From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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This charming retelling of a Japanese folktale explains the good-luck symbolism behind the waving white cat, whom kids may recognize in the ubiquitous white statues that sit with paws raised on business counters. Young Yohei, a poor, hardworking door-to-door fish monger, finds his life transformed after a muddy white cat comes begging. Yohei shares his meager dinner with the feline visitor, and the next day he is astonished when customers begin to come straight to him. The reason, he soon discovers, is the grateful white cat, who lures people to Yohei’s door with his beckoning paw and stays on to help Yohei create a prosperous fish business. In her children’s book debut, Nishizuka writes in captivating, simple, easily paced language that is well suited for storytime, as are Litzinger’s watercolor, pencil, and gouache pictures. In petal-soft shades and textures, the uncluttered compositions feature appealingly rounded, expressive figures, and children will enjoy following, and then talking about, the mysterious, prominently placed green-eyed cat to the book’s happy conclusion. Preschool-Grade 2. --Gillian Engberg