This is a retelling of an old Vietnamese folk tale by [a:Thich Nhat Hanh|9074|Thich Nhat Hanh|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1231009210p2/9074.jpg]. It should definitely be read as a Buddhist lesson, rather than as literature. If you read it as literature, it will be disappointing, but as an example of what the principle of loving-kindness looks like, then it is a useful read.
There is an afterward, written by the a disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh, that tells of the ways in which the story of Hanh and his followers are parallel to the tale of [b:The Novice: A Story of True Love|12091036|The Novice A Story of True Love|Thich Nhat Hanh|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347750885s/12091036.jpg|17059350]. These are stories of false accusation met by patience and compassion, with non-violence and loving-kindness. These stories are both depressing, in their illustration of the ways in which human rights abuses can play out, and inspiring in the way that the monks and nuns maintain a peaceful stance.