The Children’s Book I read often, as an Adult

Zen Shorts, By Jon J Muth

“Michael! There’s a bear outside!”  

Nu? Is this some opening line? The book, is Zen Shorts, by Jon J Muth. The bear, Stillwater, a giant panda that has appeared in the backyard of Karl, Michael, and Addy, much to Karl’s surprise. Stillwater (very Gatsby-esque) is wise, kind, and what I envision as an animal equivalent to the great Buddha. As the mensch (filled with wisdom and always takes the high road) of a Panda relates with each of kinder (children), a different and appropriate Zen tale is shared.

The first thing I love so much about this particular book is the illustrations. Beautifully simple, yet exquisite watercolor illustrations accompany each interaction of Stillwater and the kinder. The lighting and transparency of the moment in time displayed perfectly paints the puzzles and problems that we all, as humans on this very planet, face daily. Each Zen narrative Stillwater shares is shown with the stunning, yet elegant strokes of Japanese ink paintings. Re-examine your thoughts, habits, longings, ideas, and fears as this giant bear divvies out the possibility of new insight.

As Stillwater gifts each kinder (child) with an ancient anecdote (Zen meditation), I believe he strikes a chord that will resonate with all of us, and certainly touches me with every read.

To be clear, as I know it, Zen (literally, a Japanese word for meditation) is not a religion, faith or doctrine. It comes free of dogma and one need not believe in anything (kind of like this Yiddisheh mama) to practice, or even read this enchanting tale. It is so simple, that it is excruciatingly difficult for me to explain. One must throw away all thoughts of intellect to experience Zen. Sit quietly, free your mind and allow for your own self-discovery to begin. Zen is not at all about moral teachings; it is filled with how to think, and even more so, how not to think (turn off that cruel, inner voice. What voice? Exactly!).

Many a night I offer to read this book to my shana madalehs (sweet girls) in the hopes of passing along these freeing ism’s, especially today, in this world we inhabit. And just as often, I place this book in my backpack as I head off to work, to read again during a quiet nosh (nibbles of food) at lunchtime. It greatly helps me in resetting the disturbances of daily news alerts and chaotic headlines that incorporate ‘life as we now know it.’ 

I love and treasure this book.  I have gifted it to children of all ages.

Stillwater brings me solace, entertains my Little and my Big, and hopefully provides a foundation in ‘thought process’ that will help guide them through the mundane,  the shock-filled stories, and everything in between that composes the many stories of our lives.

As a disclaimer, no one has asked me to review this book. I was not paid or given a thing for this post. However, Stillwater has proven time and again, to be priceless. I simply wanted to share him with all of you.

Peaceful coexistence, Gatsby, and our Stillwater

Even for bad luck, one needs luck. Tsum shlimazel muz men oich mazel hoben.

This review is my own, I just wanted to share this very special book with you.  If you have something you would like me to review, just reach out! I am happy to help always.





26 thoughts on “The Children’s Book I read often, as an Adult

  1. We love Zen Shorts! My middle son loves panda bears and we went through our library one day picking up any book that had a picture of a panda inside.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Never heard of this book – sounds lovely! I have lots of amazing and beautiful kids books that I love. My mum was a teacher so we always had and new about great kids books & I still love them. Also LOVE your Stillwater. And my two year old just saw him on the screen over my shoulder and is now yelling about wanting a panda!

    Thanks so much for joining us for #FridayFrolics


    1. We have about 7 (stuffy) pandas now, all different sizes. Stillwater, he is the dad to all of them. Find that book and see what you think. It really stick with you. Thank so much! xoxox #FridayFrolics


  3. I think this sounds like a truly magical book and it’s lovely that you can still escape into it and enjoy it’s charm and clarity as an adult too. I hadn’t heard if it but I’ll look it up! Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam lovely x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t heard of this book. It sounds like something I would love. I love meditation and even my children meditate before bed each night, we practice mindfulness and it is so wonderful. What a lovely idea to share book you love xx #mg

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds delightful. I love Roald Dahl’s The Witches. I loved it as a child and I still love it now. I can’t wait until Little Man is old enough to read it to. He already loves Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Thank you for linking up to #TriumphantTales, hope to see you again tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

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