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The Three Questions

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  4,418 ratings  ·  528 reviews
What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? Nikolai knows that he wants to be the best person he can be, but often he is unsure if he is doing the right thing. So he goes to ask Leo, the wise turtle. When he arrives, the turtle is struggling to dig in his garden, and Nikolai rushes to help him. As he finishes work, a vi ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by Scholastic Press
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Jerry Yoakum I have paraphrased these from Tolstoy's 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘘𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 but it is probably safe to assume that Jon Muth didn't change the story so much to change …moreI have paraphrased these from Tolstoy's 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘘𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 but it is probably safe to assume that Jon Muth didn't change the story so much to change the questions.

⚬ 𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨?
⚬ 𝘞𝘩𝘰 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘰, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘷𝘰𝘪𝘥?
⚬ 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰?

https://www.plough.com/en/topics/cult...(less)

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Jonathan Lin
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
Never read Tolstoy's Three Questions. I bought this book at Callan Books in Stratford Ontario.

It strikes me as a very thoughtful book with a constant interplay between light and dark. Cute animals talk to each other, but there is a streak of selfishness, strife, conflict, and fear running through the pages. The illustrations are expansive and uses weather as a main indicator of light and dark. The main emotive line is questioning brought by fear - what if I miss the right time, what if I miss th
...more
Viv JM
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book to return to time after time. It's a wonderful and thought provoking story (based on one of Tolstoy's short stories) and is beautifully illustrated. It was a favourite with my kids when they were younger and is still a favourite of mine.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This is a gentle story, for thoughtful children, about living in the moment. The watercolor illustrations nicely echoed the mood of the text. I especially liked the humor in the picture of the boy walking in the water with the stork walking in exactly the same pose behind him. Now I must read the original story by Tolstoy upon which the book was based!
Lisa Vegan
I have read this author/illustrator’s books Zen Shorts and Zen Ties. This is another book that can be used to introduce Zen philosophy to kids. In this story, which he takes from Leo Tolstoy’s story of the same name, I do appreciate how he adapted Tolstoy’s work and made up a tale of his own.

It’s got a good moral (basically that of living in the moment and doing good/helping others) but it seemed a little too moralistic to me, even though the story was entertaining so I guess I’m not really com
...more
Abigail
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jon Muth Fans / Readers Looking for More Philosophical Picture-Books
Based upon a story of the same name, written by the celebrated 19th-century Russian novelist and moral philosopher, Leo Tolstoy, this lovely picture-book from author/illustrator Jon J. Muth imagines a young boy named Nikolai and his quest to answer the three eponymous questions: What is the best time to do things?, Who is the most important one?, and What is the right thing to do? When Nikolai's animal friends - Sonya the heron, Gogol the monkey and Pushkin the dog - cannot give him satisfactory ...more
Zoie
Nov 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I vaguely remember reading the original Tolstoy short story in college and found it to be plodding and heavy-handed, but that was my rebellious, immature self. I did adore his novel-lengths works. If I ever decide to delve into Russian lit again, I may have a different reaction. But, I share this with you as it may color this review.

The Three Questions tells the story of a boy, named Nikolai, and his three questions,

When is the best time to do things?
Who is the most important one?
What is the
...more
Atziri
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book that can be used to introduce Zen Philosophy to young children and teenagers. The book is an adaptation from Leo Tolstoy's short story "The Three Questions" published in 1903.

The story is about young Nikolai and his quest to answer the following three questions: What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? He asks several of his animal friends who consider the questions carefully and all answer differently. Nikolai then d
...more
Karli Eller
Nov 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
The Three Questions is the story of a boy named Nikolai who desires to be a good person and yet is unsure of how to become what he desires. This book would be perfect for a read aloud for middle grades elementary classes. It provides so many questions that could be pondered without the need for a “right answer”. What do you think it takes to be a good person? Is it enough to want to be a good person or should you have to act on those principles? Are good people always good?

Nikolai’s quest to det
...more
Skylar Burris
Dec 14, 2008 rated it liked it
The book is based on a story by Leo Tolstoy and, not surprisingly, it therefore has some depth. However, the author unnecessarily altered the story, presumably to make it more accessible to children. This shows a lack of appreciation for a child's ability to appreciate more serious and somewhat darker themes, and replacing an enemy who wishes to harm with a panda in need of help also completely circumvents the message of the virtue of loving one's enemies. As for my daughter's reaction to the st ...more
Judy
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a nice way to encourage children to think about what's important in life! I haven't read this with a child, but I look forward to doing so. As we read, we will pause, and together, we will think of our own answers to the three questions. I will try to probe the child's thinking to clarify the answers. Then we may take the time to look at how each of Nikolai's friends answer all 3 questions. E.g., how does the heron answer the questions? the monkey? the dog? Which set of answers does the chi ...more
Dale
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
based on a story by Leo Tolstoy (chi) young Nikolai seeks counsel from Leo, the wise old turtle who lives in the mountains to three (3) questions. Then Nicolai responds to a stranger’s cry, which answers the questions for himself. Profound, simple book that one could read and read again. 2002 hardback, found when our daughter was cleaning up our attic. Unnumbered pgs.; 5 out of 5 stars; finished Dec. 28, 2016/#59
Cynthia Egbert
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Of course I loved this one, I am such a fan of Tolstoy and I adore the original short story from which this story is derived. This is a beautiful retelling that allows a younger generation to learn great truths about what really matters.
Josh
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great children's book based on Leo Tolstoy's Three Questions. The book has some beautiful artwork. My daughters loved it.
Kathleen Hickey
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Three Questions tells a beautiful story of a young boy named Nikolai searching for answers to his questions: "When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?" Nikolai asks some of his animal friends, but is not satisfied with their answers. He asks the wise old turtle Leo, and along the way helps a panda and her baby in need. Leo explains that Nikolai has found his answer, and he teaches a lesson about living in the now and doing good for tho ...more
Vivek Tejuja
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was the next book in the Story Cure challenge. The Three Questions is mentioned as a book for grown-ups in the book and rightly so. For anyone who has ever questioned life and its workings, this picture book is definitely for you.

“The Three Questions” is a book written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth and based on the same story by Leo Tolstoy. At the heart of the story, there is a boy named Nikolai who just wants answers to three questions: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most
...more
Dolly
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Jon J. Muth has an uncanny way of being able to bring philosophy into the reach of children of all ages. His stories are fun, but they impart a message that is wise and timeless. I loved, loved, loved this book. It's a short tale, but really says it all.

"Remember then, that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing to do is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy,
...more
Angela Bailey
Title / Author / Publication Date:
The Three Questions. / Jon Muth. / 2002.

Genre: Fiction.

Format: Picturebook - print.

Plot summary:
Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, "Nikolai asks his animal friends to help him answer three important questions: 'When is the best time to do things?' 'Who is the most important?' and 'What is the right thing to do?'" (NoveList).

Considerations or precautions for readers advisory:
friendship, spirituality, questions & answers

Review citation:
"Muth's large-size pictures
...more
Tanner Greyn
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, Jon Muth address the same questions is his version of the story about a boy, Nikolai, who looks for the answers to his three questions. Nikolai asks his friends what they think about his questions but when Nikolai is not satisfied with their answers, he goes and asks Leo, the turtle. Leo teaches Nikolai the importance of living in the moment as that is the answer to Nikolai's questions.

Jon Muth shows the story of Nikolai and his three questions with a variety of
...more
Karen
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book caught my eye as I was reshelving books my grandchildren had examined during their recent visit. Although I read the book several years ago, I decided it was time for me to reread it as I ponder the next steps I want to take in my life's journey. If you have not read this book, please read no further. The following quote is one I will post on my refrigerator and read frequently:

Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always t
...more
Saiisha
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Loved this large picture book - the simple story, the pleasing watercolors, and the profound moral at the end - reminded me of Panchatantra stories of my childhood :)

The story is based on Leo Tolstoy's short story of the same name, but the characters and the story-line is formatted for young readers.

Catherine from Natural Healing Connection had recommended it to her readers: http://www.naturalhealingconnection.c...
and I'm glad I found it!!
...more
Stephen  Alff (AlffBooks)
This was a very interesting read, very short and could easily be read in less than 10 minutes I believe. I liked the moral of the story and how the characters are displayed.
One of the great things that I look for in a short story that I look for in a short story is: simplicity. I am not looking for sub-plots or characters that are described in full detail, what I am looking for is a coherent, well-written story that goes around one main idea and this short story succeeded in doing so.
Shannon O'Donnell
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my favorite picture books. The three questions asked by Nikolai are a wonderful way to get kids and adults thinking about right and wrong. I have had wonderful, hour-long discussions with my high school students based on this short but powerful story. I recommend it for ALL ages!
k.wing
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully illustrated, this children's book based on a book by Leo Tolstoy seeks to answer three of the most asked questions throughout history. I think the lesson is important and is valuable for children to learn. I will be reading this book to my kids one day.
Brittany
May 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of my most favorite books! The illustrations are wonderful too!
JaNise
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Wonderful book. Wonderful message. Live and enjoy each present moment.
Ben Truong
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Three Questions is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth, which is a retelling of a short story of the same title by Leo Tolstoy. It's about a little boy named Nikolai who wants to the best person possible, but is often unsure if he's doing the right thing. So, he has three questions to ask: What is the best time to do things?, Who is the most important One?, and What is the right thing to do?

The text is rather simple and straightforward. It reads more like a fable
...more
Michael Hitchcock
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous artwork illuminates this children's adaptation of Tolstoy's classic story. In truth, I find this version more powerful and more convincing.

That being said...

While this story isn't without decent advice, it's mostly facile. In general, I have three reactions to this story (both this children's version and also Tolstoy's original):

1) I inherently distrust anyone who claims easy and obvious answers to life's challenges and problems.

2) I inherently distrust wise hermits / men living alone o
...more
Erica
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bethany Corkran
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dr-smith-s-class
In this fiction picture book, a young boy named Nikolai seeks an answer to three questions. When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? He asks his friends the bird, the monkey, and the dog, and they give him unclear answers. So he goes to his friend the turtle, because he's been alive for a very long time. The turtle needed help so Nikolai helped him, until he heard a panda in trouble, and he helped him. He still had not gotten his questions ...more
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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

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16 likes · 4 comments
“Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. This is why we are here.” 48 likes
“Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world. This is why we are here.” 1 likes
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