The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes

★ “The hero of the original tale was a child … in this version, he’s the author of the plan and the focus of the action, and the story is the better for it.” — Publishers Weekly★ “… a satisfying conclusion…whimsical illustrations. Backmatter explains the author’s interest in folktales and Chinese traditions. There are also guidelines for making a Chinese New Year’s Parade Robe. ” — Booklist

“A clever retelling buttressed by a fascinating backstory and vivid art.” — Kirkus Review

“A variant of an oft-told classic that is suitable for classroom and individual reading.” — School Library Journal

“elegant and satisfying story.” — Wall Street Journal

“an appealing twist on a well-loved tale” — The Guardian

“traditional and modern sensibilities elevate this ‘real’ and relevant story about self-importance and truth…”  — The San Francisco Chronicle

“… classy, witty and clever retelling … an added bonus, children learn how to make their own Chinese New Year robe by decorating a white pillowcase or old T-shirt.” — Lancashire Post

“…an engaging, universal morality tale presented in a fresh new cultural context. ” — Common Sense Media

“This retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale incorporates Compestine’s experiences of growing up in the Chinese Cultural Revolution to provide a thoughtful tale about corruption and poverty. David Roberts’ illustrations are lavish and full of his detailed eye for fashion and design.” — BookTrust

Rated among “the best new picture books” — the Children’s Book Reviews.

Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier


Named as one of the Top 3 Books by The Morning Call

Best Multi-Cultural Books of 2014 Award

NYPL’s 100 Best Children’s Books of 2014

Best Fiction on the Bank Street College 2015 List

The Nerdy Book Club’s Top 10 Historical Fiction List

Shortlisted for the Hong Kong Golden Dragon Book Award

CALA Best Book Award of 2014


“An excellent adventure with many facts about ancient China”
— The Morning Call

“Historical photos and Indiana Jones–style adventure enrich this tale of an unusual meeting between the Qin Dynasty and the 20th century.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Despite the hardships, both courageous characters work to uphold their respective duties: Shi to protect the tomb and Ming to protect the cultural legacy of China’s people. With archival art, recipes, and endnotes, this title is sure to be a hit in the classroom.”
— Booklist

“…ample adventure.”
— School Library Journal

“…a wonderful way to introduce readers to Chinese history, both near recent and ancient.”
— Association of Children’s Librarians

Revolution is Not a Dinner Partyrevolution-240

Henry Holt
Inspired by a true story and described as “Anne Frank during China’s Cultural Revolution,” this powerful novel is for adults and young adults alike.


California Book Award for Young Adult Literature

2008 ALA Best Books For Young Adults

2008 ALA Notable Children’s Books

2007 Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Fiction Book List

2007 San Francisco Chronicle Best Children’s Fiction Book List

2008 Chinese American Librarian Association Best Book

2007 New York Public Library 100 Best Titles for Reading and Sharing

2007 Fall Book Sense Children’s Picks

2007 Parent’s Choice Silver Honor

2007 Cybils Award Nomination for Young Adult Fiction

2008 Tayshas Reading List (Texas)

2007 Chicago Public Library Best of the Best

2007 Cleveland Public Library Celebrate With Books

2007 Cuyahoga County Public Library Great Books for Kids

2008 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People —
CBC and the National Council for Social Studies

2008 IRA Notable Books for a Global Society

2008 NCTE Award

2008 Capitol Choices — Best Books of the Year, Washington, D.C.

2008 New York Public Library’s Teen Age List

2008 Cooperative Children’s Book Center — Best of the Year

2008 Bank Street College of Education — Best Children’s Book

2008 Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts

2008 Book of the Year Award —
Northern California Independent Booksellers Association

2008 Women’s National Book Association’s Judy Lopez Memorial Awards Honor

2008-09 Maine Student Book Award

2008 Notable Children’s Books in the English Language Arts

2009 ATPE Book of the Month

2009 Sakura Medal Book

2008-2009 Nominated for the Maine Student Book Award



“A vivid account of one of the sad follies of history, made rich with details that only an impressionable young witness could supply” — The Christian Science Monitor

“In her spare, lyrical style, [she] vividly portrays a world turned upside down”

San Francisco Chronicle

A “gripping account of life during China’s Cultural Revolution”

— Publisher’s Weekly Starred review

“The Chinese Revolution is up close and personal in this touching historical novel”

— Book Sense Picks for Autumn 2007

Lyrical yet gripping

— Kirkus Reviews

“An excellent addition to historical fiction about this period in China’s history.” — School Library Journal

“Beautifully descriptive phrases allow this autobiographical fiction to come alive… Violence is highlighted in vivid detail

— Voya

“Like her cookbooks and children’s books, food plays an important role in her novel…”

— Lamorinda Sun

“…a great book – there’s no other way to put it.”

— Virginia Pilot

“[The] clipped, lyrical first person narrative sets a naïve child’s struggle to survive in the political panorama of spies and slogans.”

—  Booklist

Gut wrenching. Riveting… significant

— Richie Partington

A vantage point rarely seen in books about this era… An inspiring story

— Shelf Awareness

A Banquet for Hungry Ghostshungry-ghosts-cover

Henry Holt

According to Chinese tradition, those who die hungry or unjustly come back to haunt the living. Some are appeased with food. But not all ghosts are successfully mollified. In this chilling collection of stories, Ying takes readers on a journey through time and across different parts of China. From the building of the Great Wall in 200 BCE to the modern day of iPods, hungry ghosts continue to torment those who wronged them.At once a window into the history and culture of China and an ode to Chinese cuisine, this assortment of frightening tales — complete with historical notes and delectable recipes — will both scare and satiate!


Selected as a Notable Book for 2010 by the Children’s Literary Assembly

Selected by the AARP as a Grandparent’s Book for Children.

See the full jacket here


Ghost Stories with a Chinese Twist
— The San Francisco Chronicle

“…gruesome but delightful…laced with beautiful (as well as lurid) images… difficult to shake.”

— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“…will whet the appetites of …of ghost gourmet with a sophisticated palate.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“…offers up enough fright—and food—to keep kids returning for seconds.”

— Horn Book Review

“…chilling tales honoring Chinese food and ghost lore.”

— Booklist

“…deliciously frightening”

— School Library Journal

Blog Posts

Why I wrote Banquet – Blog Posts on

asianaccentCooking with an Asian Accent

HMH January 2014
Featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, The Boston Globe, Mercury News, Epicurious, and Jenn-Air’s blog. Interviews on Wisconsin Public Radio, and Connecticut Public Radio (38 minute mark).


“Compestine’s East-meets-West recipes are adventurous yet easy to prepare.”
— Publishers Weekly

…”her cooking reflects a combination of influences from her life.”
— Epicurious

ybomd-lightYing’s Best One Dish Meals

Sellers Publishing, September 2011


“The One Cookbook You Need This Fall! Ying’s simple, thoughtful approach to wholesome food is refreshing.”
Martha Stewart’s Whole Living

“A palate-expanding collection of flavor-packed meals that come together in a hurry.
Publisher’s Weekly

“Simple, quick familiar dishes with a global spin.”

“A selection of tasty and simple one-dish recipes that minimize time and effort and maximize taste and value.”
ForeWord Reviews

“It’s healthy food that tastes good too.”
San Jose Mercury News/
Oakland Tribune

“Effervescent, one-of-a-kind recipes that celebrate flavor and fresh ingredients.”

“Designed for working families who want to eat nutritious, home-cooked meals with fast-food timelines.”
Contra Costa Times

Linguine and Tuna With Spicy Orange Sauce featured in
Washington Post

Cooking with Green Teagreentea2

Avery/Penguin Putnam, 2000


“…well written, colorful, and filled with delicious and easy-to-follow recipes that are right for every kitchen. They are certainly right for mine, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything…not even for all the tea in China.”
— Chef Martin Yan, Yan Can Cook

“…a complete guide to cooking with this healthy beverage. Vegetarians will find satisfying recipes, and even meat eaters may be interested in the three-day diet and cleansing program.”
— Taste for Life

Crouching Tiger (Picture Book)ct-light_copy

Candlewick, September 2011


Winner of the Panda Book Award in China

Winner of The Morning Calm Award in South Korea

The Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book of 2011

CCBC Choices for 2012


“Poignant but not treacly in dealing with an immigrant child’s conflicting emotions toward a grandparent from the old country.”
— New York Times Sunday Book Review

“A story that can be enjoyed by all kids (and their parents).”
The Washington Post

“…universal appeal… handles the complexity of those feelings with subtlety and grace… best new children’s book.”
Huffington Post

“Quietly brilliant”
Chicago Tribunes, Books

“…a nuanced story that kids of all cultures will enjoy”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Readers will warm to the duo’s growing friendship and the gifts that come as Ming Da allows himself to enter Grandpa’s world.”
— Publisher’s Weekly Star Review

“A celebration of family and Chinese New Year along with a simple introduction to Wudang martial arts, especially tai chi—and to the idea that strength can be gentle.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“This text will prove to be of value to your collection because there are a limited number of fictional books for young readers about Chinese New Year.”
— Library Media Connection

“An attraction for martial arts fans… ideal for Chinese New Year and multicultural units.”

— Booklist

“one generation to understand another… wisdom that comes from such understanding”
Bookin’ with Sunny


runaway-wok-simple_copyThe Runaway Wok (Picture Book)

Penguin Dutton, Spring 2011

Now available in Scholastic paperback!


Featured title at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore

2013 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award (WCCPBA)Nominee

2012 Storytelling World Resource Award

2012 California Collections List, for school libraries

Scholastic Book Club Choice

2011 Lasting Connections Top 30 Titles from Booklist


“A captivating story capped by a recipe”

— San Francisco Chronicle

“… a classic retelling for any holiday celebration.”

— Deseret News, Salt Lake City

“Delicious food, giggly humor, all wrapped up in colorful packaging.”


The Real Story of Stone Soupstone-soup

Dutton/Penguin Putnam Spring 2007

A Junior Library Guild Selection!
In this delicious tale, Ying’s latest offering sets the record straight on the origins of stone soup!

ricecake2The Runaway Rice Cake

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2001

Now in its seventh printing!


“Compestine’s engaging tale brims with intriguing details of the traditions that surround the holiday…”
– Publishers Weekly

“…many libraries will want to add this, considering the depth of material about Chinese New Year.”


Boy DumplingsCropped Front Cover

Immedium, Spring 2016

  1. Begin with one hungry ghost
  2. Add a plump, delicious looking boy
  3. Mix them with an outrageous recipe!


“A fun, slightly spooky twist on the classic tale of a small child outwitting a villain”
School Library Journal

“… charming, whimsical fairy tale”
Midwest Book Review

“Children will delight in the ghost’s gullibility…. Compestine’s haunting tale is an entertaining, not-too-scary offering.”
Publisher’s Weekly

…a classic trickster tale, developing both characters and premise with humor.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Capped with a promising recipe for Boy-Free dumplings at the end, this crowd-pleaser will make a delicious storytime…”
ALA Booklist

“Exciting storytelling and Chinese culinary traditions create a delicious book for young readers.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“… HYSTERICAL! A wonderful ‘trickster tale,’ I can’t wake to make the dumpling recipe!”
Marla Conn, Readability

Praise for The Story of… Series

“A delightful series for school and public libraries looking to expand or deepen their collection of Chinese folk history.”
— School Library Journal, 2016

The Story of Chopsticks_Covers-12

Immedium, Spring 2016

Poor Kuai Kang! The youngest in his family, he never gets enough to eat. Then one day he comes up with a brilliant plan: He will use sticks to grab the food when it’s still too hot to touch. Before long, his brother and entire family are eating with sticks. Soon comes a big wedding the whole family will attend. Along with many gifts, the boys each bring a pair of sticks. Will the chopsticks be a hit? Or will Kuai get in the biggest trouble of his life?


“[A] modern pourquoi tale…rooted in Chinese culture and offers American readers an authentic glimpse of its traditions.”
— School Library Journal

“Like the hues in a stained glass window, [the colors] look brilliant…this well-designed book will please children in the primary grades…”

“Compestine (The Runaway Rice Cake, 2000) concocts a delicious blend of fact and fiction…this charming tale deserves a place in the multicultural curriculum. Xuan’s richly colored traditional Chinese cut paper illustrations lend authenticity.”
Kirkus Reviews

“…an attractive means for teaching readers about Chinese inventions in a non-didactic manner.”

— CM Magazine

_Covers-12The Story of Noodles

Immedium, Spring 2016

The annual cooking contest is coming up. Learn how the creative Kang boys may have invented the first noodle dish and three different techniques for eating them. Then try slurping some yourself with the “long-life noodle” recipe included at the end of this book.


“Back from The Story of Chopsticks, the Kang brothers are in for another culinary misadventure in The Story of Noodles.”
— Publishers Weekly

“This tale of the origin of noodles in China will be a welcome addition to multicultural units.”
— School Library Journal

“Even for readers who may have limited knowledge of China, these books demystify these cultural references.”
CM Magazine

The Story of Kites_Covers-12

Immedium, Spring 2016

Fresh from creating noodles and chopsticks (The Story of Noodles; The Story of Chopsticks), the inventive Kang brothers take to the air in The Story of Kites. The three boys, weary of chasing birds away from their family’s rice fields, experiment with ways to fly and instead come up with one of the most popular inventions of ancient China.


“…the playfulness and creativity of the Kang brothers make this … especially appealing”
School Library Journal

“Compestine’s lively, original folktale is filled with action, noise, and humor”

“… appeal to children in primary grades… exciting story”
Midwest Book Review

“…mischievous…of interest to bilingual families or students…”

CM Magazine

_Covers-12The Story of Paper

Immedium, Spring 2016

What trouble have Ting, Pan, and Kuai gotten into now? When they’re caught at school playing instead of doing their math, the teacher writes notes to their parents on each boy’s left hand and demands that they hold up their guilty palms for everyone to see. The boys wish they could invent something for the teacher to write on besides their hands-something small and private. Can the creative Kangs concoct a formula for something similar to what we know today as … paper? Learn how Ting, Pan, and Kuai spin their latest mischief into an important Chinese cultural invention, then try making your own homemade paper.


“ The ingenious Kang brothers, seen last in The Story of Kites, return for another entrepreneurial adventure. “

“The repetition of…the words…ants, and worms make this an attention-grabbing read-aloud…encourages the reader to be inventive, yet practical.”

– CM Magazine

dragon203D Is for Dragon Dance

Recommended by ALSC for 2006 holidays!

A is for Acrobats. B is for Balls. C is for Calligraphy. D is for Dragon Dance. From firecrackers to noodles, from red envelopes to the zodiac, young readers are introduced to the exciting traditions of the Chinese New Year.


“Warm [and] charming…. The artwork … is cheerful and bright, rather stylistic, with appealing repetitive details that will draw kids right in…. [It gives] a sense of both community and ordinary life during a special time of year.”
— Booklist

“The repetition of the phrases… grasshoppers, ants, and worms make this an attention-grabbing read-aloud… encourages the reader to be inventive, yet practical, when solving a problem”
—CM Magazine