Stillwater, the wise panda from Muth’s Zen picture books is back.
Brother and sister Leo and Molly and their cat, Moss, have moved to a new neighborhood and find that their neighbor is a giant panda named Stillwater. Readers of Muth’s earlier books will be familiar with Stillwater’s serene grace as he delivers messages of life’s essence to young friends. In this book, filled with light-infused watercolors of uplifting hues, Stillwater teaches Molly, a dancer, the value of patience with his story of Banzo’s sword. The Zen story is encapsulated within the bigger story, set off by brushed-ink illustrations and ivory paper. When Leo visits Stillwater, wishing to play good-guy–bad-guy robots with him, Stillwater shows rather than tells what a bad guy is (by hogging all the cookies)—a graceful reminder to readers that no one is immune to selfishness. One day they all ride their bikes to the beach (the rather loose connection to the dancer-and-robot storyline is that they are all friends and do things together), where they discover starfish stranded as the tide goes out. As they begin to throw the seemingly endless starfish back into the water, they are rewarded at the end of the day by a beach empty of starfish and a sky filled with stars.
Lessons of patience, compassion, and sharing, delivered gently. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-10)