a very great extent. For instance, a child named Sally presents a series of “makeovers” in response to such requests as “I hate broccoli… I challenge you to make it taste good.”
The print publication Stone Soup: The Magazine by Kids, however, is totally written by kids. It has thrived since 1973, and stakes a claim to being the leading publisher of children’s creative writing and art in English.
The home page says,
Long a fixture in schools, libraries, and the homes of children who love to read, Stone Soup… is that rare resource that broadens kids’ interests. It challenges, motivates, and stimulates kids to deepen their engagement with reading, writing, and art. An inspiration to generations of children.
On its website, Stone Soup features the current print edition, using some nifty software that gives the appearance of actual turning pages. There is also an archive of 322 stories by children, arranged into 18 categories, such as Adventure, Animals, Family, Friendship, Nature, and Science Fiction.
Even the book reviews are written by children, giving a peer’s-eye view of fiction and nonfiction works that are intended for kids. (For the benefit of the books’ authors, the site also generously provides a link to where each book can be bought.)
Although this review is more than 10 years old, the subject matter is irresistible. It’s by Eli Black of Austin, Texas, who was nine at the time. The book Eli chose to review was When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, by Kimberly Willis Holt.
In the book, a 300-pound boy, Zachary Beaver, is brought to Antler, Texas, in a trailer pulled by his legal guardian, Paulie, who charges people two dollars for a look at Zachary — a one-man freak show, ‘The Fattest Boy in the World.’
In his review, Eli Black recalls an episode from his own short life. One of the other boys at camp was an obese child, the butt of many jokes, of course. Eli shied away at first, but then noticed what a good artist the overweight boy was, as he sat on the sidelines, capturing the scene in drawings.
Even though I’d never talked to him, I knew on the inside he was probably a great guy and I felt really sorry for him… I started talking to him some. Whenever somebody is different, people often stay away from them, but in some cases they get used to them and then, in a way, befriend them.
One he started reading the novel, Eli of course immediately related the fictitious character Zachary Beaver to the boy he had known at camp. In the story, there are two town boys, who are already friends, and who decide to take “the fattest boy in the world” out for some fun. With help from a young person with a driver’s license, they take Zachary to the drive-in movies, and do other things together.
Eventually, the people of Antler got used to Zachary being there, and they start to feel sorry for him, and would even leave him food on his doorstep and run away… the main point of the book, and the part I liked best, was the way the author showed the many ways that people learn to live with and actually like strangers.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “The Print Magazine for Kids Who Love to Read,” StoneSoup.com
Source: “Books Reviewed in Stone Soup ,” StoneSoup.com
Source: “Book Review,” StoneSoup.com, Sept./Oct. 2000
Image by joanna8555, used under its Creative Commons license.