Eighteen Vats of Water

  • Interest Level: Grade 2 - Grade 5
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

As long as he can remember, Xian has wanted to be a great calligrapher, like his father.

When he turns six, he’s finally old enough to start studying. Calligraphy is more than writing—it’s painting—and Xian learns how much work and creativity go into what look like effortless strokes.

Based on stories still told about Xian and his father, famous calligraphers of the 4th century, Eighteen Vats of Water is about determination, creativity, and learning how to see, as well as the importance of family traditions.

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Interest Level Grade 2 - Grade 5
Reading Level Grade 3
Genre Picture Books
Category Diverse Books: #OwnVoices, Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diversity, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: D Relationship Skills, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2022
Publisher Creston Books
Imprint Creston Books
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2022-04-05
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS JUV016030, JUV003000, JUV013060
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 9 x 11
Lexile 960
Features Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Original artwork, and Reviewed

Author: Ji-li Jiang

Ji-li Jiang is the author of Red Scarf Girl, an award-winning bestseller based on her memories of surviving the Cultural Revolution in China. She has since written picture books featuring Chinese folklore and history.

Illustrator: Nadia Hsieh

Nadia Hsieh uses art to tell stories. Her previous book, Eighteen Vats of Water, told a traditional slice of Chinese history. In Picnic Planet, she literally takes us out of this world.

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  • CBC Favorites Award List, Winner, 2023
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2023



“An elegantly crafted, inspiring tale about the fine art of dedication.”—Booklist