The Sweeper: A Buddhist Tale is a picture book for children which is written and illustrated by Rebecca Hazell. It tells the story of a young slave girl called Padme, who spends all her time sweeping the house of her master. The girl is unhappy with her situation, and bored with the monotony of sweeping all day long, day after day.
When the Buddha visits the home of Padme’s master, he teaches the household – Padme included – how to meditate in order to live a happier life. Padme dearly wants to practice according to the Buddha’s instruction, but is saddened that her non-stop schedule of cleaning would make such a practice impossible.
After telling him about her predicament, Padme receives a different kind of meditation from the Buddha, and she is told to put her focus on her work instead of her breath. She is instructed to say, ‘Sweep and clean! Sweep and clean!’ to herself as she goes about her work.
We will not spoil the rest of the story, but suffice it to say that Padme follows the Buddha’s instructions and discovers that her new mindfulness practice gives her a whole new perspective on her life, and – in the best storybook tradition – she lives happy ever after.
This book would serve as a perfect gift for a child, and effectively conveys the gist of several key truths that were taught by the Buddha in an easily understood way. One could easily see the story of The Sweeper sparking several conversations about suffering, aging and death, as well as meditation, mindfulness, compassion and metta, and it is therefore a story which could be used very effectively as a simple teaching aid.
The illustrations in this book have a beautifully simple style, and bring the well-written story to life in full colour. Look carefully and you’ll also see at least one monkey in each scene – a fact that could be turned into an entertaining game for young readers.
In summary, The Sweeper is sure to entertain any child who appreciates a good story, and will also teach some valuable principles along the way.