An award-winning artist adds a Zen twist to a favorite tale. As three monks travel along a mountain road, they encounter villagers ravaged by harsh times, making them cold to strangers. When the monks entice them to make soup from stones, the villagers discover how much they have to give. Full color.
I have read other versions of the Stone Soup story, but this one by Jon Muth is my favorite! Traditionally a European tale, it transfers beautifully to China and is beautifully augmented by traditional eastern philosophy. I love the gentle way the traveling monks interact with each other and with the villagers. Upon entering the village, the monks find that all the doors in the village are closed to them and decide to brew some stone soup. While the small act of three travelers preparing a simple meal for themselves is a simple beginning, the way that they attract the attention and help of the whole village seems like a wondrous miracle. Muth’s lustrous watercolor illustrations which alternate between full-page spreads and effective use of white space are brilliant—the villagers are individually imbued with so much personality!
At our house, we are all about family meals, sharing those meals with friends and family, and the happiness and joy that results. Almost any book that celebrates the joy of a shared meal is a win for us!
Jon J Muth’s enchanting picture books include his Caldecott Honor Book Zen Shorts and four companion books featuring Stillwater, Koo, and their wonderful young friends. His book The Three Questions, based on a short story by Tolstoy, was called “quietly life-changing” by The New York Times Book Review. And The Horn Book called Jon’s Stone Soup “delicious and satisfying.” His exquisitely beautiful books have been translated into more than fifteen languages and are cherished by readers of all ages. Jon lives in New York State with his wife and their four children.