Cristina's Reviews > Zen Shorts

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
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Jan 29, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: picture-books, mc-literature
Read on January 29, 2012

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, Stillwater shares with him the story of “The Farmer’s Luck,” about a man who knows that “luck” may have different definitions and outcomes. Finally, Karl, the youngest of the three, listens to Stillwater’s story, “A Heavy Load,” helping Karl to understand the burden that carrying anger may have on a person.

Literary Merits
In Zen Shorts, through the voice of a wise and cuddly panda, Jon Muth presents short stories or “meditations” for young readers to enjoy and ponder. In his Author’s Note, Muth comments that these stories “often challenge us to reexamine our habits, desires, concepts, and fears.” Each story contains an underlying moral that children can relate to and understand. Aside from the morals depicted through the stories, readers can appreciate the culture and history embedded within the text. Each story comes from Zen Buddhist literature that has been passed down for centuries.

Classroom Recommendations
This text would be ideal for primary grade levels. Young readers can see themselves in Addie, Michael, and Karl and relate to the emotions of these characters, while also making connections to the Zen shorts narrated by Stillwater. The students will naturally gravitate to the beautiful water color pictures and ink drawings on the pages of this book. The ink drawings, in particular, help readers to visualize these precious Zen shorts.
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message 1: by L12_Anke (new)

L12_Anke This review covers all angles and for a classroom teacher it's practical and useful. I enjoyed reading about the book and I'm intrigued. This is something that would interest me on a personal level too; something my kids might enjoy as well.
Thanks for sharing it Cristina.


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