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Do you know the story of ‘Stone Soup’? A tinker tries to sell a stone that he says is magic and will produce marvellous soup when boiled up with some water. He offers to give a demonstration. After boiling the stone in the water forĀ  a while he tastes it and says that it is delicious but would be even better with some salt. The housewife gives him some salt and after a while the procedure is repeated with an onion, then some carrots and various other vegetables until at last he suggests that a chicken (or rabbit) will really top things off. After tasting the soup the housewife is happy to pay the price asked for the stone.

I first heard this story in church when I was a child. The minister had all the props – pot, stone, vegetables and his daughter’s toy rabbit. His children’s talks weren’t usually particularly interesting so this one stuck in my mind but, for the life of me, I can’t remember what the message behind the story was. Later on, when I was at primary school, my friend and I acted out the story to our class. I played the part of the housewife who is conned by the smooth-talking, stone-selling tinker. I had the pot and the vegetables and a real chicken (courtesy of Tegel). We even visited some friends with chickens to get some feathers so I could pretend to be plucking the chicken.

My next encounter with the story was telling it to a group of children at my son’s school as part of a ‘milo and marshmellows’ book reading evening. I wore my storyteller’s cloak and produced all the items (except the pot) from out of my large pocket.

At storytellers group last month, Claire talked about making a storyteller’s bag to contain props that reminded us of stories – like a story library. Our homework was to work on a story that could be told using a prop from a storyteller’s bag and ‘Stone Soup’ came to mind. I think I will continue to use the pocket in my cloak rather than a bag but I need to find some long-lasting props rather than raiding my pantry each time I tell it. I have checked out a couple of shops for plastic vegetables without much luck so far but I do have my stone. A couple of years ago, my husband and I took 2 of our sons on a tour of the top of the South Island. We came across a beach with lots of lovely stones. I told my sons that they could only choose one stone each only to find that my husband had collected a dozen and was determined to have them all. They have been sitting in his bag at the bottom of the wardrobe for quite some time so I don’t think he will miss this one!

A soup stone

A soup stone

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