Orphaned Rose Campbell finds it difficult to fit in when she goes to live with her six aunts and seven mischievous boy cousins.
“Louisa May Alcott is most famous for her story of the four sisters in Little Women but she wrote about other well-behaved, strong-willed girls, too, and Rose Campbell is one of them. Orphaned Rose has been sent to her aunts to await the arrival of her guardian uncle, and she is very unhappy: lonely without her father; uncertain of her affection for her aunts; and shy of her seven rowdy boy cousins. But most of all, she is fearful that her uncle will be strict and unkind. To Rose’s relief he is neither, and he even encourages her to give up her prim and proper ways. Soon Rose is running, boating and even riding horses, as well as gently bossing the boy cousins! This book was written over 100 years ago, so some of it seems very old-fashioned (one of the aunts disapproves of slang) but some things could happen today, as when Rose sneakily has a friend pierce her ears! Mostly, it is just a story of a young woman having adventures and learning from them who she wants to be.”
Recommended by: Doriene Smither – Pike
Project Gutenberg: Read Eight Cousins Online for Free
Kek, an African refugee, is confronted by many strange things at the Minneapolis home of his aunt and cousin, as well as in his fifth grade classroom, and longs for his missing mother, but finds comfort in the company of a cow and her owner. (Young Hoosier Book Award, 2009-2010, 6-8 Nominee)
“Here is a story of loss and discovery. Lou is old and alone, living on a small farm in the middle of a Minnesota winter. Kek is young and lost, new to America from a Sudanese refugee camp. Lou thinks she has nothing left, but discovers she alone has what Kek needs. Kek thinks he knows nothing useful in this new life, yet he brings a little happiness to all he meets. In caring for Lou’s old cow, Kek reclaims the wisdom of his old life. Kek tells us that “you will have lived just half a life if you never love a cow.” Venture into this sweet story for a glimpse of the wonder of a cow and how it changed a life.”
When Stillwater the bear moves into the neighborhood, the stories he tells to three siblings teach them to look at the world in new ways. To Addie he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he pushes the boundaries of good and bad. And to Karl he demonstrates what it means to hold on to frustration.
“When Michael, Addy and Karl meet Stillwater, a panda with his paws full of Zen wisdom, each are made trustees of an ancient tale….
Addy, kind and curious, brings Stillwater a cake, and in return, hears of the neighboring bear’s enlightened uncle Ry, who awakened one night to the rummaging of a robbing raccoon. The robber is startled, but Ry’s pity for the pilferer brings him to offer the thief his robe, which is all that fills the empty house; a peaceful demonstration of value. The next day, among the boughs of a tall tree, Michael is told the of “The Farmer’s Luck” and after, Karl, the youngest, is aided in his frustrations through the telling of “The Heavy Load”.
Written and illustrated by Jon Muth, Zen Shorts, a 2006 Caldecott Honor book, is gentle in its message and wonderfully enlivened by delicate watercolors on every page. Neatly shelved in the children’s section, an all-age treasure awaits, inviting passerby to share in a peaceful moment with three Zen shorts.”
Recommended by: Kevin Kirkpatrick, Garfield Park Branch Library
If you like Zen Shorts you might also like these three books also by Jon Muth. In The Three Questions a boy asks his animal friends three questions: “When is the best time to do things?” “Who is the most important?” and “What is the right thing to do?”. Zen Ghosts and Zen Ties again feature the wise Zen stories of Stillwater the bear:
”Imagine if you will, a world defined by safety. School busses can’t start until you strap yourself in, you’re not allowed to exercise because you might fall down, you live in molded plastic houses with no interesting corners, and your parents track where you are by cell phone. This is the Addition.
Henrietta Gad-fly isn’t a particularly remarkable girl (at least according to her class ranking), and she lives in one of the few remaining old houses on the very edge of the Addition. When she finds a Wild Housecat and a bunch of old books in her attic, things in her predictably safe world start going frighteningly (and excitingly) wrong. All the strange events point to a mysterious creature called the Wikkeling that only Henrietta and her friends can see. Will they solve the mystery of the Wikkeling before it’s too late? Read the book and find out!” Author: Steven Arntson
Recommended by: Emilie Lynn, East 38th Street Branch
“In the time of dragons, castles, and wizards a young boy named Wiglaf seems just a bit out of place at home with his rowdy brothers and medieval parents. A strange prophet comes along and lets Wiglaf know he is destined for more than being the family wimp.
With dreams of being a hero Wiglaf heads to the Dragon Slayers Academy to become The New Kid at School. With fun twists and turns Wiglaf discovers he may not have what it takes to be a hero all alone, but with a little bit of team work he may just be able to slay a dragon.”
Recommended by: Kamara McKinney, Spades Park Library