cover image Zen Socks

Zen Socks

Jon J Muth. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-16669-0

Muth continues his series of stories about Stillwater, the neighborhood panda who may or may not be a Zen master. Stillwater’s original neighbors, Addy and her brothers, are gone—grown up, perhaps—and new neighbors, Leo and Molly, have recently moved in. “What’s his name again?” Leo asks. “Mister... Quietpuddle?” True to form, Stillwater responds to Molly’s fizzy eagerness to be a famous ballerina with a Zen tale about the sword master Banzo and his overeager pupil, Jiro. (When Jiro says that 10 years is too long to become a swordsman and asks how long it will take if he works even harder, Banzo replies, “Oh, well then, maybe thirty years.”) Later, Stillwater and Leo contemplate badness and selfishness over cookies and toy robots, and the book concludes with an episode of a starfish rescue mission on the beach, based on a story by nature writer Loren Eiseley. While Stillwater’s focus now widens to include wisdom that doesn’t derive from Zen sources, Muth’s art remains strikingly beautiful, and Stillwater is perennially charming. Ages 4–8. Agent: Allen Spiegel, Allen Spiegel Fine Arts. (Oct.)