Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Zen Ghosts

Zen Ghosts

Jon J. Muth
Picture Book
For ages 6 and up
Scholastic Press, 2010   ISBN: 978-0439634304

Karl, Addy, and Michael are getting their Halloween costumes ready. Their friend Stillwater the panda bear comes over and he explains that he is going to be a ghost for Halloween. Karl is going to be a monster, and Michael is going to be either an owl or a pirate. He doesn’t know which he prefers. Stillwater suggests that Michael might like to be an “Owl-Pirate.” After all, on Halloween anything is possible. Stillwater then tells his young friends that this Halloween is special because there is going to be a full moon. He knows someone who can tell the children a ghost story.

So, after treat-or-treating on Halloween night, the children meet Stillwater at the stone wall and he takes them to his house where they meet a panda bear who looks exactly like Stillwater. He tells them a story about a girl whose soul separated and went into two different directions. One soul stayed with her family, and one ran away with the boy she loved. Which soul was the real girl?

In this beautiful and thought-provoking picture book, Jon Muth brings readers an old story that has timeless appeal. Yes, it is a ghost story of sorts, but it also a story about duality, which is something all people of all ages encounter. I am my mother’s child, but I am also someone’s best friend. Which self is the real me?

With gorgeous paintings throughout and a story that will resonate with readers of all ages, this picture book is an enduring treasure.