My older students really enjoyed this book.
The Chinese Emperor is looking for someone to succeed him as Emperor. The Emperor launches a competition. He provides all the children with seeds to grow. The child who grows the most beautiful flowers from the seeds will become the new ruler of the empire.
Ping is a child who not only loves flowers but is able to grow beautiful flowers. When he receives his seed, he plants it and cares for it every day. Unfortunately, nothing grows. Ping replants the seed in a new pot. He changes the soil that the seed is planted in, and still nothing grows. The children around him are all able to grow beautiful flowers. When it is time for the children to present their flowers to the Emperor, they laugh at Ping and tell him that he can’t present an empty pot to the Emperor. Ping’s father overhears the other children and tells Ping that it’s fine to present his best efforts to the Emperor.
On the day that the children present their pots, Ping approaches the Emperor with his empty pot. The Emperor, much to everyone’s surprise, smiles. Ping was the only child unable to grow the seed he was given by the Emperor. Since the Emperor had boiled the seeds before he gave them to the children, not one of the seeds should have grown. Ping was the only child who was honest about trying to grow only the seed he was given by the Emperor. Because of his honesty, the Emperor crowns Ping the new Emperor.
My students loved this ending and couldn’t stop talking about how the other children were deceitful and how Ping’s honesty was rewarded.