1 journaler for this copy...
The story itself features three human friends and their pal Stillwater - a giant panda. (The characters were originally introduced in Zen Shorts, also a fun read.) Stillwater shows up at their house in costume as a traditional Chinese ghost (blue robes, fox-spirit mask), and at first the kids don't recognize him - just how many giant-panda friends do they have, anyway?
There's some discussion as to which costumes they're preparing for Halloween, with Michael torn between owls and pirates - so yeah, the blend is indeed intentional. And surprisingly effective!
The trick-or-treat scenes are delightful, with a mix of neighborhood families and what seem to be actual ghosts and goblins. But after this is over and the friends have swapped favorite kinds of candy, Stillwater tells them a ghost story - or, rather, an identical panda *draws* the story for them, painting the images beautifully in black and white (with a few touches of color). The story, "Senjo and Her Soul," is based on a traditional Zen koan that's centuries old; here, it's romantic and only a little eerie.
I loved the artwork, and the mix of Eastern and Western customs among the friends. And the author's note at the end explains not only the origin of the "Senjo" story but a basic overview of the concept of the koan, challenging children to ask themselves similar questions. Really lovely book!
*** Released as part of the 2016 Spooktacular Halloween release challenge. ***