The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching

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Overview

THIS IS THE LEGEND OF LAO TZU,

who may or may not have been born; who may or may not have founded Taoism, on of the greatest religions in the world; and who may or may not have written one of the greatest books of wisdom in the world: the Tao Te Ching, or the "Way of Heaven."

This thoughtful and thought-provoking book opens with a biography of Lao Tzu, the mysterious philosopher who is said to have been born at the age of eighty-one with ...

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Overview

THIS IS THE LEGEND OF LAO TZU,

who may or may not have been born; who may or may not have founded Taoism, on of the greatest religions in the world; and who may or may not have written one of the greatest books of wisdom in the world: the Tao Te Ching, or the "Way of Heaven."

This thoughtful and thought-provoking book opens with a biography of Lao Tzu, the mysterious philosopher who is said to have been born at the age of eighty-one with snow-white hair, the ability to walk and talk, and unparalleled wisdom. Many credit him with creating the Tao Te Ching, which was written for the good of all humankind. Twenty of the eighty-one passages of the Tao Te Ching are included here, paired with stunning illustrations by the award-winning artist Demi. On topics ranging from silence to moderation, from governing to the balance of earth and heaven, these passages carry a powerful message and are sure to give each and every reader something new to consider.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Demi (Jesus) introduces another thought-provoking new entry to her spiritual leaders series of books. This crisply designed volume is beautiful to look at, filled with Chinese symbolism and the author-illustrator's signature gold accents. A gold circle frames each delicate ink-and-watercolor image, echoing the circular symbol of t'ai chi, or "the harmony of Heaven" that opens and closes the book. However, the text is a sophisticated blend of legend (Lao Tzu was an 81-year-old man when he was born and lived to be 160), biography (he was keeper of the archives for the Court of Chou) and verses of the Tao Te Ching (the book that is said to fulfill Lao Tzu's mission to "help humanity live according to the Way of Heaven"), which may well prove puzzling to little ones. Students of Eastern religion or those who already embrace this faith tradition/spiritual philosophy will likely be the most enthusiastic explorers this book, though there is plenty here for any curiosity seeker-or Demi fan-to admire. Ages 7-10. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
The Tao Te Ching (“Way of Heaven”) may or may not have been written by Lao Tzu, a philosopher born at the age of eighty-one. Lao Tzu was said to have been born with snow white hair and large ears after his mother carried him those long years. At the time of his birth, he was washed by nine heavenly dragons that flew down from Heaven. His name meant “Old Wise One,” and he began his life with knowledge in the fields of the magic arts of energy, healing, medicine, longevity, clairvoyance, protection, and transcendence. He was also known as the greatest teacher of all time. At the age of 160, tired of the politics of his time, he wished to live his life somewhere other than the court. Before he was allowed to leave, Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, said to be the greatest book of all time. The book was intended to help humanity live according to the “Way of Heaven.” Embellished with beautiful illustrations, this book details the creation and rise of Taoism as of one of the world’s greatest religions. Although designed as a picture book, the content is not accessible for a young reader or listener. The nature and complexity of the text requires a more mature audience. Reviewer: Kimberly O’Meara
School Library Journal

Gr 5 & Up - "This is the legend of Lao Tzu, who may or may not have been born; who may or may not have founded Taoism, one of the greatest religions of the world . . . ." Demi's elegant picture-book introduction to the legendary Chinese philosopher, often speculated to have been a contemporary of Confucius, combines nuggets of his purported life with 20 verses from the Tao Te Ching, which "he may or may not have written." Allegedly born an old man, Lao Tzu became widely known for his wisdom, to the point of being courted by the emperor. Adult readers will enjoy his response to the emperor's messenger. "I wash my ears because even one political word is dangerous. I wash my donkey's ears because donkeys are very political." The sketchy life story and the Tao teachings are vague, ambiguous, and mystical by turns. Demi provides no background explanation, acknowledgment of authority, or reference to other information sources. On the pretty pages, the text is set in gold letters, and the narrative and graceful paintings are contained in a gold circular frame on each parchment shaded page. The gold circles represent "Tao, The Way of Heaven," according to the concluding double-page listing of Taoist symbols and their meanings. Adult fans of the artist are the most likely audience, but the book does introduce a significant, lesser-known spiritual leader to children.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Taking on a perfect subject for her ethereal style of illustration, Demi presents episodes from the life of the possibly mythical philosopher, then adds passages from the world-changing book with which he is associated. The art, all painted within large circles, features a smiling, tubby old man-Lao Tzu is said to have been 81 years old at birth, "with snow-white hair and large ears"-gesturing gracefully at various Taoist figures and symbols, which are interpreted in a key at the end. Demi also offers substantial portions of the Tao Te Ching itself-evidently her own translations, as they're unsourced-as short passages on topics from "Silence" and "Balance" to "Just Be Ordinary" and even "Governing": "Governing a large country / is like cooking a small fish. / It can be spoiled with too much poking." Children too young to absorb the more abstract statements here will enjoy the colorful legends, but Lao Tzu's teachings about "the virtues of softness and yielding, of innocence and peace" are "great lessons for everyone, anytime, anywhere." (Biography/Philosophy. 8+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416912064
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 5/8/2007
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,322,390
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Demi is the award-winning creator of numerous books for children, including The Empty Pot; Buddha; The Dalai Lama; The Legend of Saint Nicholas; Gandhi, which was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award; and Muhammad, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice selection, one of the Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth, and a Book Links “Lasting Connections” selection, and was cited in a Publishers Weekly starred review as a “timely, exceptionally handsome biography [that] serves as an excellent introduction to Islam.” Demi lives in Carnation, Washington.

Demi is the award-winning creator of numerous books for children, including The Empty Pot; Buddha; The Dalai Lama; The Legend of Saint Nicholas; Gandhi, which was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award; and Muhammad, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice selection, one of the Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth, and a Book Links “Lasting Connections” selection, and was cited in a Publishers Weekly starred review as a “timely, exceptionally handsome biography [that] serves as an excellent introduction to Islam.” Demi lives in Carnation, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching
By Demi Margaret K. McElderry Copyright © 2007 Demi
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4169-1206-4


Chapter One Once Lao Tzu was asked how he found the Way of Heaven, and he said, "I made a great effort: I tried and tried and tried to find it, but I couldn't. Then one day as I was sitting under a tree, a dry leaf fell, slowly moving with the wind. The wind moved north; the leaf moved north; the wind moved south; the leaf moved south; then the wind stopped-and the leaf fell down and rested beautifully on the earth. Then again there was some wind, and again the leaf rose high in the sky. "Suddenly I became that dry leaf; and suddenly I understood the Way of Heaven. No longer was I separate from Heaven, but I was a part of Heaven. Wherever Heaven went, I went. "If it changed its mind, I changed my mind. If it stopped, I stopped. If it flowed, I flowed. And that is how I found the Way."

SILENCE

Those who know don't speak. Those who speak don't know. Close your mouth, dull your senses, smooth what's sharp, untie all tangles, shut out all glare, wipe away all dust. This is your real Self. Be on Heaven's Way without desires or dislikes, benefit or harm, honor or disgrace. This is being Heaven's highest, for one under Heaven.

KNOWING

Without leaving his door the Wise One knows everything under Heaven. Without looking out his window he knows the Way of Heaven. For the farther one travels, the less one knows. Therefore the Wise One arrives without going, sees Heaven without looking, does nothing, yet achieves everything.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching by Demi Copyright © 2007 by Demi. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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