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Zen Shorts by Jon Muth
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Zen Shorts (edition 2005)

by Jon Muth

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1,6261304,455 (4.4)22
Member:LeafingLight
Title:Zen Shorts
Authors:Jon Muth
Info:Scholastic Inc. (2005), Paperback, 36 pages
Collections:Picture Books
Rating:*****
Tags:panda, pandas, children, neighbors, bamboo, Zen Buddhism, Japan, Zen, watercolors, black and white, calligraphy, friends, family

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Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth

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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
I learned a lot about a new religion and kids would have an easy time learning this way too!
  Madison_DeWeerdt | Dec 4, 2014 |
Three Siblings make friends with a panda who teaches them three lessons over the course of three days.
  Abdullah9000 | Aug 12, 2014 |
This is a very sweet story containing three zen stories that help illustrate a helpful philosophy of life. I particularly like the reminder of not carrying grudges or bad feeling, since I'm prone to chewing over disappointments and annoyances--and, past the point of learning life lessons, that becomes a drain on one's energy. The illustrations are colorful in the main story and black and white on pastel colored paper, emphasizing with design the elemental nature of the stories.
  Ms.Kunz | Jul 17, 2014 |
A great story about a panda named Stillwater. He shares parables with the kids and he makes friends really easily. He tries to get the kids to settle down and lose their temper and look at life and problems in a different way. A zen way!
  Talwold | May 19, 2014 |
Book Summary:
This book is about how three children become friends with a panda. Each of the three children come across the Panda and the Panda has a story for each child sort of like a mini life lesson. The first story has to do with Pandas uncle who was being robbed and in the process he gave the robber his only tattered robe. The second story was to the tune of good luck and bad luck and how you just never know what will happen or when. The last story for the smallest child was about a bratty princess who was ungrateful to the people around her an older monk helped her over come something and the princess didn't say thank you. Kind of a lesson in manners and letting things go.

Personal Reaction:
I love all the small details that I might actually miss if I really read the book in a hurry. I like that it's three short stories all about something different I think that older elementary aged children would really understand and like this book.

Extension Ideas:
Teaching about how you are supposed to treat each other compared to how children might really treat each other.
A unit of Asian cultures teach about Zen and what it means.
Possibly something in Sunday School.
  VictoriaHernandez | Feb 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
Limpidly beautiful watercolors and a wry, puckish gentleness mark these three Zen stories, one for each of three children. Michael, Karl and Addy discover a giant panda in their backyard. (“He spoke with a slight panda accent.”) His name is Stillwater, and he tells Addy the tale of his Uncle Ry, who gave the robber who could find nothing to steal in his house his own tattered robe. (The robber, in the black-and-white illustrations that mark the three stories, is a raccoon.) When Michael comes to visit, he climbs a tree to sit with Stillwater, who tells the story of the farmer’s luck. Karl comes to visit carrying too much stuff for Stillwater’s wading pool, and hears just the right story for him. The pictures are as full of peace and solace—and humor—as the text: The title page has the panda dancing in a pair of oversize shorts; the cake Addy brings for tea has a stalk of bamboo in it for Stillwater; Karl and the panda bow to each other at the end of their day. The Buddha lurks in the details here: Every word and image comes to make as perfect a picture book as can be. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)
 
Addy, Michael, and Karl meet Stillwater the giant panda when he enters their yard to retrieve his breeze-blown umbrella. In their subsequent one-on-one visits to Stillwater's house, the siblings enjoy short stories from the Zen and Taoist practices told by Stillwater. Though the children's interaction with Stillwater instigates the telling of each story, these tales connect only tenuously with the frame narrative, and their primary purpose seems more to provide food for thought than to offer resolution to the problems presented in the frame story. Indeed, as explained in an author's note, these shorts are traditionally used to guide meditation rather than to entertain. In keeping with the intention of the text, the line-and-watercolor illustrations display a meditative balance of color and smoothness of movement--figures in motion appear to float in the lemon and azure air, even as their bodies retain a decided weight. Images of climbing and bouncing figures emphasize that ethereality, which, when combined with the delicately expressive human and panda forms, positions the visual effect of the illustrations halfway between realism and surrealism. The art for the internal short stories is given in dramatic black ink sketches, the strikingly energetic elements silhouetted against white or white and a single pastel. In spite of the quality of the illustrations, peaceful reflection is not an easy sell to picture-book aficionados, so the contemplative text limits the youthful audience to those who have strong interests in this aspect of Asian culture or those with impressive powers of concentration. A note explains more about Zen and Muth's specific inspirations.
added by ReneHohls | editBulletin of the Center for Children's Books 58 no8 351 Ap 2005, Timnah Card (Apr 1, 2005)
 
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.

The beautiful watercolor and ink illustrations are -- like the stories they accompany -- 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.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
FOR BALLARD BORICH
the Giant Panda I've often found dancing on my porch
First words
"Michael! There's a bear outside!" said Karl.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Curriculum Connection:  3rd Grade Reading  Std. 2 Reading for All Purposes
Concepts and skills students master:1. Strategies are needed to make meaning of various types of literary genres
iii. Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text. (CCSS: RL.3.2)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439339111, Hardcover)

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 pushes the boundaries of good and bad. And to Karl he demonstrates what it means to hold on to frustration. With graceful art and simple stories that are filled with love and enlightenment, Jon Muth -- and Stillwater the bear -- present three ancient Zen tales that are sure to strike a chord in everyone they touch.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:52 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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