Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Review - Zen Shorts

Zen Shorts

by John J. Muth
Date: 2005
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

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.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I read Zen Ghosts a couple of years ago. I really wish I hadn't read that one first. I found it a bit predatory that a huge bear was luring children into his house with the promise of candy. In Zen Shorts, we see how Addy, Michael, and Karl meet Stillwater the panda. Now the other book doesn't seem so creepy.

This is a lovely little book that makes three Zen stories accessible for young readers. The stories are framed by one in which three human children get to know their new neighbour, who is (rather inexplicably) a panda.

The ideas might be a bit tricky for the youngest readers, but this is a book that kids can grow into. They'll likely think more about the stories and their messages as they get older. Until then, though, they can enjoy the beautiful illustrations.

I would recommend this book to those looking for unique picture books about outside-the-box topics.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4.17 out of 5

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