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The Empty Pot, by Demi
This powerful tale, told in sparse words, stayed with me for a long time.
The gorgeous art work adds to the Oriental setting and allows for many classroom activities that can be based on this picturebook.
Ping is a Chinese boy with a green thumb: he can make anything grow. One day the Emperor announces that he needs a successor, someone who can carry on the kingdom with wisdom and kindness. He gives each child one seed, and the one who grows the best flower will take over as Emperor.
Competition is fierce but Ping is heartbroken when nothing comes up and his pot with soil remains empty, 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 and announces that Ping, with his empty pot, is the only honest gardener--and thus the winner.
Ages 4-7 but can be used with much older students and makes a beautiful coffee table tale as well.
Henry Holt, PB