Zen Shorts

Book review by
Dawn Friedman, Common Sense Media
Zen Shorts Book Poster Image
A beautiful introduction to Zen thinking.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Encourages kids to think about important topics like generosity and forgiveness.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this lovely, gentle book provides an introduction to Zen thinking. These retellings of classic Buddhist stories will get kids thinking about topics they can relate to, from sharing with others to letting go of grudges.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5-year-old Written byCarlyandColesDad August 5, 2009

Great book for the whole family

We love reading these beautiful little stories.
Adult Written bykalleyeope April 9, 2008

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What's the story?

New neighbor Stillwater shares Zen wisdom with his new human friends, retelling three classic Buddhist stories.

Is it any good?

The beautiful watercolor and ink illustrations, like the stories, are deceptively simple, but a careful examination will reveal small details that reinforce the Asian inspiration. On the last page, Muth gives more details about Zen, the real people behind his imaginary characters, and shares the origins of the stories. Kids who are ready to think about complicated ideas about justice, kindness, and retribution will value the book, and even younger kids who just want entertainment will be pleased.

Stories within a story give readers many layers to enjoy and explore. Jon Muth writes about three siblings with a new neighbor -- a giant panda named Stillwater with the wisdom of an ancient Buddhist monk. Stillwater doesn't lead his listeners to any conclusions, which guarantees that each reading can lead to new ideas and epiphanies.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the complex ideas presented in these simple fables. Parents and kids can talk about the advantages of generosity in the face of greed, the true meaning of luck, and the burdens of bearing a grudge.

Book details

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