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Zen Shorts by Jon Muth
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Zen Shorts (edition 2005)

by Jon Muth

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1,9691843,446 (4.41)27
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 27 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
Summary: A panda shows up on the porch of a family and they became friends with them. He proceeds to spend time with each of the kids and tells them stories.
Critique of Genre: Fantasy, because the panda talking is not something that takes place in reality.
Age: Intermediate, middle school, and high school ( )
  Morrowm | Mar 9, 2017 |
Review:
I like this book for two reasons. The first reason is the story that talks about the importance of being kind and generous. In the story "Uncle Ry", Uncle Ry gives a robber his only clothes so that he would not leave empty-handed. The second reason that I like this book is the story "Heavy Load". In this story, an old monk teaches a young monk how to let go of frustration. The young monk was frustrated because the old monk carried a wealthy woman across a muddy road, and she didn't thank him. The old monk told the young monk, "I put her down hours ago, why are you still carrying her?" The overall theme of this book is to teach lessons through stories. ( )
  mmoria4 | Feb 22, 2017 |
John Muth is a wonderful storyteller and illustrator. He uses a giant panda bear named Stillwater to teach a few important life lessons to three young siblings. Each sibling has his/her own day with Stillwater, and each hears what s/he need to hear. The first story of Uncle Ry giving away his last possession a robber looks at the value of things. The second story of "What Ifs" leads us to examine what is good and what is bad, and can we look at things in different ways. The last story is my favorite. It tells the tale of two monks on a journey. The elder monk helps an ungrateful woman by carrying her across a puddle of water. After several hours the younger monk complains about the woman, clearly something he had been thinking about the whole time. The elder monk replies, "I set the woman down hours ago, why are you still carrying her?" Zen Shorts helps the reader meditate on life. ( )
  hlevy | Feb 18, 2017 |
When Stillwater, a giant panda, accidentally floats into his neighbor's backyard, he begins a nice friendship with the three siblings. On three separate days, Stillwater spends time with each child individual and leaves them all with their own profound life lesson. Addy learns about learns about giving. Michael learns about luck and little Karl, the youngest, learns about letting go of anger. Zen Shorts is illustrated with beautiful, gentle water colors and the contrasted with sharp, stylish ink drawings of Japan. The ink drawings break up the overall story. I love that there are short tales within one big story. ( )
  ilonon | Feb 6, 2017 |
The book is about a panda, Stillwater, and three children who become friends. As the children make their visit each one of them are told a story which holds a meaning behind them. The lessons include that off not holding a grudge, being generous, and that we cannot predict what will happen next. ( )
  Mb_Flor | Feb 4, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 184 (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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Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
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Awards and honors
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
"What's he doing?" Michael asked. / "He's sitting. He has an umbrella," said Karl. / "An umbrella?"
He spoke with a slight panda accent.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:00 -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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