Zen Shorts: 05/26/09
Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth is a children's book that introduces key concepts of Buddhism and Taoism through the little tales Stillwater tells a trio of siblings. The story of Stillwater's friendship with Addy, Michael, and Karl are beautifully rendered in vibrant watercolors while the "shorts" are done in a style inspired by Sengai Gibbon.
The framing story for Stillwater's shorts is one many children will recognize. A new and unusual neighbor moves in nearby. This neighbor is of a different culture or from somewhere far away and is willing to share stories of his life. In this case, the neighbor is extra special for being a panda while all the other neighbors are human.
One by one the children spend time with Stillwater and their time with him inspire him to tell one of his stories. The three stories he tells are "Uncle Ry and the Moon", "The Farmer's Luck," and "A Heavy Load." They are roughly about the beauty of simplicity (or doing more with less), seeing the good in bad events and the importance of not holding a grudge. These three are good talking points for parents and children.
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