Stone Soup by Heather Forest

Stone Soup by Heather Forest
Publisher: August House
Genre: Childrens, Historical
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Two hungry travelers arrive at a village expecting to find a household that will share a bit of food, as has been the custom along their journey. To their surprise, villager after villager refuses to share, each one closing the door with a bang.

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In this cumulative retelling of an ancient and widely circulated legend, author Heather Forest shows us that when each person makes a small contribution, “the collective impact can be huge.” Susan Gaber’s paintings portray the optimism and timelessness of a story that celebrates teamwork and generosity. This story about community teaches readers the importance of sharing, generosity and vegetables!

Not everyone can turn a pot of plain water into a nourishing meal.

I thought the two main characters were clever men. The fact that they chose not to reveal anything about their backstories only made them more intriguing to me. It was easy to imagine a few of the places they might have first learned how to create stone soup and why it’s something that can only be done after you’ve made everyone irresistibly curious about what this meal is and why it’s a little magical.

The message of this retelling was heavy handed, and I’m saying that as someone who really enjoyed the traditional story it was based on. This sort of soup can only exist if its made with more than just physical ingredients. Spelling out what those things were wasn’t necessary. The plot itself made it very clear. As much as I liked seeing how the author approached this topic, I do think it would have been more effective if she’d allowed her audience to come to their own conclusions about the meaning of it.

With that being said, I did enjoy the multicultural take on this tale. The original version didn’t mention the ethnicities of any of the characters involved. Even if it had, I always find it interesting to see how a familiar plot might unfold if it’s transplanted from the culture that created it to an entirely new home altogether. Ms. Forest did a good job of showing how the same twists could happen anywhere.

Stone Soup should be read by anyone who enjoys retellings of famous legends

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