Review by Cameron Crane
Still There?: A Little Zen for Little Ones
By Sanjay Nambiar
Reading level: Ages 5 and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Umiya Publishing (August 1, 2012)
There’s nothing better than that beautiful harmony that occurs when you read the right book at the right time. It was around 2 o’clock when I picked up Still There?: A Little Zen for Little Ones by Sanjay Nambiar, and it turned out to be just what I needed.
I had just come back from lunch, and was feeling extremely stressed from a series of conference calls I had attended earlier in the day, when I discovered Still There? waiting for me. In only a few words and pages, Still There? was able to change my perspective and turn my day around. It’s amazing how much power one children’s book can hold.
The Story: Two boys are playing in the park, enjoying the sunshine. Suddenly, their day is interrupted when they hear a scream. They discover a little girl, distressed to have lost her favorite earring, and immediately put their fun and games on hold to find it for her. When they finally do, the boys also find that the little girl is less than grateful, and are left to ponder their unresolved feelings about the situation.
The Rhythm: Still There? is written in short, delightful sentences, constructed to mirror the way a child would absorb the situation at hand. Without saying too much, Nambiar is able to effectively bring the story to life and convey the varying emotions of the two boys.
The Artwork: Colorful, modern illustrations engage the reader, without detracting from the focus of the story, which is, of course, its powerful message. Children are sure to enjoy the distinctive styles and personalities of the three characters.
The Message: Based on an old Zen fable, Still There? is a story about expectation and living in the moment. After the girl is rude, the two boys have two very different reactions. The first boy, who found the earring, continues happily playing. All he wanted was to find the missing jewelry, and his mission was accomplished. He helped simply because he wanted to, regardless of the little girl’s reaction. His friend, however, is filled with anger and frustration. How could the girl be so rude? Didn’t she see that they were trying to help? When the first boy notices that his friend is still stuck in the situation, he reminds him that it is still a beautiful day, and there is no need to hold on to negative energy.
Conclusion: Like many of our own titles, Still There? is an invitation to engage in meaningful conversation with your children. After reading it, you will find yourself letting go of any lingering emotion you may have from the day. Buy Still There? online, at your local bookstore, or rent it from your local library to share with the little pickles in your life.