Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Maneki Neko: The Tale of the Beckoning Cat

Maneki Neko: The Tale of the Beckoning Cat

Susan Lendroth
Illustrator:  Kathryn Otoshi 
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Shen's Books, 2010   ISBN: 978-1885008398

There once was a monk living in old Japan who lived in Kotoku Monastery. One day he found a little cat sitting outside his door. Though the monk was poor, he decided to take in the little cat. Her charming little habit of raising her paw in a beckoning motion pleased the monk, and he shared his meager meals with her gladly.

The monk and Tama the cat lived happily together for many years. Then one day a fierce storm blew in. The monk called for Tama to come home, but she did not hear him and soon she was a soaking bundle of fur “hunched under the eaves of the monastery’s small shrine.”

A samurai warrior was also caught in the storm. His amour did little to protect him from the pouring rain, and he could barely see what was in front of him. Then he saw a shrine ahead and the figure of a cat. The animal appeared to be beckoning him to come forward. Was he dreaming?

If you have ever seen a Japanese figurine of a beckoning cat, then you will be delighted to read this story because you will find out why people in Japan consider the image of a beckoning cat to be good luck. With an engaging story and beautiful illustrations, this is a charming picture book.