Molly looked at him. "I think
I understand," she said. "I am
not being patient. I will practice as long at it takes!"
said Stillwater. "If you can do that, I am sure you will become a great dancer."
I love adding this book to my Jon J Muth collection of Zen stories. Stillwater is back, and ready to share his thoughts in a series of stories for Molly and Leo, his new neighbors. The two don't know what a treat they have in store.
When Molly tells Stillwater that she wants to be the best ballerina ever ... and famous to boot, he tells her a story. Through that storytelling he helps her to understand the benefits of patience. Leo's story concerns being selfish and how that impacts on the way a person lives life. When the three are together at the beach, they find a multitude of starfish stranded on shore as the tide goes out. Can they throw each one of them back to the safety of the water? Perhaps not, but they can make a difference! Together, they work to do as much as they can to remedy the plight of so many of these beautiful creatures.
As he did in Zen Shorts (2005), Zen Ties (2008), and Zen Ghosts (2010), Mr. Muth uses variety in his palette. The Banzo story about patience is told in black-and-white using inks, while the stories with the children are done in beautiful, light-infused watercolors. They are expressive and full of emotion, allowing young readers to enjoy the peace of the moment and the joy found in quiet contemplation.
Stillwater shares his sage advice so gently that his listeners will barely recognize the lesson being taught. Rather, they might think they always knew that. A wonderful read focused on kindness and taking the time to be the best you can be whether learning something new, managing to get along with others, or making the world a better place.
It also reminds us that we can never be too busy to share a wonderful story!