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The Cat Who Went to Heaven
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The Cat Who Went to Heaven

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  3,161 ratings  ·  313 reviews
In ancient Japan, a struggling artist is angered when his housekeeper brings home a tiny white cat he can barely afford to feed. But when the village's head priest commissions a painting of the Buddha for a healthy sum, the artist softens toward the animal he believes has brought him luck.

According to legend, the proud and haughty cat was denied the Buddha's blessing for
Paperback, 96 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Aladdin (first published 1930)
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Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha ChristieThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Little Engine That Could by Watty PiperStrong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers1066 and All That by W.C. Sellar
Best Books of 1930
8th out of 29 books — 23 voters
Dewey by Vicki MyronWho Moved My Cheese? by Spencer JohnsonThe Girl Who Came Home by Hazel GaynorHorton Hears a Who! by Dr. SeussThe Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Di... by Jonas Jonasson
"Who" in Titles
13th out of 179 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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A struggling Japanese artist, so poor he can hardly expect a good meal each day, is frustrated and annoyed when his housekeeper brings, not the food he had longed for, but a cat home from the market one day. Although the cat, with her regal bearing, sweet disposition and adorable tri-colored coat and short-tail, subtly charms the artist, he is more appalled than pleased to have her in his midst, considering her (like all cats) a "goblin" and a “devil” because long ago the cat did not pledge her ...more
A delightful fable about a poor painter who is commissioned to create a masterpiece of the dying Buddha for the village temple. The artist ponders and meditates on each element of the painting. He spends time contemplating the meaning of each animal to be added, but is unable to include the cat, as legend tells that only the cat of all animals refused the teachings of Buddha. When the painter rebels against tradition, and includes a cat in the painting, he is rewarded with a miracle. A very good ...more
Sep 16, 2008 Kayt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Recommended to Kayt by: my mother
on my goose.
this is one of the best books in existence
it only takes about an hour to read
but is too worth it to possibly describe.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I LOVE this story! It's among my very favorite cat stories. A must read for cat lovers!
Absolutely loved this book, with its beautiful illustrations and many layers. The cat's personality, the artist, the housekeeper, and the Buddha intertwined in an intriguing and lovely tale.
After I read Peter The Likeness(which he loved even more than I thought he would) we fell into a sort of read-aloud book depression. I started a couple books which either didn't hold my interest or didn't hold his. Finally he handed this one to me to try. It's pretty short and we finished it in two sittings. The story--which is about a struggling artist and his lucky cat Good Fortune--is simple and at times repetitive. Yet the writing is nice and the fable is ultimately satisfying (I know there ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It was a beautiful story but... I am confused how I would rate it.
plot - 3 stars because I can't predict what's next;
moral - 5 stars because of the retelling of Buddha's sojourn to enlightenment; I specifically like the story of the elephant :D
excitement - 2 stars because I was just getting excited and it's done!

But I guessed what really caught me is the time when the artist gave up everything for the happiness of the cat without any pang of regret. It is when I realized that people would reall
Aug 21, 2010 Jill rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I wouldn't recommend this to anyone
Shelves: newbery-medal
Not so much...don't know why this was an award winner. Maybe they were using different criteria back then?

I only pulled two useful quotes from this book:
"Only a clear pool has beautiful reflections." (pg. 18)

and for the pure immature amusement of laughing at something taken out of context:
"Holy thoughts are in his mind, heavenly desire,
While I boil his chestnuts, here on my little fire" (pg. 32)

Worst Newbery I've read so far. From other reviews I've read it seems other people really like this b
Hazel Lee
Bomi sent me this book as an afterthought to score Amazon free shipping on my birthday present, but it's the sweetest little story I've read in a while. It's the story of a poor artist, his housekeeper, and a stray cat they take in, who looks on as the artist paints a magnificant picture of Buddha and the animals who came to watch over his death. The artist struggles with the fact that traditionally, the cat is a tricksy creature and apparently skipped Buddha's funeral, but his own kitty shows a ...more
E.V. Emmons
I read this book as a child, and I have to say it affected me profoundly, perhaps more than any other book I ever read. It's a beautiful story, rich, historical, yet mystical. I learned so much from reading this book, and I think every child should read it, I think it would help make them a better person, as I feel it had that affect on me.

To this day I still get tears in my eyes and get choked up when I read it. Sad, and yet the most beautiful story I've every read.
Fun older elementry school aged book. Winner of the Newberry Medal, which I am personally aiming to read all books that have received that award as well as the honorary books.

An artist that is painting a portrait for the local temple becomes the housemate of a cat when his housekeeper brings one home. The cat watches him as he paints the various animals that Buddah had blessed and occupied at one point or another. The cat patiently waits and shows a tendency to want to be included in the portrai
Nerine Dorman
I first encountered this book when I started reading. It was a battered old hardcover copy that was tucked away on a shelf at my primary school. When I read the story it made me cry. Many years later, a good friend of mine, hearing me speak of the book, gave it to me as a gift. She slipped into my office while I was out and left it on my desk. I cried again.

Okay. I'm funny about animals.
Auntie Pam
Un bellissimo libro per ragazzi che racconta due storie parallele. La prima è la storia dell'incontro tra Good Fortune, una gattina di tre colori e un vecchio pittore giapponese sul lastrico. La seconda è la storia filosofica delle varie trasformazioni e vite di Buddha. Mi sono piacute molte entrambe le storie e ho trovato molti parallelismi tra la cultura orientale e quella occidentale: perchè il gatto è sempre stato malvisto dalle religioni? Forse per il suo carattere solitario e indipendente? ...more
The second of my Newbery books this summer . . . . loved this little story. I'm not sure if Coatsworth invented the story entirely, or if it's based on a Japanese folktale, but it has that dreamy, timeless quality of folklore. The artist muses on the life and death of Buddha, thereby relating many traditional Buddhist stories. Many animals came to pay respects to Buddha as he lay dying, but the cat was not welcome, because the cat, alone of all animals, refused Buddha's teachings. This saddens t ...more
1931 Newbery Medal Winner

I recall reading this book originally in grade school. It is not a long book and easy to read in one sitting. It is often interesting to see how becoming an adult shifts your perception of books that you read as a child.

The main characters in the book are an artist and his housekeeper. They are very poor. One day, the housekeeper comes back from market with a cat instead of food. It is a nice cat, white with two other colors (which supposedly makes it lucky). They name
Rebecca McNutt
Excellent book with vivid vocabulary and an extremely original plot, definitely worth reading, especially if you're a fan of animal stories or Japanese stories.
The Cat Who Went to Heaven is a touching story based on a Buddhist folktale about a penniless artist who is struggling to feed himself and his housekeeper. When his housekeeper brings home a cat from the market, he worries about feeding it as well, but the cat, whom they name Good Fortune, is not like other cats. She is gentle and thoughtful, and the artist always finds her praying to the Buddha every morning. The artist finds himself happy that his housekeeper brought the cat into their home. O ...more
Philip Carlson
The Cat Who Went to Heaven is the cleverly written story of Good Fortune, a cat who is destined to change the lives of everyone who ever knew him (or didn't). A poor young artist lives in a meager house with only his housekeeper and Good Fortune in a small Japanese town. Although not fond of the idea of owning a cat, the artist and Good Fortune become close friends when the housekeeper innocently brings him home from the market one day. Soon after Good Fortune's arrival, the artist is visited b ...more
"The Cat Who Went to Heaven" was the 1930 Newbery Award winner and I couldn't agree more. I found this book to be delightful in a way it read like "The Happy Prince" and for the sake of spoilers, I will not let myself make any allusions on that note. I can definitely see this book being useful in the classroom setting as it includes breaks in the story in the form of songs (reminiscent of a CCSS benchmark), but also because the main character is an artist who is trying to create his masterpiece ...more
Elizabeth Coatsworth writes a sweet little story about a man, his cat, and true compassion.

While painting a scroll of Buddha, a man known to us only as 'the artist' meditates on the life of that holy man. He recalls stories involving The Buddha's encounters with various animals and, one by one, paints them onto his scroll.

His sweet little cat, Good Fortune, watches with admiration as the artist paints each creature. She soon becomes more and more discourage as she realizes The Cat will never b
Cats, Buddha, art, being nice to cats, forgiveness, and a cat. What's not to love?
Camila Padilla
The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth

An impoverished Japanese painter struggles to find money and food for himself and his housekeeper. He is very hungry and sends his housekeeper to the market, but instead of buying fish, she brings home a beautiful white cat. The painter is not very happy with the housekeeper’s choice. Not long after, however, a Buddhist priest visits the painter, and gives him the job to paint a picture of Buddha for the local temple. As the artist meditates and
May 24, 2009 diamondkim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to diamondkim by: my dad
Shelves: reread
One of my favorite childhood books - one of many that fueled my passion for reading and art. Emotional, enchanting, dark and enlightening - it is has the feel of a Brothers Grimm tale set in Japan with beautiful award-winning illustrations.

Wonderfully gentle introduction to the concepts of Buddhism and reincarnation as well as materialism, stewardship, loyalty and love.
This is a very short story, that was written in the 1930s. I read it when I was in elementary school some 20 years ago, and yet I still remember he story so clearly. The story not only stuck with me all these years but it still has the power to make me tear up a bit. I think that this is a great story for any animal lover, and would happily recommend it to everyone.
Benji Martin
The Cat Who Went to Heaven did something pretty clever. It wove a decently interesting biography of Buddah into a not-at-all interesting story about an artist painting Buddah’s death for the local temple. There were some good points, but it wasn’t really that exiting of a book. My favorite part was the end. The cat randomly drops dead from joy when the author paints him into the picture, even though he wasn’t supposed to. I just sat there thinking. “So, yeah. That really just happened. The cat j ...more
I thought this was wonderful. I absolutely plan to share this. I wonder very much what the chances are of this opinion being shared by a child in the age group. I'm thinking this could be found very interesting and spur a curiosity of the culture by some and be found very boring and unliked by others. I hope I get a chance to find out.
1931 Newbery Medal

Not a two-star book, but not a three-star book in my opinion, mainly because I don't think many kids today would be drawn to this book. Perhaps it would be a good text to use when introducing Buddhism. On the plus side, it was short, had nice animal illustrations, and the story was pleasant enough to read.
William Dickerson
Wow, this is a wonderful book. It is a Newberry Medal winner, and for a winner from the 1930's, it holds up much better than some of the other books I've read from that era.

This is the story of a poor artist who is charged with paint a picture of the death of Buddha for the temple and the cat who observes the painting of the various parts of the painting. The artist relives and remembers various stories of the life of Buddha, Siddhartha, and different reincarnations of the Buddha as he prepares
I read this book in elementary school, and have loved it ever since. The sweet story shares Buddhist culture with the reader, while teaching loyalty, forgiveness, and hope. To tell you the truth, this has been the only book I have ever cried over. Don't let that alarm you. There is a happy ending.
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perserverance 2 18 Apr 21, 2014 02:18PM  
Children's Books: Winner & Honors from 1931 11 18 Jan 04, 2014 11:41AM  
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  • The Story of Mankind
  • Miss Hickory
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  • ...And Now Miguel
  • Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze
  • Roller Skates
  • Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women
  • Shadow Of A Bull
  • M.C. Higgins, the Great
  • A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers
Elizabeth Jane Coatsworth was best known as the author of Away Goes Sally, The Cat Who Went to Heaven, which won the 1931 Newbery Medal, and the four Incredible Tales, but in fact she wrote more than 90 books for children. She was extremely interested in the world around her, particularly the people of Maine, as well as the houses and the surrounding land. She also loved the history and myths of h ...more
More about Elizabeth Coatsworth...
Away Goes Sally (Sally, #1) The Enchanted Five Bushel Farm Jock's Island Runaway Home (The Alice and Jerry Books)

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