FICTION

Little Sid: The Tiny Prince Who Became Buddha

illus. by Xanthe Bouma. 40p. First Second. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626726369.
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Gr 1–3—Like the real Gautama, "Little Sid" is royal, a detail that is almost the sole point of biographical accuracy in Lendler's text. This version of Siddhartha, saddled with too-busy, seldom-available parents, is overwhelmed with servants' attentions and material excess. Only five candles light his birthday cake, but he openly departs his palace, seeking personal happiness. He doesn't encounter the Four Sights (illness, age, death, asceticism), just a village of ordinary people dealing with ordinary life (work, crying children). He later trades them his material goodies, for a saw. A couple of Wise Ones mention ephemerality and a Zen-like paradox. While in mortal danger he eats a strawberry and "without thinking," declares it "delicious." Now apparently enlightened, he returns, saws a table in half, and egotistically demands that his parents "Be here now" for him. Bouma's dynamic pastel images flow and float across the pages and a final note summarizes the real Siddhartha's life and message. Lendler's take is a jaw-dropping departure from the actual life of the Buddha; readers should seek out Whitney Stewart's Becoming Buddha or Demi's Buddha, both of which offer lively narrative accounts. Jon J. Muth's four "Zen" books also introduce related concepts effectively.
VERDICT Collections will want to look elsewhere.

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