Michael's Reviews > The Story About Ping

The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
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's review
Oct 22, 2010

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bookshelves: childrens-books

Since this is a children's book review, I ought to warn you:


Okay, so this book is FUCKED up. It's about a cute little duck who lives somewhere in China, and he's one of the many ducks that lives on some kinda boat, and every day he's supposed to get back on the boat at the end of his time hanging out in the water. And, every day, the last duck on the boat gets hit on the butt by the human who is in charge of the boat. It's VIOLENT!

So, our protagonist, named PING, loses track of time, and he sees that he's going to be the last duck on the boat, and instead of getting on, he hides. Then, he's LOST in the GREAT BIG WORLD, and it's SCARY. He gets, like, KIDNAPPED and stuff, and eventually gets eaten.

No, he doesn't get eaten. I was checking to see if you were paying attention. He gets picked up by a cute little boy, who then helps him get back to his boat, and he lives kinda-sorta-happily-ever-after on the boat with the evil man who occasionally beats him. LOVELY, huh?

Seriously, Ping is a jacked up little book, and if your goal is to make sure your abused children never get up the courage to run away, this is the book to own. But despite the strange kinda-sorta message of the book, I LOVED it when I was a little kid because my mom read it to me all the time. And, whenever she said the name of the duck, which was Ping, she would poke me on the nose and say "PING!" in this funny high-pitched voice, and every time I would laugh. This is why I liked the book Ping, not because of its bizarre portrayal of reality, and its twisted, sadomasochistic message.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 22, 2010 – Shelved
October 22, 2010 – Shelved as: childrens-books

Comments (showing 1-47 of 47) (47 new)

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message 1: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Butterfly in the sky, I can fly twice as high.

message 2: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Holley What do you think about the idea of having a "language alert" box that reviewers could check. I mean, I guess we could all self-alert, like you did in this one, but don't you think it would be kind of convenient to weed out the faint of heart on the kid book reviews? Ceridwen came up with that idea, and I wonder if anyone's proposed it on the feedback thread yet.

message 3: by karen (new)

karen awww

Michael I think that's a really good idea, although it'll be a pain to go back through and click that box on all of my reviews. I think it would be much more effective than just warning people the moment before you start swearing, like I did here.

Are you in the feedback group?

Michael Or, we could just start posting one of these at the top of each review:


Michael No, the boat sailed out to the deep water, where all the sharks and eels and killer whales are. He's a cute little baby duck, so he can't go out to the deep parts of the water, and is mostly inept and depedent upon the human to protect it from everything but physical and mental abuse.

message 7: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Holley Michael wrote: "Are you in the feedback group?"

I'm kind of tentatively in the feedback group. I hate it over there. It's kind of like you describe about the deep parts of the water. Sharks and eels and stuff.

It would have to be a totally optional checkbox like the spoiler one, where you would just say to yourself, "Is the book directed toward a younger audience or the faint-hearted, but the review is not?" Then it would re-direct the fight from whether it's appropriate to swear in the review to whether the box should have been checked.

message 8: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Holley For example, only a fucking fool would say you need to language alert Fu*k the Reluctant because look at the fucking title before you read the review!

Michael "The only thing worse than slaving away, working for The Man is being cut off from the aegis of the paternalist/authoritarian system."

Actually, I think that's exactly what this book said on the last page. It went over my head slightly, but it was all good, because I understood the part about my mom poking my nose and saying "PING" repeatedly.

They weren't abusive. And, when they were, it was because I deserved it.

For example, only a fucking fool would say you need to language alert Fu*k the Reluctant because look at the fucking title before you read the review!

Exact-fucking-ly! Or Everybody P**ps. Even the title is scatalogical, so there's bound to be some mentioning of really disturbing personal experiences, dates gone wrong, etc.

message 10: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Holley Exactly! And fighting about clicking the button will distract the wannabe censors from fighting about actually censoring the review.

Michael And fighting about clicking the button will distract the wannabe censors from fighting about actually censoring the review.

I agree! Anything that distracts censors from censoring--including imprisoning them in labyrinths full of minotaurs--is okay by me.

message 12: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Holley Okay, I posted the idea here: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...

message 13: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Holley Michael wrote: "I agree! Anything that distracts censors from censoring--including im..."

Oh, the labyrinths full of minotaurs idea is even better . . .

message 14: by Esteban (new)

Esteban del Mal This thread is Maoist.


message 15: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Holley You mean, like, people would flag reviews if the box wasn't checked?

message 16: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Holley REALLY?! That's so weird. People need to get a life and stop freaking FLAGGING stuff. Except Isaiah. He needs to keep flagging things. But he should be the ONLY ONE.

message 17: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Isaiah needs to keep flagging HIMSELF. And only himself. Because it makes me spit up at my computer.

message 18: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine 1. goodreads refuses to let me like your review.

2. I don't have any memory of this book being violent, and I find that minorly creepy.

Michael I've had reviews flagged because people think I've included spoilers. This would be no different.

That's ridiculous. If it's going to lead to more censorship, then I say, let the children read about the sequel to Everyone Poops.

I don't have any memory of this book being violent, and I find that minorly creepy.

You were probably indoctrinated by the book at a young enough age that, like me, you were more concerned with the cute little duck than you were with the subject matter of the book. You don't remember the duck getting spanked?

If you look carefully, you can see a copy of Ping on the bookshelf in the back.

Before Darth Vader became obsessed with Hogwarts, he used to read the storm troopers Ping every night to make sure they didn't think about joining the rebellion.


message 20: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Michael wrote: "You were probably indoctrinated by the book at a young enough age that, like me, you were more concerned with the cute little duck than you were with the subject matter of the book. You don't remember the duck getting spanked?

I don't but I honestly can only remember the actual plot of make way for ducklings because I had it as a movie. I wasn't very good at reading as a child so probably my mom read this to me 3 or 4 times then I just looked at the pictures.

message 21: by Esteban (new)

Esteban del Mal Is it just me, or is everyone who is critical of this book a non-parent? As a parent, I say whack the little shit.

message 22: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine what are you talking about I have 10 children.

message 23: by Esteban (new)

Esteban del Mal If you like, I can negotiate a price for each one with my Chinese business associate.

message 24: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine what kind of price, what will he do if they don't get back to the boat in time?

message 25: by Esteban (new)

Esteban del Mal You scared him off by asking too many questions. Pick out the runt of the litter, just in case he comes back. (That way you can keep the rest to sharecrop for you and to attend you in your dotage.)

message 26: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine I don't think we do that in my family.

Michael Jasmine, if you sell a couple of your children, maybe you can negotiate for my freedom. I'm sick of planting rice and wearing this stupid hat.

message 28: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine can I have the hat?

Michael I'll give you the hat, and all of the opium I can smuggle back.

Well, half of the opium.

message 30: by Ademption (new)

Ademption I remember this book being violent and off-putting.

I also loved it as a kid.

message 31: by Maryanne (new)

Maryanne Lol, this thread is hilarious. Keep it up, and you'll have a book.

message 32: by Jen (new)

Jen Jasmine wrote: "1. goodreads refuses to let me like your review.

2. I don't have any memory of this book being violent, and I find that minorly creepy."

It's okay, Jasmine, I totally don't remember the violence either.

And Michael, I hope with all my heart that I remember to tap you on the nose and say, "Ping!" the next time I see you. You know, like when David has kids and you buy him this book.

Michael And I so will! "Indoctrinate teh children early," that's the motto I live by. When they get old enough, I'm going to have them read it to other little children as well...spread the terror, that's the other motto I live by.

message 34: by Eva (new) - rated it 1 star

Eva Leger I had to chime in and say I love your review. This book is exactly how you say and I'll be reviewing it in a minute - although far less hilarious.
I read it when my daughter and actually cut parts out when I was reading it. I know it was published back in 1933 but damn. The poor duck.
And GR will only actually actively hide a review with spoilers if it decides the review does in fact have a spoiler. People can flag it all they want, if there is no spoiler nothing will be done.
The language is allowed on GR, people can flag away, unless it's off-topic, threatening, etc. (there's a list if you click the flag link you can look at) nothing will be done again.
I try not to use a lot of foul language but something it just can't be helped IMO. With childrens books also at times. :-)

Michael The language is allowed on GR, people can flag away

That's true, except I think this review was much more on topic than I usually am...often, I blur the lines between on and off topic to a greater degree. And sometimes I jump over the line completely and dance around in off-topic-land.

But, despite my immediate gung ho-ness for a way to mark reviews as having swearing in them, I think it's sending the wrong message...it draws more attention to the swearing when I think the percentage of people who actually care is very small on this website. And, it opens up the age old question of at what point does the swearing become offensive enough to be marked? The relative lack of censorship--barring reviews that "slander" other reviewers--is one of this website's strengths, and I think it should be left in the reviewer's hands to decide whether they've said something it's necessary to warn readers about. That's where my opinion is right now, anyway.

message 36: by Eva (new) - rated it 1 star

Eva Leger If the link you provided is any example I'd have to agree that this review was more on topic than usual. I also agree with someone who commented to you on the other book, I'll like a review based on different factors, not just the description of the book. They mentioned a few different aspects.
I agree 100% about flagging/marking reviews. So far I've not had one person comment me about language. Not that all my reviews use "bad" language but there are enough of them. I think it's one of the great parts of this site also.
By the way, you have some hilarious friends. The review and comments on the link you gave was actually a pleasure to read. :-)

Michael Thank you kindly, Eva! I agree that the actual discussion of a book isn't something I'm concerned about in most cases. Some of my favorite reviews are written by reviewers who have TOTALLY different taste in books than I do, but I still enjoy them because the reviews are creative/thoughtful/funny. I don't think I've ever voted on a review because I 'agree' with the reviewer, or feel like they did a good job of summarizing the story. If I wanted to read something like that, I'd probably read a lot more published reviews.

I guess that, when I'm reading reviews on this site, I'm looking more for entertainment value, whether that comes from analysis or silliness. It's also good for deciding what books I may want to read, but that's secondary to having fun reading the reviews. But, when I read professional reviews, it's purely because I'm curious about the book itself.

Huh. I never thought about it that way before.

And thanks! I think my friends are hilarious, too.

Penelope Wow. I'm gonna have to re-read thisone. I just have happy read-out-loud memories and I was always fond of duck stories - yellow walking in a row, the feet paddling under water and so forth. Yet, how many children's books and experiences AREN'T intended to assimilate us.

Christy Hmmmm-remembered loving it but feeling sad. Need to look at this one again I guess.

message 41: by Ruth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ruth E. R. Did you even notice that the book was written in 1933, and that it takes place in China? Why not open up your mind to the fact that not everyone thinks, or thought, nor should they be required to think, the same way you do.

Michael If I gave the false impression that I was trying to be objective, I apologize. In this review, I was expressing the way this book exists for me, as someone who remembers loving it as a child, but then looks back at the themes as an adult.

As a small child, I didn't look into the book's history. My parents didn't talk to me about the cultural differences between the U.S. and China as we read it. At the age of 3 or 4, I was not yet ready to embrace ethical pluralism.

In other words, this review is every bit as subjective as the book in question, and I would not advise taking it very seriously.

message 43: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Stowell Is this a review of the book or a forum?? Is it a good read for my 4 year old daughter or should I skip it?

Michael I would recommend skipping it, based on the fact that it's not amazingly interesting, it seemed creepy even when I was a kid, and I feel like the moral of the story is "Do what you're supposed to, even if your parents/owners are horrible to you."

message 45: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea When I was little I was very sensitive to loud noises, and once my kindergarten teacher (a known hag) was telling me a thing just as the spanky bit came up on our audiobook. I instinctively put my fingers in my ears and boy you should have heard that lady yell. I hope she's dead.

Michael From your description, I am picturing an older version of Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. We should start testing people for sadism before we let them teach little kids!

Carrie Brown I discussed why the last duck got whacked with my 10 year old... the owner used this tool to train the ducks to come back quickly when he called... coming back to a good parent who is preventing them from becoming a bird with a ring around its neck for catching fish or becoming duck dinner elsewhere. There's a kindness to this disciplinary tool (though I'm not technically "for" spanking).

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