LITTLE OWL: An Eightfold Buddhist Admonition by Jamwillem van de Wetering

LITTLE OWL: An Eightfold Buddhist Admonition

Email this review


Van de Wetering exhibits no more sense than he attributes to his witless young animals in this ill-conceived and leadenly executed parable. His preface for adults lists the aspects of the Buddhist Eightfold Path-Right Insight, Right Intentions, Right Talking, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Awareness, and Right Meditation--and notes ""the concept that we should try and keep all aspects in mind. . . but sometimes one aspect becomes much more important that (sic) the others."" What follows is a string of eight little stories, each beginning with a mother animal asking ""Do you know what's most important in life?"" Little Owl answers Right Wisdom but gets hurt trying to share his ""why"" knowledge with a wild boar; Little Crow answers Right Talking but gets hurt when he goes around correcting the pigs' grammar; Kitten says ""Right Action"" but is bitten by the dog even though he has chased the ball and jumped the bail ""right,"" and so on. The eight little animals' troubles end only after they get together and decide to help each other do the right thing--but as demonstrated in their adventures, it wasn't overemphasizing one aspect but misinterpreting it that got each animal into trouble. And, as van de Wetering offers no other interpretation of these unfamiliar phrases, the problem is not just that his point will be lost on a young audience; it is never made.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin