Henry Holt, 2011
A Book Review by
Lenny the Levitating Puppy
You know how cats are mysterious? And remember when I pretended to be a cat while I read CAT SECRETS by Jef Czekaj so that I could find out the secrets cats keep? Remember how I didn’t find out any cat secrets?
Good news! I found out a cat secret while reading WON TON: A CAT TALE TOLD IN HAIKU. Just like other cats, the cat in this book is mysterious. You can tell he’s mysterious by the picture of him on the cover. You can tell by the way he looks sideways that he has secret inner thoughts. But they aren’t sneaky secret inner thoughts. They’re special secret inner thoughts. They’re special thoughts because they’re poems. They’re a special type of poem called senryu. Senryu is a special type of haiku. I won’t explain those special types of poems to you right now because I’m too excited to tell you my good news.
Look what I discovered by myself.
I took the word “poem” and spelled it backwards.
Do you see what I see?
How about now, without the “P” at the end?
What if I add one extra letter?
MEOW! You know what this means, right?
Cats are poets! Just like the cat in WON TON: A CAT TALE TOLD IN HAIKU who has secret inner poem thoughts!
Remember how the cat looks mysterious on the cover because he’s looking sideways? He looks sideways a lot in the book because he’s thinking a lot of secret thoughts. His thoughts are about being lonely at the animal shelter and being afraid when he goes to a new home with Boy. When he gets there, he’s careful not to like it too much. He already ended up at the shelter once, so he’s probably afraid it could happen again. I think that’s why he acts like he’s not interested in playing or in the food Boy gives him. And at first he isn’t ready to share his real name with Boy after Boy names him Won Ton. Poor cat.
In the next part of the book he acts like a cat. He has cat breath. He throws up in a shoe. He scratches furniture and knocks over a lamp. Maybe he got in trouble for being a cat before, but he doesn’t this time so he starts to relax and enjoy being a cat again. He finally admits he wants to play. He feels like Boy’s home is his home. He defends his yard from intruders.
Even though the cat’s secret poem thoughts are short, when you read them you learn a lot about him and how he feels. Some of the poem thoughts are sad. A lot of them are funny. I like the pictures in the book, too. One picture that makes me laugh is of the cat in a pink dress and hat. Poor cat.
At the end of the book the cat loves and trusts Boy. He decides to share his real name with Boy. If you read this book and get to know the cat, maybe he’ll share his real name with you, too.
When I read CAT SECRETS I pretended to be a cat by meowing and purring. Now I will pretend to be a cat by thinking poem thoughts. Here are two poems I thought up:
My Senryu About The Cat
First, lonely and scared.
Later, lucky. You find love.
A happy ending.
My Senryu About Me
I have a secret.
Please don’t tell anybody.
I like cats. A lot.
If you spell the author’s name backwards you get “eel.” I haven’t found out the connection between cats and eels yet. When I do, I’ll report back here.
If you spell the title of this book backwards you get “not now.” That’s the opposite of when you should read this book. Read this book right now!