Up and Down, by Peter Whitfield

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan

Up and Down is the second in a series of books based on Zen Tales. There are nine characters in the series each representing a human characteristic such as love, fearlessness or anger.

This story is about inspiration. Monkey is bored and when he finds that he cannot occupy himself, he focuses his attention on wanting to destroy Shri Shelley’s home. Shri Shelley, as the teacher in this story, helps Monkey occupy his time by giving him meaningless tasks to perform. When he becomes tired from the repetition of a task, Monkey soon realises that he has wasted his day, rather than doing the things he enjoys.

The major difference between Up and Down and the first book in the series, Bruno Dreams of Ice Cream is the number of characters in the story. This time there are only two of the nine characters and this makes the story much easier to follow. The message seems clearer and the story is easier to read than the first.

Once again, Nancy Bevington’s illustrations provide a delightful visual accompaniment to Peter Whitford’s text. They are clear and colourful and whilst the first book had an earthy feel about it, Up and Down focuses on green. There is an abundance of it from the colour on the text pages to the landscape that dominates many of the pictures. The illustrator has contrasted the green with brown and blue allowing the characters to become the focal point of the pages.

As with the first book, Up and Down has a message told within a story that children will enjoy. Unlike Bruno Dreams of Ice Cream, this story would be suitable for children aged five and over. Younger children will still get some enjoyment from the pictures.

The original Zen Tale is included at the end of the story.

Up and DownBevington, Nancy (illus.), Peter Whitford (text)
New Frontier Publishing, 2004, $19.95, ISBN 0975090739