This book is addressed to children aged five to ten. It is beautifully produced with illustrations by the author herself. The story is uncomplicated. A poor girl, Padme, grows up in a rich household. Her task is to sweep which is all she does, all day long, all life long, for her demanding employers. But she is grateful to have work and a place to live.
One day, a great man arrives. This is the Buddha himself, who is gracious and cheerful. After a meal, he invites everyone into the garden where he teaches about life, suffering, and meditation. Everyone receives a blessing. Padme asks how she could meditate in her very busy life - there is always something to clean or dust. The Buddha teaches her about meditation while working - to work and live mindfully, in meditation.
The Buddha returns to teach another lesson. That caring for others, concern for their suffering and their happiness, can be a prayer. That a heart filled with such prayer is an indication of greatness.
This story is perhaps what five-year-olds need. Stories are perhaps what ten-year-olds need. Mindfulness and compassion are what we all need.
Time was, we had daughters of between five and ten. I tried to read to them and sometimes succeeded. I remember Goodnight Moon and Charlotte's Web and Where the Wild Things Are. I think fondly of The Phantom Toll-Booth and of Holes. They grew up, naturally. For a while, there were the Harry Potter books.
Now they are on their own. May mindfulness and compassion fill their lives.