august house, 1998 - Juvenile Fiction - 32 pages
Two hungry travelers arrive at a village expecting to find a household that will share a bit of food, as has been the custom along their journey. To their surprise, villager after villager refuses to share, each one closing the door with a bang. As they sit to rest beside a well, one of the travelers observes that if the townspeople have no food to share, they must be in greater need than we are.
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Reading level: Ages 4-8 Forest and Gaber (previously paired for The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies; The Baker's Dozen) revisit this oft-told tale to demonstrate the pleasures of collaboration and mutual generosity. Two hungry travelers, denied food by the inhabitants of a mountain village, publicly declare that they can make soup from a stone. Only they need a carrot... and a potato... and a few more ingredients to make it taste really good. Everyone in the town contributes something, pronounces the soup delicious and learns the magic behind it: sharing. Gaber's bold acrylic paintings emphasize the big black soup tureen and the brightly colored vegetable ingredients. As each member of the multiracial town speaks up to offer a contribution, a speech bubble appears showing a picture of the offering. Forest's jolly prose simmers with energy: "Bring what you've got! Put it in the pot!" cry the travelers. Flavorful and nutritious, this classic tale is served up with a smile. A recipe for stone soup tops it off. Unlike Marcia Brown's classic version in which three hungry French soldiers are returning from a war (Scribners, 1947), this Stone Soup is not linked to any particular time or place. The straightforward, didactic retelling concludes with the lesson (for those readers who somehow missed it): "'These two travelers made such a delicious soup out of a stone.' 'Out of a stone,' said the travelers with a grin, 'and a magical ingredient...sharing.'" Gaber's brilliantly colored paintings illuminate a mountain village with a multicultural population.