Summary: K-Gr. 3. This companion to The Empty Pot (1990) continues the story of the life of Ping, the young emperor who wants to bring harmony to his kingdom. Ping sends all the children in the kingdom on a year-long quest to find the greatest power in the world, telling them, "A wise person must be able to see the unseen and know the unknown." The boys believe the power is great weapons; the girls, great beauty; the students, great technology; and the practical children, great amounts of money. When the children come to show the emperor what they have discovered, the last child in line, a little girl named Sing, remembers Ping's words. She presents a lotus seed as the powerful force of eternal life, and Ping names her the new prime minister. The text and the handsomely designed, richly colored artwork, which is touched with gold leaf, are set within a circular motif that reinforces the idea of eternity. As usual, Demi ably combines striking artwork and a meaningful story, with quiet dignity and wisdom. Julie Cummins Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Classroom Application: This book has been critiqued by some reviewers to be too conceptually heavy for young readers. The book can be modified and presented in a more concrete way by using it as an instructional read aloud: the teacher focusing on heavy inferring and interpretation as the story unfolds. Students can use their prior knowledge of The Empty Pot to uncover the meaning of this text.
This book is great to be read critically because gender and other classification stereotypes are used to create the story (i.e. the girls saying that beauty is the greatest power).