Written & Illustrated by Jon Muth
Publisher: Scholastic, 40 pages
Addy and Michael meet Stillwater, a wise and gentle giant panda who tells them stories based on zen parables. In Zen Ties, Stillwater's nephew comes to visit. The young panda is called Hi and speaks in verse: zen-influenced haiku ("Hi, Koo!" say the children, pun intended on Muth's part). Stillwater introduces the siblings and Hi to an old woman who seems surly but is simply lonely. Miss Whitaker helps Michael learn to spell and he wins a red ribbon at a spelling bee. The friends all celebrate by wearing red ties - zentai is Japanese for "whole" or "togetherness" and Zen Ties celebrates the joy of friendship and being part of a circle of friends.