Three Monks, No Water is based on the ancient Chinese proverb "One monk will shoulder two buckets of water, two monks will share the load, but add a third and no one will want to fetch water." The proverb is close in meaning to the saying "Let George do it," wryly noting how individuals shirk group responsibilities.
A young monk lives a simple life in a temple on top of a hill. He has one daily task of hauling two buckets of water up the hill. When a second monk joins him, they share the task, with diminished efficiency. After the arrival of a third monk, no one fetches water though everybody is thirsty.
At night, a rat comes to scrounge and then knocks the candleholder, leading to a devastating fire in the temple. The three monks finally unite together and make a concerted effort to put out the fire. Since then they understand the old saying "unity is strength" and begin to live a harmonious life. The temple never lacks water again.
This story teaches a gentle, humorous lesson about responsibility, while the phrase Three Monks, No Water becomes a Chinese expression trotted out when children try to avoid chores.
The charming illustrations and graphic design help engage young children and compliment this well-known Chinese folktale. The pictures are big enough for a small story time and kids will find plenty to look at in one-to-one sharing.
The book comes with Chinese characters and the Pinyin (phonetic transcriptions), making it an excellent means of learning elementary Chinese. The book ends with a Q & A, which helps parents engage their children in a discussion about the story.