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I WAS ONCE A MONKEY by Jeanne M. Lee


Stories Buddha Told

by Jeanne M. Lee

Pub Date: April 8th, 1999
ISBN: 0-374-33548-6
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A book of the basic teachings of Buddha, presented through a collection of six classic, simple tales. When a monkey takes refuge from a monsoon in a cave, he happens upon a group of bickering animals—a monkey, lion, turtle, jackal, and dove. Before the fighting becomes too fierce, a small statue of Buddha begins to glow in the darkest corner. To pass the time—and to stop the fighting—wise Buddha spins enlightening stories of tolerance, endurance, sagacity, truthfulness, kindness, and clarity. Buddha recounts his past lives in many forms—from monkey to pigeon to willow tree—to his captive listeners. Such straightforward yet profound tales combine with the art and design for an example of bookmaking that is aesthetically pleasing in every way. Color-washed linoprints cleverly distinguish the stories from the black-and-white narrative frame, while an informative afterword offers brief background detail about Buddha and these six “birth stories” known as Jatakas. (Picture book/folklore. 4-7)