Zen Shorts

Zen Shorts

4.4 29
by Jon J. Muth, David Pittu
     
 

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"Michael," said Karl. "There's a really big bear in the backyard." This is how three children meet Stillwater, a giant panda who moves into the neighborhood and tells amazing tales. To Addie he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he pushes the boundaries of good and bad. And to Karl he demonstrates what it means to hold on to frustration. With

Overview

"Michael," said Karl. "There's a really big bear in the backyard." This is how three children meet Stillwater, a giant panda who moves into the neighborhood and tells amazing tales. To Addie he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he pushes the boundaries of good and bad. And to Karl he demonstrates what it means to hold on to frustration. With graceful art and simple stories that are filled with love and enlightenment, Jon Muth -- and Stillwater the bear -- present three ancient Zen tales that are sure to strike a chord in everyone they touch.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Jon. J. Muth combines stunning illustrations and spare language to deliver three classic Zen stories of enlightenment and love. In this extraordinary picture book, based on Buddhist teachings, three siblings view the world differently when a giant panda moves into the neighborhood and tells each of them an amazing tale. This unique and beautiful book offers real-life lessons in a gentle way -- and will foster thoughtful discussions about how we should treat ourselves and others.
Stillwater, a panda with a calm, Buddha-like demeanor (and appealingly chubby physique) moves into the neighborhood, bringing companionship and wisdom to two brothers and a sister. In translucent watercolor scenes, their friendship unfolds amid shared tea and cake, paper airplanes, and Stillwater's gentle retelling of three Zen tales. Not for Buddhists only, this beautifully written and illustrated story touches ever-so-lightly on universal themes such as forgiveness, acceptance, and generosity. (ages 6 to 8)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2005
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Beautifully illustrated in two distinct styles, this book introduces readers to a Zen approach to the world, wrapped in a story about three siblings and their new neighbor, a panda. One by one, the children visit Stillwater, enjoying his company and listening to him tell a brief tale that illustrates a Zen principle. Each time, there is a link between the conversation shared by Stillwater and his visitor and the story he tells; it's somewhat tenuous in regard to the two older siblings, quite specific in the case of Karl, the youngest. The tales invite the children to consider the world and their perceptions from a different angle; for Karl, the panda's story gently but pointedly teaches the benefits of forgiveness. Richly toned and nicely detailed watercolors depict the "real world" scenes, while those accompanying the Zen lessons employ black lines and strokes on pastel pages to create an interesting blend of Western realism and more evocative Japanese naturalism. Taken simply as a picture book, Zen Shorts is interesting and visually lovely. As an introduction to Zen, it is a real treat, employing familiar imagery to prod children to approach life and its circumstances in profoundly "un-Western" ways. An author's note discusses the basic concept of Zen and details the sources of Stillwater's stories. Appealing enough for a group read-aloud, but also begging to be shared and discussed by caregiver and child, Zen Shorts is a notable achievement.-Coop Renner, Hillside Elementary, El Paso, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Limpidly beautiful watercolors and a wry, puckish gentleness mark these three Zen stories, one for each of three children. Michael, Karl and Addy discover a giant panda in their backyard. ("He spoke with a slight panda accent.") His name is Stillwater, and he tells Addy the tale of his Uncle Ry, who gave the robber who could find nothing to steal in his house his own tattered robe. (The robber, in the black-and-white illustrations that mark the three stories, is a raccoon.) When Michael comes to visit, he climbs a tree to sit with Stillwater, who tells the story of the farmer's luck. Karl comes to visit carrying too much stuff for Stillwater's wading pool, and hears just the right story for him. The pictures are as full of peace and solace-and humor-as the text: The title page has the panda dancing in a pair of oversize shorts; the cake Addy brings for tea has a stalk of bamboo in it for Stillwater; Karl and the panda bow to each other at the end of their day. The Buddha lurks in the details here: Every word and image comes to make as perfect a picture book as can be. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)
From the Publisher

Booklist Starred
Gillian Engberg (Booklist, Mar. 1, 2005 (Vol. 101, No. 13))
Like The Three Questions (2002), Muth's latest is both an accessible, strikingly illustrated story and a thought-provoking meditation. Here he incorporates short Buddhist tales, "Zen Shorts," into a story about three contemporary children. One rainy afternoon, a giant panda appears in the backyard of three siblings. Stillwater, the Panda, introduces himself, and during the next few days, the children separately visit him. Stillwater shares an afternoon of relaxing fun with each child; he also shares Zen stories, which give the children new views about the world and about each other. Very young listeners may not grasp the philosophical underpinnings of Stillwater's tales, but even kids who miss the deeper message will enjoy the spare, gentle story of siblings connecting with one another. Lush, spacious watercolors of charming Stillwater and the open neighborhood will entrance children, as will the dramatic black-and-white pictures of the comical animal characters that illustrated Stillwater's Zen stories. Muth doesn't list sources for the tales, but his author's note offers more commentary about Zen. Stillwater's questions will linger (Can misfortune become good luck? What is the cost of anger?), and the peaceful, uncluttered pictures, like the story itself, will encourage children to dream and fill in their own answers. Category: Books for the Young--Fiction. 2005, Scholastic, $16.95. K-Gr. 3. Starred Review

Horn Book (Horn Book Guide, Fall 2005)
Three Zen stories are woven into a contemporary frame story when Stillwater, a talking panda, meets three young children. The panda narrates a story to fit each child's mood. The "shorts" are illustrated with quick black brush strokes, white forms, and pale backgrounds, while the children and Stillwater live in a tranquil watercolor world. An author's note provides background information. Category: Picture Books. 2005, Scholastic, 40pp, 16.95. Ages 4 to 9. Rating: 3: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration.
Kirkus Starred Review
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2005 (Vol. 73, No. 3))
Limpidly beautiful watercolors and a wry, puckish gentleness mark these three Zen stories, one for each of three children. Michael, Karl and Addy discover a giant panda in their backyard. ("He spoke with a slight panda accent.") His name is Stillwater, and he tells Addy the tale of his Uncle Ry, who gave the robber who could find nothing to steal in his house his own tattered robe. (The robber, in the black-and-white illustrations that mark the three stories, is a raccoon.) When Michael comes to visit, he climbs a tree to sit with Stillwater, who tells the story of the farmer's luck. Karl comes to visit carrying too much stuff for Stillwater's wading pool, and hears just the right story for him. The pictures are as full of peace and solace-and humor-as the text: The title page has the panda dancing in a pair of oversize shorts; the cake Addy brings for tea has a stalk of bamboo in it for Stillwater; Karl and the panda bow to each other at the end of their day. The Buddha lurks in the details here: Every word and image comes to make as perfect a picture book as can be. (author's note) 2005, Scholastic, 40p, $16.95. Category: Picture book. Ages 5 to 9. Starred Review. © 2005 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved
Timnah Card (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April 2005 (Vol. 58, No. 8))
Addy, Michael, and Karl meet Stillwater the giant panda when he enters their yard to retrieve his breeze-blown umbrella. In their subsequent one-on-one visits to Stillwater’s house, the siblings enjoy short stories from the Zen and Taoist practices told by Stillwater. Though the children’s interaction with Stillwater instigates the telling of each story, these tales connect only tenuously with the frame narrative,

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545227506
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
06/01/2010
Pages:
1
Sales rank:
517,944
Product dimensions:
13.18(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.16(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author


Jon J Muth has written and illustrated many enchanting picture books, including his Caldecott Honor Book ZEN SHORTS and its sequel, the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling picture book ZEN TIES. Other beloved titles from Jon include THE THREE QUESTIONS, GERSHON'S MONSTER by Eric Kimmel, and THE CHRISTMAS MAGIC by Lauren Thompson. Muth lives in upstate New York with his wife and five children.

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Zen Shorts 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
maechh More than 1 year ago
Much of the Zen way is to be content with what you have, or accept and deal with what life throws your way. Zen Shorts does that in a quiet, memorable format using mini fables. My children (7 and 4) enjoy the fun illustrations, the story, and the stories within the story to remember how the characters dealt with tough life issues that might come their way.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Zen Shorts is a picture book written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. But it's also a short story collection. And it's also a philosophy book. And it has a giant panda. Oh, and it is a Caldecott Honor book too. The story starts when siblings Addy, Michael, and Karl meet Stillwater, a large Panda who wanders into their backyard to retrieve his umbrella. I love the opening scenes of the story. Karl, the youngest sibling, is looking out a window and telling Michael he sees a huge bear. Eventually all of the kids go out and say hello to Stillwater. Addy introduces Karl, who is "shy around bears he doesn't know." I find that phrase so enchanting. This kind of charm continues throughout the book. The next day Addy meets Stillwater for tea. Then Michael and Stillwater hang out. Then Karl goes swimming with Stillwater. Each outing is accompanied by an appropriate short story. The first is about a man (panda) who gives a gift to a robber. Another is about a man who knows that luck is a many-faceted thing. The final story is about a monk carrying an unnecessary burden. I'll never explain the stories as well as Muth tells them, so you should just read the book. The illustrations of Stillwater and the children are beautifully rendered watercolors. The coloring is subtle with quite intricate line work for the drawings. The stories between the "real" story are printed on pastel backgrounds and illustrated with silhouettes so that they have a clearly different look from the rest of the book. When you're finished you should also check out the afterward which explains the underlying philosophy for each story. (Muth has a lot of Buddhist/Taoist influences.) This is a great book to read with older children because even if they don't get the philosophy, the stories are approachable and they'll get something from it. (Even youngsters will enjoy the pictures.) It's a great introduction to philosophy, a fact that becomes clear after reading the afterward, for "students" of any age. Muth does an admirable job creating a picture book that children and grownups can enjoy together.
MakeItStop More than 1 year ago
The aptly named Stillwater gently guides young readers through traditional Zen tales helping them build the tools to navigate life's little challenges. Both the artwork and story will help calm and center your child and they will be delighted by the prospect of a giant panda moving in next door! The children in this book express their feelings and frustrations honestly without devolving into the bratty cadence that seems to have become very popular in current children's literature. Michael, Addie and Karl are genuinely drawn characters who each exhibit a child's remarkable capacity for learning and generosity. I expect that this will become a favorite bedtime book in your household as it did in ours... and I suspect that I won't be the only Mom who reminds herself to Stop Carrying The Princess more often then I care to admit!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book can be used with both children and adults - three great messages that help you live a good and peaceful life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book! I have used this for a team building seminar with my employees. All our staff read the book and 'wow' it definitely leaves all with a great feeling and a reminder of what life is about and how to treat your co-workers. Someday, I will read it to my grandchildren.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved that it teaches our children to overcome personal issues and be friends with their siblings. Great moral, great book. Thanks!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this and sharing with my grandchildren. Very nice story with a good message. Cute illustrations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has great messages within the stories and beautiful watercolor pictures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
purchased this for my friend who is training to be a yoga instructor, is interested in Zen philosophy, and loves picture books--so it seemed like a good gift choice!
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I love the drawing~ It has interesting story in it~!
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chris3177 More than 1 year ago
i originally bought this book for my kids, but now it sits in my library... my kids and i love the illustrations and story.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Zen Shorts the book is.... fantastic, awesome, outstsnding, I don't know how to describe it. The pictures are adorable!! I recommend you read this book and you'll agree with me. Zen Shorts teaches kid a lesson of many good things.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a panda who lands in a family's backyard. The kids in the family make friends with the panda. He tells stories to the kids. This a terrific childrens book. It has cool illustrations because of the bright color and textures make you feel like you are in the book. Children will be asking Mom and Dad please buy me this book because I love it. I love this book too. Please give this awesome book a chance because you won't want to ever put this book down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How would you feel if a giant panda wondered into your backyard? That is just what happens in this book, this panda wonders into the backyard of three young children who don¿t really play together a lot. After the panda, named Stillwater explains he is just after his umbrella he returns home, and then one by one the children began visiting him. As each child visits him he shares a story with them in the attempt to change their lives for the better. He tells three stories about sharing, how good and bad luck are related, and how it is wrong to carry a grudge. Throughout this story he is trying to teach all of these important lessons to the three children, will it hit home with these children though. Read along to find out. This book is by John J. Muth who grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. Muth said as a child growing up there he was constantly drawing and painting. He began his artist career with comic books, his work in this field has one him awards, as well. When he transitioned into children¿s books his work again met with critical acclaim, as he has won several awards in this field as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Caldecott: Zen Shorts, is a good book about teaching lessons. I think that it is good value book that teaches children no matter if someone is not nice to you, does you wrong, or just makes you mad to let it go and be good to them. I really enjoyed the book because it was a story within stories. The panda told stories to the children in the story. As a child growing up in Cincinnati, the artist says that he 'drew and drew and drew and drew, and painted.' His mother, an art teacher, took him to visit museums all over the United States. Jon J Muth had his first one-man exhibit of paintings and drawings at the invitation of Wilmington College when he was just eighteen years old. He went on to study stone sculpture and sho (brush calligraphy) in Japan as well as painting, printmaking, and drawing in England, Austria, and Germany. But most of his intensive education, he recalls, came from informal apprenticeships with two fine artists. For a while, Jon J Muth concentrated his published work in the area of comic books, work that gained him a worldwide audience as well as an Eisner Award. Then, in 1995, he says, 'I created the comic strip IMAGINARY MAGNITUDE for a Japanese magazine, and that was where my work began to express the very real delight I find in being a parent. It's always been easy for me to make myself small and run around in my work. In children's books this ability has a natural home.' Jon Muth currently lives in upstate New York, where, he says, he spends time chasing the clouds from his brushes. The book, Zen Shorts, is about three children that find a panda bear in their backyard. Each child spends a day with him alone doing something together. He tells them each a story that teach them a different valuable life lesson. At the end of the book they are all friends with the panda bear and happy. ¿One day, his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. Such bad luck, they said sympathetically. Maybe the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses¿. The panda is telling one of the children about a farmer who¿s horse ran away and the farmer did not necessarily think it was a bad thing. The panda was trying to teach the child when you think something is bad it may not turn out to be in the end. He also, taught the same child if you think something is good it can turn bad also. Muth, Jon J. Zen Shorts. New York: Scholastic Press, 2005. Grade Level: 2nd
Guest More than 1 year ago
I brought my children to story-time and this book was read. I immediately fell in love with it and bought it. I now buy it as a gift for every child whose birthday we are invited to. A must have for all children (and parents).