The Empty Pot

by Demi

Hardcover, 1990



Call number

398.2 Dem

Call number

398.2 Dem

Local notes

398.2 Dem



Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (1990), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 32 pages


When Ping admits that he is the only child in China unable to grow a flower from the seeds distributed by the Emperor, he is rewarded for his honesty.


Original publication date


Physical description

32 p.; 10.33 inches


0613004973 / 9780613004978



User reviews

LibraryThing member kb143317
Ping is a little boy who has a gift for growing plants, especially flowers. The Emperor of China asks for all the children to come to the palace and gives them each a flower seed. He explains to them that whoever can grow the best flower from the seed he has given them in a year they will become the successor to the throne. Ping tends and cares to his seed all year long, but is surprised to see that nothing has grown in his flower pot. A dishearten Ping takes his empty pot to the Emperor and is rewarded for his honesty.

I believe what makes this book so interesting is how the illustrator choose to display the pictures in a circle on the center of each page.

Extension Ideas
1. Have each student plant a seed in a styrofoam cup and measure the plant’s growth each week over the course of at least 4-6 weeks. Then have them document their recordings on a sheet of graph paper.

2. Have students research what the climate is like in China during fall, spring, winter, and summer. Then as a class using a Vin diagram for each season compare and contrast China’s climate to our own.
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LibraryThing member mwittkids
A lovely story teaching honesty is the best policy.
LibraryThing member ktibbs
This is a wonderful tale of a boy with a green thumb in China. The emperor loves flowers and decides to have all the children plant a seed and bring him the plant in a year, he will then chose who will become the next emperor. Although Ping usually grows flowers with great ease, his seed will not grow. His father encourages his to take the empty pot anyway. It turns out that all the seeds were bad, yet Ping was the only honest child who brought back the empty pot and was named emperor.… (more)
LibraryThing member MsLangdon
Part Ca
Demi. (1990). The empty pot. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Ping is a boy who lives in China. The emperor needs to choose a successor to the throne. So he decides to choose by using flowers. He gives all of the boys and girls seeds to plant and one year. The child with the most beautiful flower will become the next emperor. Ping plants his seeds and nothing grows. He does many things to try and get his seeds to grow. But in a year’s time, he returns with an empty pot. All of the other children have beautiful flowers. The emperor chooses Ping to be the next emperor because he had cooked the seeds and his empty pot proved that he was the only one worthy of being an emperor. The unique feature of this tale is the tale’s message. Ping is rewarded for his honesty.… (more)
LibraryThing member timothyl33
A lovely story with beautiful art that has a moral message that will appeal to children.
LibraryThing member IEliasson
The Empty Pot is a tale from Chinese folklore exquisitely drawn and interpreted by Demi. The protagonist is Ping, a young boy with a gift for gardening. Ping and all the other children of the kingdom are given flower seeds by the elderly Emperor for a competition to “show their best in a year’s time” to succeed the emperor to the throne. Ping painstakingly tends the seed for a year, but the seed fails to grow into a flower. Ping is afraid to bring the empty pot to the Emperor, but his father tells him to go because, “You did your best, and your best is good enough to present to the Emperor.” Ping cries as he presents his pot to the Emperor because all the other children have beautiful flowers, but the Emperor smiles and says, “I have found the one person worthy of being Emperor!” The seeds the Emperor gave to the children had been cooked and could not grow; thus Ping’s honesty and courage are rewarded. Demi’s illustrations, meticulously rendered ink drawings in oval panels in the style of Chinese paintings, relate the parable of honest labor and courage rewarded in gentle and contemplative manner.… (more)
LibraryThing member mrcmyoung
The Emperor seeks a successor by holding a contest to see who can grow the best flower from the seeds he distributes. Only one child dares to tell the truth and present an empty pot, not knowing that all of the seeds were cooked and therefore useless. A lovely, well-illustrated fable about integrity and honesty.
LibraryThing member shillson
The Empty Pot is a morality tale where Ping, a Chinese boy with a green thumb, is challenged by the Emperor along with all the other children of the land to grow the best plant from special flower seeds in order to determine the next ruler. Ping tries his very best but his seeds do not grow into a plant and although he is humbled, he brings a barren pot before the Emperor as show of honesty while the other children display fully bloomed plants. The Emperor then reveals he has cooked the seeds ahead of time as a test to their truthfulness and because Ping did not deceive the leader, he has proven himself as the most honorable competitor and is rewarded by being named the next Emperor.
Demi does not mention or provide a citation for the original source of the folktale. The plot is simple and direct and I would recommend it to students in grades K-5. The theme of honesty is clearly portrayed. Demi's illustrations are beautiful and provide readers with a glimpse of old Chinese culture. Moral and cultural norms can be understood by children of all nationalities.
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LibraryThing member karenamorg
The story extols the virtue of honesty and takes place “a long time ago in China.” A Chinese emperor, and lover of nature, wildlife and especially flowers, decides to find his successor by holding a contest seemingly to see who can grow the most beautiful flower—“their best”—within a year, from seeds he provides. A boy named Ping, who does grow remarkable flowers, cannot get anything to grow from the seed given to him by the Emperor. All of the other children bring pots blooming with beautiful flowers. The universal implication of “honesty is the best policy” is revealed in this simple story when Ping pleases the Emperor by confessing he could not grow a flower from his seed. The Emperor announces that all of the seeds were damaged to begin with, but Ping was the only one to not cheat and use another seed, thereby proving himself a worthy successor.

The story is vividly enhanced by the delicate illustrations, showing a variety of flowers in the children’s pots and the Chinese landscape. Memorable quote from Ping’s father: “You did your best, and your best is good enough to present to the Emperor.” Target audience K-2nd grade.

Demi, . (1996). The empty pot. New York: H. Holt.
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LibraryThing member dcaitlyn
The Empty Pot by Demi pays fastidious, beautiful homage to the art of Chinese prints, fabrics and patterns. As with much of Chinese art it manages to be incredibly ornate, while somehow simplifying each image to the barest representation of its focus. This is true of the story as well, a tale of a young boy whose nurturing nature, and brave honesty is rewarded.… (more)
LibraryThing member jaimie919
Ping loved flowers and he loved to plant them. One day the Emperor decided he needed to choose a successor because he was growing to old. Being that he loved flowers he was going to let them decide. He called for all the children to come to palace to receive special flower seeds. Whoever had the best in a year will become the successor. When ping got his seed him planted it so carefully and made sure it was perfect. He took such good care of the seed but as days went by nothing grew. Ping was very concerned and changed the pot and seed thinking this would help. A year went by and Ping only had an empty pot to show to the Emperor. When the Emperor saw Ping he asked why he brought an empty pot. Ping told him what happened and the Emperor smiled. He told him that all the seeds were cooked so they could not grow. Because of Ping's courage he made him the Emperor. This is a great book to teach children you should always tell the truth. It shows them that honesty is rewarded with good things.… (more)
LibraryThing member Viktoriya
The book is about a boy named Ping who loved flowers. The Emperor loved flowers too. When it was time to choose an heir, he gave a flower seed to each child in the kingdom. 'Whoever can show me their best in a year's time,' he proclaimed, 'shall succeed me to the throne!'Ping plants his seed and tends it every day. But month after month passes, and nothing grows. When spring comes, Ping must go to the Emperor with nothing but an empty pot. Emperor asked him why he came with an empty pot and Ping admits that he is the only child in China unable to grow a flower from the seeds distribuded by Emperor he is rewarded for his honesty because all the seeds were ruined by Emperor and could'n grow.… (more)
LibraryThing member ChengYenLee
This is one of my favorite books. This book is about this flower Emperor who wants to find a child to take over his flower empire. The Emperor decides to give every child a seed and see who can grow the best flower and become the next flower Emperor. This child named Ping, tried very hard to plant this seed, yet there is not a flower after months of trying. I wish I can keep telling the story, but it was a great story and I do not want to spoil it. Just read it, it is worth it.
This book informed that one of the most important elements in our daily bases is honesty.
It also has different drawing styles compared to many other story books. It gave a very cool Chinese theme.
The empty pot will fit good for 2nd grade to 6th grade. I believe it is still powerful for adult as well.
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LibraryThing member rekrumrie
This is about the Emperor of China, who has a love for flowers, choosing his successor by saying that whoever could grow the best flower in a year would be chosen. Ping, a young boy with a love for flowers, tries and tries to grow his flower and nothing he does makes it grow, and presents his empty pot to the Emperor. He is chosen because none of the seeds should have been able to grow and all the other children had brought flowers. This story teaches about honesty and trying your best. I would use this is my classroom for grades 2-4.… (more)
LibraryThing member HaleyAnger
"The Empty Pot" is about an emperor who is trying to find a successor, so he comes up with a plan. He gives the children of the empire a seed and whomever can show him the most impressive flower after a year wins. One specific little boy tended to his seed very carefully. He continually tried to make something grow but nothing worked. In the end he brought his empty pot to the emperor while everyone else brought huge stunning flowers. The emperor was disappointed by all the flowers but when he saw the boy's empty pot he smiled and appointed the boy his successor, for the emperor had cooked all of the seeds so none of them should've grown.

I would use this in my classroom to help teach honesty and integrity. In the story the little boy's dad says that he did his best and that's all that mattered. I would like to instill that kind of belief in my students as well.

Recommended age group: 6 -9 years
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LibraryThing member BaileyBond
This is a great book for all ages. The lesson of "Honesty" and "Do Your Best" are great for children. The pictures in the book also add to the story very well.
LibraryThing member dylrmstd
The Empty Pot tells the story of little Ping who is given a challenge with a reward that is too great to be true. This book had wonderful illustrations and a great story about honesty and I would use it in my classroom to promote honesty. This book would be good for the grades 1-3.
LibraryThing member MadeleinePemberton
The Empty Pot is the story of an emperor in China who decides to search for his successor by testing the children in the country. The emperor gives all the children seeds and tells them whoever can grow the most beautiful flower in a years time will take his place but he secretly cooked the seeds so they wouldn't grow. The young boy Ping is the only one who is honest at the end of the year and brings the emperor an empty pot and for that Ping is rewarded. I loved this book because it was a unique tale I had not heard and the book has beautiful illustrations. I would absolutely want to use this book in my teaching to explain why trying your best is all you can do, the importance of honesty, and as an example if we were discussing multiculturalism. The book is appropriate for Grades K-3.… (more)
LibraryThing member awanalex
The Empty Pot is about a little boy who tries to grow a flower in a competition to see who will be the next king.

I like this book because it is different than what I have read and it would be a great book to use for teaching about different cultures.

I believe this book would be suitable for 2nd or 3rd grade. The theme of the book is honesty.… (more)
LibraryThing member kelsiemaxwell
Young Ping was given a seed and must care for it so it can become a beautiful flower to bring to the emperor. After caring for it, he finds out that it doesn't grow at all. He then brings an empty pot to the emperor. The emperor rewards Ping because he was the only honest one. This is a great story to teach children about honesty. It is recommended for kindergarten to second grade.… (more)
LibraryThing member Tcochr1
In my opinion, this is a very good book. I liked the book for three reasons. First, I liked the plot of the story. It was easy to follow, but was not completely predictable. For instance, when the emperor gave out the seeds, and Ping was having trouble with it, I knew that the emperor had something up his sleeve. However, I didn’t expect the seeds to be cooked! This leads to my second reason as to why I enjoyed the story. I loved the characters! The emperor was wise and smart. He was looking for a child to be truthful, and not cut corners to make his or herself look good. Therefore, I think it was slick for him to give all the children cooked seeds. I also loved Ping. He really demonstrated hard work and honesty, and it paid off. The third reason I enjoyed this story is because it forces readers to think about tough situations. The story allows readers to think about how they would respond if they were in Ping’s situation. For instance, Ping, who was great at taking care of plants, struggled with growing the seed from the emperor. When it was time to take the plant back to the emperor, Ping want going to go. He didn’t want to show up with an empty pot. However, his father told him to go because Ping did his best, and that was good enough. Therefore, the story’s central message is honesty, and hard work. Ping worked his hardest to get the emperor’s seed to grow, but it didn’t; when it was time, Ping grew the courage to go to the emperor with an empty pot, and explain why it was empty.… (more)
LibraryThing member AmandaHempleman
There was an old emperor and wanted to have a new emperor soon so he gave all the children seeds and one boys did not grow. He took his seed to the emperor to show him that it did not grow. The emperor said that is because I cooked them all so none of them would grow and you are the only one who was honest and did the right thing. So he became the new emperor. I would use this book for 1st - 3rd and in my classroom because it shows honesty.… (more)
LibraryThing member siyu_jiang
The emperor wanted to select the next emperor from children in the kingdom. So he gave all the chidren a cooked seeds but didn't let them know.He said who could plant the most beautiful plants who will be the next emperor.Finally he chose the one who held an empty pot because the boy was honest.
IT tells children that to be honest is very important.3-6… (more)
LibraryThing member HeatherSilva
This book was great for giving students the opportunity to learn about trust. Since Ping worked and worked to make his plant grow but still nothing grew. He still went and told the emperor that nothing grew. This was all he was looking for in a person to take over the kingdom. The Empty Pot allows students to see an example of hard work and perseverance. Perseverance could be applied to school tasks also. Overall this book was very good!… (more)
LibraryThing member LizeGarber
The Empty Pot is a short story about a little boy trying to grow a flower to become emperor. Ping, the little boy, is a talented gardener usually, but as he attempts to grow this flower it doesn't work. The story has a moral of being honest and has a different way of getting the point across. In the classroom this book could be used for elementary students studying different cultures. It could also transfer into some really cool art or science lessons. Possibly, creating flower art or actually growing the flowers. I think that students would really enjoy the art in the book and the extension lessons that could come about.… (more)




(155 ratings; 4.5)
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