‘Ling Li’s Lantern’ written by Steve Heron and illustrated by Benjamin Johnston is a touching and uplifting parable about kindness, compassion and true wisdom. This tale pulled at our heartstrings and inspired lively discussions about what it means to be wise as well as demonstrate wisdom.

This tale is set in a Chinese village and begins with a wise village elder who sets his three children a challenge to foster wisdom. Their task is to use a small number of coins to fill a pagoda. Jingming, the oldest child quickly springs into action and employs a team to help him complete this quest. He is forward thinking and has a plan to fill his pagoda. Miao, the middle child is inspired by an idea that will fill the pagoda quickly. Like his older brother, he also employs help and efficiently fills his pagoda. Ling Li, the youngest child, sets off to complete this challenge with an open mind and a plan to find inspiration in the village. On the way to the village, she shows compassion to four different people who are in need of help and kindness. Each time she helps these people she uses her coins without thinking about her diminishing money supply, rather reacting compassionately to the needs of others. As the sun begins to set, Ling Li’s attention turns to her father’s challenge as she still has to decide what she is going to spend her few remaining coins on to fill her pagoda. She purchases a plain white lantern. Ling Li is concerned she will disappoint her father with this purchase, but her astute father responds in a moving way she does not expect.

The detailed illustrations are mesmerising as they perfectly capture Chinese culture, architecture and landscapes. Benjamin’s Johnston’s background in architecture results in such authentic scenes featuring pagodas, bridges and a village that have an outstanding sense of scale and realism. Light is central to this story and the illustrations capture this perfectly as the source of light on the pages commands your attention.

This heartwarming book can be purchased from the MidnightSun Publishing website.

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