Author/Illustrator: Jon J. Muth
My rating: 5 of 5
Leo and Molly have a most interesting neighbor in their new neighborhood: a giant panda named Stillwater who lives across the street. Stillwater gives their cat Moss rides on his bicycle, is fun to play with, and tells interesting stories. Even better, he always seems to know just what to say when Leo or Molly is struggling with something. They’re definitely glad to have met this unusual new friend!
Ever since I first discovered Jon J. Muth’s delightful picture books, I have regarded finding a new one with great enjoyment, and Zen Socks was no exception. What is most immediately striking about this lovely picture book is just that–the pictures. They are charming watercolors that have strong ties back to the old schools of Asian brush painting, yet they incorporate modern and adorable themes seamlessly. Very cute and beautiful both, with great composition and colors. And once you get done gaping over the gorgeous art, there’s the story itself, which is also adorable. Stillwater is a most unusual neighbor indeed, an exceedingly insightful one. This is the sort of book that teaches important life lessons like perseverance, patience, selflessness, and compassion in a way that is both striking and seemingly effortless. The concepts stick without seeming forced, at times through the use of storytelling within the story. I would recommend Zen Socks very highly to all readers, especially to those in the 4-7 age group, although really the themes are valid for all ages (and this would make a gorgeous coffee table book).