When you head to the library or bookstore this weekend with the kiddos, keep an eye out for The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine and illustrated by Sebastià Serra.
The Zhang family is disappointed their honesty and hard work have not yielded enough to provide a memorable celebration to welcome Chinese New Year with their friends and family. Mama Zhang sends their son, Ming, to the market with a few eggs. Her instructions are clear, trade the eggs for a bag of rice. But, in a Jack-in-the-beanstalk situation, Ming is convinced to trade for a rusty old wok with a missing handle. The singing wok, in the first of several promises, tells Mama Zhang that if she will clean him up then they will have food to share.
A singing wok is magical enough to convince them to try – I think that would do the trick for me, too. In the pages that follow the wok bounces to Mr. Li’s house (the richest man in Beijing), to trick him into giving for the poor Zhang family. Back and forth the wok goes until the Zhang family indeed has enough for a resplendent and generous Chinese New Year with their community. And in one final gesture the wok removes the greedy and selfish Li family from the village.
An international collaboration of the best sort. An author raised in China, a Spanish illustrator, and a story inspired by the Danish folktale, The Talking Pot come together to create an entertaining story enriched by colorful illustrations. Parents will appreciate the ideas that are emphasized by the juxtaposition of greed and sharing. Children will enjoy guessing and watching the trickery of the wok and looking through the pages of detailed scenes.
Happy Chinese New Year: the Year of the Rooster!