Heinrichs, Wendy & Yoshiko Jaeggi (illustrator). I Am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend (2011). 32 Pages. Peachtree Publishers. $16.95
When I joined NetGalley.com, I spent ages scouring the books, looking for those which looked interesting. Luckily for me, I found I am Tama, Lucky Cat, fairly quickly. I am big on mythology from around the world– especially Japanese, as I was an East Asian Studies minor– so I was excited to get to see this book early*.
Tama the Calico– and therefore Lucky– cat went in search of shelter. She was lucky enough to find a caring monk in a worn down temple. To gain entrance, she sat in front of the doorway with her paw held up in traditional maneki neko pose. She brings happiness to the monk, and one day brings him luck as her beckoning saves a wandering lord. He becomes the patron of her temple, and everyone’s luck improves.
The illustrations were well balanced to the story, with soft colors and nice composition. It is the sort of storybook which is mellow enough to make good bedtime reading.
I’m always excited to see children’s books exploring mythology, especially when they do it well. With lovely illustrations, and simple-but-effective vocabulary, this book manages to convey the story in a way which kids will relate to. In the back of the book is a brief note with some information on the legend, including speculation as to which temple and which lord the legend may be about.
I’ll give this one a solid 4/5; I really liked it, and was impressed, though I was not completely blown away.
* Disclosure: I received my copy free from the publisher through NetGalley.com