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I Once Was a Monkey: Stories Buddha Told Hardcover


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I Once Was a Monkey: Stories Buddha Told + Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddha + Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (March 31, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374335486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374335489
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A monkey that takes refuge in the ruins of Buddha's temple during a monsoon sets the stage for these finely honed retellings of six Jatakas, or birth stories. As the monkey's eyes adjust to the light, he discovers he is in the company of a lion, turtle, jackal and dove, and a statue of "the Enlightened One" begins to speak. In each tale, Buddha assumes a different shape to impart his message of peace, attentiveness, tolerance and respect. Lee (The Song of Mu Lan) effortlessly and subtly weaves Buddhist practices and principles into her evenly paced tales. Each story is a study in brevity and restraint yet, like Buddha, conveys enormous empathy. For instance, after a heron, in a deceptive ploy, consumes all the fish in a lake, a crab outwits him then makes his way back to the water, "weeping all the while for his lost friends." Lee draws the frame story in black-and-white, with Buddha in teaching posture and the animals listening attentively. The full-color illustrations for each Jataka combine the strength of woodcuts and the fluidity of Chinese silk painting, with their serene landscapes in soft colors and confident black lines; the full-spread illustration of a lion heading off a stampede of animals bound for danger is especially moving. Fans of Aesop's fables and the Just So Stories will likely find these characters equally as compelling, while others will discover a gentle and graceful introduction to Buddhism here. Ages 5-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-A group of animals, sheltering in a cave from the fierce monsoon rains, hears a small statue of Buddha speak. The six stories he tells calm the beasts and teach them wisdom. Chosen from the hundreds of ancient Jataka tales, the selections are, like many of Aesop's fables, gems of moral philosophy. Lee's retellings not only encapsulate some of the teachings of Buddhism, but also suggest the centrality of Buddha in that religion. Each selection begins with a different incarnation of the Buddha: "I was then a willow tree..."; "I once was a monkey..."; "Long ago, I was born a golden antelope...." The smoothly flowing text shares each page with a bold block print, some in black and white and some with subtle colorings. Both words and pictures are arranged for reading aloud and invite comparison with other beast tales and discussions of Buddhist teachings. Like Demi's Buddha Stories (Holt, 1997), which shares only one tale with Lee's book, these stories will enrich collections of folk literature and parables from the world's religions.
Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The illustrations are wonderful and inspire the imagination.
WKC
I purchased this book because it looked like a nice introduction to Buddah.
Lisa Ramsey
My nine year old daughter and seven year old son loved this book.
D. Buxman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By J. Mcclure on November 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book to read with my 8 yr old son at bedtime. The book is very well written with the language being both accessible and engaging for young children. My son also loved the illustrations which have a wonderful clarity and warmth. Each Jataka we read gave us a great opportunity to talk about kindness, fear, greed and the other myriad feelings we have every day. Best of all, after we finished the book my son went back and read it again himself. Which is a big deal for him since he usually goes for Captain Underpants before anything else.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By WKC on July 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Both my 3 and 7 year olds enjoy these stories. It is a great way to start discussions on topics like telling the truth, trust, careful thought, friendship and kindness. The illustrations are wonderful and inspire the imagination.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alisson Richards on June 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My five year old son loved this book with jakatas, or tales, that buddha told. The jakatas are all told through the stories and lessons that buddha learned through his life as different animals: a monkey, lion, dove, and jackal. There are valuable lessons learned and I would highly recommend this as an introduction for children to buddhism.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Ramsey on September 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book because it looked like a nice introduction to Buddah. My daugher and I both throroughly enjoyed the book. My daughter is 4 and a half and she first went through the book to look at it's pictures and attempted to figure out each story. As we read each story she enjoyed guessing what was going to happen next and how each animal would react by her first impressions by the artwork. It is nicely written for a read aloud book and contains timeless stories about interaction. I highly reccommend this book, even in you are not interested in Buddah as a religious figure, but looking for tales of common sense and relating to others.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. Buxman TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My nine year old daughter and seven year old son loved this book. I have an eleven year old son who wasn't too interested. If you want a gentle introduction to Buddhist thought, or simply want to broaden your children's horizons, this is an excellent resource. Sadly, it is pretty short, but the illustrations are excellent and the stories profound.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alisson Richards on June 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My five year old son loved this book with jatakas, or tales, that buddha told. The jatakas are all told through the stories and lessons that buddha learned through his life as different animals: a monkey, lion, dove, and jackal. There are valuable lessons learned and I would highly recommend this as an introduction for children to buddhism.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Montgomery on January 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I actually checked this book out at the library, with some others, for my children to start learning a little about the Buddhist teachings. We all enjoyed it and not long after returning it to the library, I decided I wanted to own it.

It is refreshing to find stories for children that contain important lessons about character and consequences, without threats or bribes (like many religions teach). I recommend this book for children and adults alike. I hope to find more just like it to fill our ever growing library.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Masters on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My 6 year old and 8 year old enjoy the story this book tells. It helps them to ask questions and start the process of understanding the "big picture". This book along with many others written for children about kindness and Buddhism are an important part of bringing up a well rounded person.
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