Stone Soup with Mat­zoh Balls: A Passover Tale in Chelm

Maryam Tabatabaei, illus.
  • Review
August 21, 2014

A famil­iar folk­tale, Passover-style. When a hun­gry stranger arrives in Chelm, the poor and some­what stingy vil­lagers have noth­ing to offer. So the stranger offers them soup— chick­en soup with mat­zoh balls — which he will make with noth­ing more than a stone. Before long, of course, the wily vis­i­tor is able to coax from the vil­lagers some salt, an onion, car­rots, and so on. When the soup is almost fin­ished, he pro­pos­es to serve up mat­zoh balls so big and heavy they’ll sit in your bel­ly like rocks all eight days of Passover.” This, of course, won’t do, and the wise peo­ple of Chelm donate their own mat­zoh balls, so light they can almost fly.” The minute you open the pages of this book, you’ll think, But of course, Stone Soup set in Chelm!” It’s a nat­ur­al fit for a sto­ry about gulli­bil­i­ty — even more so, giv­en the Passover injunc­tion: Let all who are hun­gry, come and eat. Glaser gets a nice rhythm going; her humor­ous, sub­ver­sive tone is a per­fect match for the sly wit of the sto­ry. The appeal­ing, soft-edged illus­tra­tions offer lots of dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on the action — though one might have wished for a brighter palette. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 4 – 8.

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