By Jon J. Muth
Published by Scholastic Press
ISBN #9780439339094, 043933909X
Jon J. Muth has taken traditional European folklore, set it against an ancient Chinese background, and allowed three Zen monks to lead us on a journey of enlightenment. In this version of “Stone Soup,” the monks, who represent health, wealth and prosperity, come across a village depleted of all three. Unable to entice the hospitality of any of the villagers, the three monks set about making a simple pot of stone soup. It is not until the heroine of the story comes along, a little girl dressed in yellow, symbolic of someone special, that their soup is able to come to life. What begins with the innocent curiosity of the villagers quickly turns to an innate desire to contribute, and soon the monk's simple soup is transformed into a delightful feast for all to share.
The soft watercolour illustrations infused with radiant tones and cultural symbolism will maintain the interest of any aged reader, and the simple profound message escapes few. Happiness and contentment is achieved by sharing and working together.
Aside from rich discussions about an important moral, this book provides a whole host of opportunities for a parent to engage with their young reader in order to bring this story to life. Literacy acquisition comes naturally following a love of reading, and that can be fostered when a parent allows books to lead conversations that a child can make relevant to their own lives. From carrots to mung beans to lychee nuts, Stone Soup is diverse enough to spark any child's imagination. Explore the grocery store, and create your own version of stone soup with your little one. Better yet, invite the neighbours to contribute and create a sense of community in your own kitchen, authentic to the story itself.
Learning to read is about more than simply reading the words on the pages of a book. It is about interacting with the story and gaining something from the experience. It is this kind of experience that will truly foster a love of reading.
To learn more about Jon J. Muth, visit: http://www.jonjmuth.com/muth.html