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The Story about Ping Paperback – August 28, 2000
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The tale of a little duck alone on the Yangtze River, The Story About Ping is a sweet and funny book with wonderfully rich and colorful illustrations. On a day like any other, Ping sets off from the boat he calls home with his comically large family in search of "pleasant things to eat." On this particular day, he is accidentally left behind when the boat leaves. Undaunted, the little duck heads out onto the Yangtze in search of his family, only to find new friends and adventures--and a bit of peril--around every bend.
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) --This text refers to the School & Library Binding edition.
About the Author
Marjorie Flack first got the idea for her classic story from her first book, written by her friend Helen Lomen. The Peking ducks in Angus and the Ducks so intrigued her that she began researching them. The Story About Ping was the result. She went on to write and illustrate many more children's stories, including Boats on the River, illustrated by Jay Hyde Barnum, which was named a Caldecott Honor Book. Ms. Flack died in 1958.
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.
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Top customer reviews
I love the artwork in this book. It has a (not unexpected) far eastern feel, which really enhances the sense of wonder and adventure. It is neither patronizing nor a caricature of Asian culture, which probably betrays the period in which is was written (As an adult, I would have expected the latter based on its publication date, and the former if it was written today).
The real winner here is the narrative. It treats a young reader with honesty and respect. Ping's actions may make sense in the short term, but have long term ramifications as the story unfolds. It shows a child real life consequences and that admitting your faults can be the best way to go. The story may lack the themes of heroism and non-conformity that dominate today's literature for children, but that is what makes Ping so special. Highly recommended!
I don't know what parents today would make of its plot, given that there is a "smack" given to the last duck up the ramp at the end of each day. Ping hates the smack, hates that it hurts and hates that it marks him as "last" every day. One day he doesn't go home because he's last and doesn't want the smack. On his own, he encounters adventure, grave danger, makes a friend, and finds his way home again, realizing that smack isn't the worst thing that could happen to a duckling who strays beyond the boundaries.
The first picture shows a line of ducks walking off a wooden boat, across a board, to a meadow. Ping is in the middle of the line. The next picture shows the same ducks climbing back into the boat at sunset. The next picture shows Ping's choice not to return the boat, because he was a little late in returning and was afraid of getting a spank from the master of the boat. The last duck on board always got a spank.
The next 20 or so pictures show the consequences of Ping's decision to stay away. Being alone at night. Being lost on the river amidst a group of unfamiliar wooden boats, and not knowing which boat was his. Being captured by a boy. Being imprisoned in a basket on a boat. Being released from the basket by the boy. Spotting his familiar family of ducks from a distance, and swimming back to his boat. Getting a spank.
The narrative begins like this: "Once upon a time there was a beautifil young duck named Ping. Ping lived with his mother and his father and two sisters and three brothers and eleven aunts and seven uncles and forty-two cousins. Their home was a boat with two wise eyes on the Yangtze River."
These opening words remind me of the opening words of another classic, where most of the story takes place on the water: "Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation."
Both books are classics. But THE STORY OF PING is a classic suitable especially for little kids.
My list of "must own" children's books include: THE STORY ABOUT PING by Marjorie Flack, THE LITTLE HOUSE by Virginia Lee Burton, CAPS FOR SALE by Esphyr Slobodkina, the books illustrated by Tibor Gergley, and of course RICHARD SCARRY'S BEST STORYBOOK EVER! by Richard Scarry. Oh, to be the parent of a 2-year old once again!!!