The Empty Pot

Last updated Monday, December 27, 2010

Author: Demi
Date of Publication: 1990
ISBN: 0805012176
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jan. 2011

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: 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

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  1) What animals do you see on the cover?
•  2) What color are the flowers? Do you like flowers?
•  3) Why do you think the pot is empty?
•  1) Where is China? (find on map)
•  2) What kind of flower would you like to grow?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  1) Why did Ping's flower never grow?
•  2) How did the others' flowers grow?
•  3) Why did the Emperor choose him to be his successor?
•  1) successor to throne
•  2) swarm
•  3) soil
•  4) sprout, blossom

Craft ideas:
•  1) Draw colorful picture of little flowers, animals, children, etc. inside a circle (like a fan)
•  2) Draw and color what would be in your garden
•  3) Origami flowers (
•  4) Cut out flower shape

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!