Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Stone Soup

Stone Soup

Jon J. Muth
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Scholastic Press, 2003   ISBN: 978-0439339094

Three monks, Hok, Lok, and Siew, are traveling together and in the course of their conversations they decide that they are going to try to find out what makes people happy. Soon they come to a village and it is immediately obvious that at least in this village, people are not happy at all. They are suspicious, selfish, and unfriendly. No one makes the effort to welcome the monks, nor do they offer to give the three men a place to stay. So the monks take matters into their hands and they set about making stone soup.

One by one the villagers come out of their homes to see what is going on. One by one, driven by their curiosity, each of them ends up contributing something to make the stone soup taste better. None of them really see that the monks have a reason for making the soup. None of them realize that the monks made the strange soup simply to get the villagers to come of their homes so that they might connect with one another in a positive way.

This beautifully told and illustrated version of a very old tale is truly special. Simplicity gives the text and the artwork power and beauty. The author includes a note at the back of the book about the history of the story and why he chose to tell it and illustrate it as he did.