Greatest Power

( 1 )

Overview

Emperor Ping, the boy emperor known for his love of harmony, sets a challenge to the children of his kingdom: show him the greatest power in the world. "To know the greatest power in the world is to know the greatest peace," Emperor Ping announces. "Whoever knows this harmony will become the new prime minister."
The children get to work right away and have many bright ideas. The greatest power must be weapons! It must be beauty! It must be ...

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Overview

Emperor Ping, the boy emperor known for his love of harmony, sets a challenge to the children of his kingdom: show him the greatest power in the world. "To know the greatest power in the world is to know the greatest peace," Emperor Ping announces. "Whoever knows this harmony will become the new prime minister."
The children get to work right away and have many bright ideas. The greatest power must be weapons! It must be beauty! It must be money!
But as a young girl named Sing reflects upon the challenge, she wonders how any of those things, which cannot last forever, could be the greatest power in the world. She is certain there is something even more powerful, and the source of this power will surprise and delight her.
A companion to Demi's stunning picture book The Empty Pot, The Greatest Power continues the story of Ping now that he has become an emperor. With striking artwork and a lovely, lyrical text, this next chapter in Emperor Ping's life is sure to enrapture young readers.

Long ago, a Chinese emperor challenges the children of his kingdom to show him the greatest power in the world, and all are surprised at what is discovered.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a fable similar to her The Empty Pot, Demi uses an emperor's riddle to demonstrate The Greatest Power. The boy emperor Ping asks the children of the empire to discover the world's greatest power as a test of their abilities. While many choose weapons, beauty or money, one girl takes a different path and proves that life itself is the greatest power. The gold gilt illustrations, set in large circles on each page, provide an elegant balance to the tranquil text and wise conclusion. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In a companion book to The Empty Pot, boy emperor Ping, seeking to bring the harmony of the heavens to his kingdom, announces a year-long competition among all the children in his kingdom to discover the greatest power in the world and bring to him some symbolic representation of it. The children launch into a busy, bustling, gender-stereotyped frenzy: the boys build toy weapons to symbolize their claim that power lies in weapons; the girls devise elaborate costumes to symbolize their claim that power lies in beauty. But one meditative little girl, Sing, comes up with the answer that pleases the emperor. She brings him a lotus seed containing "nothing." Sing delivers a lengthy speech on the theme that "The nothing in this seed is the space where life exists" and "Life is the greatest power in the world." Demi's numerous, tiny, detailed illustrations of the children's various activities give young readers much to look at, and the spreads in which Sing sits alone contemplating the beauty of a lotus garden, and of the starry heavens, are lovely. But it seems an unwise strategy to encourage harmony through an extensive, frenetic, divisive competition. And Sing's ponderously proclaimed point that the origin of all life lies in "nothing" seems obscure and, at the least, dubious. 2004, Margaret K. McElderry, Ages 5 to 8.
—Claudia Mills
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-This companion to Demi's The Empty Pot (Holt, 1990) continues the story of Ping, who is now emperor. He desires to bring the harmony of the heavens, which he views through his telescope, to his kingdom. He issues a proclamation inviting all of the children to participate in a quest culminating in a year's time, when "we shall have a great parade, and- each of you will show me what you think is the greatest power in the world." The emperor concludes cryptically, "A wise person must be able to see the unseen and know the unknown." Some youngsters determine that weapons are the answer, while others suggest beauty, technology, or money. Only young Sing ponders Ping's words. In the end, she is inspired by the lotus seed and breaks it in two for the emperor, showing him that the greatest power is life: "The nothing in this seed is the space in between where life exists." This cycle of life is perfect harmony. Ping is pleased and declares her prime minister. As in the earlier book, this one has a rich palette, attention to detail, and delightful depictions of youngsters. Though the concept of this offering is worthy of discussion and reflection, the story teeters too heavily on the abstract. The Empty Pot was a magical tale-simple, poignant, and easily understood by young and old. The Greatest Power can spark philosophical discussion but not with a clear and accessible story.-Linda M. Kenton, San Rafael Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this portentous sequel to The Empty Pot (1991), Demi spins a thinly plotted original tale into a panoramic view of Chinese contributions to science and culture, capped by a confusingly presented-not to mention arguable-philosophical proposition. Inspired by the Heavens' harmony, boy-emperor Ping decides to bring harmony to his kingdom by choosing as Prime Minister, the child who can discover the greatest power in the world. Within circular compositions, Demi strews dozens of tiny, precisely rendered children who, depending on their convictions, proceed to make weapons or beautiful clothing, create an array of inventions and technological achievements, or build a statue of Guan Yu, god of money. Only young Sing does not make something; instead, bringing up the rear of the colorful climactic parade, she shows Ping a lotus seed, breaks it open (no mean feat, that), and explains that the life which grows from the "nothing" within is the greatest power. Of course, she gets the job-but even readers inclined to accept Sing's rather narrow view at face value will be left scratching their heads over the obscure way she presents it. Pretty, but not up to the author's standard. (Picture book. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689845031
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 799,420
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Demi is the award-winning creator of numerous books for children, including The Empty Pot; Buddha; The Dalai Lama; The Legend of Saint Nicholas; Gandhi, which was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award; and Muhammad, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice selection, one of the Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth, and a Book Links “Lasting Connections” selection, and was cited in a Publishers Weekly starred review as a “timely, exceptionally handsome biography [that] serves as an excellent introduction to Islam.” Demi lives in Carnation, Washington.

Demi is the award-winning creator of numerous books for children, including The Empty Pot; Buddha; The Dalai Lama; The Legend of Saint Nicholas; Gandhi, which was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award; and Muhammad, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice selection, one of the Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth, and a Book Links “Lasting Connections” selection, and was cited in a Publishers Weekly starred review as a “timely, exceptionally handsome biography [that] serves as an excellent introduction to Islam.” Demi lives in Carnation, Washington.

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