Five-Minute Interview with the Author and Illustrator of Zen Shorts
by Traci Swain
Did you know that Jon J Muth named Stillwater, the panda teacher in his Caldecott Honor–winning Zen Shorts, after the way that still water reflects the moon and the world back at you?
Jon was looking for a character who could tell wise stories but who also lived in a regular neighborhood. And, it turns out, he had a drawing of the perfect choice—a panda in shorts!—tucked away in a drawer. Watch this video interview to discover more fun behind-the-scenes details about Jon, including:
• How Jon brings stories to life through writing and illustrating
• Other art media Jon has explored, including watercolor, oil, calligraphy, and comic making
• Where Jon’s interest in Japanese art and culture comes from
How would your students spend a day with Jon’s character Stillwater? Kids can engage their imaginations and connect to the text with this week’s Cooked Up from a Book free downloadable drawing activity.
Jon J Muth is beloved all over the world for his seven books featuring Stillwater the Panda, whose love and balanced approach to life always serve to make the world a better place for his young friends. Jon’s many enchanting picture books include his Caldecott Honor Book Zen Shorts, Addy’s Cup of Sugar, Stone Soup, and The Three Questions, which the New York Times Book Review called “quietly life-changing.” His books have been translated into more than 15 languages and are cherished by readers of all ages. Jon draws inspiration from his lifelong interest in Asian studies, including tai chi chuan, sumi-e ink drawing, and chado, “the way of tea.” Muth is also renowned in the world of graphic novels. He won an Eisner Award for his paintings in the graphic novel The Mystery Play by Grant Morrison. He has partnered with Neil Gaiman on The Sandman: The Wake, Walter and Louise Simonson and Kent Williams on Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown, J. M. DeMatteis on Moonshadow and Silver Surfer, and with Stanislaw Lem on The Seventh Voyage, which was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Adaptation in Another Medium. He lives in New York State with his wife and their four children.
Order the Book of the Week from Scholastic Book Clubs