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Zen Ghosts

(Zen #3)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,223 ratings  ·  178 reviews
It's Halloween. The trees are ablaze in fiery reds. Excited children don colorful costumes. And there's mystery and fun around every corner!

When Addy, Michael, and Karl finish trick-or-treating, their bags are brimming with treats. But the fun isn't over yet. Their good friend Stillwater the panda has one more special surprise in store for them. A mysterious visitor is abo
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Scholastic Press (first published August 1st 2010)
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,223 ratings  ·  178 reviews

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Mariah Roze
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Good book! This book did leave us with a lot of unanswered questions.
This story whisps into your bones like a ghost. It is a Zen Koan story to make you intuitively come up with an answer. It is set at Halloween with all the fun of Halloween. The ghost is a giant panda. The art is pastels and film-y like a dream. I enjoyed this story and the question it posed. Which me is me?
A gentle story.
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it

”When our hearts are taken in two different directions, where are we?”

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth is one of my all-time favorite books. So my first thought when I spotted Zen Ghosts in the bookstore was—Gah! How did this slip by me?

From the very first flip and step into this story, my imagination latched on to the warmth and wonder of the illustrations. Picture after picture will catch your eye and never let go. Rich, warm autumn colors, leaves, and shadows set the mood for a full moon Halloween o
Stillwater the panda returns to his friends, the three young children, as they prepare for Halloween. (I love that the one little boy can't decide if he wants to be a pirate or an owl and that Stillwater tells him he can be both--this is such a great foreshadowing of the theme of this story!) After the children go trick-or-treating, they meet Stillwater for a ghost story and Stillwater tells them a Zen Koan (a teaching story with no "right or wrong" answer but something for the student to intern ...more
Lisa Vegan
Jun 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people ages 8 all the way up who enjoy philosophical questioning; Halloween reading
Well, I do think that Muth really stretches the limits (of understanding?) with his children’s picture books, but I do like them.

I liked this one very much, although the Halloween story combined with the Buddhist koan was a peculiar combination for me.

For school aged children, I think this book could get some interesting discussions started. There is an author’s note at the end about koans, etc. and it’s definitely written for adults and older children.

I adored the illustrations. The style chang
La Coccinelle
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
It's October, so I thought I should probably read at least one Halloween story. I happened to see this e-book in the library system, so I thought I'd give it a try.

This is the second picture book I've read that tries to teach elements of Zen to young children (the first one being Sanjay Nambiar's Maybe: A Little Zen for Little Ones, which I thought was pretty awful). I'm not sure it's something that the age group is really ready for. I understand why the author thinks the topic is appropriate fo
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh. My. God.
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
The wonderful Stillwater the panda returns for a third time with another picture book filled with Zen. In this book, Stillwater spends time with the children as they prepare to go trick-or-treating. Then after they are finished, he brings them to a place where a panda tells them the story of Senjo. In the story, Senjo is in love with her best friend from childhood. But when her father gets ills, she is forced to marry a wealthy man. Ochu, the man she loves, leaves the village because he cannot b ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Stillwater the Panda / Readers Looking for Buddhist Children's Stories
Stillwater - the wise and gentle Panda whose zen teachings were first to be seen in Zen Shorts and Zen Ties - returns in this third picture-book adventure, inviting Addy, Michael and Karl to a storytelling session at his house, after they finish their Halloween trick-or-treating. Here, in another guise, he unfolds a deliciously creepy, but also thought-provoking ghost story, concerning a young woman named Senjo, and the incredible dual life she leads, in two places at once.

Using a well-known
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidstuff, halloween
Stillwater tells an ancient, non-spooky tale to his friends, and candy is consumed.

As in all of Muth's Zen books - the artwork is the star. This one is particularly lovely with vivid orange and red autumnal landscapes, and a delightful two-page spread of all the kiddies in their costumes. My favorite is the monkey/cowboy. Is it a real monkey dressed up, or a child who couldn't decide between two costumes? It doesn't really matter - that's the magic of Halloween, folks.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kathryn's review says pretty much what I would, and says it better. I did not appreciate this much at all until I got to the author's note... and now I want to read/ study (?) some of the other koans in The Gateless Gate: The Classic Book of Zen Koans and The Blue Cliff Record. Even though I don't particularly like Halloween, I'm glad I read this book. All of Muth's books are good for me, both enriching and enjoyable.

Highly recommended, especially if you read another in the series first.
Randie D. Camp, M.S.
This might possibly be my favorite in the "Zen" series.

Addy, Michael, and Karl are changing into their Halloween costumes when they think they see a ghost...but it is their good friend and mentor, Stillwater. Stillwater invites them to come over for something special after the children are finished trick-or-treating. Once the children are settled at Stillwater's home, he begins to tell them the story of "Senjo and Her Soul". It is a tragic love story about two best friends that grow up together
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-5-star
Addy, Karl, and Michael are looking forward to Halloween. They are deciding on their costumes when their good friend Stillwater visits them. He offers to tell them a ghost story after they finish trick-or-treating.

In Zen, this story is known as a koan. It is "a nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating." ( The question in this book deals with the duality of self. For exam
Oct 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Zen Ghosts is a Halloween-night book, and as such the color palette is darker than Zen Shorts or Zen Ties, lovely deep blues and inky blacks and purple-greys, though there's also autumnal red and yellow and orange, with occasional flashes of grass-green. Stillwater the panda, already dressed as a ghost, visits his neighbors just before Halloween to tell them to meet up with him after trick-or-treating because he knows someone who will tell them a ghost story. Addy, Karl, and Michael comply, and ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Stillwater (great name for a Zen panda!) is back as the children prepare for Halloween. Stillwater tells then a ghost story which is really a koan (Zen story designed to get you to think). I loved the koan/ghost story about duality, which ended with an unexpected twist. I think I'd have liked the whole book better without the Stillwater framework, though. Jon Muth's note at the end of the book explaining the history of this story and what koans are and how they are used was interesting. His expl ...more
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
I just love the Zen stories by Jon J. Muth, featuring Stillwater and friends. The stories are very interesting and also teach a little bit about Zen Buddhism. The illustrations are softly rendered and just beautiful! I really enjoyed this tale.
Baby Bookworm
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: our-reviews

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Today, we’re starting our four-day extravaganza of Halloween books! To kick things off, we’ve chosen Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth, the third book in the delightful yet deep Stillwater Panda series.

It’s Halloween, and Stillwater Panda stops by to visit his young friends Addy, Michael and Karl, who are preparing their Halloween costumes. Karl is going to be a monster, Michael is deci
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
Another book in the Zen series that makes you think.
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Summarize the book:

Zen Ghosts is the story of three siblings who spend part of their Halloween night with their friend, Stillwater. It is the third in a series about Stillwater and the children. Stillwater is a panda bear who demonstrates facets of Zen Bhuddism without ever making those facets explicit. Zen Ghosts (and Zen Shorts) utilizes the Buddhist teaching-stories.

The children and Stillwater discuss their halloween plans. After trick or treating, the children travel to Stillwater's house to
John Pappas
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: buddhism
I have been a fan of Jon Muth from his earlier comics days with his work on “Meltdown: Wolverine and Havoc” and the epic “Moonshadow” series. Fantasy writer Micheal Moorcock said of Moonshadow

”This is an outstanding graphic tale, told at a level of literary and visual sophistication which introduced new standards and aspirations to the genre”

Recently his storybook fiction has been equally stirring and eminently life-changing for me as both a former after-school librarian and a massive fan of z
Sep 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
On Halloween, Stillwater the panda, who dons a spooky costume and mask, promises his human friends Addy, Michael, and Karl a spine-tingling ghost story to be told by a mysterious storyteller.

The storyteller--who looks remarkably like Stillwater--tells the children an unforgettable ancient Zen story about a girl named Senjo who hopes to marry Ochu, the boy next door.

Senjo's parents have different plans for her future. They want her to marry a more prosperous man than Ochu--someone who will care
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
From the same author who brought us Zen Shorts and Zen Ties, comes another story about dual nature of being human. After a fruitful night of trick-or-treating, siblings Addy, Michael, and Karl meet their friend, Stillwater, the Zen Buddhist panda, at his house for a ghost story. The story is to be told by a mystery storyteller. The storyteller (who looks an awful lot like Stillwater) tells of two friends, Ochu and Senjo, who fall in love. When Senjo’s family arranges for her to marry another man ...more
Oct 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Jon J. Muth's books have become a favorite of mine. The illustrations give a sense of peace, but they are still full of life. The author is both the writer and illustrator. The story is based on a "koan" which are basically questions that you have to answer for yourself. These appeal directly to the intuitive part of human consciousness, not the intellect. The story is an adaptation from a Chinese story titled "Senjo and her Soul are Separated".

In this book the Giant Panda, Stillwater, takes Ad
Jennifer Rayment
Oct 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Jake's Review: This book is really cool. I have never read anything like this before. It's like something Jason would read to us for our Karate Class. The illustrations are really cool and different. I think even Jesse would like the pictures, but don't let him touch it, because you know how he is with books (mom's note: sniff, sniff I know). Wicked ghost story within the main story. I liked that Stillwater also enjoyed candy like us kids, made him less serious. The book is definitely for younge ...more
Whole And
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Be ready to introduce yourself and your children to a koan, a question that can only be answered by oneself. It's a bit abstract but it seems the young ones have an easier time processing the concept of the higher self and the separated self than some of the adults that might read this story.

Jon J. Muth effortlessly draws us in to this tale of two young children who play and grow together and eventually fall in love. Forced to make a decision, Senjo decides to leave her family who have arranged
Katherine Cowley
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Zen Ghosts starts with a panda bear Zen ghost named Stillwater arriving at the door. The kids already know Stillwater (apparently from the books Zen Shorts and Zen Ties, which I haven't read) and they discuss their Halloween costumes and decide to meet after trick or treating for a ghost story.

When they meet, Stillwater takes them to his house and tells them the story Senjo and her Soul are Separated which was originally written down by Master Wu-men Hui-hai, a Chinese Buddhist monk who lived fr
Jennifer Strong
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
A ghost panda tells three siblings an ancient "ghost story" after they are done trick-or-treating.

I have a lot of issues with this book. One, I did not realize this is the third in the "zen panda" series. Nothing on the book warned me. So that made the sudden jump into the children's lives confusing. They weren't surprised or afraid to see a ghost outside their house, and quickly identified him. That left me with questions- how do you know who he is? It felt like I missed the introduction. Seco
I’ve been collecting some texts to help a teacher use to begin students thinking about the question “who am I?” This particular book got my attention because it is about Halloween, and a particularly interesting show of Halloween spirit and everything which connections to that holiday. But, it’s oh so much more. There are stories from the Buddha that are called Koans, and Stillwater, the panda whom you’ve met in other Zen books by Muth, takes the children on a journey after trick or treating to ...more
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Exquisitely illustrated and skillfully narrated, adults and children will read this story over and over, and not just on Halloween (though the story does take place on Halloween). Muth's follow-up to Zen Shorts follows three trick-or-treating siblings on Halloween night who are regaled with a ghost story from their panda bear companion, Stillwater. I don't want to spoil the tale by telling it myself, but I will say that this ghost story will raise the hair on the back of your neck whenever you h ...more
Angela Bailey
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Title / Author / Publication Date:
Zen Ghosts. / Jon Muth. / 2010.

Genre: Fiction.

Format: Picturebook - print.

Plot summary:
"On Halloween night, Stillwater the giant panda tells Karl, Addy, and Michael a spooky and unusual story. Based on a Zen koan" (NoveList).

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

Review citation:
"Muth's artistic gifts are so breathtaking that they will draw in even those whose attention spans are not at f
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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

Other books in the series

Zen (4 books)
  • Zen Shorts
  • Zen Ties
  • Zen Socks
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