A poor boy tricks a rich one into selling the shade of his tree.
Demi returns with another Chinese-inspired tale rendered in her distinct, meticulous watercolors. Tan Tan is a rich boy who lives in a big house shaded by a large tree. One day he spots Ping, a poor boy, sitting under the tree’s branches and declares he owns all of the tree—including its shade. Ping tricks greedy Tan Tan into selling him its shade. Much to Tan Tan’s dismay, Ping and his friends (both animal and human) sit in the tree’s shade wherever it lands: on Tan Tan’s bed and even at his birthday party. Frustrated, Tan Tan abandons his home to move into one with no tree, no shade—and no friends. Ping invites his friends to move into the empty house with him and soon accepts Tan Tan’s return with open arms. Like a folk tale, Demi’s story presents a bad-versus-good scenario with no gray in between. While Tan Tan’s selfishness is hardly admirable, trickster Ping cheerfully takes advantage of their agreement. When Tan Tan’s return is accepted without explanation or apology, readers can’t tell whether this was Ping’s plan all along or whether he just had a sudden change of heart. Demi’s paintings are framed in large medallions on every page, her palette contrasting Tan Tan’s red-and-gold outfit to Ping’s simple white one.
An oversimplified tale of greed and generosity. (Picture book. 3-6)