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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku. Written by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2015. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"Yawn. Who dares disturb
my beauty snooze? Duty calls!
Must snoop before snack.

Proper cats prefer
playthings with feathers or fur.
So whose toys are these?

Curious. This door
is never closed. Perhaps yowl
is the magic word?"

Won Ton is back, and with just as much attitude as in his first book  ... (Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, Henry Holt, 2011).

He loves his life with Boy, and the family. He has a routine to his days, and he doesn't like to veer away from it. Suspicion rears its ugly head when Won Ton notices that a door, always open, is now closed. A peek around the corner negates all hope that a simple mistake was made. Eager to establish dominance, Won Ton pounces and is immediately thwarted in his efforts to talk the family into taking that puppy back.

After much deliberation, the puppy is named Chopstick. Won Ton would prefer Pest!  Won Ton tries to set guidelines; in doing so, he finds himself confined to the backyard. No matter how hard he tries to have the puppy put out, it is Won Ton who finds himself 'out'!

With the family gone on a rainy day, there is not much to do but spend time together, all of which leads to:


       Belly pounce. Nose lick.
Whisker-kiss. Ha! Can't escape
             furry alarm clocks!"

The haiku form sparkles in this tale, capturing the conflict between one established and one apprentice pet. We feel Won Ton's resentment and Chopstick's naivete as they learn to cohabit. Eugene Yelchin uses graphite and gouache to give personality to both and to add a touch of light and a good deal of energy to this winning newest collaboration.

I love that Basho gets an honorable mention!


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