Sky Sweeper

Overview

Young Takeboki needs a job and the monks in the temple need a flower keeper - so Takeboki sets to work, sweeping up flowers and leaves and creating swirling miniature worlds of his own in the temple garden. As the years go by, others ask him: Don't you want a better job? But as the seasons shift, each as beautiful as the last, Takeboki knows the pleasures of nature and of humbly doing a job well. He is happy.

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Overview

Young Takeboki needs a job and the monks in the temple need a flower keeper - so Takeboki sets to work, sweeping up flowers and leaves and creating swirling miniature worlds of his own in the temple garden. As the years go by, others ask him: Don't you want a better job? But as the seasons shift, each as beautiful as the last, Takeboki knows the pleasures of nature and of humbly doing a job well. He is happy.

Luminous collage illustrations created from delicate Japanese papers by a Caldecott Honor artist bring to life this thought-provoking tale that, with its Zen Buddhist sensibility, has much to say about work, wisdom, and the joy of being true to oneself.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Written in clear, minimalist language, accompanied by rich, organic illustrations . . . This is an original fable not to be missed.” –Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Meade’s beautiful collage illustrations of the earthly garden and glorious afterlife . . . will help kids get closer to the text’s religious and philosophical themes.” —Booklist

“Nicely constructed for reading aloud, this quiet story has a satisfying progression.” —School Library Journal

“Celebrates the rewards of meaningful work.”—The Horn Book

“Meade’s richly textured, luminous collage illustrations are as simple and graceful als Gershator’s narrative . . . A job well done.” –Publishers Weekly

"A sweetly philosophical readaloud."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Publishers Weekly

As Gershator's (Rata-Pata-Scata-Fata) resonant, lyrical tale opens, young Takeboki takes a job as a Flower Keeper for the temple monks. Though his task is to sweep up the fallen plum and cherry blossoms in their garden in spring, the conscientious, content worker continues sweeping through the other seasons-and many of them. Though his family urges him to find a better job, Takeboki responds that he is happy sweeping and takes comfort in the fact that "he knew what he knew: The monks need a temple, the temple needs a garden, and the garden needs a Flower Keeper." When he grows too old and sick to work, the monks initially don't notice, but the fall leaves, winter snow and fallen spring blossoms accumulate in his absence. Hastening to the Flower Keeper's home, they find his lifeless body and regret never thanking him. But seeing a smile on his face, they recall the "simple truth" of the Buddha: "A single flower says more than words." The sweeper's contentment continues in his new world, "a radiant land without end," where with his silver broom he sweeps "clouds into billowing mountains and shifting, drifting wisps of white" and with his rake of gold he rakes "clouds through the day's last rays-how fiery the setting sun!" Created from Japanese papers, Meade's (Hush!) richly textured, luminous collage illustrations are as simple and graceful as Gershator's narrative. Like Takeboki's, theirs is a job well done. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Takeboki, a young boy in need of a job, is hired by the monks at the temple to be the flower keeper and sweep up the plum and cherry blossoms that fall in the temple garden. No one told him to stop, and so he continued to sweep throughout the summer and fall and even swept the winter snows. He continued season after season throughout his life. He was often asked why he did not get a job where he would earn more money so he could travel or why he did not look for a wife. His answer was always the same: "The monks need a temple, the temple needs a garden, and the garden needs a Flower Keeper." At last, when Takeboki grew too old and sick to go to work, the monks and other people realized what a beautiful job he had done keeping the temple garden in such perfect condition. While he was not rewarded on earth, his reward came in the afterlife where Takeboki was given a golden rake and a silver broom. It is a beautiful story in both text and illustration. An intriguing range of paper textures was employed in creating all the collages where one finds children playing and people working. Two kinds of Japanese/Buddhist gardens are represented in the mixed-media illustrations: the Hill-and-Pond style garden and the Dry Landscape garden. Due to the sophisticated theme, this will find its greatest audience among older children and young adults. It is a story that would generate a lot of discussion with middle and high school students on a career day.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374370077
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 3/20/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

PHILLIS GERSHATOR is the author of many children's books. She lives in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. HOLLY MEADE's award-winning books include the Caldecott Honor Book Hush! by Mingfong Ho and Goose's Story by Cari Best, recipient of the ASPCA Henry Bergh Award. She lives in Sedgwick, Maine.

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