Summary: This is the story of how the beckoning cat became the symbol
of good luck and prosperity in Japan.
A cat arrives at the Kotoku Monastery in old Japan. The monk there tells the cat that he is poor and has little to share. However, the cat seems to be beckoning the monk as she cleans herself, curling her paw. The monk picks up the cat and immediately knows that he has found a friend. He names her Tama, which is Japanese for "round, like a ball, coin, etc." because of the circle on her back. They live a peaceful life together, going into town, sharing a simple lunch, and enjoying the evenings as they watch each day end. One morning, the air seems very different, and later that day, a terrible storm starts.
Tama gets caught out in the rain, and the monk calls for her. Tama eventually finds her way back, and sits in the doorway of the monastery, cleaning herself. Meanwhile, a noble samurai is riding by on his horse, looking for shelter. The samurai sees the cat, who seems to be beckoning him to come closer. The monk comes to the door, and is delighted to see that Tama is safe. He invites the samurai in for some tea. Because Tama saved the life of the samurai, he showers riches on the monk and turns the monastery into Gotokuji Temple. The monk, in turn, shares his good fortune with the villagers who had always helped him. Word spreads over the years about the cat who had brought good luck to the monk. Villagers begin making statues of Tama
"waving" and the people call her "Maneki Neko" (the beckoning cat).
Age Range: 8-12 years
Artistic Elements: The colors are soft and warm, some are dark. There
is some outlining. The pictures look to be water-
colors. The illustrations are beautiful and cap-
ture the mood of the story.
Recommendation: I would recommend this story because it talks about
different culture and teaches children about different
beliefs. Also, it teaches some Japanese words.