Features the same kids from his previous book. Hi, Koo, Leo and Molly love their new neighbourhood. Best of all is their friend Stillwater, a giant panda who lives across the way. And the three friends are quite a team! Stillwater teaches Molly about patience.
Leo teaches Stillwater about sharing. And Molly shows how one act of kindness can make a world of difference. Jon J Muth's warm, compassionate stories and light-filled pictures are tinged with the wisdom of Zen. Whether young or old, we all learn from one another in the most surprising ways.
Miss 9 and I began reading this book together, but unfortunately I finished it alone. The book has a great concept with some wonderful lessons to be learnt. Sadly for miss 9 she was easily frustrated by the style in which the book was set out. I admit I was interested that the book frustrated her and slightly surprised. She is a very accomplished reader both in her reading and comprehension, and as such I thought this would be right up her ally. Alas I was wrong.
She loved the panda, and thought the watercolour cover was beautiful and fun. I quite agree. She thought it was nicely illustrated but she said she became disinterested because although nicely illustrated it was much to long and a bit confusing. She thought it was probably a better book for young teenagers maybe. She did manage to sit and read half of it with me though. If I must be perfectly honest, I do agree with her. It is a very long book and I didn't expect it to be quite as lengthy as it was.
I do love the zen lessons within and have always been a great lover of stories within stories, hidden meanings and lessons. This book is definitely full of those and if you can get your child to sit and concentrate long enough, there is much to be learnt in this beautifully presented book.
The front cover of this book looks like so much fun. There is a gorgeous water colour illustration of a panda balancing on a bicycle and a black and white cat looking peevish in the front basket. I went into reading his book with my kids blind. I didn't know what the story would be about.
As we started to read the book, my 3 year old was enchanted by Stillwater the Panda and thought that having a neighbour like him would be excellent. Part way through the first of the break-off parables, she got very frustrated and tried to take the book off me. I was reading it wrong, where was the panda? She couldn't understand why the style of illustrations had changed and where all the characters went. The next two sections of the story remain with Stillwater and the kids and are less jarring. The third section was a story I have heard before, but was new to my girls. They both seemed to like it.
Miss told me that she liked the Panda, but I could tel that the story was a bit too meandering for her. While I can see that it was introducing zen concepts to my children, I think Miss 3 was just too young to understand why it's layout was like it was. Miss 8 I thought might be able to understand the stories inside the story better, but she found it jarring too. She thought the story about adventuring with robots sounded fun. All this told me was, she missed the point of the story entirely.
I suspect that around 8 years old would be okay to start reading this book with your kids. For my kids, I think maybe the layout with the various stories in one, didn't work for them. It is otherwise a beautiful book. The concepts of patience, kindness and sharing are beautifully drawn and shared inside. I really liked it, but then I felt I could understand the journey the author was taking me on and my kids just didn't. It would be a lovely gift book for Christmas, for a slightly older child.
Random listing from 'Books'...
From the team who created the award-winning title How to Make a Universe with 92 Ingredients (9781407117911), How To Change the World With a Ball of String is a completely unique and imaginative take on history for children. Using examples from the past to show how you can start your own empire, conquer your neighbours or stage your own industrial revolution - this is a fascinating and entertaining approach to the subject.
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