Stone Soup: A Folk Tale Illustrated by Jess Stockham



stone soup

There are dozens of variations of the story ‘Stone Soup’, some more light-hearted than others. The particular version I have read is a ‘lift the flap’ book, illustrated by Jess Stockham. The characters in this version are all animals and the story is light and lovely – so appeals to children.


On a cold winter’s day, a group of weary wanderers arrive in a small village. They are tired and hungry and hoping for some generosity from the villagers. Unfortunately, times are tough and none of the villagers can spare any food for the wanderers. They are asked to move on.

The leader of the wanderers tells them not to worry, he will make a big pot of stone soup and feed the entire village. All he requires is some wood to get a fire started.

With the promise of a hot meal, the villagers manage to find enough firewood to make the fire and then the cook adds the stone to a pot of water.

After some time, he tastes it and decides it needs salt. One of the villagers remembers he may have some salt and runs off to get it.

The same thing happens with parsley, carrots, pepper and so on.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. The whole village contributes and they then all share in this delicious, hearty soup.

Before the wanderers leave town, they gift the stone to the villagers, reminding them it only works if everyone contributes; the cook then grabs another stone from side of the road – they just may need it in the next town, too!

Why I love it:

This is such a perfect story for discussing and illustrating the point that we are always better when we come together and work as a team. On their own, none of the villagers had enough for a meal, but together, they made plenty to share.

This would be a lovely book to read before all joining in to make a big pot of vegetable soup for dinner one night!

Themes to discuss with your child:

  • Sharing
  • Teamwork
  • The expression, ‘It takes a village.’
  • Generosity
  • Togetherness
  • The effect of going without
  • Kindness
  • The ‘good’ kind of lying or trickery

Questions to ask your child:

Before reading:
  • What do you think this book might be about?
  • Do you think this is a fiction book (a story) or a non-fiction book (facts)?
  • Is this a book you want to read? Why/why not?
  • What can you see in the pot on the cover?
  • Does ‘stone soup’ sound appealing to you?
  • Looking at the picture on the cover, which animals do you think are making the stone soup? How can you tell?
  • In what season is this story set? How can you tell?
After reading:
  • Did you enjoy this story? Why/why not?
  • What do you think is the main message, or moral of the story?
  • Why do you think the villagers were unfriendly when the wanderers first arrived?
  • Do you think the villagers were happier by the end of the story? Why?
  • Do you think the stone was a special stone for making soup, or do you think it was just a normal stone? What makes you think this?
  • Why do you think the cook leaves the stone with the villagers? What is he hoping they will do?
  • Why does the cook collect another stone on his way out of town?
  • What is your favourite kind of soup?

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