It’s winter, here in North America, a season when I often cook soup for supper. But what do those without soup ingredients do? Perhaps, like creatures all over the world, they start with one simple ingredient.
Bone Button Borscht
Author: Aubrey Davis
Illustrator: Dušan Petričić
Publisher/Date: Kids Can Press/1995
Themes: kindness, resourcefulness, Stone Soup, Judaism
Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):
On a dark winter’s night, a poor beggar arrives in town and wanders from house to house seeking food and shelter. But the townspeople–who don’t think they have anything to give–prove to be as cold as weather. Even the caretaker in the synagogue turns him away. Undaunted, the beggar removes five bone buttons from his threadbare coat and announces that he can make a delicious soup–enough to feed the whole town–with just one more button.
Read a review in The New York Times.
Author: Alan Durant
Illustrator: Dale Blankenaar
Publisher/date: Tiny Owl Publishing/2019
Themes: One Story Many Voices, animals, folk tale, generosity, hospitality
Short Synopsis (from Tiny Owl’s website):
Quill Soup is a witty tale about the benefits of sharing our resources, and opening our arms to strangers.
Noko, the porcupine, is very hungry. On arriving at a village, he asks the other animals for some food and shelter. But, despite their full bellies, all the animals say they have nothing to spare. Never mind: he’ll just have to make do and cook a pot of soup from the quills off his back – a soup so tasty even the king likes it. Once the villagers hear of his plan they offer just enough ingredients to make a soup worthy of them all…
This African version of Stone Soup celebrates generosity and kindness – and the message that we can all benefit if we share our resources. It’s part of our One Story, Many Voices series, which explores well-known tales told from different cultural perspectives.
Read my review.
I paired these books because they are both versions of the popular folktale, Stone Soup. Set in eastern Europe in winter, Bone Button Borscht features a beggar who needs one more bone button, a pot, and water to make soup in a village where none of the residents will feed him or bring him in from the cold and even the synagogue caretaker, the shamas, is wary of the stranger and unwilling to help, at first. Set somewhere in Africa, Quill Soup features a cast of animals who, like the villagers of Bone Button Borscht, are wary and unwilling to help a stranger, until he pulls a few quills from his own back to make soup fit for a king. I like how these stories differ in location and some particulars, but both further the message that kindness and sharing help everyone.
Looking for similar reads? Please share your favorite Stone Soup version in the comments.