The Perfect Nest
Joseph Had A Little Overcoat

The Story About Ping

By Marjorie Flack
illustrated by Kurt Wiese

Originally published in 1933, The Story About Ping is one of the most beloved picture books ever published. Written by Marjorie Flack and illustrated by Kurt Wiese, the two created an endearing book that has maintained its popularity for over 80 years and continues to be included on recommended lists of classic picture books and "best" picture books. Always intrigued by the history of how books came to be, the decision to feature Ping came after learning Flack became fascinated with Pekin ducks while doing research for her book Angus and The Ducks. The ducks really do originate from China, are highly intelligent, and were known to live on houseboats with their master.

While Flack had the inspiration to create Ping and his adventure, she had no knowledge of life in China and so formed the collaboration with Wiese who had lived in China for several years and was able to create vivid images to communicate the exotic feel of life in a strange land for its original young readers.

The Story About PIng tells the story of a plucky little duck who lives on a houseboat on the Yangtze River. Ping's adventures begin one evening when he doesn't make it on to the boat in time and has to strike out on his own without the security of his large family. Young readers will share the excitement and eventual relief with Ping as he navigates his way back to the security of his home and family.

In this Issue

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Asian Noodles

All day Ping and his family would hunt for pleasant things to eat, so we decided to feature an Asian-inspired recipe that we think young readers will find very pleasant to eat. Young readers can stir up the no-cook sauce while the pasta and broccoli cooks.  For a fun way to practice fine motor skills, try eating with chopsticks!

Asian Noodles Recipe - The Story About Ping - Off the Shelf

Asian Noodles

Serves 4. 

Adapted from Chopsticks: The Art of Asian Eating.


  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini or smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger OR 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons minced scallions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and broccoli and cook for 6-8 minutes, until pasta is tender. 
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the oil, tahini or peanut butter, soy sauce, water, garlic, ginger, vinegar, and sugar until well combined. 
  3. Drain pasta and broccoli and return to pot (removed from heat). Add sauce mixture and stir until sauce coats noodles. Divide between 4 bowls and top with minced scallions. 

Related Recipe: Bamboo Stir Fry 


Where in the World?

Bring the story of Ping alive by showing your young reader where the little duck lived. Using a globe or world map, find China and the Yangtze River, then compare to where you live on the map. 


Fuzzy Ducks

Fuzzy Ducks Pipe Cleaner Drawing Activity - The Story About Ping - Off the Shelf

The lowly pipe cleaner is often overlooked as a valued art material. This week, we decided to elevate its status by exploring how lines become shapes and figures. Pipe cleaner lends themselves so well to this type of exploration  because is allows young readers to create in a three-dimensional medium as opposed to only flat surfaces. The other great attribute pipe cleaners offer is the ability to simple re-bend if a young artist changes his or her mind about a line or shape. This flexibility in redoing makes pipe cleaners perfect for open-ended exportation. 

Fuzzy Ducks

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Scissors
  1. Lay out pipe cleaners. Encourage your young reader to bend and twist to create their own version of Ping. If lengths are too long, pipe cleaners can easily be cut with scissors to various lengths. 

Related Activity: Quack Quack Collage 


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