Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Children's Book Review: Zen Shorts
Written and illustrated by: Jon J. Muth
Published by: Scholastic Press, 2005
Jon J Muth, author of the best-selling book, THE THREE QUESTIONS, has crafted another profound and winning picture book.
"Michael," said Karl. "There's a really big bear in the backyard." This is how three children meet Stillwater, a giant panda who moves into the neighborhood and tells amazing tales. To Addy he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he pushes the boundaries of good and bad. And to Karl he demonstrates what it means to hold on to frustration. With graceful art and simple stories that are filled with love and enlightenment, Jon Muth -- and Stillwater the bear -- present three ancient Zen tales that are sure to strike a chord in everyone they touch.
* Zen Shorts is a Caldecott Honor Award book. Although I borrowed this book from the library, it is one of those books that I wouldn't mind owning for our own shelves. I didn't know what this book was about before I took it out of the library. The cover shows a panda bear wearing shorts....hmm, is that what "Zen Shorts" are? Not quite. In this story three children meet Stillwater, a giant panda. He tells each of them a different story (Zen tale). While this can be used as an introduction to the Zen philosophy we enjoyed it as a family read-aloud. The watercolors throughout the story contrast with the black and white paintings during the Zen tales. This is a great book for some deep discussions, which we unfortunately didn't have. It just means that we'll have to take this book out again or buy it for ourselves.
Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.