today’s children storybook summary is
Retold and pictured By Marcia Brown
Storyline: Hungry and tired, three soldiers were marching down a strange country road. They were returning home from war. They were dreaming of a good dinner and a place to sleep. They haven’t eaten in two days. As they went down a road lined with tall trees, a settlement showed on the horizon. And, as they drew closer, their hopes to find a “a bite to eat” and a “loft to sleep in” grew bigger.
At the other end of the road there was a village and the people living there weren’t found of strangers at all. They were afraid they’ll be asked for food and they didn’t think they had enough for themselves, let alone for others. So, they hide their food wherever they could.
When the soldiers arrived, and when they went around asking for something to eat, the villagers said there was none. There has been a poor harvest, said one family, they had given all the food to the soldiers that came before, said another, there are too many people to feed, complained another family, or a sick man to take care of, said yet another. All the people from the village were putting on a good show in front of the strangers, pretending to be very hungry.
After a short conference, the three soldiers turned to the people who were surrounding them and said that, since there’s no food left, they must make a soup from stones. They asked the villagers to be so kind and bring them the biggest pot they own.
Puzzled, the settlers complied. Soon, a large pot filled with water was bubbling on a fire set on the village square. Then, the soldiers asked for three round and smooth stones, which the people promptly brought, bewildered. But the soldiers were not only hungry, but very clever. Speaking among themselves, they were saying how good such a soup would be if it just had a little salt and pepper. Still eager to see how one can eat stone soup, the villager promptly brought the two required spices. Daring further, the soldiers then mention carrots, then cabbage, going as far as beef and barley, and commenting that such soup was last served when the king dined with them. The villagers were now impressed. Not only they had brought out the food they had, giving up to the wittiness of the strangers, but they were regarding them as VIP’s.
By the time the stone soup was ready, the people were setting up large tables in the plaza and bringing bread and cider, and soldiers and villagers were having a very good time together, eating, dancing and drinking (of course. Even if this is a children’s book, drink is not excluded, how else little kids can later become alcohol consuming adults!). More, when the party was over and they all went to sleep, the soldiers, that were now called “wise and Splendid gentlemen”, were given the best places to sleep, which was more than they had asked for.
In the morning, the whole village gather to say goodbye to the soldiers. They were grateful for having learned how to make stone soup, one thing they need it as to “never go hungry”, as they put it, watching the soldiers leave merely down the road.
P.S. There are many versions of this old folktale and more than one authors have retold it. This is just one of that many versions.
Characters: three canny soldiers, hungry, tired but full of resources; the people from the village
Illustration: Marcia Brown is also the illustrator of this book. Her depiction is clean, realistic and very focused. She only uses three colors and their shades: orange, black and grey. Through the pages of the book you can see distinctive faces that you can recognize letter. She also does a nice job dressing the characters in an old style of clothes, which is one of the multiple ways of teaching children about the past. Overall a very nice book, with a lot of lessons to learn.
Recommended Age: 7 to 10
Reading Time: 8 minutes
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