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It's funny how a single story changes with the telling. These days the classic tale of how to make stone soup has been told in a myriad of different tellings and versions. But if you harken back a little to Marci Brown's 1947 concoction, you see clearly that the story can be a little more sardonic than its alternate versions. In this tale, villagers are tricked out of their greed and fear into sharing and enjoying life with their neighbors. And it's all thanks to a soup that doesn't even exist.
Three soldiers make their way home from an unnamed war in an unnamed country. Passing a village, the men ask the townspeople for some food and warm beds. Unsurprisingly, the peasants (who, one presumes, have been violently scared into this state of distrust through years of misuse at the hands of soldiers such as these) feign a lack of food or room for the men. Thinking on their feet, the soldiers proclaim that there is nothing for it then but to make stone soup. The astonished town watches and aids the men in their task, providing them with a huge soup cauldron, water, and whatever ingredients the soldiers casually mention. By the end of the evening everyone sits down to a hearty meal and after a good night of carousing the men are given the best beds in town. "And fancy, made from stones!"

The soldiers in this tale are jovial fellows, just as comfortable fooling foolish peasants into acts of selflessness as they are dancing with pretty maids and drinking. That so much joy can come simply from sharing with your fellow man is a moral insinuated from the tale, rather than explicitly spelled out to the reader. Brown's accompanying illustrations encompass roughly four colors; red, black, white, and grey. Though a subtle palette, the figures readily express all the emotions, fears, and energy of the people and their soldier guests. I was charmed by the final throwaway line in the book, written below the peasants as they wave goodbye to the three men. "Such men don't grow on every bush". You could say the same for this book.
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on July 22, 2006
I remember several stories that I loved very much as a child. One of them is the story of "Stone Soup". I saw it on the Captain Kangaroo television show--- the Captain read the story and the illustrations were shown page by page. I was delighted and spellbound. Everyone knows that you don't give anything away. To do so would be very foolish. Yet, in this story the people do give food away! And in the end, everyone shares in a feast because each one provided one small part of the meal. This is very moving to me. And a lesson that shapes my life every day. Thank you Marcia Brown for your retelling of this timeless tale, and to Bob Keeshan, the Captain, for bringing me this joyful tale. Larry Host, Sacramento, California, July 22, 2006
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on July 17, 2010
I have burned through three different editions of Stone Soup, not liking each one (one had ugly weird illustrations, one was too sappy and rhyming, one was too modern and snotty) until I decided to try out the classic, Caldecott Honor version.

WHAT a change. THESE are the classic illustrations most of us grew up with. THESE are the soldiers and the peasants we read about. THIS is the story I'm keeping for my nieces. The telling isn't too clever, or too silly, or too watered-down, or too grown-up. The illustrations are neither too slick or too consciously old-fashioned. (Sheesh, I feel like I'm reviewing Goldilocks here!) I love it, love it, love it!

Please remember that this is a bit of a lengthy book for the smaller kids.
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on May 2, 2001
"Stone Soup" is a favorite folktale in our elementary school library. I just had a class of second graders beg me to read this Caldecott Honor book to them, and--of course--all our copies were immediately checked out.
I'm continually surprised--but pleased--that modern kids still enjoy these older illustrations by Marcia Brown, with their limited colors (see cover). This tale is a true classic, and this version has been around for many generations. It's part of the folk tradition in more ways than one. Let's hope we keep "sharing" this tale about sharing for generations to come!
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This children's book, based on an old French folk tale, is about three soldiers who try to convince a small village to provide them with some food. The villagers say they are too poor and can't. The soldiers then reply that they will make stone soup out of stones and water and are able to trick the villagers into having a village-wide feast. Yeats had a one-act play roughly based on this folk tale as well. The book was a 1948 Caldecott Honor book (i.e., a runner-up to the Medal winner) for best illustration in a book for children.
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on August 20, 2000
If this book has one downfall, it's that the story is a little long. But that is overshadowed by the fact that the story is so interesting for children and parents, and the illustrations are first-rate.
Watch the hungry soldiers use their cunning and imagination to make a meal out of nothing. They entice the local towns people to share their food in the making of stone soup.
Concepts include: sharing, imagination, the will to make things happen, etc.
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on February 28, 2000
This is a delightful old French tale that teaches the importance of opening your heart and sharing. The illustrations are wonderful and it's a great book for teachers to use in the classroom. Even though the story is old, the lesson that is learned is still valuable in today's society.
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on January 30, 2006
Hi, (...) This is a good book to buy. It's about three soldiers, but I will not tell you all. Beware--it will make you hungry!
I like the pictures. My favorite part is when the whole village were all together at the end thanking the soldiers.
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on November 29, 2014
Stone Soup is classic Children's Literature, still relevant in today's world. I read it when I was a child and still use it in my own classroom. The theme involves giving to others in need, and how our perspective about giving can change, depending on circumstances. Giving to others usually brings its own rewards.
Three soldiers are passing through a town during wartime, needing food and shelter. The townspeople are not receptive or forthcoming with food. The visitors employ a little reverse psychology and invite the townspeople to help them make, and share, stone soup. As their curiosity gets the best of them, the townspeople share what they have and the entire town enjoys a festive evening of food and dance. They are offered the finest beds in town for the evening. They leave the next morning with the townspeople's blessing, remarking, "It's all in the knowing how!
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on February 12, 2016
This is one of the first books I remember from first grade and it has stuck with me all these years. I particularly remember recognizing the morals and meanings woven in this great little story and I refer them often in my life. Thank you Marcia Brown for this wonderful story that continues to touch lives all over the world!
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