Alan Durant, illus. Dale Blankenaar
Noko the porcupine is very tired and hungry. He decides to ask for food from the inhabitants of a small village. However, the villagers are suspicious and refuse so Noko devises a cunning plan. He announces he is going to make quill soup a dish, he alleges he cooks for the king. The villagers hurry to find the ‘extra’ ingredients he requests. In no time at all there is a tasty soup for everyone to share.
This is a great story to read aloud, with the repeated visits to the animals’ houses, an amusing trick and an array of exotic animals such as aardvarks and meerkats. The intricate illustrations contain clues to the villagers lies; the monkeys hiding a box of spare food and the rabbits with carrots aplenty inside their warren.
Based on the European trickster story ‘Stone Soup’ this version is set in Africa.
Share the story
Read the story aloud pausing when your child wants to talk about what is happening in the story or illustrations. After a first read through go back and looking closely at the illustrations, there is a lot to spot, such as what’s going on in the animals’ houses and whether they are telling the truth about having no food.
Your child might like to join in with the animals’ responses to porcupine, when he knocks on their doors and later when he wants ingredients for his ‘quill’ soup.
Talk about the story
Talk about how the animals behaved to porcupine and why they changed their minds.
Look closely for clues to show the animals lied in the pictures (eg monkey hiding a secret store of food)
What would your child say to the animals about how they should behave if they have more hungry visitors?
Should the porcupine have lied to the animals? Why did he do this? What does your child think?
Watch the trailer
Things to make and do
Act it out
Pretend to be porcupine and have a conversation with different animals; perhaps aardvark, pangolin and meerkat.
Using household items and vegetables or other food stuffs make two collections, one of things that are edible (ie vegetables) and things that are not (eg string, cardboard).
With your child choose some things from the edible items to make some soup. Here is one recipe but you can adapt according to vegetables you have available and individual taste
Make a welcome poster
Give your child a piece of A4 paper to design a friendly poster for any future visitors to the animals’ village– talk together about what the ‘slogan’ might be eg Strangers Welcome Here! Then they could decide on an illustration.
Find out more
Find out about more about the book
See the publisher’s website: this also includes downloadable resources and a poster.
Read more books by author Alan Durant
Angus Rides the Goods Train illustrated by Chris Riddell
A Dinosaur called Tiny illustrated by Jo Simpson
Billy Monster’s Daymare illustrated by Ross Collins
Hear Stone Soup read aloud – the European version of the story.
Find out more about the animals mentioned in the story and make a mini book.
You might be able to visit a zoo or wildlife park to see them in real life.
Make an information book
Use information books and the internet to find out more about the African animals listed in the story
Children could make a mini book with a page for each of the animals they have found out about.
The pangolin, for example is an endangered animal. This could lead to a discussion about why different animals are endangered and what we can do to help preserve them.
Perhaps your child might like to adopt an endangered animal to help in its conservation.