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Animal Theme/Character, Book Reviews, Early/Young Readers, Middle Grade Readers, Picture Books, Poetry, Read-Aloud Suggestions, Teacher & Parent Recommendations, Young Adult Readers

WON TON: A CAT TALE TOLD IN HAIKU by Lee Wardhaw

Won Ton is the story of a cat adopted by a young boy from an animal shelter.  As indicated by the title, the story is told in a series of haiku poems from the perspective of the cat.  The poems are by turns funny and sweet.  Any animal lover–and especially someone who adores cats–will fall in love with this cat’s story as well as the language through which it is told.

Many of the haikus could stand on their own outside the context of this particular story:

“Latch squeaks.  Door swings wide.

Free!  Free at last!  Yet, one claw

snags, clings to what’s known.

Together, the poems are an amazing story experience.  As with all good poetry, this book begs to be read aloud (either to yourself or to a group of students, family or friends)!

Personally, I am a dog (not a cat) person but I LOVED this story.  I ached for the main character when he was terrified of not being chosen at the shelter, then terrified of being chosen by the wrong person, wary of new surroundings and unwilling to allow himself to be vulnerable to his new owner too soon.  My heart sang as I read his joyful moments of play and his growing willingness to love and be loved in return!

The illustrations by Eugene Yelchin are rich in color and character and will delight both young and old readers.  I fell in love with this book and plan to add it to my personal collection.  I heartily recommend it to readers of all ages, as well as for both home and classroom!

In the main character’s own words:

“I explained it loud

and clear.  What part of “meow”

don’t you understand?”

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