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Maybe: A Little Zen for Little Ones Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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"Maybe: A Little Zen for Little Ones" is an excellent read-aloud storybook to share with young people, especially when teaching them about the unpredictable nature of life itself. Highly recommended.
“This soulful little book, with its colorful pictures, teaches kids the valuable message that sometimes not getting what they want is a good thing . . . a message many adults are still struggling to learn.” —Dr. Jenn Berman, author, SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years
“If kids take away even a smidgeon of this message, parents and caregivers will find them more relaxed and philosophically prepared to deal with events as they take place.” —TheGiggleGuide.com
“The parents I work with love how this book puts good luck and bad luck into perspective. The story is precious and has a real impact.” —Dr. Esther Hess, Center for the Developing Mind
From the Inside Flap
Based on an ancient and beloved Zen fable, "Maybe (A Little Zen for Little Ones)" is about a wise girl who experiences a series of events that at first seem lucky (or unlucky) but then turn out to be quite the opposite. A bike disappears, but then she gets a new one. She hurts herself, but then she enjoys a nice day at home. For each incident, was what happened good luck? Maybe. Was it bad luck? Maybe. Or, perhaps the girl simply does not get caught up in the emotion of the moment, because she can never know what that event might lead to, good or bad . . .
A Little Zen for Little Ones puts classic and new Zen stories in an accessible context for today's kids (and adults!). With children as central characters and narratives that reflect modern culture, these stories help us examine our values as our world becomes more complex and confusing. After all, if our children can get a little bit of Zen in their lives, perhaps they'll grow up to be adults with a little bit of Zen as well. Wouldn't that be great for all of us?
Top customer reviews
The illustrations are large and multicultural with exaggerated features and larger than life heads. Text needs to be read aloud as some of the sentences are very long and will be difficult for young children to digest. On the other hand, the story presents a good message for young children who tend to focus too much on isolated events.
Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-fifths worth reading! The only reason I've relented and started putting stars up there is to credit the good ones, which were being unfairly uncredited. So, all you'll ever see from me is a five-star or a one-star (since no stars isn't a rating, unfortunately).
I rated this book WORTHY!
Maybe presents as a Zen-based approach to relating children's stories while teaching something useful, and it's part of a series.
When many people think of Zen, it's probably of that old trope "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" which is purposefully nonsensical because it's not about the answer, it's about the question, and how it derails ordered, reined-in thought. The point of Zen isn't thought; rather it lies in centering and allowing thoughts to run on by without trapping them - like enjoying nature without any focus on capturing animals or picking flowers.
The aim is not to be free of emotion, per se, but to live your life free of obsession, distraction, and misdirection. Perhaps a better catch-phrase than the 'one hand clapping' is "If you love something, let it go". That doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to it, but it's of no value to dwell on it, wishing for things which might never be, or trying to own things which don't lend themselves to ownership, especially not in the long-term.
This is how the main character in this book manages not to focus on the immediate, but to open herself to a much bigger picture. Of course, life isn't quite like this. We shouldn't expect that just because a bad thing happens, there must be a good thing coming right along behind it to balance your account, nor should we expect the inverse of that: a bad event must necessarily follow a good one. Good things don't come in threes. Neither do bad ones. But good and bad things do come.
We should realize, though, that it's worth trying to teach children that situations are not always permanent, and things which bring with them obsession, making it seem like they're everything in the world at the time, are not so important in the long run. The world is bigger than any of us, and pain goes away, tears dry, discomfort eases, and loss is forgotten.
Of course, it can be really hard to see this when it's happening, or fresh in memory! Our main character does an unlikely if admirable job in this regard. She's very equanimous, taking things in her stride, and not worrying over-much about events, even though some are uncomfortable and upsetting. She understands, unlike most children, that these things will pass and other things will arrive and take their place, and unlike all-too-many of us, she can live with that!
Would more children were like this! My own are too old for a book like this one, but they do tend to obsess on the now or the immediate, especially when it comes to wants as opposed to needs - and they're often conflating the two. They're growing out of what is traditionally considered to be children's toys, and moving on towards more grown-up interests, but they still grow too attached to things, and too upset by failure and loss. The older is much more Zen than the younger (he's actually better than me!), and our hope is that the younger will grow to follow his sibling, at least in this regard.
A book like this is a good thing to have around, especially for younger children, but it's also paradoxical - that we should value a book which is, after all, only a passing phase! That's why it's important to keep in mind that it's not the book that's important in the long-run, but whether you can help your children to learn something from it while it's in your possession. I hope so. Even writing this review has taught me something. I've never thought of blogging books as a form of mediation, only as fun! How very un-Zen of me!
Although I appreciate the attempt to turn a zen fable into a modern-day children's book, I was not too impressed with the product. The story line was not that interesting, and some aspects of the story (ex. mom making favorite lasagna) seemed out of place and irrelevant. My main complaint would be some logistical errors in sentence structure and punctuation.
The illustrations were well-done but were not particularly entertaining. There was a lot of blank white space and the colors were flat.
Overall, I applaud the author's attempt to create a story with a moral background, but I don't think young kids would find this entertaining.
Having the attitude that the young girl had in this book could not only teach other kids that it's alright to let things go but that it's even better to just be neutral about things...to just be positive and that maybe in doing so, they will have the chance of experiencing a Little Zen in their lives too! I gave it a 4 out of five...as I was reading it to my little grand-one, he wanted to know why the girl "bad a nice bike" wanting to know how a bike could be both bad and nice. I didn't really have an answer so finally I said to him that the storyteller was just expressing the Zen of how much the kids in the neighborhood really liked the girls bike. Forgetting at times that kids say the darndest things...
Colorful children's book about a girl who gets a new bike because she's outgrown her smaller one. Others think she is lucky and she says maybe.
Other things happen and again her response is maybe.
This story centralizes on the fact that the little girl doesn’t get caught up in the emotion and drama of each event in the story, from her bike getting stolen to injuring her arm to missing a birthday party at school.