A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Clyde Robert Bulla (1914â€“2007), A Lion to Guard Us.
- Before Barnum & Baileyâ€™s or Ringling Brothers, Philip Astley stages the first modern circus in London, 1768. Read Henrietta Hornbuckleâ€™s Circus of Life by Michael de Guzman.
- Happy birthday Connecticut, the fifth state to be admitted to the United States in 1788. Read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurâ€™s Court by Mark Twain.
- The United Nations headquarters officially opens in New York City in 1951.
- Itâ€™s Positively Penguins Day. If you didnâ€™t get to it before, read Mr. Popperâ€™s Penguins by Richard and Francis Atwater or My Season with Penguins by Sophie Webb.
Today Japan celebrates Coming of Age day, a ceremony to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority: twenty years old. Well, for those who arenâ€™t twenty, or those who are but like to remain child-like in spirit, our book of the day, John J. Muthâ€™s Zen Shorts, explores the Japanese word Zen.
This highly original Caldecott Honor book, first published in 2005, has been selected by teachers as one of their fifty favorite picture books. And it is no wonder. Three children, Michael, Addy, and Karl find a huge panda bear holding a large red umbrella in their back yard. Stillwater the panda first invites Addy to his house for tea and then tells a story in honor of his uncle Ry who always gives people presents on his own birthday. In this story, inspired by Japanese poet Ryokan Taigu (1758-1831), Ry presents a robber a battered robe, the only thing Ry possesses. â€ś’Poor man,’ lamented my uncle. ‘All I had to give him was my tattered robe. If only I could have given him this wonderful moon.’â€ť Then as Stillwater shares an afternoon with Michael and Karl, he tells an appropriate Zen story to each of the boys.
In an Authorâ€™s Note, Muth explains Zen Buddhism and his sources for these stories from Zen Buddhist literature and Taoism. In this book he has introduced young readers to an entirely new way of looking at the worldâ€”just as Stillwater introduces these three children to a different way to perceive reality. The text, that lingers long after the book has been closed, is accompanied by Muthâ€™s stunning watercolor and ink art. Relying on Muthâ€™s childhood fantasy of having a real panda as a friend, Zen Shorts takes readers into sophisticated concepts, butÂ those as young as three years old have appreciated Muthâ€™s blend of realism and spirituality.
Zen Shorts exists in a Collectorâ€™s Edition with beautiful binding and endpapers and a print suitable for framing. It makes a perfect giftâ€”for both adults and children. As I watched one little girl read the book for the first time, she ran her hands over the art and said â€śthese are the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen.â€ť Many fans of Zen Shorts would agree with her.
Hereâ€™s a page from Zen Shorts:
Originally posted January 9, 2012. Updated for .