Zen Shorts, Written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth.
2006 - Caldecott Honor Book.
Picture Book: 40 pages. Roughly 1200 Words.
Concept Book: related to behavior, challenges the reader to evaluate their own behavior.
Main Characters: 3 human siblings: Addy, Michael and Karl, and a giant panda bear named Stillwater.
What was the story about: The story tells of a panda bear who meets three children while trying to retrieve his umbrella. In the days that follow he spends time with each of the children individually and shares a different special story with each of them.
Character Growth: The choice of story the panda tells each child pertains specifically to the emotions and attitudes expressed during the days events. Without telling the child how he or she should have responded it allows them to relate the story events to their own behaviors and reflect on whether or not they should continue in the same fashion or make a change.
Story Appeal : The story is child friendly, however it is long and contains a lot of text. Therefore it is not suitable for children who are not confident readers to attempt to read by themselves. Each of the stories told by Stillwater are rooted in Buddhist Literature. They were originally told through oral tradition and have been passed along for centuries.
Illustrations: The pictures are watercolors and ink drawings. While a picture does appear on every page it does not always reflect the action occurring within the text and therefore the pictures will provide very few cues to new readers to help them through the story.
Personal Note: A perfect book for the child who does not like to be hit on the head with the moral of a story but prefers to determine what they should do for themselves. The book provides children with new ways to interpret events. It also allows them to view the actions and emotions of the characters when put in certain situations and learn from the experience vicariously. They can then relate the experience to one they face in their everyday lives.
(Image Artist - Jon J. Muth.)