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Zen Shorts by Jon Muth

Zen Shorts (edition 2005)

by Jon Muth

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1,9241763,554 (4.4)25
Title:Zen Shorts
Authors:Jon Muth
Info:Scholastic Inc. (2005), Paperback, 36 pages
Collections:Picture Books
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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Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
A collection of three short stories that each teach a different life lesson. The artwork and the text compliment each other which draws you into the book. Younger students would enjoy hearing this story. ( )
  SydnieM | Dec 2, 2016 |
A great book that teaches three lessons that every child will find useful to learn. ( )
  MichaelCunningham | Nov 24, 2016 |
I love this story. From the start of the end pages, I love the purple tones and cherry blossoms stretching across. The illustrations are simple, colorful and the story itself is so intriguing and thought provoking. There is an author's note in the back of the book regarding the word Zen and it is important to read this and know where the main character's name, Stillwater, came from. Stillwater visits with a family of children and each one has an idea to puzzle over and reflect on. These lessons are important for any child and adult to reflect on. ( )
  Chafkins | Oct 21, 2016 |
Summary: When Stillwater, a giant panda, moves into Addy, Michael, and Karl's neighborhood, he tells them the most amazing stories! He tells Addy the tale of a poor man who gives gifts to a robber. He tells Michael of a farmer who knows that luck can be neither judged nor predicted. And to Karl he tells the tale of a monk who carries the weight of a burden long past.
Critique: The panda told each child a story that they needed to hear the most. I liked the book! The pictures help connect you to the story.
Craft Elements: As you read each tale that Stillwater shares with the children ask the students to think critically and explain what he is trying to teach to the children. What do the illustrations that show Stillwater and the children look like? How do the illustrations in the book change when Stillwater is telling a story? Which kind of illustrations do you like better? Why? Ask students to share what they learned from one of Stillwater's tales.
  Summer18 | Sep 10, 2016 |
Zen Shorts is a fictional picture book that comprises of 3 separate tales that all have roots in Asian folk lore. The story begins with Addy, Michael, and Karl meeting a panda bear named Stillwater. Stillwater interacts with each child and tells a tale that goes along with whatever he is doing with that respective child. He tells a tale about his uncle who gave away his only robe to a robber that was stealing from him. He also tells a tale about a farmer who believes that good and bad luck are all mixed up. Lastly, his final tale is about two traveling monks who carry a selfish woman over a puddle and get no form of gratitude. All of these tales have a moral to the story that helps each child understand a different viewpoint in life. I personally like this book because it teaches children about how to deal with stressful situations and look at life in a more positive way. Since this book has deeply rooted Asian values in it, I can create a mini-lesson about Asian customs and folk lore. Children can also create their own story that has a moral at the end of it via drawings or creative writing. They can also reexamine the tales and try to delve deeper into the meaning behind the stories ( )
  wxv002 | Sep 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 176 (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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the Giant Panda I've often found dancing on my porch
First words
"Michael! There's a bear outside!" said Karl.
"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
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References to this work on external resources.

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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)

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