Stone Soup is an old folk tale with versions in many countries including most of Europe, Hungary and Russia. But on this DVD, it becomes a Chinese story, with the travelers changed into three Zen monks. The story, though, of how the villagers learn to share while adding vegetables to the boiling stones is the same. The other stories on this DVD include the Five Chinese Brothers, in which each brother has a power — one cannot be burned, one has an iron neck, one can stretch his legs as far as he ever needs, and so on. These abilities come in handy when they have to band together to save one brother’s life.
Then there’s Lin Po Po, the Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood, in which three sisters outsmart a wolf. The fourth story is The Stonecutter, a tale in which a simple stonecutter learns the folly of being too greedy for power.
All of these stories will appeal to children of any nationality. They are charming and have universal messages about sharing and the strength of family and not wanting too much,
The stories are not animated, but are presented like a digital book, with illustrations for each page and the option to read along. The illustrations will delight not only children but adults as well, especially those who appreciate the delicacy of Asian art. While digitally done, for the first three stories they have the appearance of water colors with very subtle, pastel hues. The Stonecutter has an entirely different and stronger, more vibrant appearance, with very bright colors which will attract very young children.
One small issue is that while the title is Stone Soup and Other Stories From the Asian Tradition, which would seem to indicate that there might be Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese or other Asian stories along with those from China, all four of these stories are Chinese. Why not call it stories from the Chinese tradition, which would be more accurate?
Nevertheless, this is a lovely collection of stories which will be especially enjoyable for beginning readers who can read along as they listen and watch.