Two of Everything


Lily Toy Hong

It took me ten years to discover this book, but it was well worth the wait! Ms Hong has retold and illustrated a Chinese folktale. The story recounts what happens when an elderly and impoverished Chinese farmer, Mr. Haktak, discovers a large pot buried in the field he has been digging for years.

Thinking that the pot may be helpful to his wife, Mr. Haktak carts the pot home. As he stumbles along, he drops his purse, containing his last 5 gold coins. To keep from losing it, he tosses it into the pot.

At home, his wife reaches into the pot to get the purse, but out come two purses. Her hairpin falls into the pot and she finds two hairpins in the pot. They quickly figure out that the pot will double things put into it and proceed to make a second winter coat where they had only one. They have a wonderful time doubling all their food. It is Mrs. Haktak who figures out that they can have anything they want. She put the purse into the pot over and over until "the floor was covered with coins."

Disaster strikes the next day when Mrs. Haktak falls into the pot. Of course, out come two Mrs. Haktaks. This causes a severe problem for Mr. Haktak, until he, too, falls in the pot. With two of each, there is double the fun, and enough of everything for all of them. They built two identical houses, side by side and were careful never to fall in the pot again!

There are math possibilities here. TERC suggests having students write math riddles. What they actually are is not riddles, but word problems. Students can choose a double and write a story problem illustrating the double and using the Magic Pot. For example:

Jasmin had 5 barrettes. She put them all in the Magic Pot. How many barrettes did she take out? 5 + 5 = 10

This book is great for the trait of Ideas. Students could write a story about what would happen if they dropped something in the pot. Ask them to think about what the results would be. One of my students has always wanted to be a twin, and this was a perfect way of writing about being half of twins.

Some students wanted to change what the pot did. We talked about what might happen if the pot made you young, or old. What if it made you a boy instead of a girl, or a girl instead of a boy? What if it turned you into an animal? What if the magic pot took you back in time? What if it moved you forward in time? No matter what grade level your students are, there is certain to be an idea about the Magic Pot which can spark their imaginations!

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