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The Empty Pot Paperback – October 16, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Chinese boy with an green thumb wins the emperor's competition; PW praised the "extraordinarily delicate Oriental landscapes." Ages 4-7.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-3-- When the Chinese emperor proclaims that his successor will be the child who grows the most beautiful flowers from the seeds the emperor distributes, Ping is overjoyed. Like the emperor, he loves flowers and anything he plants bursts into bloom. But the emperor's seed will not grow, despite months of loving care, and Ping goes before the emperor carrying only his empty pot. The emperor ignores the beautiful blossoms brought by the other children and chooses Ping, revealing that the seeds he handed out had been cooked and could not grow. This simple story with its clear moral is illustrated with beautiful paintings. Each page contains a single picture, shaped like a stiff, rounded, paper fan and framed in celadon brocade that subtly changes pattern from one spread to the next. Isometric perspective, traditional Chinese architecture, and landscape motifs are combined with Demi's fine line and lively children and animals. While all the landscapes featuring the emperor and the other children are in brilliant red, gold, and purple, the scenes involving Ping alone are predominantly beige and delicate green. Ping is almost always shown as a solitary figure in contrast to the busy groups of running, smiling children, reinforcing theportrait of him as a quieter, more contemplative person whose values make him a worthy heir to the emperor. A beautifully crafted book that will be enjoyed as much for the richness of its illustrations as for the simplicity of its story. --Eleanor K. MacDonald, Beverly Hills Public Library
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 630 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks; 1st edition (October 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805082271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805082272
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 0.2 x 17.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,317,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: School & Library Binding
The artwork in this book is among the most exquisite I've ever seen in a children's book--or for that matter, in ANY book. Whatever the artist was paid, it wasn't enough! Everything--from the 50 or so little boys and girls to their flowers to the kimonos they wore for the presentation to the Emperor--was done in such minute detail, and no duplication in any of it. Each child had a personality and style all their own. Even if your child is a newborn or an infant, this book is worth getting just so the two of you can be dazzled by the visuals.
And the story!--no matter what your religion, creed, or background, the message is timeless. Ping's family and friends all know what a green thumb he has, and you'd think he'd be a shoo-in for Emperor when the seeds are distributed. The flowers DO decide who the next Emperor is. . .but not in the way you might think. There are two very wise men who figure prominently in this story: the Emperor and Ping's father, who tells Ping, "your best is good enough to present to the Emperor." And the unspoken message there is, "I'm proud of you, son, and I believe in you." Three cheers for Ping!
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Format: Paperback
This is a perfect story to teach my little one the value of telling the truth, no matter what that truth may be. I first heard this story on "Between the Lions" and couldn't wait to own it myself. In life, the the truth may not alway win you the prize (as it does in this story) but standing up for what is right is a great quality that I feel is severly lacking in our society today. With this book, let's teach the next generation!
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Format: Paperback
This book amazed me. I picked it up at a garage sale with a stack of other kid's books, and after the first read I was hooked! This book is a treasure. The art is gorgeous and the story is masterfully told. I love the way the author delivers the moral message of the story--it is clear enough that children "get it" but at the same time it's never preachy or moralizing. Children as young as 3 will enjoy the story for it's engaging pictures and the moral message is appropriate for any age.
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By A Customer on November 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
"It's a jungle out there." And it really is. So how are we going to teach our children to live in today's society? I for one am going to teach my children to be honest- no matter what the cost. In the end, as in The Empty Pot, honesty is always the best policy. The setting is ancient China. The emperor loves flowers and is growing old. He needs to find a replacement for his crown. How to find a replacement? Give each child in the village a seed to see who can grow the most beautiful flower of course! Young Ping, who is an outstanding gardner, has little doubt he will grow a great flower for the emperor. The problem is, Ping's seed will not grow. All of the other kids are growing wonderful flowers, but yet Ping is failing. The day finally arrives and the emperor orders all of the children to bring their flowers to be inspected. Ping is ashamed, he has nothing to show. He approaches his father for advice. His father tells him that his pot, although empty of a beautiful flower, is sufficient enough; he did his best and the empty truth must do. So young Ping goes to the village with his empty pot. The emperor, while inspecting the various flowers, looks rather gloom. At last he approaches Ping. He asks Ping why is pot is empty. Ping explains that he did his best to grow the flower but it just would not grow. The emperor smiles and exclaims that he has found his replacement. He goes on to explain that all of the seeds he had given to the children were COOKED and therefore could not grow. Now you tell me, is honesty something you want to teach your children? If so, you will love this book. (By the way, my version is rather condensed and does not do the story nor the illustrations justice). I hope you enjoy it, I know that my children- as well as myself- adore this story.
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Format: Hardcover
Well, I guess 30 **5-Star Reviews** pretty much says it all. This book is just a delight. The artwork is good and the story is mesmerizing for adults and children alike.

As a mom of two young children I especially like that there are teaching points throughout in this book. First, there is Ping's persistence with the seed that just refuses to sprout. He tries again and again with different methods, and never says 'I can't' until there is no time left.

Then there is the fact that Ping and his father set their own standards and don't do what everyone else does. They remain honest in the face of great temptation, and neither looks to others to decide how to act.

[I have used this as a starting point of discussion with my own children to talk about how there will be circumstances in their lives in which other people are doing such-and-such and that they will feel pressured to go along with the crowd --yield to temptation-- but that like Ping we have to act according to what is right.]

Five Stars. Nice Art. Good read-aloud. This book has a great story with good lessons.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A friend of mine told me about this book and I was immediately taken with the story. I love the core point of personal integrity, sincere effort, and honesty in the story. I think that the way the story twists and makes its point at the end is powerful and will stick with its target audience. Heck, it will stick with me. But then I was already taken with those values a half century ago. When I see so many young people willing to cheat to “get ahead” and the idea that the ends justify the means or that getting your agenda implemented “by any means necessary” seems justified, well, I am horrified. This book makes the opposite and more traditional point. I think the traditional value has a longer term importance where the short term getting it all now seems attractive to some in the present, it yields a toxic fruit.

The illustrations for the story are also beautiful and add to the interest children will have in reading the book. This is a story an adult can read with a child many times without wanting to beat their head against the wall, unlike so many children’s books that quickly become torture to read over and over and over again.

I bought several copies for my grandkids and will keep buying them as new grandkids come along. And I will likely give it to other children for gifts, as well. I think it is that good.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
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