cover image Shantideva: How to Wake Up a Hero

Shantideva: How to Wake Up a Hero

Dominique Townsend, illus. by Tenzin Norbu. Wisdom, $22.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-61429-058-2

Townsend, in her first book for children, presents the teachings of eighth-century Indian Buddhist monk Shantideva, focusing on simple, concrete actions, like kindness and reconciliation, as habits that can change the world. In seven brief chapters, Townsend shows how Shantideva, who "liked to lie around sleeping when the other monks were studying," wins over a dubious assembled crowd. Framed in crisp red borders, Norbu's delicately detailed illustrations draw from the Tibetan tangka genre, bringing a traditional note to Townsend's decidedly contemporary language. As Shantideva shares his thoughts on anger, patience, attachment to earthly possessions, and other topics, Townsend compares the life of a bodhisattva%E2%80%94a being who is "awake" (wise and kind)%E2%80%94to that of a superhero: "Other superheroes have special powers or cool stuff, but anyone can become a bodhisattva." Clear, direct writing makes Shantideva's teachings accessible and meaningful ("If we take pleasure only in the rewards we get, it is like licking honey off a razor%E2%80%94very sweet but also dangerous"), making this a strong jumping-off point for readers eager to explore Buddhist teachings in greater depth. Ages 5%E2%80%93up. (July)