Tuesday, January 20, 2009

#1 - Zen Shorts

OK, so a new year is upon us and that means 52 more books (hopefully). I imagine I probably read around 40-45 books naturally in a year so it can be a bit of a push to hit the magical 52 but we shall see if I can repeat the effort. Here goes:

Zen Shorts popped out at me in the bookstore both because of the title and the art style of the cover. I have a great love for Zen Koans, which are generally short tales that have some sort of morale or thinking point. I have often thought that many would make great children's stories and it seems someone has beat me to it. Stillwater the panda is the sage and his three child friends are his pupils as he relates a famous ancient tale to a modern situation. This book has won a number of awards, including The Caldecott Honor Award, I would give it none. The retelling of the tales is far too wordy and muddled which obscures the essence and the half-hearted application of the story to the children is even worse. Pitiful. I honestly think the author has no real grasp of the subject matter and instead has a basic curiosity/understanding and sought to cash in on the idea (which seems to be working despite the effort). I really could not recommend a book less, terrible.

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