Great Illustrated Books

Zen Shorts

By Jon J Muth

Scholastic Press, 2005
Pages : 40
Suggested Ages: 5-9
ISBN: 0439339111

Karl, Michael, and Addy are intrigued with their new neighbor, Stillwater, a kindly giant panda who speaks with a slight panda accent, when he comes over to retrieve his red umbrella from their backyard. One at a time, the siblings, even the youngest, Karl, who is "shy around bears he doesn't know," visit Stillwater at his house, and he tells each child a special story. To Addy, who brings him a housewarming gift, he tell the story of his Uncle Ry, a generous panda who gives his only robe to a raccoon who comes to the house to rob him. Michael visits next, worried about how unpredictable life is. The two of them sit companionably in a tall tree while Stillwater relates a tale about a rabbit farmer who has good and bad luck, but understands not to take life for granted. (This story will remind you of the children's picture book classic, Fortunately, by Remy Charlip.) And finally, the littlest brother, Karl, comes over bearing a wagonload of inflatable toys to take swimming in Stillwater's small wading pool. Karl is mad at Michael for always telling him what to do. The wise panda tells him a story about two traveling mice monks who assist an ungrateful young woman. This one is about letting go of your anger and resentments, and going on with your life.

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If you love this book, then try:

Allen, Judy. Panda. Candlewick, 1993.

Charlip, Remy. Fortunately. Aladdin, 1993, c1964.

Demi. Buddha. Henry Holt, 1996.

Demi. Buddha Stories. Henry Holt, 1997.

Demi. The Dragon's Tale and Other Animal Fables of the Chinese Zodiac. Henry Holt, 1996.

Demi. The Hungry Coat: A Tale from Turkey. McElderry, 2004.

Dowson, Nick. Tracks of a Panda. Candlewick, 2007.

Haseley, Dennis. Twenty Heartbeats. Roaring Brook, 2008.

Hodges, Margaret. The Boy Who Drew Cats. Holiday House, 2002.

Kimmel, Eric A. Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan. Holiday House, 2003.

Levine, Arthur A. The Boy Who Drew Cats: A Japanese Folktale. Dial, 1994.

Muth, Jon J. Stone Soup. Scholastic, 2003.

Muth, Jon J. The Three Questions. Scholastic, 2002.

Muth, Jon J. Zen Ties. Scholastic, 2008.

Myers, Tim. Basho and the Fox. Marshall Cavendish, 2000.

Prelutsky, Jack. If Not for the Cat. Greenwillow, 2004.

Reibstein, Mark. Wabi Sabi. Little, Brown, 2008.

Critics have said

Lush, spacious watercolors of charming Stillwater and the open neighborhood will entrance children, as will the dramatic black-and-white pictures of the comical animal characters that illustrated Stillwater's Zen stories.