Fu Finds The Way

( 1 )


When the warrior Chang challenges young Fu to a duel, Fu panics. His only hope is that the Master will train him, just as he's trained all the young warriors of the village. But instead of teaching Fu to fight, the Master teaches him to pour tea. Fu learns purpose, flow and patience in the process, but will it be enough to defeat the mighty Chang?

With his signature breathtaking art, John Rocco has created a modern parable full of adventure, heart, humor, and a gentle message ...

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When the warrior Chang challenges young Fu to a duel, Fu panics. His only hope is that the Master will train him, just as he's trained all the young warriors of the village. But instead of teaching Fu to fight, the Master teaches him to pour tea. Fu learns purpose, flow and patience in the process, but will it be enough to defeat the mighty Chang?

With his signature breathtaking art, John Rocco has created a modern parable full of adventure, heart, humor, and a gentle message about the importance of focus and finding joy in simple tasks.

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  • Fu Finds the Way
    Fu Finds the Way  

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Fu would much rather play than plant rice. When his father made him replant the crooked rows, an angry Fu ripped out a handful of mud and flung it to the terrace below where it landed on the face of the warrior Chang. Challenged to a dual, a frightened Fu took his father's sword to the Master's house and begged to be taught how to use it. First, the Master said, "You will pour tea." An impatient Fu did as he was told but the Master furthers tried his patience by telling him that he must have a purpose with the tea, feel the flow of it and to be patient. At daybreak Fu had not learned how to use the sword and armed only with a teapot he had to face the warrior Chang. The troops laughed loudly but Fu told them there was always time for tea. He prepared the tea with purpose, let the tea flow, and patiently recreated the same flavor and aroma in each cup. After nine cups of perfectly brewed tea, Chang commended the boy and told him he would not fight one who had the Way. The author learned the art of the tea ceremony from an elderly Chinese lady and through research learned that this approach of doing something with purpose, flow, and patience was also employed in mastering painting and the martial arts. These are practical lessons that can be applied to just about any task or problem to be faced. Handsome watercolors, in rich reds and golds, some rendered in panels, depict the broad landscape of the rice paddies as effectively as the intimate details of the Master's house. Each character is clearly delineated in close-ups that reveal the impatience of the boy, the frailty and wisdom of the Master, and the imposing fierceness of Chang. The pace is slow but children will be inspired by Fu's courage and triumph. Without being didactic, there is a lesson to be learned in the simple tale that children can incorporate into their own lives. This book is best suited for older readers who can comprehend the understated message. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
Publishers Weekly
Fu, a rebellious Chinese farm boy, accidentally provokes the warrior Chang, who challenges him to a duel. With one night to prepare, Fu seeks tutelage from a silver-bearded Master, but the training take a surreal turn when the Master instructs Fu not in swordplay but in how to pour tea. The Master's neck stretches toward Fu like the body of a serpent as he says, “Just as bamboo grows upward to meet the sun's rays, you too must have purpose when pouring tea.” Fu finds himself rowing downstream on a tea leaf; later he appears inside a teapot, looking up at a gigantic Master. “This is crazy,” thinks Fu, but his magical lessons, which teach him the virtue of mental focus, enable him to face Chang armed only with a tea set. Rocco (Wolf! Wolf!) paints rice paddies and jagged mountains with a palette of hazy yellow-greens and browns, using panels and dramatic perspectives to cinematic effect. While the intricacies of the tea ceremony may be unfamiliar to readers, Rocco's prose is concise and he has a wealth of ways to convey information visually in this off-beat tale. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Impatient about his father's criticism of his poor planting, young Fu carelessly tosses away a muddy shoot. Unfortunately, the discard falls onto a warrior named Chang, who immediately sets a duel with Fu for the next morning. Knowing he is not a fighter, Fu goes to the house of the training master, hoping for help. First, the master says, Fu must pour tea. Step by step he takes Fu through the necessary preparation of teapot and cups, the addition of leaves and hot water. He makes Fu repeat the steps properly, emphasizing purpose, flow, and patience. In the morning, Fu finds the lessons better than a sword when he encounters Chang. The long double-page scenes display considerable detail painted in a naturalistic style that seems more Western than Chinese. The characters, including Fu's pet duck, are created with distinct personalities, and these sometimes border on stereotype or caricature. The jacket illustration of the warriors dressed in traditional costume along with the flying dragon, and the introductory double-page scene of mountains and terraces set a stylistic tone. But the solid red cover with its gold-stamped teapot suggests a more elegant narrative. A note by the author explains his impression of the importance of the tea ceremony and the possible lesson to be learned by young readers. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—Some time in the past, in a country resembling China, Fu finds his imaginary adventures more compelling than planting rice in straight rows. When his father tells him to start over, the boy hurls a plant down the hillside where it lands on Chang, a passing soldier of some importance, who challenges the child to a duel. The frightened boy goes to the Master to learn to fight but becomes impatient when his mentor insists on beginning with tea. Throughout the night, the boy makes it over and over, learning to be patient. An author's note mentions the ancient Chinese tea ceremony called Gong Fu, a phrase indicating "any skill developed through great practice." The next morning the child trudges to the duel armed only with the proper tools for tea-making. Chang declines to fight, recognizing that the boy has the Way, an answer reflecting the Daoist philosophy embedded in the imaginative, but somewhat didactic, tale. The illustrations are varied, dramatic, and magical, although the palette is dark with a heavy use of browns and dull yellows. Rocco walks a fine line in his character depictions, particularly of the old man, a stereotypical caricature with thick glasses, a thin beard, and hands hidden in long sleeves. Though some of this story's elements will appeal to the younger children in the target audience, this well-written tale will be best received by older readers, who can appreciate its subtext.—Barbara Scotto, Children's Literature New England, Brookline, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Westerners have long been fascinated with Eastern culture. Still, this tale of a boy whose accidental affront of a fierce warrior results in a challenge may struggle to find an enthusiastic audience. Fu is clearly a small boy with a big imagination. Pretending that his pet duck is a fierce dragon makes him careless in his planting and leads to a reprimand. Frustrated, Fu flings a handful of mud-right into warrior Chang's face. Hoping for help, Fu visits the Master, who has trained many fighters. Rather than instruct him in swordplay, however, the Master teaches Fu how to pour tea with purpose, flow and patience. Miraculously, when they meet, Chang is so impressed by Fu's mastery of the tea ceremony that the fight is forestalled. Rocco's story flows smoothly and his illustrations are rich and appealing, varying full spreads with panels to tell the story. Sepia tones reinforce the story's faraway feel; touches of humor add interest. Nonetheless, the ending feels flat and may not make sense to some young listeners. Best shared by an enlightened adult with a thoughtful child. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423109655
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 989,791
  • Product dimensions: 11.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

John Rocco is the author and illustrator of Moonpowder and Wolf! Wolf! and the illustrator of Alice, by Whoopi Goldberg. He earned his degrees from RISD and The School of the Visual Arts and worked for several years in L.A on such projects as Shrek (as Pre-Production Art Director) and at the Disneyquest theme park. He was the winner of the SCBWI New York Showcase in 2004 and 2007, and the winner of the 2008 Borders Original Voices Award. This story was inspired by a visit to a shop in Hong Kong, where John spotted a beautiful teapot in the window. He had to have tea with the owner, an elderly Chinese woman, before he could buy the teapot. Her deft moments in serving the tea were mesmerizing. "She was not just making tea," John says, "She was making art." John lives with his wife (another children's book author-artist) and daughter in a loft in Brooklyn, NY.
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