The Wonderful Adventures of Ting Ling
Vernon Bowen ~ Kurt Wiese ~ David McKay, 1952
I know nothing about this author... seriously, except that when I Googled his name, I came up with this reference to a mysterious book he wrote on UFOs called An Encyclopedia of Flying Saucers. How cool/freaky is that? You see, sure... I worked in a bookstore forever and sure I flacked for a publishing house in New York, but basically, all that I know about children's books is learned from finding a book or author on a junk shop shelf and falling in love and basically Googling my way to wisdom. That is the scary thing about the Internet. Who knows how accurate what we read on here is.... so never ever ever feel afraid of correcting me when I am wrong. Ha! That said, this book caught my eye while I was in Maine, because at first glance it was obviously the work of Wiese... the illustrator of my son's favorite book ~ The Story About Ping ~ as well as one of the few books my husband remembers from his youth, Five Chinese Brothers.
Upon first read, I can't imagine that the story won't be remembered by a ton of little boys, because Ting Ling's adventures were indeed wonderful. At first, my son was seized with fear by the illustration on the cover, but when I finally sneaked it into the rotation, he was hooked on first read. And so the story goes...
Ting Ling is a poor juggler's assistant in China who basically works all day and is beaten repeatedly for his trouble. When he unexpectedly finds himself falling from the sky and into the arms of a much-guarded princess, she instantly falls for his humility and cleverness. Her father, however, is not as easily convinced. He puts Ting Ling to test after impossible test to see if he indeed has the stuff to love a princess. Really, all the Emperor wants is to kill poor Ting Ling so the Princess can marry a rich and powerful prince, but then, we wouldn't have a story would we? So, first, he must face the dragon...
He grasped the spear in his left hand, the sword in his right, and ran towards the cave shouting to the dragon to come out. Hissing like a steam engine, the dragon slithered out of the cave and rushed towards Ting Ling, its great, red mouth wide open. And Ting Ling stepped right into the dragon's mouth.
Now, Ting Ling is a pretty clever boy, and I don't want to give away his awesome logic, but I will say he follows up this achievement with feat after successful feat until at last the Emperor suffers a stroke of apoplexy and perishes on the spot. Moral of the story, let your children live their own lives lest the anxiety give you a heart attack.
The Story About Ping
Five Chinese Brothers