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The Boy Who Drew Cats: A Japanese Folktale Hardcover – January 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Japanese legend celebrating the importance of art and spirit receives worthy treatment in this stunning volume. Too frail to work the family farm, young Kenji is sent to a monastery to train as an acolyte, but he can't resist his passion for painting. Expelled, he must find his own way in a forbidding world where, one terrifying night, his very real cat paintings rescue him from the Goblin Rat. Levine's precise and evocative language packs graceful surprises ("His steps crumbled ash-white leaves at the threshold") and is ably complemented by Clement's delicate, haunting watercolors. A sense of veiled mystery, of the surreal, permeates his art, as if it has been painted in layers of meaning for the reader to interpret. Pastel colors have a gossamer quality; as Kenji follows winding paths through mists and blowing leaves, he seems to enter a dreamscape. The effect is both beautiful and unnerving. Children will love the cats who hover everywhere, finely etched, eyes gleaming. The book's exquisite design includes decorative borders, a parchment look and a Japanese character, explained in a glossary, heading each page. Ages 5-up.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-6-Kenji, a frail farm boy with artistic talent, is taken to live in a monastery by his poor mother. One priest encourages him to draw cats, at which he becomes adept. When the head priest evicts him (for drawing too much), the boy seeks shelter in a deserted temple that is haunted by a rat goblin. In the hall he finds white screens and paints cats on them. During the night, the painted animals come to life and destroy the goblin. Kenji settles permanently in the temple and becomes a great artist, specializing in felines. Levine's retelling is not an improvement on Lafcadio Hearn's version in Japanese Fairy Tales (Liveright, 1953; o.p.), but it has charms of its own, including an especially strong evocation of atmosphere. Clement's superb acryllic illustrations, done in four-color halftones, perfectly capture the moods and tensions of the story. A masterly collaboration.
John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Dial; 1st edition (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803711727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803711723
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 0.4 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The most common way I'm introduced at book events is this: "Arthur Levine is the co-editor of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Books." That true! And I'm also the publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. But from the "other side of the table" I write books too.

Here's the bio I have on my website: www.arthuralevinebooks.com:

Arthur A. Levine Books launched in 1997 and is currently celebrating its 15th Anniversary! The first book published was Norma Fox Mazer's outstanding novel When She Was Good. In terms of writing quality, this set a very high standard for their novelists, but Arthur is proud of the group that he's gathered together, with the help of his exceptionally talented Executive Editor Cheryl Klein, and Associate Editor Emily Clement. They include literary stars like Carolyn Coman, Francisco Stork, Lisa Yee, Bobbie Pyron, Jaclyn Moriarty, and of course, J. K. Rowling, as well as fabulous newcomers like Mike Jung, Martha Brockenbrough, and Alaya Dawn Johnson.
Arthur hasn't abandoned his picture book roots, though! About thirty percent of the books they do are fully illustrated, and they're proud to be working with a group that includes the incomparable Shaun Tan, well-known masters such as Allen Say, Richard Egielski,, Steven Kellogg, Komako Sakai, and Sean Qualls, and talented illustrators at the start of their careers such as Israel Sanchez, Shino Arihara, and more.
As for Arthur as a writer? Well, his first book in 15 years came out from Scholastic Press in 2011: MONDAY IS ONE DAY, illustrated by Julian Hector; it's a love song for kids with working parents, in families of all shapes and sizes. THE VERY BEARY TOOTH FAIRY, illustrated by Sarah Brannen will be out in the Spring of 2013, also from Scholastic Press.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 13, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The Boy Who Drew Cats is a little hard to classify; it is both a ghost story and a monster story. I first read this story when I was about ten years old, and I have never forgotten it. This is a great story for Halloween, and a wonderful story if you love cats. It's sure to make you appreciate your own feline companion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M on June 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There has never been a time when I did not adore this book, largely for the amazing illustrations. I loved it when I was little to the point of obsession.

A few years ago, I rediscovered the book and was incredibly surprised at how little text and story there actually was. It must have dug itself so deeply into my imagination that I invented all sorts of events around the images and wonderful story. I remember being frightened, excited, happy... It had everything a budding bookworm could ever desire. Even though it was not as elaborate as I remembered, it holds a special place on my shelf and it always will.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Mayo on September 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A brief story with a huge impact, thanks to the incredibly beautiful, impressionistic, and moody paintings by Frederic Clement that create an almost cinematic atmosphere. A young boy who has to leave his poverty-stricken family to live with monks finds an abandoned temple supposedly haunted by a huge and terrible Goblin rat. To pass the time, he paints the walls with images of cats and finds he's created a battle he never expected. If you want to give any cat lover an unusual gift they'll love, this is a book no cat lover will fail to be entranced by.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dakini on February 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
If you love cats, Japan, Buddhism, ghost stories, or simply are a fan of gorgeously illustrated children's books, this is a must-have.
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