Nail Soup, Paperback

Nail Soup Paperback

Illustrated by Paul Hess

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


When a forest traveller knocks at a lonely cottage, hoping to scrounge a bed for the night, a scowling woman appears and says he can sleep on the floor, but declares that she hasn't a morsel of food in the place. "In that case," says the traveller, "I'll have to share what I've got with you." And, taking an old, rusty, four-inch nail from his pocket, he starts to make ...Nail Soup.

In his delightful retelling of this trickster tale known throughout Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, Eric Maddern shows how a merry fellow can soften the heart of even a mean and grumpy woman.

Paul Hess's post-modern illustrations combine to make a book that will bring a smile to the face of everyone who reads it.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 28 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Picture storybooks
  • ISBN: 9781847800299


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In this folktale that was retold from "Favourite Folktales from around the World," a traveler wanders through the snowy forest in search of a place to stay for the night. He comes across a cottage in the woods and convinces the woman who lives there to let him in - though her heart is hard and she does not want to. He then asks for something to eat at which point the woman replies that she has nothing to offer him! He decides to make his own soup... Nail soup. He gathers some water in a pot and plops the nail in. Through a sneaky process of "teaching" the woman how to make nail soup, she ends up gathering potatoes, milk, herbs, and other ingredients for the fine soup. By the time the traveler is done, the soup smells delicious and the two sit down to eat "like the king and queen." Through the process of cooking a meal together, hearts were softened and tongues were loosened, allowing the two to swap stories become friends. In the end, the woman waved at the traveler as he walked back through the forest.