Written by Sachi Ediriweera
Review by G. J. Berger

Young Prince Siddhartha Gautama grows up in a palace. His father rules a region at the foot of the Himalayas. Siddhartha has everything a boy circa 500 BCE could want. Private teachers instruct him on any subject, on games, and on weapons. He is provided with comfortable rooms and furnishings, the best foods, and even his own personal servant. Lavish banquets are common. But his father will not let him leave the palace grounds to see what’s out there, to learn how less privileged people might live and die and suffer. Siddhartha suffers too—of boredom and frustration at not knowing about the rest of his city and its commoners. Even after his young marriage, Siddhartha, his wife, and their newborn son are forced to remain on the palace grounds.

One day, Siddhartha sneaks out and wanders far away for many years. A series of monks teach him to live with little or nothing, to help others, and to desire nothing, thereby not suffering at the loss of things, loved ones, or life itself. In time, Prince Siddhartha becomes a wandering monk with a following of other monks and grows into the teacher history knows as Buddha.

This graphic novel about Buddha’s early years is presented through striking but simple two-color-palette illustrations. Spare text and dialogue harmonize well with Ediriweera’s illustrations. This fictionalized story flows easily through Siddhartha’s early conflicts and his struggles to learn about the cycle of life, leading to profound and timeless lessons on the path to self-mastery. Readers from about twelve on up will be intrigued by the story and will come away with a solid understanding of the basic tenets of Buddhism. Highly recommended.