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Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku
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Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  1,178 ratings  ·  246 reviews
Nice place they got here.
Bed. Bowl. Blankie. Just like home!
Or so I've been told.

Visiting hours!
Yawn. I pretend not to care.
Yet -- I sneak a peek.

So begins this beguiling tale of a wary shelter cat and the boy who takes him home.

Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, this adoption story, told entirely in haiku, is unforgettable.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published February 15th 2011 by Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
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The Cat in the Hat by Dr. SeussKitten's First Full Moon by Kevin HenkesMillions of Cats by Wanda GágPuss in Boots by Charles PerraultThe Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter
Picture Books about Cats
13th out of 325 books — 156 voters
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Cats on Picture Books
10th out of 79 books — 24 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,043)
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Full disclosure here, the author of this book sent me a copy as a gift. This isn't an uncommon occurrence, but I feel obliged to mention that.

I'll be honest, the fact that the story was told entirely in Haiku was *not* a selling point for me when I picked it up. In fact, I was more than slightly skeptical of the fact. I have definite opinions about poetry, and Haiku in my opinion is an oft abused poetic form....

But I brought it home and read it to my boy and really enjoyed it. Oot is 4 years o
Won-Ton is the story of a shelter cat who finds a home with a boy. The story is told in haiku, and the ways Won-Ton comes to adjust to his new family is by turns humorous and touching as both cat and boy learn from one another. Ultimately, it is a testament to the love waiting in the hearts of shelter animals and of the blessings they bestow in the lives of those who adopt them.
A substitute teacher came up to my reference desk seeking, “Fun haiku books” to turn into lesson plans with their kids. That’s the sort of open-ended question that can render your brain blank for a moment or two. Suddenly every haiku book for kids you’ve ever encountered flees from your brain. You’re left gaping like a fish, desperately scanning your poetry shelves for one, just ONE, haiku book that will help. Then, if you’re really in trouble, you start thinking of books that are so new to your ...more
Okay confession time—I tried for over an hour to come up with a cute haiku poem for this review and failed miserably! Hehe…My grade school teachers would be horrified!

But I will say that this cat’s journey from the shelter to a home will warm your heart and make you smile and “awww”! The pages capture a cat’s day with fun, adventure, mischief, a bit of snobbiness, and snuggles! Big, beautiful, clear, solid illustrations bring this cat to life with stretches, yawns, hisses, and curious eyes.

I do not like cats. They get under foot, pounce and claw when you least expect it, and make you sneeze. Give me a dog any day. BUT... a cat like Won Ton could probably change my mind. A few years back Andrew Clements gave us Dogku, a picture book told entirely in haiku, and one I enjoyed. Now Lee Wardlaw balances the dog versus cat scales with the remarkable Won Ton, taking the same concept with the opposite protagonist and doing it every bit as well, perhaps better. From the moment the stereoty ...more
This is a delight. I was going to copy my favorite senryu verse (haiku essentially, but with a different focus) but which one to choose? "Gypsy on my left./Pumpkin, my right. Together/we are all alone." What a perfect depictionof a shelter!
As someone else pointed out there is a joke running through this story familiar to anyone enslaved to a cat: "Letmeoutletme/outletmeout./Wait--let me back!".
Catitude is expressed perfectly in this senryu: "Eavesdropping, I hear:/"my cat." Great rats! Don't y
May 29, 2011 Ann rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone! Especially those who love cats!
Awe! I love this book!!

"Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku" (which, once you've finished you'll appreciate this title even more!) is a story about a shelter cat (told from the perspective of the cat) who ends up getting adopted by a family with a little boy and a little girl.

It's obvious that author Wardlaw loves cats and understands them very well!
I was smiling all the way through. Everything from, at the shelter: "Visiting hours! Yawn. I pretend not to care. Yet—I sneak a peek." To: "Naptime!
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This cute story about a kitty in a shelter looking for a home is told in senryu, which are haiku that focus on foibles of human, or in this case, cat, nature. Lee Wardlaw must have written this from experience, because she's got a cat's attitude down just right. My favorite poem is:

Your tummy, soft as
warm dough. I knead and knead, then
bake it with a nap.

I've been there! I've also experienced the tuna breath, the snubbing of the food in the bowl, the "squishy" in the shoe, and the naps on my dirt
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
The whole story of a cat’s life, from his time in the animal shelter to his new home with a little boy, is in this book, all told in haiku. Wonderful pictures and fun text, in addition to satisfying the challenging task of writing in haiku.

“Sorry about the
squishy in your shoe. Must’ve
been something I ate.

Wait---let me back in!”

Jan 16, 2012 Julie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: kids
I had passed this one by at the library based on its cover, but finally took it home because of its good reviews in journals. And now it's my kids' favorite of the year so far. They practically have it memorized, and still crack up at the "squishy in my shoe" part, and more. And I've grown to appreciate the interior illustrations, especially the garden scene.
As posted on Outside of a Dog

Won Ton is actually a tale told in senryu, a variation of haiku of deals with human nature, or as the Wardlaw points out, cat nature. Here is the story of a cautious shelter cat who is chosen by a boy who can "rub my chin just right". The cat may act cool, but really wants to be taken home. He is named Won Ton, though he teases "Some day, I'll tell you my real name. Maybe." Won Ton learns about his new home, new food, new playtime and new naptime. Wardlow and Yelchin
Halley Todd
Reader beware: this picture book will make you immediately want to go out and adopt a cat from an animal shelter. This is a story told from a cat’s point of view about being adopted from an animal shelter. It follows Won Ton’s time in the animal shelter, and his adjustment to being in a new home. The text of the story is told entirely in haiku, which makes this a fantastic model text. Children will easily be able to hear and understand the rhythm of haiku in this format. However, these haiku are ...more
Nancy Jo Lambert
This book was very different, and I really liked that. My 4 year old son really enjoyed this book. How fun is it that this book is told in Haiku! I also like how it feels like a chapter book with the headings that help move the story along and inform the readers about what's going on.

In this book, a cat, nameless at first, is living in a shelter. He acts aloof, like he doesn't want to get adopted. Then, he does get adopted and is taken to the home of a little boy. The cat does adjust to his new
Won Ton is a delicious blend of cattitude (for those unfortunates who are not feline-owned, this is a state or feeling of immense superiority, but not arrogance) and a form of Japanese poetry called senryu (similar to haiku). The illustrations have an Asian flair. This might work well with a creative writing class. Here’s a senryu inspired by my cat, Rufus:

Cat asleep in sun
Unbaked dough that has risen
Till it fills the pan
I loved the elongated cat shapes, the colors, and the nod to Japanese art styles. Cat lovers will recognize these details! Linked Senryu (about human--well, cat--nature, not the natural world like haiku) poems.
This picture book is told in a series of haiku poems. The poems form the only text in the book, charmingly telling the tale of Won Ton, a cat saved from the animal shelter by a boy and his family. Once rescued, Won Ton demonstrates that he is pure cat. His aloof yet cozy manner is captured to perfection here in the poems. The book is in turns touching, beautiful, wistful and very funny.

Wardlaw’s haiku read as if they were effortlessly written. In a few words and syllables, he captures the life o
This is an absolutely adorable book about a shelter cat finding his very own home told in the form of Haiku poetry. From a cage at the pound, waiting to get picked, to snuggling on top of his new little boy's tummy, Won Ton's tale is humorous, but there is no lack of tugging on the heartstrings, either.

The illustrations are pretty simple, yet appropriate. There is a lot of blank space on the pages, as the focus zooms in on the lead cat's actions and emotions.

This is a great book to add to any
Emily Sisco
Audience: Primary
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Animal, Comedy
Pre-Reading Strategy: Clapping Syllables
"Today, we are going to talk about syllables. Does anyone know what a syllable is? It is a part of a word that is pronounced with one uninterrupted sound. Like, Din-ner (clap when saying the word) has two syllables because din and ner are two different sounds. Another word is dog. Dog is one sound so it has one syllable. Now it's your turn. We're going to clap out the syllables of words (Use words fr
The Book Maven
In a story told through haiku, we are introduced to an "oriental prince" of a cat living at a shelter, who is adopted by a family and taken to a new home, where he eventually adjusts and learns to love his new people.

Perhaps I'm biased due to my love of kitties, but I have to say, this is one of the best picture books I've encountered in a long time--it combines charming illustrations with a clever narrative device while teaching kids about haikus and the nature of cats. Not only that, but ther
Lisa Vegan
Jul 27, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all cat lovers, especially those who have adopted through a shelter
Recommended to Lisa by: Ann
I’ve had this book at home for awhile and I finally made myself pick it up and read it because it’s rated so highly, including among readers I often agree with re picture books. But, the cover illustration completely turns me off; I hated it. I hate it a bit less now that I’ve read this utterly delightful story.

For me the illustrations are cute and fit the story, but they’re not my favorite, though I like virtually all of them better than the cover illustration.

the senryu haiku-like poetry story
Apr 28, 2011 Candice rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ellen, Sophie (when she's older)
Shelves: picture-books
Not for very young children, but I think cat lovers would enjoy it. Told entirely in Haiku, it's the story of a shelter cat who comes to live with a boy and his family. At times funny, at times sweet, it captures the essence of cats. My favorite page shows Won Ton lying on a pile of sox.

Naptime! Begone, oh
fancy pad. I prefer these
socks. They smell of you.

Actually, that one reminds me of my dog. The illustrations are in just a few colors and capture Won Ton's personality with perfection.
Mar 25, 2011 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
I have to start this review with an admission - I just love cats. So my review might be a bit biased. I think this is a terrific book of senryu poems (similar to haiku, but focuses on the foibles of human nature) about a cat who needs a home. The interaction between the kitty and his new adoptive family is very humorous and the illustrations are wonderful. We really enjoyed reading this book together.
Reviewed at:

This book touched my heart. Anyone who is a cat person will connect immediately with Won Ton and love him instantly and the way his story was told through haikus was touching and brilliant. Wardlaw obviously knows her cats because each poem is reminiscent of cats' personalities.
If only Tikko could write a book, this would be it...

If you love cats, or love Haiku pr both you MUST read this book. Delightful! Great for preschooler and parents (fun for adults) to read together, excellent use of language, good practice in storytelling and prediction skills.
Won Ton, a shelter cat, shares his story in clever haiku. Won Ton is a charming protagonist and kids who love cats will recognize their own pets in Won Ton's fussy habits and prickly personality. The haiku never seem forced and will serve as a good introduction to this poetry form.
Jun 20, 2011 June rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cat lovers
Recommended to June by: cap choices 2011
A shelter cat adjusts to his new home and owner. Both of my sons were taken with the cat's perspective in the story. According to the author blurb, the author's firt spoken word was "kitty." Great choice for poetry month, and English teachers teaching haiku.
Kacie Blakley
This cute picture book tells the story of a cat that becomes adopted by a young boy. The entire book is about the different adjustments this animal faces, all from the cat's point-of-view. Haiku is the perfect form of verse to tell a cat's story and this book does not disappoint. I think all children would enjoy reading this story because it's completely different from the typical picture book. It shows young readers how a newly adopted animal has to settle in to his new home. It also tells youn ...more
Rebecca Tenbrook
This was such a cute book! My favorite type of poetry is a haiku and I was thrilled when this author was able to tell a story in just haikus. I would love to show this book to students once they have mastered the skill of syllables and they know and have been exposed to other haikus before. I think then they will appreciate how the author wrote this book. Once a student understands a syllable they should be able to understand what a haiku is. I think it would be fun to use this book as an exampl ...more
I absolutely loved this book. I had never heard of it before I came across it and was pleasantly surprised. Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku is an adorable tale of an adopted cat told completely through Haiku's. I think this book would be a wonderful addition to an early elementary school classroom as it is fun, has wonderful illustrations and provides a fun introduction to Haiku's. After reading this story, children in first, second and third grade would probably be able to construct their own ...more
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Lee Wardlaw swears that her first spoken word was 'kitty'. Since then, she's shared her life with 30 cats (not all at the same time!) and published close to 30 award-winning books for young readers, selling more than one million copies world wide.

Lee's newest books include Won Ton - A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, winner of the 2012 Lee Bennett Hopkins Children's Poetry Award and the 2012 Myra Cohn Livi
More about Lee Wardlaw...
101 Ways to Bug Your Parents 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher 101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies Red, White, and Boom! Seventh Grade Weirdo

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“I explained it loud
and clear. What part of "meow"
don't you understand?”
Wait--let me back in!
Wait--let me back out!”
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