Cover image for Stone soup
Stone soup
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, c2003.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : color illustrations.
Reading Level:
560 L Lexile
Three hungry men charm a poor village into making enough soup to feed them all.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book EASY MUT 0 1
Book EASY MUT 0 1
Book EASY MUT 0 1

On Order



Three strangers, hungry and tired, pass through a war-torn village. Embittered and suspicious from the war, the people hide their food and close their windows tight. That is, until the clever strangers suggest making a soup from stones. Intrigued by the idea, everyone brings what they have until-- together, they have made a feast fit for a king!

In this inspiring story about the strength people possess when they work together, Muth takes a simple, beloved tale and adds his own fresh twist.

Author Notes

Jon J. Muth is a children's author and illustrator. His books have received numerous awards and critical acclaim. Stone Soup, a familiar tale set in China won a National Parenting Book Award.

Books he has illustrated include Come On, Rain!, which won the Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators in 1999, Gershon's Monster, and No Dogs Allowed. Zen Shorts is a New York Times Bestseller, a Quill Award nominee, and was awarded the 2006 Caldecott Honor. Zen Ghosts was published in September 2010 by Scholastic Press. His title, Hi, Koo!, is a New York Times Bestseller for 2014 and was published by Scholastic Press, as well.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3-Jon Muth's handsomely re-imagined traditional folktale (Scholastic, 2003) about building trust and community is set in a small Chinese village. Here the people have become distrustful and selfish and close their doors not only to strangers but to each other. The arrival of three monks, the promise of soup from a stone, and the bravery of a young girl reunites the community. The story comes to life in this iconographic production that creates the illusion of movement and allows viewers to focus on particular elements of Muth's rich watercolor illustrations (e.g., the young child's yellow jacket). BD Wong's even tone ideally complements the images and enhances the tale. An interview with the author/illustrator provides even greater insight into his work, his recasting of Stone Soup, and his interest in Asian art. A worthy addition to children's collections.-Maria Salvadore, formerly Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

With the same aesthetic grace he displayed with Tolstoy's The Three Questions, Muth here transports a classic tale to rural China. The setting not only allows his evocative, impressionistic watercolors to play over mist and mountains but also affords an opportunity for Buddhist underpinnings. Three monks of varying ages stop at a village where hard times have made people suspicious; in Muth's full-bleed spreads, even the houses appear to look down with disdain. Famine and other hardships have bleached the faces and hearts of the villagers; the tea merchant, the seamstress and the carpenter whose closet bulges with hoarded vegetables all appear caught in Muth's vignettes as if by a photographer's flash. Only a little girl, her cheerful yellow coat a beacon in the gray landscape, approaches them. She helps them find three smooth stones-shown in a close-up, piled and teetering in the harsh winter light (an endnote explains that they form the shape of the sitting Buddha). Soon, the pure hearts of the monks move the other villagers to generosity, and cloud ear, mung beans, ginger root and more join the stones in the pot. In the endnote, Muth invites readers to find the Chinese symbols embedded in the art and explains that in the Buddhist story tradition he borrows from, tricksters "spread enlightenment rather than seeking gain for themselves." And while the tale of "Stone Soup" can be told to make fools of the villagers, here it becomes an offering as generous as Muth's villagers turn out to be. Ages 6-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(Primary) Three wandering Buddhist monks investigate the nature of happiness by feeding the wary, selfish inhabitants of a Northern Chinese village soup made from three stones. Sound vaguely familiar? Muth sets his version of the well-known European folktale in the early years of Qing Dynasty China. Wars and famines have made the villagers justifiably reluctant to welcome strangers, even monks, and so suspicious they hoard food from one another. Muth's muted blue-and-gray watercolors are ideally suited to portraying the inhospitable village, swathed in mountain mists, as well as the appealing girl in her bright yellow jacket who breaks the ice and draws the other villagers from behind their locked doors to contribute ingredients to the soup. Carrots and onions are followed by cabbages, pea pods, noodles, mushrooms, dumplings, bean curd, cloud ear and mung beans, winter melon, taro root, ginger, soy sauce and lily buds--a mouthwatering celebration of Chinese cooking. The monks' effort at community development triumphs as the villagers happily feast together at one very long table, then watch a shadow puppet play accompanied by music played on traditional Chinese instruments. In a detailed author's note, Muth explains how he meshed ""the Buddha story tradition, where tricksters spread enlightenment rather than seeking gain for themselves"" with a story rooted in European folklore. His respect for Chinese people and their culture makes this serving of fusion cuisine delicious and satisfying. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

K^-Gr. 2. Muth freshens a familiar folktale with a change of setting. Three Zen monks arrive in a Chinese mountain village where hard times have made villagers distrustful of strangers and selfish toward one another. Undeterred by a lack of welcome, the monks set about preparing dinner soup, which, as the story traditionally goes, draws the villagers from their sheltered homes with ingredients to enrich the pot, thereby reinvigorating the community. The muted, unexceptional telling is less successful than the expressive pictures, which bloom in color as the soup thickens; the misty grays and blues of the mountains and empty village square gradually become vibrant, climaxing in a spread of villagers eating at a crowded, seemingly endless table, enjoying food and one another's company beneath the glow of red lanterns. A note at the back explains Muth's change of venue. An unusual version that kids will want to compare to other adaptations of the story. --Stephanie Zvirin