Jon J. Muth‘s cover for his new children’s book, Zen Ties, features the backs of two pandas, with balloons floating nearby. It’s an intriguing image for what Muth is trying to get across to kids, in this sequel to his wildly popular Zen Shorts, about the elusive truths of Zen.
Aline‘s 6-year-old gets the point. When she showed the cover to a friend, the friend exclaimed as expected, “Oh, the pandas are holding balloons!” “No, they’re not,” Anabella replied, pausing for her friend to insist, as she knew she would, “Yes, they are!” Anabella then delightedly tuned the book over to show the back cover, with the pandas sitting side by side, their balloon ties held down by rocks. “See?” she explained, turning the book front to back, again and again. “It all depends on how you look at it.”
Jon Muth’s work has that effect: readers see that he’s pointing out something important — though sometimes they can’t articulate their realizations clearly. Megan Morrone at Jumping Monkeys says of Zen Ties, “I am not a particularly Zen person, but I aspire to be. And I have no idea if the kids understand the principles in this book, but I’ve always believed that at every stage my kids understand way more than I think they do.”
Exactly so, as Anabella also demonstrates!