While I originally picked this up as a children’s book, it is definitely a volume for readers of all ages, featuring sweet, simple lessons with some truly lovely watercolor and ink illustrations that invite you to stare at them for hours in delighted/delightful meditation.
Our two title characters are Big Panda and Tiny Dragon, a pair of unlikely friends who meet and journey together over a year and some months of changing seasons, discussing life, friendship and their travels in short, easily digestible paragraphs. The vibe is rather as if Calvin & Hobbes were far more laidback and thoughtful, and a little less wordy. James Norbury’s interest in Buddhism is clear even before his afterword, as the soothing tranquility of considered introspection and conscious mindfulness is present throughout the text and its accompanying illustrations. I only had an e-galley of this but find it not at all difficult to imagine how beautiful a physical copy of this book would be, showcasing the luminous art.
My only quibble, and this is just a philosophical difference, was in the application of the equation of waves in an ocean with thoughts in the mind. The equation was quite correct, but I thought the extrapolation belabored or, perhaps, not well enough explained given the restrictions of the format. Which is a very small complaint to make considering the dazzling thoughtfulness and sweetness of the rest of the book!
This is definitely the kind of gift book you could give to anyone with an appreciation for art and the need for an occasional break from the hurly-burly of everyday life. So, basically, a gift book for anyone, including yourself — I’m a firm believer in treating yourself to little things every so often, because if not you, who?
Big Panda And Tiny Dragon by James Norbury was published September 21 2021 by Insight Editions and is available from all good booksellers, including