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WON TON by Lee Wardlaw Kirkus Star


A Cat Tale Told in Haiku

by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Age Range: 4 - 9

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8995-0
Publisher: Henry Holt

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 select 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. (Picture book/poetry. 4-9)