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Zen Shorts (Zen)

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,657 Ratings  ·  646 Reviews
Jon J Muth, author of the best-selling book, THE THREE QUESTIONS, has crafted another profound and winning picture book.

"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 Addy he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Scholastic Press (first published January 1st 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 23, 2009 nicole rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Shelves: picture-books
This is a story about a zen philosophy toting giant panda named Stillwater. He shares ancient zen parables with the children he befriends to help them cool their jets. You totally don't have to be a kid to read this. On bad days at work (when we actually have this in stock), I like to pick this off the shelf and read it. It makes problems seem smaller, and dwelling on other people seem a waste of time. Inner peace in like, ten minutes, man!

my favorite selection:


Two traveling monk
Splendid! Muth combines a tale of Stillwater the panda's budding friendship with three children with three classic Zen tales. Stillwater is a wonderful creation, so warm and cozy, so calming, so wise--yet still great fun. Rather like Zen, in fact! ;-> A great introduction to Zen for children, and a delightful tale anyway.
First Second Books
This weekend I picked up a copy of Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth at a library book sale. What a delightful book. I still remember picking it up in bookstore for the first time and smiling my way from cover to cover. This weekend, not only did I re-read it but I passed it around to my friends to read (and smile) through.
Jim Erekson
Feb 21, 2013 Jim Erekson rated it liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
Overtly didactic, I would have liked this book less if we hadn't just had an in-depth discussion about transformative education last night in our semiotics seminar. The power of Zen stories and koans to still the mind and help people to perceive what is up close and cluttering our minds is part of transformation. Without becoming aware of broader forces and trends that work to shape us and boss us around, it can be difficult to transform.

What I enjoy in a transformative experience is the having
Sep 28, 2008 Bryn rated it it was amazing
Genre: Cultural Folktale
Grade: K-6
Caldecott Honor Book

This is a beautifully illistrated narritive of three siblings that become friends with a panda named Stillwater. Each sibling visits the panda and the panda teaches each one a lesson. He tells them stories about his experiences to help him feel better about what is troubling them. After he tells the story, the book changes to a different, more graphic, illustration style and tells a Zen tale related to the story Stillwater had just told. It's
Three years before Po scadooshed Tai Lung, wonder artist/children's author Jon J. Muth won the Caldecott with the introduction of Zen Panda extraordinaire Stillwater.

Muth's Zen Shorts is a beautiful piece, telling tales of love and comradeship, friendship and patience, care and giving. Three siblings find the Zen Panda and listen -- individually -- to his tales of life. They learn lessons, and so do the readers and listeners, without ever being beaten over the head with stick.

And the water colou
Feb 20, 2013 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, reviewed
So, this afternoon we finished reading our other two books, and my niece said, "Amy, I have a book we can read! It's called Zen Shorts--see, it's about a panda who wears shorts!"

As entertaining as that story might have been, the story that Zen Shorts actually was was really lovely. The kids enjoyed the panda and his interactions with the kids, and they very much appreciated the pictures. It was a unique and peaceful story.

For me, what drops this from four stars to three is my niece only understo
Nicolay Hvidsten
Buy this book. Seriously.

You don't read this book - not in the common sense of the word anyway. You fall into it and you don't want to climb back out, much like "accidentally" falling into the ball pit at McDonald's because why should kids have all the fun.

The amazingly beautiful and atmospheric water colours (done by the author himself no less) will draw you in if you let them, and they'll paint an incredible backdrop for the wisdom contained within the stories told by Stillwater, the star of t
Apr 07, 2010 Carolynne rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A deserving Caldecott Honor winner (_The Hello Goodbye Window_ by Norton Juster and illustrated by Chris Raschka was the winner in 2006), Zen Shorts tells the story of three children who encounter Stillwater, a mysterious Panda with a red umbrella, in their back yard. He tells each of them a simple, poignant story which relates subtly to their lives (in the case of Karl, who is angry at his brother, it is more pointed). The stories all come from the Zen tradition, but this is not obvious unless ...more
Julia Drescher
Three siblings befriend a panda, Stillwater, who teaches them some important life lessons. There are two older children, a boy and a girl, (maybe 8-10) and a little boy who is likely 4-6. They each spend a day with Stillwater doing something unique, and he ends up sharing short Zen stories with each of the children. The story that he tells to each child, and the activity they each engage in with Stillwater, are unique to each child.

The illustrations are beautifully done in watercolors. They are
Nov 26, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it
This book had very fun to read little storys, and really buitifull pictures. This book took me on a journey! one of my favorite books are, Zen Shorts. give it a try!
Chelsea (Cat Litterary)
Nov 10, 2015 Chelsea (Cat Litterary) rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: children, preteens, teens, ya, young adults, adults
I bought this for a university course and scoffed a bit when I realized it was a picture book. When my professor said that we have a book of short stories to read, I imagined a book of 20-page-long stories and not beautifully illustrated parables involving a giant, talking panda.

CHARACTERS: Stillwater is a giant black-and-white panda who can not only talk, but tells incredible stories to the neighborhood children and helps them work through some of their issues. One of my favorite things that Mu
Oct 31, 2009 Liz rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: kids ages 4+
Shelves: lis-565
This 2006 Caldecot Honor book is pure beauty, from the water color illustrations to the wise stories. Karl, Abby and Michael meet Stillwater on a rainy day in their backyard. The next day Abby went to visit Stillwater. They share some cake while Stillwater tells Abby a story about gift giving. Michael visits Stillwater the next day and as they sit high up in a tree Stillwater tells Michael luck. Karl visits next and brings with him a whole pool full of swimming toys even though Michael told him ...more
Laura Noto
Oct 04, 2009 Laura Noto rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Zen Shorts is a thought-provoking picture book for K-3rd readers. Even though the content and themes would be better understood by older readers, all children would be able to enjoy the beautiful pictures and interesting characters. Zen Shorts is about three children who are visited by a panda bear named Stillwater. Each day one of the children go to visit Stillwater with a problem or question. He tells them stories that make the children reconsider their issues and opinions.
Jan 29, 2012 Cristina rated it it was amazing
Text Summary
Stillwater is a giant panda with meaningful stories to tell. Three siblings: Addie, Michael, and Karl, first discover Stillwater sitting in their backyard, as Stillwater apologetically states that he and his red umbrella have been carried there by the wind. Following their encounter with this giant panda, each of the three children visits Stillwater at his home. On her visit, Addie hears the story of “Uncle Ry and the Moon,” a poor man who gives gifts to a robber. On Michael’s visit,
Robyn Schaefer
Dec 28, 2014 Robyn Schaefer rated it it was ok
The three short stories in this collection, as the title would imply, move rather slowly. In a very “Zen-like” manner, a giant panda shares philosophical stories with the three kids who live next door. Although the two older children warmed up to the curious panda immediately, the youngest boy was “shy around bears he didn’t know.” That was the only humorous line in the story, the rest took a more solemn, contemplative tone.

The stories reveal basic truths about human nature and can lead to a ri
L-Angelica Herrera-Vest
Personal response: Karl, Addy and Michael meet Stillwater, a giant Panda who teaches them life truths through stories (short meditations). The three stories Panda tells the children makes them reconsider why they do the things they do. In other words he is challenging them to reexamine their habits and ideas.In the story Sillwater tells Addy she learns it is better to give than to recieve. Even if you think you have nothing to give, there is always something, and the best thing to give can be fr ...more
Angela Bailey
Title / Author / Publication Date:
Zen Shorts. / Jon Muth. / 2005.

Genre: Fiction.

Format: Picturebook - print.

Plot summary:
"When Stillwater the bear moves into the neighborhood, the stories he tells to three siblings teach them to look at the world in new ways" (NoveList).

Considerations or precautions for readers advisory:
brothers & sisters, Buddhism, pandas, folktales

Review citation:
"The tales invite the children to consider the world and their perceptions from a different angle; for Karl, t
Sep 16, 2015 Dolly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Great book with three short little stories that are good teaching points for Zen. The main character, a panda named Stillwater, is a Zen master and befriends some neighbors, telling them in turn each a story.

It's a nicely illustrated book, with the Zen stories in monochromatic contrast to the background tale. Our girls enjoyed this story and I loved it!

16 September 2015 update: We pulled this one out of a box of books from our recent move and I just had to read it one more time before we donate
Christopher Cordry
There are at least two reasons why children's books need to be at least as good as grown-up books. The first is in order to help the kids develop good taste. The second and more important reason is that as an adult, you read these books over and over again, every day, and if they're not really damn good books, you're going to hang yourself from the ceiling fan sooner or later.

That said, this is one of the better children's books in our collection. It's one of my daughter's favorites, and I've r
Mason Stewart
Feb 22, 2015 Mason Stewart rated it it was amazing
Love it! A giant panda named Stillwater moves into a suburban neighborhood where siblings Addy, Michael and Karl live. At first the siblings were startled at the large panda but after getting to know him a bit they change their mind. Each of the siblings are going through some type of anxiety so the panda tells each one of them a story accordingly. Each one of these classic Zen stories delivers a poignant message. Absolutely stellar watercolor illustrations match perfectly with the mood of the b ...more
Jul 22, 2015 Maggie rated it it was amazing
Caldecott Honor (2006), Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children's Illustrated (2006)

At first I thought the title referred to the panda wearing shorts on the cover, but then it became clear that folded inside this story are other short stories that help Stillwater's children friends reach zen mindsets about their very real but everyday problems. shifting in the illustration style, from soft watercolors for the children and Stillwater, to harsher line drawings with lots of contrast in the z
Oct 12, 2015 Marie rated it liked it
Shelves: rll-539
Beautiful lessons along with beautiful illustrations!
One day Stillwater the panda turns up in the backyard of siblings Addy, Michael and Karl. Separately each sibling appear on Stillwater's porch and the panda tells to each a story based on Buddhist teachings to help them handle situations in their lives.

Grade levels: K-6
Uses in the classroom: Discussions about feelings, making predictions based on illustrations, characters and events. Can also be used for art and science.
Oct 02, 2015 Hestia added it
I loved the ideas of conflicting (but sometime harmonious) Western and Eastern philosophies in this book. Read in class. (Like a story time kind of thing, it was nice.)
Maria Estrada
Feb 07, 2016 Maria Estrada rated it really liked it
Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth is about a panda that moves in to the neighborhood and becomes friend with Addy, Karl, and Michael. The 3 kids hang out with the panda, Stillwater. He tells them stories that have meanings and lessons.

The illustrations in this book are so beautiful; they are made of watercolors. I like how the colors of the illustrations change when the panda tells a story. I think this helps children understand that on that page, it's a different story. This book is full of vivid imag
This is the first of the Zen books by Jon Muth. We are introduced to this loveable overlarge Panda bear named Stillwater. At first he really gave me memories of Clifford the Big Red Dog. But Stillwater is an old soul, so to speak. He has more depth to his soul. (Even though his eyes are reminders of the whiteless creepy eyes of Clifford and his friends.) Stillwater is so Zen and wise in adorably simple ways which teach us ancient lessons about helping others, seeing beyond the surface of people, ...more
Sarah Nottingham
Feb 26, 2015 Sarah Nottingham rated it it was amazing
Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth is a story about the relationship between Addy, Michael, and Karl and their Panda bear friend Stillwater. The story starts when an unexpected visitor comes to visit Addy, Michael, and Karl. He is a panda bear named Stillwater and his umbrella had blown into their yard, and this is where their friendship begins. The next day the oldest sibling Addy decides to go visit Stillwater and bring him a cake. Stillwater is delighted by the cake and tells Addy a story about his unc ...more
Cierra Garrison
Feb 24, 2015 Cierra Garrison rated it it was amazing
This book originally caught my eye because of the Caldecott sticker on the front. Not only are the illustrations amazing, the story is fantastic as well. The story follows Stillwater, a panda that shows up on the front porch of three unsuspecting children's home. Stillwater takes each of the children on their own playdate and tells them a story (a zen short). The stories are about the value placed on material things, the boundaries of good and bad, and letting go of anger and frustration. This b ...more
Brianna Smith
Dec 04, 2015 Brianna Smith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth is a Caldecott Honor Book. The story beings with three children meeting their new neighbor, Stillwater, a giant panda. The children visit Stillwater, and to each child Stillwater tells them an amazing story based on three accident Zen tales. To Addy he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he pushes the boundaries of good and bad. To Karl, the youngest sibling, he demonstrates how to hold on to frustration. The story is titled “Zen Shorts”, meaning ...more
Sep 04, 2015 Martin rated it it was amazing
Lovely art and nice interpretations of Zen stories for children.
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Jon J. Muth is an American comic artist. His works include J. M. DeMatteis' graphic novel Moonshadow, Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: The Wake (along with Michael Zulli, Charles Vess), Mike Cary's Lucifer: Nirvana and Swamp Thing: Roots. Muth has gone on to an award-winning career as a children's book writer and illustrator. He received a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators for his illustration ...more
More about Jon J. Muth...

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