The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale

written by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Sebastia Serra

Sent to the market to buy rice, Ming comes home with an old, rusted wok instead. "Skippity-hoppity-ho!" the wok sings and brings the family and their neighbors the richest Chinese New Year celebration ever!

Ming is sent to trade his family's last eggs for rice to make stir-fried rice to share with neighbors on Chinese New Year. When he encounters an old man selling a rusty old wok with the magical power of singing, he trades their food for this apparently worthless object. Ming's parents are distressed until the wok sings to them. As soon as Mama shines the wok, it jumps off the table with a "Skippity-hoppity-ho!" and rolls to the house of the richest man in Beijing. One after another, the wok tricks members of the greedy family, returning to Ming's household filled with delicious food, toys, and money to share with their neighbors.

Vibrant paintings bring a stylized Beijing of once-upon-a-time to life. The illustrations are rich with colorful traditional clothing, patterned ceramics, Chinese architecture, and delectable-looking food, and readers will cheerfully explore the lively cartoon-style illustrations. Chinese New Year traditions are woven throughout the story and an author's note describes them in further detail, noting the symbolism of New Year foods and of the wok itself. A recipe for stir-fried rice is included. Part "Jack and the Beanstalk" and part "Robin Hood," this satisfying tale of a poor family's good fortune is actually a retelling of a Danish tale, "The Talking Pot."