A Grain of Rice

A Grain of Rice by Helena Clare Pittman

First Published: 1986
Genre: picture book, fairy tale
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Once a year the Emperor of China opened his court so that even the humblest of his people could come before him.

Reason for Reading: read aloud the 7yo.

Comments: A lowly peasant asks to marry the princess and is scorned. However, the princess takes kindly to him and asks her father to hire him. So the peasant goes to work in the storeroom and such a friendly, hard worker as he quickly rises in position. He moves on to the kitchen and his dishes are exquisite. The princess sneaks down to the kitchens to watch him and the two fall in love. The princess realizes she will never be allowed to marry so with a broken heart she soon sickens and death is near. The Emperor vows to give anything to the man who can save his daughter. The peasant mixes a potion which, when the princess hears is from him, heals her very quickly. But alas, when the peasant again asks for her hand the Emperor says it is the one thing he cannot give; a commoner may not ever marry a princess. The peasant then says he will be happy with one grain of rice. This is the beginning of his plan to get what he really wants.

I love this story. It is an original fairy tale set in fifteenth century China. It contains all the elements of a romantic fairy tale. The prince's determination and the cleverness of his trick makes this appealing to both girls and boys. The 7yo thought it was very good. Pittman also illustrated the story and the line drawings are detailed and full of motion. Recommended.


  1. I read this book at a story time program at my library last year, and the kids, loved it! They were riveted. :-)

  2. This has been a family favorite for years!


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