Sunday 16 July 2023

Stillwater and Koo Save the World

Stillwater and Koo Save the World by Jon J Muth (Scholastic Press), RRP $26.99, Hardcover Picture Book, ISBN 9-781338-812312

Reviewed by Susan Hancy

Koo the young panda wakes up one morning and announces to his uncle, Stillwater, that he’d like to save the world today. “That’s a very big idea,” says Stillwater and proceeds to help Koo by tackling smaller tasks first, such as tidying his room and feeding their cat, giving Koo a sense of accomplishment. As the day progresses, while performing various deeds of kindness, they discuss Koo’s concern for the world being so large yet at the same time so delicate. At the end of the day, Koo wonders whether saving the world is even possible. Wise Stillwater assures him that each time he does something good, he saves the world a little bit and “you will do a little bit more tomorrow.”

Beautifully illustrated by the author-illustrator, the pictures convey calm purpose and serenity in nature. The story gives children and adult readers alike a sense of hope that by tackling the little things with care and kindness, we’re contributing to preserving the earth. The concept is appropriately targeted at children aged 4-7 years and particularly resonated with my son who comes up with similar questions to Koo.

Something to note for the adults reading this story to kids is that Stillwater is a Zen panda and Koo is speaking in haiku, which is a Japanese style of poem consisting of 3 lines and 17 syllables. Koo’s speech reads as quite formal and unusual for a character who is meant to be a child, so after I learnt why, I used it as a syllable counting game with my kids on a second reading.

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