I love [a:Marcia Brown|112477|Marcia Brown|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1344263759p2/112477.jpg]! More importantly, so does our toddler Sigourney. At first glance, Stone Soup
might appear bland. Sigourney's drawn to vibrant colors, so when I saw drawings in only black, grey, orange and white, I thought she'd be bored out of her skull during the story. Not so! She oohed, aahed, and scrambled to get closer to the page throughout our readalong.
Questions began to arise almost immediately upon opening the book. Why are the peasants so stingy with their hospitality? Why don't the soldiers seem offended by the peasants' initial refusal to feed and house them? Actually, it makes perfect sense that peasants would hesitate to open their stores of food to even the nicest of soldiers passing through their village. Soldiers are warriors, and very capable of taking provisions by force without the added nicety of asking. Laws might even require that peasants give soldiers whatever they demand. If I was afraid that soldiers might ransack my stores and leave me and my family with nothing to eat, I'd hesitate to throw open my doors to them as well.
The villagers do end up giving generously to their guests, but only after the soldiers prove their willingness to share. Sure, you could say the soldiers dupe them into showing hospitality through their ridiculous "soup from stones" story, but really, who's going to believe such a load of crap? It seems to me the peasants were simply waiting for an excuse to be hospitable. When the soldiers show transparency and approach the villagers as a group instead of as isolated households, the peasants' confidence soars, and the feast and frivolity ensue. Rather than taking, the soldiers receive. Grace trumps grasping; cooperative effort beats isolation - it's an old tale. Brown's interpretation does great justice to the old Stone Soup
folktale. Highly recommended!