A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
What's the story?
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.