Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Sky Sweeper

Sky Sweeper

Spring 2007 Picture Books
Ages: 5 & Up
Author: Phillis Gershator
Illustrator: Holly Meade
ISBN: 978-0-374-37007-7
Hardcover Price: $16.00
Centuries ago, Japanese monks depended on “Flower Keepers” to maintain the quiet beauty of their temple gardens. The work may have seemed humble to outsiders, but the Flower Keepers were aware of how crucial the job was—they kept the paths clear of snow, swept up fallen blossoms, and removed sticks from the sand. There is a lesson to be learned from taking pride in such work, and this is the subject of Phyllis Gershator's new picture book, Sky Sweeper. It's the story of Takeboki, a lifelong Flower Keeper whose name comes from the Japanese word for bamboo broom. When others criticize him for not traveling the world or dressing in fine clothes, he simply responds, “I'm happy sweeping.” When they say he looks like a beggar with his basket full of autumn leaves, he replies, “I have more gold than I can carry!” Only when the elderly Takeboki passes away do people realize what significance his life carried. In delicately poetic language, Gershator's story illustrates several Buddhist principles, including the idea that a single flower says more than words. Holly Meade's collage illustrations work seamlessly with the story, both in their images and in her use of Japanese papers. This lovely book reminds us all to slow down and delight in simple pleasures.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2007 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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