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Stone Soup


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About the Author

Ann McGovern has written over 35 children's books, including STONE SOUP; several books in the IF YOU LIVED... series; and SCRAM, KID! (Viking, 1974), which won the Horn Book Award. McGovern spent part of her career at Scholastic, where she created the SeeSaw Book Club. McGovern lives in New York City.


The familiar folktale was first retold by McGovern in 1968. Now Pels has provided new pictures for this simple story about a young wayfarer who tricks an old woman into making him a hearty soup. When she refuses him food, he asks her for a pot of water. Then he puts a stone into it and waits for it to become stone soup. ``It's cooking fast now,'' says the hungry young man, ``but it would cook faster with some onions.'' Soon the old woman has added vegetables, meat bones, barley and butter, musing at the miracle of stone soup. She resembles Tenniel's Red Queen, and has pins and needles sticking in her back; the young man's arms and legs are jarringly angular. Perhaps Pels's idiosyncratic style is too somber for this funny story, making it unnecessarily dark. (3-7)

K-Gr 2 An ``easy-to-read retelling'' of a traditional folktale. While it is considerably shorter than Marcia Brown's Stone Soup (Scribners, 1947) and is written in short, declarative sentences, it is also a lackluster retelling that is repetitious and downright tedious to read. It's a bit like being served a big bowl of stone soup without the benefit of meat, vegetables, or any spice. There are only two characters: a young man who is hungry and an old woman who learns about Stone Soup. The elaborate, detailed pastel drawings are evocative, but the perspective is sometimes askew. The old woman looms tall in some drawings while appearing frail and petite in others. The facial expressions often border on the grotesque. Stick to the orignal. Luann Toth, Summit Free Public Library, N.J.

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