Perhaps you've seen Toki Tōbun's 16th century scroll, "Monkey Reaching for the Moon's Reflection." It's based on an ancient Buddhist story in which 500 monkeys hold each other's tails so that they can seize the image of the moon, out of concern that the celestial orb must have fallen into the well where they see it reflected.

Author and illustrator Demi, who has made hundreds of spiritual tales available to children through her writing and art, brings this story alive with monkeys in red, yellow, orange, and brown trying to retrieve the fallen moon. They are eager to work together and equally eager to accomplish what they're sure is a critically important task. When the bottom-most monkey reaches the surface of the water and tries to grab the moon, needless to say its image shatters into countless pieces.The expressions on the monkeys' faces — ranging from determination, to shock, to horror — are priceless.

Demi winds up her version of the tale with the oldest monkey seeing the actual moon in the sky and calling all the others up to look: "There is a new moon up in sky! The old one must have been thrown down into the well!" All the monkeys then become perfectly happy.

Children ages four to eight will enjoy this foolishness, and the story will help them understand the meaning of a quote by the Buddha with which Demi concludes this book:

"Things are seldom as they seem.

"Do not look at the bottom
of a well to see the
immensity of the sky.

"Ignorant people tend to
look only at the surface,
or appearance, of events.
Therefore, they confuse
illusion with reality. Hence,
It is important to look deeply
into the heart of a situation
before taking any action."