cover image SumoKitty


David Biedrzycki. Charlesbridge, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-58089-682-5

A scraggly feline stray finds himself in the right place at the right time in this picture book by Biedrzycki (Groundhog’s Runaway Shadow). He needs a steady meal source, and a sumo training quarters needs a mouse catcher—one of the star wrestlers, Kuma, is terrified of mice. When Kitty adopts the sumo eating regimen (“Each meal is a feast. Twice a day sumo wrestlers eat a big stew called chankonabe. It’s made with everything I love”) without the concomitant discipline (the mice “were all over the kitchen. And they were laughing at me”), Kitty is sent outside, “humbled.” Kuma becomes a mentor (“The cat that does not cry catches the mouse”), and Kitty inspires Kuma to triumph against the wrestler’s toughest opponent. Whether or not yoga and Zen gardens would be part of a traditional Japanese sumo wrestler’s training, pencil and watercolor vignettes offer solid visual pacing, and the thoroughly contemporary pictures weave in nods to Japanese art traditions. Another nice touch: rather than using a glossary to define the text’s sumo-related Japanese words, Biedrzycki defines them in discrete asides throughout; it feels intimate and personal, like having a simultaneous translator whispering in the reader’s ear. Ages 3–7. [em](Oct.) [/em]