Pacilio, V.J. Ling Cho and His Three Friends. Illustrated by Scott Cook. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000. ISBN 0-374-34534-7. $16.00. 32 pp.”* PreS-3 PB Reviewed by AnnMarie Hamar Ling Cho is a prosperous farmer who wants to share his bountiful crop of wheat with his less fortunate friends Ben Lo, Tsung Tae, and Quan Jen. Not wanting to offend them by offering the wheat as charity, he makes a deal with them instead. Each man will take a wagonload of wheat to sell in the marketplace, and then share the profits equally with Ling Cho. The kindhearted farmer, however, soon discovers how devious his friends are. The only thing all three give him is an excuse about why they returned without money. Ben Lo tells Ling Cho he was attacked by a horrible wheat-eating monster. Tsung Tae says he lost Ling Cho’s half of the money. Quan Jen admits he never made it to the marketplace because he used the wheat to feed his starving family. After hearing his friends’ tales of woe, Ling Cho apologizes profusely to Ben Lo and Tsung Tae telling them he never meant to cause them such distress. He promises he will not put them in such a difficult position again by refusing to allow them to help with the next harvest. Ling Cho chastises Quan Jen not only for taking his wheat but also for allowing Quan’s wife and children to go hungry for so long. He reminds Quan that true friends put aside their pride and accept help from others. Cho tells him that he will repay his debt by helping with the harvest every autumn and accepting as payment two wagonloads of wheat for his family. Pacilio’s first book is a witty, rhymed story of honesty, wisdom, and friendship that teaches without begin preachy. Illustrator Scott Cook creates yellow, brown, and gold backgrounds reminiscent of wheat fields and characters that are amusing and energetic. His ability to capture a wide range of emotion down to the subtlest facial expression is impressive.
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