Tag Archives: spirituality

Under the bodhi tree, a Story of the Buddha

Written by: Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated by: Kailey Whitman

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Buddhism, Historical Figure, Historical Fiction, Spirituality, Nature, Mindfulness.

Summary: In lyrical and flowing language, this book tells the story of a prince named Siddhartha.  He was born in India, and had a natural curiosity about the world around him.  Siddhartha’s father may have tried to shield him from the pain and suffering in the world by keeping Siddhartha behind place walls, but to no avail. When Siddhartha was finally allowed to leave the palace to attend a festival in town (orchestrated by his father) he snuck away and saw the real world-one that was not curated for his continued naiveté.  This experience made Siddhartha search for a way to set people free from suffering.  Thus, Siddhartha became the Buddha.  This is simplifying the plot obviously, for the sake of the review, but we suggest you check it out and see exactly how Siddhartha achieves this transformation.

Something really neat about this book is the way Hopkinson weaves in questions to the story, linking past and present.  The reader feels connected to this ancient story, and is drawn to introspection as a result.  Buddhism is one of East & Southeast Asia’s largest religions, and its approximately 470 million followers span the globe.  It’s so important to give people, especially young children, well-rounded and inclusive information about various religious practices.  This book (along with many others) is great for both a wonderful story and introductory information about the Buddha!

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever heard of Buddhism before reading this book?
  • There are lots of different religions in the world that people follow.
  • What seems interesting about Siddhartha?
  • Why do you think he felt he needed to become the Buddha?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Deborah_Hopkinson_2015_mediumDeborah Hopkinson has a masters degree in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, where she studied the role of women in 13th-century Japanese Buddhism. She lived in Honolulu for 20 years and practiced Zen Buddhism with the late Roshi Robert Aitken, founder of the Diamond Sangha and Buddhist Peace Fellowship. She lives near Portland, Oregon, where she writes books for children and teens.

She is the author of more than 50 books for young readers including picture books, middle grade fiction, and nonfiction. At schools and conferences she helps bring history and research alive. Her work is well-suited for STEM, STEAM, and CCSS connections.

Forthcoming titles include D-DAY:The World War II Invasion that Changed History, What is the Women’s Rights Movement? and Under the Bodhi Tree. She also contributed to a young adult collection, Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All (Spring 2018). 

Deborah’s recent nonfiction includes DIVE! WWII Stories of Sailors and Submarines in the Pacific, named an Oregon Spirit Award Honor Book. Courage &  Defiance, Stories of Spies, Saboteurs and Survivors in WWII Denmark, won a 2017 Oregon Book Award, and Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, was a Robert F. Sibert Award honor book and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist.

Deborah’s picture books include Ordinary Extraordinary Jane AustenSky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor book and Apples to OregonFollow the Moon Home won the Green Earth Book Award, while Steamboat School was named winner of a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Deborah’s middle grade novel, A Bandit’s Tale was a recommended title for the Charlotte Huck Award.The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London,  the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel won the  OCTE Oregon Spirit Award.

Deborah received a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts and an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She lives near Portland, OR with her family and a menagerie of pets. Her husband, Andy, is a winemaker and artist; her son, Dimitri, is a photographer and landscaper; her daughter, Rebekah, is a teacher and chalk artist, and her toddler grandson, Oliver, is simply extraordinary!

64288668_449377798943383_7869482119045578752_nKailey Whitman is a freelance illustrator. She likes to draw, drink coffee, and go outside, sometimes all at once.