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Friday, August 5, 2011

I Am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend by Wendy Henrichs

Hi there readers!
As promised, today's review is coming at you....although not as originally intended.  You see, I was going along minding my own business and texting out a review on my smartphone on the way to the movie theater (no worries readers, I wasn't texting and driving...simply waiting for it to be time to go in).  There I was with about 10 minutes to spare and I could see the finish line...and then....POOF! 


I hit "Publish" and it was time to go in.
Unbeknown to me, it got stuck somehow in a cycle of trying to publish and locked the review up on my phone so this one had to be typed from scratch all over again.
~grumble grumble~
Anywho, the movie was great (Pirates of the Caribbean 4...woo-hoo!) so let's let bygones be bygones and get on with the show, shall we?

Today's featured title comes to us from the land of Children's Storybooks and though perceived as fiction initially, is actually a very good introduction to an infamous legend from the far east.  It combines equal elements of story, beauty, and learning to create a package appealing to readers of all ages.  Ready for the big reveal?  Here we go.  Today's book of choice is....

A Japanese Legend
Wendy Henrichs
illustrated by
Yoshiko Jaeggi

Have you ever wondered about the "Lucky Cat"?  You know...that little kitty depicted in oh-so-many statues, figurines and other touristy type items when seeking something Japanese that is seemingly less traditional and more fun.  Bet you thought that he was JUST a cute little cat?  Guess again.

Maneki Neko, or the Beckoning Cat as is his formal name, stems from a Japanese legend of old where a lone monk staying in a less than idyllic temple (it had seen much better days) takes in this lonely furry soul offering the best of his meager belongings to another happy and content.  The story continues on in a similar, unassuming tone showing us that if we do for others first and live to meet their needs over our own, good fortune will smile upon us and take care of the rest.  A wonderful lesson if I do say so myself, but living it is much harder than it sounds....definitely something to strive for though, each and every day. 

Let the learning continue!  Did you know that the raised paw depicted on the Lucky Cat image isn't merely to make him seem irresistibly adorable?  Nope.  It's actually a traditional Japanese greeting meaning "Come to me!" (hence, one reason that the cat came upon the name he was given).  Aside from learning more about this ancient legend, you get to experience the beauty of Japan through the work of the illustrator....and WOW is it amazing!  I love how the scenery was created with a blurred edge, leaving the main characters of each scene in clear, sharp focus.  The color palette simply begs the eyes to explore each image's rich beauty without detracting from the story being told.

In short, a wondrous story with beautiful images to spark the imagination of the young and the young at heart.  It may have been created for younger readers, but I'll bet you anything that adults get just as much out of this read as the kiddos.  Highly recommended by yours truly, I must give my thanks to Emily at Peachtree Publishers for the opportunity to share with you this amazing tale.  (THANKS!)  For more information regarding this book as well as their full catalog, click on over to their website, blog, or follow along on Twitter.  This title celebrates its bookish birthday this month so be on the look out for it on a bookstore shelf near you.

Until next time....happy reading!



....Petty Witter said...

Oh I've always loved these cat figures so am sure I'll love this book, thanks for a great review as well as the recommendation.

Juju at Tales of said...

Sounds so cute. And I love those kitties. GREAT find.

Alexia561 said...

I love anything to do with cats, and have two lucky cat statures, so this book is right up my alley!

LoriStrongin said...

Ooh, definitely interested! I've always wondered about the origin of the symbol of the lucky cat, and since I love world mythology, I'm definitely adding this one to my TBR list. Thanks for the rec!


The1stdaughter said...

How adorable! It's funny but the "paw/hand" up is something they do in Mexico as well to ask people to come to them. Funny how cultures cross like that. Definitely a great read it sounds like! Wonderful review!

EmRivet/PeachtreePub said...

Yay! You're welcome -- I'm glad you enjoyed it, friend!

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