Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Zen Shorts

Zen Shorts

Spring 2005 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Dianne Hess
Illustrator: Jon J Muth
ISBN: 0-439-33011-1
Hardcover Price: $16.95
Stillwater is a giant panda (a Zen monk in disguise) who comes floating, as Mary Poppins did, on an umbrella into the lives of Karl, Michael and Abby. He introduces himself " in a slight Panda accent" and then he tells three short stories that teach simple Zen concepts. Example: Keep your mind calm in order to truly see the place or situation as it is, think one thought at a time. Respect your intuition whatever it or your mind tells you. Accept these "facts," hold them all, reconsider later. Without fear but with considered feeling, review the matter and leave time and space for your concepts to clarify.

The stories Stillwater uses to convey these ideas are touched with humor, are sometimes provocative, always a bit quirky and easy to come back to.

The color illustrations are light and airy, the black and white ones help tell the Zen tales. Neither is masterful yet the book itself is irresistible, endearing and, for some, possibly puzzling.

Diana Huss Green   ©2005 Parents' Choice

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