The life of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha, is told in this picture book.
Using simple phrases in a pleasing, steady cadence that flows restfully, author Hopkinson tells the story of the Buddha for young readers. Born Prince Siddhartha Gautama in ancient India, he spent his childhood in his father’s palace in protected luxury, since his father did not want him to experience anything painful or unhappy. But eventually Siddhartha wanted to see what was outside the palace walls, so, yielding to his son’s requests, his father let him visit the city, where he had ordered the mayor to hold a festival. Despite these precautions, Siddhartha wandered off and saw hardship and pain—an experience that left him determined to find a way to set people free from suffering. Hopkinson inserts variations on the phrase “just like you” into the narrative at key moments, thereby connecting the ancient story to the feelings and longings readers may experience—an effective device that makes the story relevant and applicable to today. Illustrator Whitman’s gracious double-page spreads mirror the text, featuring plenty of white space and a soothing, light palette. She often uses white lines, rather than dark, to delineate the pictures, which has the effect of imbuing the illustrations overall with light—enhancing the enlightenment theme of the story.
Light, graceful, and accessible in both words and pictures. (Informational picture book. 5-10)