In 33 senryu (Japanese poetry similar to and derived from haiku but focusing on human—or, here, feline—foibles instead of nature), Wardlaw relates the tale of a grey shelter cat. In his cage he thinks, "Gypsy on my left. / Pumpkin, my right. Together, / we are all alone." During visiting hours one day, though he takes pains to appear disinterested, the grey cat hopes the boy who rubs his chin just right will selectÃÂ him. He does! And after a scary car ride comes the naming. "Buster? Bubba? SPIKE? / Great Rats! Those don't befit an / Oriental prince." Won Ton might be what the boy calls him, but he has a secret name...he won't tell just anyone. Won Ton survives new food, being catnapped and dressed up and a trip to the backyard. And he finally calls the boy's house home. Wardlaw's terse, traditional verse captures catness from every angle, while Yelchin's graphite and gouache illustrations telegraph cat-itude with every stretch and sinuous slink. Perfect pussycat poetry for anyone who has ever loved a shelter cat.ÃÂ (Picture book/poetry. 4-9)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Wardlaw (101 Ways to Bug Your Parents) has a fine understanding of the feline mind, and each 17-syllable poem packs a big impact--especially in the first section, which imagines the emotional life of a cat in a shelter. "Visiting hours!/ Yawn. I pretend not to care./ Yet--I sneak a peek." Warily, Won Ton considers the boy who is his new owner--"Won Ton? How can I/ be soup? Some day, I'll tell you/ my real name. Maybe." In the final pages, boy and cat grow to trust each other, and Won Ton reveals his real name: "Boy, it's time you knew:/ My name is Haiku." Yelchin's (Seven Hungry Babies) sleek cat is all eyes and sharp angles. The Japanese haiku theme (technically, Wardlaw explains in a note, the poems are senryu, focusing on "the foibles of human nature") is carried through with elements and backgrounds lifted from old woodblock prints. The final page, a delicate painting of the boy nuzzling the cat, is a fitting reward for the boy's patience and Won Ton's resilience. A surprisingly powerful story in verse. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 2-5--Text and illustrations work together to craft an unforgettable character in a shelter cat whose veneer of cynical toughness masks his vulnerability. As he gazes from behind the bars of his cage, he quips: "Nice place they got here./Bed. Bowl. Blankie. Just like home!/Or so I've been told." He's adopted by a boy and his family, driven home ("letmeoutletme/outletmeoutletmeout./Wait--let me back in!"); and given a name: "Won Ton? How can I/be soup? Some day, I'll tell you/my real name. Maybe." Yelchin's superb illustrations, graphite and gouache on watercolor paper, depict an angular blue-black-haired Siamese, capturing all facets of his singular, feisty, and playful personality. Wardlaw relates his tale using a series of senryu, three unrhymed lines similar to haiku; in a note, he explains that the form focuses on "the foibles of human nature--or in this case, cat nature." The book's overall design, with text laid carefully between and around eye-catching, brilliantly composed illustrations, complements the engaging tale. Won Ton's sweetly humorous story will steal the hearts of readers young and old.--Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA[Page 92]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.