Zen Happiness

illus. by Jon J Muth. 32p. Scholastic. Mar. 2019. Tr $8.99. ISBN 9781338346022. POP
PreS-Gr 2–This tiny book is filled with suggestions for young readers to achieve happiness and make the world a better place. Throughout, Muth's favorite panda, Stillwater, engages in activities with children, such as drawing, dancing, and playing. His friendly and playful demeanor and warm smile add a comforting touch to the artwork. The perspective changes throughout the narrative, which gives the artwork a realistic, camera-panning effect. Nature is a repeated theme in Muth's artwork. Each scene depicts the characters immersing themselves in and enjoying the wonders of the natural world. The illustrations are done with watercolor, using pastel hues that give each page a soothing look and feel. Readers will be drawn to the text, which magnifies the meaning of the images on each page. Though simple, this title holds powerful messages. Some of its concepts may be considered slightly advanced for the full comprehension of younger readers.
VERDICT A book that encourages mindfulness, self-love, and self-awareness. This would also make for a lovely graduation gift in the vein of Dr. Seuss's Oh the Places You'll Go.

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