Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I have a faint memory of my grandmother referring to a particular soup or stew she concocted as “stone soup.” Perhaps that is why I enjoy this story so much–I associate it with pleasant memories of my jolly-but-cantankerous elderly grandmother, who also happened to be a very good cook.
Although it is over sixty years old, Stone Soup by Marcia Brown is a story that fascinates and entertains my two preschoolers, ages almost-5 and 3 1/2. The story is a familiar folk tale of three hungry French soldiers who outsmart some villagers who are too stingy to share their provisions with them. The soldiers take advantage of the peasants’ curiosity about how soup could actually be made from a stone by tricking them into going after that one ingredient that would make the stone soup even better.
The illustrations in this story earned it a Caldecott honor in 1948, and Marcia Brown’s body of work (which includes three Caldecott medal winners and six Caldecott honor books) won her the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 1992. (If you’re a regular reader at Hope Is the Word, you know that Laura Ingalls Wilder is a very important person in our home, so this really catches my attention!) The illustrations in Stone Soup are simple drawings of only three colors: black, grey, and red. The story is simple enough to entertain preschoolers, but it has enough nuances to interest school-aged children, as well. Stone Soup is a vintage find that is not to be missed!
ETA: I realized after posting this review that I reviewed another version of the stone soup folk tale back in an early Read Aloud Thursday post. It is The Real Story of Stone Soup by Ying Chang Compestine and you can read my review here. It would make a delightful companion to the older Stone Soup version by Marcia Brown!