The Story about Ping

by Marjorie Flack

Other authorsKurt Wiese (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2000

Call number



Grosset & Dunlap (2000), Edition: Illustrated, 32 pages


A little duck finds adventure on the Yangtze River when he is too late to board his master's houseboat one evening.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Treeseed
This realistic and engaging story of an independent little duckling living on China's Yangtze River is a book that I think should be part of every child's reading experience. I've read it to every child in my life and I've never known one who didn't enjoy it. This book was first published in 1933
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but I probably fell in love with it somewhere around 1955 when Captain Kangaroo read it on television during his Story Time at the Treasure House.

The Story About Ping is one of several children's picture books written by author/illustrator Marjorie Flack (1897-1958). In this book Ms. Flack teams up with illustrator Kurt Weise and their joint efforts produce a lively, entertaining and suspenseful tale perfect for the 4-8 year old readership.

Set in the fishing culture of the Yangtze River which has remained similar to this day, this book tells about a large family of ducks who live on a houseboat painted with two wise eyes on its bow.

"Each morning as the sun rose from the east, Ping and his mother and father and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and his forty-two cousins all marched, one by one, down a little bridge to the shore of the Yangtze River."

They swim around and search for snails and little fish and "other pleasant things to eat" and generally enjoy a leisurely day. At sunset when the boat master calls out to them they must hurry back to the boat. The last duck to cross the little bridge always gets a spank on the back from the boat master's stick.

On the day that Ping finds himself to be in the unenviable position of being last duck home he decides to swim away and hide and as a result he gets left behind in the reeds that grow along the shores of the river. By morning he is already lonely and missing his large family and goes in search of the wise-eyed boat. He has many adventures on his journey and gets himself into some trouble. The readers get to learn more about the culture on the Yangtze while being treated to the suspense and excitement of this little yellow duck's trials.

Marjorie Flack's characteristic simplicity, even repetitiveness in her story telling that in 1947 would earn her a Caldecott Honor for her book The Boats On the River is very evident here as well. It is her honest, straight-forward style that makes the realistic treatment of the ducks and also some fishing cormorants seem interesting. I think her honesty makes for a healthy and broadening experience for very young readers. This is an engaging story without being a sugary, dumbed down story. That being said, however, Ms. Flack also lends a poetic quality to the story and we can easily see and smell and hear the ambiance of the Yangtze River throughout all the phases of the day. It is transporting and lovely.

"Ping hid behind the grasses, and as the dark came and the pale moon shone in the sky Ping watched the wise-eyed boat sail away down the Yangtze River."

I can clearly remember when as a small child I first heard about Ping wanting to avoid being spanked. When I saw his frightened little face and saw him paddling as fast as he could, trying to make it back to the boat in time, my heart was in my throat and I was there with him in spirit when he realized the futility and decided to "run away" instead. I knew even then that I had sometimes felt like running away, too. It gave me something to relate to and to think further about. When Ping encounters other dangers on the river it is just stressful enough to make it a page-turner without it being scary. Ping is, after all, a very plucky little guy and even though we see him getting into some tough scrapes we have the sense that he will pull through...and we can't wait to see how he does it. Three quarters of every page is taken up with an illustration and two or three sentences of text make up the balance of each page. Kurt Weise does such a great job with the crayon, watercolor and ink illustrations that young readers are easily transported to Ping's unique world. There is very good reason that this book is still in print after 73 years!

I think this is a great book for kids now for much the same reasons I loved it initially as a child. It takes children to a different world, takes them out of themselves to empathize with someone else and engages their emotions and their minds while entertaining them. The illustrations convey Ping's feelings so well that children will be on the edge of their seats following his every move. Oh, no, Ping! Watch out! Swim faster!

I can easily recommend this book because I know from lots of experience with many different children, boys and girls alike in the intended readership age group as well as my own childhood experience that kids do in fact consistently like this book. It is quite matter-of-fact about the purpose of these animals and that they are food animals or as in the case of the cormorants in the book they are being exploited as food gatherers but it is conveyed without judgment in such a way that this is only a backdrop. Children can still easily relate to the character of Ping as though he is a being with his own intrinsic worth. For this reason, who knows, it might even lead a child to vegetarianism somewhere down the line. There is lots here to talk about with a child and to me that really makes for a good book.
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LibraryThing member Jennah2010
The Story About Ping is a story about a young duck who finds himself left alone when he misses the call to return to the boat. Aside from being a longer story, this book would work well for children of any age. I enjoy this story because it allows for discussion about the importance of accepting
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consequences and being responsible for your actions.
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LibraryThing member aconant05
This is a story about a young duck who avoids punishment by hiding, and ends up almost getting eaten by a family. Once he escapes and finds his way home, he discovers that the little punishment is bearable compared to the idea of almost getting eaten again.
LibraryThing member Lakapp
“The Story About Ping” written by Marjorie Flack is a great story for young children. This story is about a young duck named, Ping; Ping and his large family lived on a boat and they would spend their days hunting for food. One day, Ping was exploring and was left by his family. The next day, a
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young boy found Ping and brought him to his father; unfortunately, the young boy’s father wanted to cook Ping for dinner. Thankfully, the young boy was able to set Ping free and he was reunited with his large family of ducks. This story is best suited for students from Kindergarten to second grade.
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LibraryThing member givingtree1
A very cute story from China about a little duck who gets separated from his family and needs help getting home.
LibraryThing member megancoleman
This is a sweet story of a little duckling who gets separated from his family, and his journey to return to them. There are nice illustrations, and it's got a clear purpose.
LibraryThing member Crystal.Axelson
This book helps to stress the importance if family and also talks about the Chinese traditions.
LibraryThing member JillSmith23
The theme was about independence portrayed through a duck's adventures on the Yangtze. It is engaging because it was an active, descriptive story that used repitition and was imaginative.
LibraryThing member KellyLPickett
The Story About Ping is another one from my childhood. It is about a duckling who lives on a boat with his family on the Yangtze River in China. To avoid being hit on the back with a stick for being the last duck to bored the boat at the end of the day, he chooses to hide on shore over night and to
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return home the next day. When the next day comes, he is unable to find his boat and is snatched up by a boy whose mother wants to cook Ping for dinner. The boy lets Ping go and he is happy to return to his family, enen though he is wacked on the back for being the last to board the boat.

I think this is a good book to talk about there being no place like home. Even though we may sometimes get in trouble for things, it is better to come home and acceot the consiquences rather than hide and avoid them. I also think this could be a good way to talk about different Asian cultures since the book is set in China.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Originally published in 1933, this classic picture-book by Marjorie Flack is one I have been meaning to read for some time, as part of my "ducklings in danger" project - does it strike anyone else that there is a superfluity of endangered ducks in children's literature? how did they become the
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scapegoat of the picture-book world? A recent discussion of The Story About Ping over in the "Popular Children's Books We Hate" thread of the children's books group I moderate, highlighted the divided opinions about it, and reminded me to pick up a copy from the library this past weekend, so I could decide for myself.

The tale of a little Pecking duckling who becomes separated from his family one day, because he is afraid to be the last to board the wise-eyed boat that is his home - the final duckling to board always get a little swat on the behind - The Story About Ping follows its eponymous anatine hero as he survives a night and day by himself on the Yangtze River. Sleeping in the rushes overnight, and then encountering fishing birds, and a swimming boy, while searching for his family and boat, Ping barely escapes being made into dinner by the boy's family. When he finally does find the wise-eyed boat again, he doesn't hesitate to get on board, even though he is last in line...

So... what did I think? Well, I honestly have trouble seeing what all the fuss is about, or how people can interpret the little swat that Ping receives as child abuse. Leaving aside the fact that corporal punishment is not always synonymous with abuse, the behavior in this story struck me less as punishment (of any kind) than as herding. I think Flack successfully communicates the idea that we frequently get ourselves deeper into trouble, when we seek to avoid what is unpleasant and uncomfortable, and she does it with little overt didacticism. The accompanying artwork by Kurt Wiese is charming, with a decided vintage feeling that is very appealing. I don't know that I was as enchanted with this as I would have been, had I encountered it for the first time as a child, but I did find it solidly engaging.
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LibraryThing member matthewbloome
I've been planning to read this book for a while, but haven't gotten my hands on a copy until recently. It's interesting. The book is about a Peking duck that misses his opportunity to board a boat with the rest of his family one evening and to avoid getting whacked on the back with a stick for his
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lateness is therefore forced to set out on a day-long adventure on the Yangtze River. There were cormorants with banded necks, which I'd seen on television before now, and a boy tied to a barrel trailing from a boat which sounded like it should have been a violation of some kind of law. I'd never heard of or seen someone doing the latter. To be honest, I'm a little disturbed by it. Anyway, Ping the duck has his adventure and is captured and nearly served up for dinner before being allowed to escape and return to his family. All in all, a book full of odd behavior, but still interesting. You might want to give it a try.
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LibraryThing member GaoeeXiong
Ping is a young duck who lives in the Yangtze river with his family. Each day they would get off the boat and back on the boat and one night ping missed the boat. He was stranded and then the next day he found the boat. I liked this book because it was a multicultural book because it took place in
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China. I would read this book to first or second graders.
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LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
I was read this story in school, and I remember it, but now I'm not certain about it because of the whole spanking Ping and nearly eating him bit. I might consult grade level teachers before reading it. The morals are obvious- don't run away from problems, and a small punishment is better than a
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big problem.
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LibraryThing member P.Vermeland
Ping and his family live on a river boat with a fisherman. They fish every day and come back to the boat at night. One day Ping loses track of time and misses the return time to the boat. He id forced to spend the night alone in fear, but learns to overcome it and eventually makes it back to his
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boat. This book is usable in a kindergarden to 3rd grade classroom.
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LibraryThing member richcasto
This book if fantastic, even if you don't ever use 'ping' ;)
LibraryThing member David-Z
This was one of my favorite books when I was a child. I also had a number of the country books illustrated by Kurt Weise, which I also enjoyed. The story of the naughty, inquisitive little Ping still works with children today and also gives them a look at the China of decades ago. Themes include
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"you don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” and “there’s no place like home.” Subject related activities include history, geography (Yangtze River), and art among others. Recommended for school and public library collections.
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LibraryThing member TracyStrong
NEA named book one of Top 100 Teacher-recommended books. Great early reading book. My daughter had it when she was little.
LibraryThing member lstec2
This was another one of my favorite books when I was a child. I enjoyed being able to read it again. One thing I like about this book is how simple and clear the illustrations are. You can tell exactly what is happening, and the illustrator even conveys the changing light throughout the day. I also
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like that the story is about a duck, just because I think ducks are adorable. The premise of the book is pretty simple, and I think is something children can relate to: "Ping was always careful, very very careful not to be last, because the last duck to cross over the bridge always got a spank on the back." Ping was scared of being spanked by the person who owned the boat he lives on, so he does not get on the boat, but ends up losing his family. The big idea of this story is even if you get punished sometimes your family will still love you and be happy to have you with them.
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LibraryThing member LizeGarber
This book tells the story of a duck named Ping who gets separated from his family and his short adventure to get back to them. This happens because he does not want to get spanked by the his owner for being the last duck to get on the boat. The book is cute and kind of funny, but I am not sure I
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can see students really getting into it. Early elementary students possibly may enjoy the story though. Looking at a school setting this book could be used for its pictures and the cultural difference it shows. A class discussion on these topics, and possibly punishment could be easily arranged after a reading about Ping. Again, it was a pretty good book, but I believe there are others that are more suited for engaging today's students.
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LibraryThing member ah932109
Summary of Book: This book is about a duck named Ping, that lived on a house boat with his family. One day Ping and his family were swimming but Ping wanted to go off on his own and that's when the trouble started for Ping. Ping could not find his house boat because there were so many boats and he
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couldn't tell which one was his home. Ping finds some crumbs and eats them. A little boy finds Ping and brings him home and Ping is almost eaten by the family. The young boy from the family lets Ping go before he can be eaten. Ping then sees his family and then is united with his family. Ping knew though he was going to be in trouble because he was always the last duck on the boat.

Personal Reaction: This book was ok but I don't think many kids would sit still long enough to read this book or have this book read to them. The book does have a good story meaning. Teaches kids that you should never run off from your family because you will get lost, something bad could happen to and you will get punished by your parents.

Extension ideas:1) Draw a picture of Ping on his adventure.
2) Tell what you would do if you ever became lost from your parents. What would you do to find your parents?
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LibraryThing member wichitafriendsschool
Since 1933, The Story About Ping has captivated generations of readers, but never before has it been available in a mass-market paperback format. No one can deny the appeal of the book's hero, Ping, the spirited little duck who lives on a boat on the Yangtze River. Ping's misadventures one night
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while exploring the world around his home form the basis of this timeless classic, which is brought to life by Kurt Wiese's warm and poignant illustrations.
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LibraryThing member Icewineanne
Absolutely a wonderful story. I read this as a child and it remains in my heart to this day.
LibraryThing member MrsLee
A traumatic tale of a young duck separated from his family, almost cooked for dinner, and finding his family again. Very cute. I like it because I raised two young runner ducks like those in the story, and they were every bit as personable and silly as these.
LibraryThing member fuzzi
I recently found a hardcover copy of this book to give to my granddaughter, so of course I had to reread it! And it holds up very well from my childhood recollections.

Ping is a little yellow duck who lives with his extended family on board a boat, with daily forays along the shore to forage for
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tasty bits. One day Ping "misses the boat" and finds himself alone for the first time.

The story is simple but not boring, about a topic that young children are familiar with: getting lost. And the illustrations reflect the simplicity of the story, richly colored by one of my favorite artists, Kurt Wiese. I'll keep my copy until I can share it with my granddaughter.
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LibraryThing member NMiller22
The classic of a little yellow duck's night of adventure on the Yangtze River.




0448421658 / 9780448421650


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