Jan 29, 2012

Stone Soup

Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Illustrated by Marcia Brown
Published by Charles Scribner's Sons
Caldecott Medal 1947

     Three soldiers in a foreign country were making their way home from an unnamed war.  They hadn't eaten for two days and were very tired and hungry.  In the distance they saw the lights of a village and hoped to find a bite to eat and a place to rest. But the villagers heard the approaching soldiers, and they "feared strangers," so they quickly decided to hide their food.  When the soldiers reached the village, they went door to door asking for food and lodging but they always heard 'no' as an answer.  Quick on their feet, the soldiers announced they'll just have to make stone soup, and tricked the villagers to bring all the ingredients on their wish list.  When the stone soup was finally ready, the peasants end up bringing tables and they all shared the meal. "Never had there been such a feast.  Never had the peasants tasted such soup.  And fancy, made from stones!"
     Stone Soup is a classic. The story has been retold many times since Brown's version of the French story was published in 1947. But hers is my favorite.  Though the illustrations are done with only reds, whites and blacks, the facial expressions add so much detail that I didn't miss other colors.  There is also a lot to discuss about the story: the peasants attitude towards the soldiers (it's during a war so their fears and selfishness might be warranted), the trickery of the soldiers, and the joy found in sharing -even with a stranger you once feared.  Classic.

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