Soup — “Soup” Series


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Year Published

Book Review

Soup by Robert Newton Peck is the first book in the “Soup” series. In it, Rob and his mischievous friend, Soup, get into scrapes and have adventures together in 1920s Vermont.

Plot Summary

Robert Newton Peck grew up in rural Vermont in the 1920s. In short sketches, he recalls memories of his adventures with childhood friend Luther Wesley Vinson, aka Soup.

Soup is a mischievous boy who frequently drags Rob into his schemes. In one story, Soup throws an apple at a church window and breaks it. Rob gets blamed for the offense. Another time, he teaches Rob to smoke by lighting corn silk in carved-out acorn pipes. The boys later cheat a Jewish man who buys tinfoil, so they can get money for the movies.

Soup sometimes tortures Rob and others by tying them up with a rope, giving Indian burns and inflicting other painful wounds. Once, he makes Rob roll down a hill in an old apple barrel. Rob talks about other bullies in his stories, like Janice Riker, who pulls down Rob’s britches and inserts a hornet. He also mentions Eddy Tacker, a cruel boy who once urinated on Rob’s dog.

In the last story, Rob admires Soup’s new shoes, which were custom made in Burlington. The boys race, and Rob’s shoes are ruined. Soup lets Rob wear his new shoes to school and promises to give them to Rob when he grows out of them.

Christian Beliefs

When Soup breaks the glass on a Baptist church window, Scripture-quoting congregant Mrs. Stetson chases the boys. After Soup finally gets caught for his crime, and Rob is exonerated, Rob thinks Mrs. Stetson must be right: There is a God.

Other Belief Systems

The boys wonder if they should feel bad about cheating the tinfoil buyer. They think maybe it is alright because he’s a Jew. Someone once told Soup there was no such thing as a good Jew. Rob ultimately feels bad because he knows the man is honest.

Authority Roles

Rob’s mother appears in a few stories, helping Rob get new clothes and spanking him for disrespect to a teacher. The schoolteacher, Miss Kelly, is patient with the rowdy boys.

Profanity & Violence

The word a– appears a few times. While no violence is graphically depicted, Soup and other kids inflict injuries like rope burns. A mean girl sticks a bug up Rob’s nose and pulls down his britches to put a hornet inside.

Sexual Content


Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments

Smoking: Rob and Soup carve acorn pipes and smoke corn silk. Rob notes that parents shouldn’t know everything, such as about their smoking.

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