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Wabi Sabi Hardcover – October 1, 2008


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Wabi Sabi + Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers + Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 6 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 1
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Library Binding edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316118257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316118255
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 11.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr-2–4—This ambitious picture book tells the story of a cat living in Kyoto with her master. Curious to discover her name's meaning, Wabi Sabi travels across Japan, seeking advice and explanation from a variety of sources. In an introductory note, readers learn that the name comes from a concept centered on finding beauty through simplicity. As the feline discovers that she is ordinary yet wonderful, she comes to understand the meaning of her name. It is a complex idea, and the cat's journey is an effective way of presenting it to elementary school readers. The book reads from top to bottom, like a scroll, and contains a haiku and line of Japanese verse on each spread. Young's beautiful collages have an almost 3-D effect and perfectly complement the spiritual, lyrical text. While the story of Wabi Sabi's journey will hold some appeal for younger children, this is a book to be savored and contemplated and will be most appreciated by children old enough to grasp its subtle meaning. Translations are provided for the Japanese text as well as notes on haiku and the history of wabi sabi to place the whole lovely package in context.—Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* What’s Wabi Sabi? In this story, it’s the name of a brown cat, but in Japanese culture, it’s a feeling that finds beauty and harmony in “the simple, imperfect, natural, modest, and mysterious.” When visitors come to Kyoto, they ask the cat’s owner the meaning of her name; Wabi Sabi hears it’s hard to explain, so she sets off on a journey to find the answer. Each animal she visits gives a piece of the complicated puzzle. Some of the allusions are beautiful: “The pale moon resting / on foggy water. Hear that / splash? A frog’s jumped in.” Still, the cat is confused. But the more she looks, feels, and sees, her new affinity for the simplicity of nature and the elegance of what is brings her to her own poetry—and understanding. Reibstein and Young have created a magnificent offering that is the embodiment of Wabi Sabi, incorporating all the elements listed above. Remarkably, the well-paced story is also ethereal, bringing readers, like its protagonist, to the edge of comprehension, then letting them absorb all that has come before to make their own connections. In this endeavor, the text is aided by Young’s amazing collages. So lifelike are they that children will reach out to touch, and then touch again, not quite believing the art is one-dimensional. The format, which has readers opening the book lengthwise, allows extra room for embellishments like haiku by poets Basho and Shiki written in Japanese on the page and translated in an addendum. A glorious piece of bookmaking whose subject and execution will reach a wide age range. Grades K-3. --Ilene Cooper

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Thanks for this book...just amazing and very pleased!
Shannon
Beautiful unique collage illustrations, interesting story, haiku, and japanese cultural information.
chrisq
This is a book for children and adults, a wonderful tale of discovery.
Ahhling

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 113 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Credit author Mark Reibstein with this much. He sure doesn't shy away from trying to teach kids complex philosophical concepts. Here he is writing his very first picture book and does he select something easy like being the new kid in school or losing your first tooth? No, Reibstein decides to write a book about the ancient Chinese concept of wabi sabi (later adopted by the Japanese), working in thoughts on Taoism, haiku, and even the works of Basho on the sly. Paired alongside the remarkable Ed Young's artwork, the final product is a quiet, deep, moving story that may require a special audience, and yet has many uses.

One day Wabi Sabi the cat overhears his mistress discussing his name with a pair of visitors. When asked what "wabi sabi" means, the young woman replies, "That's hard to explain." Curious, Wabi Sabi sets out to find the true meaning of her name. Each creature she asks explains how difficult a concept it is to explain, and they often end their thoughts with a little haiku (each one describing wabi sabi in some manner). It isn't until the cat meets a wise monkey and partakes of tea in a plain and beautiful bowl that the phrase begins to take on a real meaning. Wabi sabi is the feeling you get when you find harmony in the imperfect that is beautiful. Stopping at a temple on her way home, Wabi Sabi creates poems in its honor and truly understands her name by the time she meets up with her mistress once again.

The book bears some surface similarities to Jon Muth's Zen Shorts, though the tone feels a bit different. In both cases, however, you find yourself wondering idly about audience.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne E. Casart on November 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Wabi Sabi is a charming tale of deceptive simplicity. A cat's search for identity takes readers on a journey through lavishly illustrated landscapes punctuated by thought-provoking haiku. The discovery at the end of the journey has the impact of a true epiphany or "satori," a breakthrough to understanding and enlightenment that will resonate with older readers but is easily accessible to children as well. A rare gem--and a lovely gift!
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By C. Waidyatilleka on October 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was so charmed by this gorgeous book, I bought copies for all my nieces and newphews. All respect is paid to the concept of Wabi Sabi in every nuance, elucidating young and old. The book is laced with Reibstein's haiku as part of the story and haiku in Japanese kanji by Basho and Shiki.

A beautiful gift. I love it!
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Julee Rudolf VINE VOICE on December 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As an adult, former resident of Japan (for 3.5 years), visitor of Ginkakuji, and cat lover, I enjoyed this book with its wonderfully done collages, calming story and accompanying haiku about a cat named Wabi Sabi. But it is more appropriate for a homeschooling parent, poetry teacher, or Japanese culture fan than any elementary-school-aged child I know. My favorite seven-year-old girl bookworm (and cat lover) begged me to stop reading it at about page three. And my favorite nine-year-old boy bookworm and ravenous reader wanted nothing to do with it. Pick it up for your parental reading pleasure at your local library to find out what all the fuss is about. But if you are looking for a kid-friendly picture book about things foreign, you'd do better with: Three Samurai Cats: A Story From Japan by Eric A. Kimmel and Mordicai Gerstein; Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and Ho Baek Lee; or Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat by Amy Tan and Gretchen Schields.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brian Tarbox on December 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful way to expose a young audience to meaningful simplicity. One reviewer said this wasn't a children's book but I guess it depends on the child. Curled up in bed with his dog and his cat my son pays rapt attention to this story. As the reader I was struck by the fact that even the physical pages of the book are thick, I kept thinking I was turning two pages (parents know about one-handed-book-reading), until I realized they had used very thick paper. A nice touch.

If we want our children to see beyond the flashy sound-bite world of TV then we have to give them compelling alternatives. Its never too early to start and this "children's" book is a fine beginning.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Meyers on November 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wabi Sabi is a children's book with a universal theme -- the quest for self-identity. This timeless motif in literature is beautifully expressed by the author, Mark Reibstein, who weaves an enchanting tale of a cat in search of the meaning of his name. The synthesis of collage art with simple, lyrical passages of haiku throughout the text gives the reader -- both young and old a taste -- nay a morsel -- of Eastern philosophy as embodied by the concept of Wabi Sabi -- finding beauty in the simple, imperfections of every day life. Buy it, read it and savor it. It will make a wonderful stocking stuffer for the children for the holidays!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Williams on February 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a nice introduction for kids to some of life's grander and more complicated (yet also simple) truths, including the fact that nothing is perfect. Wabi Sabi is an important concept and I'm delighted to see it in this book for kids.

I have been a long time fan of the philosophy of Wabi Sabi since I read the book Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life a few years ago by Taro Gold, which is a great exploration of Wabi Sabi for adults - although our 12 year old enjoys reading both.
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