Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Most books about pet adoption are told from the child’s or family’s point of view. But Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw explores the delights of adopting a shelter cat from the cat’s perspective. During visiting hours, he pretends not to care but can’t resist taking a peek. On the car ride to his new home, he begs to be let out, only to insist on being let back in. In true cat fashion, he is sure of his own importance. He certainly deserves a name worthy of an oriental prince. “Won Ton? How can I / be soup? Some day, I’ll tell you / my real name. Maybe.”
The author’s note explains that the story is told in a series of senryu, a form of haiku that explores human nature—or, in this case cat nature--in a playful way. Anyone who has ever owned a cat will immediately recognize how well Wardlaw captures the feline personality. Won Ton will come out and play with the toy--but just to make you happy. He’ll nibble at his food if you insist, but he won’t enjoy it. Yelchin’s graphite and gouache illustrations truly bring Won Ton’s adventures to life, from a graceful stretch to a toothy yawn to the horror of being catnapped and dressed in frills for a tea party.
This book is sure to please both children and the adults reading it to them. Cat-lovers of any age will smile and chuckle at Won Ton’s antics as he settles into his new home. Eventually he does reveal his real name to “his” boy. What it is? Haiku, of course!