Jon J Muth Zen Shorts

Last updated date: July 19, 2019

DWYM Score
8.8

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in the category.

We looked at the top 1 Short Books and dug through the reviews from 8 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, Spirituality and Practice, Publishers Weekly, Book Page, Kirkus Reviews, Looking Glass Review, The Inimitable Miss Kleber, Everyday Intentional Living and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Short Book you should buy.

Overall Take

In our analysis of 39 expert reviews, the Jon J Muth Jon J Muth Zen Shorts placed 3rd when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note July 19, 2019:
Checkout The Best Short Book for a detailed review of all the top short books.

Expert Summarized Score
8.5
8 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.3
330 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
Author and illustrator Jon J. Muth has fashioned a classic children's book with exquisite visuals; the cover is of the panda balancing precariously on the pointed roof of a house. He also has given us glimpse of Zen that vividly catches and conveys the startling perspectives of this path.
- Spirituality and Practice
Readers will fall easily into the rhythm of visits to Stillwater and his storytelling sessions, and many more will fall in love with the panda, whose shape and size offer the children many opportunities for cuddling.
- Publishers Weekly
The short tales address the existence of good and bad luck, the nature of frustration and forgiveness, and the role of material possessions.
- Book Page
The pictures are as full of peace and solace—and humor—as the text: The title page has the panda dancing in a pair of oversize shorts; the cake Addy brings for tea has a stalk of bamboo in it for Stillwater; Karl and the panda bow to each other at the end of their day.
- Kirkus Reviews
Each of Stillwater's "Zen Shorts" shows the children something special about their world, something simple and yet profound. This simplicity extends to Jon Muth's wonderfully spare yet powerful watercolour and ink illustrations
- Looking Glass Review
The illustrations are beautiful, the story is interesting, and reading it always returns me to my calm Zen place.
- The Inimitable Miss Kleber
January 11, 2018 | Full review
This tale encourages us to reshape our idea of luck from the cultural norm of an immediate good or bad, to simply accepting what comes because we never really know what might happen next, or how the current event might impact that.
- Everyday Intentional Living
March 6, 2015 | Full review
What experts didn't like
While some may feel that the stories told by Stillwater are beyond the ken of children four through eight years of age, we're sure that Muth would respond that he'd rather see them stretch than rest in a safe harbor of familiarity
- Spirituality and Practice
Though the stories ask the reader to slow down and think about the nature of life, these are not morality tales. There is no summary sentence at the end to help the reader figure out what the story is trying to teach
- Book Page

From The Manufacturer

*Starred Review* K-Gr. 3. Like The Three Questions (2002), Muth's latest is both an accessible, strikingly illustrated story and a thought-provoking meditation. Here he incorporates short Buddhist tales, "Zen Shorts," into a story about three contemporary children. One rainy afternoon, a giant panda appears in the backyard of three siblings. Stillwater, the Panda, introduces himself, and during the next few days, the children separately visit him. Stillwater shares an afternoon of relaxing fun with each child; he also shares Zen stories, which give the children new views about the world and about each other. Very young listeners may not grasp the philosophical underpinnings of Stillwater's tales, but even kids who miss the deeper message will enjoy the spare, gentle story of siblings connecting with one another. Lush, spacious watercolors of charming Stillwater and the open neighborhood will entrance children, as will the dramatic black-and-white pictures of the comical animal characters that illustrated Stillwater's Zen stories. Muth doesn't list sources for the tales, but his author's note offers more commentary about Zen. Stillwater's questions will linger (Can misfortune become good luck? What is the cost of anger?), and the peaceful, uncluttered pictures, like the story itself, will encourage children to dream and fill in their own answers. Gillian Engberg

Overall Product Rankings

1. Bill Bryson A Short History of Nearly Everything
Overall Score: 9.6
Expert Reviews: 6
3. Jon J Muth Zen Shorts
Overall Score: 8.8
Expert Reviews: 8
5. Peggy L Henderson Teton Romance Trilogy Bundle
Overall Score: 8.6
Expert Reviews: 1
6. Dana Mentink Love at First Bark
Overall Score: 8.5
Expert Reviews: 1
7. Olly Richards Short Stories in Spanish for Beginners
Overall Score: 8.4
Expert Reviews: 1
8. C.P. Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories
Overall Score: 8.3
Expert Reviews: 3
9. Holly Goldberg Sloan Short
Overall Score: 8.1
Expert Reviews: 3

An Overview On Short Books

DYWM Fun Fact

The Short Book Buying Guide