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I Am Tama, Lucky Cat

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  170 ratings  ·  57 reviews
A monk with little more than a few grains of rice to share welcomes a feline visitor into his humble home and place of worship. Little does he know that the hungry, shivering animal he names Tama would bring him both friendship and good fortune beyond his dreams. Illustrations.
Hardcover, 18 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Peachtree Publishers
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I like how she saves a person’s life.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
I really loved the illustrations of this book! The story was simple but it captivated my son's imagination. After reading, I produced my own miniature maneki-neko and he was delighted. I read him this book with the hope that he would get a glimpse into Japanese culture without it feeling boring and 'educational,' and I wasn't disappointed! ...more
Mar 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I thought Wendy Henrichs did a really great job in turning this brilliant and heart-warming Japanese legend into a picture book for children. I can not imagine anyone who would not enjoy it! She managed to create a book, that is informative to the children without the didactic feeling of a textbook.

Speaking about the book, it's impossible not to mention gorgeous illustrations by Yoshiko Jaeggi, as they are an inseparable part of it. The details are breath-taking, soft and dreamy colors draw your
Edward Sullivan
Beautifully illustrated retelling of the Japanese legend of Maneki Neko.
"I sat in the doorway and waited with my right paw upheld, as is my custom."

A calico with customs!
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this wonderful version of the Japanese folkloric story of the waving cat, Neko. I have read other versions and all are lovely.

The illustrations in this book are really very beautiful.
First Novels Club
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sara, reviewed
I am Tama, Lucky Cat by Wendy Henrichs is told from the point of view of a cat in Japan in search of a home. He approaches a dilapidated temple one evening, where he is found by an old monk. Tama greets the monk in his usual way--by raising one paw in a waving motion. The monk names him Tama, which means luck, and takes him in. By living with his master, Tama learns Buddha's ways.

Tama brings good luck in small ways throughout the book--for example, but catching the mice that invade the temple's
Sue Morris
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I Am Tama, Lucky Cat is based on a Japanese legend and it reads like a fable. Tama arrives at a temple looking for food and shelter. What she finds is a poor monk willing to share the few things he has. Tama feels like a lucky cat for having found this master and his broken temple. They share everything and Tama helps by keeping their small food supply free from mice and warming her master with her fur coat. The monk feels blessed, having been found by a rare black and orange colored Japanese Bo ...more
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever wondered about the "Lucky Cat"? You know...that little kitty depicted in oh-so-many statues, figurines and other touristy type items when seeking something Japanese that is seemingly less traditional and more fun. Bet you thought that he was JUST a cute little cat? Guess again.

Maneki Neko, or the Beckoning Cat as is his formal name, stems from a Japanese legend of old where a lone monk staying in a less than idyllic temple (it had seen much better days) takes in this lonely furry s
Danielle Scharen
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing

This folklore is the story on a Japanese legend about a lucky cat. I originally wanted to read this story because I have seen the symbolic white cat in cars and store windows, and knew it was a lucky charm, but wanted to learn more. This story is told from the cat's point of view and how she is a special cat called a Japanese bobtail that has rare markings. The cat used a old, customary Japanese greeting by raising its right paw to say "Come to me" when visiting a monk in his temple one
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
“By associating with the cat one only risks becoming richer." - Sidonie Gabrielle

somewhere in the snow-capped mountains of Japan, a white bobtailed cat with unusual markings shows up at the door of a rundown temple where a monk teaches Buddha's ways to poor farmers. he welcomes the cat and names it Tama. concerned about the people's welfare more than his own, the Buddhist monk ignores the rumblings of his hungry stomach and his sufferings. he wants more food, warmth and comfort for the temple's
Zahava Davis
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Personal reaction: I picked up this book after reading it's summary. It said that it gave the explanation as to why cat statues are frequently in front of Japanese restaurants (oddly enough a question I've thought about a few times). This book wasn't a total bust, but it definitely wasn't my favorite. The illustrations in it are great, and definitely one of the reasons that kept me reading. This is by no means a bad book or story line, just not exactly my type of ideal read. Disclaimer -- I'm al ...more
Maddie Watson
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"I Am Tama, Lucky Cat" by Wendy Henrichs was such a pleasure to read. This storybook tells the story behind the little waving porcelain lucky cat that is seen in asian cultures. Tama is a treasured breed of cat known as the Japanese Bobtail cat. And Tama is extra special because of her rare black and orange markings. Tama finds a home with a poor monk and their bond grows and grows until one rainy day she runs off in to the rain. Prior to this the story of the monk told of how little money he ha ...more
Lisa M
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
Charming. In a word, that sums up this picture book. The underlining message was subtle, but sweet. The illustrations are wonderful and pull the reader in. The beautiful watercolor images are this book's strength. I had never heard of the Beckoning Cat legend before (although I've seen the cat sculptures based on it). This is an enjoyable introduction to it.

Little things keep this from being fantastic. The moral of this legend (karma) is perhaps too subtle. The monk saves Tama (the cat) and care
Cleffairy Cleffairy
Review published at: Over A Cuppa Tea

Date reviewed: 16th Feb 2011

Review link:

While the superstitious Chinese believes that cats bring nothing but sheer bad luck, the Japanese believes otherwise. As you all probably know. I have the same opinion as the Japanese, for without my pet cat, Meow Meow, my family and I would have not survived the fire back then in 2009. She’s our little guardian angel, and she brought so much joy and happiness in our life.

I couldn’t resist
Mar 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
A simple yet resonant story detailing one possible origin of the myth of the adorable Japanese Maneki Neko, or Lucky Cat. The prose is fluid and evocative, with a just slightly rhythmic syntax that is perfect for reading out loud. The illustrations are gorgeous and layered, but subtle, with soft muted colours that draw you in visually and provide a restful feeling. Although they are never overly busy or cluttered, the illustrations have enough depth and detail that I can easily imagine children ...more
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
This delightful picture book provides background for why so many Japanese love the beckoning cat. According to the legend told by the author, a hungry, homeless cat approached a temple in search of shelter. Although the temple has fallen on hard times, a kindly monk living there befriends the cat and names her. He is taken by her unique way of lifting a paw in greeting. During a storm, the cat races outside and lifts her paw, beckoning an approaching warlord closer and saving his life. In gratit ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
On a wintery day in the forests of Japan, a white cat comes upon an old run down temple at the foot of a mountain and is welcomed in by the monk. She raises her paw in greeting and is named Tama, and is considered a lucky cat. One day, in the midst of a storm, Tama waits at the gate of the temple cleaning her face, when a Samurai warrior approaches the temple and notices the cat, whose raised paw welcomes him to the temple. When lightning strikes the tree the warrior had been under, he rewards t ...more
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, arc
In many Asian restaurants around my city (and probably yours) you will find the Lucky Cat, a figurine of a cat with it’s paw raised in a wave. I’ve always wondered what it was about and my friends would always say that it brings luck.

I am Tama, Lucky Cat, tells the tale of the Lucky Cat. It is beautifully illustrated and the story itself is sweet and charming. It is based on the Maneki Neko, and illustrates one of the many stories of origin of the sculpture. It is a great way to understand the
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Combining a heartwarming tale of Japanese traditions with gorgeous watercolor illustrations, Henrichs and Yoshiko come together in I Am Tama, Lucky Cat to explain to young readers the legend of one cat’s journey to a temple in search of food and the blessings she bought to the monk who welcomed her. I Am Tama, Lucky Cat is a story of friendship, generosity, and kindness, and readers will learn throughout the narrative a few of the Japanese customs that set their gracious culture apart from the r ...more
Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
I am Tama, Lucky Cat is a retelling of the old Japanese legend of the Maneki Neko, or lucky cat. The book is beautifully illustrated; I especially love the depictions of the koi pond and the lightning demons.

The tale itself is simple and poignant, and would appeal to early readers, or read by parents as a bedtime story. At the end of the book is a little page on the history of the lucky cat in Japan.

A delightful book for any child who likes animal stories, or as an introduction to Japan.
Apr 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wendy Henrichs has elegantly captured one of the possible origins of Maneki Neko, the Japanese waving cat, in I Am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend. This poignant tale, told with a light lyrical prose and combined with Yoshiko Jaeggi's beautiful watercolors, creates a lovely picture book to enjoy with children. While I've often seen Japanese waving cats, I've never realized the signifigance behind the story. Children and parents alike will appreciate that even someone small can make a great di ...more
Sharon Lawler
Beautiful watercolors illustrate this legend about a homeless cat who is searching for food and shelter. At long last he arrives at a tumble down temple, overseen by a warm hearted Buddhist monk. The cat is taken in by the monk, who shares his meager supply of rice, and names him, Tama, Lucky Cat. From the story "In Japan, it is believed that when a cat washes its face, a guest will arrive." Lovely story about friendship, thankfulness, and putting others ahead of yourself. Author note provides f ...more
Mar 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: galleys
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy, and I have to say that I really enjoyed reading this book. The story was well paced; there were just enough words on each page, without it being overwhelming at any point, and the illustrations matched this nicely. They were mellow colors, used well to complement the story nicely.

I really enjoy reading about mythology, and it makes me happy when books for children address mythology well-- which I believe this story did.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
Interesting telling of the Lucky Cat legend of Japan. Lovely illustrations. Narrator is Tama, the lucky cat. My preschooler says that she most enjoyed the cat, the mountain, the cherry blossom trees and the pretty kimonos.
Conner Klostermann
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story explains a lot about the Japanese culture. It's based on Tama who shows up at this temple in need of shelter and food. Tama needs a man who shared what he has and they form a friendship. I believe this story is very beautiful and very educational for younger individuals. ...more
Chris Schaben
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful watercolor illustrations with a very charming story about the legend of the Maneki Neko (Beckoning Cat) statues. A great story for teaching young ones about Japanese culture.
John Jeng
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Now I understand why beckoning cats are lucky.
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
We received this book as part of a KiwiCo Atlas Crate ( Discover Japan review )

It’s a lovely picture book and we found the Afterword with it’s historical information and photographs really interesting for helping us learn more about why Maneki–neko (招き猫, lit. ‘beckoning cat’) are popular.
Tebarek Alkanani
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Wendy Henrichs was inspired to write I Am Tama, Lucky Cat when she adopted two cats. One of them had a habit of raising her paw while sitting, just like a Japanese Lucky Cat figurine. Curiosity about the legends behind Lucky Cat led her to the story of Tama. She lives in Iowa.

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