Zen in the Sands of Time: How Roland Rolls by Jim Carrey
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DEEP BLUE SEA,
A WAVE NAMED ROLAND CAME TO BE.
Roland first sees the light of day as a wee ripple, but as his sort do, he begins to build, and before you know it, Roland is rolling along as a swell (sorry 'bout that!) wave.
Roland rolls across the surface with big dreams and an inchoate longing for a friend. Dolphins rise and surf along on his occasional crest, but then sink beneath the sea. Passing whales breach briefly and soon slip away among the waves with only a passing comradely glance. Sea birds dive and surface around him, but sadly, their ticklish feathered friendship is flighty and fleeting, too. Roland longs for something more.
And then he meets his soul mate, a lovely wave named Shimmer, whose glimmer is beguiling and who is ready to roll along with Roland wherever time and tide take them.
But there's the rub! Roland soon learns that his ocean is not all of what there is. Somewhere there's land, and where there's land, there's a beach, and where there's a beach, waves must break. And then,... WHAT?
The sizable sales of actor Jim Carrey's new How Roland Rolls (Some Kind of Garden Media, 2013) seem to be saying, with its Zen-like premise, that primary schoolers can grasp the concept of the demise of the individual as he merges with the universal mind, a religious philosophy of venerable standing:
WE'RE NOT LITTLE WAVES.
WE'RE THE BIG WIDE OCEAN!
IN ALL OF THE RIVERS....
IN ALL OF THE STREAMS...
THE PUDDLES, THE POOLS, AND MOM'S IRON WHEN IT STEAMS.
It's not Miss Nelson's water cycle lesson, for sure.
Celebrity literary ventures tends to be a mixed lot at best. The "professional" reviewers seem to have opted out of reviewing this one, although Carrey's co-celebrities have not shared that reticence. Indeed the picture book format seems a strange vehicle for a parable drawn from Buddhist belief, (although it can be said to work just as well as a lesson on that ever-popular science subject, the water cycle.) Rob Nason's artwork is pleasant and engaging, doing what it can to give a wave a unique personality, a dicey proposition at best, given Roland's changeable persona. Average kids may find this one a bit bemusing, and it's definitely not for everyone, but some may find the concept novel and intriguing.
Pair this one with some of Jon Muth's Zen stories, such as his Caldecott-winning Zen Shorts (Caldecott Honor Book).