Art by Ed Young
Little, Brown and Company, 2008
“Wabi Sabi is a way of seeing the world that is at the heart of Japanese culture. It finds beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, natural, modest and mysterious. It can be a little dark, but it is also warm and comfortable. It may be best understood as a feeling, rather than as an idea.” (from the frontispiece of the book)
This picture book is the story of a cat named Wabi Sabi who desires to learn the meaning of her name. She asks a cat named Snowball, who tells her it is a kind of beauty. She still doesn’t understand so she asks a dog who was mean to her. Still curious, Wabi Sabi asks a bird who suggests she travel to see a wise, old monkey who lives on Mount Hiei. She undertakes the journey and learns what she desires.
What a beautifully crafted book – from the words, to the haiku, to the art work. I think the collaged artwork is my favorite. Each scene has been crafted using handmade paper, with real pine needles, leaves and bark on some of them. The book, like the cat, is, indeed, wabi sabi.
This is a subtle way of introducing Japanese culture to anyone, really, but particularly children. They learn about haiku, the Tea Ceremony, and, of course, wabi sabi.
Rating 5 paws out of 5