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Zen Shorts by Jon Muth
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Zen Shorts (edition 2005)

by Jon Muth

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1,6441424,383 (4.4)24
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 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
A panda named Stillwater moves in next door to a family of children and tries to bring peace and understanding through old Japanese folk tales. ( )
  MelindaBoland | Mar 13, 2015 |
Zen Shorts is a picture book that could be used across many grade levels. Despite its cover having the appearance of an elementary children's book I think the value of its contents span all ages. Three siblings meet Stillwater, a panda that just rrives intheir backyard. During his stay each child has personl encounter with him. Still water shares with each child a story relating to something personal each child has done. Each story in reality are a short meditation. These "stories are designed without one specific purpose but to challenge us to reflect on ourselves and or practices. The illustrations are powerful and the messages are solid and encourage dialogue about personal choices and values. Each story Stillwater shares come from Buddhist or Taoist literature. The story has a great flow and would be a great realoud or read and reflect inajournal. It poses topics all humans face and encourages reflection on ourselves. The stories are fables or metaphors for our lives. This simple book could provide for some critical reading ideas and great classroom or social group instruction. ( )
  Lisapier | Feb 16, 2015 |
I loved this book. The theme might be considered to be mindfulness. A couple of the "zen shorts" were familiar to me, which was nice. I did not know that I was familiar with any Buddhist wisdom. This book is beautifully illustrated (with watercolor I believe) and uses humor and relatable scenarios that would really be great for any kid to read.
  ulindsay | Feb 12, 2015 |
I liked this book for three reasons. First, I feel that this book teaches important life lessons though stories that the panda, Stillwater, tells to the characters in the book. Stillwater’s character is very patient and rather than telling the children what to learn and how to live, he lets them figure it out on their own. For example, he tells one of the characters, “it’s a little pool. I don’t know if all of those things will fit.” The boy then says, “let’s see” and Stillwater responds “let’s see” allowing for exploration rather than denying the boy. Stillwater is a good guide for the characters as well as the readers. His descriptive experiences allow for the lessons to be believable. Second, these three lessons were told through simple illustrations, making them easy to understand. The colors used were black and white, allowing readers to stay focused and not get distracted with the rest of the story. The illustrations in the rest of the book enhanced how the characters were feeling. For example, the character Karl had a mad face when he was frustrated with his brother. Finally, this book pushes the readers to think about the big idea and learn from their experiences or imaginations. Stillwater doesn’t just focus on what he is doing at the moment with the children in the book, he looks at the big picture and what each child can take away from their experience. This teaches readers to stay away from getting hung up on little things and to appreciate life for what it is. ( )
  kriley5 | Feb 9, 2015 |
Summary:
This story is about a panda named Stillwater. He moves into the neighborhood. Three kids Addy, Michael, and Karl all go to greet him. Over the course of the next three days each child goes to visit one on one with Stillwater. Addy went first and Stillwater told her a lovely story about his uncle Ry and giving unwrapable gifts like kindness. The second day Michael visited and was told a story about perspective and both good and bad things can happen. Lastly, the youngest Karl has his visit. Stillwater told him a story about holding a grudge. The book ends with the kids becoming great friends with Stillwater.

Personal Reaction:
At first I thought the book was about special shorts, but it wasn't close to that. However the book did provide stories that can help with have a peaceful zen life. I also thought it was interesting that the panda's name was Stillwater that has a zen and peaceful connotation. The book also gave small asian cultural insights that were subtle and interesting like his red umbrella, his asian robe, and his meditation style of sitting. Another interesting point is when Stillwater begins his stories the pictures get dull and less clear as though to impress the point that the stories are older and classic.

Extension ideas:
-I thought it would be fun to have all of the kids wear their most fun and crazy shorts.
-I also thought of having the children write or draw their own fable/parable type story. ( )
  SarahSpangler0515 | Feb 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 141 (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
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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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