Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku
by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Henry Holt and Co. 2011, review copy from library
This isn’t your schoolroom haiku. Or even technically haiku, which focuses on nature and seasons. But here the author notes that we are looking at a series of senryu, a form that focuses on human nature. Or cat nature. In the book we are introduced to a lonely shelter cat, lean and longing, who gets a home and adjusts to his new surroundings with the typical practiced nonchalance and semi-disdain exhibited by the feline. “Hel-looo. I’m waiting/Put down that pesky pencil/and fetch the catnip.” Poems cover fishy breath, scratching furniture, and hairballs along with the cuter aspects of cats. The illustrations keep the focus on the feline, tuning out the backgrounds in soft colors, and capturing the essence of each poem and its subject. The sparse text will make it suitable for reading aloud to preschoolers, but the subtleties of the poetry will take the title well into elementary school with fun for all along the way.
by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by David Roberts
Harper Collins 2011, review copy from library
An alley cat sets up an advice column for animals, responding to the problems of a parrot, the distress of a dog, and the grumblings of a groundhog — among many other animals. Tabby D. Cat gives good suggestions, some of which could apply in broader, human situations — touching on listening, acceptance, and gratitude. Other than some puns, the advice itself isn’t silly, with the humor conveyed in the situations, the illustrations, and the ultimate resolutions. In the end, the advice offered to one overly pampered cat brings the helpful tabby a new home. Animal lovers of all stripes will appreciate the clever scenarios and engaging pictures. With a fair amount of text and lots to enjoy on every page, this book is a great choice for elementary school kids. Adult readers may also appreciate the actual advice, which ends the books with this letter to a mournful dog: “Well, sometimes happiness is right there beside you. You might even be passing it on your daily walk! But a lot of times you have to make happiness happen. Sniff it out, hunt it down, dig dig dig until you find it.” Good words for all of us!
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