CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 14 . . . . March 17, 2006
This title is from the series “Zen Tails” in which a moral from philosophical teachings is explained through a picture book story and a cast of animal characters. Included with this title is a full-colour poster which features all of the characters in the series. The characters are divided into “enlightened ones” who are the teachers; those “on the path” who are the students; and those who have “forgotten the way” and who are the fools.
Bruno the Beagle, who is the protagonist of this story, represents fearlessness, but he lacks self-discipline, and the poster states that he has bouts of anger and “jealously.” He can’t get his mind off his desire for ice cream until he meets up with Monkey and Grizzel who are taunting Gilbert B. Beaver. Bruno uses his karate skills and retrieves Gilbert’s books from the bullies and then realizes that, by being involved in helping his friend, he has lost his obsession with ice cream.
At the end of the book, the author explains that the source of this story is an ancient Zen tale about a teacher who points out that, for us to let go of accumulated thoughts, we need discipline and the ability to focus on our present actions.
One problem with the book is that the presentation and the content appear to be for two different age levels. The picture book format and the brightly coloured anthropomorphic characters could appeal to preschoolers, but the theme requires the capacity to reflect on how our desires can become obsessive and how difficult it is to control our thoughts if we have only one thing on our minds.
This is the kind of book which parents might purchase in an alternative bookstore. Like other titles published by Simply Read, it is handsomely designed and is a very attractive picture book.
Recommended with reservations.
Lorraine Douglas, a retired librarian who worked in children’s and youth services for over 25 years at the Winnipeg Public Library, now lives in Sidney, BC, and is an artist and writer.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.