The Beckoning Cat
Ages 5 and Up. This charming retelling of a Japanese folktale explains the good-luck symbolism behind the waving white cat, whom kids may recognize in the ubiquitous white statues that sit with paws raised on business counters. Young Yohei, a poor, hardworking door-to-door fish monger, finds his life transformed after a muddy white cat comes begging. Yohei shares his meager dinner with the feline visitor, and the next day he is astonished when customers begin to come straight to him. The reason, he soon discovers, is the grateful white cat, who lures people to Yohei’s door with his beckoning paw and stays on to help Yohei create a prosperous fish business. In her children’s book debut, Nishizuka writes in captivating, simple, easily paced language that is well suited for storytime. (Amazon.com)
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Review of Beckoning Cat
If you have ever seen a statue of a white cat with its paw raised but not known the reason for it, this book is a must-read. Roseanne Litzinger's illustrations are amazing -- full page pictures with the words overlaid on them. Details about traditional Japanese culture are integrated seamlessly: a son's duty to his father, rewards for doing the right thing, life in a small fishing village, various jobs and statuses in traditional Japan, clothing, and housing are all included.
Only 30 pages long, this book could easily be used for pre-K through second as a teacher's read-aloud selection or it could be used for older students as a book to analyze the picture and story in terms of culture and geography.
Upon finishing the book, I was smiling. While based on a Japanese folktale, this version is beautifully told, easy to follow, and absolutely charming!