REVIEW: Kuan Yin by Maya van der Meer, illustrated by Wen Hsu
Two sisters discover the power of love and the true meaning of compassion in this princess-adventure story based on an ancient Chinese tale.
Miao Shan isn’t your typical princess. She likes to spend her time quietly meditating with the creatures of the forest or having adventures with dragons and tigers. Miao Shan’s heart is so full of love that her dream is to spread happiness throughout the land and help people endlessly. But her father has other plans for her–he intends to have her married and remain in the palace. With the help of her little sister Ling, Miao Shan escapes and begins her journey to discover the true meaning of compassion.
During their adventure, Ling and Miao Shan are eventually separated. Ling must overcome doubts, fears, and loneliness in order to realize what her sister had told her all along–that love is the greatest power in the world. After the sisters’ reunion, Miao Shan realizes her true calling as Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion. A princess-adventure story like none other, this ancient Chinese tale of the world’s most beloved Buddhist hero is a story of sisterhood, strength, and following your own path.
I’ll be honest and admit that it was the gorgeous cover that made me want to read this book. But while reading it, I learned the Chinese origin story of Kuan Yin who chose another path than traditional marriage, endured trials on her way to enlightenment, and who gave up leaving for the divine realms vowing to stay and help free all sentient beings from suffering. The illustrations are just magnificent, based on artwork of the Tang Dynasty. I think the story can help children learn the value of treating everyone with kindness, compassion, and love. A