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Stone Soup Paperback – September 1, 1986

4.5 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The familiar folktale was first retold by McGovern in 1968. Now Pels has provided new pictures for this simple story about a young wayfarer who tricks an old woman into making him a hearty soup. When she refuses him food, he asks her for a pot of water. Then he puts a stone into it and waits for it to become stone soup. "It's cooking fast now," says the hungry young man, "but it would cook faster with some onions." Soon the old woman has added vegetables, meat bones, barley and butter, musing at the miracle of stone soup. She resembles Tenniel's Red Queen, and has pins and needles sticking in her back; the young man's arms and legs are jarringly angular. Perhaps Pels's idiosyncratic style is too somber for this funny story, making it unnecessarily dark.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2 An "easy-to-read retelling" of a traditional folktale. While it is considerably shorter than Marcia Brown's Stone Soup (Scribners, 1947) and is written in short, declarative sentences, it is also a lackluster retelling that is repetitious and downright tedious to read. It's a bit like being served a big bowl of stone soup without the benefit of meat, vegetables, or any spice. There are only two characters: a young man who is hungry and an old woman who learns about Stone Soup. The elaborate, detailed pastel drawings are evocative, but the perspective is sometimes askew. The old woman looms tall in some drawings while appearing frail and petite in others. The facial expressions often border on the grotesque. Stick to the orignal. Luann Toth, Summit Free Public Library, N.J.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 480L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; Reissue edition (September 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590416022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590416023
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on September 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Stone Soup by Ann McGovern and illustrated by Winslow Pinney Pels is the retelling of an old Grimm Brother's tale whose origin has probably been long lost. It is also known as Nail Soup in Scandinavia, and Axe Soup in parts of Europe. Some traditions, which is somewhat supported, place the origin of the story in Portugal. Originally the story consisted of a group of hungry solders returning from the war, who talked an entire town into providing them with an entire meal using the "stone soup method." The version of the story told here has two characters; a young and poor wondering youth, and a somewhat poor old woman who actually has plenty that he tries to talk out of a meal.

When the old lady refuses our young wondering man a meal, he of course starts with a rock he picked up from the road. After he adds the rock to a pot of boiling water, to make "stone soup" he has the little old lady hooked. He points out that the stone soup would be much enhanced with the addition of some onions. The little old lady of course has onions, so she adds them. This goes on and on like this with one ingredient after another being added at the coaxing of the young man and the curiosity of the old lady increasing as the story progresses. In the end, the young man gets a fine pot of stew, a full belly, and I suspect, after the little old lady thinks about it, she becomes much wiser.

The author has done a fine job in this version of the tale and the illustrations are top notch. The artist has used detailed water colors and has captured the poverty of the youth perfectly. The depictions of the clothing alone are works of art.

This is a great read-along book or one that is good for the child to read to themselves. Both test and illustrations are well coordinated.
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Format: Paperback
I personally prefer Marcia Brown's version of the original story of Stone Soup in which soldiers politely coax villagers into making a delightful soup. I think it is well illustrated and written. It is a fun tale, with a gentle sort of deception that is well meant and shows how one can teach people to cooperate. It teaches that there may be selfish people but that generosity benefits all.

This version, on the contrary, has a rather morbid trickery to it. The characters are grotesque looking, thus unappealing, and this is true of their character as well. I can't see children getting much joy from this. Mine didn't. It also has a rather sordid tone to it. I don't think it is as pleasant nor as instructive.

I don't believe I shielded my children from the realities of life, as appropriate for their ages and level of understanding. One reviewer praised this version of Stone Soup as teaching the harsh realities of life that we should not shield from our children. What nonsense. A well written tale, well illustrated that gives some faith in humans is not unfair to children and equips them with some sense of inner security and hope. And it's just a children's book, after all...not a lesson in life appropriate for older children. Check out the books they have for teens now: not a happy story in any of them. Rape, drug abuse, divorce...all there.

No, I find this book really odd and distasteful and it falls really short of the quality of the Brown version.
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I have read many editions of the Stone Soup story - I bought this one because it was the cheapest price (it was about $3). I don't like this rendition of it. This Stone Soup is about a man who meets an old lady, and it's basically just him and the old lady, and he more or less cons the old lady into supplying vegetables and spices for the soup. The storyline is very weak, and I have read many better editions of this story - I will look into another version of the story of Stone Soup (which is the Chinese version, where egg drop soup is supposedly originated from). Again, my sole purpose when choosing this book over others was because of the price - if that is a selling point of yours, then you will probably be okay with this book because it does focus on the same plot.
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I bought this book for my 6 year old son, based off the reviews, and honestly wasn't impressed. I know it's a "cult classic" pretty much, but I don't see the hype. Basically every page is just listing off the soup ingredients with one new addition. For example: So the old lady added in the bones to the soup containing the stone, the vegetables, the salt, the pepper, the herbs... and so on.

My son actually said while I was reading this, "How come every time they put a new ingredient in they have to list the other 20 ingredients we know are already in there?" Ha ha. The pictures aren't bad, the story is just boring. The whole concept of the story is that a kid was able to trick an adult into giving up her food, so the story line isn't fantastic either.
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Format: Paperback
Stone Soup is a classic story brought to life through the pictures by Winslow Pinney Pels. A young man, a pauper, spies a house that looks like plenty of food could be found there. The old woman who owns the house tells him to go away, she has no food in the house, no food in the garden. The young man asks her for a stone. "A stone, what do you want with a stone," she curiously asks the pauper. "Ah," says he, and he knows he HAS her. As the story unfolds, the young man has the woman adding more and more ingredients to the stone soup the young man is making. Completely duped, until possibly the very end, the old woman is the young man's accomplice in tricking herself into providing the pauper with a "feast for a king." And what will become of the stone, read the story, and find out! You'll enjoy it!
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