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Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul Paperback – 1999
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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The chapters are self-contained stories, which makes it possible to skip over any you find problematic. There's one chapter where the kids make acorn pipes and smoke cornsilk - they get incredibly sick, and it's highly unlikely that any child will decide to emulate them.
There's another one where the children get it into their head that they MUST see the double feature movie, and since they don't have the money they decide to trade in their foil for cash. Lacking enough foil, they decide to cheat the man who owns it, because one of them was told that it's okay to cheat Jews. It's pretty clear from the discussion (how this man is nice and always jokes with them) and from the aftermath (they get paid full price, but there are no smiles and the stone they wrapped the foil over is given back to them, so they know they got caught and aren't being punished, a shameful thing) that they feel guilty and that, in fact, it's not okay to go around cheating anybody... but it's not stated outright and either way, understandably, many parents and especially teachers aren't going to want to bring this issue up at all. I strongly suggest that you read this book before you buy it.
I liked this book quite a bit other than the chapter where they cheat their friend, however, it's so serious that I felt I had to take a star off for that.
"Soup" is essentially an autobiographical account of author Robert Newton Peck's experiences growing up in rural Vermont in the 1920s. While he has no doubt greatly embellished these accounts to make them larger than life in these books, they are enormously fun and charming nonetheless. The young Peck (Rob in the stories) recounts life with his best pal "Soup", so named because he is embarrassed by his real name (Luther) and only comes running when his mother makes the dinner call of "Soup's On!" Hence, his nickname Soup became a permanent ID and also the namesake for this wonderful series of books. Soup is the mischievious ringleader in most of the misadventures, with Rob the younger and more naive sidekick.
My son loved these stories as I read them aloud to him. For road trips, we would find some books from the "Soup" series on tape and listen to those, and they invariably made the miles go faster.
As a parent, I loved the stories not only because they are hysterically funny, but because they are nostalgic and take me back to my own childhood when the pace of life was slower, things were simpler, and children were somehow less worldly wise, without the craving for 24/7 electronic stimulation. Sigh.
Peck imparts a wholesomeness to us in these books and my child never complained that the stories were sappy or lame. We both loved the recurring characters from book to book, such as the boys' teacher, and the portly Miss Bolund, the school nurse who shows up in her tiny, highly unreliable car at regular intervals. There's also the school bully - who happens to be a girl - and can whump just about any boy in the county.
Very occassionally (as in once or twice) there is content that some parents may find slightly objectionable - such as the boys experimenting with smoking or swearing. However, as a christian parent I never found any of these things problematic because the context was always quite clear that what the boys were doing was wrong and the book never comes across as condoning such behavior. It's more like the stories we've heard of kids who try smoking, only to end up turning green and vowing never to touch the foul things again. So, think in terms of Mark Twain...not something that tries to be "hip" by being PG-13, or going to the other extreme and bending over backwards to be politically correct and preachy.
In summary, I whole-heartedly recommend these books. There are a dozen or more in the series. They build on a fine tradition first given to us by Mark Twain in "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn," portraying boyhood the way it was and forever should be.
“Soup” is more of a collection of short stories than an actual novel, unlike some of the sequels that follow it. It was interesting to read about how kids lived in the 1930s, and how they faced some of the same challenges that today’s kids do. Some of the stories deal with topics like lying, stealing, and smoking. I’d be willing to bet that even boys who’ve never been to a farm could identify with most of the situations that Rob and Soup find themselves in.
When I first read this book, I had no idea that it was a memoir. As it turns out, though, there actually was a troublesome boy named Soup, and he grew up to become a minister! I guess it’s true what they say, you never can tell how some people will turn out. But on that subject, have you ever given any thought to what you’d like to do when you’re older? Do you ever enjoy thinking about your friends, and trying to guess what they might grow up to become?
Some things they did was break the church window, cheat Mr. Diskin, and smoke corn.
This is truley one of the best books I have ever read in my life!