Monday, 2 June 2008

Picture Book Monday: "Zen Shorts" by Jon J. Muth

Pandas, watercolours and Zen. How could I resist this book?
It’s also beautifully presented from every angles you watch it. It’s in a large format with a lovely cover and an even better back cover.
But what makes it really special is its stories.

One day three children find a panda in their backyard:

“I’m sorry for arriving unannounced,” said the bear. “The wind carried my umbrella all the way from my backyard to your backyard. I thought I would retrieve it before it became a nuisance.” He spoke with a slight panda accent.

And that’s how Addy, Michael and Karl meet Stillwater.
To each of them Stillwater has a story to tell, that will teach them to look at life in a new way. All the zen shorts are illustrated with black ink, in stark contrast with the delicate watercolours of Stillwater and his friends. They are famous Zen stories, about generosity and unpredictability of life, about tolerance and patience. My favourite is the last one. About the rude lady and the old monks. It teaches that it’s useless to bear grudges, because they are heavy burden belonging to the past. I should think about it every time a rude or patronising customers manages in five minutes to ruin my entire day.
Even though these are educational stories, they don’t feel preachy. They are gentle and calm like the peaceful panda bear. They instil a sense of serenity and quiet wisdom, enhanced by the illustrations and the inside graphics, featuring delicate cherry blossoms on purple and blue backgrounds.
It would make a perfect gift, and hopefully it will become a children’s classics in the years to come.

More informations about the author and his work can be found here.


Melody said...

Wow! I'm mesmerized by its cover art! So beautiful! Will have to look out for this one. :)

Jill said...

This is one of my absolute favorite picture books! I love Stillwater, and that story about the monk and the old lady is one that I try to keep in mind, too. Have you seen Zen Ties? Gorgeous illustrations, once again, and a sweet story. But Zen Shorts is still the best!

Ana S. said...

I wonder what a panda accent sounds like :P This sounds like such a lovely book. And like Melody, I love the cover!

valentina said...

Melody, It's gorgeous isn't it! as soon as I saw it on the internet I knew I wanted to look at it!

Darla, it will easily become one of my favourites too, even though every single picture book that I've reviewed is a favourite, otherwise I wouldn't review it!
I've read Zen ties today, but even though Stillwater is still fascinating, I didn't like it as much.

Nymeth, I wonder that too!:P