Book Review of Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion
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The Children’s Book Review
Written by Maya van der Meer
Illustrated by Wen Hsu
Ages 4-8 | 32 Pages
Publisher: Bala Kids | ISBN-13: 9781611807998
What to Expect: Chinese culture, Chinese mythology, Buddhism, family, love, compassion
Ling loves her sister Kuan Yin dearly, but she is terribly afraid of losing her. Their father, a powerful and cruel king, insists that his daughter fulfill her family duty by marrying a prince, but all Kuan Yin wishes to do is become a nun and live a spiritual life.
When Kuan Yin refuses to marry, her father agrees to send her to a nunnery but tells the nuns to treat her cruelly. Calling on her sister’s love and a little bit of help from a dragon, Kuan Yin is able to thrive at the nunnery and becomes loved by all who know her. Filled with even more rage, the king drives Kuan Yin away, and for nine long years, Ling is left wondering if she will ever see her sister again. However, as she learns in the end, love is the greatest power in the world.
Many children are familiar with traditional Western fairy tales, in which princesses seem to want nothing more than to marry a prince and live a thoroughly pampered life forever after. In this beautiful Buddhist fairy tale, readers learn to admire a princess with a very different set of values. Like Snow White, Kuan Yin has the power of charming animals and is loved by everyone around her, but unlike that classic princess, Kuan Yin’s goal in life is to help and heal the whole world, and her fate is to end up not as a happy wife but as a revered Goddess. It’s a powerful and inspirational message for young readers.
Inspired by historical sources, Wen Hsu’s illustrations are truly magical, with flowing lines and transparent, glowing colors that evoke the grace and delicacy of Eastern art.
Altogether, Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion is a book to treasure.
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About the Author
MAYA VAN DER MEER is an author, educator, environmentalist, and long-time Buddhist practitioner. She is the founder of the online education platform Bodhi Kids and assists Buddhist communities in establishing or enhancing their children’s programming. Maya has run children’s programs at meditation retreats and was an instructor at the Middle Way School in Woodstock, New York, where she currently lives with her life partner and their children.w
To learn more, please visit www.mayavandermeer.com.
About the Illustrator
WEN HSU is a Taiwanese-Costa Rican illustrator. She has a wide range of styles working with papercuts, ink, watercolor, textiles, and digital art. She has illustrated stories for children in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, India, Japan, Korea, and China. Wen has had a personal connection with Kuan Yin since she was a child, stemming from the bedtime stories her father told about the bodhisattva and trips to the Kuan Yin temples in Taiwan she took with her grandmother.
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