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Friday, August 8, 2014

Chinese Folk Tale Picture Book about Animate Cookware

Compestine, Ying Chang; Serra, Sebastia (2011)  The Runaway Wok.  New York:  Dutton
Ming's family is so poor that on the eve of the Chinese New year, they have to scrimp and barter just to be able to have enough to make some stir fired rice to share with the neighbors.  Ming is supposed to trade two eggs for some rice, but instead (in a remarkable Jack-and-the-beanstalk-like move) trades to an old man for a rusted wok which the man claims in magic.  They bring the wok home, clean it up, and then what as it rolls off the table and out the door.  It ends up going to the kitchen of the richest (and stingiest) family in the village.  When they take it to be a serving bowl and load it up with food, the wok runs back to Ming's family.  The wok then visits the rich man's son, who stores his fireworks in the wok which again runs back to the family.  The wok visits the rich man's counting house, where the rich man dumps a bunch of coins into it and the wok once again redistributes the wealth.  Before the rich family can summon the authorities, the wok challenges them to try to catch him and soon takes the entire family far away. 
The pictures are really funny and cartoonish and go well with the light-hearted tale.  It is a fun story and a good book for kindergarten through second grade or so -- though it is possible some parents might object to a perceived leftist political ideology in the book.

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