CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 17 . . . . April 28, 2006
Up and Down 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. 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.
In this story, it is easy to spot Monkey as a fool who is never satisfied with the way things are. He is constantly restless and mischievous. Shri Shelly, the tortoise, represents knowledge and is a font of wisdom dispensing valuable advice. She tells bored Monkey to get busy by running up and down a ladder for hours on end. When he is exhausted, he is able to think of a number of fun things to do to occupy his time the next day.
The bright animated illustrations and the anthropomorphic characters make the book appear to be a preschool picture book, but the content is more suitable for slightly older children. This story is amusing and clearly makes the point that, when you are bored or dissatisfied with life, you should stop and reflect for a moment as there are plenty of ways you can enjoy life.
Parents who are interested in sharing these ideas with their children will find this a useful book, and it would be very suitable for an alternative bookstore.
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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