Title: The Magic Pillow
Author and Illustrator: Demi
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.6
Concepts: poverty, scarcity, wants and needs, money
Review: Acclaimed writer and illustrator Demi presents this adaptation of an old Chinese folktale about a boy named Ping who lives in poverty and learns what it means to have true happiness. Ping’s family resides on a tiny plot of land and depends on Ping to collect firewood in the mountains. One day as Ping is engaged in this work, a heavy snowfall prevents him from returning home and he seeks shelter at an inn. Although a warm meal from the innkeeper and a magic show by a great magician temporarily distract Ping from his woes, he soon becomes sad again. Puzzled by the sadness, the magician talks with Ping and learns that Ping believes his family’s economic hardship will prevent him from becoming a great person with money, power, and fame. The wise man knows better, of course, and lends Ping a magic pillow that gives him new insight into the downside of money and the source of real happiness.
This splendid book gives parents and teachers an excellent vehicle for teaching about scarcity, one of the first economics concepts to which younger children are exposed in school and in their daily experiences. Many readers will recognize and appreciate the artist’s unique style, with intricate images, bold colors, and gold tones. The Magic Pillow offers an unrivaled opportunity to expose children to exquisite art work and an important lesson about money all in one sitting.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children