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

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,543 Ratings  ·  274 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
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14th out of 366 books — 172 voters
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2012 Mock Caldecott
44th out of 85 books — 188 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,641)
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Nov 22, 2013 Patrick rated it it was amazing
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
May 09, 2014 Betsy rated it really liked it
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
Apr 28, 2011 Kathryn rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 15, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
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.

Feb 18, 2011 Shazzer rated it really liked it
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
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
Jul 02, 2011 Joan rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing
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
Nov 23, 2011 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing
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.
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
May 08, 2011 Nancy Jo Lambert rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2011 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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
May 17, 2011 Melissa rated it really liked it
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.
Drew Erkelens
Sep 28, 2015 Drew Erkelens rated it really liked it
Shelves: edrd-314
This book was a very cute story told in the form of a haiku through the eyes of a pet cat. The children wouldn't recognize this right away as poetry since it is a haiku so it could be a good book to use when teaching a poetry lesson about how to write haikus. I liked how the story was told through the point of view of the cat himself, Won Ton. We all know the many antics and qualities that cats have, this book points them out in a cute way by saying the cats side of it in often humorous ways. Th ...more
Edward Sullivan
Mar 16, 2011 Edward Sullivan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Wonderful cat story told entirely in haiku. Clever and fun.
Feb 01, 2011 Tasha rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
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
Oct 06, 2013 Nicole rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 11, 2013 Emily Sisco rated it it was ok
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
Jun 14, 2014 The Book Maven rated it it was amazing
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 really liked it
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 it was amazing
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 23, 2015 Xiaoting rated it really liked it
A cat tale told in HaiKu

Won Ton is a shelter cat who is lucky to be taken home. He is unsure about his new surroundings but slowly learns the joy and love of having people who love you. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, this adoption story, told in haiku is unforgettable.
The front cover is very cute. A gray cat has a pair of big blue eyes. He stare at something. The artist used graphite and gouache on watercolor paper to create the illustrations for this book. The style of this pict
Mar 25, 2011 Dolly rated it really liked it
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.
Barbara Balke
Oct 09, 2015 Barbara Balke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: project-1
Grades: 2-5; Ages: 7-11
Review by Barbara Balke
This story is written in a form of Japanese poetry called senryu (SEN-ree-yoo) which is similar to haiku. It features three unrhymed lines and contains a maximum of seventeen syllables. Usually it is a 5-7-5 syllable pattern. This gives a nice rhythm to the reading. The story opens with a cat who lives in a shelter. It tells of how he is chosen by a family and taken to his new home. At first the new home is scary but the tough cat defends that he is
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.
April Gates
Nov 01, 2015 April Gates rated it it was amazing
Shelves: project-1
I absolutely love this book! It is a senyru which is very similar to a Haiku. It is adorable because it is the point of view of the cat being adopted, his encounters once the cat is adopted and once he settles in. It first takes place at the animal shelter and he has already come to the conclusion that he won’t be adopted. Once he is adopted then he tries to adjust to his new home and environment. They go through names for the cat, his dietary preferences and him playing outside. By the end of t ...more
Jessica B
Jun 18, 2015 Jessica B rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A delightful story of a shelter cat and a young boy who become friends. The book is told entirely though Haiku poems. Won-ton is chosen by a young boy. He is leery about his new home. He begins to learn about his feeding time, play time, and how he will function in his new home. The way the author writes is quite comical, and captivating for young children. The illustrations shown in this poetry book are right on point! You can see Won-Ton licking, stretching, and being a typical cat. The story ...more
Deitra Chamberlain
Deitra Chamberlain rated it it was amazing
Apr 29, 2016
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Won Ton (2 books)
  • Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku

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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!”
More quotes…