BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku and Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Won Ton and Won Ton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlaw on BookDragonApril is National Poetry Month: do you know where your verses are? If you’re looking for entertaining true love set to 5/7/5 syllabic meter, you won’t do better than this adorable twosome…

Meet Won Ton – at least that’s what his family calls him. Of course, I can’t reveal his true identity; you’ll have to pick up the book yourself for that secret. What I can tell you is that this feline really knows how to meow … with so much attitude, you can’t help but listen (and smile and sigh and giggle, too). Discovered in “The Shelter” by the Boy, he goes home in “The Car Ride” with wails of “Letmeoutletme / outletmeoutletmetout. / Wait – let me back in!”

His new name is rather irreverent: “Won Ton? How can I / be soup?” His new home is initially a bit unsettling: “Deep, dark bed cave. Me? / Hiding? I’m no scaredy-cat! / I like dust bunnies!” But “The Adjustment” happens quickly, from peanut butter breath, to “squishy” left-behinds, to couches and lamps in peril, to frilly dresses and teatime, too. “What part of ‘meow’ / don’t you understand?” Won Ton occasionally must remind his humans, not to mention the need to correct the use of certain possessives, “‘My cat.’ Great Rats! Don’t you  know / yet that you’re My Boy?” One thing remains clear, Won Ton is home.

By the time of his sequel, our treasured kitty is well ensconced: “It’s a fine life, Boy. / Nap, play, bathe, nap, eat, repeat. / Practice makes purrfect.” And then “The Surprise” arrives: “Chopstick! Why not Fork, / Spoon, or Spatula?” Won Ton scoffs. “Dumb pup / wags no matter what.” Chopstick repeatedly finds trouble, yet somehow Won Ton is the one who suffers “The Banishment.” Soon enough, the two furries learn “The Adjustment” and Won Ton proves his feline superiority … including his ability to make nice: “It’s only / thunder! Who knew you were a / scaredy cat? (Like me.)” as he cuddles and comforts the frightened family bundle. “Harmony (Usually)” sets in … and Won Ton and Chopstick share a secret moment, just those two … 

Like their fabulous four-pawed pair, author Lee Wardlaw and artist Eugene Yelchin are quite the dynamic duo themselves. Wardlaw’s sparse haiku blends warmth, humor, poignancy, while Yelchin literally adds the wide-eyed wonder to create a doubly captivating tale of acceptance and welcome.

Here’s to the zen of
family tranquility.
Most of the time, please?

Readers: Children

Published: 2011, 2015



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