The Tale of the Magic Saucepan

by Martin Katanchi-Shimotani

"One cold early morning at the end of November, just after Joshua had opened the store, an old man came to see him. 'Excuse me,' the old man said, 'I would like to sell this saucepan.'"

This is the story of twelve-year-old Joshua who sells copper in the market to provide for his sick, old mother. Although some days he makes little to no money—not even enough to pay their bills—he returns each morning to the market. When a desperate old man appears at his kiosk with an old saucepan and asks Joshua to buy it from him, Joshua agrees, but must first work all day to make the money to do so. Although he is sure the saucepan is too old to be worth anything, Joshua keeps his promise and buys the pan. The grateful old man tells Joshua that the pan is magic and gives him the secret word to be granted wishes. Joshua uses his first wishes to give his mother a delicious meal and serve an entire Christmas dinner to as many people as he can. The magical saucepan recognizes the kindness in Joshua and asks him what is the one thing that Joshua wants for himself. An education, Joshua answers. Joshua is transported across time to generations later when he is a seventy-seven-year-old retired teacher surrounded by his grateful family. Because of Joshua's schooling, he was able to win the Nobel Peace Prize and provide an education for his children and grandchildren.

This is a hopeful children's book about a young boy and the magical saucepan he buys from a desperate old man. The author has crafted a simple story about the importance of charity and how giving unto others can sometimes have surprising and lasting effects for a generation to come. Not only does Joshua work to support his mother, he also gladly works an entire day to help feed a desperate old man. Children will watch the selfless Joshua use his first wish to make a beautiful meal for his sick mother, rather than ask for something for himself. In so doing, young readers will see how charity towards others is the greatest gift one can give to oneself—and may even change the entire trajectory of one's own life. Parents, teachers, and librarians will love this delicate tale of kindness.

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