Authors: Jamie Rix
First edition for the United States published
in 2013 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Text Â© Jamie Rix 2012
Illustrator Â© Sam Hearn 2012
First published in 2012 by HarperCollins Children's Books
77â85 Fulham Palace Road
Hammersmith, London W6 8JB
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the written permission of the copyright owner.
All inquiries should be addressed to:
Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
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Hauppauge, New York 11788
Print edition ISBN: 978-1-4380-0308-5
Library of Congress Catalog No.: 2013936281
First eBook Publication: August 2013
Table of Contents
hey were the ugliest bandits that Ping had ever seenâfaces as creased as twisted towels and scars as thick as earthworms. They had snatched the Emperor of China from his golden carriage while he was visiting Emperor Qin's terracotta army at the Great Wall, thrown him across the back of a horse, and were preparing to escape into the hills with their prize. People stood around horrified, not knowing what to do. Only one person could save the kingdom. Ping the Unpetrified! The Emperor's bodyguard! Standing up on his back legs beside the pottery warriors, the panda cub sucked in his tummy, held his breath, and raised his head in a noble, warrior-like way. He was so perfectly camouflaged amongst the statues that the bandits walked right past him without so much as a glance in his direction. That was their mistake.
Ping leaped out behind them.
“Where are you going with my Emperor?” he growled.
“And who are you?” snarled Stinkie McScar, the bandit leader, as he turned around slowly and spat out a tooth.
“The name's Ping!” said Ping. Then with a bloodcurdling wail of “Banshai!” he sprang forward, floored Stinkie with a ninja kick, snatched the Emperor off the horse, and set off running down the Great Wall of China with the bandits giving chase.
“Where are you taking me?” the Emperor screamed as he bounced up and down on the panda cub's back.
“To safety,” came Ping's steely reply. “Now be quiet and hold your breath.” And with that, Ping leaped off the top of the Great Wall and plunged three hundred feet into the river below. The water was cold and the current strong, but Ping was a powerful swimmer and in less than six strokes he had the Emperor safe on the bank.
“My mustache is wet,” said the Emperor.
“Just be thankful you've still got a head to grow one on,” said Ping. “We're not out of the woods yet, Your Emperorship.”
Screaming loud for all to hear, the bandits burst out of the trees and ran toward them. Ping wrapped his arms around the Emperor's waist and backflipped onto the top of a mound of dry earth.
“We're safe up here,” he said. “Now blow them a raspberry.”
“But I'm an Emperor,” said the Emperor. “And Emperors must remain dignified at all times.”
“Then it's lucky I'm here!” roared Ping, spinning around, wiggling his bottom and blowing a raspberry at Stinkie McScar through his legs. Angered by the panda cub's insult, the bandits charged, but just as they were within striking distance, Ping grabbed the Emperor for a second time and somersaulted off the mound.
“Hey, ugly muglies,” Ping shouted up at the bandits, who were now standing in a huddle on the top, “Check out what's under your feet.” As he spoke, the mound collapsed under their weight and the bandits plunged into a nest of deadly termites that quickly gobbled them up.
That was when Ping woke up.
“Oh, fiddlesticks,” he groaned, taking in his surroundings. “Another day, another daydream.”
It was first thing in the morning, and Ping was lying on a bed of rhododendron leaves in a clearing in the Wolagong Nature Reserve. Next to him lay his mother, Mao Mao, and twin sister, An, both smiling serenely as they chomped on opposite ends of the same stick of bamboo.