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The Magic Pillow Hardcover – June 3, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1–5—One snowy night in ancient China, a poor boy named Ping becomes lost while searching for firewood. A friendly innkeeper offers him shelter and food, while a great magician, also staying at the inn, entertains him. When he hears the boy express longing for wealth, power, and fame, the kindly man offers him a pillow that will grant his wishes. Sleeping on the pillow, which is decorated with the Taoist yang/yin symbol, Ping dreams of a long life. He commands an army, becomes prime minister, loses everything only to regain it once more, then watches his sons and grandsons repeat the cycle. In the end, "Money was like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, power was like a flickering lamp, and fame lasted no longer than a bubble in a stream." Ping wakes to find his circumstances the same as they were, but his heart at peace. Demi sets her characteristic tightly drawn, flat-colored figures inside golden circles. Showing the fortunes of Ping's dream descendants, she fills the circles with repeating figures, decoratively visualizing an endless cycle of existence. A detailed note identifies the source for her story. The lesson Ping learns is central to Taoist and Buddhist thinking, so the book would pair nicely with Jon J. Muth's Zen Shorts (Scholastic, 2005) and Ed Young's Night Visitors (Philomel, 1995) where an introduction to East Asian thought is part of the elementary curriculum. However, adults may appreciate the book's message more than children.—Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
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From Booklist

In China, Ping is happy with his family’s modest circumstances until he meets a magician who amazes him with an illusion of diamonds. Suddenly Ping desires “money, power, fame, and everything life can offer,” but the magician cautions him, offering a pillow for the evening.  Ping’s dreams show how wealth and power lead to an endless cycle of greed, envy, and war for him and his descendants. In the morning, Ping awakens, grateful for his humble life. Demi’s dainty, jewellike art is the perfect vehicle for this story, adopted from a Shen Jiji short story. Rendered in traditional Chinese paints and inks and framed in her characteristic gold borders, the pictures of Ping’s early life have a graceful simplicity while the nightmarish dream scenes intensify with entanglements. The concluding moral explains,“He who finds peace in his heart has found his palace of gold.” Grades K-3. --Linda Perkins
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416924701
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416924708
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By J. Grambo on June 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Once upon a time in China, there was a poor boy named Ping. His family worked hard and they were happy together. One winter day when Ping was far from home, it started to snow so heavily that Ping realized that he would not be able to get home, so he spent the night in an inn. Also staying at the inn was a magician who performed marvelous tricks, conjuring up dragons, diamonds, and jewels of light. Ping was suddenly sad, knowing he would never be wealthy enough to have those things. When he saw Ping's sadness, the magician gave Ping a magic pillow to sleep on for one night, so Ping could dream of what his life would be like with a multitude of riches. What a surprise for Ping!

This folktale teaches a basic Buddhist philosophy of appreciating what you have and not wishing for more. Demi illustrates the tale in glorious detail, using Chinese paints and inks. Although presented as a picture book, it is more appropriate for children old enough to understand the underlying philosophy. Ages 7-10.
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Format: Hardcover
Acclaimed writer and illustrator Demi presents this adaptation of an old Chinese folktale about a boy named Ping who lives in poverty and learns what it means to have true happiness. Ping's family resides on a tiny plot of land and depends on Ping to collect firewood in the mountains. One day as Ping is engaged in this work, a heavy snowfall prevents him from returning home and he seeks shelter at an inn. Although a warm meal from the innkeeper and a magic show by a great magician temporarily distract Ping from his woes, he soon becomes sad again. Puzzled by the sadness, the magician talks with Ping and learns that Ping believes his family's economic hardship will prevent him from becoming a great person with money, power, and fame. The wise man knows better, of course, and lends Ping a magic pillow that gives him new insight into the downside of money and the source of real happiness.

This splendid book gives parents and teachers an excellent vehicle for teaching about scarcity, one of the first economics concepts to which younger children are exposed in school and in their daily experiences. Many readers will recognize and appreciate the artist's unique style, with intricate images, bold colors, and gold tones. The Magic Pillow offers an unrivaled opportunity to expose children to exquisite art work and an important lesson about money all in one sitting.
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By aiden james on January 20, 2016
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The nicest story w beautiful illustrations
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By Scott H. on September 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book arrived in a timely manner and I'm happy to have it as part of my collection.
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