Story Cue Card
Bibliographic Information: Demi. The Empty Pot. New York: Henry Holt and Company,
Ethnic Origin: Chinese
Running Time: Around 5 minutes.
Power Centers: 1) Ping’s excitement over getting his seed from the Emperor.
2) Ping’s disappointment in his flower’s lack of growth.
3) The emperor’s disappointment in the flowers.
4) Ping’s fear and disappointment and courage facing the emperor.
5) Ping’s jubilation at his reward.
Characters: Ping, Ping’s friend, Ping’s father, and the emperor.
Scenes: 1) Ping growing flowers in his garden.
2) Emperor’s proclamation
3) Children getting their seeds
4) Ping trying to grow his seed
5) The children going before the emperor
6) Emperor’s exchange with Ping/ reward of empire
Synopsis: Ping is very good at growing flowers, so when the emperor gives the children seeds to
grow to help him choose the next emperor, he is very excited. He gets his seed and
takes very good care of it, but it doesn’t grow. When it is time to go to the emperor
with his best results, Ping must go with his empty pot, even though the other children
all have beautiful flowers. However, his honesty is rewarded when the emperor
reveals that all the seeds he gave out had been cooked, and no one should have been
able to grow a flower.
Rhymes/ Special Phrases: Children are instructed to “bring back their best” in a year.
“I have found the one child worthy enough to become Emperor. I
admire the courage that Ping had to come before me with the empty
Audience: This story is appropriate for the preschool age (actually, any age) because of its
simplicity. For children, the message of this story is clear (tell the truth and do your
best) and not preachy (because not stated in that way). Also, the main character is a
child that children can relate to because he is doing something ordinary and
struggling with ordinary emotions (disappointment, failure). Preschoolers are at the
age where they are trying to prove their worth in the world, and they often do little
things that are good and not recognized because they come to be expected. Then if
they don’t tie their shoe or if they wet the bed, they are punished for it—just as
everyone knows Ping can grow flowers, but this once doesn’t work out. The
message of this story is powerful for adults too, though, because it reminds us that
things can be that simple. It is also refreshing for anyone who needs to feel better
about a seeming failure.
Brief Comparison of Versions/ Variants: As near as I can tell after much research, this tale is a literary tale created (written and illustrated) by Demi.