Grandfather Tang’s Story

Reading level: Ages 4-8 From Publishers Weekly: Here’s a folktale with a twist: Tompert uses tangrams, a traditional "visual aid" employed by Chinese storytellers, to spin a tale about two shape-changing fox fairies. Seven "tans" (standard-sized pieces of a square) are arranged and rearranged to represent various characters in the story. The fox fairies vie to outdo each other—the first one becomes a rabbit, the other a dog who chases him, and so on—but when the two chase each other right into danger, they finally have to set their competition aside and pull together. Parker’s graceful, impressionistic illustrations have a gentle Oriental flavor, and the constantly changing tangram configurations add a novel touch. A traceable tangram is provided at the end for do-it-yourselfers. Ages 3-7. Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. —This text refers to the Hardcover edition. From School Library Journal: Kindergarten-Grade 4— Two competitive fox fairies go through rapid physical transformations until a hunter’s arrow reminds them of their true friendship. This original tangram tale is framed by the loving relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter as they share the story under the shade of an old tree, and culminates in a tangram of an old man and a girl likewise resting. Tangrams, ancient Chinese puzzles in which a square is cut into seven traditional pieces (each called a tan), are arranged into patterns used to help tell the story. Parker’s watercolor washes complement the text, adding energy and tension, as well as evoking oriental brushwork technique. However, the text is strong enough to stand on its own, and will be valued by storytellers and listeners alike. —Carolyn Noah, Worcester Public Library, MA Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. —This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
Year of Publication
paperback edition
Number of Pages
Dragonfly Books
ISSN Number
ISBN-10: 0517885581
Average: 5 (3 votes)


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Excellent Integrative Resource

Field of Interest/Specialty: ESL
Posted On: 12/03/2015

Grandfather Tang is a timeless classic! I've used this book for 10 years with my 3rd grade classes to teach an integrative unit on Geometry (spatial relationships, basic shapes, lines,...), Chinese traditions, sequencing, craft of storytelling, and various reading topics. The images in the story have been beautifully designed in what appears to be traditional Chinese watercolor style. The students love following along and trying their hands at creating the various creatures (foxes, turtles, goldfish,...) using a tangram template that I provide them with during the story. At the end of the story, students are invited to summarize the story by using the Tangrams.

Tang's Story- Great book and activity

Field of Interest/Specialty: early childhood/ elementary
Posted On: 11/21/2013

Grandfather Tang’s Story
By Ann Tompert
Review By: Jessica Glenn- Elementary Substitute- Central PA
In this book Grandfather Tang shares a Chnese folktale with his granddaughter Little Soo. Grandfather Tang tells Little Soo a story about two competitive “fox fairies” who change into different animals trying to outdo one another but when they find themselves in danger they cooperate. Grandpa Tang uses tangrams in order to show the different animals that the “Fox Fairies”become.
This story would be a great story to review some simple solid shapes during a geometry unit with 3rd or 4th graders. The students could follow along and create the different animals that are found in the story as a class or in small groups during small group activity

Grandfather Tang's Story is an excellent resource for the classroom.

Field of Interest/Specialty: Grade 4
Posted On: 05/08/2012

Grandfather Tang's Story gets 5 stars for being an excellent resource for classroom teachers. In addition to providing background knowledge in the area of tangrams, the story also exposes children to an ancient Chinese game. In the story, Grandfather Tang and his granddaughter are making different animal shapes with tangrams. With each shape that they make, Grandfather Tang tells a story. Little by little each shape becomes another and the story continues until, at last, Little Soo and Grandfather Tang put their tangram pieces together to form a picture of a man and little girl sitting under a tree.
This story was an excellent introduction to the study of fractions using tangrams. Utilizing the hands-on method of teaching with the book, allowed the students to handle and manipulate the tangrams while learning about an aspect of Chinese culture.