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Book Review:    Stone Soup

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Top Pick. This is a children's book that gets the whole family thinking. Jon J Muth has reworked a classic tale with exceptional results. The setting is China, and the goal of the "tricksters" (three monks) is to learn about--and spread--happiness instead of deception for personal gain.

This rich story tells the story of Hok, Lok, and Siew--three monks traveling along a mountain road. The youngest monk, Hok (named after the Chinese deity symbolizing good fortune and prosperity), asks the question, "What makes one happy?", and finds an answer in a little village filled with people who have lost faith and trust in each other. Villagers kept to themselves and would not greet the three traveling strangers. Siew, the older and wiser monk, decides it is time to make "stone soup". This seemingly odd enterprise at first piques the villagers' curiosity, and it isn't long before the monks' modest suggestions for additions to the soup (salt and pepper, carrots, and so forth) stimulate a whole village to share in the making of the soup, and enjoy a feast after the rich soup is made. And so it came to be that "as each person opened their heart to give, the next person gave even more".

This must-read book is beautifully written and illustrated by Jon J Muth.


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Published: 2003 By: Scholastic Ages 3-up  




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Reviewed April 2003  Comments? Email us.

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