When it comes to childrens books, illustrator John J. Muth is legendary and his stunning Caldecott Honor Award winning picture book entitled Zen Shorts is a perfect example of why.
Breathtakingly beautiful in its illustrations, this book deftly tells the story of three young siblings who discover they have a new neighbor – a wise panda named Stillwater. Each child takes their turn visiting Stillwater who gives them each a life lesson in the form of a story that applies directly to their own lives. It is this child like approach to the ancient parables of Zen Buddhism that makes Muth such a tremendous success.
The appeal of Zen Shorts is due in no small part to the presence of the protective Stillwell who spends quality time with each child and while the younger audience will likely miss out on the deepest level of meaning in these shorts, there is plenty there to be enjoyed by children of all ages. When added to the already impressive list of books illustrated by Muth, Zen Shorts fits right in with the likes of “Stone Soup” (Muth’s version moves the original setting from Europe to China) and “Zen Ties” and well deserved the Caldecott Honor for this beautiful piece of work.
Ohio born John J. Muth is no stranger to awards for his artistry. In addition to his Caldecott Honor Book Award he has also been recognized with the prestigious Eisner Award and with the Society of Illustrator’s Gold Medal.