In many Asian countries, images of a cat with a beckoning paw are used as a symbol of good luck. Maneki Neko: The Tale of the Beckoning Cat, written by Susan Lendroth and illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi, retells the Japanese legend of how Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat, came to be. It's a good story, heartwarming without being cloying, a bit scary in the middle, with an appropriately happy ending.
This is a picture book to read to 4 to 8 year old set, rather than a book for babies. There's a fair bit of text on each page, and a sprinkling of Japanese terms throughout the book (explained via a handy glossary at the end of the book). The relatively advanced vocabulary includes words like "murmured" and "torrential", though the meanings will likely be clear from context. It's a story that adults can enjoy, too, with passages like:
"Days slipped into weeks and months slipped into years until one morning the air hung heavy and strangely still." (Though I was surprised to see the next passage "The sun shown with fierce heat..." Really? The sun shown? Am I missing something? But that aside...)
Kathryn Otoshi's illustrations complement the story, with a series of deep purple/blue/green pages representing a storm, and a warm glow shining through in the storm's aftermath. The characters' postures convey their emotions, and there are a nice range of people represented in the village. The cat, as you can see on the cover image above, is adorable.
Recommended for fans of folk tales, legends, and stories from other countries, and for anyone who likes cats. Although I'm not a cat person myself, I will be keeping this one for Baby Bookworm for when she is older. I think that she'll enjoy it.
Publisher: Shen's Books
Publication Date: July 19, 2010
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).