Demi is the author and illustrator of many children's books, including Firebird, Buddha, The Dalai Lama and The Dragon's Tale. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she lives in Carnation, Washington.
Ping is a Chinese boy with an emerald green thumb; he can make anything grow ``as if by magic.'' One day the Emperor announces that he needs a successor, someone who can carry on after he is gone with the ruling of the kingdom and the growing of the flowers. He gives each child one seed, and the one who grows the best flower will take over after him. Competition is fierce, and Ping is heartbroken that nothing comes up, despite his careful tending. On the day of the competition, he is the only child with an empty pot; all the others brings lush plants. But the Emperor has tricked everyone by distributing cooked seeds, unable to grow; and Ping, with his empty pot, is the only honest gardener--and the winner. Extraordinarily delicate Oriental landscapes in round frames show Chinese architecture, foliage, native birds and clothing in a delightful way. And the story contains an important lesson on the worth of individual strength and honesty. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)
Gr 1-3-- When the Chinese emperor proclaims that his successor will be the child who grows the most beautiful flowers from the seeds the emperor distributes, Ping is overjoyed. Like the emperor, he loves flowers and anything he plants bursts into bloom. But the emperor's seed will not grow, despite months of loving care, and Ping goes before the emperor carrying only his empty pot. The emperor ignores the beautiful blossoms brought by the other children and chooses Ping, revealing that the seeds he handed out had been cooked and could not grow. This simple story with its clear moral is illustrated with beautiful paintings. Each page contains a single picture, shaped like a stiff, rounded, paper fan and framed in celadon brocade that subtly changes pattern from one spread to the next. Isometric perspective, traditional Chinese architecture, and landscape motifs are combined with Demi's fine line and lively children and animals. While all the landscapes featuring the emperor and the other children are in brilliant red, gold, and purple, the scenes involving Ping alone are predominantly beige and delicate green. Ping is almost always shown as a solitary figure in contrast to the busy groups of running, smiling children, reinforcing theportrait of him as a quieter, more contemplative person whose values make him a worthy heir to the emperor. A beautifully crafted book that will be enjoyed as much for the richness of its illustrations as for the simplicity of its story. --Eleanor K. MacDonald, Beverly Hills Public Library
"When the Chinese Emperor announces an unusual test to choose an heir--the child who raises the best flowers from a seed given by the Emperor will be his successor--Ping, unaccountably, is unable to get his seed to sprout. . . . A lovely story, well told and most attractively presented." --Kirkus Reviews, pointer"A beautifully crafted book that will be enjoyed as much for the richness of its illustrations as the simplicity of its story." --School Library Journal