Today for the last Perfect Picture Book post of 2019, I’m happy to share a new-in-2019 book that I picked up on a quick trip to London this fall. Enjoy & happy reading this holiday season! I look forward to sharing more Perfect Picture Books in 2020!
Title: Quill Soup
Written By: Alan Durant
Illustrated By: Dale Blankenaar
Publisher/Date: Tiny Owl Publishing/2019
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: #OneStoryManyVoices, animals, folk tales, generosity, hospitality
Noko the porcupine was hungry and tired. He’d been travelling through the Valley of a Thousand Hills and hadn’t eaten for days. He saw a small village ahead and his spirits lifted.
“Food and shelter at last,” he thought.
When Noko the porcupine arrives tired and hungry in a village, none of the animals offer food to him, until he shows them how to share.
Links to Resources:
- Host your own “stone soup” party with friends or family;
- Discover several activities and resources at Tiny Owl Publishing;
- View the book trailer.
Why I Like this Book:
Set in a colorful, jungle-filled village in Africa and peopled with a variety of animals, Quill Soup is a delightful retelling of the classic tale of the stranger denied food who shows the villagers how everyone benefits when resources are pooled and shared.
With a brain “as sharp as the quills on his back”, hungry Noko, the porcupine, knew that the villagers had food they weren’t sharing. But how could he get some of it?
In the classic stone soup tale, of which Quill Soup is a variant, the stranger finds a stone to start a soup. Here, though, Noko gives of himself, literally pulling quills from his own back to start the soup. In addition, he tells the villagers that this quill soup is just like his Majesty the king likes it. Who could resist wanting to add to a soup that will be shared with the king? Certainly not these villagers!
You can probably guess how the soup, and the story, end. But I think you and your children will enjoy reading each page of the journey and discussing the issues raised, including what if feels like to be an outsider and a hungry stranger, and how by sharing everyone benefits.
Blankenaar’s colorful and highly-detailed illustrations are based on African art to complement the setting of the story. Young and old will enjoy searching for and counting the many animals within each spread.
A Note about Craft:
Quill Soup is part of Tiny Owl’s #OneStoryManyVoices series, that also includes Cinderella of the Nile.
Set in Africa, the main character, Noko the porcupine, is a stranger who gives of himself to show others how to share. By changing the characters to animals, Durant enables Noko to literally add part of himself to the soup. I love this added element to the basic “stone soup” story and the reminder of how newcomers enrich our society. I also love how Blankenaar highlights Noko’s otherness by portraying him in shades of gray and black, even as all of the other characters are so colorful.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!