The Story About Ping-“describes networking in terms even a child could understand”

I could not resist posting an Amazon reader’s review I had read below (highlighted in blue) that I came across by happenstance, whilst in a “serious” search on the web that I was conducting to compile a list of educational and moral books together to add to the Diffendoofer School library.  “The Story About Ping” book I have seen mentioned countless times on many homeschooler sites, especially during Spring, with many homeschoolers using this book as an aide to accompany a water theme, or earth day theme, etc.  So, of course “The Story About Ping” was one book that made my list to check out more thoroughly.  So, just to be sure what this book was exactly about again, and what the reviews were being given on the book, I did a quick search on Amazon, and started reading the reviews.  Hence, this is when I came across reading John E. Fracisco review of the book.  The author of the review, John E. Fracisco, tells us in a delightful, humorous, and imaginative innovative way that “The Story of Ping” wasn’t exactly meant to be written as a child’s story book, originally in 1933.  However, John E. Fracisco does state, “The book describes networking in terms even a child could understand”.  You really must read the entire review below to hopefully understand as I had, the humorous tone that the author intended to present to his audience in his review 😀  In closing, perhaps I actually should use “The Story About Ping” book as an aide to help my Diffendoofers understand how networking works, using John E. Fracisco’s review as a sort of guide to start out with 😉

The Story About Ping

Book cover: The Story About PingThe book by this title has nothing to do with networking, but that didn’t prevent a reader from Upper Volta, Uzbekistan contributing this short but delightful review, which was was briefly seen at theAmazon.Com bookseller web site, and is saved here as part of the story about the other ping. *grin*

The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack, Kurt Wiese (Illustrator)

Reading level: Baby-Preschool

Paperback – 36 pages (August 1977). Viking Pr; ISBN: 0140502416 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.17 x 8.86 x 7.15



The tale of a little duck alone on the Yangtze River, The Story About Ping is a sweet and funny book with wonderfully rich and colorful illustrations. On a day like any other, Ping sets off from the boat he calls home with his comically large family in search of “pleasant things to eat.” On this particular day, he is accidentally left behind when the boat leaves. Undaunted, the little duck heads out onto the Yangtze in search of his family, only to find new friends and adventures–and a bit of peril–around every bend.

The exceptional illustrations bring the lush Yangtze to life, from Ping’s family to the trained fishing birds he finds himself among to the faithfully rendered boats and fishermen. Certainly intended to be read aloud, The Story About Ping deserves a place on every young reader’s (or listener’s) shelf. (Picture book)


A childhood classic. “Kurt Wiese and Marjorie Flack have created in Ping a duckling of great individuality against a background (the Yangtze River) that has both accuracy and charm.”–The New York Times. Full-color illustrations.

Synopsis of the audio cassette edition of this title: A little duck finds adventure on the Yangtze River when he is too late to board his master’s houseboat one evening.

Card catalog description: A little duck finds adventure on the Yangtze River when he is too late to board his master’s houseboat one evening.


Customer Comments

A reader from Upper Volta, Uzbekistan, March 7, 1999

Excellent, heart-warming tale of exploration and discovery. Using deft allegory, the authors have provided an insightful and intuitive explanation of one of Unix’s most venerable networking utilities. Even more stunning is that they were clearly working with a very early beta of the program, as their book first appeared in 1933, years (decades!) before the operating system and network infrastructure were finalized.

The book describes networking in terms even a child could understand, choosing to anthropomorphize the underlying packet structure. The ping packet is described as a duck, who, with other packets (more ducks), spends a certain period of time on the host machine (the wise-eyed boat). At the same time each day (I suspect this is scheduled under cron), the little packets (ducks) exit the host (boat) by way of a bridge (a bridge). From the bridge, the packets travel onto the internet (here embodied by the Yangtze River).

The title character — er, packet, is called Ping. Ping meanders around the river before being received by another host (another boat). He spends a brief time on the other boat, but eventually returns to his original host machine (the wise-eyed boat) somewhat the worse for wear.

The book avoids many of the cliches one might expect. For example, with a story set on a river, the authors might have sunk to using that tired old plot device: the flood ping. The authors deftly avoid this.

Who Should Buy This Book

If you need a good, high-level overview of the ping utility, this is the book. I can’t recommend it for most managers, as the technical aspects may be too overwhelming and the basic concepts too daunting.

Problems With This Book

As good as it is, The Story About Ping is not without its faults. There is no index, and though the ping(8) man pages cover the command line options well enough, some review of them seems to be in order. Likewise, in a book solely about Ping, I would have expected a more detailed overview of the ICMP packet structure.

But even with these problems, The Story About Ping has earned a place on my bookshelf, right between Stevens’ Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment, and my dog-eared copy of Dante’s seminal work on MS Windows, Inferno. Who can read that passage on the Windows API (“Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous, So that by fixing on its depths my sight — Nothing whatever I discerned therein.”), without shaking their head with deep understanding. But I digress.



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