Recently while digging through books being donated to the school at which I work, I discovered this wonderful children's book -- or rather, I rediscovered it. I was the storylady at the San Diego Mission Hills Library for many years, and Stone Soup was always high on my list of books I enjoyed reading to the children.
The basic premise is that three very hungry soldiers are on their way back from war. The townspeople see them coming and hide all their food. The soldiers, rather than pillaging and burning, simply ask to borrow a large kettle and some water. They are going to make "stone soup." They find a few choice "soup stones" and toss them in and then begin to boil the water. They declare that it tastes wonderful and all it needs is a little onion, then a little carrot, a little meat, a little cream....etc. Each time they say it is good, but would be better with just a little of something, someone in town supplies them with it. And as the whole town is fed, everyone is amazed at this soup which is made "just from stones!"
I had put this book out in our English room at the school where I am teaching now, but was told I had to do some "doctoring" on the book. The school I'm working in is not a religious school, but there are religious sensibilities. The idea of a soup made with meat and milk offended some Jewish sensibilities. I remember having a mother in San Diego ask me to skip the meat part of the book, as her daughter was a vegetarian.
Whatever your dietary restrictions, and even if you have to doctor this book (as you would doctor a soup to improve it), it's worth having on the shelf. The idea that by combining a little from everyone is a great message. Besides, this book is funny. The pictures are wonderful. The real measure, of course, the kids love it.
For teachers out there, don't forget to bring in a crockpot and make your own stone soup in class.
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