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Lions Roar : January 2005
While MacLean shows young children how the peace experi- enced in meditation “makes it easier to accept things that happen” in their lives, Nancy Wood’s Old Coyote tells the story of an aged coyote who is peacefully saying goodbye to the memories of a life that is drawing to an end. I cannot recall reading any other story that depicts aging and the passage from this life as beautifully as Old Coyote. Max Grafe’s illustrations—which, in his own words, strive “to capture the essence of the words while leaving enough room for the viewer’s imagination to roam”—provide a perfect visual accompaniment to what I hope proves to be a children’s classic. Lastly, I would like to make special mention of The Conquerors, by David McKee, whom a critic has aptly called a “master of the modern fable.” The edition that I read of this deceptively simple, attractively illustrated tale was published earlier this year by Andersen Press in London, but by the time this present review reaches print, the American edition should be available from Handprint Books. And it could not appear at a more opportune time. As stories and pictures of the chaos unleashed by military might flood our media, it is vital that we and our children be reminded in as many ways as possible of a force residing within the heart of humanity that is ultimately more powerful than the destruction we witness daily. With this understated yet com- pelling parable of the ability of peaceful persuasion to overcome blind aggression, McKee provides just such a gentle reminder. © JONATHAN LANDAW is the author of Prince Siddhartha, Images of Enlightenment and Buddhism for Dummies. SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2005 79 review each one before deciding which ones are appropriate to read to their children—the illustrations are uniformly gorgeous. Children will delight in the beautiful depictions of a wide variety of animals—tigers, foxes, monkeys, rabbits, donkeys and a fabu- lous Lion King, just to mention a few—as well as in the imagina- tive pictures of court and village life, an army of archers and even a Chinese Cinderella. One of my favorite stories, “The Country of the Mice,” tells of the ingenious way a colony of mice repaid the generosity of a king by dispersing the army of his enemies through guile rather than by force. With The Hermit and the Well, the beloved Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh adds yet another title to his impressive list of works. Here, in a story based on an incident in his own life, the author tells of a young boy who climbs a moun- tain in search of a wise hermit, but finds instead the secret of his own inner wisdom. The illustrations, like the story itself, have a spare, quietly magical quality, giving readers plenty of space in which to discover their own quiet center. This is also the explicit purpose of a far different book, Kerry Lee MacLean’s Peaceful Piggy Meditation. With the aid of her own whimsical and delightfully child-like illustrations, MacLean—who has been using meditation in therapy work with children for many years—shows how little “piggies” can use sim- ple meditation techniques to find a safe haven from the hurry and emotional confusion of their busy lives, and thereby culti- vate the peace from which loving-kindness, fearlessness and wis- dom naturally grow. At the conclusion of her book, the author offers her readers a simple yet highly effective set of meditation instructions suitable for even very young children, plus advice on ways meditation can enrich the life of one’s entire family. Illustrations from (clockwise from upper left): Favorite Children’s Stories from China and Tibet, Peaceful Piggy Meditation, The Conquerors, The Hermit and the Well, Old Coyote, and Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas.