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Quill Soup

We’re so excited to share the latest book in our One Story, Many Voices series, Quill Soup! This vibrant animal tale by Alan Durant and Dale Blankenaar tells the story of Noko the porcupine, who goes looking for some food in the jungle. But where does the story come from?

As you may know, Stone Soup is a traditional folk tale found throughout many countries in Europe. In the story, some travellers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travellers. Then the travellers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travellers answer that they are making “stone soup”, which tastes wonderful and which they would be delighted to share with the villager, although it still needs a few more ingredients, which they are missing, to improve the flavour.

The villager, who anticipates enjoying a share of the soup, does not mind parting with a few carrots, so these are added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travellers again mention their stone soup which has not yet reached its full potential. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, the stone (being inedible) is removed from the pot, and a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by travellers and villagers alike. Although the travellers have thus tricked the villagers into sharing their food with them, they have successfully transformed it into a tasty meal which they share with the donors.


There are many versions of this story, which vary from country to country. The travellers are sometimes pilgrims, monks, or soldiers returning from war, and the stone is sometimes replaced by an axe or nails. But the message remains the same: we all benefit when we share our resources with those in need. Traditional stories like ‘stone soup’ offer powerful messages that persist through time and across borders. Quill Soup, which is written by a British author and illustrated by a South African artist, puts the story in an African setting featuring all kinds of amazing animals. Instead of using a stone to make his soup, Noko uses quills from his own back! We hope you enjoy this unique and colourful take on a classic tale.

Quill Soup is out on 20th June 2019!

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