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Muth, Jon J.
New York : Scholastic, 2003
IL K-3, RL 4.1
ISBN 043933909X
Click on the book to read Amazon reviews

Jon Muth's "Stone Soup", is an inspirational folklore that is set in a small village of China.  In pursuit of what makes one happy, three monks, Hok, Lok, and Siew travel to a small village where the villagers have suffered through famine, floods, and war and are very weary and untrusting of strangers and of each other.  When the three monks arrive in the small village, the villagers do not greet them but rather close their windows and doors tight.  As the monks knock on the doors of the houses, no one acknowledges them and the houses suddenly grow dark and quiet.  As the monks sit in the center of the village, preparing to teach the villagers how to share and what makes one happy, they began to prepare a pot of stone soup.  As the villagers grow more and more curious, they begin to peer from their windows at the pot in the middle of the village.  One by one, they begin to come out to see just what this mysterious stone soup is all about.  With a little encouragement from the monks and each other, the villagers begin to share their foods and spices, such as onions, mushrooms, garlic, ginger root, soy sauce, mung beans, yams, bean curd and dumplings, with the monks in order to create a deliciously rich soup that they will share with each other.  As the soup finishes cooking, the villagers begin to set up a gathering with tea, lanterns, rice and steamed buns.  That night, they begin to unlock their doors and welcome the monks into their homes for a good night's sleep.  As the sun rose the next day, the villagers all come out to thank the monks for teaching them that sharing actually makes them richer.  And to think that it all started with three small stones! 
 In the Author's note of "Stone Soup", Jon Muth tells the reader that Hok, Lok, and Siew are prominent in Chinese Folklore.  Hok symbolizes good fortune and prosperity.  Lok symbolizes good health, family happiness, and mutual love.  Siew symbolizes longevity, and he brings good health and long life free from stress and obstacles.  The artwork in this particular story also has hidden meanings behind them.  A little girl in the story is dressed in yellow, which is worn only by royalty in long ago China.  There are also noodles illustrated to be shaped like the word that means 'to teach', as well as a pile of three stones in the shape of the sitting Buddha.  The beautiful watercolors in this story, with the combination of Eastern Culture storytelling, begin to tell the story about the power of generosity, through the gift of giving.  (Melanie Schneider,, teacher)
SUBJECTS:     Folklore -- France.

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