Stone Soup

( 15 )

Overview


Award-winning artist Jon J Muth retells the favorite tale of a selfish community who is tricked into creating a delicious soup from stones. Set in China in Muth's hauntingly beautiful watercolors.

Three strangers, hungry and tired, pass through a war-torn village. Embittered and suspicious from the war, the people hide their food and close their windows tight. That is, until the clever strangers suggest making a soup from stones. Intrigued by ...

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Overview


Award-winning artist Jon J Muth retells the favorite tale of a selfish community who is tricked into creating a delicious soup from stones. Set in China in Muth's hauntingly beautiful watercolors.

Three strangers, hungry and tired, pass through a war-torn village. Embittered and suspicious from the war, the people hide their food and close their windows tight. That is, until the clever strangers suggest making a soup from stones. Intrigued by the idea, everyone brings what they have until-- together, they have made a feast fit for a king!
In this inspiring story about the strength people possess when they work together, Muth takes a simple, beloved tale and adds his own fresh twist.

Three wise monks trick a poor,frightened community into finding happiness by teaching them the magic of generosity.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
In a Far Eastern twist on the classic tale, the author of The Three Questions has a group of wandering monks teaching a village about happiness, giving, and trust. Through gentle watercolors that evoke feelings of Asian artwork and Zen-like serenity, Jon J. Muth brilliantly captures the peace these monks bring as they enter a town and realize that the distrustful, suspecting townsfolk need a "stone soup" lesson. Beginning with a little girl wearing yellow -- a bright splash of color against the village's stark gray and white hues -- curious villagers slowly come forward to add special ingredients to the soup and to add more color to the scene. Of course, at the story's familiar end, they all have found their connection, but now the town is cheerfully aglow with red lanterns, happy festivities, and thankful farewells. A beautiful message for young readers and a great jump-start to discussions about folktales or Asian culture (especially with the Author's Note in back), this stunning picture book will have audiences in pure nirvana. Matt Warner
From the Publisher

Three wandering Buddhist monks investigate the nature of happiness by feeding the wary, selfish inhabitants of a Northern Chinese village soup made from three stones. Sound vaguely familiar? Muth sets his version of the well-known European folktale in the early years of Qing Dynasty China. Wars and famines have made the villagers justifiably reluctant to welcome strangers, even monks, and so suspicious they hoard food from one another. Muth's muted blue-and-gray watercolors are ideally suited to portraying the inhospitable village, swathed in mountain mists, as well as the appealing girl in her bright yellow jacket who breaks the ice and draws the other villagers from behind their locked doors to contribute ingredients to the soup. Carrots and onions are followed by cabbages, pea pods, noodles, mushrooms, dumplings, bean curd, cloud ear and mung beans, winter melon, taro root, ginger, soy sauce and lily buds--a mouthwatering celebration of Chinese cooking. The monks' effort at community development triumphs as the villagers happily feast together at one very long table, then watch a shadow puppet play accompanied by music played on traditional Chinese instruments. In a detailed author's note, Muth explains how he meshed "the Buddha story tradition, where tricksters spread enlightenment rather than seeking gain for themselves" with a story rooted in European folklore. His respect for Chinese people and their culture makes this serving of fusion cuisine delicious and satisfying.--Horn Book, March 2003

Muth has taken this old tale and transplanted it from its traditional European setting to China. The tricksters are no longer hungry travelers or soldiers but Buddhist monks. Their goal in fooling the villagers is not to fill their own stomachs but rather to enlighten them about the happiness that comes from sharing. Muth's characteristic watercolor illustrations, with their striking use of misty hues contrasted with bright primaries, are expertly done and convey a distinct sense of place. In his author's note, the reteller details the elements of Chinese folklore that he incorporated into the story as well as the symbols from Eastern culture used in the artwork. However, Muth's decision to alter the motivation of the tricksters also depresses some of the humor in the story and gives it a moralistic tone. In addition, the likelihood that these initially suspicious and reclusive villagers would become truly happy people as a result of their own gullibility is slim. This is a beautifully executed book with a flawed story line.--School Library Journal, March 2003

Muth freshens a familiar folktale with a change of setting. Three Zen monks arrive in a Chinese mountain village where hard times have made villagers distrustful of strangers and selfish toward one another. Undeterred by a lack of welcome, the monks set about preparing dinner soup, which, as the story traditionally goes, draws the villagers from their sheltered homes with ingredients to enrich the pot, thereby reinvigorating the community. The muted, unexceptional telling is less successful than the expressive pictures, which bloom in color as the soup thickens; the misty grays and blues of the mountains and empty village square gradually become vibrant, climaxing in a spread of villagers eating at a crowded, seemingly endless table, enjoying food and one another's company beneath the glow of red lanterns. A note at the back explains Muth's change of venue. An unusual version that kids will want to compare to other adaptations of the story. --Booklist, January 15, 2003

With the same aesthetic grace he displayed with Tolstoy's The Three Questions, Muth here transports a classic tale to rural China. The setting not only allows his evocative, impressionistic watercolors to play over mist and mountains but also affords an opportunity for Buddhist underpinnings. Three monks of varying ages stop at a village whe

Publishers Weekly
With the same aesthetic grace he displayed with Tolstoy's The Three Questions, Muth here transports a classic tale to rural China. The setting not only allows his evocative, impressionistic watercolors to play over mist and mountains but also affords an opportunity for Buddhist underpinnings. Three monks of varying ages stop at a village where hard times have made people suspicious; in Muth's full-bleed spreads, even the houses appear to look down with disdain. Famine and other hardships have bleached the faces and hearts of the villagers; the tea merchant, the seamstress and the carpenter whose closet bulges with hoarded vegetables all appear caught in Muth's vignettes as if by a photographer's flash. Only a little girl, her cheerful yellow coat a beacon in the gray landscape, approaches them. She helps them find three smooth stones-shown in a close-up, piled and teetering in the harsh winter light (an endnote explains that they form the shape of the sitting Buddha). Soon, the pure hearts of the monks move the other villagers to generosity, and cloud ear, mung beans, ginger root and more join the stones in the pot. In the endnote, Muth invites readers to find the Chinese symbols embedded in the art and explains that in the Buddhist story tradition he borrows from, tricksters "spread enlightenment rather than seeking gain for themselves." And while the tale of "Stone Soup" can be told to make fools of the villagers, here it becomes an offering as generous as Muth's villagers turn out to be. Ages 6-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature
Beautiful watercolor and ink illustrations help to tell the story of Hok, Lok and Siew, three monks who attempt to bring happiness to a discontented and disconnected Chinese village. After happening upon the town, the monks pique the interest of the villagers by making their magical soup, and eventually everyone volunteers to add in their own vegetables. After the soup is ready, everyone has a celebratory feast, the citizens unite with one another, and the monks continue on their journey. This is a culturally detailed version of the "Stone Soup" story that originated in European folklore. Many versions have been told in France, Sweden, Russia, England, Belgium and other countries. These monks figure prominently in Chinese folklore, and the author uses them to spread contentment, not mischief, among the village. Young readers will learn that it is important to reach out to their communities and that they must accept and appreciate what they have. The drawings are deceptively simple at first, since they seem to feature little more than the characters and an austere backdrop. There are many hidden details, however, that figure more prominently with subsequent readings, like Chinese words and characters concealed within the drawings. After reading the author's note, parents will be able to explain the tale's origins to the child. The note also includes information on the Eastern symbols and objects used in the artwork, such as the Chinese musical instruments used in the banquet scene. 2003, Scholastic Press, Ages 6 to 9.
—Heather Bivens
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Muth has taken this old tale and transplanted it from its traditional European setting to China. The tricksters are no longer hungry travelers or soldiers but Buddhist monks. Their goal in fooling the villagers is not to fill their own stomachs but rather to enlighten them about the happiness that comes from sharing. Muth's characteristic watercolor illustrations, with their striking use of misty hues contrasted with bright primaries, are expertly done and convey a distinct sense of place. In his author's note, the reteller details the elements of Chinese folklore that he incorporated into the story as well as the symbols from Eastern culture used in the artwork. However, Muth's decision to alter the motivation of the tricksters also depresses some of the humor in the story and gives it a moralistic tone. In addition, the likelihood that these initially suspicious and reclusive villagers would become truly happy people as a result of their own gullibility is slim. This is a beautifully executed book with a flawed story line.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Muth transports a classic European trickster tale to China and turns it into an explicit, formalized philosophical lesson. To answer the question, "What makes one happy?" three wandering monks, Hok, Lok, and Siew, tease hostile residents of a town into providing both pot and ingredients for a savory soup, then sitting down to a communal feast. The next day, the villagers gratefully bid the monks goodbye: "With the gifts you have given we will always have plenty. You have shown us that sharing makes us all richer." In contrast to the stiffly wooden text, the art poses graceful, traditionally dressed figures with expressive, delicately drawn faces against flowing backgrounds of mountain mists and cool colors. In a long afterword, Muth discusses the tale's meaning and antecedents, as well as Zen and the Chinese symbols and motifs he has incorporated into it. Despite atmospheric art and touches of gentle humor, this follow-up to his recent retelling of Tolstoy's Three Questions (2002) comes off as somewhat portentous and overwritten. (Picture book/folktale. 7-10)
Children's Literature - Loretta Caravette
This wonderful folk tale has been set in Portugal, France, Russia, Hungry and now it is set in China. With its inspiring and uplifting message of the strength people possess when they work together, this story begins with three monks journeying through the mountains. When the youngest monk asks "What makes one happy?" they decide to go down to a small village to find out. The villagers have gone through some very tough times, and they were suspicious of each other and newcomers. When the monks being to make soup out of three stones the villagers' curiosity gets the better of them. The monks coax them to add something to the soup and in the process helps them all re-discover their humanity and each other. The art is gentle and there is enough close ups and pans to create action and help the story come alive. The pictures are true to the book but are enhanced as different segments are spotlighted. The DVD is a little tricky to figure out. If you want subtitles you have to go to the main menu and press subtitles then press play. To take the subtitles out you need to go back to the menu and press no subtitles and then press play. An interview with the author is very interesting and intended for adults. There is also a very nice activities guide on the inside label. Reviewer: Loretta Caravette
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—Jon Muth's handsomely re-imagined traditional folktale (Scholastic, 2003) about building trust and community is set in a small Chinese village. Here the people have become distrustful and selfish and close their doors not only to strangers but to each other. The arrival of three monks, the promise of soup from a stone, and the bravery of a young girl reunites the community. The story comes to life in this iconographic production that creates the illusion of movement and allows viewers to focus on particular elements of Muth's rich watercolor illustrations (e.g., the young child's yellow jacket). BD Wong's even tone ideally complements the images and enhances the tale. An interview with the author/illustrator provides even greater insight into his work, his recasting of Stone Soup, and his interest in Asian art. A worthy addition to children's collections.—Maria Salvadore, formerly Washington DC Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439339094
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/5/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 63,655
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.32 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author


Jon J Muth has written and illustrated many enchanting picture books, including his Caldecott Honor Book ZEN SHORTS and its sequel, the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling picture book ZEN TIES. Other beloved titles from Jon include THE THREE QUESTIONS, GERSHON'S MONSTER by Eric Kimmel, and THE CHRISTMAS MAGIC by Lauren Thompson. Muth lives in upstate New York with his wife and five children.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2007

    ston soup

    Stone Soup. By Jon J. Muth, New York: Scholastic Press, 2003. U.S$16.95/Can$24.99. Refined jacket. Hardcover. ISBN 0-439-33909-X. pp30. Illustrated. The Stone Soup is a Chinese Folklore in which three Buddhist monks- Hok, Lok and Siew, tried to convince the villagers how better it is to be friendly and open to each other using a metaphoric cooperative picnic. The story starts with the ubiquitous Asian religions theme-search for the happiness. So, the youngest monk- Hok, asks to the oldest and wisest monk, ¿What makes one happy, Siew?¿ The wisest monk- Siew, replies, ¿Let¿s find out¿. Thus the story runs. The three monks went to the village below the mountain where they were wondered and found that the villagers were unfriendly, unwelcoming to these monks. The villagers work hard but somewhat individualistic know only themselves, no one else. In the village, there live farmers, a tea merchant, a Confucius scholar, a baker, a carpenter, a village doctor and so on. When these monks went to the village, they knocked each householder¿s door, but nobody cared to open. The monks decided to prepare Stone Soup for themselves, as suggested by the eldest one. They collected a small Tin pot, a few little twigs and three smooth stones. A little girl peeped through her door and saw these monks and came to the monks and wanted to know what they were doing. ¿We are making Stone Soup,¿ said one monk. ¿The pot is too small,¿ said the little girl, ¿my mom has a bigger one, let me bring it¿. She brought it. A household came to see what was going on there and saw the soup pot and said ¿a little onion would go better with this soup¿ and went home to bring little onion. Later another villager came followed by another, more came later each suggested some ingredient and each brought something to add. Finally, when the stone soup was cooked, they eat soup together and at the end they sang, danced and found the happiness of coming together (which practice still continues in Asia). After the festival, the villagers invited the monks in their home and gave them a place to sleep comfortably. However, after a peaceful rest, the monks left the village and thanked the villagers for their hospitality. Even though there was an end of the story, the moral remained forever. The entire book does not contain much word as much as I use here to give my version of the full story, but the pictures in every page speak. Each picture-done in watercolor and brush, is lively (though silent), yet, speaks a lot. The word set in each page, the words match with,- e.g., a carpenter-the picture with his products, a tea-merchant- with his utensils, a village doctor-with his medicine box, a scholar-with his Confucius attire, etc., all these attributes with color, make the words and pictures a perfect combination. The socio-cultural elements are present in every page of this book- peoples¿ dress, demeanor toward each other, bodily gesture, all are clearly depicted in the watercolor brush drawings. Furthermore, the theme of the story is prevalent most part of Asia and the story itself bears the testimony. Parents ¿despite the cultural differences, who want to give moral education to their children, will like this folklore which teaches that if we live together sharing each other resources will live happily. However, in accordance with the author, this story has its root in European folklore and there are many versions in different countries, and the current author used the Buddhist tradition of China, reflecting the cultural background. (Source: Author¿s Note, no page#).

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    Annonymous

    Best book ever!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2010

    read it if you can

    I read this book at my school and I liked it.The monks tricked the villagers into making a stone soup. It helps the villagers to share. This book teaches happiness that are little things. It has beautiful illustrations of people, nature,Chinese traditions. I think you should read this book.
    By: Abdiel

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2009

    Best Retelling of classic story

    This is a great retelling of the traditional stone soup story but with an Asian/Eastern setting and with monks as the main characters. The final celebration at the end is beautiful. It offers a great moral about leaning to share and help one another.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2004

    Classic story with amazing illustrations

    I remember my 1st grade class making 'stone soup' and learning about the value of community and sharing. This book enhances the story with beautiful illustrations -- great for any collection.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2013

    Hi: I am the review writer of a children's book title-Stone Soup

    Hi:
    I am the review writer of a children's book title-Stone Soup, which Barns & Nobel posted here as Anonymous, posted on February 3, 2007. For a number of months, Barns & Nobel mentioned my name as a reviewer, but for whatever reason unbeknownst to me B&N removed my name from the post. I once requested the B & N to put my name back,otherwise not to post my review on its page. Still B & N using it as anonymous without putting my name back. I am not sure if I should talk to a copyright expert or not. What do you think?
    Thank you.
    Sincerely
    Lokananda C. Bhikkhu MA, MLIS
    University of the West,
    Rosemead, CA

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013

    A

    This book is for losers

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    one of the stories I remember from my childhood

    Great story that teaches too--a must have for young readers

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    Posted November 13, 2008

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    Posted January 23, 2014

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    Posted November 17, 2012

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    Posted February 3, 2013

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    Posted January 30, 2011

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    Posted October 30, 2011

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    Posted February 19, 2013

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