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The Magical Starfruit Tree

A Chinese Folktale

Illustrated by Shao Wei Liu
Published by Beyond Words
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

An impecunious boy's act of kindness to an old beggar bears a magical tree of starfruit for all the hungry Chinese villagers, except a miserly peddler who gets his comeuppance for his past stinginess.

This Chinese folktale tells the story of a greedy peddler, Ah-Di, a kind-hearted young boy, Ming-Ming, and an old beggar on a hot day. In spite of the heat and the old man's apparent thirst, the miserly peddler refuses to give him a juicy starfruit. Although he was little, Ming-Ming offers to buy a piece of fruit for the old man. The beggar gratefully accepts and eats the fruit, saving only one seed. Calling for someone to bring him a pot of hot water, he plants the seed.

The old man uses his magic to make the seed grow, blossom, and bear fruit, all before the eyes of the bewildered crowd. In the end there is enough fruit for everyone, the peddler is chastised for his greedy ways, and Ming-Ming is rewarded for his generosity.

The Magical Starfruit Tree teaches children the virtue of sharing and introduces the concept of respect for the elderly, which are corner-stones of Chinese philosophy and all-too-often overlooked in American culture.

Rosalind Wang was born in China, grew up in Taiwan, and currently resides in Vancouver, Washington. While she was working as a public librarian in Vancouver, Wang was frustrated that she was unable to find any Chinese folktales for her storytelling hour. Eventually, finding none, Wang decided to write them herself. The Magical Starfruit Tree, her second book based on a traditional Chinese tale, follows The Fourth Question, published in 1991. Wang is an education librarian at Portland State University.

Shao Wei Liu was born in Hangzhou, China, and came to the United States in 1982. She graduated with BFA and MFA degrees in Fine Arts from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. Her art has been published in The Chinese New Year's Dragon (Modern Curriculum Press, 1992), and in magazines and on greeting cards. Liu lives in San Jose, California, with her two children.

  • Publisher: Beyond Words (February 1, 1994)
  • Length: 32 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780941831895