Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Wonderful Adventures of Ting Ling

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.

Also by:
The Story About Ping
Five Chinese Brothers

11 comments:

Lise said...

I received "How to Talk" today, and love it! Reviews on Amazon said thank goodness it had been re-illustrated, but I totally disagree. Thanks so much! :-) Lise

Scribbler said...

great lise... i hate re-illustrated. it's almost never a good idea....

Jeanne said...

Oh, I so want this book...thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not covet...

Melanie S said...

I have just stumbled over you blog when looking up a copy of 'What's for lunch Charley?' and I am so thrilled to have found it.

I will have to trawl through the entries. As mother of a 2 and a half year year old boy, English teacher and general bibliophile this was most fortuitous.

Fabulous - I will definitely follow.

Children's books fan said...

This book reminds me of what I was reading in elementary school... on the topic of dragons, a fairly new and soon-to-be "classic" in my humble opinion is "Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy" - my kids love it, and the vintage look and feel of the illustrations are worth a look - www.dannythedragon.com

cpeep said...

I definitely had this one. I remember that picture with the big bell. In my mind I conflated this book and the Chinese Brothers book. NOW I know where those "missing scenes" are!

Carol
Extreme Cards and Papercrafting

Anonymous said...

I loved this book and the picture of Ting Ling tugging on the bell really roused some memories!

SMW said...

I had no idea about this book!
I already have The Story of Ping and the Five Chinese Brothers.
Man, I am so happy I came across your blog today

Anonymous said...

The Wonderful Adventures of Ting Ling was my most treasured book when i was growing up. I read it for many years, just to remind myself that if Ting Ling could do all that he did to overcome the impossible, then maybe i could think through my problems, and succeed as well.

I had my copy until 1983, when my (then) new mother-in-law decided to give it away without my permission. I have a feeling that there's a grown person out there somewhere who came to love that book as much as i did, and i'm glad of that. :)

I just showed my 10 year old daughter the pictures here from the book, and retold the story to her as best as i could remember. She was immensely impressed with Ting Ling's logic and wisdom, not to mention his bravery!

I only had three children's books as a child; this, "Brian the Brain" and one more i cannot now remember the title of. Even as an adult, this book always reminded me that perseverance wins out and taught wonderful nuggets of wisdom.

Thank you for featuring this wonderful old book. It has forever been an inspiration for me.

Vik

Anonymous said...

I remember bordering this book as a second grader, in Indiana, back in 1967. In those days, elementary students could order books which all arrived in boxes filled with treasures that were brought to our classrooms a few months after we'd paid for them. I always remembered the title and the cover with it's neat illustrations and the title that sounded to cool for me not to include in my order. Being a kid with a short attention span (no one called it 'ADD' or 'ADHD' back then) I never actually got around to doing anything but looking at the pictures, but the title has stayed with me. My mission, now, is to hunt down, and actually read, what I'm certain is a fascinating little tale. I only wish it was still available for the 35 cents that my dad shelled out for it back in '67. Thanks for your blog that has set me upon my own adventure to find the long lost Ting Ling...

robbo4

Anonymous said...

To anyone interested in hearing this tale, or sharing it with others, I found this reading, complete with illustrations, yesterday on You Tube:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifYuzExkbl0

Enjoy!

robbo4

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