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The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale

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Overview

When a boy goes to the market to buy food and comes home with an old wok instead, his parents wonder what they'll eat for dinner. But then the wok rolls out of the poor family's house with a skippity-hoppity-ho! and returns from the rich man's home with a feast in tow!

With spirited text and lively illustrations, this story reminds readers about the importance of generosity.

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Overview

When a boy goes to the market to buy food and comes home with an old wok instead, his parents wonder what they'll eat for dinner. But then the wok rolls out of the poor family's house with a skippity-hoppity-ho! and returns from the rich man's home with a feast in tow!

With spirited text and lively illustrations, this story reminds readers about the importance of generosity.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by the Danish folktale, The Talking Pot, Compestine's (Boy Dumplings) jaunty story takes place long ago in Beijing, which Serra (A Pirate's Night Before Christmas) portrays as a bustling, cheerful village. On Chinese New Year's Eve, a poor couple send their son to market to trade their last eggs for rice so they can make a meal for their neighbors. Instead, Ming swaps the eggs for a smiling, singing wok that boasts, "I am more than what you see!" The wok hops off to the home of a stingy rich family whose servants fill it with food, then delivers the feast to the needy family, chanting, "Skippity-hoppity-ho!/ To the poor man's house I go." After the sneaky wok brings them the greedy rich son's toys and gold the man has cheated others out of, Ming's family shares their bounty with poor villagers. The sight of the insouciant wok carrying away the miserly family—stuck inside headfirst, legs waving in the air—will make kids snicker. They'll also chime in, since the wok's refrain begs for audience participation. Ages 6–8. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—Part "Jack and the Beanstalk" and part "Robin Hood," Compestine's satisfying tale of a poor family's good fortune is actually a retelling of a Danish tale, "The Talking Pot." Ming is sent to trade his family's last eggs for rice to make stir-fried rice to share with neighbors on Chinese New Year. When he encounters an old man selling a rusty old wok with the magical power of singing, he trades their food for this apparently worthless object. Ming's parents are distressed until the wok sings to them. After they polish it to a shine, the pot runs off to the family's wealthy employers, the Zhangs. One after another, the wok tricks members of the greedy family, returning to Ming's household filled with delicious food, toys, and money to share with their neighbors. Compestine's well-paced and engaging narrative will hold children's attention to the end, during which the poor family finds lasting success while the Zhangs are spirited away forever. Vibrant paintings bring a stylized Beijing of once-upon-a-time to life. The illustrations are rich with colorful traditional clothing, patterned ceramics, Chinese architecture, and delectable-looking food, and readers will welcome the chance to explore Serra's cheery cartoon-style illustrations. Chinese New Year traditions are woven throughout the story and an author's note describes them in further detail, noting the symbolism of New Year foods and of the wok itself. A recipe for stir-fried rice is included. This tale will have broad appeal beyond Chinese New Year units.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews

Sent to the market to buy rice for his family's Chinese New Year celebration, little boy Ming comes home with an old, rusted wok instead. His parents are dismayed. But this wok is special: It can sing. As soon as Mama Zhang shines the wok, it jumps off the table with a "Skippity-hoppity-ho!" and rolls to the house of the richest man in Beijing. The wok tricks the wife into stuffing it with dumplings, rice cakes and more. Filled to the brim, it skips back to the Zhang family. Serra's bright, jam-packed visuals zip after the wok as it flits through cluttered markets and detailed Beijing streets. The wok makes two more trips, each time singing its catchy tune. In delight, Ming and his parents hold a grand New Year's Eve feast and share their fortune with all around. Inspired by the Danish folktale "The Talking Pot," Compestine cleverly swops in a wok—a traditional symbol of sharing. An endnote connects the spirit of the Chinese New Year to lessons of generosity learned in the tale. (recipe for festive stir-fried rice)(Picture book. 4-8)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525420682
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/6/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 330,742
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.90 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Ying Chang Compestine grew up in China. She is the author of cookbooks for adults and children’s books that introduce Chinese culture and food, including The Real Story of Stone Soup. She lives with her family in California.
Sebastià Serra lives in Barcelona, Spain. This is his first American picture book.

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