Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku [NOOK Book]


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 ...

See more details below

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (NOOK Kids)
BN.com price


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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Kristi Jemtegaard
…loving but unsentimental…Eugene Yelchin's sinuous draftsmanship, playful perspectives and sunny palette provide just the right counterpoint to this tale of a cat with attitude to spare.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Wardlaw (101 Ways to Bug Your Parents) has a fine understanding of the feline mind, and each 17-syllable poem packs a big impact—especially in the first section, which imagines the emotional life of a cat in a shelter. "Visiting hours!/ Yawn. I pretend not to care./ Yet—I sneak a peek." Warily, Won Ton considers the boy who is his new owner—"Won Ton? How can I/ be soup? Some day, I'll tell you/ my real name. Maybe." In the final pages, boy and cat grow to trust each other, and Won Ton reveals his real name: "Boy, it's time you knew:/ My name is Haiku." Yelchin's (Seven Hungry Babies) sleek cat is all eyes and sharp angles. The Japanese haiku theme (technically, Wardlaw explains in a note, the poems are senryu, focusing on "the foibles of human nature") is carried through with elements and backgrounds lifted from old woodblock prints. The final page, a delicate painting of the boy nuzzling the cat, is a fitting reward for the boy's patience and Won Ton's resilience. A surprisingly powerful story in verse. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“Sometimes the full savor of a book only comes through silent absorption. That is manifestly the case with ‘Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku’…Children old enough to read will get the full force of the harmonious combination of Lee Wardlaw's wry verse and Eugene Yelchin's witty illustration.”—Wall Street Journal

“From the front cover on, this nameless shelter cat steals the show, with wide eyes, a sinewy body and a blue-gray coat....The charm of the text is that we see everything anew, from the cat's perspective.”—Chicago Tribune

“Gloriously illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, the story is a beguiling tale of a wary shelter cat and the boy who takes him home. It's an adoption story that's funny, touching, visually exciting and unforgettable.”—Santa Barbara Family Life

"The poignant story of a shelter cat finding a forever home unfolds in haiku verse in this funny, lovely and original picture book…offering a beguiling mix of humor…and emotion—along with a painless lesson in the creative possibilities of this form of poetry.”—Buffalo News

"Perfect pussycat poetry for anyone who has ever loved a shelter cat.” Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A]n unforgettable character in a shelter cat whose veneer of cynical toughness masks his vulnerability. Won Ton’s sweetly humorous story will steal the hearts of readers young and old.” —School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Both the tightly constructed lines and elegant, playful illustrations unerringly imagine a cat’s world, including the characteristic feline seesaw between aloof independence and purring, kneading adoration…[A] wry, heartwarming title that’s sure to find wide acceptance in the classroom and beyond.” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A surprisingly powerful story in verse.” —Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
A cat tells his story in a series of terse senryu poems, a form of Japanese poetry similar to haiku, but focused on the foibles of human nature. This cat begins his story in a cage in a shelter. In "The Choosing," he is taken from his cage. He is then driven in a car to a new home and named Won Ton. He explores the home with a cat's typical superior attitude; then he ventures outdoors. Finally he chooses one of the family to be "My Boy," and feels that he is happily at home at last. This slick, imperious cat, detailed in graphite and gouache, is shorthaired and gray, with big blue eyes. He has the usual sleek feline moves, wrapping himself around a leg or leaping over furniture, repeatedly demanding to go out and then come in. He endures being dressed in a dress and silly hat and enjoys total repose on a pile of laundry. Only minimal props are needed to illustrate his story. The end pages are textured just like his fur. A note explains senryu. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—Text and illustrations work together to craft an unforgettable character in a shelter cat whose veneer of cynical toughness masks his vulnerability. As he gazes from behind the bars of his cage, he quips: "Nice place they got here./Bed. Bowl. Blankie. Just like home!/Or so I've been told." He's adopted by a boy and his family, driven home ("letmeoutletme/outletmeoutletmeout./Wait—let me back in!"); and given a name: "Won Ton? How can I/be soup? Some day, I'll tell you/my real name. Maybe." Yelchin's superb illustrations, graphite and gouache on watercolor paper, depict an angular blue-black-haired Siamese, capturing all facets of his singular, feisty, and playful personality. Wardlaw relates his tale using a series of senryu, three unrhymed lines similar to haiku; in a note, he explains that the form focuses on "the foibles of human nature—or in this case, cat nature." The book's overall design, with text laid carefully between and around eye-catching, brilliantly composed illustrations, complements the engaging tale. Won Ton's sweetly humorous story will steal the hearts of readers young and old.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews

In 33 senryu (Japanese poetry similar to and derived from haiku but focusing on human—or, here, feline—foibles instead of nature), Wardlaw relates the tale of a grey shelter cat. In his cage he thinks, "Gypsy on my left. / Pumpkin, my right. Together, / we are all alone." During visiting hours one day, though he takes pains to appear disinterested, the grey cat hopes the boy who rubs his chin just right will selecthim. He does! And after a scary car ride comes the naming. "Buster? Bubba? SPIKE? / Great Rats! Those don't befit an / Oriental prince." Won Ton might be what the boy calls him, but he has a secret name...he won't tell just anyone. Won Ton survives new food, being catnapped and dressed up and a trip to the backyard. And he finally calls the boy's house home. Wardlaw's terse, traditional verse captures catness from every angle, while Yelchin's graphite and gouache illustrations telegraph cat-itude with every stretch and sinuous slink. Perfect pussycat poetry for anyone who has ever loved a shelter cat.(Picture book/poetry. 4-9)

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466813670
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 2/15/2011
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: NOOK Kids
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • File size: 20 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Lee Wardlaw has published more than two dozen award-winning books for young readers, including 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents and 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher. She lives in Santa Barbara, CA, with her family.

Eugene Yelchin has illustrated Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? by Karen Beaumont and The Cobbler's Holiday or Why Ants Don't Wear Shoes by Musharraf Ali Farooqi. With his wife, Mary Kuryla, he cowrote Heart of a Snowman and Ghost Files: The Haunting Truth which he also illustrated. He lives in Topanga, California.

Lee Wardlaw has published more than two dozen award-winning books for young readers, including Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku and Red, White, and Boom! She lives in Santa Barbara, California.
EUGENE YELCHIN studied art and theater design at the Leningrad Institute of Theater Arts. He lives in California.
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. What does the shelter have? What does it NOT have? What does our cat hero mean when he says, “or so I’ve been told.”

2. How are the cats alone but together in the shelter? Describe what feelings you think Won Ton has.

3. What’s special about visiting hours?

4. Explain why the cat thinks there is “no contest” with dogs. Do you agree? Make a pros and cons list for each pet.

5. Do all the children during visiting hours treat the cats kindly? How do you know?

6. How hard is it to name a pet? How do you decide? What name does the boy choose? Do you think it’s a good name or not?

7. How does Won Ton feel about the new place? What details prove this? Have you ever been nervous or afraid to try something new? Why?

8. What does it mean to “snub” something? What foods do you snub?

9. What habits does Won Ton have that you like or dislike? Would you like him to live with you? Why or why not?

10. Where is Won Ton’s favorite place to sleep? Where is yours?

11. What happens when the boy’s sister plays with Won Ton? Do cats usually like little children or not? Why?

12. What does your “nose know?” What are good snacks for cats? Which ones are disappointing? What’s your favorite snack?

13. Describe the types of things that the boy and Won Ton like to do together. How do cats get the attention of their owners? How do you get the attention of your parents?

14. What is the best part of owning a pet? What can be difficult?

15. In the end, what does Won Ton tell the boy that’s important?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)