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Sky Sweeper by Phillis Gershator

Sky Sweeper

by Phillis Gershator

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This book is an inspirational story probably best for third or higher. It is something you could read to younger children but they may not understand it fully. It is also having to do with budhists, keep this in mind.
  EmilyJayneMann | Apr 30, 2013 |
A man sweeps the garden of a temple for Buddhist monks from the time he is a boy. It is necessary work and he does it well. He doesn't need the appreciation of others; this is just as well since his family is disappointed that he doesn't want to be more important and the monks only realize his worth after he dies. But there is a heaven and the clouds need sweeping. ( )
  raizel | Dec 29, 2009 |
As a young boy, Takeboki finds work as the temple Flower Keeper, sweeping the paths of the Japanese garden clean of fallen cherry blossoms and leaves. But this is considered to be child’s work, and as Takeboki grows older, his family encourages him to find more suitable grown-up work--work that will pay more money. Takeboki will not leave his beloved garden because he delights in knowing that he makes the garden a beautiful and serene retreat for the monks. Takeboki knows that he is rich beyond words because the charms of the garden and a job well done are riches greater than gold to him. ( )
  LeahvanBelle | Jul 1, 2008 |
Colleen Brind’Amour August 2007
Annotations for Center for Digital Literacy

Gershator, Phillis. Sky Sweeper. Holly Meade, Illus. Farrar. Straus and Giroux, (2007)

Takeboki takes a job as the flower keeper for the monks as a young boy. He takes great pride in his work and does it with joy. Over the years, his family tries to get him to try something different, but Takeboki is happy to work in the garden, season after season, until he is an old man. The monks do not realize all Takeboki has done over the years until he is an old man and dies. The monks are reassured that although the flower keeper never heard “Thank You” from the monks, they are sure he heard the flowers. Takeboki leaves this world, but continues to find joy, tending the sky; thus, the title, Sky Sweeper. There is also an excellent Author’s Note at the end of the book. Here, the author describes her own personal experience with a Japanese garden, gives factual details about Japanese gardens and ties the story to traditional Buddhist beliefs.

Age recommendation:
I would recommend this book for children between the ages of 6 and 8 years old. Children in this age range are beginning to be more interested in the world beyond what they see everyday. The book provides an opportunity for this age group to expand their vocabulary by introducing unfamiliar words that are supported both by the text and illustrations. I think 6, 7 and 8 year old children would enjoy the theme of following your heart despite what others might think you should do.

I would use this book as a read aloud. It would fit in well when talking about Japanese culture, the seasons, job satisfaction and even peer pressure.

Art Work:
The collage illustrations are a great complement to this book. Holly Meade uses the folk art style to give the feeling of being in Japan. Double page spreads are used to give the reader a feel for the journey the main character is on. The illustrations are rich in color and texture.
  cdl | Aug 8, 2007 |
This reminds me a bit of Zen Shorts, although this isn't quite as compact and sharp. Quiet and lovely, not the sort of thing you see a lot of in picture books. ( )
  adge73 | Aug 2, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374370079, Hardcover)

Young Takeboki needs a job and the monks in the temple need a flower keeper - so Takeboki sets to work, sweeping up flowers and leaves and creating swirling miniature worlds of his own in the temple garden. As the years go by, others ask him: Don't you want a better job? But as the seasons shift, each as beautiful as the last, Takeboki knows the pleasures of nature and of humbly doing a job well. He is happy.
Luminous collage illustrations created from delicate Japanese papers by a Caldecott Honor artist bring to life this thought-provoking tale that, with its Zen Buddhist sensibility, has much to say about work, wisdom, and the joy of being true to oneself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:02 -0400)

Despite criticism for his lack of "accomplishments," Takiboki finds contentment sweeping flower blossoms and raking the sand and gravel in the monks' temple garden. Includes a note on the art and beauty of Japanese gardens.

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