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The Story About Ping Paperback – August 25, 1977
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The exceptional illustrations bring the lush Yangtze to life, from Ping's family to the trained fishing birds he finds himself among to the faithfully rendered boats and fishermen. Certainly intended to be read aloud, The Story About Ping deserves a place on every young reader's (or listener's) shelf. (Picture book)
About the Author
Kurt Wiese illustrated almost three hundred books for children. Books he both wrote and illustrated include You Can Write Chinese and Fish in the Air. Both stories were named Caldecott Honor Books, and reflect his experiences as a traveler in China where he lived for six years. Mr. Wiese died in 1974.
Top Customer Reviews
Using deft allegory, the authors have provided an insightful and intuitive explanation of one of Unix's most venerable networking utilities. Even more stunning is that they were clearly working with a very early beta of the program, as their book first appeared in 1933, years (decades!) before the operating system and network infrastructure were finalized.
The book describes networking in terms even a child could understand, choosing to anthropomorphize the underlying packet structure. The ping packet is described as a duck, who, with other packets (more ducks), spends a certain period of time on the host machine (the wise-eyed boat). At the same time each day (I suspect this is scheduled under cron), the little packets (ducks) exit the host (boat) by way of a bridge (a bridge). From the bridge, the packets travel onto the internet (here embodied by the Yangtze River).
The title character -- er, packet, is called Ping. Ping meanders around the river before being received by another host (another boat). He spends a brief time on the other boat, but eventually returns to his original host machine (the wise-eyed boat) somewhat the worse for wear.
If you need a good, high-level overview of the ping utility, this is the book. I can't recommend it for most managers, as the technical aspects may be too overwhelming and the basic concepts too daunting.
Problems With This Book
As good as it is, The Story About Ping is not without its faults. There is no index, and though the ping(8) man pages cover the command line options well enough, some review of them seems to be in order. Likewise, in a book solely about Ping, I would have expected a more detailed overview of the ICMP packet structure.
But even with these problems, The Story About Ping has earned a place on my bookshelf, right between Stevens' Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment, and my dog-eared copy of Dante's seminal work on MS Windows, Inferno. Who can read that passage on the Windows API ("Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous, So that by fixing on its depths my sight -- Nothing whatever I discerned therein."), without shaking their head with deep understanding. But I digress.
And the book really taps into a young child's fears. I remember being thrilled that Ping ran away instead of accepting his punishment--what small child hasn't fantasized about running away? And I remember thinking how terrifying to wake up and find that you were totally lost in the wide world--what child's greatest fear isn't that sort of separation?
I think that's the greatest thing about this story. It's not a tidy, pat treatment of issues like children's anxieties or the value of accepting the consequences of your actions. Rather, it's a tale that provokes imagination--that taps into those fears and ideas without simplifying them. And there are too few books that do this well.
Incidentally, in terms of age, I've just begun reading this book to my four year old, and I think that's been a good age for him to start appreciating it. But I can imagine a much older child enjoying it as well.
The wise-eyed boat, the fishing birds with the rings around their necks, the boy with the wacky hairdo and peculiar barrel tied to his back. The hand-made wicker basket and complete absence of anything material or useless.
It humanized Asians for me in a way that was not only healthy, but induced a curiosity of the region and its peoples that I have still yet to satisfy, even after living for 18 years of my adult life in Northeast Asia. (Maybe I'm still running away from that dreaded spank!)
Every time I see those Peking ducks strung up in those shop windows in Hongkong I can't help but think of Ping and his mother and his father and two sisters and three brothers and eleven aunts and seven uncles and forty-two cousins.
Read Ping to your kids. It just might change their lives!!