Quill Soup: A Stone Soup Story (Hardcover)
Gather round for soup fit for the king in this vibrant twist on a classic fable.
With brightly colored art and engaging characters, this retelling of the well-known Stone Soup story will captivate young readers. Noko the traveling porcupine arrives in a village. He's denied food and a place to sleep by all the animals he meets. Finally he's granted a fire and a large pot of water. He adds a few of his quills to make his famous quill soup, which he says the king loves! Slowly but surely, everyone contributes ingredients--carrots, beans, and more. Will the soup feed them all?
About the Author
Alan Durant writes fiction for all ages, from preschool prose to poetry for adults. His picture books include Burger Boy, illustrated by Mei Matsuoka. Alan lives with his partner and three children in Brighton, England.
Dale Blankenaar is a full-time picture book illustrator and designer from South Africa. He has illustrated about thirty picture books and has won several awards including the Image of the Book, an international competition for book illustration and design for Quill Soup.
From South African, an animal retelling of the “Stone Soup” folktale.
The stranger in this version is Noko, a porcupine. Having traveled without food “through the Valley of a Thousand Hills,” he arrives in a village hungry. When the villagers refuse him food, he creates a “thick and rich” soup with nothing but hot water and three of his own quills—and, of course, all the other ingredients that the villagers contribute. Impressed by Noko’s claim to have fed this soup to the king, they fork over carrots, mealies, beans, spinach, and more. The king, not present but imagined, is a lion; the villagers are Meerkat, Warthog, Rabbit, and bunches of others. The setting, called a village, is both bustling and ambiguous—an amalgam of village, forest, and jungle. The scenes are intensely crowded and bursting with energy; both animals and backgrounds are styled in two dimensions, so everything overlaps on one plane. These animals aren’t living in a specific static location so much as a world of bright red, yellow, blue, green, black, and white shapes and patterns. Occasionally an element seems industrial, such as small rounded rooms connected by ladders and tunnels that evoke factory pipes, but it’s not definite. Flap copy says that illustrator Blankenaar took inspiration from African sources ranging from broad to specific: “Tanzanian artwork, the wood sculpture of Western Africa, and the costumes and masks of the Bwa people of Burkina Faso.”
Durant’s appealing twist on “Stone Soup” follows the adventures of Noko, a porcupine, who comes to a village after “traveling through the Valley of a Thousand Hills.” Upon arrival, he is delighted—at last, somewhere to rest, and something to eat. The suspicious local animals hide and refuse to give him food, but Noko’s “brain was as sharp as the quills on his back.” When he starts to cook a quill soup and claims that it is beloved by the king, the other animals, impressed, join in—Meerkat finds “mealies” and Pangolin adds worms—to make it just the way His Majesty likes it, and soon enough, there is soup enough for all to share. The book’s greatest appeal is Blankenaar’s vibrant, layered illustrations, which use stylized, blocky shapes and bold shades of red, blue, yellow, green, and black to conjure the bustling biodiversity of South African wild places.
Isla Morley's The Last Blue takes place mainly in 1937 and a bit in the 1970s and is about Havens, a struggling photographer and his reporter sent by Roosevelt to document America’s working class. They are sent to Appalachia and encounter elusive-for-a-reason siblings who are Blue people. The photographer is instantly smitten, falls (literally) head over heels for Jubilee and tries to keep quiet about these folks in the hollers who are “different”. This historical fiction novel indicates clearly the depths of hatred some “right-colored” people have for people who are “different” (poverty, upbringing, skin color) from themselves but is finally, a luminous love story, with Havens learning to let go as Jubilee learns to stand up for herself. When I slow down my reading as I enter the last chapters of a book, I just want to stay within this book’s “walls” and not escape to the real world. - reviewed by Maureen