cover image The Beckoning Cat: Based on a Japanese Folktale

The Beckoning Cat: Based on a Japanese Folktale

Koko Nishizuka, , illus. by Rosanne Litzinger. . Holiday, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-2051-3

Nishizuka's engaging debut recounts a folktale about a good-luck symbol in Japan. Young Yohei lives by the sea with his sick father, eking out a meager income by selling fish door-to-door. When a wet cat appears at their door, he welcomes her and, despite his own hunger, shares his modest dinner. Soon after, his father grows too sick to be left alone, and Yohei despairs: how can he sell fish and still care for him? Buyers begin appearing as if by magic, lured by a beckoning white cat. “She's calling customers on your behalf!” one client declares. “I have never heard of a cat repaying a kindness.” The father recovers, the boy prospers and the “beckoning cat” becomes a popular symbol for merchants. Litzinger's (The Animals Watched ) full-bleed pictures—a highly tactile mix of watercolor, colored pencil, ink and gouache—combine comfortably rounded, stylized forms and a gently shaded palette to evoke a contemplative mood. As the story progresses, the cat—not realistically drawn to begin with—increasingly resembles its real-life porcelain incarnations, seated, with an oversize head, its right front paw raised in greeting. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)