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by Amy Tan & illustrated by Gretchen Schields

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-788835-5
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

A beautifully written story about why Siamese cats are really Chinese cats, and why their faces, ears, paws, and tails turn darker as they grow up. Sagwa, a "pearl white kitten," lived with her parents in the House of the Foolish Magistrate. Sagwa's parents were forced by the Magistrate to write his strict, selfish rules by dipping their tails in ink. When Sagwa falls into an inkpot and walks over one of the Magistrate's Scroll of Rules -- the one banning all singing -- her paw marks change the meaning of the scroll so that it reads, "People must sing." When the people of the town hear the new rule, they sing in praise of the Foolish Magistrate, which warms his heart and causes him to take back all the old rules. He celebrates what Sagwa has done by opening his house to all stray cats, declaring that they shall eat as much catfish as they wish and that for ever after, "all Chinese cats shall have dark faces, ears, paws, and tails -- in honor of the greatest of felines, Sagwa of China." Tan, who collaborated with Schields on her first children's book, The Moon Lady (1992), tells this charming tale perfectly, in language that is both simple and elegant. And Schields's artwork complements the text wonderfully with its traditional Chinese border decorations and colorful, well-drawn characters. (Picture book. 5-8)