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Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku

(Won Ton)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  2,116 ratings  ·  358 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
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,116 ratings  ·  358 reviews

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Nov 22, 2013 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
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cats
A cat's adoption told in haiku. While I loved the adoption of Won Ton from a shelter to a home, unfortunately, I was not remotely impressed with the cat poetry.
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
My favourite lines :

Wait! - LetmeinLetmein."

"Which part of 'meow'
don't you understand?"
Mar 17, 2011 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.
Jan 23, 2011 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. Thats the sort of open-ended question that can render your brain blank for a moment or two. Suddenly every haiku book for kids youve ever encountered flees from your brain. Youre left gaping like a fish, desperately scanning your poetry shelves for one, just ONE, haiku book that will help. Then, if youre really in trouble, you start thinking of books that are so new to your ...more
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Okay confession timeI tried for over an hour to come up with a cute haiku poem for this review and failed miserably! HeheMy grade school teachers would be horrified!

But I will say that this cats journey from the shelter to a home will warm your heart and make you smile and awww! The pages capture a cats 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.

Makes me
Feb 18, 2011 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
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
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it
This is the charming tale of a cat rescued by The Boy, told entirely in haiku from said Cat's point of view.

For once, the words in a picture book were what attracted my attention. I loved the haiku. They perfectly expressed the cat's feelings. There is another book, Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku Which looks to further explore the adventure of life with The Boy.

The illustrations are whimsical and surprising, but I really liked the haiku.
Lisa Vegan
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all cat lovers, especially those who have adopted through a shelter
Recommended to Lisa by: Ann
Ive had this book at home for awhile and I finally made myself pick it up and read it because its 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 Ive read this utterly delightful story.

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

the senryu haiku-like poetry story is
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 ...more
May 02, 2011 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. YetI sneak a peek." To: "Naptime!
Jul 02, 2011 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
Jan 16, 2012 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.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Nov 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
The whole story of a cats 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. Mustve
been something I ate.

Wait---let me back in!

Edward Sullivan
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Wonderful cat story told entirely in haiku. Clever and fun.
Jon Nakapalau
Great introduction to this beautiful form of poetry!
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Young Cat Lovers / Fans of the Haiku Form
A shelter cat considers the world around him in this innovative picture-book, told entirely in senryu - a form of haiku that, according to the brief author's foreword, deals with human (or feline) foibles, rather than (as is customary with haiku) the beauties of nature. Each brief entry in his poetic account reveals the cat's distinctive personality, as well as his efforts to hold himself aloof in a world that can often prove dangerous or hurtful, for unwary felines. The process whereby he ...more
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 cats point of view about being adopted from an animal shelter. It follows Won Tons 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
The Book Maven
Jun 14, 2014 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
Nancy Jo Lambert
May 08, 2011 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
Nancy Kotkin
Told entirely in senryu (Japanese poetic form same as haiku but about life foibles instead of nature). This is the story of a cat who is adopted from a shelter and adjusts to life with his new home/owner. Excellent resource for teaching haiku/senryu poetry. Also recommend for cat lovers. The sequel, Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku, is even better. This is the cat version of Dogku, which was published several years prior to this picture book.
Mar 07, 2011 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. Heres a senryu inspired by my cat, Rufus:

Cat asleep in sun
Unbaked dough that has risen
Till it fills the pan
Mar 25, 2011 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.
May 17, 2011 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.
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was one book that I found on GR as a result of looking at what other people have read who have read one of your books. Although I love cats and would cuddle with them all day if they would allow me I don't have my own so feed myself with books about them. And what attracted me the most to the Won-Ton series is the fact that books are suppose to be marked for children as an audience although presented in a haiku format, which is definitely a new concept.

Although it seems like it is suppose
Sep 24, 2013 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
Dec 10, 2010 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.

Wardlaws haiku read as if they were effortlessly written. In a few words and syllables, he captures the life of
Dec 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Genius. Seriously. Not sure how he did it, exactly, but Lee Wardlaw has obviously transmogrified into the body of a shelter cat. Otherwise, he couldn't know so perfectly what that cat would be thinking, and be able to put those thoughts into such lovely, comical, heartbreaking haiku.

Each one is absolutely perfect. Maybe it's that with haiku words must be economical, which gives them extra punch. Two of my (many) favorites:

Dogs have hair. Cats, fur.
Dogs whine, yip, howl, bark. Cats purrr.
Stephanie H
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, poetry
This is a cute story about a cat who was living in a shelter. In haikus, the author shares the life the cat went through until he was adopted. The cat was then given a name, Won Ton. Won Ton continues talking about his new life and all the daily activities that cats do. This is a great story for primary ages which I believe kids will love!
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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

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…