Written and Illustrated by John J. Muth
Publisher: Scholastic, 40 pages
THREE siblings learn important lessons from their new neighbour, a giant panda called Stillwater. "I'm sorry for arriving unannounced," he says, speaking with a "slight panda acccent".
Stillwater is wise and gentle, and very, very "zen" about everything, hence the book's title. Stillater tells each child a tale, from Zen and Taoist literature, and there are lessons to be learnt from all of them, but they are also just good, interesting stories.
Muth's words are simple, and his style elegant and easy to read. His watercolours are lovely, the colours true and bright, reflecting a serene and beautiful world. Black and white ink sketches illustrate Stillwater's tales and are more cartoonish and quirky than the colour plates. Personally, I found "Zen Shorts" inspiring. Others may just think, "What an adorable panda!" However you feel, this book is destined to be a classic.