Stone Soup

by Jon J. Muth

Jon J Muth blends a traditional European folktale with elements of Chinese folklore... read more

Jon J Muth blends a traditional European folktale with elements of Chinese folklore and the Buddhist story tradition in an inventive retelling of the “Stone Soup” story. The three monks Hok, Lok and Siew (deities from Chinese folklore) wander into a village where hard times have closed the doors of trust, so that even neighbors are suspicious of one another. Only one small, brave girl is willing to approach them. The monks describe their plan to make stone soup, and the child willingly helps. Curiosity draws villagers out of their homes, and soon one person after another is bringing something to add to the pot—carrots and spices, pea pods and gingerroot, mung beans and taro root. The monks are not only helping the villagers make soup, they are helping them open their hearts to one another and build a sense of community. “With the gifts you have given, we will always have plenty. You have shown us that sharing makes us all richer.” In an author’s note, Muth notes that in the Buddhist tradition, tricksters seek to spread enlightenment rather than gain anything for themselves. His note also invites children to find symbols from Asian culture that he has incorporated into the illustrations of this inspiring tale. (Ages 5–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

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