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Cactus Soup Hardcover – September 1, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4–This Mexican variant of "Stone Soup" calls for a single cactus thorn as its base. The army captain repeatedly teases the poor people of San Miguel with the lament, "Why ask for something you don't have?," seducing the curious folk into adding still more ingredients like chiles, vegetables, and meat to his magical concoction, a yummy comestible that inevitably leads to a fiesta. Huling's elongated watercolor cartoons provide just the right playful, brown-hued visual temperament for the all-round festive deception. The glossary is welcome but, oddly, lacks a pronunciation guide. Even stranger, though, is the postscripted author's note, bizarrely politicizing an otherwise clever cultural retelling (although it gives the artist an opportunity to tack on interesting portraits of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata). Teachers can follow up with Marcia Brown's Stone Soup (Atheneum, 1947), a wonderful example of the international appeal–and ready adaptation–of timeless tales of human nature.–John Sigwald, Unger Memorial Library, Plainview, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 1-3. Kimmel once recast the gingerbread boy as a traditional Mexican foodstuff in The Runaway Tortilla (2000); illustrator Huling's previous picture book, Puss in Cowboy Boots (2002), plunked Charles Perrault's wily cat in the Southwest. How appropriate, then, that the two should team up to create a chile-infused recipe for stone soup. Their version is set in the Mexico of the Zapatistas, and it's a regiment of revolutionaries who suggest cactus-spine soup to villagers made stingy by a mayor who warns that soldiers "eat like wolves!" But cactus soup, of course, isn't as tasty without salt, pepper, chiles, onions, beans, and a chicken or two . . . "But why ask for what you don't have?" Soon missing ingredients materialize by the basketful, resulting in a splendid feast for the hungry soldiers and a rousing fiesta for all. Kimmel's relaxed storytelling, accompanied by a glossary for those whose Spanish vocabulary may not encompass camote (sweet potato) and alcalde (mayor), is perfectly matched by the sun-baked watercolors by Huling, whose lanky villagers dwarfed by looming sombreros, swaybacked horses, and bowlegged vaqueros evoke both the exaggerated perspectives of Mexican muralists and the tongue-in-cheek universe of Speedy Gonzales. A savory stew to serve alongside traditional versions of the classic tale. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1st - 3rd
  • Lexile Measure: AD580L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Two Lions (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761451552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761451556
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Hedera Femme VINE VOICE on July 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Already familiar with the old story of Stone Soup, I was curious to see what this ethnic version had to offer. It was basically the same idea, but instead of a beggar or traveler, it was a small army of freedom fighters for Mexican Independence (we only learn of this in the part at the end of the book with some comments from the author, and not in the body of the story, which is a shame, since there is some historical info there). Instead of arriving at an individual's house, they arrive at a village of stingy people, and the story plays out basically in the same way, but with more participants--same lesson. The ingredients are, of course, adapted to the region, and the soup and fixings are Mexican.

As for the illustrations, they are stylish and beautiful, giving the story a clear sense of place. The writing is clear and pleasant.

One thing I found missing that other versions I read had: a recipe in the back. It was fun when my mom read it to me and we made stone soup. I would have loved the recipe for the spicy Mexican soup in this story...

Cool interpretation!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a fairly interesting graphic format. However it took me all of 5 minutes to read it, look at all the graphics, and reflect on the meanings of the fable. For the cost, it was not a very good deal as well as the fact it would not open on my Kindle Fire HD but had to be viewed on my laptop with a Kindle Reader. Nicely done but left me wanting much more.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I've always enjoyed reading different versions of Stone Soup, a folk tale from different cultures that's been adapted into various books. When I saw this on Amazon and that it was available as part of the new Kindle Unlimited Library, I immediately downloaded.

The townspeople are worried about the soldiers, as they've had bad experiences with other soldiers, so they hide their food supplies. The soldiers are not new and realize that the town is likely not as poor as it seems. Both sides seek to trick the other. By the end of the story, the townspeople have learned that some soldiers can be trusted (even if they're sneaky) and the soldiers and the townspeople have had a glorious meal.

The story provides a little bit of Mexican history, sprinkles in some Mexican Spanish words (there's a glossary but no pronunciation guide at the back) and the author's note provides some background for the context of the story. The artwork is occasionally bizarre but the color palette is reminiscent of Mexican folk art. Children will enjoy the battle of wits while learning more about Mexico.
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Format: Paperback
Eric Kimmel has always been one of my favorite author's of childrens' books. In my working days as a school librarian, I always tried to purchase his books when they were published. The students enjoyed them very much as I did, too. Cactus Soup is just as cute as could be. I really do like this book a lot. It was fun to read this one after reading Stone Soup and do some comparisons. The Hispanic students at school especially enjoyed Cactus Soup. I enjoyed their enthusiasm over Cactus Soup. I would recommend this book to children who are reluctant readers and any that like a good story.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like this book because it brings the old stone soup story to another culture of Mexicans. I am Mexican-American so I can relate to all this Chile's and camotes which are sweet potatoes. The soldiers outsmart the villagers and the villagers become more generous. It's very clever, funny and cute with amusing colored illustration in colors of the desert. The only thing I don't understand is wouldn't some poor, unfortunate person choke on the cactus needle. Additionally, they are sharp. I do recommend this fun and functional story wholeheartedly.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Cactus Soup is a a Mexican twist on an old tale known by many as Stone Soup. As the story begins, a troop of soldiers come riding toward the town of San Miguel. But the people of town weren't at all happy to learn of their arrival. They then plot to hide their food and tell the soldiers they've nothing to give them in hopes that this would encourage the soldiers not to stay. It's quite interesting to learn how and where all the food is hidden out of sight from the strangers. And to take things even further, the townspeople tore & ripped their clothes as well as smeared mud all over their faces to appear like poor hungry people.

Ah, but the Capitán in this story is not at all tricked! He then asks for a cactus thorn to make cactus soup. The townspeople are a bit more than willing to add to the soup by the charm of the stranger. Things gathered from those hiding places included chiles, salt, onions, garlic, beans, carrots, tomatoes, & stewing hens. His wit and the curiousness of the townspeople resulted in a fiesta that was enjoyed by everyone. Oh yes, more than just the Cactus Soup was enjoyed by everyone but tamales, sweet potatoes, and roasting pigs as well!

My children age 2 1/2 and 5 years old have heard other renditions of this story but equally loved this one too. I really loved the Mexican version because it's given me an opportunity to teach my children about other cultures. My daughter was quite curious about the attire as well as the food that was included into the cactus soup.

The watercolored and ink illustrations fit the story perfectly and capture the time and the place in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution quite well. Though not mentioned in the story, readers can learn a little bit of history in the Author's note in the back of the book.
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