No Presents Please, by Peter Whitfield

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan


The third book in the Zen Tale series, No Presents Please is as enjoyable as the first two. The books are based on Zen Tales, with each of the nine characters in the series representing a human characteristic such as love, fearlessness or anger.

No Presents Please is about dealing with anger. Grizzel Bear becomes angry when Guru Walter Wombat does not do as he demands. Whilst Grizzel becomes angrier during the meeting, Guru Walter remains calm. This eventually leads Grizzel to question his own behaviour.

This is a message that many adults could learn from. The Zen Tale itself provides the answer to dealing with anger, “I refuse to accept your anger, so you will have to keep it for yourself.” This is a powerful message.

As with Up and Down, this story benefits from having only two characters. It is easy to follow and clearly conveys the essence of the original tale, an advantage in getting the message across to readers. This is a story that should help children, and hopefully adults, address issues they may have with anger.

Nancy Bevington’s illustrations again provide a delightful visual accompaniment to Peter Whitford’s text. They are clear and colourful and the focus this time is on blue. The Zen symbol and page frames are a soft pale blue and do not detract from the illustrations in any way. The use of colour to frame the pages and display the Zen symbol is a pleasing theme with the Zen Tail series. There is also the predominance of green within the pictures as once again the activity of the story takes place outside. The orange and red of the character’s clothing breaks up the browns and greens, which could become monotonous as they series continues.

The illustrations convey the emotions felt by the characters and in this case anger, confusion, contentment and happiness are all defined in the faces of Grizzel and Guru Walter.

Once again, this is an enjoyable story with a message we could all learn from. The Zen Tale is again provided at the back of the book.


No Presents PleaseBevington, Nancy (illus.), Peter Whitford (text)
New Frontier Publishing, 2004, $19.95, ISBN 0975090747