Three Monks, No Water

Overview

A young monk lives a simple life, meditating, tending to his vegetable garden and fetching water from a cold stream. Rain or shine, he never misses a day lugging this burden up the mountain to the temple. One day he invites a travelling monk to stay with him. Since they will share the water, they descend the mountain together to fetch it. Due to the difference in their heights, the men are unable to balance the shared load on their carrying pole without sloshing the contents of the two buckets all over the short ...

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Overview

A young monk lives a simple life, meditating, tending to his vegetable garden and fetching water from a cold stream. Rain or shine, he never misses a day lugging this burden up the mountain to the temple. One day he invites a travelling monk to stay with him. Since they will share the water, they descend the mountain together to fetch it. Due to the difference in their heights, the men are unable to balance the shared load on their carrying pole without sloshing the contents of the two buckets all over the short monk. They manage to retrieve only a fraction of the water the young monk would have carried on his own, and not enough to care for the garden. Just as the young monk begins to see his guest as ungrateful, and the other monk begins to see his host as unreasonable, a third monk arrives.

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Editorial Reviews

Canadian Materials
Young readers will enjoy Three Monks, No Water for the humour and easy to read.... Recommended.
— Janice Foster
Canadian Materials - Janice Foster
As author Ting Xing Ye recalls, excuses for not doing chores or passing on a household task to someone else would result in her mother quoting the old, widely used expression, "It's typical. Three monks, no water." As the story unfolds concerning how this saying might have originated, the reader learns how accepting responsibility and the essential lesson of cooperation would have averted the disaster the monks eventually encounter. On opening the cover, attention is immediately drawn to a simple, stamp-sized seal. This seal was specially designed using Chinese characters to depict the expression 'three monks, no water'. Ye's clear and concise style emphasizes the human tendency to avoid tedious chores. The varied characterization of each of the three monks adds humour to the story. Harvey Chan's illustrations, rendered in acrylic and coloured pencil on gessoed board, complement and enhance the text. The repeated orange-yellow textured background gives the appearance of linen or woven grass paper often associated with Chinese art. Throughout the book, the book's title saying is repeated in Chinese calligraphy. Young readers will enjoy Three Monks, No Water for the humour and easy to read style in which the origin of this expression is told. The clever illustrations add to the appeal of the book. Recommended.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
A young monk living by himself climbs down the mountain each day hauling two buckets of water to the monastery. It is hard work, but the water is sufficient for his cooking, and washing with a little bit left over for the vegetable garden. One day he is joined by another monk, and happily he dreams of passing on the workload. However, when they try to haul two bucket on a pole it doesn't work. They end up with barely enough water for cooking and plenty of hard feelings. Soon a third monk joins them, and all of them think that their water carrying days are over. No one fetches the water. Suddenly, a fire breaks out, and they must cooperate to save the monastery. They learned their lesson, and from then on work together. The text is also printed in Chinese calligraphy, and the soft colors of the art resemble ancient scrolls. It's a beautiful package with a delightful explanation for this widely used Chinese expression, and a good lesson for all.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4--Ye's plot illustrates a familiar Chinese proverb, "Three Monks, No Water," close in meaning to the saying "Let George do it," wryly noting how individuals shirk group responsibilities. One monk living alone in his mountain temple never misses his daily trip down to the nearest stream to fill two buckets with water. When a second monk joins him, they share the task, with diminished efficiency. After the arrival of a third monk, the responsibility for water fetching belongs to no one, and the temple suffers a drought--until a disaster frightens the monks into creative negotiation. The carefully composed illustrations, acrylic and colored pencil on a textured golden ground, use a few common objects to re-create the unfamiliar setting, a Buddhist monastery. The proverb, rendered in ancient style Chinese calligraphy, is part of the background on every spread. With their shaved heads and flowing robes, the three monks display a range of emotions in their gestures and expressions, from meditative peace to silent reproof, consternation, and terror. Through muted colors and low contrast, the art and text make a quiet point, one worth discussing with children.--Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550374421
  • Publisher: Annick Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/13/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 920L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Ting-xing Ye was born in Shanghai, China and moved to Toronto in 1987 as a visiting scholar to York University. Her books include Share the Sky and Weighing the Elephant. Ting-xing now lives in Orillia with author William Bell.

Harvey Chan is an award-winning children's book illustrator, born in Hong Kong and now living in Toronto. His illustrations are also widely published in magazines.

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