Book Review: The Life of the Buddha


Book Review: The Life of the Buddha

About This Resource

Summary The Life of the Buddha by Heather Sanche is poetic, clear, and concise, with magical illustrations by Tara di Gesu. The story is focused on his path to enlightenment, and told in a non-sectarian way that honors all Buddhist traditions. 


Among all the books we read, Tara di Gesu’s magical illustrations are unparalleled. Children and adults can look again and again at each image and keep finding fascinating details. Heather Sanche’s storytelling is poetic, clear, and concise. It’s the classic tale following Prince Siddhartha’s journey of truth-seeking and discovery, including his life-altering encounters with human suffering and his realization of the Four Noble Truths.

Most of this book focuses on his path to enlightenment, not what happened afterwards. Each of the four journeys out of the palace are given a two-page spread. He goes on to explore the Noble Truths. His teaching and death take up just a few pages at the end. We get some nice resolution of Prajapati (Buddha’s aunt and guardian after his mother’s death), and Buddha’s wife and son (Yashodara and Rahul remain nameless) join the sangha. The ending has a lovely look forward to the present day and how we have benefitted from Buddha’s teachings.

Di Gesu and Sanche, as well as Carolyn Kanjuro, who helped edit the book, are well attuned to the child reader. While all three are students of Tibetan Buddhism, they show no bias or agenda and the book stays true to the origin story that all traditions agree on. There’s a nice historical note at the end, which our children also enjoyed hearing.

Be prepared to talk about some of the images and themes in the book such as the dying Buddha, lovely ladies and strong men, thoughts and feelings looming “like demons in the sky.”

Pick up a copy via the publisher: Penguin Random House

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