Monday, September 14, 2009

Bone Soup

Written and illustrated by Cambria Evans

Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008

$16, ages 4-8

A skeleton with a ravenous appetite cajoles a village of ghouls into sharing their stash of eyeballs and other foul delights in this clever takeoff of the old French tale Stone Soup.

Finnigan, a cute fellow with wide-set eyes, is always hungry because, of course, he's all skin and bone (though his belly is curiously rotund). He's a drifter, with no kin or house to haunt, and wanders the graveyards in his hoody trying to get in on someone else's feast.

Villagers dread his approach, as they barely have enough food to feed themselves, but since Finnigan is easy to see coming (he brings an eating stool and spoon, and his gigantic eating mouth wherever he goes), they usually have time to hide and booby-trap their food.

On this Hallows Night, thanks to a witch who sees Finnigan heading to town, the townscreatures have time to circulate warning flyers and cross out the town's welcome sign before he arrives. Only a little werewolf who's never heard of him doesn't know to be afraid.

At every door and window, the mummies, beasts, zombies and witches turn him away. But Finnigan isn't one to give up, so he fills the town's largest cauldron with water, sets it to boil, adds in a dry old bone and begins singing about how his magic bone makes any soup tasty.

The townscreatures can't resist coming out to see what all the fuss is about and begin to fall for Finnigan's ploy. Every time Finnigan tastes the broth, he sighs and says how much better the soup would be with an ingredient the villagers have hidden away, and the little werewolf tips him off to which ghoul has it.

Soon the broth is swimming with stewed eyeballs, frog legs, spider eggs, dandelions and toenail clippings. With a dusting of slime and sludge, the soup is ready and the ghouls drink it up, oblivious to his trickery.

Who would have thought a skeleton could be this adorable? This book is just too cute to save for Halloween. In our house, it's always the right season for Bone Soup.

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