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From The Asian Reporter, V14, #15 (April 6, 2004), page 14.

Your best is good enough

The Empty Pot

By Demi

Scholastic, 1990

Paperback, 30 pages, $6.95

By Josephine Bridges

"Along time ago in China there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom." When the old Emperor, who also loves his garden, must choose a successor, he gives seeds to all the children in his land. "Whoever can show me their best in a yearís time," he says, "will succeed me to the throne."

Ping is sure he can grow "the most beautiful flower," but his confidence is short lived. He plants the seed carefully and waters it day after day, but nothing happens. He tries a bigger pot, but still, nothing grows.

"By and by the whole year passed. Spring came, and all the children put on their best clothes to greet the Emperor. They rushed to the palace with their beautiful flowers, eagerly hoping to be chosen." Only Ping is ashamed, but his father gives him wise counsel: "You did your best, and your best is good enough to present to the Emperor." And how.

The ending is too good a surprise to give away. Youíll just have to read The Empty Pot, but this wonít be a hardship. Demiís circular illustrations help young readers picture the long ago and far away. I especially liked the depiction of Ping and his empty pot beneath a snow-laden bamboo. Just so the Asian idea of the value of emptiness rests lightly on this lovely fable.

 

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