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Zen Shorts (Collector's Edition) (Zen)
List Price: $25.00

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Product Description

"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.

Customer Reviews:

  • Another great book
    This is a top shelf read for our family. The values that the kids learn from these ancient tales are great. We always read and discuss this book together.
    I was looking for ways to teach my children about Buddhism and these books by Muth are excellent....more info
  • Searching for the Stillness Within
    Muth's Zen Shorts is a funny story about a panda bear named Stillwater who mysteriously appears in the backyard of three siblings: Michael, Addy, and Karl. As the children become acquainted with their new friend, they each decide to visit him separately. First, Addy the middle sister visits Stillwater's home and brings him a housewarming gift - a delicious bamboo cake. In return Stillwater tells her a story about his Uncle Ry. In the story Stillwater tells of his Uncle's constant kindness and generosity to all those around him - even to a thief who comes to steal the little he owns! Next Michael, the elder brother, walks with Stillwater to a nearby tree where they talk about the present and how unpredictable it can be. To calm Michael's worried mind Stillwater tells him the story of a father rabbit who experiences varying bouts of good and bad luck and whose response to every situation is to always be content with what he has at a given moment and to never take anything for granted.

    Lastly, Karl the younger brother, is invited by Stillwater to go swimming with him in his pool, but little does Stillwater know that Karl's idea of `swimming' involves a wide variety of inflatable toys that fill up the pool to such an extent that neither of them can swim in it! In an attempt to calm down angry Karl - who is upset at his older brother Michael and frustrated at the swimming pool crisis - Stillwater tells him perhaps the most memorable Zen story about two monks (who for the story are transformed into mice monks) who were walking along the road where they meet a very rich lady mouse who is upset because here two servants, laden down with the many bags she has them carry, cannot carry her across the muddy puddle on the ground so she does not dirty her feet. The elder of the two monks calmly walks up to the angry lady, lifts her unto his back, and carries her across the puddle dirtying his toga in the process. When he gently places her on the ground, the lady stomps away without so much as a thank you to the elderly monk - this part always brings to my mind this quote from William Shakespeare, "blow, blow, thou winter wind. Thou art not so unkind as man's ingratitude". The younger monk is bemused by the oblivious peace the elder monk is in, despite the lady's rudeness, and for the rest of the journey back to the monastery he wears a slightly impatient face as if waiting for the elder monk to begin complaining. Finally, when he can not stand it any longer, the younger monk asks the elder monk why he is unshaken by the ingratitude shown unto him; the elder monks turns to him and says, "Why are you still carrying that mean woman, I placed her on the ground miles ago". The moral of the story which Stillwater teaches Karl is to not hold onto anger and to try your best to forgive others and be at peace with yourself.

    Using his flawless watercolors, Muth brings to life these powerful principles behind Buddhist thought. Through Stillwater young readers, like Addy, Michael, and Karl, with learn about kindness, contentment, and forgiveness. And from the beginning of the story they will be just as hooked onto the peculiar yet polite panda bear with funny shorts and a big red umbrella as the three siblings were. Once again Muth has masterfully combined adult concepts and child storytelling to make a beautiful book with a powerful message for young readers. After having read Muth's best selling interpretation of Leo Tolstoy's The Three Questions to my second grade class, Zen Shorts was a successful follow up and will be a wonderful addition to your child's collection of story books at home....more info
  • Amazing, simple, yet gorgeous
    Zen Shorts is a book about three siblings in a happy white upper middle class suburb who meet a Buddhist Master in the form of a Panda named Stillwater. Through their friendships with Stillwater, he imparts wise and concise lessons derived from historical figures and common tales in Zen Buddhism. In each case, one of the children approaches Stillwater and eventually he tells them a story. Addy and Stillwater share cake and a story about giving and sharing, as well as the beauty of nature in the world that we all share. Stillwater teaches the middle child Michel that everything has a purpose and that change is constant and not always bad. And the youngest Karl learns that no one can hurt you without your permission and to let the little things go because resentment wastes time.

    Stylistically, the art on this book is gorgeous. Muth illustrates most of the plot in brilliantly colored but complex watercolors. The use of texture for grass and clouds gives them a three-dimensional feel, particularly when Michael and Stillwater look at the clouds in an expansive two-page illustration. There is a sharp contrast between these beautiful mellow watercolors and the sharp thick black ink brush drawings that illustrate the particular little stories. These drawings are far simpler and focus mostly on the main animal characters themselves, and this serves to highlight the profound simplicity of the lessons they teach.

    Muth says in his afterward that he wanted to "challenge us to examine our habits, desires, concepts, and fears" and in this task he clearly succeeds. ...more info
  • Very cute...
    My daughter is only 2.5yrs old so doesn't understand yet alot of the meaning behind this book, but she will... and in the meantime she loves the panda. It's a keeper, for sure....more info
  • Wonderful. Buy this book!
    Moral philosophy for kids - and their parents. My three year old likes the stories as much as I do. The messages are delivered simply so that you take from them your own meaning to your degree of understanding. We try to read Zen Shorts in the mornings to remind us of more peaceful ways to approach the day. I really can't recommend this book enough. ...more info
  • Wonderful Book for Kids
    My two year old son loves this book. Whenever we ask him which book he would like to read he always asks for the "panda book".

    This is a great book for my husband and I to read over and over also. We both enjoy it as much as our son. The pictures are beautiful and the stories Stillwater tells each of the children make you take a closer look at yourself too. My husband commented that he needs to take the advise of the older monk in the story of The Two Traveling Monks. ...more info
  • Nothing short of Incredible....
    I have loved and collected good children's literature for over 50 years, and this is a book to cherish.
    The beautiful illustrations, the floating panda and the title caught my eye on a hurried trip through the bookstore. After reading it while waiting on line, I had to dash back and pick up three more copies: one for each of my grown children, 26, 29 and 31 at the time.
    The beautiful "lessons" of kindness and forgiveness are so lovingly taught here, and so very necessary in a world where peacefulness is only a word for so many children.
    This was the first book that I read to my newborn grandson, and I plan to continue to share the joy of Zen Shorts. This is a treasure for all readers for all time.
    ...more info
  • Beautiful book
    This book has both beautiful messages and beautiful paintings. My new favorite illustrated book - I like it as much as my kids. It's a very calm, peaceful sort of book that makes you think. The watercolors are amazing, each page is so wonderful to look at. Zen Shorts and Zen Ties - it is hard to say which I like better but I hope there are more Stillwater stories to come. This will be a book I purchase for others. I love it....more info
  • Order several!
    Thank you Jon Muth for creating my new favorite children's book! What a delight! The illustrations are beautiful, the story gentle and profound. The Zen stories themselves are told simply, yet will leave even the adult reader thinking them through days later. I am ordering several more to give as gifts!...more info
  • Beautiful Book
    Wonderful pictures and stories. My 2-yr old loves it! We checked it out from the library but had to order it for our own collection. I recommend this to everybody!...more info
  • Great reading
    This is a great book. My four year old daughter loves it and I don't get tired of reading it....more info
  • A Rare Find
    A simple, beautiful, meaningful story with rich, evocative illustrations. Am I going too heavy on the adjectives? I'm a bit at a loss to express how wonderful this book is; and I don't mean just for children. The lessons that it teaches and the beauty of Muth's watercolors are for everyone with an open mind and an open heart. ...more info
  • Inspirational : A still mind is like a still pond
    A Panda named Stillwater shares his wisdom with three young children. Includes three short stories that illustrate Zen insight: Resentments are a waste of time; bad luck may actually bring good luck, you just never know what the future may bring. Beautiful illustrations....more info
  • I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!
    this book has it all, great watercolor paintings (i am a classically trained artist so this is important to me), great story, and meaningfull messages. i read this to my two year old daughter who is a book fanatic and can sit quietly for more than an hour and listen to long stories. for those of you with very small kids who may just be begging to read longer stories hear is some advice 1.don't give up if your child does not sit through the whole book the first time you read it small children, like my daughter, like farmiliar things and sometimes it just takes a few passes for them to reconize and chose a certain story, 2.don't chose to read a book when your child is bubbling over with energy, and 3.with longer stories it can also help to use a lot of inflection and tone to create intrest before your little one starts turning the page. this book is moderate in wording, not super long but not as simple as short verses or ryming stories. this book has a certain eligance to it that reflectes its message. it is just beautiful....more info
  • Beautiful, thought provoking
    This book is just beautiful. I have been telling these stories to my martial arts students for years so it's nice to have this book as another resource to share these stories with children. Children love the illustrations and the way the lessons are told within the context of the larger story....more info
  • Great for grown-ups, but not a page-turner for all kids
    I really love this book: it's truly beautiful, deep, and funny. But despite how much I enjoy it, it leaves my son completely cold. If you're looking for something *sure* to please a young child, I'd keep searching. Test this one at the library first, or buy it as a wonderful gift for an adult....more info
  • The more you search for an answer, the less you will understand.
    I know this will be unpopular but as someone who greatly enjoys both the philosophical teachings of Taoism as well as Zen Koans, I think this book is quite poor.

    The retelling of the original tales is very stiff and verbose and also very apparently done by someone with only a basic understanding of the subject matter. The attempts to then relate them to the children and situations in the book are even worse. I really wanted to enjoy these books since the subject matter is so near and dear to me and the artwork so compelling, but I could not get behind it. The stories that were chosen could be retold so easily and seamlessly with just a deeper understanding and study of the original material. It all seems slightly rushed and heavy handed which is the exact opposite of what it should be. The simplicity and elegance of the source material has withstood thousands of years and requires quite a lot of study and contemplation before trying to tackle a project such as this. I don't believe that to be the case here.

    Some great artwork, some butchered koans/tales, and awkwardly related results... not a classic in my eyes. It may be easier to accept and praise if you are not familiar with the source, which is the only conclusion I can come to as far as the critical acclaim Zen Shorts has received here and elsewhere.

    - Read52in52...more info
  • nice--different!
    My kids are both under 5 and will sit through this story and are fascinated by the pictures of the big bear. I love that there are more things to think about and talk about as we read through these tales....more info
  • Beautiful Book
    The illustrations are georgeous. There are moral stories based on some Zen principles within the main story line. My son is only two, but he loves the pictures (and the Chinese Marlon Brando voice I use for the panda) and I think he'll grow into the story. ...more info
  • Great Book
    My children and I all learn something valuable from this insightful and beautifully illustrated book. ...more info
  • This is a very good book
    I'm a 9 year old kid that read Zen Shorts it's a very good book for kids and adults it's book with colorful pictures. It's about a panda that teaches a couple of kids to work together by telling them stories about thing they need to work on. I liked it because it has stories in a story if you like good but short stories get this book. ...more info
  • Great for philosophy enthusiasts of any age (and anyone who likes big pandas)
    Zen Shorts is a picture book written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. But it's also a short story collection. And it's also a philosophy book. And it has a giant panda. Oh, and it is a Caldecott Honor book too.

    The story starts when siblings Addy, Michael, and Karl meet Stillwater, a large Panda who wanders into their backyard to retrieve his umbrella. I love the opening scenes of the story. Karl, the youngest sibling, is looking out a window and telling Michael he sees a huge bear. Eventually all of the kids go out and say hello to Stillwater. Addy introduces Karl, who is "shy around bears he doesn't know." I find that phrase so enchanting. This kind of charm continues throughout the book.

    The next day Addy meets Stillwater for tea. Then Michael and Stillwater hang out. Then Karl goes swimming with Stillwater.

    Each outing is accompanied by an appropriate short story. The first is about a man (panda) who gives a gift to a robber. Another is about a man who knows that luck is a many-faceted thing. The final story is about a monk carrying an unnecessary burden. I'll never explain the stories as well as Muth tells them, so you should just read the book.

    The illustrations of Stillwater and the children are beautifully rendered watercolors. The coloring is subtle with quite intricate line work for the drawings. The stories between the "real" story are printed on pastel backgrounds and illustrated with silhouettes so that they have a clearly different look from the rest of the book.

    When you're finished you should also check out the afterward which explains the underlying philosophy for each story. (Muth has a lot of Buddhist/Taoist influences.)

    This is a great book to read with older children because even if they don't get the philosophy, the stories are approachable and they'll get something from it. (Even youngsters will enjoy the pictures.) It's a great introduction to philosophy, a fact that becomes clear after reading the afterward, for "students" of any age. Muth does an admirable job creating a picture book that children and grownups can enjoy together....more info
  • Highly imaginative
    This is s fantastic book! I love the beautiful illustrations and the wonderful lessons that we all could stand to learn. I highly recommend this book for all! Wonderful introduction for children to Buddhist ideology, but really not a religious book by any stretch. It really more gives us an idea how to treat each other in this world.
    Zen Ties...more info
  • Thank you, Jon Muth, for a beautiful, inspiring book.
    I discovered this book a week after being diagnosed with endometrial cancer (about 4 days prior to surgery). After my diagnosis I walked around unable to breathe - I felt as if someone was sitting on my chest while simultaneously choking me. Yeah, it was a great time. In an effort to distract myself, I escaped to the library with my nephews.

    I found Zen Shorts while looking for a book for my youngest nephew. I sat in the comfy wooden rocking chair in the children's section and read it. I have no idea what the kids were doing in the meantime as once I started reading I became transfixed. Slowly, like air being released from a balloon, I felt the anxiety, pressure and fear lifting. I could breathe again! The stories in the book are timeless and universal, but felt as if they were written expressly for me and the issue/fears I was facing at that time. I can't explain my reaction and I don't know if it would work for others, but it was obviously just the message I needed at a very scary time in my life.

    I'll probably never meet Jon Muth, but I think of him often, this gem of a book, and hope he knows the joy, hope and love he spreads in this world. I've since bought copies for all my nephews, godchildren, etc., and told many friends about the book who have also found it endearing. ...more info
  • So smooth.
    I love when lessons are presented in such a way that a child would not recognize that they are learning anything. This is a gently presented story. The book reminds me of Aesop's Fables. I will be purchasing more books by Jon Muth....more info
  • A nearly perfect book with beautiful illustrations
    This is a terrific books for both children and adults. I think kids a young as 3 can appreciate both the story and the pictures. And even if some of the nuances of the vignettes are lost on some small children, the relationships between the siblings and their new panda friend will not be. This makes a great gift too....more info
  • Mindfulness For All Ages
    Jon J. Muth shares with young and not so young readers the enlightenment of storytelling with ZEN SHORTS. The book is a short collection of Japanese zen stories that will engage those who read as well as listen to the tales that are told by the imaginative and wise Giant Panda named Stillwater. He pays three children a visit, Addy, Karl, and Michael, and shares with them three stories about obedience, patience, peace, and kindness: "Uncle Ry and The Moon," "The Farmer's Luck", and "A Heavy Load."

    ZEN SHORTS is an attractive looking picture book. The enchanting stories as well as its watercolor and ink paintings accompany each story, and provide a gentle painted canvas of stories derived from Zen Buddhist Literature. Muth illustrated the pictures and based the character Stillwater from Zen artist and teacher Sengai Gibbon.

    For those who are familiar with Aesop Fables, this may be an interesting book to add to one's collection. The fascinating part of ZEN SHORTS is that the stories have a universal meaning that is possessed in folklore that have been passed down from generation to generation. And as with folk tales, this particular book is best read aloud where one can hear the tone and enthusiasm of the characters. It will leave an impression for those who encounter this fruitful book.
    ...more info