Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku

Lee Wardlaw
Illustrator:  Eugene Yelchin 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Henry Holt and Co. , 2011   ISBN: 978-0805089950

In a shelter there is a cat. He is an elegant beast with beautiful blue eyes. In his cage the cat has a bed, a bowl, and a blanket, and he tells himself that what he has is “just like home.” Or least that is what he has been told.

During visitor hours the cat feigns a complete lack of interest in what is going on, though he cannot resist a little peek. One person pinches him, and another pulls his tail, but then a boy comes along and he knows how to rub the cat’s chin just right. The cat tries to seem unconcerned. He grooms himself assiduously and does his best to appear as if there is “No rush.” In actual fact the cat is thinking, and hoping “Please, Boy, pick me.”

Sure enough Boy does choose him and the cat is taken out of his cage. He is thrilled to be free, but at the same time afraid of what awaits him out there in the world. Briefly he “clings to what is known.”

After a trip in a car, the cat arrives in his new home, and the process of naming him begins. He believes that he deserves a name fitting for an “Oriental Prince.” He ends up being called Won Ton, and he is not impressed.

This wonderful tale, which is told using a series of haiku poems, is funny, sweet, and sometimes touched with just a little uncertainty and anxiety. It is a story about new beginnings that readers of all ages will be able to connect with.

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