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Stone Soup Hardcover – March 1, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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, Inc.

From Booklist

K-Gr. 2. 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. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 480L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 043933909X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439339094
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 10.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


In 1999 Mr. Muth started what has been over a decade in children's books. He has received numerous awards and critical acclaim and worked with many talented people. He is the author and illustrator of "Zen Shorts" a Caldecott Honor book, which Kirkus Review described as "Every word and image comes to make as perfect a picture book as can be". He is the illustrator of the anthology, "A Family of Poems", with Caroline Kennedy. His book "The Three Questions" has been described as "quietly life-changing" by The New York Times.

Muth worked for over twenty years in comics and graphic novels; culminating in the industry's highest honor, an Eisner Award for "The Mystery Play".

In an interview with the Paris Review, E.B. White once said, "You don't write down for children. You write up." Muth wholeheartedly agrees. "Children are completely capable of intuiting wisdom as readily as adults are... they just may not have the ability to put it into words ... [but] they get this stuff very quickly. Even the kids who come to the book (Zen Shorts) because it has a giant panda tend to come back because there's some itch that's created -- in their minds or in their hearts -- to re-examine what's going on."

Mr. Muth has had a life long interest in Asian Studies, including tai chi chuan, sumi ink drawing and chado, "the way of tea". His work has been translated into more than a dozen languages and he lives with his wife Bonnie and their four children in New York.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful book. The illustrations are masterful, and the story is quite sweet. I would definitely share it with young children, yet the exquisitely depicted images make me want to show it to adults. The cross-cultural elements of the story are especially good for young children. To find a children's book that contains this much beauty is a treasure for any child.
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Format: Hardcover
My two children and I loved this book. They enjoyed following the little girl and her cat and finding them on different pages. It works very well to read out loud at bedtime. The monks were sweet. I don't know how they could have scared anybody. It was nice to see these faces in this story. Some of them were very funny. I was surprised to see how well it all fit. This was a nice retelling.
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Format: Hardcover
This is told differently than the version I read as a child, but it is told very nicely. The pictures are nice as well. Both my 4 year old son and my 11 year old niece love it.
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Format: Hardcover
Three monks approach a town that has grown isolated from neighbors and community. They decide to teach the town "happiness" by making stone soup. Each community member brought an ingredient and with everyone's contribution, they made stone soup and had a celebration.

This book is near and dear to me because I used it as a community building exercise when I was teaching elementary. I believe it shows how everyone contributes their own talents to make a better whole.

In the classroom, I would invite students to each bring one ingredient for our own stone soup. We might also create a list of "classroom experts" to show what each child's gifts and talents are.
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Format: Hardcover
Stone Soup.....what a lovely retelling of an old tale. I like that it takes the simple message of one by one sharing, gaining happiness and all sharing to gain community. I bought this book for my nephews. We very much enjoyed reading the story and examining the wonderful pictures. They very easily noticed the beautiful color progression as the story develops into something full, warm and sweet. The best part was reading all about the same foods we have at home. It is good to know that we too can make Stone Soup.
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By A Customer on March 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I love this book! It has a wonderful sense of dignity and humor. I'm pleased to see Asians that look like real people and enjoyed its spirit of encouragement. I don't like spoon fed morality and this story treats the reader intelligently. This book has a special place on my shelves.
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Format: Hardcover
what a wonderful book. the watercolor is enchanting and the book is beautifully written. the subject matter of sharing and rebuilding a community not only teaches children to love their neighbors, but it also reminds adults to live in harmony.
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Format: Hardcover
A book you won't mine reading every night. Great story with great drawings...My 4 year old loves it so do I.
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