Zen Shorts

By Jon J. Muth

Published by Scholastic Press

Copyright © 2005


Michael, Karl, and Addy find a Panda with a large red umbrella. “The wind carried my umbrella all the way from my backyard to your backyard” he told them with a slight Panda accent. His name is Stillwater and he is ever so nice and polite. Each child visits Stillwater in succession and to each he tells a story. Stillwater and the children become fast friends.


The stories that Stillwater tells are parables based in old Buddhist and Taoist literature. I don’t want to give away the morals in the stories however I think you’ll find them to be good reminders, not just for children, but for adults as well.  


Muth also paints wonderfully soft and gentle watercolor illustrations for this book; just as he did for his book “The Three Questions” that really reflect the meditative quality of his main character and the story itself. He juxtaposes this against simplistic black and white illustrations to depict the long ago and faraway quality of the stories the panda tells.


This is really a fabulous book. You don’t need to be a Buddhist or a child to benefit from these tales. Muth has chosen stories with principles that are very universal. Read this book for yourself, or share it with children age 4-8.


Quill Award nominee

2006 Caldecott Honor

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Filed under Children's Picture Books, Fables/Parables, Family, Friends, Multicultural

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